Everyday Practices To Keep You Thankful All Year Long

It’s that time of year again! The holiday season. The season that reminds us all to be thankful for our blessings, family and friends. Every year across social media I see people reminding themselves that life isn’t so bad after all, but wouldn’t it be great if we could be thankful all year long? When you take on this perspective, it’s pretty amazing how your outlook on everything changes.

I’m happy most of the time. Sure I have my bad moments. I cry, I get upset, I get depressed sometimes, but overall – I’m happy.  I’ve always been a glass half full kind of gal, but I’ve also had many challenges (like most of us) in life that greatly tested that happiness. So, for the last decade I’ve been training my mind to be thankful for everything – even the bad times. When you do this, you start to realize just how amazing your life actually is.

Here are some best practices I’ve adopted over the years to help me stay positive and not let outside influences ruin my happiness.

Dinner time is thankful time.

Every night at dinner my family and I go around the table and say three things that made us happy that day. When we first started this I got a huge wake up call because my son would say things like, “I’m happy I got to play with a ball and hug mommy and I’m thankful for this cheese stick.” Those were the things that made him happy. A cheese stick. I knew if he could find joy in a cheese stick that I should be grateful for a lot more.

The beautiful thing about this activity is….. even if you had horrible day, your mind finds at least three things that were positive and you forget about the bad stuff. You also start appreciating the little things like: I’m happy I got to drink my coffee hot today! I’m happy my boss didn’t yell at me today! I’m happy I didn’t break my ankle when I fell and only sprained it instead! You see – there’s even a silver lining in the bad stuff!

Have your phone remind you. 

I love putting reminders in my phone. I have six that go off everyday starting at 8 am. They are a combination of goals I’ve set for myself in my personal and professional life and reminders to be thankful. Keep them simple. Mine are: Be grateful, you got this, you use to pray for what you have now, and the best is yet to come. The last one I recently added, thanks to a work friend making the recommendation, is just the word RIGGED. This reminder goes off in early evening to remind myself that anything that happened during the day was supposed to happen. Life is rigged my friends – so start finding the joy in the journey.

Cut yourself a break.

Look, you’re not perfect….. but you don’t have to be! Moms, you’re going to forget crazy hair day at your kid’s school sometimes. Don’t worry! Your kids will remember the hugs you gave them and how often you told them you loved them, not that you forget to gel their hair up one day.

You’re not always going to get the promotion you wanted. It’s okay, something better is around the corner. Maybe you weren’t ready. Maybe it’s the universe saving you from mountains of stress!

At the end of each day you should thank yourself for getting through another day as a mom, wife, friend, leader, employee, etc.! It’s hard out there sometimes.

Use resources.

There’s some really great books and people out there that helped me along the way. My recent reads that I absolutely loved and put into practice are: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

If you use these best practices every day, they become habit. Habits become part of your behavior and then you’ll start to see some positive changes. There are so many things to be thankful for, we just need help and reminders to be able to see them every day.

Happy Thanksgiving friends! I’m thankful for all of you.



Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself…..

It’s been almost six years since I started this blog. And, what an amazing mix of ups and downs I’ve had since then. Life has changed – dramatically. I’m a different person. I’m in a different place in life, too. I’ve learned so much about myself and made some pretty big life decisions along the way.

This blog originally started out as a humorous take on being a new mom and trying to manage it all. I was overwhelmed, insanely busy, knew nothing about being a parent (who does?!), and found myself laughing quite often at what being a parent really meant. Let me give you a hint: have wet wipes with you at all times. Like, a lot of them. You’re welcome.

While I do still share funny parenting stories and mom must-haves, I’ve expanded the blog over the years to a more “lifestyle” blog sharing ALL things I love. Even though my boys are my life, remembering who I am and doing things that feed my soul are important too. Take note moms: don’t lose yourself in the process of raising your family. No one wins when you do that.

When I started this blog, I was a full-time working mom. Let’s be honest, I was more than full-time. Do 40-hour workweeks in corporate even exist? I was a Director of Sales over events for a prominent luxury hotel in downtown Chicago. I was also on the executive team. I loved my job. I loved my team. But, I didn’t love the hours. My brain had so many tabs open that eventually my brain exploded. Not for real, but that’s what it felt like. Like, I was in a downward spiral begging for air.

You see, I’m a “yes” girl and in that setting – being a “yes” girl was probably not the best idea for me. I worked 24/7 to appease all those around me and stay in the lead of the imaginary race I was running in my head. Eventually, my body caught up to my mind and I got really sick. Stress is a dangerous thing, and when it takes over your body it can be very scary.

A thyroid disease (which made my hair fall out in fist fulls!), infertility issues, depression and anxiety were my new normal. But, don’t worry. I eventually recognized I couldn’t go on like that and I walked away from a life I thought I loved to save myself and my family. Thank goodness I made this decision, because right after – God blessed me with my miracle rainbow baby.

My miracle baby (2014)!

So, there I was – a mid-30 something starting over. I was excited, but terrified at the same time. I wanted to be a writer and had always been the go-to girl to help others find the right words – so, why not start sharing them myself? I started this blog, submitted my work to any website that would allow, networked with writers, bloggers, publishers, and became a social media expert to expand my resume and it worked!

It wasn’t easy to put myself out there at first and that’s coming from someone who would be considered an extrovert. The Internet can also be a very nasty place. Over the years I got used to the criticism, the eye-rolling and the mean comments, but in the end – putting myself out there fostered new friendships, partnerships, more opportunities and a stronger me. I’d say that’s a win!

About two years after I started writing I was approached by several companies to help them build their brands on social media which lead me to a lot of influencer work, which lead me to partner with Rodan + Fields, a premium skin care brand that was once sold in high-end retail and now solely through e-commerce. You may have heard of them now, but in 2014 when I partnered with them, R+F was still a gem waiting to be discovered by the masses. I now have a team of over 300 people in the U.S, Canada and Australia! I love the company, their products (#1 in North America!), and I love how they have changed so many lives.

My team and I celebrating a big accomplishment with R+F!

So here I am now – a business owner, writer, author (my next book is being released in just a few weeks!), social influencer, mom and wife trying to live my best life and sharing the journey with all of you. If you like to surround yourself with people who try to inspire others, share what they’ve earned, have lots of fun, and live life to the fullest – then I’m your gal. I’ll be your internet bestie! Thank you to all the ladies and gents who’ve stuck with me since 2012 and have watched this journey unfold, too. Your support means the world to me! I have a lot more road ahead of me, but I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of you under this blog’s new name: Hollydays Chicago, where every day is a Holly-day!

Now, let’s go have some fun.



New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Family

Happy 2018! A new year is a time when everyone is making their own resolutions, but it’s important to make goals for you and your family to work on this year as well. Life gets busy, and it’s easy to forget to make time to spend as a family, so making resolutions as a family will allow you to spend more quality time together. If you need some ideas for resolutions to work towards this year, try some of these:

Get active
A very common New Year’s resolution revolves around getting healthier, so why not extend that fit behavior to the whole family? Make it a point to do something active together once a day. You can go for a walk after dinner, play kickball in the backyard, or do jumping jacks in the living room! Check out these ideas for how to get active as a family for some ideas. You’ll all feel good after some exercise. After you get your blood pumping, make a healthy family dinner together to continue your family’s healthy lifestyle!

Have a weekly family night
Pick a night of the week that works for everyone, and set it aside for your weekly family night. Make it a priority, and use this night to spend time together! You can watch family-friendly movies for a movie marathon. Put on your comfy clothes, sit on the couch, and munch on your favorite snacks. Maybe alternate every other week with a game night! Choose one of these family-friendly games, and have a blast and make some memories! In no time, family night will be everyone’s favorite night of the week.

Focus on education
Learning doesn’t have to be limited to the classroom. Your children will retain the information they’re learning in school better if they continue to learn at home, so try out these fun learning activities for kids. Another great way to let your kids learn is to have them watch an educational movie. Pure Flix offers content to supplement homeschool curriculum, so try to put on one of their documentaries or educational shows to keep learning as a family!

Teach a lesson on saving money
It’s never too early to let your children know how important it is to budget and set goals. Is there something your children have been wanting? Teach your family the value of a dollar by having them set up a lemonade stand, doing chores or helping out a neighbor. Have them save the money they earn and once they have saved enough let them buy something they want! Get them a piggy bank to keep their money safe and all in one place.

These family-focused resolutions can be a great way to keep your family on track for a great year and future! It’s never too late to work on goals together, so get started now! Then at the end of the year, you can look back together and see how much you’ve accomplished as a family and set new goals for next year. Have a great 2018 everybody!

Making….AND Keeping Those New Year’s Resolutions

WE did it! We made it to another year. That’s a goal achieved in and of itself, right?! I would say so.

This is my favorite time of year. A clean slate. A new start. A refreshed state. A cleared mind. Each new year presents the opportunity to make changes, enhance your life or start anew.  Now is the best time to look for that new job, or get your health and finances in check. Unfortunately, the excitement and determination with New Year’s resolutions fades fast and most give up before they even remember to write 2018 – instead of 2017.

So, how can you do it? How can you keep those New Year’s resolutions?

Start with your WHY.

Your “why” has to be a strong one. Unbreakable. Why did you choose this specific resolution? If your WHY makes you cry – then you have a greater chance of sticking with your goals.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight – is it because your health is depending on it? Or, because none of your clothes fit? Are you on medications for weight related issues and want to get off them? Is your health creating a negative impact on your life? These would all be great reminders when you feel like giving up. Make giving up not an option.

Is your resolution truly achievable?

When people make goals they have a tendency to go big or go home. Should you dream big? Yes, ut, those dreams have to  be achievable. When you make grandiose goals – you put too much pressure on yourself and as time goes on you get more and more discouraged.

Make little individual goals to help you achieve your end goal. 

If your goal is to finish a marathon, the last thing you want to do at the starting line is think about the 26 miles you have in front of you. Talk about overwhelming! If you tell yourself to make it to mile five and then see how you feel – you’re much more likely to continue on with another five miles, and another and another.

Take it one day at a time. 

If you want to lose thirty pounds by year end, make a goal of losing three pounds per month. If you only focus on the end goal – you assume you have so much more time to get there. Then, December rolls around and you turn into a maniac trying to make magic happen. Spoiler alert – you’re not a magician. Make a decision every day to eat healthy. If you slip one day, don’t beat yourself up – just start over the next day.

Make a plan.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. You’re not going to wish your way to a slimmer waistline, although that would be amazing if you could! So, how are you going to lose the weight? You need to go to the gym a minimum of two days a week. You need to track 20,000 steps a day. Sunday can be your cheat day. Start a meal plan, etc.
Celebrate each victory – big or small. 
If your goal was to pay off debt, but you only paid off half – that’s a victory! You worked toward your goal and made some headway. This is not an all or nothing goal. You may have underestimated the timeline, but the important thing was that you stuck to it! Move the end date back and pour a glass of bubbles because you deserve to celebrate!
Take these tips and own your 2018.
Wishing you all a year filled with blessings and resolution successes!




If You’re Feeling Lost – Just Follow The Signs

Astrology fascinates me. I’ve always appreciated the science behind the stars and believe in it wholeheartedly. My December birthday classifies me as a Sagittarius and I fit the Sagittarian role to a tee. I’m someone who likes to take risks and live in the moment. I’m genuinely happy the majority of the time. I am a positive extrovert, wisdom seeker, very passionate and most importantly – I love to dream big.




I read my horoscope every day when I pick up my coffee and use the words of wisdom as signs to lead me in the right direction. Three years ago, I took a few of those auspicious sentences written in my local newspaper clipping very seriously. My decision that day to follow the stars dramatically changed my life – forever.

Five years ago I was going through a particularly rough time. I had veered away from my core Sagittarian values. I was overwhelmed with life, the economy was in shambles, and I was a clueless new mother and workaholic desperately trying to find some balance in life. My family was struggling to stay afloat financially due to corporate pay cuts, shrinking bonuses, student loan debt and childcare costs. And on top of all this, I had lost my passion for a job I once loved and my husband and I’s relationship could best be described as two ships passing in the wind. Gone were the days of dream chasing and optimism. Somewhere along the way, I lost myself in rubble.

What I really wanted to do was resign from my job, start a new life, hug and kiss my kids more and find joy again. As lovely as that sounds, it seemed impossible. We needed the money and I felt it would be foolish to walk away from a career I worked tirelessly for, for over a decade. I was stuck – or so I thought.

During this difficult time I developed an afternoon coffee addiction along with my morning one. I think it was more of an excuse to escape and get some fresh air. Every day at 3 p.m. sharp, I’d walk two blocks to the corner coffee shop and bask in my brief moments of freedom. No phones, no questioning, no drama – just me and my empty thoughts. As I waited for my latte I’d sit on the corner bar stool in envy, watching people leisurely stroll through the city streets for fun instead of escaping reality, like me. Once the barista called my name, I’d head over to the counter and read my horoscope as per usual. For several weeks in a row, my horoscope stated I would have a career in publishing or the arts, which was always a dream of mine – but one I was too afraid to ever chase. Because the words kept repeating themselves though, I started to think – what if? Could I do something different? Walk away from this life and start anew?

The next month, after a horrible day at work, I walked down to the coffee store for my usual. When I picked up my latte I glanced over at my horoscope again and this time it read, “Your dream life is waiting for you, but first you must let something go”.

The words stung. My eyes welled with tears. My trusted advisors were right. In order to be happy, I had to let my job go. There were no more excuses. Life would figure itself out, and I had to trust what was written in the stars. I walked out into the street and took the deepest breath my lungs could hold and then I slowly exhaled. I knew my life was about to take a drastic turn, but I was finally ready.

Two days later I took action and resigned. That was three years ago. Today I have my dream job that is flexible around my life. I see my husband. I hug and kiss my kids more than they can stand. But, most importantly, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m finally back to good ol’ Sagittarius me.

I’m certain there is no such thing as a coincidence. Who knows, if I hadn’t seen that horoscope on that particular day, I may still be sitting in my office watching my life pass me by. I would not of had the courage to take the first step if it wasn’t for those words hitting me like a ton of bricks.

I still read my horoscope everyday as I pick up my morning Joe and whatever it says I’m sure to pay attention because, after all, if you don’t follow the signs – you’re bound to get lost. Life is too short for that.




Why It’s Important To Surround Yourself With Inspiring People

I traveled to NYC recently for the annual BlogHer convention. This is one of my favorite conventions to attend, and this year’s line-up delivered even more than expected. BlogHer recently merged with SheKnows Media, which has a motto of “women inspiring women”, to form one powerhouse unit. I recommend anyone in media, marketing, writing, tech, blogging, editing, non-profit, sponsorship, freelance and promotion to attend if your budget and schedule allows. It’s worth it.


It’s difficult to describe how one feels when surrounded by thousands of women who share the same vision as you. Everyone there was on a mission to not only better themselves, but to help others. At times, it was hard to control my emotions. I felt tears muster up in the corner of my eyes on more than one occasion. The tears were in response to feelings of pride, empowerment, and in some cases, sadness. Many stories were shared, an abundance of advice was given, and partnerships and friendships were made. With each session, I left feeling inspired to do more, to always try and lead by example, and prove that women really can do what ever they set out to do.


Among the most influential speakers at BlogHer for me was Soledad O’Brien, the American broadcast journalist and philanthropist. Her few minutes on stage really touched me and inspired me to put a future goal in place. She told the story of her organization, The Starfish Media Group, which provides mentors and resources along with scholarship funds, to help young deserving people earn an education. The stories of the young ladies she’s helped really resonated with me.

I’m one of the lucky ones who did get a college education, and it was also in a time when college was expensive – but not yet out of reach. Like so many others, my parents were not financially able to cover tuition costs. I, however, was determined to get my degree. I started taking classes part-time in the Fall of 1996 and I didn’t graduate until May 2004. But, I graduated – better late than never. The only reason I was able to graduate was because I held several jobs and took out loans to cover any remaining costs. The money my parents could spare a month, was often the only way I ate or made my rent payments. It was a struggle, but my situation was cake in comparison to millions of others. As I sat there and listened to Soledad’s quest to help young women, I made my own goal to one day start a scholarship fund and award the gift of education to struggling youths who deserve a chance. Now I just need to make the money to do it. I will make it happen.

Christy Turlington also graced us with her presence. She enlightened us on the alarming statistics of  the maternal mortality rate, which is on the rise in the U.S. In a country that has the ability to prevent these deaths, this pulled at my heartstrings. If you’d like to learn more or help women get prenatal care and know their options for maternal health, please visit Every Mother Counts and share this information with others. Merck for Mothers has also launched a program dedicated to ending maternal mortality. This a 10-year, $500 million initiative focused on improving the health and well-being of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. Awareness is key, so spread the word.

These were just a few of the many pivotal moments I experienced during the convention, but the real magic happened in-between key-notes when I connected with hundreds of other women like me – the dreamers. We talked about life as mothers, career aspirations, how we can balance it all, but most importantly – how we could help each other. I made friendships I know will last a lifetime.


My overall takeaways and what I’d like to share with you is this:

When you surround yourself with inspirational people – you are able to drown out the noise. Noise like negativity, nay-sayers, and those who try to diminish your faith in yourself and your abilities. I know that I am someone who can make a difference – and so are you. Even if you can only help one person and that person is you, it’s a start. I am also someone who deserves success – and so are you. Lastly, I have a voice that can encourage and support other women and that’s exactly what I intend to use it for – and so should you.

In a world that perpetuates hate, we are the ones who can make a change by listening, sharing and giving. Words are powerful. Stories are powerful. Actions are powerful. When we listen – we grow. When we share – we inspire. When we give – we get. You have the power the make a difference.


“I still remember you as a little girl who overwaters plants because she doesn’t know when to stop giving.” – Trista Mateer


How Starting A Little Blog Changed My Life And Career Path

Two years ago I read an article in a prominent business magazine discussing the importance of having a blog for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. The article expressed how blogging not only builds brand awareness, whatever that may be, but it also broadens your network ten-fold. We all know it’s not so much about what you do – it’s who you know. Equipped with this new knowledge, my passion for writing and storytelling, and my desire to do something “more” with my life, I started Mother’s Guide to Sanity.  At the time I was still working around the clock and barely making my day-to-day obligations, but I knew if I made time for this new venture it would lead to amazing opportunities – and it has.  Not only has my blog given me a voice in the online world, but it has also renewed my faith and confidence in myself from a business perspective.

These last two years have been a roller coaster and opened doors for me I never thought possible. My continued success in the blogging world coupled with my extensive experience in the corporate world has allowed me to start my own freelance business where I write any business-to-business or business-to-consumer materials, as well as consult small businesses on how to grow their brand and network through blogging and social media. I’ve also been invited to host speaking engagements where I discuss topics ranging from budgeting and forecasting to marketing and product launch and establishing your brand in today’s market. Lastly, I landed gigs as a contributing writer for Dot Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg and Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler, both of which are NYT Bestselling Author’s.  As if this wasn’t enough, I launched a second business with Rodan + Fields Dermatologists.  This is all in just two short years.

bgsd If you are thinking of starting a blog (or a business) here are some helpful tips I’ve learned over the last two years.

  • Believe in yourself. The question you need to ask yourself right now is, “Why NOT me?” All you need is confidence, the Internet and a voice. Don’t depend on others to believe in you. At first many won’t understand what you’re doing or look at you like you’re crazy, but remember it’s not their job to believe in you – it’s yours. They’ll come around eventually.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure. Failing is relative. Make goals for yourself, which are attainable, and when you do meet some – it’s a win!  When you’re realistic with yourself and your timeline for success you’ll find it easier to meet your goals.  If you don’t meet a certain goal, pick yourself up and keep going. Your next big break just may be lurking around the corner.
  • Don’t take things personal.  Everyone has an opinion and that’s just what they are – opinions. When you put yourself out there, there’s always someone who will try to discourage or discredit you. Sometimes feedback can be a gift but it can also be a curse. Try to surround yourself with positive, likeminded, and supportive people.
  • Use the Buddy System. Work is always more fun when you partner with someone. I encourage you to buddy up with a person you admire and make them your accountability partner. My success would not have happened as quickly or have been as sweet if it wasn’t for my new friends and business partners encouraging me each and every day.
  • Network. Go out. Meet people. Join groups. Attend conventions. Every city has Associations, Fundraisers, Networking groups, etc. Spend a few hours a week connecting, whether that be in person or online. Be social and your business will grow. Also, always ask how you can help someone else, even if you’re unsure if they can help you. Karma is real – and helping others grow their business will only ensure the growth of yours.
  •  Talk – A lot. Always speak about your new ventures to anyone who will listen. Use social media to connect and inform. Even if no one responds with a “like”, don’t worry because they are watching.
  • Step outside your comfort zone.  I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Once you have the confidence to do this, you’ll soon find new talents you never knew you had. At first I was afraid to put myself out there because of how judgmental people can be, but for every negative comment there have been ten positive ones.
  • DON’T GIVE UP. This is MOST IMPORTANT! Rome was not built in a day. Those who only strive for instant success and gratification will not succeed. Look at everything as an investment. Do research on people you admire and I guarantee most of them were not an overnight success. You want to build a business with a strong foundation, not build a house of cards.  If you give up to soon or try to take short cuts, you’re just setting yourself up to fail.

give up Treat any new venture like a business and it will reward you like a business. Mother’s Guide to Sanity is far from being a profound pool of knowledge and it doesn’t dramatically change other people’s lives, however it does spread joy and has opened many doors for me. No, I haven’t found a cure for cancer (yet!), but I’ve met amazing people, sharpened my skills, started a business, and made a lot of parents laugh along the way. What more could I ask for?

Here’s to the dreamers!

XO, Holly

You Are Much Stronger Than You Think You Are

When I was in labor with my son I had the most amazing nurse by my side. Being a woman with two kids of her own, her advice and support really helped me.  At one point she looked at me as I was trying to get through a painful contraction and said, “You are much stronger than you think you are.”  This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this, but it was the first time someone said it when I desperately needed to hear it. As soon as the words left her lips I found my strength; I just had to reach for it.

After my son was born I felt so much pride and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.  Not only did I give my son the gift of life, but I also gave myself the gift of believing – in me.  Before I left the hospital I promised myself I would not let fear stand in the way of any future aspirations.  I had a son now, one who would look to me for inspiration and guidance.  I had to deliver.

Feeling inspired from my birth experience, I signed up for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  Why would someone who has never run more than two miles in her life sign up for a marathon? Good question.  I signed up because deep down I didn’t think I could run it and I knew I would have to find the courage to try.  Also, as a new mom I knew it was important to find time for myself.  The training would help me continue on my journey to a healthy lifestyle and each milestone would only strengthen my confidence in myself.

I started my training in December 2010 by walking on a treadmill. My first run was on December 28. I completed 1.14 miles and thought I was going to die. The sweat was pouring off my face, my heart was pounding and my knees ached with each step. Who was I kidding?  How could I ever get to 26.2 miles? Looking for encouragement, I started reading running blogs and other marathon stories. Many of their stories sounded just like mine and their message was clear – don’t give up.

I went back to the gym and started to walk for a few minutes, then run for a few minutes. This built my stamina and helped me control my breathing. My next attempt at a long run was two weeks later.  I completed 3.34 miles without stopping. Again I felt like I would never make it to the finish line, but I was adamant about moving forward. I signed up for three races prior to the marathon.  My first was an 8K in April, the Shamrock Shuffle. This was my first taste of running an organized race.  The excitement was overwhelming.  It was much easier to run when you had thousands of people cheering you on.  I was hooked and more motivated than ever. I completed two more races, the longest being 10 miles.

Over that summer I lost some steam due to my work schedule and the heat. My runs became few and far between. I was starting to think I just didn’t have the time or energy to keep up my training.  That September I managed to get in three long runs, the longest being 16 miles.   Then I tapered off to let my body rest.  At this point I was hoping for an injury so I would have an excuse not to run, then I essentially wouldn’t be giving up.  I had family flying in and I also told all of my friends I was running, so the pressure had mounted.  They were all counting on me.

The night before the marathon my husband invited some friends over to make signs for me.  Watching my loved ones write little notes of encouragement on poster board was very emotional.  They believed in me more than I believed in myself.  Later that night I saw a quote that brought tears to my eyes and I still refer to it to this day:

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” – Abraham Lincoln

Many times when we are faced with adversity the only way we get through is by the faith others have in us. Armed with this insight I went to bed to rest my mind.  The following morning I woke early, packed all my running gear and woke my husband up to drive me.  During the short drive to the start line, we passed volunteers setting up some of the water stations and my nerves set in.  I was silent the entire ride to prevent my self from crying. My husband dropped me off and whispered in my ear, “If anyone can do this… it’s you.  You got this.”

I watched him pull away and went straight to the bathroom to throw up. After I threw up, I started laughing.  Why am I doing this to myself, it’s just a marathon.  If I make it, I make it.  The important thing is that I am going to give it my all, and that is good enough.  I headed over to my corral and waited. It took nearly an hour for my corral to finally cross the start line, as all the elite athletes start first.  I am not a fast runner nor do I strive to be.  I didn’t care to beat the Kenyans – I just wanted to finish.

As I made my way up, I remember looking at the skyline and taking a deep breath of the crisp October air and saying to myself: Well here goes nothing, just do your best.


At mile seven I knew my husband and son were waiting for me, so the first six miles flew by.  When I rounded the corner in Wrigleyville, there they were.  My husband was holding my son on his shoulders with a sign that read: I am proud of my Mommy! You can do it! This sign along with a friend jumping in to run with me gave me a boost.  It wasn’t until mile 19 I hit a wall.  I had already made it this far; I didn’t want to give up. My mind and body was telling me to stop. Then I saw two signs that gave me the final push I needed.  The first one read: While you are out can you pick me up some bread?  I laughed out loud for a few minutes.  Then a block later another read: Pain is temporary – Pride is forever!  Once those words resonated in my tired brain, it hit me – I was going to finish no matter what.

As I turned the last corner, I got very emotional. I could finally see the finish line through my tears.  I did it.  I ran 26.2 miles. I can be the example for my son. I can best equate the feeling of crossing the finish line to the day I married my husband and the day my son was born. It was nothing short of amazing.


Each time I tell this story I always get someone who says, “I could never do that.”  But that isn’t true because actually – you can. You are much stronger than you think you are.  Your goals are attainable, whatever they may be. I encourage each of you to challenge yourself, but most importantly believe – in you.

*This story will be featured on Kindredvine


What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

I attended the Blogher conference this weekend where the Keynote speaker was Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.  During her panel she asked the audience, “What would you do if you were not afraid?” This question resonated with me and I found myself writing down goals which have been put on hold due to fear. I left the session more inspired than ever.

Why do people, particularly women, hold themselves back?  Are we afraid of failure? Afraid people will think we’re stupid? Do we feel we’re not deserving? For me, the answer is yes to all the above. In my professional career I have struggled with each of these fears often, and I am certian they have held me back. In hindsight, there were many times I should have stuck up for myself or demanded things I knew I deserved.  But what’s more frustrating – this is no ones fault but my own.

As a way to inspire myself I began to reflect on those times I did face fear head on, took that leap of faith, and came out stronger on the other side.  Reflection has always given me strength when facing adversity. I often tell myself: hell, if I pulled that sh*t off, I got this! Also, sharing your stories, just like Sheryl Sandberg did, only encourages and inspires others.  Here is one of my stories I would like to share with you:

How did a Texas girl end up in Chicago?

In 2004, I was living in San Antonio, Texas.  I had essentially grown up there.  I had recently graduated college after almost seven years of searching for ways to pay for each semester myself.  This was a very proud moment for me, yet I still was not happy. There wasn’t much opportunity career wise and I was in and out of horrible relationships. I was in a city that didn’t suit me, but I stayed because I was scared. It was all I really knew. Where would I go? How would I get there? I am not strong enough to move by myself.  My dream was to move to Chicago after visiting a friend who had recently moved there.  During my first visit, I immediately fell in love.  I remember thinking: dreams happen here. I also remember seeing very attractive men on every street corner.  This was a single girls play land!

Once I returned home, the excitement wore off and the fear set back in.  I can’t afford it there.  I only know one person.  How could I make it in that big city? All my friends in Texas thought I was crazy too, and I am sure in the back of their minds they thought the same exact thing as I did: she will never do it. 

Later that summer my lease had run its course and I was about to sign another one. A week before signing, my roommate told me she was moving in with her boyfriend. There I was, about to be homeless.  I didn’t have enough money saved to pay all the deposits for a new place by myself, and I didn’t have any other roommate options.  At the time I felt helpless, scared and alone.  I was in my mid-twenties and couldn’t support myself, couldn’t find a roommate, couldn’t find a job with a decent salary, and couldn’t find a nice man to date.

Two days later, my friend in Chicago had notified me about a potential opportunity.  She warned me it may not be the best, however it would get me to Chicago.   This was my chance. It was now or never. Before thinking anything through, I turned in my notice at work.  In the next two weeks I sold everything I owned in my apartment.  If it didn’t fit in my car, it wasn’t coming. The money I made selling off all my belongings was the only money I had to get me to Chicago.

When the day arrived and my car was packed, I remember looking in my rear view mirror and I started crying. This was it, the only things I had left to my name were my clothes, a small television and my Chihuahua, Rocco. Was I making the right decision? For the first time in my life, I knew that even if it was the wrong decision, I was going to make it work.  I had to, I had no choice.

Just me and you buddy!
Just me and you buddy!

I got on the road and headed to Dallas so I could stop and see my mother and sister. My mother, of course, was nervous and didn’t want me to go, however she knew at that point there was no stopping me.  Just before I left, my sister looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I’m so proud of you.  I would not have the courage to do this. I know you are going to be fine, and if anyone can make it, it’s you.”  In my heart, I knew she was right.

Once I got to Chicago, I lived at a hotel in the suburbs I was working at for three months. My friend was more than generous by letting me stay on her couch on the weekends, so I could be in the city and start planning my life. Truth be told, the first year was very difficult. A week didn’t go by I wasn’t wanting to throw in the towel and head back home. I was homesick, people made fun of me for saying “y’all”, and I was broke. There were several months I had to hide my car in different neighborhoods so Tyrone from GMAC didn’t come repossess it. Many bills were paid late and often, but I stuck it out. If anything, my pride was what kept me from going home.  I didn’t want to be the girl who had to come back with her tail between her legs.

Another six months went by and I met Adam, my now husband. Being broke is much better when you have someone to be broke with. He encouraged me and promised one day, things would be better. And they were.  Shortly after that, I landed a job at a top luxury hotel in the city, and best of all, Adam asked me to marry him.

Right after we got engaged
Right after we got engaged

If I would have let fear hold me back that day in 2004, I would not be here.  Anytime someone asks me if I ever thought I would be where I am today I always respond, “NO fu**ing way!”

This story may seem like no big deal to some.  You may even know people who do this type of thing everyday. The point is, I thought I couldn’t do it and I proved myself wrong. I use this story to give me strength, and share it in hopes it will inspire others. We all have a story to tell, we’re not born with the answers, so I encourage you to start sharing yours.

 “There are two ways to face fear. Say f**k it and run, or face it and recover.” – LeanIn.Org




The ‘Constant’ Pursuit of Happiness

I recently came to the realization that I am never satisfied.  By satisfied, I mean I am always on a quest for the next level.  This pertains to my career, my marriage, my accomplishments or just life in general. Trying to find balance in my perpetual pursuit of happiness has been difficult and exhausting.  What does “having it all” really mean? When is my “all” going to be enough?

Being a driven person is something I pride myself in, however it can also be a curse.  I often think:  Once I accomplish (insert goal) I will be happier, or I will feel more satisfied.  Only to find when I reach that goal, I immediately start looking for something else to give me further feeling of worth.  It’s only when others notice my accomplishments that I say to myself,  Holy cr*p, I can’t believe I did that either!


Sometimes I confuse being driven with taking on way too much, and missing out on what is important today.  I’ve had this discussion with many fellow colleagues, friends and family.  All of who concur with these findings.  Is it an addiction?  An adrenaline rush, we long for?  Is it society pushing us to our limits with their American Dream mantras? When did we lose sight of today in our continuous efforts to be better, bigger, and greater tomorrow?

Where is the Dali Lama when you need him?  Does anyone have his number?


Once you get to the top, is it worth it?  I always say, “It is much easier to get to the top, then it is to stay at the top.” Is the money worth the stress? Mo’ money, mo’ problems! Is all your success worth missing important milestones in your child’s life?  When are the opportunity costs worth the reward?   This is something I struggle with daily. I don’t want to sound ungrateful or give the impression I am not happy, because I most certainly am.  Things could always be much worse, and trust me, they have been. I just don’t want to have any qualms later in life, wishing I had taken that vacation, or regretting not spending more time with my family.


So what now? Learn to say no? Not care about the expectation of me from others? Put me and my family first? Yes, yes and yes. This is my quest for this year, and I invite you to join me.  Time waits for no one, not even you my friend.