Lessons from the Big Apple

I recently spent four days in New York City for a fun girls’ trip. It is an incredible city and one that I am more than happy to visit whenever possible. The city that never sleeps also never disappoints. Each time I have played tourist, the streets of NYC provided numerous life analogies and lessons.

Our 2016 trip was full of different opportunities to be self-reflective. I don’t know if you’re like me but I am almost in a constant state of reflection. As I go about my daily life and run into different moments, I often subconsciously am filtering and filing away experiences. I later return to these little snapshots of time and apply some meaning to them. Examples? There were plenty while in the Big Apple!

The first moment of reflection came as we were flying into LaGuardia airport. We were scheduled to arrive at a specific time so when the plane started to make a clear and what seemed to be a slightly rapid decent, I began to get a little nervous. I enjoy flying and especially love taking off. The feeling of the plane’s wheels lifting off the ground is probably one of my most favorite things in life. Landing? Now that’s a slightly different story. I love landing into my home airport of Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) because it is such a smooth ride back into the Lone Star state. This particular approach into New York City was quite the opposite. It came fast and furious. As I said to the pilot as we exited, “That felt like an aircraft carrier landing.” Boom! The bird is out of the sky. As a matter of fact, we landed 13 minutes before our scheduled arrival so a part of me wonders if the traffic controller called us in early and so out of the sky we came in hot.

One minute I was reading a dumb, brainless magazine with a lot of pictures about reality TV stars and the next we were on the ground ready to start our girls’ tour of the city. There was little mental prep time for our arrival. Has this sort of experience ever happened to you? Where life just showed up and you had to adjust quickly? I am sure it has to all of us. It is usually more than just landing quickly but this served as a good moment to reflect on how well do we adjust to ever changing life situations. Some of us can switch gears quicker than others and it can often be a cause of stress for people.

My next moment for reflection came as my friend and I tried to check into our hotel. I had been in charge of this reservation and even though I am 100% sure the computer screen said “two double beds” when I booked it, the confirmation said “double bed.” Singular. Not double. We did not realize this issue with the reservation until we opened the door to our proposed room and saw one bed. Surely they just made a mistake and gave us the wrong room so we schlepped our luggage back downstairs to the lobby. Once back down there they informed us that our reservation said one bed, they were completely sold out, and did not believe the single bed mistake was actually theirs to own. I, on the other hand, felt very strongly that I travel enough and am a perfectionist enough to know that I did not book the wrong room.

This moment provided an immediate reflection of joy and excitement. What? Joy and excitement? Yes! You see, I had not really wanted to stay at that particular hotel and once I saw it in person, I was sure I didn’t want to stay there. This goof allowed me the freedom to say “adios” to the one bed hotel and high-tail it further uptown to the beautiful accommodations that I had stayed at before on a previous visit. Sure, there were issues of billing and getting my refund from the one bed dump, but I was in New York City with my best girlfriend and I wasn’t going to fret over it right then! The need to switch hotels upon our arrival to the city reminded me that sometimes things don’t work out for very good reasons and just going with the flow of life is for our benefit. As I laid my head on my pillow that night and in the hotel I felt very comfortable, I was so happy that the other reservation fell through.

The third moment I want to share with you happened while on the couture floor of Bergdorf Goodman. One of the things I enjoy the most about visiting NYC is the history of the fashion industry that flourishes in the region. I love walking along 5th Avenue and Madison and seeing the beautiful designer stores full of incredibly detailed designs and fabrics. These gorgeous items are way out of my budget and never coming home with me, but I can still get giddy and excited to visit these historical designer houses that have made heavy footprints in women’s fashion and culture.

During this trip, my friend and I walked through the incredible Bergdorf Goodman store. Even though it was painfully apparent by my casual vacation clothing that I was a tourist and not going to be trying on any items, each and every staff member was exceptionally gracious and welcoming. Immediately upon arriving to another designer’s area of the store, I happily announced to the sales person, “just looking around!” I didn’t want to pretend to be something I am not and a couture shopper at Bergdorf Goodman is what I am not. I am happily okay with that too. As I walked from designer to designer, I reflected on the fact that there are often times when we feel out of place in a particular environment and our attitude makes all the difference in our enjoyment level of the experience. Could I have felt sloppy and low-brow while walking around very high-end fashion that I can’t afford? Sure. But what point would there be in degrading myself in my inner dialogue? Instead I accepted myself as I am and enjoyed the beautiful items that will never be mine to own. Were other ladies shopping and taking Bergdorf bags home with them? Yes. Did it bring out jealousy in me? Not at all. I only needed to walk up the street towards Central Park to be reminded that some people are wondering where their next meal is coming from. Unfortunately, in our country you can see people plunking down thousands of dollars in department stores and others do not have any place indoors to sleep at night. Honestly, the spectrum is a little too wide for my taste. As I walked among the couture dresses and watched other women buying, I did not succumb to envy because I know my place in the world and am happy with it. I have the means to book a getaway with a friend but not enough for high fashion. I am okay with my perch on the tree of life.

As we maneuver through our daily lives, we should be aware of the different moments that can lead us to a quiet inner dialogue. What life reflection moments have you had recently? I hope you are gentle with yourself during these little spaces in time.

Things to Remember When on Empty

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” – Charles Dickens

Almost three weeks ago I published my first sole-authored book. The lead up to launch day reminds me of this famous quote by Mr. Dickens. It truly has been the best and worst of times. Through each season of life we get to glean a little more wisdom and, sometimes, a little thicker skin. Now that I am a couple weeks out of the post-launch vortex, it seemed like a good time to encapsulate some of what I have noticed while running this intense sprint to complete the book and get it into the hands of readers.

As an entrepreneur, there are times when not only the candle is burning at both ends, but in the middle and just about melted down to a puddle of wax. That basically sums up my energy levels during the book project. It was a slow slide into chronically living on fumes. Many of us can recall times when we would have to muster up enough energy to get through the must needed tasks of adult living, and the fluffy extras just dropped off the cliff into the abyss of not going to happen.

When we are in seasons like this, it is a great time to watch ourselves and the attitude of those around us. For our own self-reflection, we need to be aware that our reactions may be more exaggerated because we are crazy tired. Little life annoyances that would have left us shaking our heads before, may now be dealt in ways that are unusual for us. Example? While driving on a busy street that resembles a slow freeway, I was first off the blocks at a light and apparently I did not gun by car’s engine quite fast enough for the lady behind me so she kept incessantly honking at me. When I jerked my head up to look in the rear-view mirror, I saw that she was wildly waving her arms in the manner as if to shoo me forward and then, she gave me the middle finger salute. Oh no she did not! Oh yes she did!! I would like to say I just shook my head in calm, I-have-my-emotions-under-control disbelief and drove my car normal from that point but, I did not. Remember, I have been living life on empty and right at that moment, rude-lady-driver was the tipping point of my patience. So I very passive-aggressively slowed waaaaaay down and continued to check my rear-view mirror to watch this lady alternate between waving me on, to flipping me off again, to then jerking her mini-van into the lane next to me and zoom past. Did I just keep my eyes on the road and my hands at 10 and 2? No, I did not. I jumped into the cesspool with her and we exchanged “friendly” gestures.

Did our road rage stop there? Nope. It continued light after light after light. After a while I started to worry that perhaps she was headed to the same school pick up that I was and good grief, was this rude-lady-driver a fellow school parent?! Oh, please say it isn’t so. Reality set in of just how ridiculous I had behaved in response to this extremely annoying person. Luckily she kept going when I turned left to head to the school and I really felt stupid by my exhaustion induced actions.

Now, being in a busy season does have some benefits. Maybe not the most patient while driving but living on empty can bring into crystal clear clarity who we want to spend time with and who is a soul drain. When we find ourselves very thin on time and attention, we see which individuals are there to walk along side of us and who is there for their own benefit.

When we have nothing to give, the takers seem to vanish and that’s a good thing.

Often times when we are well-rested we have the energy to make excuses for people’s poor behaviors or attitude towards us. We may fill in the gaps where they failed to do what they were supposed to do and our actions cover up the truth about them. When we have normal energy, we will do the heavy lifting to maybe keep a broken relationship limping along. This can occur among family, friends, or in the workplace. During normal energy times, we may take on more weight than the other person. Now, enter into a season of spinning deadlines or high stress and no way are we expelling time or resources to make a bad situation slightly better. Sweep the issues under the rug? Nope. Have the desire to bounce back again and make something keep going that needs to end? Nope. Going to spend time with people who have shown their true colors? Nope. Nope. Nope.

Your true friends and your true foes become a lot more clear during and after a season of living on empty.

When you have sorted through who is there for you, these people become like little breaths of air in a stuffy room. They shine like gems of many beautiful colors. They are your people and your appreciation of them runs at an even deeper level. Relationally cleaning house is a good thing and a time of being on empty will help facilitate healing changes.

If you find yourself in a tough, busy season, I hope that you will give yourself the gift of acceptance for where you are right now. Make a plan for when your busyness will end so it doesn’t feel like a never ending dark tunnel.  If you are working on a project (like I was with the book), I hope it is a huge success for you. Trust me when I say that you will learn about yourself, but mostly about how other people relate to you going after your dreams.

Keep dreaming big!
Shannon

Sometimes…

As I looked at this picture on my friend’s phone, I had the thought of “sometimes we need to put on a pink tutu and run through bubbles.”

It got me thinking about some of the other “sometimes” moments that happen.

Sometimes we need more sleep.

Sometimes we need to sit on the couch and watch a marathon of Marvels on Netflix (a Boy Mom thing to do for sure).

Sometimes we need to have a bag of popcorn and glass of wine for dinner.

Sometimes we need to take time away from work.

Sometimes we need to jump in the warm ocean waves.

Sometimes we need to share our opinion on a topic.

Sometimes we need to not take another person’s irritation personally.

Sometimes we need to stop waiting for someone to get emotionally healthy.

Sometimes we need to say “Go away.”

Sometimes we need to not feel guilty for saying “Go away.”

Sometimes we need to trust our gut.

Sometimes we need to welcome new people into our lives.

Sometimes we need to know that everyone has a story.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of how far we have come in our personal growth.

Sometimes we need to not care what other people are doing in life.

Sometimes we need to laugh loudly with our friends.

Sometimes we need a couple of friends who love us unconditionally.

Sometimes we need to not be a part of a person’s life just because they invited us in.

Sometimes we need to say “No.”

Sometimes we need to say “Yes.”

Sometimes we need to act silly and not care about our age.

Sometimes we need to take someone’s name and contact information out of our phone.

Sometimes we need to take a nap.

Sometimes we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone.

Sometimes we need to tell our story.

Sometimes we need to not sit on the sidelines.

Sometimes we need to stop making an excuse for being mistreated.

Sometimes we need to buy ourselves a bouquet of flowers.

Sometimes we need to buy a plane ticket.

Sometimes we need a new stamp in our passport.

Sometimes we need to know other people love us.

Sometimes we need to face our fears.

Sometimes we need to listen to other people’s viewpoints.

Sometimes we need to fight for a relationship that is important to us.

Sometimes we need to know when to let go.

Sometimes we need to buy a Groupon to something we would never think of trying.

Sometimes we need to realize we are doing better than we think we are.

What are your “sometimes” thoughts?

Keep dreaming big!

Shannon

An Entrepreneur’s People

The idea that as entrepreneurs we need and want people in our lives who are reliable probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. When we have multiple plates spinning all simultaneously, a business owner must learn to rely on others to help carry the load. If the entrepreneur doesn’t, guess what comes next? Plates start falling and crashing to the floor. Some of those plates represent years of hard work and dedication. Some of those plates symbolize significant portions of our earthly financial net worth. Plates falling means bad things for the business owner and anyone else she or he has along on the wild ride of owning the place. Signing the checks comes with a huge responsibility.

What is one way that a business owner can keep important projects from crumbing into a pile of obvious failure? Be surrounded by Viking ships and not dingy boats. You see, Viking ships are those people in an entrepreneur’s life who are dependable, do what they say they are going to do and basically don’t sink with the weight of normal demands. Viking ships can be employees, contract staff, outside vendors or even people in our personal lives who provide us with the support needed to help us succeed.

As independent as most entrepreneurs can be in their personality, it is super healthy to recognize that we can’t be everything our business requires for it to thrive. Sure, in the wee beginning we were CEO, CFO, human resources and the janitor but as our business grows, that ability to be all things has to shift. Otherwise, we end up being really awful at all the job functions we take on. When the time comes to need assistance in the form of other people, we don’t want to be anchoring ourselves to dingy boats.

You know these types, right? The folks that continuously grumble about their job description or tasks that have been assigned to them. They are, perhaps, vendors who say they will deliver a good quality product at a specified date and it never seems to happen as promised. A dingy boat could also be someone in our personal life who is inconsistent in their care and appreciate of us. They might be that fair-weathered person who shows up when you’re the life of the party but disappears into the water when you try to share the messier side of entrepreneur life.

I sincerely hope that you are currently surrounded by Viking ships who are out there on your behalf holding weight that you don’t need to carry. If on the other hand, you look around and a few dingy boats have or are about to go under the water, it might be time to re-evaluate who you do business and personal life with in this season of the entrepreneur adventure.

Keep Dreaming Big!

Shannon

Adulting Sucks Sometimes

(“Adulting” – The Action of Being an Adult)

Sometimes I don’t feel like being an adult. Sometimes I just feel like ignoring the responsibilities that adults have to deal with every day.  Sometimes I don’t want to have to follow social norms and filter my words so that they fit into society’s expectation of how an adult is supposed to communicate. Sometimes I want to have a full on public hissy fit and have it be okay.

The other day I was able to witness my child alter-ego in full form. I was in a crowded store shopping for something I must have needed, not just wanted, because to know me is to know I don’t enjoy shopping. Playing into gender stereotypes here for a minute, I think I shop like a dude. I enter stores determined to get exactly what I need, to do so in the quickest amount of time and with determination to not waste energy taking the long path to my desired purchases. I plan in my head how to get in and get out!

While on my path to obtain the items I needed to buy, I turned a corner and there she was. An adorable toddler lying on the floor full on screaming. She wasn’t waving her arms or kicking her feet. She just was on her back, arms and legs stretched out and she was communicating her feelings in a real clear manner. Her mom was un-phased by her daughter’s moment on the floor. Mom was close by and kept on shopping. As I passed by, mom looked up and gave me a nice friendly smile. She was clearly not rocked by her child’s behaviors. She was just letting her have her moment. I wish adults could allow each other to have our moments. Instead we have to shove our moments down, hidden away inside ourselves so as to not disrupt the fake façade of adult life.

By the time I reached the end of the aisle, the little girl was on her feet, wiping her tears from her face and moving on to the rest of her day.  It dawned on me that after the shopping trip, the little chick was probably going to go home and get to take a long nap! She was living the good life and she didn’t even know it. I knew it though and was longing to be her for a day.

As adults we can’t let our true emotions hang out for all to see and seldom do we get to take long naps in the middle of each day. Instead we shove ourselves into socially constructed boxes and go do adult life as we are taught. Obviously, being an adult isn’t all bad and comes with many perks. There are just some things I wish were different. I would like to recommend that we all try and find moments in our daily lives where we can step out of our adult constraints and be silly or express our true emotions or take a good long nap. Let’s not get so far away from our light-hearted kid selves that we completely forget what it feels like.

What are some ways you can you set aside adultness for a little while each day?

Keep Dreaming Big!

Shannon

You can also view this post at www.plaidforwomen.com