168 Hours

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I stepped out of a banquet just this past week to a phone call from home. When I answered, a 4 year old on the line was crying and in tears said, “Mommy, I want you home. I miss you. Come home now.”

I felt it— heart crushing, my breathe got heavier, and standing in front of a crowd onward looking, I shoved back the tears to comfort my little girl missing Mommy at night time.

We talked about how I would be home the next day, would pick her up early from school, and all the fun things we would do together during that time, including making a heart cake for Daddy for Valentines Day. It seemed to help; she shortly went to sleep and I went back to the banquet.

The next day, I picked her up from school earlier than usual; we got ice cream and chatted all about how music came from the ceiling in Culvers, how we could be welcoming to a new friend at school, and why the words “farting” and “tooting” aren’t the best to use with strangers (LOL… this is a daily conversation so…..)

AND WHY ARE YOU SHARING THIS WITH US? This seems kinda sad, then kinda happy, and not really sure the point.

168 hours, that’s why.

As moms but also as employees, spouses, dads, sisters, volunteers, brothers, daughters, boyfriends, girlfriends, sons, friends…. the list goes on…… we go through those moments. Of a searing guilt or maybe shame of what we are doing vs. not doing. Some due to good decisions and some due to poor decisions. Either way, it’s hard. We all know we get 24 hours in a day and that’s it— to make good choices, use time and other resources in the best way, likely make mistakes, and then use the next day to grow. I am learning that while the 24 hour rule is true, it has been more helpful to think in terms of 168 hours. If you looked at Day 1 of the story above, I was rocking my work responsibilities and failing as a parent. If you looked as Day 2, I was rocking mothering and failing to create a new idea or project at work…. or going on a date with my hubby……or volunteering at church…. or……

But by viewing the week with a 168 hours approach, the pendulum does swing more in some directions. Some days are fuller with one particular role in my life or a couple. Or maybe DAYS are full of just one. Then there is a shift to another, then another, then another. 168 hours allows for more creativity, less guilt, and a broader view on life and roles and actions and takes a bit of the sting of a 4 year old calling with sniffles away because you know that those other hours are coming for quality time in that area.

I hope this framework can help encourage you in your roles as a young professional.

For more information on thinking strategically with your 168 hours/week, check out this resource.

Hospitality in the Workplace

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This is one of those topics that I’ve mulled on quite a bit lately. Related to the work place? Yes. And not in the sense of the hospitality business.

But that question of, How do I/we practice hospitality in the workplace? Individually? On a team?

Let’s first start with a definition:

the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

I think for the workplace conversation, the word ‘stranger’ is the best one to focus in on, however if you have customers, the practice of hospitality among guests/visitors is extremely important… or various stakeholders who might be guests in some way.

When I started in my first role with the company I currently work, I remember moving to a new place with new jargon to learn, new roads to master (still didn’t get that one accomplished), and a new group to not only work with but hopefully enjoy working with. To this day, I can vividly recall many memories of those who practiced hospitality in the workplace.

  • Those who called and said, “Hey, I know you’re new to the team and I just wanted to reach out and see how I can be of help.”

  • Those who offered their time and days up for a peer ride along to learn not only about what they do but also general helpful tips (aka how the Boilermaker cheer goes, how the Indiana roads work)

  • Those who called when heading to my area of the state to see if we could get a few minutes to gather and de-brief

When you’re the new kid on the block, like many of us that classify as ‘young professionals’, we can often find ourselves in these new places— transitions to new teams, new towns. We can also find ourselves waiting on the other side of the equation for some good old hospitality. And while it is fully our responsibility to embrace this newness of our lives and initiate, the lesson to seasoned individiuals in an area/function/geography is to practice the art of hospitality. Welcome in a stranger to the workplace. And young professionals— this is not just the ‘role’ of the manager, HR, or anyone else…. it is a part of our role, as well. It can sometimes be intimidating to reach out in this way to someone senior than yourself— do it.

Hospitality in the workplace (and out of the work place) is always appreciated and rarely forgotten.

Recognition vs. Appreciation

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A quick note to start your week….

I’ve been reading The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation by Chapman and White. Highly recommended to all but especially young professionals in that first 10 years of a career. I’m not finished with it yet but in the opening, the authors discuss the difference between appreciation and recognition.

Recognition- what’s good for the company or organization

Appreciation- what’s good for the company or organization AND the individual

Meaning….

Authentic appreciation goes beyond just the external performance of an individual to include who they are and their gifts. And it’s offered in a way that really fits that person. (i.e. the love languages discussion)

Authentic appreciation is the goal and requires no status of being a manager or the ‘person in charge’ to carry this out. In fact, the authors have shared that peer to peer appreciation is one of the most valued forms of appreciation.

(Also did you know among our peers as young professionals, “not feeling appreciated” is so stinking common of a reason that someone leaves the company or organization? Not sure of the data on this one but I’m almost betting top 2-3.)

As we make out way into this week, let us seek out opportunities to authentically show appreciation to those in our sphere of influence. Let us be culture creators vs. culture consumers or even worse, deterants.

What fills the space

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Email and household tasks. Two things that I’ve found in my life that just always seem to fill the space. And this is what I mean by that— that no matter what you do, they are always there. Catch up on one thing, it just all refills. Create a system for managing it and you can certainly manage it…. but with investing gobs and gobs of time. Imagine a fungus (ew?) that you have growing outside on the drive way, you remove it, and then it’s literally right back there the instant you removed the first round. That’s a space-filler-up’r. (I know you come to to this blog for the vocabulary and level of intellect that goes into this writing.)

Ok, ok we don’t get to dismiss email and household chores (and text messages, for the love of Pete). But we don’t have to let them fill up all the space in our schedules. Because they will. Always. Fill er up.

This time that can be better spent— networking, playing with my kids, reading, working on a special project for work, practicing hospitality in our house, exercising, and other valuable ways to spend time.

So this week, I’m jotting down all the things that seem to fill space like email and household chores. And with that list, I’m going to scrub it to see 1) where I need to create a better system 2) where I need to practice a “good enough” philosophy.

As young professionals, let’s evaluate the space fillers in our schedules.

Also— It’s National Mentoring Month. Wow! I can’t express how thankful I am for the many, many people who have invested their time in me as a professional and on a personal level as a mentor. If you only take away one thing from this blog post, it would be this: find a way to be mentoring the next generation in your sphere of influence. Right here, right now.

I had the chance to recently share with EDGE Mentoring about my experience transitioning from a mentee to mentor in that particular organization. Here is the link to that post if you’d like to check it out!





Measuring Cups and Tablespoons

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I’m not really a cook but I do enjoy cooking. I like the whole add-a-little-this and a-little-bit-of-that in the process. With that said, I’m not the best with measurements. Meaning that I know HOW to do that but don’t always do it. And then I wind up with a curry dish that carries so much curry that it’s over powering… or not enough, and its flavor isn’t fully present. I recently made a beef vegetable soup that had so much black pepper in it that we were doing this wiggle of a dance while eating it. Needless to say, it had more than a kick to it. Because flash back in time, I just poured in some black pepper, thinking I was looking like Chef Ina in my kitchen.

So I’m learning about how important measurements are in my cooking. Profound knowledge here today for you.

Oh and timers….. Setting a timer for the first time to check in on the cooking project. IT WILL BURN if I don’t set a timer. I will move on to something else and forget every single darn time. (Mind blown, I know, at this tip in the cooking process.)

Measurements and timers— the same is true of our goals and action steps around those goals. Put the measurements in— 3 workouts per week; read once every single day; write 5 thank you cards per month. Put a timer on its completion or a date to review progress. At the end of the month, this will be complete or I will evaluate the progress.

This all sounds overly simple and really, really basic…. but it works. And the constant, ongoing process of having measuring cups and tablespoons and timers in our lives will create some good stuff. Like a beef vegetable soup with the perfect amount of black pepper.

P.S.

Had a great time with Ag Grad founder Tim H. during a recent Live event on Facebook. We chatted about the start of the Sharpen podcast, transitions as a young professional (including why to consider re-locating and how to grow where you’re planted). Tim also shares a recap of an episode I had him on for to discuss when to (and not to) get a Masters degree as a young professional.

Ditch the Dish; Read More 📡➡️📚

Last year, my family and I made the decision to ditch the Dish. As in a cable provider. And not so that we could spend more time on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Trust me, a round of The Office or Parenthood sounds fantastic. But to spend less time (and money) on yet another screen and more time with real faces and real things.

One primary reason for my interest in ditching the Dish was to read more. I knew that my mind could veg out on some television series OR I could develop a reading plan and stick to it throughout the year. It’s amazing how much time frees up when the tv goes off. For me, the ease of flipping a switch on rather than digging into a book was easier.

But prior to this golden realization is an odd silence. No tv background noise, no dramatic news station trying to get us all worked up to try to do the same thing in approx. 2 minutes, no family buying a home for 3.8 million dollars on HGTV.

But a year later nearly cable sober, I have read more books than I imagined. I have tuned in vs. tuning out. Do you have a “Dish” in your life that might be worth ditching? (Can I also throw others into this pile for myself? Social Media and Salty snacking (my best friends are lol’ing and agreeing).

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I place great emphasis on reading more than anything else. As young professionals, having an active reading lifestyle is significant to our growth and development— not just in our careers but in all other areas of our lives, as well. A few reasons to incorporate more time for reading in your schedule:

  1. Reading saves you time: What? That doesn’t sound correct whatsoever. Imagine that someone was sitting in front of you after living out things like starting or running a business, becoming a better communicator, or any other key topic to your profession. And imagine they were giving you some helpful practical steps to save you time in your own life— to make the same decisions based on principles or to NOT make that same decision. Potentially by-passing YEARS of a certain effort or habit…. what a good deal, right? Bam, that’s a well-written book by a wise author. (And yes, I know there are some terrible, self-help books out there that are worthless. But there are too many good ones to let that hold you back.)

  2. Reading impacts your brain: I won’t try to summarize the many studies that exist on this subject. Go read about it. 😉 The white matter in your brain increases for an active reader. Check out images of a brain while reading and exercising vs. watching tv or using social media. Incorporate fiction as well as non-fiction, too, for added benefits.

  3. Habit Formation: Start the habit now as a young professional and see the fruit of your efforts over the long haul. Don’t let others discourage you, either. Start young, stay consistent, and see the growth.

Word of the Year

I know what you’re thinking. Well, maybe I do.

This sounds like another New Year hokey pokey thing to do… designate a word of the year.

But hear me out.

….. Cause there tends to be a few groups here on the subject of goal setting: The All In’rs (you’ve had yours done since October 2018); the I-don’t-really-care’rs (word of the year?); and the I Don’t Need One’rs (word of the year? Just do it and don’t make a fuss about it all….. hello my hubby….. ha!)

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This photo makes it hard to see what is written on this bracelet— steadfast, my 2019 word of the year. This arrived from a dear friend after our 2019 Goal Setting Retreat. Here, we each identified our word of the year and this arrived shortly after with my individual word of the year.

Beauty and a reminder and thoughtfulness— all in one.

But the process of getting to that word was not so easy and pretty and a finished package. And this would be my first reason why a word of the year is very powerful.

1) The Process of Getting There:

For months, we had brainstormed what was being laid on our hearts and minds. We then fine-tooth combed through a year review to get there. The process of getting to a word of the year includes reflection, a deep reflection. That process alone is worth it. It makes you look back on all the goodness, the challenges, and the gaps to see the direction to take in the future, aka the new year.

2) Focus

Having just one word to focus on— visually have out on your desk or bathroom mirror or vehicle windshield— is very key. Each and every day, you can identify your daily top 2-3 priorities and list this as an overarching theme of focus.

3) Accountability

Having a word of the year makes it easier for your people to hold you accountable because they can also remember that one word and ask how you are making progress and what challenges you face.

A Gratitude Response

If you listen to anyone speak on the topic of mornings— how to maximize them, structure them etc.— you’ll hear one key component in each speaker’s content, I’m assuming.


Write down X number of things you are grateful for to start the day.


Somebody far better qualified than me will tell you the science behind this. I can tell you what it does is focus your mind on the goodness of the day before or the day ahead. It trains you to have a response of gratitude…. rather than a response of anxiousness, entitlement, burden, etc.


I’m having to train myself throughout the day, though, to go through the same process. A gratitude response, if you will.

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Not in a fake way of “spinning the situation” (hello my fellow 3’s on the Enneagram… I see you, I get you). A mindset of gratitude can be displayed by genuinely expressing thanks to the many, many people you interact with throughout the day. Run through a drive thru? Be legit thankful and add in some detail around that. Have a meeting? Call out the work you know was done for folks to be there and thank them. Eating dinner with your family? Tell them something maybe small that you appreciate about them.


I can think of some people right now that when I think of a ‘spirit of gratitude’ they come to mind. And I so enjoy being in their presence. As young professionals, I can imagine these are the people we want to be around and be like, yes?


Anyone else gratitude training themselves? How’s that going?

Awe and Wonder

Flying home this week from Denver, CO, I found myself caught in the trap. You know- get on the airplane, put ear buds in, talk to no one, send emails— aka avoid all living creatures around me.

Because I forgot to shut the window during the flight, the lighting was messing with my reading. So as I went to shut the window….

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Blue skies, mountains below (can’t see here exactly), awe and wonder hit.

May we as young professionals never lose our wonder of the living and breathing creation around us. We don’t have to settle for the trap. (Ok, we do have to get our work done and plane rides are great for this.)

This also happened:

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Have you ever told a parent of young child, especially those stressed in a moment of chaos and such, “hey you’re doing a great job as a parent.” You might get a quick “thanks” as they get on with a crying baby on an airplane and you might get tears. How do I know this? Because an 80 year old woman stopped me in the grocery store a few weeks ago and said that— plus “you have beautiful children… enjoy them”… and she smiled with a deep joy on her face.

Awe and wonder in the mountains, blue skies, crying babies on airplanes, and 80 year old ladies in Meijer.

Let us not miss it. There can be so much awe and wonder in what’s going on around us.

Also, this post is a bit of a ramble today. I recently have heard some interviews with writers talking about their recently launched books… how they wrote it for themselves. They needed it above all. Same here, y'all. Same. So in writing about something like awe and wonder, just assume it’s probably for myself to not forget a topic, embrace a topic, or change for a topic. Just had to mention that as someone who keeps this small little blog…. I never want the message to come across as all knowing, I’ve-figured-it-out-so-read-this, or anything that the lady sitting next to me on the plane might be writing on. HA- ok that’s terrible and assuming and I need to let it go.

(Letting it go…. kinda…..)

Time and Priorities

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Someone was telling me about a friend that had been working on beautiful scrapbooks for her children through the years.... the journaling and photography that went into these books sounds amazing and like it should be in an art gallery some where. 

My response at the end of the sharing of these cool idea was-- Oh that must be nice. I just don't have the time for that. 

To which this friend responded-- Well, everyone decides how to spend her time. You just don't want to spend yours on that... is what you're trying to say.

Mic drop, friend. 

I've fallen into the trap of saying some version of the "I just don't have time for that" when in all actuality it's more "That is not one of my priorities right now." Which in some cases is great-- essentialism at its best, right?! But in other areas, I had to work through where that was friction against what were my true, deep down priorities. Things like health and early mornings. I make time for them; they get the time because they matter. 

Young professionals near and far: When do we use the "I don't have time for that" as an excuse? The first ten years into the world of jobs and families and everything else can feel like we're are everywhere but no where. So what really matters? 

And when it is a great declaration of our priorities, maybe better said, "It's just not a priority for me." 

Do something practically

The past few months, I have chatted with future podcast guests and friends who have been walking through a season of pain and suffering. Each and every time I ask them what they wish their co-workers, friends, and family knew..... or something that stands out to them as a time they've felt cared for during this difficult season-- each and every time I have heard this response...

Just do it. Just find a way to serve a practical need and do it. Everyone says "let us know if you need anything". When you're in the midst of it, you don't know what you need and if you do, you don't have the time or space to request that of others. So just do something that helps practically. 

This has been on my mind lately. How can we as young professionals seek to serve our co-workers, neighbors, and others practically? And just do it without request or specifics? Sometimes I think that those specifics would help me serve better but I've come to realize that it's the thinking on behalf of that person and his/her needs is what generates love. Even if they hate cheese pizza, the way their car was washed and is now water spotted, or the invite to go to something that they don't really enjoy, the response is always signaling that they feel cared for and loved. The goal. 

Grab a post-it note or your phone to-do list: Who is someone walking through pain and suffering in your life? Send a meal or a gift card for one; wash a car or mow a lawn; take a car for an oil change or grab the laundry and return it clean and folded; whatever practically meets a need, just do it. 

The power of an invite

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A follow up to last week's post on Creating more than you consume would be the power of an invite. 

Think back to a time when someone invited you to go somewhere, to join a conversation, or be a part of something that without that invite, you would have never experienced. And maybe that event or conversation led to a major moment of change in your life-- an idea, a job, a new friend, meeting your spouse for the first time, you name it. 

I wrote a post one day about the power of an invite from a co-worker named Telynda. 

Wow. The power of an invite. I can only imagine the stories we'd all share if we were sitting down together. 

(Speaking of which, if you have a story on the power of an invite, I would love to hear it. You can share it here!)

Leadership books often leave this one out. Who do you need to invite? Do you have a lunch meeting, conference, favorite dinner spot, or a sports team? Do you have an interest or a group of amazing people you're a part of or the ability to make popcorn or salsa? Then you have the means to extend an invite. 

I think as young professionals if we become people that invite others along and into our worlds we can change the trajectory of lives, even our own lives. Creating vs. consuming more invites seems like a great choice to make for some game changer moments. 

Create more than you consume

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Recently, I attended a session at our church for "technology and families". The speaker (who I hope to have on the Sharpen podcast soon!) offered great insight and practical tips to help families think through technology better in their home lives. The one thing that stood out to me that day was....

Create more than you consume. 

Her comments were around creating more, rather than consuming technology and being entertained and thought for. So I went home and began pondering how we might create more than we consume when it comes to technology. (I also went home and when my hubby turned on Netflix for the girls to watch while we prepared lunch, I yelled "NOOOOO!" as he grabbed the remote. Haha-- ZERO Technology today, man!) 

And as I thought more about this idea, I found it translating to so many other areas of my life. Things like....

- Create more friendships by initiating rather than sulk and wait for someone to initiate to me

- Create healthy meals by investing resources rather than consume what I want, when I want it

- Create moments to reflect and plan rather than just consume the days and their events

- Create order in a household of littles rather than consume the messes as a victim of toddler destruction (haha!) 

Creating more than we consume enriches lives and the speaker of the family tech. session emphasized this-- this is the joy of creating. We stretch our minds, our bodies, and our hearts to a greater extent for greater impact. 

I'll keep reflecting on this idea and ask for you to join me-- what can I create vs. consume in my life? 

Be a Telynda

Last week, I attended my company's National Sales Meeting. And it was actually my 6th NSM with the company. So as I walked in for this event, I ran into familiar faces, knew the general format of the agenda, and was excited to keep running into more people from across that nation that have become great friends. 

I couldn't help but think back to my very first NSM. I knew hardly anyone but the people on the local team. But as I started thinking back to that first event, I found myself extremely grateful. I had two team mates that reached out and let me ride with them to Chicago instead of driving alone (Mike and Del!). I didn't have to make the first step into the meeting not knowing a soul because I had two team mates to walk in with that knew many of the people we passed. 

And then were was my room mate- Telynda. Telynda was in a role with the company that she actually could have been in a room by herself but guess what she did? She gave that up and offered to be my room mate that week. I went to networking receptions with her, to the general sessions, and the evening social outings. Telynda would introduce me to everyone she knew (She knows everyone, btw) and was so kind in her introductions. She probably barely remembers the details of this NSM, but I certainly remember them all well.

Telynda and I went to a Cubs game... And if Del Brinson is reading this he is about to make some comment about Cubs and Cards and I just can't tolerate that kind of hate mail, buddy! 

Telynda and I went to a Cubs game... And if Del Brinson is reading this he is about to make some comment about Cubs and Cards and I just can't tolerate that kind of hate mail, buddy! 

For a newbie, it goes beyond words for someone to spend a week doing this, to take you in as a colleague and friend. I know it required some sacrifices-- giving up that private room, communicating to everyone that her tag-along was new, etc. etc. But I bet many of you can think back to a moment like this when a veteran like T took your newbie self into his/her world and showed kindness and the type of person you wanted to be. 

Especially in a world that stereotypes women (and sometimes its the reality, too) as each other's competitor... there is only so much pie to go around so gotta get your full....

Not Telynda. Not that week nor throughout the time I had the pleasure to work with her. The example was set-- women champion other women. You make introductions, you invite along for opportunities to develop business acumen, you encourage when it's a rough day. 

After this year's GROW gathering at our National Sales Meeting, I couldn't help but be full of gratitude yet again for this "Telynda factor" playing out. GROW is for women in the company to grow relationships, opportunities, and their network. We had a TED-talk like event in which peer-to-peer speakers shared some really creative and inspirational stories. Some of you may have attended and are rolling your eyes thinking, "Kirby you were one of the speakers, how kind of you to mention how great the talks were." Ha! I am describing the 3 other individuals who shared their stories in this way. And then the coolest part? The Telynda factor happened-- as a speaker, I saw the other speakers high fiving each other, taking notes, and smiling the biggest smiles. The women in the room were listening intently, sending texts to champion the talks of the day, and nodding along during each speaker's time. 

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I left that day with abiding gratitude. So if you were at the event, keep being a Telynda. This is the good stuff, y'all. 

Champion, encourage, call out the good stuff. Be a Telynda. 

Lessons from the rogue Schnauzer

I posted this photo in my Instagram story a few weeks ago.

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5:58 am in Kentucky before the heat amps up for the day: A sweet moment in the early part of the day, drinking coffee as my little one is waking up to join me… such sweetness.

But what I didn’t follow up with was a video series on the remainder of that Monday morning. This gal came outside to call her puppy, Ozzie the-rogue-Schnauzer, back into the house from his potty break. But the thing is that he didn’t come…. So we shouted some more. (I’m sure the neighbors loved this at 6 am.)

So obviously his wireless collar had failed us. Also it’s a Monday morning… With a conference call about to begin. So the oldest and the hubby took off driving around the neighborhood looking for Ozzie because she says, “Sissy will be really sad if he ran away”. (Sweet sister, rotten dog) The youngest starts waking up moments later and then the door bell rings. Oz man is now at the front of the house and our neighbor had come over to tell us. (Did she hear us yelling at 6 am? Whoops.)

Where has he been? He has ruined my peace and quiet of a Monday morning. That stinkin’ dog.

So we walked outside with Trix (you gotta do what you gotta do). Ozzie can tell I’m ticked and runs over… but straight to the baby (who is now 20 months so not so much a baby). She greets him with a hug, a happy squeal, a handful of cereal, and the biggest smile. She didn’t even know he had taken off; that’s just the way she greets him each morning.

Can you blame Ozzie? He had gone down the wrong path, partly because his owner (yours truly) let him get there. He knew he was in trouble. And when the one Green stood with open arms and a snack vs. the other one with an angry face, he knew exactly what to do. 

Driving the girls into town that morning, I laughed to myself thinking about the events of the morning and also began to reflect on the two characters displayed. No wonder Ozzie or any person for that matter would go to the youngest Green. A scowl on the face, posture of anger, and clinched fist of Trix doesn't sound like someone I want to process a mishap with.... obviously, Oz man wasn't up for much processing (but rather a long nap after his eventful morning adventure). But our different reactions reminded me of the kind of person I want to be if someone is coming to me with an issue, concern, or a mistake. 

W30 Completion 🍎🍊🍋🍏

I thought a day-by-day journal would be kept for the remainder of Whole 30 but the same themes day after day existed. So here we are.......

Whole 30 is complete!

Feeling 🏃🏻‍♀️👌🏻💪🏻

8 lbs down

Eating better than I have, probably in my lifetime

And those themes after that first week that continued for the rest of the month?

- Lots of grocery shopping but it became much easier once I figured out how much to buy in one stop

- More fresh fruits and veggies than ever.... 

- I miss coffee creamer dearly

- My exercise felt better (lighter!) most days

- The daily decisions didn't feel like a big weight anymore... they just happened

So all in all, I highly recommend Whole 30 and we will be practicing the fundamentals from here out as a family. But you better believe my coffee has had cream in it on the daily since completion. (Partly because they took my ghee and coconut oil at the airport but only a few of you know what I'm talking about and are rolling your eyes because I'm still lamenting the loss)

If you are considering, my favorite recipes include:

1. Coconut shrimp curry with cauliflower rice

2. Beef with lime and garlic pepper in the crockpot

3. Grilled chicken and veggies

4. Veggie Frittata

Week 1 of W30

When we started Whole 30 last week, there were a slew of calendars and pictures that shared the sentiment of each day. The highs and lows. Mostly lows, if we're being honest. Ha! 

I decided to keep a daily journal on how it's all going. Mainly for myself. Partly for ranting. 

Day 1:

- The planning is insane-- but the grocery shopping was rather easy. Just go to essentially 3-4 sections of the store and camp out for a bit. 

- No coffee creamer? Black coffee? For real, Melissa whatever your name is? 

- I went to bed with a headache. A wake up call, for sure, in that obviously I have some dependance going on with certain food groups. The tasty food groups. Ha! 

Day 2:

- I woke up feeling less groggy/foggy and without my stomach growling which was a surprise. 

- Head ache existed throughout the day but only minor one. 

- So. Much. Grocery Shopping. 

- Purchased unsweetened almond milk... hopeful but setting proper expectations that it's not going to be great in my coffee 

Day 3:

- Woke up without a head ache or a completely empty stomach 

- MORE GROCERY SHOPPING 

- Scratch the head ache comment... it's baaaaack! My stomach is telling my head (and heart- ha!) to enjoy some pizza, ice cream, and chips and salsa.... but my calendar with WHOLE 30 written at the top is telling my head no. So it protests. 

Days 4, 5, 6:

- The headaches are gone! They have stayed gone, too. But oh-so tired... I've been out in the sun a lot lately for work so that's factoring in but as expected, tired as heck. 

- My snack now includes a Lara Bar with Almond Milk. I had that on these days and it felt like splurging.... ohmyword... what has this come to?!

- We had invited some friends over a month or so ago for dinner and then realized that not everyone might love a Whole 30 meal. Ha! But they still came, ate a meal with us, and brought cookies for the children's sake. Our daughters love them dearly now for this mighty act of sugar and delight and now want them as parents, at least for the next 3 weeks. 

Days 7 and 8 (ok now we're into week 2 a bit):

- So I've discovered that the use of garlic pepper, ancho chili pepper, garlic powder, and some lime juice used on any meat in the crockpot leads to a pretty good meal in the evenings. Hubby voted this as a great option post-Whole 30. Which we often discuss what life will look like on the other side.... we even shared the food item we will enjoy when this madness ends. Pitiful? Yes. We. Are. 

- Meal prepped for the week ahead which should make life easier-- less chopping, cutting of veggies and fruits. 

Hopefully helpful on a practical note because I have to have routine in meals to keep my sanity:

- Breakfast is bullet proof coffee 

- Lunches are either eggs with avocado, hot sauce, and a fruit or a salad with W30 components 

- Dinners include a protein in the crockpot usually with an oven roasted veggies and fruit

- Snack is a Lara Bar with Almond Milk (unsweetened, original) or W30 approved nuts 

Because there is nothing magical about January...

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Because there is nothing magical about January.... 

(in the words of Lara Casey)

I decided to join in the Whole 30 madness/insanity/goodness/sh*% in May for a few reasons:

1. Better access to fresh fruits and veggies being harvested here locally 

(Thank you Cecil Farms for my fresh box this summer.)

2. Out of the winter haze and snack-a-thon

3. The most important why.... dependence is being evaluated... and what I mean by that is....

Recently, I've been observing and trying to attack things I have dependence on. Now not the "good stuff" in life dependence. But things weighing me down, literally and figuratively. A few examples- social media, junk food/desserts. If I'm so drawn to something like food that taking something away gives me head aches, makes me moody, or causes any addiction-like symptoms, Houston, we have a problem. Please hear this-- I am not against dairy, grains, gluten etc. like some commentary you'll read on Whole 30. I am quite for lots of good protein, fruits, vegetables and want that to be the majority of what I consume. (P.S. Thanks America's farmers for making this a reality.) The goal for me is to strip down the diet so much to point out obvious and not so obvious addictions to show, hey I don't need this. And I'm going to take it away to prove it. 

(Coffee is one but don't touch that one, my friends. And if you do bring it up, you're a goner in terms of friendship. I mean, just kidding. My hubby went cold turkey on coffee and all caffeine and is handling it like a pro so it gives me hope... but not enough now to want to take it away... baby steps)

So if you're considering Whole 30, I'm not sure if my upcoming weekly summaries will encourage you or deflect you since I don't know what fully this will entail. But I'm hopeful that on Day 30 my statement is-- DO IT! HOORAY, I FEEL SO MUCH MORE ENERGY. And if it happens to be-- THIS IS THE WORST DECISION OF MY LIFE, which is likely apparently at some point, then maybe still do it any way. Hard things in life do not equal bad things in life. 

More to come on this decision in life.... 

Meanwhile, I'll be hunkered down this week trying to not be angry toward anyone who is drinking flavored coffee, eating Chex Mix, or DARE I SAY IT (see the hanger is already coming out) telling me about a new cheese they tried and loved. 

Would love to hear from you....What's something you want to start now because there is nothing magical about January? 

Advice from a Shark

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On a recent episode of Entre Leadership, Daymond John talks about his newest book and shares more about his life story. If you're a fan of Shark Tank, you know Daymond and his story a bit but this episode shared more about his recent battler with cancer and what becoming a Dad of a sweet baby girl has led him to focus on over the past few years.  

I loved when he talked about networking-- I'm not quoting him with this... it was something to the degree of...

Don't focus on the people at the so-called "top". Get time and learn from ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 

He shared he had learned a ton from a mother of two children on how to champion his daughter who has dyslexia. He shared that a step father who is his true father in life had molded him. 

When young professionals think about networking, there tends to be a pressure to try to get time with those at the top of the business, the keynote at a conference, or the "girl or guy in charge". But if our goal is to build relationships to widen our perspective on life, I think Daymond has a great message for us to seek out the ordinary doing extraordinary things. They have gritty, life perspective, they have real life, practical applications, and most of all, they are influential because of their persistent, consistent life work. 

I'm thinking.... 

Farmers, teachers, nurses, just to name a few....

In a recent episode of Sharpen, Dr. Bob Long talked about this being a crucial part of his career and told us a few stories of when he did this and the impact those people had in the world of nonprofit. 

And Daymond's message made me breathe in some fresh air on the concept of networking because MY KINDA PEOPLE that are easy to talk to, make time for you, and have a real life connection to the policies, programs, and people that matter. 

Thoughts from the cheese platter

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Picture this:

You anxiously await your chance, the opportunity to get 30 seconds to impress. Do you interrupt the conversation NOW? Wait for a moment so you don't seem rude? But heck, you still need to make your way in for your 30 seconds. 30 seconds of opportunity to impress. That's right- the 30 seconds right before someone more impressing comes along as almost an unplanned tag team to take your place. 

Ok, you made it over. Get ready. Hand shake and the talk begins. 

Their eyes are wondering, looking for the next person to talk to. Ah. Ok, now eye contact again. I'm getting a blank stare. Geez. What's this person thinking? 

(Smiles and says so great to have met you.) You somehow get positioned out of the circle. 

Did you impress? Did you earn your keep? Did you make a connection? So many questions to consider why checking out the cheese tray before trying to attempt the same pattern again. (And now you know why there is a cheese tray featured in this post. Because any excuse to post a picture of cheese and talk about cheese is a great excuse. Amen?)

Some of you are picturing a round of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. It makes a lot of sense why. But for today's post, this is a picture painted of a networking reception. Young professionals might be laughing now because TRUTH. This experience often leaves us feeling like another round of this reality TV show. Except we don't leave with a rose at the end of the night-- we're the ones sending a follow-up email or text, hoping to receive a reply. 

I'm not going to hate on networking receptions because they can be hugely beneficial. Yet just like the bachelor is not a long-term approach to building solid relationships, nor are typical networking receptions. Relationships are formed with people who should have more substance than a few minutes of conversation and also another component: time. Relationships take time and effort and trust. 

The pressure can feel like too much before, during, and after a networking reception to leave a great first impression, send the best follow up email, and then wah-lah: make a life-long connection. 

So hopefully to help with this bachelor-of-an-experience, here are some things that wise people have shared regarding these beloved networking receptions:

1. Don't fake it: don't fake another persona or set of values or anything at all to gain a first impression you think the other person wants you to come with-- you can only come with what you know and who you are. Just imagine trying to keep up various acts after the event-- wait, was I the introverted-smart guy or gal? Or shoot, did I need to become an enthusiast who made everyone laugh? 

2. Curiosity wins: pre-formulated questions often feel just like that-- robotic. Natural curiousity wins-- be intentional and also be curious to let the conversation go where it goes. 

3. Elevate others: Someone who engages in conversation ready to elevate others-- a manager, a friend, a college student, a team mate-- those are the ones to migrate toward. Do the same when appropriate. Champion others in your conversations and you will find networking receptions feel a bit different-- less "prove how awesome you are in a few minutes" and more "use this as an opportunity to share the good things those around you are doing". That is to say this may be a good chance to share something you personally are doing in a particular space and that's great, as well. But by bringing in the impact of your work on others, this tone can continue in the conversation.

4. Follow up: But not with the templated email you found when googling "example of a good follow up email to send after a networking reception." Make it personal, make it memorable to the conversation, make it valuable to the other person. Also, dare I say it but a phone call might also be a great option for follow up. (And all of the millennials squirm... ha!) Someone once shared that he steps aside at receptions or any event in which he meets someone new to jot down a few notes so he doesn't forget something that person shared-- hometown, a new hobby taken on, the university a child attend, etc.