Shock ’em

Last week I found this quote on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram feed:

“Make it happen. Shock every single one of them.”

Think about it. What if we went through our day and thought how am I going to shock someone today? Much of the time we try to just make it through the day, but what if we raised the bar and made things happen? What if we went into each meeting or presentation and were completely focused and wowed folks because we pulled it off? What if we did the impossible? Or maybe it is not even impossible — maybe it is just something that left a wow factor. It could be the smallest, slightest moment that left a mark and was remembered.

The funny thing is the moments that are remembered are often the ones that are actually easy and often free to pull off. You might have made an effort to actually listen and remember key details from someone’s life. You asked about it the next time you see that individual. So easy, and just requires pure listening, and yet it has such an impact. I always notice when someone has taken the time to get to know me and then later (sometimes even months later) remembers a piece of our conversation. I try to do the same to others, but it is hard when you go from meeting to meeting all day. And yet, doing so shows true connection, relationship building, and care.

I am a get-it-done woman. I rarely let anything stand in my way. As Chris would say to me, “There is no changing your mind when you have made a decision you are going to do something.” He is right. I like to approach life with conviction, persistence, and, as I often say, by sucking the life out of each day. I want to bring that same zeal when shocking and wowing others. Think of all the times you have been wowed by amazing customer service, by friends and family who surprise you, or a stranger that does a random act of kindness. The key ingredient: someone showing you they care.

Shock the hell out of them.

Not One More

It is all over the Internet, on social media, and the center of conversation this past week due to the terrible shooting tragedy in Oregon. Guns. Should guns be banned? I am not one to get into politics on this blog and I respect all (or most opinions) but it is starting to feel like there is not a place in the US that is actually safe. As a 7 month pregnant woman, I think about these things differently now.

What will it be like for my little boy to go to elementary, middle, high school and college? Even separate from that I think about it in grocery stores, movie theaters, malls, and almost any public area. Whatever the conversation is about banning guns, focusing on mental health, making more laws about having licenses and permits, or classes and training — something has to change. I am not going to get into solutions or politics. Whatever the solution (there has to be one) that can mean that Americans can still feel free. That is what concerns me the most — the fear of going about your daily life when shootings continue to increase. How is that freedom? Whether it is a shooter that kills one person or a shooter that kills many, the act of shooting a human with a gun does not equal freedom for the innocent victims and their families.

Among quite a few organizations that are trying to raise awareness for gun conversations, I came across “Not One More.” It is an organization that shares the stories of those who have lost loved ones through gun violence. Not One More is fighting for safer communities. Who does not want that? Who does not want to feel safe and free? Regardless of our political views we should all want the same end goal. Freedom and safety for ourselves and our loved ones.

Is that too much to ask for?

Raising the truth

I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.

You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.

Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).

This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.

What do you think?

What Southwest did.

It seems like every time I travel I come home and have some story about crazy passengers, annoying TSA agents, and just the overall experience of flying the [un]friendly skies. Yes, I am picky, but I also think we’ve lost the service out of customer service… which means the customer is left hanging. As companies fight for market share what many are finding is that service is actually what sets many companies apart. Think Zappos or Nordstroms.

I just came across this story back from May 2015 where Southwest Airlines elevated their service game. After reviewing a few articles about her story, here is a recap of what happened:

A woman is on a Southwest plane flying from Chicago to Columbus finds out her son is in a coma after an accident. The plane turns back to the gate and the flight attendant asks her to get off. At the gate they told her to call her husband. She finds out that her son, who lives in Denver, is in a coma after a head injury. This is what Southwest does:
_Offered her a private waiting area
_Rerouted her luggage
_Allowed her to board first
_Packed a lunch for when she got off the plane in Denver
_Her luggage was delivered to where she was staying in Denver
_She received a call from Southwest asking how her son was doing

Amazing right? Yet, should it be? I wish we did not think that was stellar service. I want that to be the normal type of service that we can expect. How often does this type of tragic thing happen to folks? Often. People travel to sick, hurt, and dying loved ones, but so often we do not know their story. The morale is — how can we raise the bar and make what Southwest did for this woman the norm?

Random recipe: Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese

I am on a pumpkin trend. Last week I shared these Flourless Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips. This week we tried a savory dish for dinner: Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It was good — depending on how much you like pumpkin. I like pumpkin but if we made this recipe again we would tweak it. We would put in less pumpkin and more cheese. The sauce could have been a bit creamier, so I think we would have played with the sauce a bit more.

The breadcrumbs on top softened the heavier pumpkin flavor — the breadcrumbs are a must!



Pumpkin Mac ‘n’ Cheese

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
12 oz. dried whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 2 quart baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of the butter. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well and return to the pot.
  2. While macaroni cooks, melt remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Whisk in milk, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add pumpkin and cheddar cheese. Cook and stir until creamy, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Pour sauce over macaroni and stir to coat. Transfer macaroni to the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and oil. Spread evenly over pasta. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and macaroni is heated through.

Serve and enjoy this pumpkin goodness.