The Happiness Report: 6-29-2020

As I typed the title of this, I initially typed 2019 instead of 2020, and if that isn’t just a great illustration of how this year is going, I don’t know what is…

Actually, I’m feeling really good at the start of this new week.  While I admit that I have to work a little harder to find the bright spots some days, there is still a lot to be grateful for in each day.  I took last week off from the blog to spend some time with family, but more on that in a minute.  It felt good to disconnect and recharge, but I’ve got ideas and goals heading into July (which is in TWO DAYS…HOW?!), so I’m excited to dig in and make it happen.

But for now, here’s what’s been bringing me happiness lately:

  1. Juneteenth.  This holiday is actually not a new concept to me.  Tulsa had a big Juneteenth festival every year when I was growing up, and my dad loved going.  He took me along several times, so I remember it well.  However, that dropped off as I got older.  With the surge of support for our black community, our country rallied around this holiday in a big way.  Our company actually declared it a holiday and gave all employees a half day off, with plans to increase that to a full day next year.  They urged us to use the time to continue to educate ourselves and to support our communities.  So Chad and I did just that.  We drove down to Troost, grabbed a couple of smoothies from Ruby Jean’s, and spent some time walking around and talking about the past few weeks and what we want to do in the future.  There have been some difficult days, and there will be more to come, but it brought us a lot of joy to see our black community being celebrated.
  2. Best Regards Ice Cream.  Got your attention, right?  Best Regards is one of the best bakeries in our city.  They have some of the best (and most adorable) cookies, and their Gooey Butter Cake is incredible!  Recently, they launched their newest offering–ice cream and gelato.  I was lucky enough to get an invite to sample the goods and to bring home some additional flavors.  Y’all, they use their baked goods in the ice cream, and I can’t even deal with its goodness.  And picture it–some of this ice cream between two of their warm cookies.  Drooling…
  3. Visiting Family.  Chad and I both had last week off of work, as we had originally planned to go to San Diego for vacation.  Although we rescheduled the trip, we knew that we needed the break from work, since we hadn’t taken any time off since Christmas.  And since we also had not seen family since that same timeframe, we decided to spend a few days in Tulsa with family.  It was great to see our parents and to relax!  And you know, Oklahoma is basically the same as California.
  4. Our 13th Anniversary.  On any given day, in my head, I am still 22 years old.  So when I think about the fact that I met Chad 18 years ago and that we’ve been married for 13 years, I can’t even comprehend it.  But last week, we celebrated 13 years of marriage.  A friend asked me what advice I would give after that long, and I hesitated.  Because I will never claim that it’s been 13 years of perfection.  We were young when we married and we’ve grown up together.  But we have learned a lot, and honestly, I’m happier in our relationship than I have ever been.  So I told her that communication is key, and that forever is a really long time, so if you want to be married forever, let the little stuff go.  Since we couldn’t celebrate in San Diego as intended, we did a mini staycation in Tulsa (again, OK, CA, same same).  We stayed at a hotel downtown, walked around, laid by the pool, ate dinners at The Goat and Amelia’s, and more importantly spent the only one on one time we’ve had in over 3 months.
  5. Cultivare.  The very first local influencer that I ever followed on Instagram was Kasim Hardaway.  Admittedly, it was to keep track of all the places I must eat in Kansas City.  But over the past couple of years, it has been so fun to watch him evolve and grow, and his most recent venture is opening his own restaurant.  A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get to sample some of the menu items, but a couple of days ago, I got to go to a sneak peek for local influencers, where we enjoyed a meal in this beautiful space.  Cultivare opens on July 8th in Overland Park, and they will offer small plates, salads, grain bowls, and cocktails, all of which are the creation of Kasim.  I can assure you, everything that I have tasted is exceptional, and he is truly gifted.  This spot will be a welcome addition to the area, and I know that I’ll be eating there often.


I’m excited for this new week and a renewed opportunity to find the happiness.  I hope you have a wonderful week too!


Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 6-15-2020

With my travel being canceled for the remainder of the year, my days are now filled with conference calls and virtual meetings.  And without fail, each of these start with, “How are you?”  And I just laugh, because how do we even answer that question right now?  Like right this second how am I?  Overall how am I?  And do you really want the worms that will come from opening that can?

The fact of the matter is that nothing is “normal” right now.  Furthermore, we don’t even know what “normal” means anymore.  But one thing I have learned over the past few weeks: “normal” wasn’t working.  The life and world that had been our everyday “normal” was hurried, and edited, and discriminatory, and a host of other disfunctions.

I am a type A, enneagram type 3, to do list toting, achiever, always looking for those milestones and bright spots.  And when I can’t find them, I am determined to create them.  So in this forced time of slowing down, of extreme transparency, of learning and reflection, although some days are harder than others, I continue to create and find joy in my days.  So here’s what brought me some much-needed happiness last week.

  1. The Happy Broadcast.  I discovered this Instagram account  a few days ago, and I am hooked!  They describe themselves as “anxiety-free news,” and they share graphics and news stories from around the world that are guaranteed to make you smile.  Not to mention that, it’s nice to find a collection of happy news stories that are not being presented my mainstream media.  It is the account that I most look forward to checking every day.
  2. Verdigris Grand Opening.  With the city starting to reopen, events are starting to pop up again.  Last week, I was able to attend a sneak preview of Johnson County’s newest bar and lounge, Verdigris.  This is the newest concept from the owners of Monarch, and it’s certainly overdue for our beloved suburbs.  The setting is super swanky with jade walls, gold tiles, and plush furniture.  They have inventive cocktails, including my favorite, the Polynesian Punch, which has a poppable bubble floating on top.  There are so many hidden features in this space, and I can’t wait to return for date night.
  3. Neighborhood Pool Opening.  And all the neighborhood parents said, “Amen.”  One of the reasons we were drawn to our neighborhood was that it has two neighborhood pools available for its residents.  Prior to having Jack, Chad and I would spend a few hours on the summer weekends lounging by the pool.  And since having Jack, we love taking him, because he has a blast, and it wears him out before nap time.  Our pool reopened last week, and we are elated!  I went a couple of times last week and worked poolside, and we took Jack on Sunday morning to spend some family time.  It’s so nice to get some sun, to play, and to watch all of the families enjoying some sense of normalcy.
  4. Thai Food.  People ask me all the time about my favorite foods and favorite restaurants, and I am the worst at narrowing it down.  The thing is, I love food, and I love variety, so it’s  hard for me to pick a favorite.  But one thing I do know is that my favorite Thai food in Kansas City is from Thai Orchid.  Hands down the best Pad Thai that I have ever eaten in my life.  Lucky for me, Thai Orchid is included  in the Give and Partake books, so we used our Takeout  book on Saturday night to treat ourselves to our favorite noodz.  Chad and I both got the Pad Thai–him the chicken, me the tofu–and we both agree that no one compares.  Okay now drooling while thinking about the leftovers in my fridge…
  5. Vacation Booked.  I want to SCREAM this one from deep in my soul!  If I could pinpoint one thing that I’m missing right now more than anything, it’s travel.  I did it 80% of my time for my job, and we took at least two or three vacations a year.  And although I did travel almost every week from the first of January through mid-March, we haven’t taken a single vacation, and I would give anything to be sitting on an airplane right now.  Sadly, we had to cancel our anniversary trip to San Diego that was booked for late June, because most of the city was still closed,  including our resort.  But last week, we were able to rebook, and provided that everything goes well, we’ll be there in September!  Currently crossing every digit.

There is still so much uncertainty and heartache going on in our world, but I am more committed than ever to doing the hard work, to creating more positivity for others and for myself, to taking care of others and myself, to showing up, and to moving forward, especially when it’s hard.  These past few weeks have taught me that we are stronger together, and I cannot ignore that or move past it.  I will continue to support my community and to share the light.

I hope you have a wonderful week and that you create some happiness for yourself and others.


Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 6-8-2020

Whew…I don’t really know how to summarize the past couple of weeks.  There has been darkness and sadness, but there have been some major bright spots.  Since I took last week to focus on #BlackLivesMatter and my thoughts on the amplification of the movement, I have so much to share with you!  But I am forever changed by the events of the past couple of weeks.  I have learned so much and have met so many new people, and for that, I am so grateful.  We still have a lot of work to do, but I know there are some really beautiful days ahead.

Check out these things that have been rocking my world lately:

1.  Workouts!  On Memorial Day, I did my first ever MURPH Challenge workout.  In case you’re unfamiliar, the workout was popularized in the CrossFit community to honor Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was killed in the Afghanistan in 2005.  It consists of a 1 mile Run, 100 Pull-Ups, 200 Push-Ups, 300 Squats, and second 1 mile Run, while wearing a 20 pound Vest.  I’ve always wanted to take part in this challenge, and the stay at home order has me really missing races and other challenges, so I decided to give it a shot.  I had no idea what to expect, other than it would be hard.  But I actually really enjoyed it and plan to do it again in the future.  In addition, Orangetheory reopened the next morning!  Admittedly, I had some hesitation about returning, and I was still debating the night before.  But ultimately, I was really missing the human interaction and the ability to connect with others (even without high fives and fist bumps), so I decided to return.  Yes, it’s a little weird.  The class sizes are smaller, the class times are shorter, the restrictions are tight, but little by little, it feels more like “normal.”  I’ve been going 6 times a week, and it’s bringing me so much joy!

2.  Getting Glam.  Okay, so I’m really not one of those people that worried about my hair during the stay at home order.  I’m not seeing anyone, my hair color is more of an Ombre, so growth looks intentional (Although my gray hairs really came out to party during this time.), and my hair doesn’t really grow that fast.  But I’ve gone to my hair stylist, Rachel, for over 6 years, so I really missed seeing her, catching up, and getting a little pampering.  Salons reopened, so I was able to go see Rachel and my esthetician, Heidi, and it was such a relaxing Saturday morning.

3.  Shopping!  Okay, so shopping never really took a pause while quarantined, but I have missed being in a store, trying on clothes, talking with the employees, everything about the in-person shopping experience.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been able to visit a few of my favorite local boutiques and local businesses, and it feels so good!  We are still exclusively doing takeout for our Saturday dinners, but we plan to venture into a restaurant within the next couple of weeks.

4. Collaboration Photo Shoot.  Although I have stayed active on Instagram and on my blog, I have really missed in-person collaborations and events.  With things starting to open up, one of my favorite local PR companies reached out wanting to update some photos for one of their clients, a local shopping center.  They wanted to gather a few local girls to take some pictures around the center, inside some of the stores, and simply showcase the good times to be had in these businesses.  I had not met the other two ladies that were part of the shoot, so making new friends was certainly a bright spot.  But we had the best time!  We laughed so much, we got to know each other, and we got to hold puppies!   I was really honored to be asked to participate, and it felt so good to work in this way.

5. Discovering New Friends.  As I mentioned, the past two weeks have been very hard for our world.  The death of George Floyd was an unnecessary blow to our black community, and it created a ripple effect through us all.  But as I also mentioned, there have been some very bright spots.  Last week, there was a concerted effort on Instagram to amplify black voices–businesses, creators, makers, everyone.  Because of the past few days, I am following a lot of new bloggers, influencers, and creatives on Instagram, and I am loving meeting them and getting to know them.  At home, we have also committed to being more intentional about supporting black businesses.  As you know, we are strong advocates for supporting small businesses, but we need to seek out those that are owned by our black entrepreneurs.  On Saturday night, we tried African cuisine for the first time, with dinner from Fannie’s African Cuisine , and we were able to use our Give and Partake book.  Y’all.  The food was incredible, and we have leftovers for a month.  Admittedly, this type of cuisine intimidated me, and without the added motivation to support them, it would have taken me a really long time to cross it off our list.  It’s amazing what a little intention can do to bring more joy into your world.


I’m hoping that this update brought you some joy and that you are relieved by the positivity.  This is much more my tone, but I do want to be clear that I am forever changed by the death of George Floyd (and countless others) and by all of the things I have learned as a result.  Our black community not only matters, but they are precious to me, and I need to spend the rest of my life doing my part to ensure that they have a safe space in this world.


Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 6-1-2020

A report on happiness seems really strange to write in the current state of our world.  The last few days have been some of the saddest and darkest that we have seen in our lifetimes.  I will never pretend to understand how our black community is feeling, or how they have ever felt.  And to pretend to understand would be disrespectful and dismissive.  We’ve all watched a million movies and television shows where people are murdered in graphic detail.  But our world just watched a man get murdered on social media.  Black people watched their brother get murdered.  And no, I’m not naïve enough to think that racism doesn’t exist; I know it does; I’ve seen it and heard it and felt it.  But we watched a black man get murdered on social media, and that’s not something we will ever forget.  And really, we shouldn’t.

I am an empath.  Some think it’s a blessing, a wonderful thing to feel such deep empathy for others.  Honestly, it is exhausting.  Because as an empath, it’s not as simple as “walking in someone else’s shoes,” you literally take on their feelings.  You feel them deeply and intensely, and it sometimes makes me very tired.  My whole life, watching movies and television shows, listening to stories, reading books, all while I have the largest burning tennis ball in my throat.  It’s painful.  Again, I will never pretend that I am feeling what our black community is feeling, because I am a white woman of privilege, so there’s no way I ever could.  But I empathize with their words and their actions, and listening to their words and watching their videos in this current environment is painful.  And really, it should be.

Closely coupled with being an empath, it takes me a while to process my thoughts and emotions, and then to sort them into words.  The phrases shuffle through my head for hours (sometimes days) before I can articulate them correctly.  This weekend, I couldn’t shut off the words and phrases.  They kept coming in waves, and more and more information and resources flooded my screens.  So on Sunday afternoon, I broke.  I cried more than I’ve cried in months, releasing everything I was thinking and feeling, and it all just kept coming.  It was at this point, I was able to start putting the words and phrases together.  I felt called to share something publicly, but I was scared.  Scared that I would get it wrong, scared that I would not correctly identify my privilege, scared that I would not honor our black community, scared that I would hurt anyone.  No one needs to hurt more than we’re all hurting right now.  Because although we’re watching fires burning on our television screens, the truth is, our world has been burning for a long time.

I texted my friend, Cassie, who is a beautiful woman of color, and I asked if she would read my words.  I trust her, and I knew she would help me.  Did I get it right?  Is this okay to share?  She called me and we cried.  So maybe this isn’t the Happiness Report that I would typically share, but here’s what I wrote, and if we work together, we could create more collective happiness than we’ve ever known.

Our son is a person of color. You probably didn’t know that. I’m used to that by now. Every time I fill out a form that requires me to disclose his race, I mark the box. Most times, I’m advised that I “accidentally marked the wrong box.” And I explain that I did not, because he is Hispanic, which then requires an explanation about him being adopted and about his biological parents. To which they reply with some variation of, “He looks white.” And they think this response is safe, because I’m white, and they’re white, so somehow it’s okay. And those same people would probably never categorize themselves as a “racist,” but that response, and their bias, is a form of racism. The last 3 years of being his mama have been a constant lesson and reminder of white privilege and of systemic racism. When I met Jack’s birth mother, she told me that she wanted him to have more opportunities. And I take that responsibility very seriously. Because while one might think she solely meant financially, she also wanted him to have opportunities she knew were given to children of privilege and for him to live in a community with a more diverse population. We have been intentional about the books we buy, the dolls and toys we select, and the daycare we chose to ensure that Jack is surrounded by diverse cultures and backgrounds. We talk about love and kindness as often as possible, and the last thing he hears every morning before walking out the door is “Be nice to everyone!” I know that you’re used to me keeping it light and fun, but everything feels so dark and heavy. We love our black friends and family so much and don’t want to imagine a world without them in it. True change starts in our hearts and our homes. I am willing to do the work, and I pray you’ll join me.




Molly B.