Young Professionals

How is it with two?

A question I get quite often now-a-days is:

“How is it with two?”

You see, in September we welcomed our second daughter into the family. I’m not sure what all has happened over the past three months (aka lack of sleep), but it has all been wonderful and evidence of the Lord’s infinite love and grace in my life. Sweet girls, they are! (Except the diapers…. Those aren’t so sweet.)

Photo by Danielle Hayden, Two Arrows Photography

Photo by Danielle Hayden, Two Arrows Photography

 

So to answer the question, as a working mom of two under two (C just turned two in December), I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned:

1.       I’m getting used to being late

To church, work, you name it. But I’m not letting that become my excuse to lean on, either. I really try to get all bags in the truck the night before—literally everything packed except milk. And then if crap literally hits the fan, (which it will, right mommas? Sometimes LITERALLY) you can be somewhat prepared. Fortunately I have a great manager, great team mates, and great customers that have been there, done that. Heck, sometimes they even give me a paper towel to wipe the spit up off my shirt. Some of you just made a “that’s gross” face.

2.       Speaking of milk…..

It’s literally all about milk at our house. I’m either pumping all day between meetings for the baby or running to the grocery (aka Dollar Store in rural Thruston, KY) to get milk for the two year old. Got milk? Yes, all the time. Because two little ladies might have their world fall apart if we don’t. Working mommas that want to keep nursing when you go back to work—you can do it! I’m happy to give some practical advice to anyone interested.

3.       Rock solid immune systems, expected arrival: Kindergarten

I’m convinced that the girls are going to have rock solid immune systems by age 5-6. Sickness found itself in our house all of December. If anyone reads this from our daycare, they are laughing because every time I see their name pop up on my phone, I’m thinking and sometimes answer, “Who’s sick today?” Working mommas know that they then have to take off work or have someone cover at home for at least the next two days—and that’s like orchestrating a military operation, it seems.

4.       Lastly, baby + toddler= weightlifting

For moms that have twins, how did/do you do it?! Seriously, carrying a toddler on one side, baby on the other feels like I’m in extreme weight lifting.  

All of the comments with “working mom” aren’t meant to say moms that work inside or outside of the home have it more difficult or easier than the other. Actually, they both come with sacrifices that look quite different and some that are the exact same. Which leads me to the entire point of writing this post…… Everything in life comes with trade-off’s. Everything.

If anything, the biggest thing I’ve learned with two under two is how valuable all of my momma friends are—not just in giving advice but their influence in my life. I respect them all and know they all sacrifice in different ways. But the one common thing among them all, they all sacrifice big for their families.

So the same moment I’m packing bags at 11 pm in my truck for the next day since we have to be out the door by a specific time, another mom is working a late night shift that allows her to be home three days straight. Another mom is enjoying quiet time on Pinterest because she gets NO QUIET TIME ALL DAY LONG. And another is grading papers of her students and looking forward to the summer break with her kiddos.

You see—all different scenarios, all sacrifices, all amazing moms.

Nothing new and profound here, just the way I’d like to answer when I get that question—How is it with two? 

Quiet Time

Approximately two years ago, I would get out of bed at 5:00/5:15 am, rested, and go down to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and quiet reading time in my Bible.

It was seriously the best way to start my day.

I would also let the dogs out for their morning bathroom break, feed them both, make myself breakfast, potentially tidy up the kitchen, and then have plenty of time to shower and get ready.

The routine of it all today makes my heart leap a bit! More so, the kick-start of Biblical truth to start my day was such a foundation in beginning a day with the right mindset.

Sometimes I would get up even earlier because 2-3 days a week I had sessions with a personal trainer. So throw a workout in that mix and give me a slice of humble pie. Because I felt awesome about myself.

Fast forward two years later and things are very different. No morning reading for any length over a cup of HOT coffee. I’ve now acquired a taste for cold coffee, seriously give it a try! (All the moms of littles are nodding, I think.) The dogs follow me around as soon as I wake up, still early but because Little Miss is an early-riser, as well. They seem to be saying, “We will follow you around to make sure you don’t forget about us and our bladders.” Workouts are when Little Miss is of the tolerant attitude to go on a walk or run in her stroller- some days she can’t even handle me pushing her around in a cushioned device, it’s rough for her I tell you.

All in all, take the routine two years ago and shift it around like a Rubik’s cube and wah-lah—you have the routine of today!

At first, I felt less—less Christian, less professional, less adult, less wife, less you name it. My morning routines were a very good and healthy routine to develop, but I had gotten to a point of idolizing them. I just checked every box and boy, it made me feel better because of that. But most of all, I think it was because I had “quiet time” before and this was just not the case anymore.

Church sermons, podcasts, leadership books, professional development seminars—they all tell me that a solid morning routine with quiet, reflective time is so significant. And although that has somewhat come back again, the truth is I just can’t have the quiet time like before. And that’s ok. I’m… We’re…. not less of anything because of that. I recently read in a book that each and every time a baby cries out in the dark of night, it is a sound reminder to Satan that precious, God-breathed life is in the dark of night. The noise-- early rising toddlers, beeping and buzzing emails, trailing-behind dogs, washing machine running at 4 am—it’s good and ok.

I can and will walk with the Lord in the noisiest of times. Actually, I walk closer because I feel less control and am reminded of all the life HE has created around me.

Young professionals, maybe you needed this reminder today? I do and did every day.

I want to be intentional about quiet time to read and think but sometimes, it just aint gonna happen.

So in that moment, join me in saying—

Quiet time? Not right now. I choose the noise and Lord give me this day my daily bread. Grace for the moment and just for that moment. You’ll meet me every hour, quiet or noisy. I’m not less of anything. (Except can you make me less sleepy, Lord?)  

Let me catch my breath here.

On Monday mornings, my team routinely has conference calls at 7 am. For those of you with little ones, you can picture the household at 7 am with a one and a half year old plus two dogs eager for breakfast (Well, we have a Great Dane so correction: one dog and one horse eager for breakfast), so my husband and I have tried to map things out for these Monday’s so I can take the call and chaos is minimized. And we normally do well…

This Monday was a little different.

I was preparing to be gone for the week for a work sales meeting. He also had some traveling in place and Little Miss was going to Grandma’s for the beginning of the week. Speaking of which, this is what happens when Little Miss goes to Grandma’s. Poor girl, she’s suffered through Rice Krispies and this all week.

I had just finished chasing the little one around the house, up the stairs, into the toy room while carrying her luggage (why does a one and a half year old require more luggage than Mom and Dad combined?!) and my time frame rolled around on the call. Perfect timing! This pregnant lady was literally panting. Like breathing into the phone, sounding like a Derby horse that had just ran the race. Panting.

I tried to smooth it over—jumping straight into my piece for the day but I just could not catch my breath. I tried shortening my sentences, choosing the quickest way to say whatever needed to be said to get through my report. I’m sure it was so obvious (and awkward) to my team mates that I couldn’t talk and breathe that morning.

Eventually I had to stop and say,

“I’m sorry. I’m out of breath here.”
“I just ran up the stairs after the little one.”

(Embarrassing that’s what did it)

And with that statement, my breath came back to me. Amazing, huh? Pausing for a few seconds gave my lungs time to settle.

Lesson learned.

The days are sometimes long and tough. It is ok to say “I’m out of breath here” rather than go on, doing a sloppy job just to get through something. Literally and figuratively, we will run out of breath from time to time. It is actually quite freeing to admit you can’t keep up, take the pause you need to re-group, and then get back to work.

Daily retreats, if you will, can look different for all of us. But they are so important. Trust me, my team mates could hear me suffering on the other line; folks in our lives can tell when we’re struggling and need a moment. Don’t be afraid to admit it—don’t be like me and try to “fake it till you make it”. I was on track to a sloppy update which wasn’t fair to anyone who had given up time to be on the call.

Young Professionals: we must be willing to admit when we’re out of breath. This will only serve us and those around us better as we admit we have reached a limit. But, take a moment and be willing to get back to work, not using it as excuse to cut out. 

Oh and note to self: DO NOT TAKE THE STAIRS during a conference call for the next three months. 

The Shift

High School and College can be a flurry of extracurriculars, right?

Sign up for EVERYTHING

Build that RESUME

NETWORK and build connections

And although over time we learn to channel our efforts and be a part of impactful organizations and endeavors, I believe that young professionals lose our zeal to sign up. We go from stage to stage of our thinking on “the extra stuff”.

 

High School & College: It’s all valuable; I need to do it all!

 

Post-College: Wait, did that time spent amount to anything?

 

Early Career: I need focus; no more “extras”

 

So this shift for many of us has taken place…

We don’t raise our hand to join an organization, volunteer for a project, and lead outside of our day-to-day responsibilities with work. We don’t mosey down the street to meet our neighbors as we once did in college in a dorm setting or in the classroom. Why? We don't have the time or energy or focus to do such. 

I get it.

There are seasons in life that call for this and some opportunities, although great ones, are not good for us individually and our life circumstances. After my first was born, I felt the tug-of-war between raising my hand to lead initiatives at work, for our church, and other professional and personal opportunities.

After learning from some wise professionals, here are a few bits of encouragement on how to think about leading in our personal and professional lives:

1.       Essentialism

Is it an opportunity with a YES said with 90-100% certainty? Then yes, it is. All other options are a big NO. We MUST be committed and passionate about the opportunity at hand. Don’t let guilt lead us into taking on any option presented in life.

And opportunities don’t always come about at the team meeting or through a weekly email update. I’ve had some great mentors share that sometimes it’s not at all about “raising your hand”; it’s more about presenting the plan. By taking an idea to your manager, one that you are 100% excited about, you can not only commit to the right things in life but also be the initiator behind those great ideas.  

2.       Serve

A list of excuses doesn’t shadow over the fact that serving is important. I hear many young professionals say—“When I’m retired” or “If I had work-sponsored service projects”. But we are called to serve in our communities in some fashion in the here and now. 

What organization or group can we get behind both with our resources? Time and money are both resources we can offer, along with numerous others. We discussed the money aspect in a previous post: 

http://www.kirbyogreen.com/blog/2016/5/25/money-and-millennials

3.         Network, always

Never lose site of the value of networking. This doesn’t always comes in the form of meet and greets and often takes more time than we millennials expect to put forth.

I sometimes forget that networking is about building credibility and building credibility is about proving character over time. So networking is not for the short-term—it is a lifelong process of connecting, following up, and making things happen.

Someone else is better to inform our generation of the “how to’s” but our reminder is the value of finding opportunities to do this and scheduling time for such a valuable part of our lives.

Now it's our time to make another shift into thinking about our involvement in the workplace and in our communities. 

Money and Millennials

I have two motivations for this post, and I’ll be fully upfront about them both:

1.       I want Millennials to understand their footprint when it comes to money.

2.       I want you to learn about EDGE.

Sometimes we Millennials forget our influence—to vote, to work, to serve, and to give. Money and Millennials. Believe it or not, those two carry quite influence.

By 2018, Millennials will have more spending power than any generation—surpassing the Baby Boomer generation.

In 2015, the expected spend of Millennials was $2.5 trillion.

Wow.

This group of young people carries influence with the money they spend every single day. If there was ever a time to be shaping our financial plans and goals, now is the time. We must see that the $2.5 trillion spent in 2015 determines more than just Apple’s marketing strategy for the future—this money determines the influence made upon communities of people. Churches. Organizations. Missions that have a vision for the future with success that hinges on Millennials.

Don’t each of us want to leave a legacy? 

I had the opportunity to give this talk last year on “Leaving a Legacy” which includes some of the information shared in this post:

https://vimeo.com/truthatwork/review/146639806/2a7fce6dd3

 A few practical applications based on this information for Millennials:

1.       Do we have a functioning budget that identifies areas of excess?

Budgets only work if we visit them on a regular basis—for some this is weekly or monthly. Several friends are huge fans of Mint, an app that allows you to set financial goals and track them according to your plugged in bank accounts, credit card(s), etc.

Let’s not make light of things like a “shopping problem”, eating out way too often, or splurges that throw off our entire month. The online shopping world makes this a terrible temptation, huh? Remember that building our legacies will not include the times that we stayed in a rut and continued overspending on something so minute.

2.       Do we have financial goals?

Set some financial goals for yourself and share them with the people that need to know. Paying off student loans by a specific month and year, doubling your annual giving to a specific organization, and purchasing a home by a certain time frame with 20% down are all great examples. Be specific when it comes to your timing; for me, this is the fire I need to stay on track and not deviate from the plan.

3.       Do we have a partner to achieve these goals?

I remember setting up an appointment with a financial planner after college graduation and accepting my first job. I felt utterly silly. What did I have in my name? A bachelors degree and a few cows. Seriously. But I am so glad that I made that contact and have built financial plans with this person. We all need a partner who is an expert in this space and is someone we can trust. Have someone on your team that is thinking for you in this area, deciphering all of the complicated financial lingo, and keeping you on track to achieve your goals.

4.       How do we think about leaving a legacy?

It is so tempting to avoid giving generously as a Millennial. We have college loans, vehicles to pay for, young families to support all while being in the early stages of our careers.

But think about our money’s impact both positive and negative. The more we grasp on to it tighter and tighter for self-interest, the more it takes over and consumes us. We may become excellent at budgeting and saving but have our identities wrapped up in $$$. On the other hand, becoming an excellent steward while giving generously becomes a healthy cycle and starts us on our path to leaving a legacy.

These words don’t come from someone who is acting as if she has this figured out, nailed down, and living out well. I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with excellent examples of stewards who give generously in their communities. These are their words of wisdom and the proof is in the pudding with those folks—years of consistency and years of leaving a legacy.

On to motivation number two:

I had the great opportunity last fall to participate in EDGEx (video shared earlier) at America’s Best Hope, and this was only possible because of an organization called EDGE. If we’ve spent more than ten minutes in conversation around personal and professional development, we’ve likely discussed EDGE, an organization I’ve been blessed to be a part of for almost four years.

EDGE mentoring is a faith-based organization focused on mentoring millennials by partnering emerging leaders who are hungry to grow with seasoned mentors who want to invest in the next generation.

If you are a young professional, man or woman, seeking mentorship that reflects this focus above, check out EDGE:

http://www.edgementoring.org/

Rain-X for the Ears

In Kentucky, we’ve had quite a bit of rainfall the past three weeks. For folks in agriculture, it has been a long three weeks of wanting to get back into the fields during a time of year meant for planting the crops and working hard.

This has been the common view out of my front windshield.

My husband, a safety specialist, insists on frequent application of his beloved Rain-X. I’m not opposed to the product—it’s just not my priority on Monday morning out the door.

The basics of Rain-X: you apply a coating to your windshield so when rain, sleet, or snow comes a falling, it acts as a barrier between your glass and those rain drops slide right off leaving your view more clear thus making the drive safer. Results show visibility improves by a full second or more—Safety Hubby loves this one.

Coating. Rain drops just glide right off. Safer, clear vision.

Here’s where we’re going.

Anyone on social media these days?

There are lots and lots of articles titled something like this:

What NOT to say to ________________________ (specific group of people)

An example of this would be this hilarious, yet so good video on behalf of adoptive families:

https://vimeo.com/92651492

I can’t say I understand these comments but I’m assuming adoptive families are so appreciative of this video. While it takes a comical route, I’m sure these comments have been said and are so frustrating.

Honestly, though, I can’t keep up with all of the “What NOT to say” articles, videos, and such that exist. Popular among millenials, everyone has seemed to create a “what NOT to say” for their peeps.

And while many of these bring light to insensitivities that exist and provide an understanding of what it’s like to be among a group of people that feel midunderstood, is anyone else afraid to say anything to anyone for fear of violating one of the ten or fifteen “not to’s”?

Maybe we need a little Rain-X for the ears?

An intentional barrier that allows those comments, when insensitive or rude, to slide right on off.

“Oh and let them continue being ignorant?”, you may add? Not exactly.

Think about the description of Rain-X: Coating. Rain drops just glide right off. Safer, clear vision.

When we don’t get offended at every comment made that violates the article specific to our people group and the ten things “not to say” to us, we then have the opportunity to engage with a clear vision.

1.       Assume the best:

Assume that this individual really isn’t sure what to say or didn’t mean to be hurtful. Sometimes we can be frustrated that this person hasn’t engaged with your type of people that often or ever at all. Instead of marking it as “ignorant”, assuming the best about their intentions can really help us individually be in a better spot as the conversation continues.  I get it, sometimes you just KNOW that person wasn’t coming from the best spot. But by doing this, you’re ready for the next step.

2.       Engage:

Correction is ok but tone, word choice, and facials are extremely important. Ah-ha… now the responsibility also falls in our court with the conversation!

I’m not the mastermind of this, example once being a nursing mom who works outside of the home. I'll share a real life example of a work trip from last year. 

Comment when trying to get into the nursing mom’s room during a work trip and finding a young, male adult napping with the room locked (note: did not take place at my company’s HQ):

Me: “Were you aware of what this room is used for?” (wrinkled forehead, harsh tone, red in face)

Him: “Yeah, I just didn’t think it was being used so I took a nap.”

Me: Shakes head, crosses arms, waits for him to exit the room. Ignorant was the word said to self.

Ok, so not a great model of this, huh?

Each opportunity is one to engage. I find this very often with the work that my company does in agriculture biotechnology. Sometimes we need to come off our high horse, stop being offended, and use the moment to engage with someone who may not have been exposed to what we do and who we are.

3.       Move on:

Even if the conversation didn’t end with a lightbulb moment for the other person, move on! No need for a Facebook rant, although if you’re really worked up a text conversation with a good friend could be beneficial, especially someone who knows what you’re going through.

Rain-X for the ears… apply the coating and watch it work wonders!