I wanted to be Rachel Green before I even knew who she was…

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Yes, for those of you who are familiar with the TV series Friends you already know who Rachel Green is, or was (Oh man has it really been 13 years since that show ended -YIKES I’m old!!) In fact, you are probably singing the song in your head now…”I’ll be there for you… when the rain starts to fall….”

BUT, for those of you who are not so familiar with Friends let me introduce Rachel Karen Green. She was the character played by Jennifer Anniston. The spoiled rich kid who instead or marrying her fiance Barry left him at the altar and moved into the city (New York City) with no money, no job, and no place to live.  After meeting up with a long-lost friend from high school, Monica Geller (played by Courteney Cox) she moved in with her, became friends with all of her friends and got a job as a waitress at the local coffee shop.

Now you’re probably wondering WHY in the world would anyone want to be like that? Well, for those of you that have seen the series, you know that Rachel gets fed up with her job at the coffee-house and breaks her way into the fashion biz at Bloomingdale’s. Eventually, she moves up the ladder and on over to Ralph Lauren where she becomes a Merchandising Manager/Product Developer. Now that’s the Rachel Karen Green that I wanted to be.

The reason I say I wanted to be her before I knew she existed is because Friends aired from 1994-2004, however, I didn’t start watching the show (I highly recommend starting from the beginning … all seasons are on Netflix) until 2002. I was already in college and well on my way to graduating with my Bachelors of Science in Apparel Merchandising, Design and Product Development.

So yes, I dreamed of being in New York one day as an Apparel Merchandiser or designer, jet setting off overseas to Milan and Paris to see what trends would be heading west in the next couple seasons. From before I had my driver’s license I had a job at one of the most fashion-forward boutiques in Birmingham, AL  (don’t laugh they actually exist in the deep south too… you should check them out here…). I was fortunate enough to get to go on a few buying trips with the team when I was in high school (which I will forever be grateful… what an opportunity for a high schooler!) It was there that I fell in love with fashion, the business of fashion and the art of apparel… and yes, those of you who know me SHOES!!! Shoes that I had NO business buying at my age, but I just couldn’t help myself.

After high school, I went on to college to pursue my degree so that I could get started in my dream job somewhere in the fashion world. I found a few sketches from a Sr. Project the other day… man those were the days, sitting around with sketch pads and pencils doodling, I’m lucky now if I get to borrow one of my kid’s crayons to jot down something I forgot to put on my grocery list.

 

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One of my fashion doodles

 

After college, I interned with Saks, Inc. Corporate Headquarters in the buying offices and ultimately got a full-time offer (I worked in the Children’s area, Home and Men’s while I was there). Then it was off to Baltimore Maryland to work for Jos. A. Bank Headquarters as an Assistant Merchandise Manger and was then promoted to Merchandise Manager a few months after joining. I was living my dream, I was 23, A Merchandise Manager working in the fashion industry (my husband LOVED that I worked in men’s clothing… he got LOTS of samples)  making pretty good money and the Lord had different plans. just three months after Daniel and I were married we found out we were pregnant with our first child… SCARY!!! I was always one who wanted to wait to have kids, work towards my career for a while and one day I would have kids. FUNNY that is NOT what happened at all!

Daniel and I moved back to Birmingham so we could be close to family… I mean I needed my mom, I had no idea how to be a mom, I was 23 and had done my deal of babysitting growing up but that was easy, you swoop in play with the kids and put them to bed…and people paid you for it.. this was going to be WAY different!

Our firstborn came into the world (that could be a whole blog on its own… Little Miss I had to take 18 hours before I finally decided to come) and once she arrived (and yes a second and a third) I had a string of various jobs that ended up pointing me into a marketing career. I’ve worked for large companies, small companies and currently work for a large global marketing agency which I must say is THE BEST… I thoroughly enjoy my job (yes, I have my days… just like we all do) and feel very blessed that I have been given the opportunity to be a part of an amazing team.

Where am I going with all of this you ask… good question, I just stopped to reread what I had typed and I am ALL OVER THE PLACE … If you know me and my dad, you know we have a hard time “landing the plane” HA, I don’t JUST look like you, dad!

But I realized something while on this journey. At some point, it developed into a love of business, not just the Fashion business (I think I’m close to a 50/50 when it comes to right brain/left brain). Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy putting stuff together, doodling when I have the chance, and tapping into my more artsy side. BUT,  working with a brand or a specific product and using data to inform a marketing and sales strategy is more exciting to me these days.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but my biggest challenge has always been time. If I just had a few more hours in a day, it would be perfect. But I’ve learned that time is a limited commodity, it’s all about being focused and trusting others to help you instead of doing everything yourself!

So when I was presented with an opportunity to build a business with Rodan and Fields this past year, I took a long hard look (think like 9 months hard look), I did my research, I tested the products for 8 months and here is what I learned.

Here is a company run by two Stanford-educated women and doctors with a top-notch product in a multi-billion dollar industry. Remember Proactive??? (it changed the face of acne). The same doctors who created Proactive saw the want/need in the market for an anti-aging line and went to work.

The Products – at first these products were sold in high-end department stores only and ended up being the leading clinical skincare brand at Nordstrom. It was so successful that they began to see the products in the major magazines winning readers and editors choice awards. The Stanford-educated founders Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields decided to bring dermatology to the masses and break into the direct sales market. Their reach has become incredible making them the fastest growing premium skin care company/brand in North America over the big three… Estee Lauder, Lancôme and Clinique.

How good can they be you ask? Well, when we to Sedona this past November I received so many compliments on my skin (and I had absolutely NO makeup on – remember my posts on our hiking excursions) by the time I made it home I had 7 orders!

I’m so excited about this business but have been skeptical about sharing it outwardly with my friends and family as I was worried about what people would think. You see direct sales comes with a stigma. Believe me, I know… I was one of those that thought the same thing. BUT, then I realized I’ve been able to build a pretty decent following for R+F in three short months (an extra paycheck each month is NICE) and I haven’t even scratched the surface, nor have I ever announced to my family and friends that I’m even doing this. SO, in 2017 I’m not holding back. I have some pretty big goals for myself and my team one of them is to trust my gut and not worry what others think. I’m going to put myself out there and grow this business to what I KNOW it can be.

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SO….it’s out there… I finally announced it publicly and now it’s time to see this thing grow even bigger…Here’s to a BIG 2017!!!!!

 

 

 

You’re NOT a Tree!

 

2017 – A new year brings new opportunities, new adventures and the chance to make some new changes in your life. It’s now day two of 2017 (yes I was super lazy yesterday on day one, but had fun hanging out with my kids) and I am thinking of all the things I want to do in the new year.

I want to be more financially stable, I want to spend more time with my kids, I want to excel in my career, I want to build something of my own, I want to be a better mom and wife, I want to be more healthy, I want to create good habits. I’ve been really good at setting goals in the past. I have spent lots of time thinking through them, charting the course but when it comes time to execute (like a lot of moms) I put all of my goals and happiness last and make sure that everyone else is taken care of first. At the end of the year, I look back at my goals that are not attained in frustration.

I had some good ideas, think of how much better off I would be now if I had worked at those goals every day of 2016? Well, not this year! I’m NOT a tree… I don’t like where I am and I am going to move. NO one is going to do it for me and it’s not going to be easy. There will be hard days and even harder days, but that is not going to stop me pushing forward to accomplish some pretty big things for 2017.

One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain. This year I am going to focus daily on what I have to gain, financial freedom, extra time with my kiddos (who are growing too fast), personal growth, health, and good habits.

This year, I may be annoying to some, I may have people scratching their head at times, what I’m doing may look strange, nothing like me and something that you might not do in a million years. BUT, I will not worry about what others think (remember my post Don’t Be a Flat Squirrel!) I am going to be unapologetic about pursuing my goals and dreams this year. I’ll keep you updated on my progress because I need accountability, I’ll share my story along the way as I hope it helps you in chasing your dreams for 2017. Today is the beginning of whatever I want, and what I want for myself and my family is going to be BIG for 2017.

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#Giving Tuesday

 

November 29th was the Global Day of Giving.

Yes, after you’ve probably spent way too much money on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday (not me, unfortunately, I haven’t started Christmas shopping yet) we now have the kick off of the charitable giving season known as #GivingTuesday. We decided to give to a non-profit association  that furthers the research, education, and solutions for Hydrocephalus, The Hydrocephalus Association.

It wasn’t until April 21st of 2015 that I even knew what Hydrocephalus was. The afternoon before, I had taken our new addition to the family for her 5-month check-up. Moms, you know the drill… strip the baby down to the diaper, place them on the freezing cold scale for a quick weight and length check and then back to the exam room for a head circumference measurement. Now, I had noticed that my little one’s head seemed a bit larger than normal, but I just figured she would grow into it. Up until now, we had always been fortunate enough to have normal, uneventful routine check-ups at the doctor’s office. It kind of hit me in the gut when the doctor brought out the growth chart analysis and showed me that her head circumference was measuring off the charts. “What does that mean,” I asked?  The doctor proceeded to tell me that he wanted us to go across the street to the diagnostic and imaging center where they had scheduled a CT scan. We would have the test done first thing in the morning and they would call us directly with the findings.

I remember feeling numb, not really knowing what to do. Of course, I called my husband and told him everything I had discussed with the doctor while driving home. I called my mom and told her as she and my dad are prayer warriors and man did I feel like we needed some. The next day seemed to take an eternity to arrive. Daniel and I both went in for the CT scan, but when we got there only one parent was allowed to go in the room. Daniel took one look at my face and said, “you go,” God bless that man! Luckily our little one didn’t move an inch so there was no need for sedation. The CT was short, just a few minutes and the nurse said they would send the results to the doctor who would give us a call.

I had no idea how long it would take and trying desperately to keep my mind off of things (right, like I could do that) I took our little one to go walk around at the mall for a bit. We had just made it to the second floor of Dillard’s when my phone rang… it was the doctor’s office calling. I quickly picked up and heard Dr. Ball’s voice on the other end of the phone. He proceeded to tell me that the CT scans confirmed what he had been thinking, our baby girl had a condition known as Hydrocephalus.

Now for those of you who like to break down the parts of a word in order to find its meaning, you would know that Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek words hydro meaning water and cephalus meaning head. The Hydrocephalus Association defines it as an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within cavities in the brain called ventricles. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the ventricles and in the choroid plexus. It circulates through the ventricular system in the brain and is absorbed into the bloodstream. This fluid is in constant circulation and has many functions, including to surround the brain and spinal cord and act as a protective cushion against injury. It contains nutrients and proteins necessary for the nourishment and normal function of the brain and carries waste products away from surrounding tissues.Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of CSF that is produced and the rate at which it is absorbed. As the CSF builds up, it causes the ventricles to enlarge and the pressure inside the head to increase thus making the head size increase as well.

At this point, I was in “fix it mode”… tell me what to do! Dr. Ball was great, he went on to say that he wanted us to go straight to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock (three hours from Fayetteville) he knew that by the time we would arrive we would need to go to the emergency room, so he had already called ahead and alerted the pediatric neurosurgeon that we were coming and paved the way for a smooth arrival. I quickly jumped in the car called Daniel and told him what we were doing and what needed to be done so we could make our way to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. As I had done just a few months back, I called my friend’s Karla and Wendy to once again seek help with the older children for the night until my parents could arrive in Fayetteville the next day. And again, without hesitation or pause, they both jumped in to help as needed.

A short while later we were on our way to Little Rock with our little girl. I think Daniel and I may have held hands the entire ride. Once we arrived they already had our paperwork, but we did have to wait what seemed like an eternity. My parents, on their way to Fayetteville to help with the older kids, stopped by the hospital in Little Rock to see how we were doing and bring us some food. It was good to see their faces and hear their calming voices as we waited to see the neurosurgeon. Finally, we were called back and spoke with a neurosurgeon who had already talked to his superior, Dr. Cai, regarding our daughter’s condition. We did receive a bit of good news, he told us that her case was not bad enough to operate tonight (although by this time it was about 2:00am) that he would have his nurse schedule surgery for the next day.

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Resting with daddy the day before surgery

We checked into a hotel in Little Rock and tried to sleep a little bit. We spent the next few hours in downtown Little Rock trying to keep busy. The nurse called and gave us the rundown of how to prepare, what to expect and told us to be at the hospital at 8:00am in the morning. We were there promptly at 8:00 filling out paperwork and having her vitals taken, all of the normal pre-surgery prep seemed to be happening quickly.

We were taken back into a private pre-op room and dressed little miss in her surgery gown. The surgeon, Dr. Cai came in with his operating room nurse, the anesthesiologist came in… basically, anyone who was going to be in the room with our daughter came into speak with us, tell us what they were going to do and tried to put our minds at ease. Dr. Cai, with the help of his nurse as he speaks fluent Chinese and broken English, let us know that they would put her under anesthesia, once she was asleep they would call us in the waiting room to let us know they were beginning surgery.

The surgical procedure for Hydrocephalus requires the neurosurgeon to implant a VP (ventricular peritoneal) shunt in the ventricles of the brain. After she was under general anesthesia, they would make two incisions, one on the head and one in the abdomen to allow the neurosurgeon to pass the shunt’s tubing through to the abdomen. A small hole is made in the skull, to allow the ventricular end of the shunt to be passed through the brain and into the ventricle. The abdominal (peritoneal) end is passed into the abdominal cavity through a small opening in the lining of the abdomen where the excess CSF will eventually be absorbed. Here is a visual to help you better understand…

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I felt good about her surgeons and nurses and felt like I had a good grasp on what was about to happen. BUT, NO ONE… I mean NO ONE can prepare you for that moment when the nurse comes to take your child for surgery. Her nurse wheeled her out of pre-op and we were able to walk with her until we got to a hallway with two doors. She was headed through the door on the left and we had to exit out the door to the right. I will never forget that feeling of complete and total helplessness as we kissed her on the forehead and had to turn and walk away. I had absolutely no control, there was nothing I could do but sit and wait. I think I prayed the entire time. Daniel was calm and collected, which definitely helped me.

After surgery, Dr. Cai came out to the waiting room and said that everything had gone well, that she was in post-op recovery and we would be taken back as soon as she woke up. I called those on the phone tree and texted friends and family that had been praying for us all that day to share the good news. Getting to hold and feed her in post-op may be one of the most special moments I’ve ever had. All that feeling of helplessness had gone away as she rocked in my lap and nursed.

Fast forward to the present. I am thankful to say that she is doing well, happy and healthy and has not experienced any issues with her condition or hardware that will remain in her body the rest of her life. Sure we know that at some point it’s likely she will have to have a shunt revision and possibly more surgeries, but we are thankful that everything has gone so well thus far.

I remember thinking this verse from the time the doctor said “abnormal head circumference” to the evening we were discharged from the hospital and we were once again able to sleep in our own house and hear her sweet little snore in the next room…

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I was right, I wasn’t in control through any of it… there was nothing I could do to change or help things back a year and a half ago and there is nothing I can do to make it all go away now. But, I know that God was in control back in April of 2015 and He is still in control of the situation to this day.

We are blessed with what we have been given and therefore give joyfully to an association that continues the research to find a cure for Hydrocephalus.

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Pre-op

 

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Post-op
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Present

I Said to Myself…

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“This is easy!”

This is a phrase that my husband says repeatedly to our children daily. My husband tries to teach them how to talk to themselves, and you know what, it works! I can see a change in my kids, I know when they’re using these short little phrases to talk to themselves, to push through something at school, sports, etc. My husband and I use it too, we’ve learned that it’s all about how you talk to yourself.

My mother is the smallest bundle of Auburn energy that you will ever see/hear and growing up it was contagious. I was fortunate enough to spend four wonderful years on the Plains. But, for those of you who know my husband, he is one of the biggest Alabama fans you will ever meet. Now, he’s not just a Saturday fan. No, he’s a die-hard, knows all the players, studies the plays, knows the stats, stands up the entire game three feet from the TV kind of fan. My kids know if The Tide scores a TD they’d better hide their little hands because daddy is coming by to pass out some “stingers” (high-fives). You can imagine what a pleased fan he is with all the success Alabama has had under Nick Saban for the last nine years.

Why are they so successful? Sure, there is the obvious, talent, hard work, strong program…. but what sets them apart? I mean, there is good (winning seasons, a conference championship and maybe a national championship here and there) and then there is dominant (4 national championships, 2 Heisman Trophy winners, 37 First Team All-Americans, 55 players drafted to the NFL… 18 of which were first round selections and all within 9 years). I think it has a little something to do with how the coaches coach the players to talk to themselves.

Before I go any further, please know I am on the outside looking in, I have no insider scoop, I don’t know any of the players or their families and while I would love to shake Coach Saban’s hand, I can say without a doubt he doesn’t even know that I exist… so these thoughts are simply my own.

My husband, being the Bama fan that he is, introduced our family to Dr. Kevin Elko. Check out his bio and website here (I can’t even attempt to do him justice with my words… read for yourself). Dr. Elko teaches people, teams (yes Bama), business organizations how to talk to themselves. His series Think Like a Winner is all about how you talk to yourself, how you set yourself up to be a winner. People who are high performers and enjoy what they do speak differently to themselves. They don’t look at adversity and immediately go to the negative. They talk positively to themselves and power through.

I think one of the best things that Coach Saban does as a coach, is introducing his players to Dr. Elko. Yes, it produces winners on the field, but it also sets them up for the future, in whatever they become. What if you could be as successful as the Alabama Football Team in your everyday?  It starts with how you talk to yourself!

I said to myself… “I’m going to have a meaningful, productive day and bring joy to someone else.”

What do you say to yourself?