What I’ve Learned in 12 Years of Being Cancer Free

Yesterday, I celebrated my 12-year anniversary of being cancer free!

If we’re new friends, you can get the scoop on my entire cancer journey in this blog post.

Around here, we call my anniversary my “second birthday.” I take the day off work and celebrate just like it’s my birthday—treat myself to lunch, self care of some sort, and cake, always cake.

I often get asked what my biggest lesson was from having cancer, and while there are many, sitting at the top of the list: It WILL get better. Whatever you’re going through right now, whatever you’re feeling, however long you’re going through it or feeling it, it WILL get better. It may not always be in the way you think it will, or how you want it to end, or in the timing you expect, but it WILL get better. I’ve seen it and lived it.

I look back on so many moments in my life and wish I could go back and tell myself that, and that I would believe it when I heard it. I have vivid memories of crying in my middle school bedroom after a fight with a friend, thinking it was the literal end of the world. Asking my mom if I could transfer schools or move to live with my aunt in New Mexico, but within 48 hours, it had blown over. And that’s small scale (although life shattering at the 13-year-old time). Infertility, marital disagreements, family drama, finances, work stress, and yes, even cancer. Somehow, they WILL get better.

I hope that as you read this today, you can find some hope and peace in these words.

What’s something you wish you could go back and tell your younger self? Who knows, someone might need to hear it today.

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 7-6-2020

Can I just say, I don’t have much to report from last week, and I’m totally okay with that.  Don’t get me wrong, it was an overall happy past few days; it’s just that not much happened.  And for once, in a very long time, I’m actually okay with that.  Over the past few weeks, my mind has been racing and has been busier than I’m used to, or than I typically would like.  And yes, things still feel very uncertain, but the past few days felt much more laid back with opportunities to relax, focus on my family, and focus on myself.

But like I said, there were several moments of happiness, so here are a few.

  1. Daily Walks.  In case I haven’t mentioned this, I’ve been going on almost daily walks for the past two months.  Typically, I take them at the end of my work day, but some days, it’s whenever I can squeeze it in.  No matter the time, I look forward to them, and I cherish this midday break.  I put in my earbuds, and I put on a podcast, and I walk.  Some days, I just walk and listen.  Some days, I stop by the neighborhood pool to sit in the sunshine.  But no matter what I do, it helps me reset and recharge for whatever the next few hours will bring.
  2. Running Errands.  Y’all, I am not even kidding with this.  For me, there is nothing quite like a Saturday afternoon running errands by myself.  Jack Attack is napping, my husband is mowing, and I am in my car doing all the things.  I’ve got a podcast through the speakers, and I am crossing off every little thing on my to do list.  During the Stay At Home order, this was not a thing.  And even now, I get in and out of places as quickly as possible.  But last Saturday, I had my first true errand-running afternoon, and it was maybe the highlight of my week.  (#nerdalert)
  3. Photo Shoot.  What is it about having a professional take your pictures that makes you feel like a freaking supermodel?  My friend Cassie is likely the most creative person I know, and she is a Jane of All Trades.  During these weird times, she has been offering a ton of specials to keep her busy and to generate more steady income.  For the month of July, she is running a photo shoot special for bloggers, influencers, and boutiques, and I jumped right on that!  She is so talented, and I could not wait to have her take my pics.  So last week, I put on makeup, curled my hair, packed a few outfits, and let her do her magic.  We had so much fun, and the sneak peeks that have been rolling in are uh-maz-ing!
  4. 4th of July.  Truthfully, I’ve always had a mixed opinion of this holiday.  I don’t plan to go into a political rant, but let me just sum it up by saying that, in the Pledge of Allegiance, we recite”…liberty and justice for ALL,” and I’m not sure we’re living that accordingly.  And in light of the most recent events in our country, the holiday hit especially different this year.  However, this holiday has a ton of tradition built into it for me.  Growing up, my uncle, Tim, loved this holiday and had a huge party at his house every year.  Even as a too-cool teenager, I looked forward to it every year.  We lost my uncle last year, and the party ended.  But the memories do not,  and I think of it with much fondness.  Additionally, Chad was in the military, and I am so incredibly thankful for him, his service, and his commitment to our country (no matter his politics or opinions).  For the past 3 years, we’ve spent the afternoon of the 4th at Stone Pillar Vineyard, which is less than 5 minutes from our house.  They have Red, White, and Blue wine slushies for the adults, and they have popsicles for the kids.  We discovered it the year that Jack was born, and we took our sleeping baby in his carrier, and now we look forward to it every year.
  5. The EveryGirl List.  I discovered this list back in May when The EveryGirl promoted it on their Instagram, and I’ve been loving it.  Essentially it’s a list of 50 things you can do to boost your happiness or to give yourself a little extra self care.  It has some really great reminders and tips, and I’ve loved revisiting it and adding some of these things into my routines. Little-Things-You-Can-Do-For-Yourself-Right-Now-main

 

Looking forward to the rest of July, things are looking pretty busy.  And yes, your girl loves a busy calendar.  But for now, I’m thankful and happy for the quiet.

XOXO,

Molly B.

How to Make a 5 AM Workout a Reality

When people hear that my workouts start at 5 AM, they think I’m crazy. Truthfully, I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s not a thing anymore. But that wasn’t always the case. Although now I can’t imagine working out in the evening, that used to be my preferred time. But I found that I wasn’t able to eat or sleep very well when I worked out after work, so I made the swap to early morning. I know this is a struggle for most people, so I put together ten tips for making a 5 AM workout a reality.

1. Lay out your clothes the night before. The less you have to think about anything in the morning, the better. Especially what you’re going to wear!

2. Wear a cute outfit. I promise I’m not being silly. Remember being excited about the first day of school, because you had a new outfit to wear? Same concept. If you like your workout clothes, you’re more likely to put them to good use.

3. Pick an activity you love. If you’re forcing workouts that you don’t like, you’ll be less likely to get up and go. Pick an activity that you enjoy so that you look forward to getting up.

4. Go to bed early. This is the most important tip of all! If you get enough rest, you won’t be as tired in the morning. Plus your performance and your mood will be much better with enough sleep.

5. Have breakfast, vitamins, preworkout, etc. ready the night before. Again, the less you have to think about or do before your workout, the better.

6. Make it a habit. Honestly, just sticking with it makes a big difference. Your body will adjust to the time quicker than you think. If you only go a couple of days here and there, your body will not adjust. Try early morning workouts for a month, and you will feel a big difference.

7. Wake up earlier. Don’t kill me. This has been a game changer for me. I wake up extra early to enjoy the quiet, to pray, and to let my mind and body wake up before I sweat. Just an extra few minutes has been very helpful.

8. Find partners. This is one reason why I love group fitness. There are people that I look forward to seeing, that would miss me if I weren’t there, that I would feel bad if I let down. A buddy, partners, or a group go a long way in motivating us to workout.

9. Get your gear together the night before—bag, headphones, playlist. Same with the clothes and food, your morning self with thank your night before self for taking care of these things.

10. Plan your workout. If you’re going for a run, or going to an open gym, or using the home gym in your basement, you need to have a plan. If your only plan is to go, you’re less likely to make it happen, because you don’t know what you’re going to do once you are there. Get a plan together the night before, so you know exactly what you’re doing and have it to look forward to in the morning.

I hope these help you in your early morning efforts. And I would love to hear what you try or what you would add to the list!

XOXO,

Molly B.

4 Ways to Style White Jean Shorts

I have been on the hunt for the perfect pair of white cutoff jean shorts for at least three years.  There have been some contenders, but I haven’t been able to find that perfect pair.  Until now.  Honestly, if I could buy these shorts in every color of the rainbow, I would do it.  But for now, I’m enjoying this white pair and have been so pleasantly surprised with the variety of ways I’ve been able to style them.

I wore them to an event a few weeks ago and was able to create a dressier look with a blazer and heels, which was so fun!

And that was only one option to dress them up.

Here are four casual styles that I’ve been rocking lately.

Monochromatic :  This white on white (or as I like to call it “Reverse Johnny Cash”) look is such a chic take on a casual look.  Throw on a white tee or tank, a pair of cute sneaks or sandals, and you’ve got a comfortable, yet pulled together outfit.

Graphic Tee:  Literally no one is surprised that I would throw on a graphic tee with these shorts.  I’ve been so happy with the versatility of the graphic tee trend, and this is just another option.  As you saw above, I was able to dress up this same concept, but throw on a cute pair of sneakers for a dressed down version.

Camo:  Typically we think of camo as a Fall trend, but pair it with some bright white for a cool Summer look.  I love the look of my favorite camo tee with these shorts, and you could throw on a denim jacket and some booties as the weather starts to cool.

Classic Black & White:  There are fewer combinations I love more than black and white, and this is just the most recent example.  You can throw on any black top for a killer combo, but this basic tank is a repeater for me.

I get asked about these shorts all the time, and I am here to tell you that they are just that good!  I keep thinking of more and more ways to wear them, and I’m betting you have some great combinations of your own.

XOXO,

Molly B.

How I Organize My Schedule–Tips for Organizing Your Day, Your Week, Your Month, and Even Your Year

As a Type A, Enneagram Type 3, Strengthfinders Achiever, the phrase, “Watching you exhausts me” is something that I hear often.  I love to be busy and moving and involved, so I understand when people say this.  But it does take a lot of planning and organization to make all of the pieces fit together.  And not to say that I’m perfect, because I do forget things from time to time.  But over the years, I have developed some effective routines around building and organizing my schedule, and today, I’m sharing them with all of you.

Right off the bat, I should tell you that I use both digital and paper tools to plan and organize my time.  They all serve a purpose, so I want to outline those tools first.

Digital Tools:

iCal on iPhone: If you have an iPhone, it automatically comes with the iCal Calendar app.  I use this for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays (most of which are prepopulated), and reoccurring tasks and events that I don’t want to forget.

Cozi App: This is a shared app for families.  It can be used for a shared calendar, shared grocery list, and a few other options.  It has been so helpful for our family!  I use this for events, travel, appointments, and vacations, and I am also able to see these things for my husband and son as they are added, condensed into a single calendar.

Microsoft Outlook for Business: This is the application that my company uses for email and calendar, so it houses all of my work calls, meetings, events, and travel.  Additionally, I use this much like my iCal, but for business–birthdays and anniversaries of work colleagues and reoccurring tasks and events.  I use it all day every day when I’m working.

Orangetheory App: This is the app that I use to book and view all of my workouts.  When I am home, it’s pretty straightforward when and where I am going, but this is especially helpful for me when I am traveling and bouncing around to different studios.

Paper Tools:

Emily Ley Simplified Planner: This is the paper planner that I have used for at least four years.  They offer several layouts, but I like the Daily Edition, because I am able to list out my meetings by time, and it has the to do list on the same page.

Oh So Lovely Paper Calendar Templates: I use Audrey’s calendar templates for so many things!  But I do have some top uses each month.  First, I use one to have a visual view hanging in my office for events, travel, appointments.  (Think visual version of Cozi.)  I also use one to plan and organize blog content and Instagram posts, which I also hang in my office.  Some miscellaneous uses have been for race training plans, meal planning, and family meetings.

Daily Planner To Do List Notepad: I started using these a few months ago, and they have been so helpful.  I know it seems redundant to use these and a paper planner, but I use both to stay organized.  I use one of these sheets each day so that I can focus on just that day, what is scheduled, and what I need to accomplish.  I love that I can write all over it, cross things off, and it keeps it all on one sheet.

I know it sounds like a lot of tools, but I promise you, they all serve an important purpose in my process!  So let’s get down to that–the process.

Let me break it down for us now.

Annually: This is where I use my iCal most.  Throughout the year, I plug in birthdays, anniversaries, and reoccurring tasks that I know I will forget (examples: getting my wedding ring cleaned/inspected every 6 months, when bills/payments are due, things that need to be cleaned/replaced/renewed).  Outside of this, and some annual goal setting, I don’t plan this far ahead.  Things change so often (and hello 2020…), so I find that planning too far out is not effective for me.

Quarterly: This is a similar approach to annually.  There are some things that I do quarterly (ordering new running shoes, things that need to be cleaned/replaced/renewed more frequently, etc.) versus annually, but those reminders are housed in iCal, and again, I don’t typically plan much that far ahead either.

Monthly: This is where a lot of the magic happens.  On the first day of the month (ideally), I print out a few of the calendar templates that I mentioned above, and I get to work.  I create one for a monthly overview of events, appointments, travel, etc., and I hang this on the big bulletin board in my office.  Then, I have a similar process for planning my blog and Instagram content–what events are coming, ideas for posts, etc.  (More to come on this in a supplemental blog post.)  At this time, I also check in on my annual goals to see if I’m on track, if there’s anything I can knock out this month, and I can plan and adjust accordingly. I use my iCal, Cozi, and Outlook calendars to help create these visual calendars.

Weekly: I create my weekly schedule on the Friday before the following week.  On Friday morning, I sit down with my iCal, Cozi, Outlook, Orangetheory calendars and my paper planner. I start with the following Monday, and I write down everything from the digital calendars to my paper planner.  This gives me a visual of the week to come, I can ensure I’m not double or overbooked, and I know if I need to make any adjustments and where I can plug in my tasks that need to be completed.  I have done this for several years, and I find that it’s a great way to end my week, feel prepared for the week to come, and relaxes me going into the weekend.

Daily: I plan my day the afternoon of the day before.  Before I sign off for the day, I pull out my to do list notepad, and I write down everything for the following day.  Like I said, things change all the time, so even though I wrote everything down last Friday, that doesn’t mean it didn’t change.  I write down all of my meetings and appointments for the day, and I write down all of the tasks I need to complete.  Just like with my weekly process, I find that this is a great way to mentally wind down my day, to feel prepared for the following day, and to be able to relax and enjoy my evening with my family.

I am an absolute planning and organization JUNKIE!  Life is crazy, so I love new tips and tricks and tools to make things as easy as possible.  So please share all of your favorite things you use to keep yourself on task.  I hope this helped, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to share!

XOXO,

Molly B.

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!

XOXO,

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.

XOXO,

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.

XOXO,

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.

#BlackLivesMatter

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

The Happiness Report: 5-26-2020

Coming at you on a Tuesday, because Monday was a HOLIDAY!  Yesterday was Memorial Day, and I spent the day with my guys, lounging, dodging the rain, and not blogging.

But now, as I’m preparing my bright spots for you (and me), I’m sitting here reflecting on last week.  I used to raise all the praise hands when I had a week that was uneventful.  When there wasn’t much to report.  When there was a lot of downtime.  When there was blank space on my calendar.  And now, here I am, with more blank space than what makes me comfortable on most days, and I’m wishing for more events, and more people, and more travel, and more normalcy.  Honestly, it’s a really interesting feeling, because I want all of those things, but I want to temper it with quality and not quantity.  So when I think about last week, although at first blush, it feels like nothing much by way of quantity, there were many quality moments that brought me a lot of joy.

  1. Instagram Interview.  A first for me!  Yes, I have been a guest on a podcast, or two, or three.  But a live Instagram interview?  Not yet.  But that changed this week when I chatted with Ask Buddy.  Ask Buddy is building a community of culture seekers and connecting them to safe, authentic experiences in Kansas City.  They have a great curation on their website, and they have a very active Instagram presence, where they have recently been interviewing local “Tastemakers” about their KC favorites.  So when they reached out to ask if they could include me in this series, I was honored and excited.  Obviously I love Kansas City and will take any opportunity to talk about all my favorite spots.  Check out my interview and my top picks here.
  2. Grazing KC Live Charcuterie Demo.  Yea, I bet that made you pause.  I mean, who doesn’t love a charcuterie board?  I was fortunate enough to meet Sarah, the owner of Grazing KC at an event last year.  At this event, she had transformed an entire table into the charcuterie board of my (and your) dreams.  It was so beautiful that many of us commented about how it looked almost too good to eat.  Almost.  Because of course everything was delicious, as she takes pride in using the most quality and inventive products.  Since that event, I have stayed connected with her (and honestly just stalked her gorgeous Instagram feed), and last week I saw that she was offering a free live demo.  Sign. Me. Right. Up.  During this live event, she walked us through her tips and tricks, and it was such a fun way to spend a Thursday night.  She does offer events and private classes, so when things return to “normal,” I can’t wait to get some hands on fun!
  3. Family Pictures.  Finally!  We were scheduled to take family pictures in early April, in advance of Jack’s 3rd birthday.  Taylor, of Photo KC, has been taking our pictures for the past couple of years, and she does such a wonderful job.  I always look forward to shooting with her, because she is so sweet, so disarming, and so positive.  Plus she always makes me look and feel like a dime!  But of course, with the Stay At Home Order and social distancing protocols, we had to postpone our photo shoot.  However, last week, we made it happen!  And it was so worth the wait!  It was wonderful to get dressed up with my dudes, to see our favorite photographer, and to smile and laugh in the sunshine.  And y ‘all, per usual, the pictures are stunning!
  4. 143 Day.  This was a new one for me, but it brought some unexpected joy to my week.  Mr. Rogers regularly used 143 as his special code for “I Love You,” based on the number of letters in each word.  Now it is a day when we are encouraged to share the acts of kindness and good deeds we do for each other. Remake Learning reached out to me about a new campaign they were starting, called “Tomorrow,” and it kicked off on May 22nd, 143 Day.  Tomorrow, calls us to forge a future where each day holds promise for every learner—where youth, families, and educators connect timeless ideas and new ways of learning to prepare for what comes next, no matter what tomorrow might bring.  From 143 Day through October, they will be hosting webinars, virtual events, and so much more.  I was a part of their kickoff, and I will be one of their influencers throughout the campaign.  I am completely honored, and I can’t wait to learn and share more!
  5. A Special “Holiday.”  On May 24, 2002, Chad asked for my phone number on a paper towel in the kitchen at a house party.  Obviously you know how that turned out.  But fast forward to May 24, 2017, and Chad and I were standing in front of a judge at the Olathe Courthouse for our adoption hearing, receiving our final decree of adoption.  We didn’t get to pick this date, so it was a completely unexpected fun little God wink.  After we left the courthouse, we were starving, so we drove straight to our favorite Mexican restaurant, K-Macho’s, and celebrated Jack’s Gotcha Day with margaritas, chips and salsa, and a sleeping baby.  The last two years, we celebrated with dinner at the restaurant, but since we’re still staying at home, but I am BIG on tradition, we got takeout and celebrated at the kitchen table.  It was such a sweet reminder that tradition is not canceled, and there is still beauty all around us.

 

I hope you found some joy in the stillness this week and that my happy moments made you smile too!

 

XOXO,

Molly B.