The “F” Word

The Three Thirty Project

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. This week we’re each responding to the following quote by Meghan Trainor: 

“I’d been told: ‘Don’t say you’re something if you don’t know what it is.’ So I was like: ‘Well, I’m not a feminist,’ because I didn’t really understand it and then I was like ‘Oh, sh*t.’ Obviously, I am a feminist.”
It’s not a deep quote obviously, but it’s a fun springboard into the general topic of the feminist label, how much we identify with it, how/when we came to understand feminism.

Mary Margaret

I will be the first to admit I had a very uncomplicated understanding of the F-word, growing up. Feminism. I mean, feminism. That F-word. But the possible confusion may not be so far from the mark, because when I was younger, I definitely thought it was sort…

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Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing

The Three Thirty Project

Fun Fact: When you get to Florida, about halfway down the peninsula, you move from the temperate climate with the four seasons “spring, summer, fall and winter” and instead have a more tropical climate that follows the “wet season, rainy season” pattern. I live right at the edge between the tropical and temperate zones, so we have “seasons” but it’s mostly a wet and dry season.

That’s all to say, we’ve officially entered the wet season, and it has been wet for the last two weeks.

This is a blessing for thirsty yards and has slowed the spread of wildfires we’ve been experiencing frequently this Spring. But, it also means that the air is full of allergens and we’ve experienced a huge increase in our local mosquito population.

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Mercifully, the Zika fear has largely passed, and we in Florida don’t usually have to worry about mosquitoes passing along diseases, but…

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Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!

Lately, we’ve started a tradition in my house of watching the 90s PBS Hit, The Magic School Bus with my daughters while we eat lunch.

It is a compromise. I don’t like letting my daughters watch a lot of television, but if I say, “No you can’t watch television ever.” The older one asks to watch tv ALL the time. So, we schedule it. At lunch time, 2 episodes.

Also, I love The Magic School Bus. In every episode, you know it’s time for a field trip when Ms. Frizzle (voiced by the amazing Lily Tomlin), says, “I think it’s time to take chances, make mistakes, and GET MESSY!”

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Isn’t that a great mantra?

How often do we avoid doing something because we’re afraid of taking chances…because it might not turn out well. How often do we stick to what’s safe because we’re afraid to make mistakes. And how often do you avoid getting messy?

One of the things I love about the show is that the kids in Ms. Frizzle’s class do make mistakes, they make bad assumptions, they get messy. But, they always figure it out and learn a valuable lesson along the way.

So often we give other people permission to take chances, make mistakes and get messy – but we don’t give it to ourselves (I know I don’t!). So…even if it’s just a little step…I hope you look for opportunities to follow Ms. Frizzle’s advice this week and step outside your comfort zone to see what happens!

Have a great week!

If you’d like to relive your childhood and enjoy The Magic School Bus too, check it out!!

Facing Fear

I originally shared this on The 3:30 Project – a blog that I collaborate on with two of my dear friends. This week, we all shared our thoughts on graduation and commencement, but I wanted to share this post here as well because I love this speech so much, and has been so helpful to me in having faith to continue my journey as a small business owner.

In 2014, Jim Carrey gave the Commencement address at the Maharishi University of Management. (The Maharishi and the form of meditation, TM or transcendental meditation, he developed and even Carrey himself each have their own fascinating background and baggage that I would consider separately from this speech)

Part of me wants to post a link to his speech and leave it at that. Carrey’s speech is so vulnerable – he asks questions like “would people still like me if I wasn’t being ridiculous?” It had never occurred to me that a man who would talk through his butt on camera might worry about what other people thought of him. Apparently, he has insecurities, too.

The line that has stuck with me, and continues to echo in my mind when I want to give up and “get a real job” is this:

“I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”

You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.

Owning a small business has been the most terrifying undertaking of my life. For the first year that we were in business, either my husband or I would have what we came to refer to as “the Monday Meltdown.” One of us would become irrationally convinced that we were doomed to failure. I would ask if I should just give up on this and apply for graduate school or go get a real job. My husband would listen. We’d think about it. We’d agree to give it a week, go back to work, and the feeling would pass for another week.

I constantly second guessed whether teaching Martial Arts – a career that I only had the courage to enter because I entered the job market during the Great Recession and I hadn’t been able to get a “real job” – was good enough for me. After all, I had graduated from Vanderbilt University (ranked #15 in the Nation in this year’s US News and World Report) magna cum laude with a double major. If I could do that, I could do anything. But…if I could do anything…why would I do this?

But Jim Carrey’s advice rang so true: You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love. He goes on to say, “so many of us choose our path based on fear disguised as practicality.” It’s true. On those days when I would feel consumed by fear, I just longed for the security of a paycheck where it was someone else’s job to face the bank account.

But as I saw layoffs, industries become obsolete and people replaced by robots, I realized – maybe the real risk was in believing that getting a “real job” was more secure than owning my business.

Would giving up on my little business really help? Should I go ahead and give up because I was afraid of failing? Because I was afraid my job title wasn’t impressive?

I’ll leave you with one of his final thoughts. One that has given me the courage to continue in the face of fear:

 “You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world. You will only ever have two choices. Love and Fear, and don’t ever let Fear turn you against your playful heart.”

On the passing of Spock, the Betta Fish

I wrote this poem a few years ago, after the passing of a beloved Betta Fish. 

On the passing of Spock, the Betta fish

Four years, you swam on my desk.
An oasis of logic in a sea of paper.
You read my junk mail;
You reminded me to be logical
As you swam around your ceramic Buddha
And attacked your own reflection –
A testament to how often
we are our own worst enemy.

You made no comment when I rearranged the office furniture
To make room for a baby
And refrained from saying “I told you so” when I moved it back.
You just swam a little more smugly.

These last few months,
You’ve mostly kept to yourself
At the bottom of your bowl.
Resting.

I thought I’d lost you a dozen times,
But you would resume your slow patrol,
After a firm shake roused you from your rest.

I wish you well on your journey to
Wherever fish go.
But before your bowl is dry,
Or Bones, Chekov or Uhura swim in your place
In your rocks,
Around your Buddha,
And battle a new reflection,
A new enemy,
A new arrangement of furniture,
I wanted to note your passing
And thank you
For your company.

So you wouldn’t be just another fish
Bought for a few dollars at the pet store,
Enthusiastic about lunch,
And your reflection
Who lived, died and was buried
“At sea.”

You were a constant companion,
An ever available
If unresponsive
Listening ear.

I will miss our talks,
Your silent advice,
Your battles with yourself
As I continue mine.

Farewell, my friend
And thank you for sharing the journey with me
As friends do.

I take my positive attitude very seriously

One of the things I found over and over again when I’m feeling blue is that I’ve let my practice of gratitude fall by the wayside.

I find that when I’m in a downward spiral, the last thing I want to do is practice gratitude. It’s almost easier to fall to the bottom of the pit of despair than to try to stop yourself before you get to the bottom. But, bit by bit, day by day, this practice has helped me feel more empowered to dig myself up one day at a time.

The Three Thirty Project

A few weeks ago, we were talking about self-esteem in one of my taekwondo classes. A little girl, about 7, raised her hand and said, “You can have a positive attitude in school, or you can be serious.”

I responded, “I take my positive attitude very seriously.”

I think my student has unconsciously learned something that most of us believe – we can either have fun or we can get stuff done.

But why is that?

Why can’t we have fun while we get stuff done?

I went on to say to my student that I think being silly and being positive are very different things.

I’m going to be really hokey here – but I take my positive attitude very seriously. I make a choice every day to be grateful, to remind myself of the things I love, and practice joy.

I know there a plenty of reasons to…

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Searching for Preschool

I have a four year old daughter. This fall, she will be old enough to go to Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK). A program, which I’ve discovered, is free to me in the state of Florida.

I’m so excited to begin my daughter’s school age years. I’m excited for the friends she’ll make. I’m excited for the things she’ll learn. I’m excited that she’ll get to learn that the world is bigger than our family and our taekwondo school. I’m excited that she’ll meet other adults that she can admire and trust. I’m excited that there will be other people who can fill in the gaps in my parenting – because I’m certain that there are things I’m missing.

I began calling around to programs a few months ago (thinking I was way ahead of the curve), I realized that VPK is very popular and that all the “good” parents enrolled their kids in Fall VPK in January of last year.

So. We’re on a couple of waiting lists. I’ve visited a few classrooms full of toys, puzzles, and educational games. I’ve heard about “thinking chairs,” reinforcements, educational strategies, and apps that teachers can use to keep in touch with parents.

And it all sounds great, but it doesn’t answer my burning question about these programs:

Will you treat my daughter with respect? Will you honor her feelings? Will you let her know that you value you her no matter how she performs on whatever evaluation system you use? Will you help her learn to value herself as a human being and to value her little classmates as human beings, too? 

I may be a terrible parent for admitting this, but I’m not worried about whether or not my daughter will learn to count to 10, identify capital and lowercase letters, or name the continents before she’s 5. I feel completely confident that in the long arc of her life, she will learn the facts and skills she needs to function in her life. And, if push comes to shove, I know I can help her with these things.

But, I’m worried about the things that are harder to unlearn. Can I ask her teacher to avoid words like bossy and try words like leader? Can I ask how they stop kids from teasing and teach them to be kind to those who are smaller and weaker than themselves? Can I ask them to encourage her when she wants to read comic books? Can they let her know that it’s okay to have ninja turtles and barbies playing together? Can they make it safe for her to be friends with a boy without calling him a boyfriend?

I know I can’t shield my daughter from the parts of the world, the parts of our society, the parts of childhood, or the parts of girlhood that I don’t like. But I wish I could. I wish we lived in a world where we were more focused on nurturing our children’s souls than filling their minds.

I don’t know where I’ll ultimately send my daughter to school next year. But…I hope that she takes the values she’s learned in our home with her. I hope our values are strong enough to protect her sweet spirit

Travels with Toddlers

Last week, I went on my first solo road trip with my two children. We have a pretty busy work schedule planned for this summer, and I thought it would be a good idea to go visit family and change my routine for the week before all that started!

One of my goals with my kids is to limit their screen time as much as possible (I’ll write more about that later), so I was not eager to charge up an iPad with videos and let them veg out for 7 hours while we drove to visit family.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who wants to have a fun road trip with their family this summer, and may feel mildly ambivalent about having them watch 20 hours of television to make that happen.


Note: this post includes affiliate links to amazon. I receive a small commission if you decide to purchase something I’ve linked to or an item from my amazon store, which includes more affordable items that might help you have a a screen free (or screen less) summer road trip, too!

Here’s my “travels with toddlers” survival plan:

      1. Pack healthy snacks
        The last thing I wanted on my road trip was for my kids to be on a sugar high. I packed apple slices, hard boiled eggs, grapes, carrot slices and water. That was enough for my 7 hour trip. We still had to stop for lunch (could’ve packed a sandwich, but it was nice to get out and stretch our legs. See below).
      2. Books on CD
        Before we left, we bought a Moana read-along book with CD. I wouldn’t let my four-year-old listen or read the book until we got on the road. It was a special treat and kept her entertained for 30 minutes at a time. And she liked it so much, we listened to it several times.

        Be warned: After about the 3rd time through, my 20 month old was not impressed by the book on tape, so we saved it for her nap time.
      3. Make an Awesome playlist for your kids!
        Before we left, I helped my four year old create a playlist of her favorite songs from Frozen, Moana, Trolls, Zootopia and more. I put a few songs I liked (and vetoed a couple of her picks that make my skin crawl), and both kids LOVED listening to “their” music.
      4. Travel while they sleep, but not when you’re too tired.
        When my first daughter was born, we tried leaving for a few road trips right at bedtime, so we could drive while the baby slept. I don’t like that strategy anymore because unlike most people, I don’t think I’m an above average driver. I’d rather travel when I’m rested because…I want to arrive at my destination in one piece, and no one is a good enough driver to drive when they’re exhausted (and I’m traveling with precious cargo!).
        The solution? Now, I start early. I started my trip at 6:00 am. My girls usually sleep pretty late, and the sound of the road has always been pretty soothing to them. They slept for the first 3 hours of the drive, which meant that I only had to keep them entertained in the car for 4 hours. Win!

        Also, in the spirit of tip #3, I made myself a playlist of my favorite podcasts, so I could listen to something I enjoyed while we drove!

      5. Make their toys easy to access
        I packed a bin of toys (like the one below) that they could reach between their car seats and put groups of toys in a ziplock bag so they could reach certain toys rather than have too many choices.

    1.      6. What did I put in the ziplock bags?

Crayola Classic Color Pack Crayons 16 ea
Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons
Disney Moana Spirit of Adventure (Color It)
Melissa & Doug Jumbo Coloring Pad – Animals
Lamaze Flip Flap Dragon

and a few other things I’ve shared in my amazon store!

     7. Invest in some comforts to make your trip easier. 

I generally hate buying anything, but I found that a couple of organizers made our trip a lot more fun! These car organizers are great for helping your kids play and access their things independently while you drive.

     8. Use GPS.

The last thing you need is to be trying to read a map while you’re rocking out to “Let it Go.” My GPS took me around a huge interstate traffic jam and the audio cues helped me keep my eyes on the road!

9. Allow Plenty of Time.

My children do not know the meaning of the word haste. I had a very flexible schedule for my trip. I rely on my husband for a lot of co-parenting and moral support, so I kept my expectations low and my plans simple. I visited family; I had a lot of free time built in; we stopped at parks whenever we could, and my husband came up for the end of our trip, so we could all drive home together (just in case things weren’t going well). I felt like I was able to enjoy my trip more when I wasn’t trying to execute a lot of plans.

Are you planning a road trip this summer? What are your tips for surviving a road trip with your kids? I’d love to hear more ideas!!

You shouldn’t always do the opposite of a bad thing

Happy Monday!

The Three Thirty Project

There are some people in my life, and I’m sure you have them too, that I refer to as “reverse barometers.” These are people – whether it’s a manager at work, government official, distant relative, etc. – with whom you want to share nothing in common.

It’s tempting to think to yourself, “if so-and-so does this, then the best course of action is to do the exact opposite.”

Unfortunately, that is usually not the case.

What I have found over and over again is that the “reverse barometers” in my life are not doing everything wrong. Sometimes they have a tone, an attitude, an approach that is ineffective, but doing the opposite does not guarantee a good result.

I took a driving class once, and we had the opportunity to practice driving on a course that simulated hydroplaning, obstacles on the road, and other dangers you might see on the road. And one of…

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5 Tips for Overcoming Insurmountable 1st Steps

I often find myself overwhelmed by getting started on an important or new task.

For example, I recently got a new pair of glasses, which I’ve needed for about a year. I kept getting held up at the first step – calling to make an appointment – because my former eye doctor had closed her office.

These are some tips for over coming those “insurmountable” first steps!

The Three Thirty Project

Many weeks, my Mondays start with me thinking:

“It’s 9:00 AM! Why haven’t I had breakfast, responded to all my email, played with my kids for an hour, exercised for 45 minutes, meditated, showered, shared a dynamic conversation over coffee with my husband, and planned my whole week? I’m such a failure!”

My expectations are a teensy-weency bit unrealistic.

The only reason that this is a problem is that once I’ve started getting down on myself, I tend to have a hard time getting started on the things I want and need to do. For my business, I frequently need to process memberships, order merchandise, and take care of routine accounting tasks, but when I sit down at my desk, I’m so overwhelmed by all I have to do that sometimes I don’t get any of it done!

These are some strategies I use to help myself overcome the weight…

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