why events *are* for introverts

One thing that almost prevented me from trying Isagenix and consequently network marketing as a career was the presupposition that being an introvert meant I would have trouble succeeding. Many network marketing companies also stress the importance of attending events - and my company is no exception! When I thought of events, I pictured flashing lights, loud music, excited people, and buzzwords like "synergy" and "freedom!" getting thrown around - all things that make an introvert want to hide under the covers with a flashlight and a book. I didn't see what I could possibly gain from participating in this nonsense.

Well I was partially right. There are flashing lights, loud music, excited people, and so, so many buzzwords. But I was also partially wrong - there was so much for me to gain hidden beneath the hype.   

I had the opportunity to attend my first corporate event in January of this year. It certainly didn't hurt that I got to travel to sunny California while the weather here in Minnesota was dreary and arctic. It also didn't hurt that I got to spend a few days toddler-free and with some wonderful friends and teammates! 

Now, being one who is not necessarily motivated by money, fame, recognition, or other extrinsic rewards, I wondered if I would be able to connect with the very successful speakers leading the event.  These were the people who were making multiple six-figure incomes, even millions of dollars per year. These were the people who were "Isa-famous."  

When I first walked in and heard the music, saw the dance party happening onstage, and saw the success stories being recognized, it solidified the walls of skepticism I had put up, and my heart sank. Thankfully, it didn't take long before the trainers and keynote speakers had their turn, and my mind and heart were changed. 

There were a few reoccuring themes that each of the speakers stressed in their own way:
- it was not about the money (though a nice benefit of success)
- servant leadership and helping others succeed was a top priority
- they preferred to use their money to pay off debt, pay for children's college tuition, give back to the community, leave a legacy for their family all before increasing their own standard of living
- humility and teamwork
- personal development
- kindness to all
- integrity and hard work
- most expressed God and their faith life to be a top priority in their life

An introvert could find much to admire, and much to learn from those who have gone before. 

This weekend was another opportunity to attend an event, this time much closer to home. Just as before, I was delighted to find people who shared my values, not just onstage, but in the seats besides me as well. If I am willing to look past the hype, I find an abundance of information at my fingertips, and others who are motivated intrinsically instead of by wealth or recognition. I find people who are willing to share what they know in order to help others join them at the top. No secrecy. No jealousy. No competition. A spirit of service!

Network marketing has stretched me out of my comfort zone over and over, but the result is always growth. I'm grateful that my team helped me overcome my doubt and skepticism to attend an event. It has helped me build my belief in our company, products, network marketing, and myself. I'm now looking forward to my next chance to attend an event. What a change from a month ago! 


currently °2

making || lists of gratitude and goals
cooking || lots of baked potatoes - why does Aldi only sell 10 lb bags?
drinking || not nearly enough water
reading || "Boy" by Roald Dahl
wanting || temperatures above single digits...pretty please?
looking || for some good books
playing || "pillow walk" every day with Pippa - that's where you line up pillows on the floor and walk on them...
trying || to cut out sugar this week
remembering || a few days ago when I was eating sugar...
watching || Friends on Netflix. All the 90s clothes are back in fashion! So funny. 
deciding || what goes and what stays - spring cleaning!
wishing || for spring weather to go with the spring cleaning
planning || a spring break trip to Wisconsin
enjoying || secret baby flutters and kicks
waiting || for Justin's school year to be over
liking || greek yogurt with vanilla and cinnamon
wondering || whether our baby is a boy or a girl!
needing || a change with my hair
wearing || the same black lounge pants all day, err day
noticing || how big and funny and sweet Pippa is getting
smelling || cold air...it has a smell
thinking || about how much our lives are going to change in a few short months
buying || Tums - so many Tums 
feeling || strong


on feeling motivated

It's an arctic Wednesday afternoon. February in the Midwest - a dreary affair. The toddler toys have been played with, put away, and ransacked again; a never-ending cycle of blocks, teapots, books, and trucks. The daily chores have been tended to, and dinner is in the crockpot. Our daily allotment of television has been consumed. In fact, we've overdrawn and borrowed from tomorrow's allotment. At some point there was a quick errand to the library and Target, which took up significantly less time than I hoped it would. Hours remain until reinforcements arrive home, and both toddler and mother are cranky in a post-nap winter haze.

On days such as these when there is nothing penciled in my planner, the mornings are so full of promise! A leisurely coffee and devotion. An hour spent reading and snuggling and laughing together. A cursory workout and shower. The prospect of errands and naps and projects.

We just can't seem to avoid those afternoon doldrums, when neither work nor play is enticing. We have had enough! Of each other, of our surroundings, of routine. We need nature! We need sunshine! We need other people! ("We need pens." Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock in the episode where he goes to Washington? Anyone?)

In these situations, it's almost impossible for me personally to feel motivated. This is unfortunate, because there is so much I could be doing that trumps giving up and watching Netflix reruns. First there's the photo-a-day project to improve my photography hobby. There's the option of creating a blog post, coming up with activities to improve both Pippa's and my Spanish, cleaning out and preparing to donate unused possessions, or getting ahead on my Spanish lesson plans. We could be having a dance party, or video chatting with far-away family and friends. 

The problem is never a lack of things to do. It's lack of perceived motivation. It's like when you were little and you would whine to your mom, "I'm so bored!" and she would say, "Great! I've got some chores for you to do." Then suddenly you didn't feel so bored after all, and gee whiz! playing with your humdrum old toys didn't seem so bad! 

The solution is to Just. Do. Something. Just start. Pump some music, pick an activity, and do it. 

My crabby afternoon self hates that solution. But, darn it!, it works. Starting is the hardest part, but in my case, activity usually begets a positive emotion. 

Now if someone could just remind me of this every day...

What are your tips for escaping the afternoon/winter doldrums?


january goals + pictures wrap up

Ah January. A month of fresh starts and ernest goal setting. I always find joy in clean slates, from New Year's Resolutions to new school supplies at the beginning of a school year. It feels life-giving.

As I write this on the first day of February, I'm fully aware that this is a time when many are expected to abandon their goals, once they realize how difficult it can be to implement change in their lives. I am no different, for if I try to change too much at once, I become overwhelmed and adopt an all-or-nothing mindset. Recognizing this weakness of mine, I decided to assign one small change to each month of the year. Baby steps. Mini goals.

January's goal this year was centered around fitness. Cliche as it may be, I felt the timing was right. The first month of the year also marked the time when I would pass from the first to the second trimester of my second pregnancy. I was hoping the morning sickness would fade, and energy would start to return. I wasn't happy with the way I had been eating. Although I couldn't much change the early pregnancy food preferences my body was asking for, I could make better decisions overall. (What is with the pregnancy weeks 5-10 fast-food-only thing? Anyone else? The only things I could even remotely stomach were cereal, french fries, and toast.)

So I set out to put in an exercise tape for 5 minutes/day, 6 days/week, walk outside with the dog for 10 minutes/day, and eat 2 servings of vegetables each day. Small goals. Easily put into practice.

Well, as one of my favorite proverbs in Spanish says: del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho - or easier said than done.

  • I didn't work out with the videos 6 days/week. Lingering morning sickness and very intense headaches that seemed to last for days at a time prevented me from doing much some days. I will say I probably worked out 3-4 days/week. Better than none! I'm happy with my progress on this goal.
  • I definitely didn't walk outside for 10 minutes each day. We had some very cold days (below zero) where it just wasn't safe to take Pippa out for even 10 minutes. But my goal did push me to get outside on days when I didn't feel like it, but the weather was fine (20-30 degrees). 
  • The one goal I can say that I met most days of the month was eating 2 servings of vegetables. Progress, y'all! 

I will continue putting these habits into practice in February (and beyond!). However, the main focus for February is:

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS - Financial February
Guiding thought for the month: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”  Malachi 3:10

We took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course a few years ago, and got really good with our budget. We managed to start a debt snowball and pay off both of our cars. After having the baby, though, we kind of fell out of practice with tracking our money each month. The good thing is, we don't spend much outside of our bills and student loan payments. I'm frugal by nature, and didn't worry that we would have lots of little things adding up. The bad thing is, we weren't making much progress on our remaining student loans.

So this month I set out to zero out our budget at the end of the month in order to:

  • restart our debt snowball
  • save for hospital bills
  • save for quarterly tax payments
The other goal is to give so it hurts - I really want to feel the giving! This goes along with the Bible study I am currently doing with some amazing women. We are following The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess. I can't wait to see how I can implement a fast from spending, possessions, technology, etc.  

Finally, I am trying a photo 365 project, forcing myself to take the camera out to capture ordinary moments each day of the year. I'll admit there are some days when it just doesn't happen. But I am enjoying the process, and the resulting photographic evidence:
1. waiting for dad // 2. chilly sunday // 3. baby announcement
7. quiet time // 8. fit pregnancy // 9. birthday breakfast
10. messy hair // 11. pippa the photog // 12. san diego airport

13. palm springs // 14. 14 weeks pregnant // 15. ideal lunch view
16. goodbye to friends // 19. dance party // 20. peaceful
21. fits over "foffee" // 24. light reading // 25. conservatory fun

26. 16 weeks pregnant // 27. lazy weekend // missing california

Welcome February! Bring on the rest of 2015!


late 20s

birthday breakfast date with Justin and Pippa.
I've been craving Perkins breakfast potatoes since I got pregnant.

I'm no longer in my mid-20s.

Yesterday marked the 27th anniversary of my entrance to this world. I wondered how I would feel, entering the brief period of life known as one's "late-20s." Would I lament my fleeting youth? Would I take stock of how far I had come? Would I make a panicky "30 before 30" bucket list?

Actually, I mainly just felt nauseous. But not about the passing of time. I felt actual nausea due to morning (or all day) sickness. (Thanks, Baby #2). But really, I'm not even mad about it.

Despite the morning sickness, how I felt about my 27th birthday reflected how I view my life in general. I was content to spend the day with my husband and 19 month old...mostly on the couch. I was thankful for the little things Justin did for me (woo hoo! I don't think I changed one diaper on my birthday! I felt like the Queen of Sheba.)

But let's get really serious. Why am I really so happy about my 27th birthday? In reality, it's because I love odd numbers, and yesterday was the 11th of January, in the year 2015, turning 27 years of age. It's my year, people! Watch out!

Here's to 27 years of His grace on earth, and at least 73 more!


the secret's out!

...although it probably was never really a secret to begin with.

It's true! We get to be parents again!

And I have a lot to say about it. 12 weeks of keeping this "secret" and I couldn't wait to start talking about it.

a few initial thoughts:

1. It's not really a secret. As any young married wife knows, your midsection, health, and alcohol consumption habits are under constant scrutiny from well-meaning friends, relatives, and mere acquaintances for signs of baby news. Any headache is responded to with a knowing wink. Passing up on a glass of wine means several follow-up questions, such as, "when are you due?" And don't you dare gain weight in your face or midsection, lest you start rumors of a baby! (By the way, I'm guilty of this, too. It's human nature to want that joyful news for the loved ones in your life). Anyway, I know I can often guess when another woman is pregnant, even before they start showing, so I'm sure many have guessed or figured out our secret long before we heard the heartbeat. I got "pregnancy face" (that bloating in the chin area? attractive.) pretty early on. Not to mention having such a short torso, and I'm pretty sure I was "showing" at about 7 weeks along.

2. Part of me wanted to keep it a secret, but most of me just wanted people to know already! As with my pregnancy with Pippa, I have pretty rough morning sickness, extreme exhaustion, and awful headaches. I just wanted to be able to tell people why I didn't feel up to my normal tasks or even meeting up for coffee.
More importantly, though, there is an unwritten rule in our society that you don't share your news until it is "safe" to do so - around 12 weeks. But I'm of the opinion that (a) whether or not something happens to baby, it's still my child, and it's still a human life, and (b) I would want prayers and support from those I love if the worst did happen. Each person is different, and I was comfortable enough to share it with friends and family early on, just not the general public (probably due to my introverted nature). Glad it's out now, though!

3. The second (and I'm assuming subsequent) time around, you start showing a lot earlier. Oh hey, mirror reflection! Is that a 24 weeks pregnant lady? No? Just 12 weeks? Cool. (that awkward stage when regular clothes don't quite fit right, but maternity clothes are too baggy).

4. Pippa came with me on Monday to hear the heartbeat, and ever since has been lifting up my shirt asking, "Baby, where are you?" Yesterday, she lifted up my shirt and kissed the baby (my stomach), then made Pablo do the same thing. Today, she fed her pancakes to the baby (my stomach), and threw a fit when I told her she had to eat them. I'm kind of amazed that she's starting to understand, but also terrified of the day she will expose my pregnant belly to the general public. Also, she now runs to the bathroom and makes throwing up noises - just like mommy! Charming.

5. There is no joy equal to hearing your baby's heartbeat for the first time. Did I cry on the way home? Maybe. Blame it on the hormones.

6. Pippa was generally an easy baby, and is so much fun right now, I kind of forgot about all the hard stuff about pregnancy and newborns. That's ok! Just like the first time around, I don't want to know about it until it's happening. Ignorance is bliss.

7. I am finding the first trimester easier as a stay-at-home mom with a toddler than when I was working full time. At least I can lay on the couch and put Curious George on Netflix for Pippa. And take a nap when Pippa naps. It's much harder to get up super early, dress like a professional and do your hair and makeup while wanting to throw up, be on your feet all day when you just want to sleep, and stay on top of your work when you're operating at the capacity of a person with a three-month stomach bug. Props to working ladies in their first trimester! (I remember Googling "How do women work in first trimester?" when pregnant with Pippa).

8. This pregnancy is no less exciting than our first. I thank God for giving us another chance to do this - his goodness, mercy, and love are boundless!


a pipdate - 19 months

Having a little girl is everything I expected it to be, and nothing like I expected to be at the same time. I get to put together cute outfits with matching bows, she plays with and takes care of her baby dolls, and she copies everything I do, including putting on makeup, doing my hair, and wearing jewelry.

BUT, she is anything but demure and ladylike. She is hilarious, strong-willed, and cheeky. She spends large chunks of her day running around the couch in circles. She loves to play ball, climb, jump, yell, and wrestle. In other words, she is so much fun!

toddler idiosyncrasies:

  • she now introduces me, then herself, to everyone at the grocery store. Unfortunately, she pronounces her name as "Poopa."
    • P: Hi! 
    • Customer: Oh hi there! 
    • P: Mommy! (points to me)
    • C: Oh, that's your mommy?
    • P: Poopa. (points to herself)
    • C: .....?
    • Me: Oh, and this is Pippa.
    • C: Ohhhh. Hi Pippa!
  • also at the grocery store, a man with shoulder-length hair walked past our shopping cart. Pippa's eyes lit up, and then she yelled, "Bye Jesus!"
  • also at the grocery store with my mom, she started clutching the cart and yelling, "Help meeeee!" (a phrase one of my sisters taught her).
  • she likes to sing in church when everyone else is singing, and fold her hands when we're praying. She'll even yell, "Amen!" every now and then!
  • Pippa and I love to have dance parties when the days at home get kind of long. Her absolute favorites are Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, and Conga by Gloria Estefan. Kid's got moves!
  • against my better judgment as a parent, I let her watch the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch when we were at my parents' house for Christmas. She totally identified with the Grinch character, and spent the rest of our time there asking, "Jrinch, where are you?"
  • she loves raspberries and blueberries (or rasbies and bluebies)
  • sometimes puts herself down for a nap by asking for chupie (pacifier) and George (Curious George, her stuffed animal), then grabbing my hand and leading me to the stairs so I can put her in her crib.
  • after an episode of Curious George, she'll come up to me, hold up one finger, and say, "One mo'." That's really hard to say no to. 
  • when Justin makes a bad joke, she'll smile and go, "Daddy," in that exasperated tone of an embarrassed teenager. I thought she was just repeating what I said, but then she applied it to anyone who makes a bad joke.
  • she pronounces Granddad as "Gahn Gahn." 
  • for about 2 days straight she walked around saying, "Biko biko biko," and we had no idea what she was talking about. Finally Justin figured out she was saying ombligo - the Spanish word for belly button.
  • she reminds us to pray before every meal by folding her hands and looking sternly at us.
  • she has long conversations on her pretend phone (or anyone's iPhone she can get her hands on) with pauses to "listen" to the other person, responses, laughter, and "k bye!" at the end. Sometimes I wonder if she's actually hearing someone else on the other end...

We are enjoying her so much lately! Her cheesy smiles, her sweet hugs and kisses before bed, and how quickly she catches on to anything we teach her all make me want to slow down time and capture the memory of each day. She is so close to putting together novel sentences instead of just repeating memorized ones (like "where are you?") I can't wait to hear what she'll come up with next!