Thriving in 2014: My #oneword2014 Resolution

With joy in my heart, grounded in spirit, and a fearless pep in my step, my #oneword for 2014 is Thrive!

This photo just captures the forward motion of thriving. And, my blonde hair. :)

This painting just captured for me the forward motion of thriving. And, my blonde hair. 🙂

As I think about the last several years, while I had moments of thriving, I really felt as though I was surviving. I spent alot of time responding to things in my environment. But, the moments when I have felt the most alive have been the moments where I was brave enough to follow my instincts and heart, owned my knowledge and skills, and took risks with great joy and optimism.

That my friends is what I really want to do this year. I don’t know all the steps to take, but I am committed to figuring it out.

investigate thriving

Right now, I think it means I need to create more space to be me. Things that come to mind are writing more, doing fewer things with more focus, running, settling in to my new job, spending time with family and owning my inner awesome. It may take me all year to find out, but I’m determined to try.

What have you learned on your journey about thriving? What does it mean to you to thrive?

Follow my “Thrive” Pintrest Board for inspiration on thriving in 2014!


New Year, New Meanings: A 2013 #oneword Reflection

In thinking about the holiday season and the associated celebrations from November to January, one thing that stands out as a common theme is the opportunity to reflect and start anew. To see this concept across religions, peoples, and time really demonstrates the significance of creating space for ourselves to do both of these things. How powerful these two concepts can be when we think about how fast the world moves and how quickly life changes.

However, I am challenging myself to think slightly different about this time of the year. Instead of seeing it as an end and beginning, I want to view it as an on-going. As a way to feel the strength from the wisdom gained and set my sights forward on making use of that wisdom and strength to continue my process of becoming.

On that note, here is the wisdom that joy has brought me over the last year. As I think back, I am amazed yet again that I picked the perfect one word to serve as a guiding light.


You can read more about my rationale for selecting the word joy here. I wanted to create well-being for myself and others, be more present in the moment, seek out the good, and take care of myself and those I cherish most through mental and physical activity.

So, how did I do?

Well, overall, I am feeling pretty good about nurturing joy in my life this past year. Despite facing some very difficult moments, I am ending this year filled with joy. In seeking out the good and positive, I was able to let go of emotions or things that would drag me down. I started running, completing two 5K races! I also started monitoring my overall physical health using my Jawbone UP to track my sleep and activity each day. I tried to worry less and decrease anxiety by living in the present moment. I didn’t compare myself to others, but focused on a becoming a better “me.” This allowed me to appreciate the little things that bring me joy: coffee in the morning, purring cats, hugs from my husband, laughter, friendship, flowers in my yard, little ones giggling, runs on the trail, sunshine, meaningful work. My heart is happier, my outlook is brighter.

Did I have set backs? Oh my goodness, YES. There were so many times that seemed uncertain and I questioned my strength and ability to make it through. But the joy in the setbacks was that I had amazing friends and family to lean on. It was hard to reach out, to accept help, to be vulnerable, to let others down, and to accept that I might fail. But the beauty is that no one turned me away. No one criticized or made me feel lesser. They loved me with grace and I am forever grateful for these gifts. They helped me see and feel joy, where in the past I would have filled that space with despair.

The biggest lesson that a focus on joy taught me is that the journey is most beautiful when looked at though the lens of joy. I have renewed strength and wisdom through joy that will sustain me on this on-going journey.

Joy in the Flight

Pantene Commercial Challenges Labels against Women

This Pantene commercial from the Philippines provides a visual display of the different labels assigned to women and men for the same behavior. It is being shared over and over by friends on Facebook and Twitter. It is worth the minute it takes to watch.

I also appreciate the message in this Salon article about the role of feminism in marketing. I saw the commercial and thought “YES!!” This is so familiar to me and what I have experienced as a woman leader. And then I thought, let’s be clear, Pantene is still trying to sell me something. While messages like this are empowering and put gender discrimination in the spotlight, it is also important to check our actions. Seeing this message in media is important, but buying Pantene doesn’t change anything for women.

I think the author sums it up well at the end of her article:

“I’m OK with being marketed to on the basis of my feminism, as long as I don’t fool myself into imagining that my purchase stands in for meaningful activism (and as long as the company doesn’t try to fool me into thinking that). I appreciate smart advertising. I am willing to support brands whose business strategies suggest to me that feminism matters. Most of all, I’m glad to see the message out there, getting more exposure than it would if companies stuck to eternally draping their products in naked ladies.”

So my friends, I do want to say thank you to Pantene for providing a powerful visual display of what women leaders experience. I want to say to my fellow female colleagues to be strong. And, I do want to say go shine. But I don’t think you need a hair product to empower you to do those things.

Run your own race.

Over the last month I have been slowly working my way back into running. You may not believe it, but through high school I was a 3 sport athlete. Basketball was my life, while volleyball and track were something I enjoyed, so year round I was engaged. I know how to run, but after 3 knee surgeries I just haven’t run consistently for almost 20 years now (ouch, that hurt to type!).

It felt so good to get out and run again. To remember what it feels like to be winded, to feel the burn, and engage muscles I had forgotten about. Most importantly, it feels good remember what it feels like when I hit my stride and I am running my race. That moment is when I feel confident and strong, as I feel my physical and mental bodies are in tune ready to run to the ends of the earth.

I run on a trail by my house and there has been camaraderie as I am running and as people pass me and I pass them. Generally, runners give each other the thumbs up and even say, “keep it up!” However, there have been several times when women see me coming to pass them and speed up. One woman even went so far as to sprint ahead and then start walking again once she felt she was far enough ahead, only to sprint ahead again just so I could not pass her. Several woman jog faster when they see me behind them and try to run at a faster pace until I am in front of them.

No matter how many times this has happened, I am always perplexed. I keep my pace, while thinking what the hell? Don’t get me wrong, I understand competitiveness. But come on! Seriously, I am just trying to finish my couch to 5K program without injuring myself in the process. It’s about me, running my own race and finishing this dang program. Last night, the same thing happened where a woman was speeding up pace when I tried to pass her and left me wondering,

“Why is it always the women on the trail that do this?”

I thought back to the thousands of conversations I have had at various leadership conferences about women in leadership and competition. Why do we feel we need to compare? To feel like we are running in someone else’s race? Instead of focusing on our own strengths and what makes us unique, we focus on our weaknesses as compared to others.


Instead, the best thing we could ever do for ourselves and others is to be the best version of ourselves. I know it is a journey. I’ve been there, comparing my life or career to someone else thinking they had it all figured out. What does she have that I don’t? Why is she farther in her career than I am? Why can she run faster than me? But at the end of the day, there is no “there, there,” meaning that everyone is really trying just as hard to figure out. Everyone has something that makes them feel unsuccessful or incompetent. And, you know what, no one has it all.

Until we truly become comfortable and focused on being our authentic selves, will we ever become our best selves. If we focus on sharpening our uniqueness and strengths, we will find the spaces where we can be most successful and accomplish our personal goals.


One thing I remembered loving about running that was different from the team sports I played, was that I could compete with myself. The race I ran was mine alone.

When I step out to run, I am trying to push myself to the next place. I want to finish a 5k. I want to gain that new personal record by running faster or going farther. It’s not about anyone else but me.

So fellow women runners on the trail, just know I’m not out here to compete with you.

I’m out here for a better me.



All things must come to the soul from its roots, from where it is planted.
Saint Teresa of Avila

I recently traveled home to Texas to spend time with my dear family. This year has been full of change for every aspect of my life and visiting with those who help me feel grounded was welcome. It’s interesting those words, “feel grounded.” As I reflect on what that phrase meant to me on this trip, it meant feeling where I came from in my soul. Connecting to where I felt planted, to where I felt I had sturdy roots in order to grow up and off into branches.

One early morning, I went and crawled into bed with my Mom. See, my Dad leaves for work around 5:30am so when I woke up at 6am I knew there was an open space to curl up. Mom was up during this time as she usually is and then we both fell back asleep. When I woke up I sleepily looked across the room to the antique dressing table and saw a gift I had given her many years ago. It was a Mary Engelbirght plaque that said, “Home is in my mothers eyes.” There was something about laying right next to my Mom and feeling at home. She always has been home to me; the one place you can always go no matter what may be happening in life. I wish I could rephrase that plaque to say, “home is in my mother’s grace.”

There were several more experiences that I just wanted to snap up and file away in my memory forever. Kirsten Dunst’s character, Claire, in Elizabethtown, did this and I found myself mentally snapping up moments.

Mental Snapshots

Mental Snapshots (some even say Kirsten could be my doppelganger!)

Several other experiences reminded me of my Texas roots, which means a great deal to those of us from Texas. There are many things that do not make me proud of my home state, however, there are several things that fill me with pride. Being mindful during my trip of the moments my soul recognized and reminded me of who I am, I took a mental snapshot…I wanted to be reminded and carry these things with me where I may be.

Community- This visit was shortly after the devastating tornadoes and hearing stories of people helping people and showing up to take care of each other were plenty. Seeing people greet each other with a smile, hold doors for each other, and generally show care for strangers. People stopping to help others with car issues on the side of the road or just the Texas courtesy to move over so others can pass. Even that Texas pride that we often are chastised about…everyone belongs and is proud to be a part.

Texas women- Not that women from other places are not strong, smart, independent or passionate but at home I am surrounded by women in my family and immediate circles who I am familiar with the stories of their journey and how they have overcome. I stand on their shoulders, as they are truly giants and if I ever doubt myself, their examples of leadership and life help me push through. I have a legacy to uphold and I am proud to do so.

Simple things in life- One day we floated the Brazos (well, maybe we were being pulled by my brother as the current wasn’t strong!) but that afternoon all was perfect in the world. Such a simple thing as sitting in a tube, in the middle of a river, clear blue sky above was perfect. Followed by a sunset at the farm that was unbelievable. I saw friends that have been by my side no matter what the drama and family that reminds you that you always have a place to belong. Stuff country songs are written from….another call to my roots. Have you ever taken in the lyrics of a Texas country song? Just speaks to my soul how they describe what these experiences mean to the heart.

So what does this have to do with change and leadership? It was a reminder that no matter how much I change and grow and move around in the world, my roots keep me true to who I am in my soul. Roots are the best friend that sings the song of your soul when you can’t remember the words. Roots nourish our soul so we can grow tall, bend with the wind, and stay true to who we are all at the same time. I’m a Texan and I come with a big heart and smile, legacy of strong women to live up to, community orientation, family and friends who stick no matter what, belief in the simple things as the best things, humbleness (don’t get bigger than your britches), and a faith that it will all work out.

How do you acknowledge your roots and refresh your soul during times of change?

2013 #oneword resolution

The word I have selected for my 2013 #oneword resolution will probably come as no surprise to you if you have read the last couple of blog posts. I have selected JOY. I started reflecting on life in November as I was managing multiple transitions and wrote this piece on joy.

As a guiding word for my resolutions in the new year, I hope to turn my joy from this:

dusty joy

Into this:


Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines joy as: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; a state of happiness or felicity.

In particular, I seek to create well-being for myself and others by living an authentic and purposeful life. I want to be more present in the moment, seek out the good, and take care of myself and those I cherish most through mental and physical activity.

As for the “prospect of possessing what one desires,” this is the year my friends for the dissertation to be completed. For the last of this chapter in my life to be written so the next can begin. It is time.

So, here’s to a year being shaped by the word joy. 2013.

How about you? What is your one word or new year resolutions?

How one word can shape a year…

I started using the One Word challenge in 2011 thanks to the inspiration of the #wlsalt community. Previously, I had set specific goals and due dates. It was very scripted and I set out with fervor each year to accomplish the goals. Overall, that process worked very well through the years and I accomplished many goals that way.

When I moved to the One Word challenge, I’ll admit I was probably just jumping on the band wagon. It did seem like a good idea but I had no idea what it would mean to pick a word that was meant to guide an entire year. Think about that…one word, defining an entire year. No specific goals, no deadlines. Just a word. For this strategic planner and type A personality, I wasn’t quite sure how it would work.

The past two years have shown me more about myself and how the one word I selected manifest in my life each day. Now that there was one word constantly whispered in my ear, I held it closer as I made decisions. Looking back, I picked the perfect word to frame each year without knowing what was to come. I cannot imagine more perfect words than the ones I selected to guide the last two years of my life.

Let me share.

Lotus Flower

The Lotus flower’s unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul.

In 2011, I chose spirit. That was the start of the year that I was coming off of the Women’s Leadership Institute and a 2 week trip to India. Those experiences touched the depths of my spirit and helped me feel alive again. I wanted to keep the fire inside my craw (that’s a good ol’ southern term my friends!) going. I wrote, “Spirit is the place from where I draw my courage, passion and agency to impact the world.” I knew it, I felt it and I wanted to live it.

fearNo wonder I chose fearless for 2012! I felt courage and passion and was ready to be fearless. Thank goodness I did! I had no idea how important that word would be to me in 2012. Let’s see, the year included: securing a promotion and negotiating successfully, defending my dissertation proposal, being elected to my sorority’s International Council, quitting my job and moving across the country, and becoming a full time doctoral candidate. All in one year. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to the fearless playlist that many of you helped create! When I needed a reminder to be courageous and go after my dreams with fearless abandon, there it was- my one word. Fearless.

As 2013 approaches I am contemplating what word to choose. I am going to let the chaos and noise just fade away and listen for a moment. My spirit will whisper something softly…

Joy. I found it! Now time to dust it off…

The supreme Goddess of Wholehearted Living, @BreneBrown, has done it again. I was at the TedX Indianapolis event a week ago and they played her famous Ted Talk on Vulnerability. I have seen that video a gazillion times and it never fails to provide me with some nugget of wisdom that spurs reflection and personal insight.

That day, this was the nugget…


See those words at the end…joy, gratitude, happiness, purpose…I had been wondering lately, “where did they go?” I didn’t feel them in my soul. Let me be clear. I knew I had many reasons to be happy and much to be thankful for and joyful for in my life. I’m a smart woman, I know I have people who love me, plenty to eat and a warm place to lay my head and sleep every night. But what concerned me was that I just couldn’t feel them deep down in my soul. Like when I went to look for these things in the depths of my being, to draw from their positive energy, it was like opening a drawer and finding it empty. I was so confused. “How can I know these things are true, know that I have had them there in my soul and now I can’t find them. Hum, where did I put them?”

Well, I had replaced them with despair. I wrote to my dear friend Karen and said, “On Saturday I received a message that hit home…it was centered around the word despair…thats it! I have been overcome by a sense of futility or defeat.” And, because of that, I was not vulnerable or willing to live a whole hearted life. I was numbing the hard feelings of despair and defeat that also meant I had misplaced my joy, gratitude and happiness. (Why is a WHOLE other post on writing the dissertation. Let’s save that for another day.)

It took two very special people in my life to make me feel them again and many dear friends to remind me that I am worthy of love, joy and all the dreams my heart desires.

Then, this morning when I woke up and went searching in my soul, I found it…


Like an old beacon left unattended for a while, it just needs to be dusted off. I can feel hope again, it is in there. I know, because this morning when I opened the drawer looking for joy I found it and it made a sound! The pure happy, giddy, laugh from my belly joy. Now to nourish joy, gratitude and happiness in the days moving forward. I’m so glad to have found you again.

Much gratitude to my friends and family walking with me on this journey. Your gifts of love, encouragement, and belief are more precious than I could ever express. 

Pieces of Me

As many of you now know, John and I are preparing for a major transition from Eugene to Indianapolis at the end of June. It is amazing to me how in a short amount of time, everything about your life can change. We weren’t planning a job search or to move but the Universe opened a door for us and showed us an opportunity that we couldn’t refuse. So, by the time July 1 gets here we will have packed up our lives in Eugene, sold off many of our goods, bought a new car, found a new place to live, and moved to a new city! All in 7 weeks! Again, life changes fast.

While that all may seem like chaos and completely unnerving (especially for us type-A folks that like to plan EVERYTHING out), I am at peace. This peace is giving me space to be reflective about my personal growth as each item I pack reflects the pieces of me.

At this point, my career has taken me from Texas, Michigan, Florida and Oregon. I have learned many things personally and professionally from each opportunity. There are pieces of me that I have left behind because they were no longer who I wanted to be. There are new pieces I picked up along the way because they better reflected my values.

Until now, this process over the years felt like I was shedding much of what I no longer wanted to be. Learning and growing meant unlearning many of the ways I had been socialized in order to become the woman and leader I wanted to be. Now, in this moment, I am finding pieces of me all around that I had put down unintentionally and that I actually LIKE some of those pieces. I still want them to be a part of me.

Now the question I have in my mind is, “How do I put this all back together?”

What I am grateful for is the opportunity to continue to learn and grow.

All of this is the process of becoming.


Fearless Playlist

As mentioned in my last post, my #oneword for 2012 is fearless.

Back in December, I asked colleagues and friends on Facebook and Twitter to tell me, “what song makes you feel fearless?” I received an awesome response from people across the country and of great diversity. With the songs recommended and several additions of my own, I now have a playlist of 42 songs I listen to frequently to reinforce being fearless.

You can find the playlist here on iTunes.

What are you doing day to day to live your #oneword?