What I’ve learned a year after moving my family cross country

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been a whole year since my family loaded up in the Yukon and drove the 12 hours south to our new home in Texas.

I was in my first trimester, super sick and exhausted. My husband had already made the move the month before and started his new job, and my mom drove with me and our two kiddos.

I still remember the relief I felt when climbing out of the car and being reunited with my husband.

The guilt as my mom unpacked boxes and watched the kids as I lay nauseated on the couch.

I remember how much I appreciated my dad driving down by himself to deliver our pets and help hang pictures and turn our house into a home.

I can feel the angst in my stomach that I felt as my mom and dad drove away and left us in an unfamiliar place, no longer surrounded by friends and family.

One thought kept circulating back to the front of my mind…

Did we make the right choice?

The summer of 2016 was one of the hardest times in my entire life.

My pregnant body was fatigued and barely functioning in the Houston heat.

There was no down time between finding new doctors, new schools and new clients for my business.

The cross country move left us with credit card debt for the first time in our marriage. Home and car repairs added insult to injury.

I locked my keys in the car on more than one occasion. The AAA service man knew our address.

Most days, my mind struggled to reconcile hormonal stresses with real life ones as I sat alone in my office while the kids were at preschool.

Even with the hardships we faced, this is a happy story.

In one year, I went from one of the lowest points in my life, to the highest.

Our kids have flourished over the past year. They’ve learned to swim! They’ve grown so big they needed new bicycles to ride to the neighborhood park.

Daphne will enter Kindergarten with basic reading, writing and mathematics skills, a memorized address, an eagerness to learn, and loads of confidence.

Henry is finally potty trained and enjoys showing off his days of the week and months of the year songs, usually accompanied with a silly dance.

Our sweet Audrey, our only “true” Texan, was born in this new home of ours and has brought a fresh burst of happiness to fill our lives in ways we didn’t know we needed.

Justin is around more than he ever was able to be before. He has flexibility, hobbies, home projects and time for exercise that all got stuck on pause as a hustling entrepreneur managing various stores and employees in Kansas City.

My business has been growing steadily and transformed in natural ways that highlight what I love and what I’m good at. I am excited about every project I’m working on and the women entrepreneurs I get to work with.

I have friends I cannot imagine my life without – people I’d never met if we didn’t make the move.

Not everyday is roses, believe me. But at this moment, a year after our move, I am perfectly fulfilled.

It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but moving with small children, an ambitious husband and a new business taught me a lot about what we’re capable of as a family. Here are my big takeaways a year after moving my family cross country.

moving my family cross country

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

No one said it’s easy to put yourself out there. In fact, even when you’re an extrovert like I am it can be pretty awkward to show up somewhere unfamiliar and insert yourself in a conversation. However, if you sit at home waiting for a dozen new friends to show up at your door you will be sorely disappointed. I knew I’d need socialization immediately, so I joined a mom’s group, chatted it up with other parents at the pool and participated in a professional women’s organization. Also, I figured the quicker I learn my way around, the less unfamiliar this new place would feel. I looked at maps online, spent weekends exploring parks with the family and drove around memorizing street names to get acquainted with the city.

People are kind.

I have to confess something that may sound silly now: when we first moved here I had nightmares that by the time my kids’ birthdays rolled around we wouldn’t have any friends to invite to their birthday party! I laugh now, because the outpouring of genuine friendship toward my family over the last year was abundant. Friends from my moms’ group would text me randomly or swing by unexpectedly {with gifts!} to see how I was adjusting. When I was on bedrest, neighbors would offer to have the kids over for a playdate. After the baby was born, we had food for weeks. And yes, even my kids had plenty of friends to help them celebrate turning a year older. We are eternally grateful for all of the kindness people showed us this past year.

Family is everything.

Not many couples with young children decide to move away from family. Truth be told, I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you have a phenomenal reason. We left more than just my parents, cousins, aunt and uncles, and friends when we left Kansas City. We left a support system, built in babysitters and emergency contacts. While we’ve built relationships with neighbors and friends who can fill some of these gaps, there are still many {many!} times I wish my parents were just down the street.

Kids are people, too.

I knew that my family’s happiness rested greatly on my shoulders. It was a pressure that oftentimes felt like a burden when I was feeling anything but happy. Overwhelmed? Yes. Frustrated? At times. Lonely? You bet ya. Yet I was always keenly aware that our children would look to me to see how I was adjusting, before coming to their own conclusions about this new community. I did this quite imperfectly, but even if I had I think our children would have struggled a bit. Our kids’ behavior was pretty rough the first few months after the move until they settled into a new routine at school. I’m sure the news of the new baby didn’t help. Kids are resilient, but they are also people who deserve time and space and a little bit of grace to adjust to change.

Life is what you make it.

I think the number one reason we’ve embraced our new home is because we came in to this new chapter with a positive attitude. No body forced my husband to accept the job opportunity. There were times when it was extremely stressful, lonely, and even scary. But when we decided to move we also decided to make it a fun adventure. For the most part we’ve really stuck to that, and when we waiver it’s a good reminder to set our perspective straight again.

Our story isn’t over.

We went back to Kansas City last month for a whole week. Our family of 5 stayed with my aunt and uncle and their family of 7. Every night was a slumber party! It was so great to spend quality time with family, our old neighbors, and friends. We got asked by almost everyone when we’d be moving back. It’s funny, because when we left, we always said we could always just move back if we weren’t happy. So it was almost hard to break it to them that we weren’t. Not anytime soon anyway. Texas may end up being just one chapter in our lives or a few, or maybe it will finish the whole book. Either way, we know it will turn out great.

 

How my husband became a short order cook {In his words}

With Father’s Day approaching, I was brainstorming ways that I could incorporate my husband into this blog. I already talk about him, so I asked him if he’d have any interest in contributing his thoughts on my blog. He agreed.

I thought he may write about what it’s like to be married to a working mom, but what he came up with is so much better. It shows the love he has for his children, and the selfless spirit with which he entered our marriage and still shows me today {almost 8 years later}. I rely heavily on him to help with the kids and the house so that I have the time to pursue my own career, too. We are a team and I literally could not do it without him. I loved seeing what “help” looks like through his eyes, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there!


In relationships we’ve all had moments where we admit we need help. As a husband, sometimes getting off the couch for a beer during a football game seems insurmountable. Going hungry seems justified considering the effort it would take to rise, hunt, and capture the appropriate snack, if it even exists. I thank my wife for her vigilance during these times.

It’s ok to ask for help, we all need it. Sometimes the help is for big things, and sometimes it’s for small things (football snacks may fall under the latter). Relationships, especially marriage, rely on honesty and admitting when you need something.

It wasn’t until we bought our first house that Lauren and I really took notice of each other’s habits and rituals. (Enter cliche remark about my toilet water magically turning blue here.) Early in our careers, no time was more stressful than the morning routine: hitting snooze on the alarm, showering, grooming, coffee, news, and breakfast all while trying to get out of the door on time. So when my wife asked for help in the morning, after pointing out she took more time to get ready for work than I did, I decided to tackle breakfast. What started as a bowl of cereal here, a fried egg and toast there, became something much bigger.

After eight years, three houses, three cities, three kids, two cats and many burnt waffles later, I’ve become known around the house as “Chef”. It’s a title I’ve earned, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.

Making my family breakfast has become one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a father. (And it all started with my wife asking for help!) What’s especially great is that I get to recreate  the experience every morning. It’s starting the day with one small accomplishment before I set out for the rest of a hectic day full of unknowns. Plus, there’s something selfishly satisfying about curing hunger in the morning.

I love making biscuits and gravy from scratch, with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. The entire house fills with smells of breakfast and the family gathers around our kitchen island to share a meal, be silly and discuss our day. It’s thirty minutes of family time.

The Chef doesn’t always get to cook what he wants. (I’d pick grits and corn beef hash, a true Okie at heart. I just can’t help myself!) Lately pancakes have been at the top of the menu and I’m happy to oblige. Henry and Daphne love fried cinnamon apples on top, something my Mom used to make for me growing up. Lauren may want protein instead of carbs, so I’ll scramble some eggs. On a busy morning the kids may want cereal when I have oatmeal out. Hard boiled eggs go over better than fried, and omelets get me extra brownie points from the wife.

It’s the first meal of the day, why not let them have a say!

A simple rule in our kitchen: if you have the freedom of choice, it starts with a healthy one. Our kids have grown to love bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, apples, grapes and oranges. There’s always an exception to the rule, and ours sits adjacent to the coffee pot (a container holding mint chocolate chip cookies and, as of this writing, notably low. Something the family tends to be on edge about.)

Despite countless authors and celebrities advising parents not be short order cooks – I say do it. At least for breakfast.

With all the routines kids have these days offering them a little freedom in the morning can be refreshing. Eating habits shouldn’t be controlled, they should be influenced. I have a short menu of breakfast meals my wife and kids know they can order from. When they come into the kitchen for breakfast I’m not just a cook, I become a teacher, a counselor, a friend, and a father. (Life’s not perfect, sometimes I go full dictator. Like if yogurt starts flying like shrapnel in a Michael Bay film.)

There’s so much focus on family time at dinner, which is enjoyed in my home, as well. But there’s something special about breakfast. A new day, a fresh meal, and a time for me to connect with my family. My wife asked me for help, but she ended up giving me the best job I’ve ever had. Put that on your toast and eat it.

Do you call yourself a working mom?

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I describe myself.

I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, and aunt. I am an entrepreneur, a marketer, a blogger, and an iced coffee enthusiast. Also, I’m a feminist, overly candid, hilarious {if I do say so myself}, passionate, ambitious, and so much more.

And yet 10 times out of 10, I call myself a working mom.

Now, I’m usually not one to jump to labeling people, because as you can see there is a lot more to me than being a working mom. And yet, this is a core part of who I am right now at this stage in my life.

If you’re reading this I bet you can relate.

Becoming a mom is a transformation unlike any other. I’ve truly never known a love like the one I feel for my children. My husband laughs at me because there are times I just look at our three miracles and could make myself cry I just love them so much! I have yet to meet another mom who doesn’t feel the same way about her own.

Now I am blessed with 3 kids five and under. Let me tell you being a mom in itself is a full-time job. An exhausting, often-times thankless, totally rewarding job. I will never work harder at anything in my life than I do at raising them.

Growing up with a stay at home mom {one of the hardest working ones, at that}, I didn’t think much about the different ways motherhood could look for me. But when my husband and I welcomed our first child, it wasn’t a financial possibility for me to stay home.

I soon realized, however, that I enjoy the fulfillment I get from my career. Of course, I miss my babies like crazy when I work, but I also felt like I am a better mom when I was home with them after working. Plus, I was blessed with an incredibly supportive husband.

It didn’t take long for me to embrace my “working” mom title.

I find it empowering that I’m able to care for my family both emotionally and financially. I’ve built a business that works exactly the way I want it to for the work-from-home lifestyle I designed for myself.

Identifying as a working mom has also provided me a sense of community with other working moms who are juggling a family and career.

Those of us who leave our children during the day in the hands of others so that we can provide for our families and do something we love face unique parenting challenges.

Often times we feel like we’re missing out. We can’t attend all of the play dates, Gymboree classes and school parties. We have to choose between the extra dose of snuggles or tending to the household in the few hours we’re home and not working before our own bedtime. Finding time for ourselves and for our spouses can feel almost impossible.

When we’re at work, we think about our family. When we’re at home, we think about our work.

At the end of the day, we just wonder if everyone got everything they needed us.

In spite of the extra challenges of being a working mom, it’s a label I will proudly wear throughout this part of my life.

Whether you’re working because you want to or because you have to, there’s a good chance that if you sat down with another working mom you’d probably have a lot in common. If you’re looking for a group of like-minded mamas, I invite you to join our working moms Facebook group! I can’t wait to meet you!

2016: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Have you ever started doing something – you thought about it a ton….you planned and planned – only to find yourself somewhere very different than where you thought you were headed?

That’s exactly what happened to me in 2016.

In December 2015 I quit my 9-5 a little terrified and a lot optimistic and set out to build that thing that would give me the flexibility to work when and where I wanted.

My motivation? More family time. My ultimate goal? Find a way to help other mamas do the same thing.

The Free Mama was born!

I rang in the New Year with a lofty task at hand, and I felt capable and confident that blogger status was where I was headed.

Within 6 months I realized that this profitable blog thing might take longer than I had anticipated. Naturally, my attention turned towards my digital marketing freelancing jobs, something that was making money.

I didn’t abandon my vision for the blog, but my time invested definitely fluctuated as I shifted my focus to ensure I was producing an income for my family.

As each day’s work morphed into something quite different than what I had originally set out to do, my family quite literally landed somewhere different when we unexpectedly moved to Texas over the summer.

And who can forget the added news of a baby on the way?

With so much changing in my personal life, this blog that I started because I wanted to support working moms while supporting my family quickly turned into cathartic diary entries.

And as it turns out, you like that!

People connect with people, and lucky for me they also connect with imperfect people living an imperfect life.

The feedback I’ve gotten through comments, emails, texts, and visitor stats are telling me loud and clear that I didn’t need to “advise” in the first place. I just needed to share my own journey.

That I can do!

As for the freelancing, something that started with a few small clients, has grown into a workload that is all I can handle without bringing on additional help.

I’m incredibly proud to have more than supplemented my previous full-time income in less than a year, all on my own. When I left my job, my goal was to spend more time with family, and working from home has definitely allowed me to prioritize each day exactly as I see fit.

I no longer feel like I’m compromising my kids for a career or vice versa.

And THAT is exactly why I started The Free Mama in the first place.

Maybe I didn’t land so far away from what I’d set out to do in 2016 after all.

The Good

2016 seemed to throw our family quite a few curveballs. But I’ve learned that with change, comes growth. And our family has definitely grown closer.

Change isn’t always easy, and we don’t always like it, but at the end of the day it’s like I tell my kids, “you have to wake up and choose to be happy. No one is going to do it for you.”

With that being said, there were a lot of pregnancy-hormone-filled days where I cried after our move. But as soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I was able to focus on what was best for my family.

And what was best for the family was a sane mother.

First, I prioritized finding a support system and joined a mom’s group. Typically that wouldn’t be “my thing,” but friends weren’t just going to show up at my door step. I put myself out there and have formed friendships with women I already cannot imagine not having in my life.

It was also important for me to put some renewed energy into my business. Again, I had to put myself out there. I participated in networking events to meet some amazing professionals in the area, and found new partners and clients.

Trust me when I say it would have been much easier to stay home and keep crying, but it also would have been pretty miserable for everyone.

Not unlike their mom, our kids had to transition to a new place last year, too. But unlike their mom, they did so gracefully. Both are well adjusted, thriving in school and extracurriculars, and loving the warmer climate filled with park playdates with friends.

Justin is loving the flexibility and variety of his job. Although he travels occasionally, our family has spent more time together than we ever did back in Kansas City and I don’t take it for granted for a second.

We spent half of 2016 in Houston and now I can say it’d be hard to imagine our family anywhere else.

The Bad

Getting to Houston, on the other hand, nearly killed me. Buying and selling a home, packing and moving cross country to the hottest place on the planet in the middle of summer is stressful enough, but doing it while throwing up several times a day is downright awful.

But, if I had to sum up 2016 in one word, it would be “bills.”

Not only is moving pretty pricey, but the adjustment to being self-employed brought about health insurance premiums neither my husband nor I quite expected.

I love our sweet new baby to pieces, but she turned out to be a costly little thing. Emergency room visits. Anti-nausea medicine. Pre-term labor followed by two months of bedrest. Between the new state and the new year, we met multiple deductibles just to get her here!

That many bills aren’t just costly, they’re incredibly stressful.

While it may around the same time we pay off the hospital, I’m sure I’ll forgive her.

Eventually.

The Beautiful

There was plenty of ugly in 2016 that I could have written about, but I’d rather share with you something beautiful that I saw throughout the entire year, over and over again.

Motherhood.

Starting with this blog last January, I asked working moms to share their stories with me, to share with all of you.

Friends, acquaintances and even strangers generously donating their time to compose honest and meaningful contributions to my #workingmomwednesday features.

The peak of my morning sickness coincided with my husband’s move to Houston about a month before the rest of us. I was left to finalize things in Kansas City while caring for two busy toddlers.

I relied heavily on the generosity of the moms in our neighborhood to help me get through it. From watching kids so that I could pack, to picking me up orange juice, no favor was too big or too small for these thoughtful women.

When we finally reunited in Houston, I was exhausted and lonely. I joined a moms’ group to meet new people. These mothers have brought me treats when I was feeling down, visited me while I was on bedrest, and continue to deliver meals now that Audrey is here. I feel incredibly blessed for each of these friendships.

Without a doubt, however, the most maternal gesture of 2016 came from my own mother. When I was placed on bedrest at 32 weeks pregnant, she hopped on a plane to help my husband with the big kids. She put her life on hold for nearly two months to cater to our family’s needs without hesitation or complaint. I am forever in debt, and yet, as a mom myself I know I’d do the exact same thing.

It’s what moms do.

Motherhood is such a special thing, and it truly got me through the year in more ways than one. Not only do mothers take care of our own families, but we look out for one another with the same selfless spirit, as well.

So long, 2016

I may be a month behind on bidding the year adieu, but 2016 truly was one for the books. I launched a business, I turned 30, I moved cross country, and our family grew {well, my belly grew. Audrey missed 2016 by 7 days.}

And for the record, if 2017 could be a little less eventful, that would be okay by me.

The best job I’ve ever had

Earlier this week my husband and I hit a big milestone in our marriage – our 7 year wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going out to lunch while the kids were at school, because we haven’t quite scoped out the babysitter scene since moving to Texas.

It was nice to spend some alone time together, something that with a two and four-year-old at home happens much less often than either of us would like to admit.

We talked about the dreaded 7 year itch in a marriage.

I don’t know if this is actually a thing. We agreed that this last year probably held our fair share of marital hardships between me leaving my job, the miscarriage, and the move, and decided to move on.

What surprised me most about our kids-free conversation was how often reflecting on our life together turned into work talk. And how, for us, the two topics seem to be so intertwined.

Yes, sometimes our marriage feels like work. But I mean work-work.

Being married in our early 20s meant going through a lot of job experimentation and self exploration while fulfilling the roles of husband and wife.

If you would have told me 7 years ago that today we’d be business owners living in Texas waiting on baby number 3, I would have rolled my eyes. And yet today, it seems somewhat obvious that we’ve been heading in this direction all along.

Let me take you back to 2009.

While many of our friends were still finishing up graduate school or searching for jobs following the economic crash the year prior, we were handing in our 2 weeks notice and preparing to move across the country to get married. We arrived back in my hometown of Kansas City just a month before our August nuptials completely jobless.

Over lunch we talked about what a turning point that was for us, as professionals {if either of us could have been labeled that fresh out of college} and as a couple {it was good practice for the 3 moves that would follow}.

Our families warned us not to do it. They said the move was irresponsible. They encouraged us to be appreciative of the jobs we had given the economy. Looking back we can appreciate where they were coming from.

But I think we’d make the same choice if we had to do it all over again.

That itch to walk away from stability to pursue what we wanted would become a habit for us in the seven years that followed.

During that time, my husband would be laid off, start his own business, return to a career in finance, leave once again to run Pit Stop Auto Detailing full-time, and most recently accept a corporate job where he can continue to pursue something he loves while still operating his own business from afar.

While my own business path may have fewer curves, it’s also had a lot less direction than my car-loving husband’s. Unlike him, I wouldn’t discover something I really cared about until my daughter was born.

Not only did I immediately become crazy about being a mom {something I always knew I wanted to be}, but I unearthed an unknown desire to be a working mom {something I’d never even considered for myself}.

Yet, it wasn’t until after the birth of my son two years later that I got my own itch to pursue a business of my own.

With all of the changes in our careers, one thing has kept us both {me} from totally losing our {my} minds.

We’ve always taken turns satisfying our itch.

There’s no way my husband could have started his own business in 2010 without my reliable paycheck {however measly} and health insurance.

There is no way I would have pursued going out on my own without the stability and success of his business.

Over the last seven years I think we can both agree we’ve gotten what we wanted out of our professional lives, just not all at the same time.

Just like the jobs we’ve held, our marriage is hardly perfect.

We don’t always see eye to eye on who should change our son’s diaper or pick up the cat puke on the floor {true story}. There is more yelling in our house than either of us are proud of, and with the busyness of kids and careers someone’s needs are often unmet.

But one thing we’ve consistently done throughout our marriage is support one other whenever we get a professional itch. We take on each other’s goals, even if it means taking turns.

And we’ve never gotten that marriage itch, which makes being his wife the best job I’ve ever had.

Turning Thirty

turning 30

I spent the first summer after my freshman year at the University of San Diego in my college town instead of heading home for the break. My best friend from high school was supposed to come too, but got mono and had to head home earlier than expected. I spent several weeks alone before my college friends came back for the fall semester.

Most of the time I was fine. I hit my apartment’s gym and pool up whenever I wasn’t working. But one day I decided I needed to live off of more than cereal and mac & cheese, so I headed to a restaurant inside a big outdoor mall nearby.

“Just you?” the hostess asked.

I was mortified.

Everyone in the restaurant was surely staring as she walked me to a table on the patio where I would pathetically sit by myself. I lasted about 45 seconds before I got out my cell phone and called my mom and begged her to talk to me while waited for my food.

After I ate and paid, I rushed out without making eye contact with anyone and vowed that I was never going to eat at a restaurant by myself again.

Flash forward a decade.

Last week a photographer came over to shoot pictures of our house for its listing. She prefers that the client not be home so that she can do her thing, so I gathered my work and scooted out the door. I really only had one errand to run and it was after 11 a.m. so I decided to head to a nearby sushi restaurant.

When I got there the place was pretty empty, so the hostess offered me a table near the window in the front. Pretty soon a couple came in, followed by a father and son, and what appeared to be several business meetings.

I kept to myself while I ate. {Confession: I did have my laptop with me since it was one of my no-kids work days.}

Do you know what I was thinking about in between bites of my Philly roll? Wow, it feels amazing to be eating out by myself!

Was it the fact that I eat most of my meals either standing up or with our 2 year old trying to crawl into my lap from across the table that had changed my outlook on dining solo?

It’s possible, but I think it has more to do with the way the experiences I’ve had in my twenties have helped me grow into the person I am today.

I traveled. In my early twenties, I spent a semester in Europe. I went out weeks before my study abroad program began to travel around with a friend and even by myself for a week. I experienced unforgettable places and was pushed outside of my comfort zone countless times, yet the thing I remember most from the trip is the lesson that came from the airline loosing all of my belongings on the way overseas: things are just that – things. Stuff is replaceable.

I graduated. I also got my first “adult” job with Teach for America. After moving across the country, I entered their training program where I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be a good fit. I quit my first job before it had even started. I felt like a complete failure and incredibly selfish for putting my own needs over those of my potential students. It took several months {okay, years} for me to really get over it, but now I look back without any regret and am proud of myself for following my instincts.

I partied. I drank for fun {sometimes to the point of it not being fun anymore} and stayed up late with friends. I attended social events in Las Vegas, went to costume parties on the beach, and sipped cocktails on Manhattan rooftops. Most impressively, I would even wake up the next morning and function like a fairly normal human being.

I moved. San Diego, New York {where I met my husband}, Phoenix and Kansas City {where we got married}. We tested the strength of our relationship with each move {something I highly recommend doing with a loved one before you put a ring on it}. It was stressful, but so is real life. Once landing in KC we bought our first house. I learned that owning a home is demanding and expensive, but all of that maintenance and afternoons mowing the lawn sure make you take pride in the place.

I became a mom. In my mid-twenties, my husband and I had our first child. Two years later we welcomed one more and then lost another. Morning sickness isn’t something I would wish upon my worst enemy, but it’s amazing to see what a body can go through in order to create another life. Fortunately, after many months of vomiting, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to lose weight fairly easily and nurse without any many complications {we all have our tradeoffs, right?}. I remember being moved to tears when I would look down at each of my babies because I was so full of love and gratitude…and hormones. Motherhood is a journey that every mom will experience in her own way, and our decisions are personal and guided by love.

I met new people. A handful have become dear friends. Some of them moved away and now I will be moving away from many myself. I attended countless weddings and was honored to be in a few {I give one heck of a toast}. I walked away from friendships that weren’t good for me. I’ve lost friends who were taken way too soon, and realized that while funerals certainly aren’t something I look forward to they can bring people together in strange, incredible ways.

I became an adult. I dropped many of the Mr. and Mrs.’s from my childhood {with permission, of course}. I began seeing former teachers as peers and even friends. I decided that I really like my parents as more than just my mom and dad, but as people. I stopped being intimidated in the workplace by those who were older and seemingly more experienced and realized my own potential and worth.

I adjusted my priorities. By my late twenties, I realized that my new version of “going out” was walking over to my neighbors house with a glass of wine while our kids played in the driveway. I still go to parties {at my daughter’s school}, but I’m always in bed by nine. I can no longer wake up the next morning and function if I consume alcohol, which is a bummer since our two children won’t sleep past 7 a.m.

I became older than all of the contestants on The Bachelor {not sure when that happened}.

I got involved. I networked more often, launched a women’s organization and joined various boards. I voted in elections and gave back to my community. I learned that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, too.

I worked hard. I changed jobs, got a promotion and a few raises. I watched my husband leave his comfy 9-5 to work for himself, and eventually took the risk to leave the workplace to start my own business, too. I also got up the courage to write about it all here.

And somewhere between twenty and thirty, without me even realizing it, I grew comfortable in my own skin. So much so that I am able to eat by myself in a restaurant.