Learning To Let Go in 2019

Here we are. Another year under our belts. A new year represents a fresh start and while most people make resolutions to get healthy, save money, or pay off debt – I’ve actually made some revelations. In light of these revelations, this year I’m letting go and saying “no”. I know, I always preach to be the “yes” girl – and that hasn’t changed when it comes to new opportunities, new friendships or taking a vacation on a whim. You should say “yes” to all the things that make you happy and enhance your life. My problem is I say “yes” too much and let guilt put me in situations I don’t care to be in.

So, while I’ll continue to be the “yes” girl to help foster positive grow, I’m now going to be the “no” girl to anything else. I know so many of us, women especially, battle with this on the daily. We try to be kind and helpful. We act from the heart. We like to take care of people and stay loyal. All good things, but not when you’re getting taken advantage of or made to feel guilty.

So, this year I plan to tighten up my “no” game and let go. Maybe you’ll join me on this journey to…..

Let go and say “no” to toxic relationships. We all have them, and they aren’t pretty. You’re both better off walking away. It will hurt at first, but you’ll come out on the other side stronger and happier. No one plans to be in these relationships, but when they develop we tend to hang on. Let go, momma!

Let go of friendships that are notoriously one-sided, meaning you’ve always been the friend while they just take advantage of you and don’t return the friendship. I had a lot of these in the past. You can’t always give 100% when they give 0%. It’s exhausting. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care about them, it just means you’re removing the stress out of your life.

Let go of the friends who have unrealistic expectations of YOU. You can’t be in five different places at one time. Your family should come first and if they don’t get that – bye bye. The best friends are the ones who can pick up right where you left off even if 20 years has gone by. Keep those friends close.

Let go of that terrible job you hate. Life is too short to be stressed and miserable all the time. Trust me when I say there are so many opportunities out there if you just open your eyes and ears! Sometimes the money isn’t worth it. Remember that.

Let go of your unrealistic expectations you place on OTHERS. You can’t expect people to be the way YOU want them to be or you’ll always be disappointed and hurt by their actions. No one is perfect and that includes you.

Say “no” when you don’t want to go to a social function. I over schedule myself all the time and I’m not the type to cancel on people. I always do what I say I’m going to do. I have good intentions. It’s not that I don’t love being out and about and spending time with friends and family, but damn it – I’m tired. Ha! I can’t make it to every event this year so some of those RSVPs will just have to be a “no”.

Say “no” when people or businesses ask you to do work for them for free. I need to be better at this. I’m a blogger, business owner, social media influencer, branding consultant and author. That’s a lot of jobs. Since I have these credentials I can’t tell you how many messages I get from people asking me to promote things, write about things, or pick my brain on how to grow a business on a daily basis for free. Friends or colleagues asking is one thing, but strangers…it’s getting out of hand. Trust me – I’d truly love to help everyone and maybe one day I’ll teach virtual classes, but time doesn’t allow it now and this is how I make a living. I can’t pay a mortgage working for free. I know a lot of freelancers deal with this and it’s time we knew (and asked for) our worth.

I think with these positive changes I’ll be able to live in the moment more, focus on work goals, veg out on the couch once in a while and hug my babies until they make me stop. Now that sounds like a great 2019.

This year is the year of you. Do what makes YOU happy, learn to put yourself first sometimes. Who’s with me? Are you ready to let go and say “no”?


9 Ways Welcoming Mindfulness Helps You Flourish At Life

You love your kids and wouldn’t be without them, but it’s an undeniable fact – being a mother can be incredibly stressful. Dealing with tantrums, trying to keep on top of all of the everyday chores and running around after the family can take a heavy toll on your state of mind, and every mother out there will recognise the feeling of sometimes struggling to keep your head above water. Luckily, research from Oxford University has shown that practising mindfulness could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Their studies showed that mindfulness is not only a powerful stress reliever, but it also helps to improve resilience to future stress, building up an inner strength that boosts physical well being and inner happiness.

So, What Is Mindfulness?

If you’ve never heard of mindfulness, don’t worry, you aren’t alone! Put in basic terms, mindfulness means that you focus on staying firmly grounded in the moment, aware of what you are doing and feeling, without being overwhelmingly influenced by events that are taking place around you. Now you’re probably thinking “Easier said than done” as your toddler howls for your attention, your teenager needs help with their homework and you have dinner to get started, and you’d be right – mindfulness takes practice. However, it’s well worth putting in the effort to achieve the many benefits that mindfulness brings.

How Can Mindfulness Help Me?

1. Better Decision Making

When you practice mindfulness, you have a much greater awareness of what’s going on inside your head. We all have a tendency to experience a gut reaction as soon as a thought pops into your brain, and your response might not always be the right one. When you are aware of your thoughts, you are much more able to take a step back and to analyse them fully without reacting to that immediate stress response. In short, you’ll become a better decision maker.

2. Slowing It Down

We’ve all been there – flying off the handle because of a stressful situation. But those immediate reactions are rarely the most sensible response and all too often we regret the way we’ve handled things. Mindfulness helps to slow down your reactions, giving you time to think sensibly and to come up with a more appropriate solution.

3. Relaxation

When you practice mindfulness, you are learning to focus on the here and now – in other words the “being” state of mind rather than the “doing”. While the “doing” mindset is associated with stress, the “being” mode is linked to relaxation – and which mother doesn’t need a bit more of that in their life?

4. Awareness Of Bodily Needs

Every mother’s been there – pushing themselves to the limit to get things done for their kids, pushing themselves to hard in the gym, collapsing under the pressures of work. It’s all too easy to ignore the signs that you need to take care of yourself and treat your body with more respect. As much as exercise can assist in reducing stress and anxiety, mindfulness makes you more sensitive to your bodily needs, and when you notice pain earlier, you can take steps to treat the problem so that it doesn’t get out of hand.

5. Less Conflict

It’s no secret that most families are full of conflict, and it can be very easy to snap at each other when emotions are running high. Mindfulness makes you more sensitive to the emotions of those around you, and this boosts your empathy. When you understand the way your kids feel, you’re much less likely to get into conflict with them.

6. Greater Compassion

There’s a distinct lack of empathy and compassion in modern society, so it’s no wonder that often we aren’t as caring or considerate as we should be. Practising mindfulness is very soothing and lowers your gut response to stress, making you more compassionate and more able to help others.

7. Less Background Stress

We’ve become so used to an ongoing backdrop of stress in our lives that we just don’t notice it any more. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t taking its toll on your physical and mental health. When you practice mindfulness, the activity in your amygdala (the part of your brain that switches on your stress response) is reduced, cutting back on all that background stress and making your life simpler and happier.

8. Better Focus

As a busy parent you’ve always got so much going on that it can feel impossible to focus on anything. How many times have you stood in the kitchen, realising you’re in the middle of three different jobs and haven’t got anything done? Mindfulness boosts your focus and concentration so you can get tasks accomplished more efficiently.

9. Change Of Attitude

One of the best things about mindfulness is that it can change your attitude to stress in your life. Whereas before you struggled to see beyond the negative consequences of stress, being mindful gives you more space and helps you to think in a different way about it. By recognising that added pressure gives you more energy to get more done, your mind and body can enjoy the positive benefits.

All things considered, mindfulness really is one of the best tools to add to your knowledge box to make you, not only flourish at parenting, but flourish at life and all the stresses it throws at you.



10 Essential Tips for a Successful Holiday Season

The holiday season heralds a time to connect with family and friends, get back to your roots and give generously to others. The holidays bring many things to look forward to, but they also bring stress factors that may feel unavoidable.

It’s hard to not bust your budget on presents, field intrusive family questions and balance your time and obligations. Don’t let stressors threaten to uproot your holiday cheer, though. A little organization, simplification and a proactive, positive attitude will make for a successful holiday season.



Here are 10 ways you can survive the holidays this year:

Set Ground Rules and Stick to Them

The holidays bring out the best in some and the worst in others. When stress is at an all time high, setting boundaries will be necessary to protect and take care of your sanity and health. In your house, you set your own rules, but also set your own ground rules when it comes to how you interact with others.

Say that you’ve decided not to discuss a certain topic. Don’t keep negative conversations going. Be detached to the outcome of the conversation.

Walk away, change the subject or leave if you must. Focus on something positive to get through a trivial moment, whether it’s your kids, your pet or a favorite show. Visualize a mirror which deflects drama or imagine you’re a fog that negativity wafts right through. It may take a while for family members to adjust to your boundaries, but healthy boundaries build positive relationships.


Create a Holiday Spending Plan

Create a plan for holiday spending to keep your budget balanced. Make a list of every holiday expense, including decorations, wrapping paper, cards, work gift exchanges and travel costs. Determine how much you have available for holiday spending from existing or set-aside financial resources. Prioritize spending by category and importance.

There may be ways to save money by making homemade gifts or suggesting a family potluck, for example. Your budget may inadvertently help you to choose a meaningful gift for a loved one, rather than buying several things that overextend your budget. As you purchase an item, cross it off and wrap it.


Get Your Family Involved With Useful Tasks and Fun Activities

Don’t conquer by dividing — conquer by distraction and inclusion. Finding common ground should be your holiday goal to minimize stressful encounters.

Most people want to feel useful. A family member prone to anxiety will be thankful for something to do with their hands, to help out and not engage in awkward small talk. The family member who takes over every task at holiday gatherings should be given a territory, which could be organizing gifts and checking in with family members as they come in. Play to each family member’s strengths and pair conversations and tasks accordingly.

Prepare activities for fun and distraction. Board games are usually safe bets. You could also put on a movie or the game. Give each set of activities their own space, and family members who feel stressed may retreat to their respective corners or bond in others.



Organize a Wacky Family Bingo With Friends

There are certain family situations you won’t be able to avoid, unless you opt out of an event all-together, which may create hard feelings. Tough questions and judgments are part of these gatherings for many, but it doesn’t mean you have to suffer alone.

Replace anxiety and stress by adding humor to the mix and playing wacky family bingo. Get together with friends and design your own bingo card with events that happen at nearly every family event. There’s the one family member who keeps drinking the wine. There’s the one nosey aunt asking when you’re getting married. There’s the one family member who cracks the same bad jokes. Then there’s the set of socks that you receive every year in your stocking.

Text your friends when you land a space. Make a coded checklist on your phone to fill in the events as they happen. A little humor makes it more bearable.


Have a Gimmick

Have a gimmick to use as a tool to distract or engage by your choice. Into photography? Bring or borrow a camera to capture moments at the family event. Have a guitar? Play a few songs for everyone.

Your gimmick can be as simple and silly as a tacky holiday sweater or socks to diffuse stress. Come prepared with trivia questions or talk about your favorite television show to wear out the other conversationalists.


Be Prepared for Extreme Weather

Extreme weather catches many by surprise during the holidays. Enable alerts on your phone to receive emergency updates. If extreme weather happens on the road, react wisely when driving. Every region will have unique driving conditions depending on wind, sleet, snow and ice. Let the car go in the direction it wants to go when skidding and slowly act to bring the car to a stop, for example. Quickly braking or shifting the wheel on ice or water leads to more accidents.

Research what the weather will be like beforehand and have a back up plan if you need to stay longer than anticipated. Have your car tested and serviced before driving long distances to help prevent issues, too.


Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Create meal plans ahead of time to make holiday shopping and cooking easier. Prep and freeze side dishes in advance. Use a well-stocked pantry to your advantage. Break out breads, jams and other selections for holiday snacks, and if you’re so inclined, it is okay to make something from a box, too.  

If the holidays will be too stressful for meal planning, opt for a potluck. Create a shareable file where family members see what others are bringing and can add their own contribution. This takes the pressure off of you.


Don’t Overextend Yourself

Simplify as much as possible. Once your calendar or budget has taken all it can, stop. Don’t try to fit in every event. You don’t want to stretch your energy, time or money too thin.

Practice the art of stopping. Others may whine and complain, but overextending yourself leads to grumpy you — which isn’t fun for anyone.



Positive emotions are contagious, and when you make others feel good, it boosts your mood. Let yourself laugh at any humor or irony you find.

Remember to smile, too! People are more prone to displaying positive emotions and are socially set to mirror others empathetically. Boost everyone’s mood by finding ways to bring out smiles.


Give to Yourself

In the spirit of the holidays, you often practice generosity with others but forget yourself. To be your best self, you have to remember to take care of yourself, too.

Take time away when you are stressed. Designate space for yourself in the middle of holiday chaos, and get out of dodge. See a movie by yourself. Take a long bath. Wake up at dawn and grab an early breakfast with a friend. No matter what it is, doing something for yourself will help you handle the holiday chaos.

The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Instead, the holiday season can be successful with a little planning, determination and positivity. When you let go of control and remember to check in with yourself, the beauty and humor of life is more available to you. Enjoy the warmth of the holidays, and be merry.

Managing Work Expectations in a Plugged-In-World

By now we all know that managing life, family, and a career can sometimes seem impossible. With the advancement of technology over the last two decades, work tasks have become much easier. However, these advancements have created an always-accessible work expectation. Having worked in corporate America for over a decade, the most important thing I’ve learned is how imperative it is to set boundaries not only for yourself – but for your superiors as well.

Setting boundaries and adhering to them promotes a healthy work-life balance. Working hard does not mean working longer hours or being plugged-in at all times. In fact, working longer hours has proven to be unproductive. The more time you allow yourself to complete a task, the more time you will take to do so. Before long you’ll find yourself overwhelmed and the quality of your work will inevitably suffer.

Working hard by working smart is the key to a successful balance. You must know your limits and know when it’s necessary to unplug. If you allow your colleagues to always interrupt your personal time – this will become habit. If you answer client emails at midnight – this will become their future expectation. Once these behaviors are set, there’s no turning back. I spent many years learning this the hard way. What started out as kind gestures, quickly turned into the status quo.  Eventually this environment I created took over my life.

Working after birth

(Picture of me the day after I gave birth – still working)

Accessibility can be beneficial if you know how to manage it. Technology allows you to work from anywhere, but it also allows you to always work. Here are some tips to assist you in learning how to manage your accessibility.

Each day periodically use the DND (Do not disturb) button on your phone.

If you are up against a deadline try to limit all your distractions for at least an hour. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done. Use this button on your cell phone once you get home too, even if it’s only a few nights a week. It allows you to focus on your family and enjoy your free time without constantly checking email or text messages.

Learn to say “No”.

Don’t get the reputation of always saying, “Yes!” Once the word gets out, everyone will bring his or her concerns and projects to you. You have enough on your plate, so it is perfectly acceptable to decline from time to time.

Vacation means you’re on vacation.

Answering emails and making calls while on vacation is a big mistake. It’s rare to even take a vacation, so why not enjoy it? If you seem available, work will make you available.

Prioritize your tasks.

If something can wait until tomorrow – do it tomorrow. I used to be that person who had to clear my desk before I went home. Once I learned how to delegate and prioritize my work in order of importance, I was able to manage my day and get home at a decent hour. Set a goal of what you need to accomplish and work toward it in your allotted time. Anything remaining will be there when you wake up – I promise.

Set your expectation early on.

Let people know your limits. Do not answer calls or emails unless it’s an urgent matter. If you do respond, let people know it was the exception. Don’t feel guilty about taking and enjoying free time – you and your family deserve it.

Sometimes the Grass Is Greener on the Other Side

People are quick to say, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”  But what if it is?  How would you know what shade the grass is, if you are not willing to see the other side?   Do people say this out of fear?  To convince themselves they don’t deserve better? Sometimes a different shade of green is exactly what we all need.

I am that woman. The one who spent her entire twenties and half of her thirties working around the clock.  The one who was always accepting challenges head on, and filling up my day with projects for other people.  In hindsight, I did miss out on a lot of things; a real college experience, traveling, family time, days spent soaking up the sun by the lake.  You name it, I missed it.  My parents did what they could to help, but I essentially paid (actually am still paying for – damn loans!) for my own education. This meant all work and no play.

You know that's right!
You know that’s right!

On top of that I had an intense desire to succeed.  I wanted better for myself and for my kids. I wanted to have nice things, be able to pay for college, and take those family trips my family was never able to. That drive for success landed me here.  Yes, I am successful and have a dream job to many. I worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to get here.

Even on the rare occasion we do get to do fun things, I do not have a trained mind to stop and really enjoy the moment.  I am always forward thinking.  What should I make for dinner?  I wonder if my client returned their contract.  STOP woman, you are at a pool, in Miami, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Relax. Sooo, I wonder if that woman did send back her contract, let me just check my email real quick.  Of course, one email turns into twenty-five emails, and then a phone call, then anxiety, then there goes my fun pool time. By the end of each day, I am mentally and physically exhausted.

This was a true statement..
This was a true statement..

But the success and money were worth it, right?  Yes, the experience, the confidence I gained in myself and the connections I have made were absolutely worth it.  On the other hand, it was not worth missing my son take his first steps, say his first words,  watch him play on a sunny afternoon, or ruin my Miami pool day.  This is time I can never get back.

So, since I make sh*t happen and was tired of complaining and watching my life go by, I decided to do something about it.  Take that leap of faith I have dreamed about. I resigned from my Director position, at a company I truly loved, after eight years.  I want to see if the grass is, in fact, greener on the other side. I knew I made the right decision because the Pope and I resigned the same day. He, apparently, had enough too. I will chalk this up as divine intervention.  If the Pope could do it, so could I.


It has been several weeks since my last day.  The first week was definitley scary.  What did I do?  Will we be ok financially?  Did I make the right decision?  The next week it felt like vacation. Now, it just feels great. Liberating in fact. I can do without daily Starbucks and other things I don’t need, if it means not being too tired to read my son a book before bed.

My theory is my career will always be there.  I am a career driven person, that will never go away either.  In the meantime, I will focus on expanding my family, writing and dedicating my time to my most important role of all… mom.

My advice to you:  Take that PTO.  Don’t save it for a rainy day that never comes.  Spend a day with your family without sneaking off to check your email on your phone. Spend a day doing nothing but stuff for you. But above all, don’t miss important milestones in your kids life. Because those my friend, you will regret.

So is the grass greener on the other side you ask?  In my case, so far, yes.


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.


H.B.I.C Didn’t Come Easy

Listen up.  Becoming an HBIC did not come easy. We are all (let’s face it) HBIC’s at home, but I am referring to work. What is HBIC you ask?  Head B*tch in Charge.

Now, we spent a lot of time working toward HBIC before having kids.  Being kid-less was an advantage, as the eighty hour work weeks were quite common.  The stress levels and quick decision making actually prepared us to be moms, which let’s be honest here, is the hardest job of all.


As our families expanded, the balancing act became more difficult.  Sacrifices are something that come along with “having it all”.  I use BIG air quotes when saying “having it all” because everyone’s ‘having it all’ has different meanings.  My meaning of ‘having it all’ is: having a loving, supportive husband; having a career path of my own which makes me feel smart and independent; and having kids that I get to spend time with.


It takes a certain drive and dedication to not only have your family to look after, but also have your work family to look after.  Everybody always wants a piece of you, and your time is limited.  A friend emailed me this week and the subject line read:   The thing about being a Director…..The body read:  When the F*CK do you have time to do YOUR work???  At the end of the day, you figure it out my friends.

This is us, except with boobs.
This is us, except with boobs.

If HBIC is something you aspire to be, here are some tips that helped us succeed:

  • Sh*t is going to be tough, get used to it. It NEVER gets easy. Consider it a challenge.
  • Be confident in your decisions, people are looking up to you.  Even if you don’t know what the hell is going on, pretend you do.
  • Know what you are worth.  When you know, others will know.
  • Build relationships and be respectful of peoples time.
  • Do it because you love it.  Not for the money.
  • Always do the right thing. People will have more faith in you and your decisions if you are not rotten.
  • Open your ears! Listening gets you more than talking does.
  • Know you will not be CEO making a ga-zillion dollars in a year (new grads tend to think this).
  • Never say you are too busy.  Even if you are, I guarantee someone is busier than you.
  • Don’t be a gossip pants.  Chances are you have no idea what you are talking about.
  • Network… a lot.
  • Always follow up. It shows you are on top of your sh*t.
  • Take chances.  If you are passionate about what you do, others will be passionate too.

There you have it.  Now let’s go out and rule the world!

 “An effective leader does not control; she inspires and influences. As a leader I try to figure out what peoples dreams are.  In most cases the only thing holding them back is themselves.” – Candice Carpenter

Free Time? What’s That?

I have a confession.  I always get a slight tinge of jealousy on Friday’s when my non-kid friends or colleagues are so excited for the weekend, presumably because they have ‘free’ time to do as they please. I, on the other hand, have forgotten what ‘free’ time means.

I listen to them speak about their upcoming trips to tropical destinations, and can feel my mouth dropping as I imagine myself on a beach with a Corona.  Those thoughts then turn into hallucinations before someone snaps me back into reality, “Holly, are you listening?”  Um no, I was living through you and you ruined it d-bag!

 Don’t get me wrong, my nights and weekends are filled with family time and I enjoy every minute.  However, I do (sometimes) miss the days of sleeping in, OR just sleeping at all.

 As parents we know our ‘real’ job doesn’t begin until we come home.  Our free time goes something like this:  Drive home, unload kids, cook them dinner, cook you dinner (because they NEVER want to eat what you eat), bath time, brush teeth, story time, bed time, your shower time, then is it already 10 pm? Your bedtime. Ex-haus-ting!  Oh and if your kid is sick, then you are really screwed because you will probably be up all night cleaning up throw up and a** explosions. You are sure to enjoy that next day at work!

Of course when you have a night like this, the next day is when non-kid friends have to tell you how they are so tired, and so busy and expect sympathy from you.  I wish I could blurt out,  “Shut your face!  Wait until you have kids, then tell me how tired and busy you are.”  I refrain because I remember when I was a non-kid person, and that always would annoy me.

In the end, I have to admit listening to non-kid people whine about their ‘busy’ lives makes me feel like a bad a**. Because not only am I the HBIC at work, but I do this after pulling all-nighters cleaning up vomit and poop.  Take that losers.

I find this picture hilarious. Enjoy.
I find this picture hilarious. Enjoy.