It Took a Stranger to Remind Me How Much I’m Loved

romantic couple in love at Christmas

It’s typical of my husband and me to recount the events of our days with each other as we prepare dinner. Last night was no exception. He began sharing that a woman had inquired about me during a networking event he hosted earlier that day. I asked who it was and he mentioned he didn’t think we’d met before. This caught my attention immediately and I’m almost certain I physically reacted with a noticeable pause and a quick head turn.

Questioning the State of Affairs

Why was a stranger asking about me? Was she fishing for info on the state of affairs in our home? Well, sort of. Truthfully, it was a much more innocent encounter.
Because my travel schedule does tend to generate a good amount of interest, he thought maybe her question was curiosity on where I would be traveling next. He went on to tell her the new projects I’d been working on and briefly mentioned the next few travel adventures.
As he wrapped up the dialogue, the woman offered a lovely compliment. Although we had never met in person she “imagined me to be an amazing woman”. My apprehension was put at ease and was flattered. I indicated with a playful side glance in Randall’s direction that it was in his best interest to agree, which he wholeheartedly did.


What she said to him next reminded me just how genuinely loved I am.

“I love asking you about your wife because, although you can’t see it from your perspective, you stand up a little taller, your expression relaxes and your eyes sparkle when you speak about her. You can’t help but smile when you say her name and when you talk about all that she is doing. It’s a genuine pleasure to hear a husband be so proud and supportive of the work of their spouse. I ask you about her because it lifts me up too.”

Stunned. Humbled. Honored.


Perhaps this story would have been better suited for Valentine’s Day or an Anniversary. Honestly, I didn’t want to write a Valentine’s Day story about much of anything this year. I was feeling robbed because we both worked instead of celebrating. I wasn’t a very good sport about it.

I love silly, romantic holidays. Not because I need an excuse for flowers or a date night. I recognize that I’m lucky to be loved in those ways a majority of the year as well. I just love Valentine’s Day in the same way I love Thanksgiving. It’s not that I’m ungrateful the rest of the year but I think of Thanksgiving as a day to be intentional about aligning your thoughts and actions with all the blessings you’ve been given. That’s exactly how I feel about Valentine’s Day too. Aligning my thoughts and actions with love for those closest to me.

I think I’d just been in a little bit of a funk since then- a series of other factors were also in play contributing to the funk (more on that in an upcoming post). What I didn’t expect was that a complete stranger would pop into our story to change all that with a few words and a reminder to us about us how important is that we love one another out loud.

Loving one another isn’t just about fleeting moments of intimacy and words of adoration. It’s about how we love one another with our whole selves; our thoughts; our expressions and posture; the way we speak of one another, especially when they aren’t in the room.

Being that I’m on leave for 11 straight days of travel, those words from a stranger couldn’t have had better timing reminding me how much I am loved.

Unlearning Unpretty

Sometimes it takes a close friend challenging the way you’ve always seen something to realize you’ve been looking at it all wrong, for so long. And suddenly everything is changed. #unlearnchallenge

At the beginning of the year, my friend Megan challenged our circle to examine things we may need to unlearn. Things that were maybe who we once were but had outgrown now. Things that were limiting our current growth. Or maybe things that we once chose to believe about ourselves because it was more comfortable to believe that lie than to be brave with our truth and stand out in a crowd. Sometimes the ugly truth is that we camouflage ourselves with average because unique is polarizing and lonely.

I knew instantly what my thing was. I knew because every time I went to share it or say it out loud, it caused this lump in my throat and I could feel the warm tears rising behind my eyes. I couldn’t even type it to her in a dm- I just didn’t want to let this thing go. Megan and I have a special friendship (one day I’ll tell you about how we met. It’s a pretty special story), one that has been honest and vulnerable from the second we crossed paths but every time I went to type it out to her, I couldn’t. I had to get comfortable with it myself first.

I sat with my journal and went to write it and couldn’t. I was so frustrated with myself at how I was letting this get in my way. One Saturday while I was getting ready and Randall was waiting on me, with a little waver in my voice I casually let it out.

“You know what I’ve always wanted ?”

“What’s that?” He asked. I’m always bringing up ridiculous things when I get ready.

“I’ve always wanted to be pretty.”

He tilts his head at me like a confused puppy; “You ARE pretty. I tell you all the time. Why would you say that?”

“No, I’m cute. Cute is different than pretty. Cute is the girl next door. Cute is the best friend. Pretty is the girl that everyone stares at when she walks in a room. Pretty is who you ask to prom.”

We banter a little back and forth, laughing at the idea of being our age and still being concerned about who would ask us to prom. It’s ridiculous in theory but in practice Unlearning Unpretty was exactly the thing it was time to unlearn.

Unlearning Unpretty

How exactly do you unlearn something anyway? The first step is to be vulnerable and transparent enough with yourself to examine what outdated or untrue information you have been holding on to and believing about yourself. Give yourself some space to examine it and then share it.

The sharing part is tricky. You get to say who, when, and how you share it. Like me you may not want to let it go at first. After all it’s probably been with you for a long time. Based on my conversation, I’d been believing that I would never really be pretty for at least a couple of decades. Sharing this thing allows you to release it and make room for the truth that serves you now. The truth that fits and looks good on you today. That other thing is just hanging out in the back of the closet and it’s time to ask yourself if it’s bringing you joy or still serving you. It’s not.

Now for the other hard part, because all of this is hard, you have to start practicing your new truth. For me, I had to start practicing pretty. What does practicing being pretty even mean anyway???

Practicing Pretty

A million people could tell me I was pretty but I had to believe it. I had to walk in the room with the confidence of feeling pretty. It meant that I didn’t deflect eye contact, feeling embarrassed if I was noticed walking into a room. It meant I didn’t change out of an outfit I loved because it might be too noticeable.

Through this whole process, I realized I have been playing it small or shrinking back in a number of ways not just my physical appearance. I’d been afraid to be noticed, to stand out. I had been dimming the thing that made me unique, amazing and spectacular.

I found a phrase, a mantra that helps remind me to never play it small: “Don’t shy away from the spectacular”.

Don’t shy away from the spectacular.

I guess maybe the truth is I don’t want to just be “pretty”. I’m certainly looking for more out of life than a prom date. I want more than to be admired for fleeting subjective qualities. What I really want is to be comfortable being spectacular. I want to be so comfortable walking in a room with all eyes on me, that I can deliver a gaze directly back that offers everyone else in that space a deep breath to be exactly the kind of spectacular they are created to be too.

What I discovered through this unlearning process is that being pretty means more than just soaking in the attention. The kind of pretty I wanted was the kind that was spectacular and confident enough to empower others to be spectacular too.

3 Life Lessons Learned from a third-grade crush, Mr. Big and Champagne Hot Tubs

Today I bought a rib-knit, long sleeve, snap button Henely in my favorite shade of green. I have no shame in telling you how glad I am that this look is back – I look awesome in it, although that isn’t really the point. There is something comforting and a bit nostalgic about it which, lucky for you will reveal some pretty embarrassing truths from my past. Let’s just call these “Life Lessons” as the post goes on, shall we?

Life Lesson no.1

Life Lesson: Sometimes you just have to walk away from what isn’t meant for you even when you don’t know what’s next.

In life, you can learn pretty quickly not everything will be as great of a fit as my new henley. In third- maybe fourth- grade, I had the biggest crush on this boy named Shaun. (Shaun, if you read this please know admitting this possibly as embarrassing today as it would have been back then. I hope you find it flattering.) It was a small class, like twelve students and most of us would go continue on to high school together through graduation.

Spoiler alert: I was not the cool kid in class. Glow-up is a real thing.

I was not athletic. My name did not, and still does not, end in an “i”, “y”, or “ie”. Prior to the internet and wayyyy before snapchat, this was a very important marker of social status. My parents refused to buy me the jumbo-sized cans of hairspray so I could craft my bangs do that half-up/half-down thing or perm my obnoxiously straight hair. In my efforts to achieve cool status, I finally talked them into buying me a pair of jeans with zippers at the ankle. Still, the coolest denim in the world couldn’t repair my heart the day I sat next to Shaun on the bleachers and he said: “Could you just NOT sit by me?”  Ugh.

I was crushed. I couldn’t say anything. I just got up and walked away. I knew from the tone of his voice that it just wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes you just have to know to walk away from what isn’t meant for you even when you don’t know what’s next. Even when it hurts.

Life Lesson no. 2

Life lesson: Don’t pattern your romantic aspirations after the lyrics of rock ballads. Especially ones sung by groups like “Mr. Big”.

Fast forward to 7th grade. There was a new girl at school this year. She wore thick dark eye liner and black t-shirts of bands I’d never heard of. She was a year or two older than me and a little sarcastic but friendly. A few weeks after school started her father passed away. She didn’t know many people yet and even though I didn’t know her very well I wanted to go by and offer my condolences. My parents were very strict and I wasn’t usually allowed to visit the homes of friends without knowing their parents but they agreed to drop me off for an hour or so anyway.

The door was open when I got to her house. I walk past a group of adults to find the group of tweens /teens in the back dining room by the staircase. I didn’t really recognize anyone else. I think they were mostly cousins and friends from out of town. There was rock music playing of some of her dad’s favorites: Lynyrd Skynard, Kiss, ZZ Top, Aerosmith… none of them were familiar to me. I hadn’t been allowed to listen to any of them before… sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, you feel me?

After a little while we all sat down on the floor and someone turned the radio on. On the other side of the circle, someone started passing something. It wasn’t my vibe so I just passed it along. Whether it was the passage of time or a solid contact high, I don’t remember who was there, what we talked about, or even if we talked but I vividly remember the song that was on the radio at that moment. It shaped what I wanted from relationships for a long time (insert healthy doses of embarrassment here…deep breath *sigh*) Mr Big – Just To Be With You 

As I sat there listening to the lyrics, I remember thinking THAT was what I wanted in a relationship. That was how I wanted to be loved or wanted or whatever. I mean, clearly ” Why be alone when we can be together” is solid reasoning, right? And sooooo non-judgmental. He didn’t care that he wasn’t the first or the last… he just wanted to be the next and he came offering to make her smile. Smiling is still my favorite. In retrospect, I had a fair amount of relationship wisdom to gain. This perspective, that environment was all so new, I held onto those lyrics for a long time. I got my heart broken a fair number of times as a result. Don’t pattern your romantic aspirations after the lyrics of rock ballads, especially ones touting the moniker “Mr. Big”. If you have to tell people you are a big deal, you probably aren’t.

Life Lesson no.3

Life lesson: Keep examining your dreams. If you don’t, you might arrive only to wonder why you wanted that in the first place. Especially if that dream was a hot tub in the shape of a champagne glass.

As I mentioned before, we didn’t have the internet growing up. What we did have was 1-800 numbers. People were not as adverse to talking on the phone back then. I was left at home alone a lot and loved getting things in the mail. Fun fact: This is where my love of travel began. Anytime I would see a travel destination advertised I would furiously write down the number and muster my most grown up voice to call and request a free travel packet be sent to my house. This went on from age 9 until I was in high school. It was awesome. If I’m honest, I still enjoy recieving an occasional visitors packet now and again.

In the back of every travel packet would be advertising for other travel destinations. Almost every one of them would feature a heart shaped tub or or huge champagne glass filled with bubbles “Come get away to a relaxing getaway in the Poconos!”

I had no idea where in the country the Poconos actually was at the time but in my mind, this was the ultimate luxury and class to aspire to. When you could get away to spend time in a tub shaped like a champagne glass you had arrived. Well…..last year, I was invited to a workshop held in….you guessed it… THE POCONOS! Years had gone by without me remembering my dream of champagne glass hot tubs. As I was driving up to our cabin I suddenly remembered this story and shared it with my friend, Clarissa. She immediately googled and realized that the very resort I had idolized for so long was only 20 mins away. We agreed to stop by and get a tour on our way home.

What happened was a hilarious series of events that truly will need its own blog post. What I can tell you is that it was not in any capacity the luxury dream I had imagined. Let me show you with a few snapshots and hopefully you’ll understand.

If you made it to the end of this BRAVO!
It’s funny what how a little nostalgia can conjure up a lifetime full of memories and how small moments can shape us and grow us. I’ve only just shared these stories with my family yesterday. Hopefully they mean something, made you smile, or gave a little more insight to my life. It definitely did all three of those things for me.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out how we imagined, hoped or romanticized it would but that doesn’t mean it isn’t leading exactly where we ought to be.

New Year, New Parts of Me … maybe.

5 pregnancies, 4 babies, infinite nights turning into months that add up to years of nursing and a lifetime filled with nurturing other humans…
Yes, becoming a parent is a magical and beautiful season of life. What it has done to my body hasn’t always left me with the same sentiments, however.

Parenting grows our character and stretches us in ways we could never imagine. Quite literally. Even with the numerous messaging out there that encourages me to believe the scars and stretch marks from those times are a beautiful reminder of how strong and capable my body is, when I look in the mirror it doesn’t make me feel beautiful no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise.

These “imperfections”, as I see them, are totally repairable and what makes me feel empowered is knowing I have a choice to live with them or not. I’d always said that after we were done having children I would like to make some adjustments. I worked hard to lose forty pounds in 2018 and have a continued goal for 2019. I decided it was time to consider it more seriously.

I lost count of the number of before and after photos that I analyzed as I made the case for these procedures to my husband. For the record, initially, he was very on the fence. You see, I’m married to this wonderful human who adores me… mind, body, and soul. It’s never been a question of being more attractive to him or anyone else. This transformation truly is more about me being satisfied with me.

Today, on the second day of the new year, my husband and I went for a consultation to talk about what that would look like. Or more specifically what I could look like. I had carefully researched surgeons for months before calling for a consultation. It took 3 weeks to get in as the doctor I preferred is booked pretty far out. This offered more time to consider if this was something I really wanted to do.

I asked R to come with me so that he could ask any questions he had and since he would be helping me with the recovery process, I wanted him to know exactly what I was getting us into. “Us” because I really will be depending on him a lot in the weeks following. I think one of the misconceptions I had before researching all of this was that it was an easy surgery. It is definitely major surgery.

We both asked a lot of questions. Then there was the picture taking. If you ever want to test how fearless you are, forget bungee jumping or mountain climbing. Schedule a cosmetic surgery consultation instead. Seriously. Think of the parts of your body that you are most insecure about, strip naked in a brightly lit room and let a -very nice- professional stranger take up-close photos from multiple angles of exactly those parts you’ve been camouflaging for most of your adult life. It was kind of like the dream where you show up at school with no pants.

Ultimately, I don’t know what I’ll end up doing. Or how much I’ll share or not share along the way. There was a big part of me that was very apprehensive to share any of this. I guess I just thought it was fair to acknowledge the perspective that as women, mothers or non-mothers, we have control over our bodies to do with them as we please for our own satisfaction. You are allowed to get cosmetic surgery. You’re allowed not to get surgery. What we aren’t allowed to is pass judgment on the choices people make about their bodies “natural” or not.

Treat Yourself to a PureBeauty Experience inside Neiman Marcus Northpark

PureBeauty Spa Interior

Hidden inside the bustling shopping mecca that is North Park Mall in Dallas is an oasis that is calling your name – PUREBEAUTY Salon and Spa. Now I know what you are thinking… “Not one single thing could make me go to the mall this time of the holiday shopping season.”

Just hear me out.

It’s likely you’ve walked by it a million times not even realizing what you were missing out on- I know I had – I’m about to give you a MAJOR KEY to holiday happiness.

Ready?

PureBeauty Spa Northpark

Tucked inside Neiman Marcus, just past the fragrances, and down a golden spiral staircase is the calm quiet oasis of PUREBEAUTY. I had no idea how much I had needed this day away until I was greeted by Madison ( ig: @madisonpurebeauty for my massage. She escorted me into a beautiful changing room and handed me my spa robe for the afternoon and showed me the secure locker to store my belongings.

PureBeauty Spa Northpark changing room lounge

After I had changed she walked me to the massage room and waited outside until I was comfortably tucked under the prewarmed covers of the massage bed. It was one of the best massage experiences I’ve had. I had no idea how much stress I had been carrying around with me.

PureBeauty Spa Interior 2

I wrapped back up in my robe and slippers and Madison walked me to the facial room where she introduced me to Michaela (ig: @purebeauty_michaela). She asked me a few questions about my skin and then we began the facial. It was so relaxing I think I may have actually fallen asleep at one point but it didn’t seem to phase her one bit.

PureBeauty Spa Northpark facial room

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

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PureBeauty Spa Northpark

When I went back to change there was a little gift bag waiting for me. I felt amazing and my skin looked great. In the busyness of the season it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves or push it off thinking we’ll get to it. The thing is we take care of others so much better when we have taken care of ourselves first.

PureBeauty Spa Northpark selfie

Are you needing a little rest and relaxation too? Right now when you buy a spa package, you get up to a $50 gift voucher free! Call and set up a visit today!

NorthPark Center
8687 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400
Dallas, Texas 75225
Tel: 214-346-0731