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Lightening up

A friend of mine bought me the “The Happiness Project One Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record” for Christmas last year and it was the first time I had heard about  Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project“. I recently downloaded it to my Kindle after learning Ms. Rubin is going to be in Austin for the Texas Conference for Women. I wanted to make sure I read it before hearing her speak at the conference. I’ve been inspired.

Happiness. In the book, Ms. Rubin actually walks you through her personal journey on how she decided to go about being a happier person. She wasn’t miserable when she started the project. She just didn’t feel happy. I’ve been there in the past and sometimes that same feeling creeps up on me but lately I’ve been pretty happy and I didn’t think her book applied to me at this point in my life.

Was I wrong. After reading just the first few chapters, I took her actions to heart. I didn’t waste time by creating my own goals and commandments, I just started doing what she did. I could analyze what’s really important to me from now until next year, but using her suggestions just seem quicker, easier, and required less thought on my part.

First step was to un-clutter my life. We live in a pretty small house so I have always thought that we don’t accumulate much because we can’t. But, I knew there were things I could work on. Baby steps. I decided to tackle the kitchen and get rid of the three extra wine tools, two extra cheese cutters, a third set of silverware and multiple unused platters. That was just the start. I worked to reorganize and put things where they make sense. In doing so, I was in the pantry, which is an odd area under the stairs where things just got tossed. My husband saw what I was doing and decided to help me by going out and buying more shelves, moving the shelves we have to a useful location and making the pantry a useable space.

The to go pile. This is just a fraction of what’s leaving our house.

I wish we had a before photo. I’ve been walking in here and pinching myself.

Since we opened up space in the pantry and in the kitchen, I started to work on the office. I now had other places to put the extra lightbulbs, the electronics and the box of batteries. My office is often the dumping ground. We call it the “staging area” because any time we have a party, clean the house, get ready for a new item in the house, get tired of the papers on the dining room table, we throw our stuff in the “staging area.” I hadn’t even been working from my office because it was draining just to walk into it. I still have work to do, but compared to what it looked (and felt) like before, the office is a tremendous improvement.

The office. I can see the floor, and it looks 10 times bigger.

There are other things I’ve done. I instituted my very own “No Screen Saturday.” I stayed away from the computer and my iPhone all day Saturday. It felt so good that I kept going and “No Screen Sunday” occurred organically, without any thought on my part to stay away.

I still have a lot to tackle. I’m determined to get both my business and personal finances in better order, get our wills straightened out and keep working on my paperwork issues. I need to clean my daughter’s room and go through my closet and the attic. But I’ve seen what I can do in just a one weekend, which, by the way, was also busy with a birthday party, painting with my daughter, going to a show at the Paramount Theater, and generally enjoying the days. It was not a whirlwind of organizing. The de-cluttering came in waves and increments.

And now, it’s Monday. For some odd reason, I didn’t schedule myself into any meetings, phone conversations or long email discussions. I’ve stayed off Facebook and Twitter and out of my email. I inadvertently instituted another new rule for my work life. Monday is going to be meeting free. It’s liberating.

All of this de-cluttering, physically, mentally, has worked so far. Do I feel lighter? Absolutely. Has Gretchen Rubin’s book been working for me? I’m going to say yes. You see, this blog post, the one I’ve been meaning to write for the last few months, is happening. I’m in my office. Writing. A blog post. I’m inspired.

And I’m pretty damn happy.

Join me in the future on Twitter for #meetingfreemonday. I’d like to know how you are celebrating your meeting free Mondays.





Letting the Genie in a Blog tell the story today.

Letting the Genie in a Blog tell the story today.

My friend Tanya told my husband to watch over me after MomCom Summer was over. As a musician, she knows that after performances people tend to get sick. Apparently the body’s ability to ward off anything harmful is on overdrive during a state of stress. But once the stress is released, once the body relaxes, so does it’s need to protect.

I have always equated my getting sick after an event with being in a big cavernous convention center breathing everyone else’s recirculating germs but what Tanya said makes perfect sense. So, I’m taking it easy this time. I’ve slept a lot. I’ve watched Ellen two days in a row because I haven’t wanted to get back to work after my 3 p.m. nap.

< Side note here: I’m really bummed that this week is rerun week on Ellen because she asked people to submit videos of themselves dancing behind unsuspecting strangers and had I known this was going on in February, I so would have been on it! >

So, things are moving slowly, although I managed to get my car washed, do a little laundry (believe me there’s a lot more), straighten out my insurance on the rental house, drop off and pick up my dry cleaning, get Delilah to school and swim class and send out my first set of thank you letters to the many wonderful people of MomCom. (again, believe me, there’s a lot more).

Soon there will be pictures, a video, there will be follow up and surveys. But for now, this week is do-what-I can-week.

But I don’t want to leave you with just that. I want you to hear something about the event. My version is probably so mired in details that I couldn’t do it justice, at least not right now. So I am proudly posting Leigh Ann from Genie in a Blog’s version here. Please make sure you visit her site to get the full effect. Thanks so much Leigh Ann.


Genie at a Conference by Leigh Ann Torres, Genie in a Blog


Last Saturday I was one lucky gal attending my second MomCom Austin Conference. My friend, fellow blogger, and all around event planning-mom-ninja-badass Trish Morrison is the brains (and beauty, I might add) behind this operation, and I have to say, this time she may have outdone herself. I came away with a lot of inspiration, a new girl crush, and a whole lot of laughs with my blogging and social media gal pals.

The day started off with a bang with first speaker Tiffany Harelik. Tiffany is the author of the Trailer Food Diaries, which started off as a blog, and gained enough popularity that she published a  cookbook  sharing recipes from some of Austin’s most beloved food trucks. She now also has a Portland edition in the works. Check out her Kickstarter page and help her reach her goal so she can publish it!

Tiffany’s great grandfather started a banana cart, which grew into a fruit stand, which led to him eventually owning three general stores. So food trucks are kind of in her blood. She found herself in a job that she hated, affecting her health, life, and relationships, so she quit (actually, they said if she didn’t quit they’d fire her. At least it was mutual?).

I love stories like Tiffany’s — true, honest to God testimonials about the American Dream. Not starting a business and making tons of money, but finding something you love and running with it, seeing where it takes you. And what I love even more is that in telling the stories of others who have risked everything for a chance to do something they love, Tiffany found her own American dream. She’s making her own way, trekking around the world, eating some amazing food, living her life, and loving it. And she is just so dang cute and nice.

tiffany harelik

Tiffany reminded me of what I know in my heart, but all too often forget: that it’s not necessarily about the money. It’s about your dreams and doing what you love. And I truly believe that if you do what you love (and you’re good at it), the money will follow.

“If you dare to dream, you get a chance to do it” — Roy Spence, owner of Royito’s (and the “S” in GSD&M Advertising)

The keynote speaker of the day was Sabrina Parsons, owner and CEO of Palo Alto Software. Sabrina spoke a lot about the importance of pricing your product or service effectively, but what I found most interesting was her tidbits on work life balance that crept into the presentation. She’s a hard working career woman with a demanding job, but that didn’t stop her from interviewing one of her prospective employees while nursing her newborn (with a cover!). Why are we sometimes surprised to learn that a high powered executive is also a devoted mom who took her child on a business trip because it was his birthday and welcomes all three of her kids in her bed at night because she doesn’t get to see them during the day?

Sabrina urged us all, in whatever field we’re in, to value our time. Don’t be apologetic for being assertive about your price (freelance writers, I’m talking to you!). Work hard, and bring value to the table.

“Your wingspan is never going to be wider. You just have to figure out the juggling act.” — Sabrina Parsons, Palo Alto Software

On the topic of Enteprenuership and Family was Marissa Vogel, founder of local non profit Little Helping Hands, an organization that strives to get children involved in volunteer work and community service at a young age, building a strong foundation for life long respect for those in need and the environment around us.

I likened Marissa’s story a lot to Tiffany’s in that she had a light bulb moment and an idea that she couldn’t stop thinking about that led her to where she is today. She pursued this idea, knowing that it had potential to be something big, even if it meant quitting her job to start something that wouldn’t necessarily guarantee an income, and many, many difficult conversations with her husband. But in the end, she had the support system she needed to follow her dream, and she wakes up every morning completely in love with her chosen path.

It wasn’t a fairy tale. Marissa admits it was, and still is, a lot of hard work, with little sleep and personal time in the beginning, but in the end it was necessary and worth it to work towards her goal. And communicating with your family about your goals is key in making it all work.

I’m honestly in love with the opportunity Marissa has created, and my blogger friends and I hopefully have an event in the works to volunteer as a group with our kids. So I’ll keep you posted on that!

Finally, the last lady of the day was none other than local writer, humorist, Parent’s Magazine award winning blogger, and all around sassy blonde, Wendi AaronsYou’ve heard me talk about Wendi before, as she is also the producer of Listen to Your Mother Austin, who may or may not have had something to do with that fluke of me getting into the show.

I absolutely adore Wendi, and it’s not just because she’s so funny. In fact, she kind of pisses me off because she’s so effortless about it. But she’s also kind, generous, and incredibly humble. You’ll get a bit of a surprise when after reading her work, you expect a loud, brazen broad to step up to the mic, and instead you get a soft spoken, sweet sounding blonde who spits out her killer one liners like the rest of us breathe air.

Okay, enough of me waxing poetic about Wendi; you want to hear what she talked about. Wendi gave us a little rundown on how to be funny, straight from the source — like getting cello lessons from Yo-Yo Ma or something. No one wants to hear the play by play account of how you woke up, fed your kids, drank your coffee, and now everyone’s bored and whining (or even worse — playing happily together). Take the little things, the nuances in your life, and add a little humor, make it interesting.

Wendi Aarons tweet

This tweet brought out my wheezy old man laugh.

“Being funny will occasionally get you into trouble, but if you make people laugh, it’s worth it.” — Wendi Aarons

And she’s also a brilliant mathematician:

Tragedy + Time = Funny


I had a blast at my second MomCom, and I look forward to attending another. If you’re in Austin, the Austin area, or need a good excuse to come to Austin (seriously, who doesn’t?), I highly recommend this event for moms who are business owners, enteprenuers, freelancers, or who just need a good dose of inspiration and fun. Keep up with all of the MomCom updates at or on the Facebook page. And mom up!


In other, unrelated news, over at This Blogger Makes Fun of Stuff, I shared a simple, easy as pie way to turn those stacks of paintings your preschoolers have done and turn them into legit art that you actually don’t mind looking at. ’Til next time!

Courtesy of Leigh Ann Torres, Genie in a Blog @latorres

MomCom adds inspired panel of Austin’s best marketing & advertising women

MomCom adds inspired panel of Austin’s best marketing & advertising women

So, we’re in the last few days before the conference. These are the detail days. The part that I’m not great at. I have always had someone else to back me up on the detail phase. People like my former co-worker and good friend, Jackie Macha or my extremely detailed ex-boss, Charles Gallatin. Even my staff from when I was a marketing director at Goodwill of Central Texas. They did the details. I let them work their magic and they got it done.

So here I am. I don’t have a staff, co-workers, a boss. It’s me. And. I’m down one speaker who won’t be attending due to a family emergency. So am I freaking out? Kind of. I have to get things printed. Mostly I’m worried about that and picking up door prizes and the logistics of it all. But am I worried about losing a speaker? Nope. Not anymore. You know why?

Because WOMEN CAME TO MY RESCUE. Women I don’t really know. Women I met only because I’m doing this conference. Talented, inspired, interesting women who are rising to the occasion and helping me out. And what have they asked me for in return? Absolutely nothing.

So please, don’t feel bad that we’re down one speaker. Feel lucky because now we have three incredible women talking about women in marketing and advertising. Women who have something to say. Who frankly, KICK-ASS. Thank you to Stefani Zellmer, Creative Director and Queen Zee of Zeehive for heading up this panel of women and saving me this week. And thanks to Stefani’s highly qualified and equally amazing colleagues including Carlotta Stankiewicz, Creative Director at GSD&M and blogger at Well Versed Mom and Rachel Clemens, Founder of Creative Suitcase.

And just to give you a little taste of what these women might be discussing, check out this article from the Atlantic. I know you’re not going to want to miss this one!

Now, let’s get on with the show. I have some details to attend to…

The new way of doing business

The new way of doing business

So you think it’s unprofessional to have my child in the background while I’m trying to talk with a prospective sponsor or vendor? Do you think I should have worn a suit to our meeting? Maybe I shouldn’t have brought my daughter to the networking event. Really? Well, then I’m just not your girl and maybe we don’t need to be doing business together. And that’s okay, really it is. Because I’m no longer living by those rules. I never wanted to conform before I had a kid so she’s actually a really great excuse to “work outside the box.”

I get it. And for the most part, I do business without my child around. But during weeks off from school? Times when I want to make an event but I don’t have someone to watch her? Well, she’s here. And I’m not going to kill myself trying to get rid of her so I can “network.”  She’s coming with me. It has been enlightening, this working on my own terms thing. The people I work with “get it” and if they don’t, then I explain “it” to them and they’ve been receptive.

The coolest thing though, is something that happened today. My daughter walks in the office and starts talking to me even after her dad told her to let me work. I was on the phone talking with a potential vendor. It was more like talking to a potential friend. There I was telling my daughter to let me talk and on the other end was a mom and entrepreneur asking her child the same thing. We did fine. We did our business and no one suffered because we weren’t “professional enough.”

Having my daughter around to see me work, even when it isn’t convenient, is actually pretty cool. She told me that some day she’s going to have a MomCom. Hopefully she’ll have them all over the country by then!

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YoKids Teaming with Tom’s of Maine (Giveaway)

YoKids Teaming with Tom’s of Maine (Giveaway)

May is National Strawberry Month so MomCom Austin sponsor, Stonyfield Farm’s YoKids is teaming up with Tom’s of Maine on Strawberry flavored goodies.  Starting May 21st, each tube of children’s toothpaste purchased on their site will come with an on-pack coupon for $1 off YoKids Greek organic yogurt! You can also save 20% on your entire order with the coupon code:  YOKIDS20!  This offer expires on June 4th so take advantage soon!

Stonyfield Farm is also giving away a cool goodie bag which consists of the following:  YoKids lunch sack filled with several Tom’s of Maine products including a full 4.2oz tube of Silly Strawberry children’s toothpaste, as well as samples of their Naturally Dry deodorant and Daily Moisture soap.  The bag also includes FREE YoKids and YoKids Greek coupons (both available in strawberry!), YoKids Greek temporary tattoos (in strawberry AND raspberry!), and YoKids Strawberry-flavored Eco Lips chap-stick.

My daughter already used up all the tattoos and seems to be a bit obsessed with the Tom’s of Maine kids’ toothpaste as she brushed twice last night and about three times this morning before school…on her own!

If you’d like one of these goodie bags just fill out your name, address and email. I’ll be picking one winner using and if you win, I’ll have Stonyfield send you a cute pack like the one above. I especially like the lunch sack and want to use something like this as the swag bag at MomCom.

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