page contents

Saturday, November 26, 2016


You bet it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s also freaking busy. 

Shopping. Baking. Activities. Not to mention...WORK! I’m finding myself short of breath, a bit snippy, and quite frankly, a little scatterbrained. I tell myself to pray and breathe. Pray and breathe. Pray and breathe. But I still find myself distracted with little to-do lists running through my mind as I talk to God. Forgive me Jesus.

One of my coworkers came back from a Catholic Retreat a few weeks ago and gave me a list of speakers. I came across Father Michael Schmitz and found a video clip I found particularly relevant. For anyone who is overwhelmed right now, I encourage you to watch.

Now. Go out and just take that next step throughout this holiday season!

Sunday, November 6, 2016


I've featured a lot of mothers on this blog, but there's one who I feel stands out above the rest.

My mom.

Often I think about how fortunate I am to have been born from parents who are loving, smart, and taught me how to lead a productive life. I realize not everyone is this lucky. Not everyone may appreciate the sound of their mother's voice in their head as they navigate their life. But I do. And it's high time I thank her for it. Blog-style.

So thank you Mom for your many lessons. While these only touch the surface, here are the big-hitters.
My pretty mom at 18.

  • "Don't marry rich. If you want to be successful, figure it out yourself."

    As a little girl growing up in household that wasn't particularly well-off, I remember mimicking something I thought to be fairly clever. "I'm just going to marry rich! Then I can have whatever I want." My feministic mother was quick to point out the dysfunction in my thinking. You want something? Go after it yourself. Nothing quite ruffled my mother's feathers like the philosophy a woman should depend on a man or any other person for her happiness. When I met the love of my life, it wasn't because of his old, rusted Ford pickup. If I wanted a fancy pickup, I'd get it myself!
  • Read. And read to your  kids.

    Barbies and books probably defined my childhood. I wasn't the kid on the bike or the kid playing ball–unless my Kirkman pals gave me no other choice. But I did spend a significant time curled up on a gold embroidered chair with my mother, reading the entire set of Little House on the Prairie books. I can still hear her calming voice and dramatic pauses as we experienced a South Dakota winter with the Ingall's family. Not only did these times kindle a love of books and words, but it also gave me knowledge of other worlds, other lives. I could tell you I grew up in a small town and wasn't exposed to much of the world. But it's not true. Whether it was Little House the Prairie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or (in extreme cases) The Omaha World Herald, my mother taught me that reading could open up my world in ways that were way beyond geography. I attribute my love of reading, my kids' love of reading, and even my husband's new-found love like of reading to my mother.
  • Like people. Or even love them.

    I was a shy little girl. My mom was/is not. I remember one specific instance that forever changed the way I dealt with people. We were at a party and I was desperately clinging to my mother's legs–despite the plethora of other little kids running around. After a few hours of a human appendage, Mom had had enough. I remember her facing me to say, "I do not want you to end up like this. Fearing people all the time. There's no need." I'm not sure I understood what she was telling me, but I did understand I was disappointing her. So I changed. I joined the kids at play. And you know what? It wasn't so bad. People really aren't so bad!

    For years, I've watched my mother interact. She always makes a point to say hello or smile at someone whether she knows them or not. There's a running joke in my family, because she often, unabashedly, calls people by the wrong name. (Who hasn't been called a wrong name?) But the truth is, I'm really proud of my mother's warm nature. She reaches out because she cares about others. She wants everyone to be included and feel important. So, she might call you Bob, when your name is Glenn. But she'll make darn sure by the end of the conversation you feel special.

    I find my family poking fun at me when I'm being friendly to others in public. I can only smile and feel happy I'm carrying on my mother's legacy.
  • Trust and be brave.

    At the age of 65, my mother opened a retail store. After working in government for several years, she decided to follow her dream. She researched, made a plan, and did it. Now her store, rubi j, is thriving. More importantly, she's thriving. I believe she's made this happen through determination and her eternally optimistic spirit. Since the opening of her store, I can't possibly tell you the number of people who have told me how much they love my mom. I'm not surprised–she's impossible not to  love.

    The beauty of my mother's current venture has nothing to do with being "financially" successful. It's about connecting with others and making women feel good about themselves. (I hear many of mom's success stories about a discouraged shopper turned princess... ) One Saturday when I was working at her store, a woman was conflicted about what shirt to buy. She wanted her daughter's opinion. Mom told her just to take them all home and bring back what she didn't want. The lady came to the checkout counter when mom said, "Don't worry about purchasing until you know what you want." I asked mom if she wanted me to at least write down the inventory that was being taken out. Mom said, "Oh sure. You can if you want." The customer was delightfully amazed at my mother's trusting nature. But I wasn't. I would've been surprised if the transaction would've gone down any other way. She's a cool lady.

My mother turns 70 tomorrow. I wanted to do something big for her, but that's not really how our family runs. Instead, she and I will carve out a day to spend together which will obviously be a gift for me too. It will be a day for us to talk about the current stages of my kids and her dogs, laugh about stuff my dad said, and remind me of the great life my mother helped me to forge.

Love ya, Mom. Happiest of birthdays. Mwah.

Me and Mom at her infamous store...rubi j.