Stay Cool

StayCool

As a kid my favorite day of school was always the last. All the work of the year was behind us and summer had it’s own promises of fun in the sun and some bad daytime TV. Us kids would sign off in each others yearbooks with clichés of advice to get through the summer before leveling up another grade. “Stay cool” was always my favorite. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Friends, I need a break. I want to celebrate the summer, soak up some sun, go on a Netflix binge or two, and focus on my family as we make a big transition into a new home. And I promise that when I come back, just like on the first day of school, I’ll do so with a badass outfit and lots of stories to tell.

So until then … stay cool.

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I won’t completely be MIA. Here’s where you can still find me:
• Writing weekly over at the Braid Creative Blog
Letters for Creatives – every Friday, straight to your inbox
DIY Coaching for Creatives email series – 4 weeks of work / life guidance for $40
Instagram – I’m all about Instagram lately. It’s like bite-size, no pressure blogging.

Or if you’re new here you might like to read:
Coaching for Creatives - a weekly series where I share work / life tidbits
The pregnancy series - my pregnancy documented weekly
Our adventure to Nepal and Mt. Everest Base Camp - it was life-changing

The Beach

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I haven’t looked forward to a vacation this much in a long time. Every year my family takes a week long vacation in Seaside, Florida. The whole scene is very manicured – especially compared to the kinds of adventures Jeremy and I have been on over the past few years… but we love it. Mostly we love all being together. It’s especially cool that my brother flies down from NYC every year to spend the week with us too.

This year we stumbled upon a recreation area complete with sand volleyball, a small basketball court, shuffleboard, and a croquet set. It felt very Dirty Dancing but we had so much fun. In the mornings Jeremy would wake up early with the baby and make me breakfast while I slept in. We would swim in our salt water pool, ride bikes into town to shop or grab goodies from Modica Market (the best little grocery store and deli ever), and challenge each other to shuffleboard tournaments. Mid-day we would take naps or get cozy with our library books. In the evenings we all pitched in to cook big family dinners and I would make everyone piña coladas or margaritas (my secret talent is that I’m really good at making drinks). I lived in my bikini and barely thought about work. We didn’t even make it out to the beach until three days in – and when we did we boogie boarded with my nephew until the sun got a little too hot on our pasty white skin.

I’ll admit that vacationing with a baby isn’t the most relaxing thing in the whole world. I had a lot of help though – one day I snuck off with Jeremy to pretend like we were Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey while my sister napped with Fox. And my mom, who was born to be a grandma, was always more than willing to take him off our hands. As we were leaving my sister mentioned that this is the only time we’ll ever go on vacation with Fox this age – which was exactly the reminder I needed to remain present to the moment and really be grateful for all the adventures Fox is getting to take at such a young age. I hope this is setting him up for a life of world travel and new experiences.

So what’s next? We’re going to be staying close to home for a while as we make a big move into a new home. That’s right. We’re moving out of our 1920s bungalow and into a 1950s split-level mid-century modern ranch. Stay tuned.

Happy Father’s Day

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Dear Jeremy,
I wanted to make your first Father’s Day really special. I was planning to buy you a very expensive bottle of whiskey along with a letterpressed love note. But the time I had dedicated to running errands to properly celebrate you was spent getting the car washed … and did you know that you can’t take babies into the liquor store!? So then I thought I’d wake up early and make you breakfast for a change, but per our typical routine you let me sleep in while you and Fox made our morning oats and eggs. So this is my love note to you:

You are the best dad (and husband) we could ask for. And more. Watching you love Fox is my favorite thing in the whole world. 5 months in and I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to do this parent thing with anyone but you. You are really really good at being a dad. Happy first Father’s Day. XO

More Writing (Less Emailing)

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It’s obvious that since having a baby my time has been spread thin. It truly is a balance – a give and take. If I put energy and time into one thing, it usually means I’m not going to be able to give my attention to something else. Prioritizing is a skill I’m learning to hone.

In order here are the things that are important to me:
• HOME // Jeremy, Fox, cooking good food, weekends with our family
• WORKING OUT // weightlifting, yoga, barre3, cardio, long walks
• WORK // coaching, client meetings, blogging (here and at Braid), letter writing
• FRIENDS // book clubs, coffee dates, dinner parties

Nowhere on that list is emailing, yet I probably spend a good 75% of my work time tending to emails. Granted, some of this is creative direction to my team, interviews for blog features, or follow-up emails with my one-on-one clients. But more often then not it’s reactionary requests – and I can’t help but respond immediately because it gives me instant gratification of feeling productive. But it’s really not.

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There are lots of articles out there on how to manage your inbox. Here are a couple of my favorites:
• Alexandra Franzen – she writes the BEST scripts for responding to tricky situations – from conflict resolution, to saying no, to how to respond to emails no one wants to receive. I’ve used her scripts almost word-for-word and they are magic.
Zen Habits – Leo Babatua is my favorite online minimalist and I love reading his email habits.

Okay, so reading about how to manage your email is great and all. But putting it into practice is another thing. The thing is, I need to spend less time emailing so I can spend more time blogging. Writing feeds my soul. Responding doesn’t. Writing reaches more people at once. Responding only helps one person at a time – and while that’s worthy I have big demanding dreams of my own that need to be tended to right now.

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So here’s some new practices (and it will take practice, I’m sure) that I would like to try in order to spend less time emailing and more time writing:
• Write first thing in the morning – BEFORE I check my email.
• Turn off email push-notifications on my phone
• Check email twice a day and that’s it / block off time just for emailing. (I think this will be hard!)
• Have business inquiries and requests go straight to my employees to respond to
• Limit my emails to just two or three sentences. My biggest fear is being misunderstood (especially in tone) and brevity in email can often feel cold … but I think I’ll be doing myself and the person on the other side a favor by being brief. I might even add a little explanation for brevity in my footer.
• Stop responding to emails that don’t really need a response. For example, I send out a lot of one word “Thanks!” emails.

Do you have any other ideas for managing email? What are some tactics that work for you?

Regroup

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A couple weeks ago it was raining here in Oklahoma City. I did my usual morning routine of an oatmeal breakfast cooked by man, a feeding for the baby, a long sleepy cuddle, and then the uncoordinated choreography that is getting out of the house to take Fox to daycare (without forgetting anything essential) and heading off to work (while trying to get my head in the game). I was feeling proud of myself for making it to work a good 25 minutes before a Skype meeting with a client when I managed to face plant into a muddy puddle in the parking lot at my office.

You see, I was stepping over a low slung chain that separates the parking lot from the building and my boot barely caught. As I was going down the world started moving in slow motion and I thought “Surely, not. No… wait… yes. This is happening.” So there I was laying in the mud, next to a commercial-sized dumpster, and I considered just not getting up. Ever. But I did, of course. I got up, went home, contemplated crying (but didn’t), changed, and still made it back to the office in time for my meeting.

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I accidentally fell off the face of the earth for a minute. And by “the earth” I mean this blog. I took a bit of time offline to regroup. I worked and I worked out. I took long walks. I meditated. I coached. I read. I cooked and ate dinner with friends. I unconditionally loved a tired and teary baby with my whole heart. I swam in the ocean and got kissed by the sun. I said yes more than I said no. I ate a powdered donut on national donut day (and didn’t even Instagram it). I did a little bit of thinking but mostly I did a whole lot of living.

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve last posted and in that time I toyed with the idea of just not coming back. But when it comes down to it I believe in the power of blogging. My blog is like my magic wand for shaping not only who I am but who I want to be – I love that. But with blogging there is also a responsibility to vulnerability – a commitment to living out loud – and that’s not always easy. But here I am.

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When I’m coaching creatives who want to get in the swing of blogging I always tell them to just start where they are. I tell them that the first post doesn’t have to be totally spectacular. In fact, it really doesn’t matter. The important part is just hitting publish… because that first post is just the beginning. So here I am starting where I am – even if that is fresh out of a puddle of mud. It’s only been two weeks but this post here feels like a new beginning. More on that later… because right now the most important thing is hitting publish.