2016: Reconnecting With My Why

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Once a month I meet with a group of self-employed women and we discuss wins, losses, and frustrations we encounter while running our businesses. These meetings typically consist of coffee, swear words, laughing, and sometimes tears. One topic we come back to regularly is connecting back to the “why” of our business.

The idea of finding your “why” comes from a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek where he explores how inspirational leadership can be a powerful tool for success. The idea is pretty simple: people invest more in companies with a clear purpose and strong beliefs. The product or service a company is selling must also be good, but the initial conversation leads with the “why.”

This sort of thought process has been extremely valuable for me as a small business owner and a blogger (sorry/not sorry I didn’t want to write a sponsored post about your diet app) so in 2016 I’m applying the same process to my personal life. I’m using three of Sinek’s key takeaways to help define my personal “why.”

1. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
OK, I’m not going to lie this is a tough one to start with. It requires you to dig deep and get uncomfortable. Formulating my ‘why’ took a lot of listing, scratching out, crumbling up of paper, cursing, and wondering why I ever thought this was a good idea in the first place. But like any difficult task I felt a surge of self-confidence once it was completed. In no particular order here is the foundation of my personal ‘why’ :

We’re all in this together – as in be good to each other, speak kindly, hold doors open, smile, and take deep breaths before you respond to that email/text/Facebook post that really pissed you off.

Forgiveness is the only way forward – gossip, anger, grudges, and animosity are such energy sucks and can distract from all of the great things going on in the world. I forgive for my own sanity, closure, and to move on with my life; not because I think you are right.

Have fun– somewhere between building blanket forts as a kid and paying bills as an adult we forget about fun. In 2016 I want to acquire experiences instead of things, laugh at least once a day, and refuse to grow up. My Dad does all of these pretty well so I am hoping it’s genetic. Anyone that is not on board with fun can just read on to the next point.

2. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.
It seems pretty simple, right? It’s not really though, people (including myself) are scared of looking like an asshole in public so we edit ourselves. For professional purposes editing is very important, for personal purposes it seems ridiculous. This is the part where I talk about how much I love social media because you can post content that reflects your beliefs and find your tribe. For me this involves posts about cute animals, food, beer, and wondering when (if?) I will ever feel like a grown up. All the people who follow me have mentally said “I see what you’re about and I’m into it.” I love interacting with people who get my ‘why’ and who, without social media, I might have never met.  Real life friendships work the same way so don’t be afraid to be your glitter, unicorn, bold patterned self who might have a sailor mouth (oh hey, thats me!).

3. Think, act, and communicate from the inside out.
Now that I have my ‘why’ nailed down, it is time for some action. I’m ready for a year full of new friends, experiences, challenges, and a lot of impromptu dance breaks (because fun, remember?!). I feel slightly relieved to have a reference sheet for when life gets messy and I feel lost in the forest, because those times are unavoidable. It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know about myself but there is something special about having my ‘why’ posted where I can see it every day.  Here is to a magical year ahead, thanks for coming along for the ride.

An Open Letter To Mariah Carey Christmas Haters

Hey Girl Holiday

I am a holiday traditionalist, Christmas music before Thanksgiving is unacceptable (if the rest of the retailers in America could get on board with that I would appreciate it). For me the official start of the holiday season is signified with one very important song: “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. From the first twinkling notes of the intro I know what is coming and my soul gets excited. I will stop whatever I am doing, including picking out avocados at the grocery store, and fully commit to a lip-syncing dance session.

While I take a break from holiday stress to revel in the soulful playfulness of a truly classic song I can’t help buy notice you:  the person rolling their eyes at the very same song I look forward to hearing on repeat for the entire month of December. For some reason you can’t buy into a song that, even 21 years after it’s release, is still trending on the Billboard Chart.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” has all of the important components of a successful MC song: a booty-shaking beat, fun lyrics, that really high note you never attempt to hit, and flirty smiles and cleavage throughout the music video. When I was a teenager it was a welcomed holiday pop anthem covered in tinsel, glitter, and red velvet, and I’m not the only one.

“Ah, my junior high years. The ‘Butt Rock Era’ full of hair metal bands and tight pants. Mariah Carey crashed into that scene with big hair and tight pants, but with that big diva voice and high notes like no other. Being that I was a little punk rock skater kid I thought I  was too cool for Mariah. Secretly though, I was a closeted fan who would sing along to “Vision of Love” when it came on the radio. At heart, I am still that same little skater kid but I no longer shy away from a little MC love. Her Christmas album is fantastic! Today I proudly proclaim “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in my top 3 favorite Christmas songs. Who can resist that intro when it comes on the radio? Certainly not this girl!”

-Sarah Stout Proteau, Skin Ninja

“ (All I Want For Christmas Is You) takes us back to a time when life was simpler- a nostalgia in our lifetime- not our grandparents’. That range of hers was unlike any holiday music before and no one has out-sung her since.  Her Christmas album is a middle finger to the patriarchy, take that Bing Crosby. Nothing captures pure joy and girlhood fun like Mariah. When ‘All I Want for Christmas’ comes on I’m 12 years old again singing at the top of my lungs and dancing. Her vibrato melts the stress of the world away. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? I’m pretty sure it is”

– Rosuara Unangst, Pigment & Parchment

We’re not trying to turn you into a fan, secretly we know you already have the lyrics memorized. We’re asking you to understand how important Mariah Carey is to our holiday experience and maybe just shut up and let us have this time of year.

PS – we will never tell if you join in on the lip-syncing dance party action either.

Hey Girl Thanksgiving 2015

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My parents have been divorced since I was small so for most of my life Thanksgiving was about the shuffle.  My brother and I would show up at one house, hug everyone, eat a little bit of food, and then leave for another house to repeat the pattern. This tradition continued well into adulthood and, not surprisingly, was not relaxing at all. In 2009 I moved out of my hometown of Tempe, AZ to Southern California but would still travel back for Thanksgiving every other year, these trips consisted of more shuffling. Cramming in visits with family, friends, and family friends over four days usually meant there was little time left for napping.

Last October my husband and I bought our house in Sacramento and decided our first tradition as a married couple would be to not leave our new house for the holidays. We also established a few other very important rules that accompany this tradition: relax, eat a lot, pajamas are acceptable at the table (or some version of pajamas like leggings/sweats, etc), and there will be champagne.

Our first Thanksgiving in the new house began with coffee,  bubbles, something a little sweet for breakfast, and watching the Macy’s Day Parade.  Dinner consisted of a mini-feast for two that was served on a folding table in our living room because we hadn’t purchased a dining room table yet. We sat at that tiny table stacked with food and drank too much wine, ate too much pie, and mapped out the future remodel of our kitchen (that we just recently finished, yay!).

Even though I missed my family back in Arizona I was Thankful for a quiet evening full of laughter and love. We talked about foods we loved (canned cranberry sauce for life) hated (you can take a hike green bean casserole), and family traditions growing up. This is how I want to spend every holiday forever, with the most amount of love and laughter and least amount of stress.

I want to always remember to be thankful that I want more than I need in life, I am surrounded by miraculous human beings who are pretty hilarious, and I love more than I stress.

This year we have a beautiful new kitchen that is perfect for cooking the big meal and I am excited to welcome family to our new dining room table. I’m still working on the menu, but I can guarantee there will be canned cranberry sauce and bubbles.