My Tribe

I used to hear people talk about their tribe and be filled with curiosity. I assumed it was another slang term for their group of friends, like their crew, their posse. I suppose in a way it is, but it’s so much more.

A coworker of mine recommended a book for me to read. It was something that he mentioned was really helpful for him in terms of expanding his career and getting people to buy into his ideas and support him in his pursuit of growing and climbing the corporate ladder. The book is actually called Tribes, written by Seth Godin, it’s a great book. It’s an easy read and I would recommend it to anyone, not just those looking to excel in their career.

The idea is that you start out with an idea, a philosophy, or a way of life and spread the word. It’s essentially like a grassroots effort of building a buzz around your topic. As you talk and share your ideas, people contribute and engage, and suddenly you have a group (hopefully ever growing in number) that believe in what you’re saying, feel empowered because they have a voice in it, and look to you as the leader of the movement. As it grows in strength and numbers a movement begins.

I suppose that’s what the goal of this blog is, a way of getting together a group of individuals who can feed off of each other and join forces to establish a tribe of people living more joyful and fulfilled lives! I want to share things that are close to my heart, situations I struggle with, stereotypes and cultural norms that I battle against in a meaningful way and encourage others to be brave and follow me in breaking out. It’s hard to buck the system. It’s a challenge to look at the norms we live with and call bunk on some of them. But let’s face it, some of the things we have grown to accept as meaning “success” are really ridiculous and counterproductive to being present in our lives, relaxed, and happy.

We hear expressions like “keeping up with the Jones’ ” and “comparison is the thief of joy,” but do we roll our eyes and just keep trudging along? We need that bigger job so that we can buy a car that’s fancier than our neighbors. All the other moms in my son’s class make beautiful, Pinterest worthy snacks for the class party. My brother never seems to struggle in raising his son, they are always so calm and perfect. My college roommate is the CEO of her own company, but I’m barely getting by doing volunteer work and odd jobs. BLAH… The list of thoughts goes on and on! It’s different for everyone, but I’d bet the farm that you are comparing yourself to someone else, and worse, beating yourself up over it.

Are you in love with your spouse? Are your children cared for and healthy? Do you have transportation to and from your job? Heck, do you have a job? Even if you’re not making what you “could be,” does your work make you feel good about yourself? Let’s be thankful for these blessings and stop comparing ourselves to others.

Let’s face it, if we focus enough on what we don’t have, what we aren’t doing, who’s got more, who’s more successful, other’s have a more perfect family, etc… then we rob ourselves the opportunity of enjoying and celebrating what we are doing and what we do have. It’s the quickest way to drain out all of your positive energy and joy.

My current tribe is filled with my extended family who, God love them, are a hot mess most of the time! I have several wonderful friends with talents well beyond mine, photographers, musicians, choreographers, technical geniuses, mechanical masterminds, absolutely amazing show stopping mothers, basically bosses each in their own right! My pups are part of my tribe, they could care less about anything other than the fact that I’ve walked in the door at home and have some love for them. My kiddos, they don’t care that I brought store bought cookies to their Halloween parties, they only care that I showed up! I’ve got an amazing group of students in my class right now who want to hear real life work stories from me, and what impact my decisions (good or bad) had on the end result. They don’t care one bit that I’m not a seasoned professor with perfect teaching methods. My project teams at work and my corporate peers are part of the tribe. They know that I’m not so good at having a “thick skin,” which can be critical in the consulting world. They love me for being loyal to them, trusting that no matter what happens I’m going to do my best to take care of them and lead them to success.

My tribe isn’t huge, but they’ve all bought into the idea that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. We support each other, cheer for each other, celebrate successes together, and cry on each other’s shoulders with no shame when life gets hard.

So buck the system, quit trying to live up to some standard of “success” that deprives you of the small wins, of being present, and drains the joy from you. Join me in saying screw it, I’m living this life my way and I’m proud of it!

Let’s start a movement!

Karla

That Nasty L Word

LAUNDRY. What did you think I meant? LOL!

I stroll into my oldest son’s room, he tells me that morning that he has no more clean pants. I think, “what?!” I swear I just did the laundry. Well, maybe he didn’t bring down everything, you know, it was hidden under the bed, stuffed in back packs from the gym, or whatever. You know what, he has an overflowing hamper! Surely this must be his fault in some way, not my shortcoming.

Next stop, little brother’s room. Damn, his basket is just the same. Let me think about this for a minute… oh, maybe it wasn’t last Monday I did laundry, I was traveling for work and the weeks have blended together. Okay, okay, this is making more sense. So we’re just a little bit behind our once a week, unless it’s a fashion emergency, laundry cycle.

Last stop on the way to the laundry room, our room. Holy! Okay, seriously, how have I not noticed that it’s not only full, but spilling out onto the floor. Does Ricardo even have clean underwear?! Leave it to him to not complain, or just do a load to get us by without making me feel bad I’ve dropped the ball on my domestic chore (we divvy them up, I have the laundry short straw).

Sigh.

“Alright guys, let’s knock this out!” I say to Gus and Lexi (they ever so cutely tilt their heads like they are completely in tune and I just gave them the secrets to life). I sort it all out, seven loads. For heaven’s sake, why do I get myself into these predicaments?! I work from home, so doing laundry during the day isn’t a big deal, I just swap from the washer to the dryer in between calls and meetings and try to get the bulk of the folding done during lunch or right after the day ends.

Seven-ish hours later we have success, all of the piles are gone, it smells delightfully like Gain in the house, and all of the clothes are ready for everyone to put away! Yay!

Minus the two hour back and forth with the kids arguing to get them to put it away. You know, they are clever little fellows… can I just carry it to my room and not put it away? why do we put it in drawers and the closet anyway, it’s so much easier to see what I have when it’s out? I promise I’ll do it as soon as I get home from school tomorrow, will that be okay? Hey mom, you’re going up there anyway, can you just do it? NO, NO, NO, and NO! An A for effort in evading their responsibilities though! Anyway, back to the story, two hours later I am indeed upstairs with them, helping with homework, reading stories, and just some good old fashioned goofing off and guess what?

Yup, that’s right… those gloriously clean dirty laundry hampers are already half full. I swear!

Rant over.

The truth is all of us have these things that sneak up on us. Whether it’s the dishes, laundry, doing maintenance on your car, or even taking care of yourself. We all have our “dirty words.”

The point I wanted to make, and the thing I needed to remind myself, is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Not one single day did my family leave the house naked. Most likely I spent the time that I could have been cleaning and folding doing something much more enjoyable, like playing a never ending game of monopoly (watching Parker learn about money and laugh at him trying to be the banker, noticing that Simeon is beginning to strategize about the game, rather than just play along) and laugh, laugh, laugh. I probably had a long conversation on the phone with my mother, texted a couple of my girlfriends, took the dog for a walk, or whatever. And you know what? It’s ok!

I’ve also made sure to teach my boys these basic living skills since they were itty bitty, so if push came to shove, even my five year old knows how to load his clothes into the washer, swap to the dryer, wad them in a ball and call them folded, and put them in his room. They don’t want to do it, heck, I don’t want them to do it. There’s only so many years left that I get to fold their clothes, wonder what happened to make their socks so nasty, and pretend it’s the worst thing ever! One day either they will do it or their significant other.

So Ladies, don’t worry about it! I’m not saying to let your house turn into a health hazard or ignore your responsibilities entirely. I AM saying, don’t stress about it. Enjoy the stuff that wiggles it’s way in. Enjoy that you have people in your home who make dirty laundry, it’s so much better than living alone!

Karla

Busy, busy, busy…

I know this topic has been addressed in articles, movies and tv shows, but DANG, people aren’t getting the hint.

What’s the deal with everyone being so busy? Not only that, why is it supposedly cool to be so over-worked, over-tired, over-caffeinated, over-booked, and basically over-run? You see pictures on Pinterest of gloriously multi-colored day planners, filled to the max with appointments, reminders, and to-dos. We have technical gadgets to integrate all aspects of our lives into one massive, non-stop reminder system; it’s always dinging, pinging, and alerting us to the next thing we need to be looking at. So many fashion pictures are accessorized with a Starbucks cup. The lines at coffee places are insanely long, people are even putting in pick up orders so that they don’t have to “hurry up and wait.” We have meals on the go, or many women skip eating meals all together, what’s wrong with that… it’s less calories, right? We take on ask after ask, whether from work, our children, friends, family, community projects, and every other Tom, Dick, and Harry who might ask us for something.

I don’t know about you, but I find this exhausting. It makes my soul tired. My body keeps pushing forward, to an extent. I go through the motions, I’m there at all of those things. Making sure that I can check that item off my list, or hit dismiss on my Apple Watch. I do those things to meet my obligations, the obligations of a busy schedule.

But, my mind wanders, it refuses to go through the motions! I want to stay on the couch in my hoodie and veg, I set my alarm to wake up early in order to fit in more and in my sub-awake state shut it off completely when it goes off. I long for the days when I drank coffee because it was delicious and I savored the smell, taste, and ease of enjoying the cup. Remember those days, like back in high-school, when you had a daily planner and it had a few assignments in it for the day, maybe even a note on something you should start, but it’s due for two weeks? You could doodle in your planner or easily ink (not pencil) something in on a whim. Something that was truly something you wanted to do, that you enjoyed and filled you up.

My life is busy. I cringe every time someone asks me how I have been and my answer is, “good, busy.” Many wear the busy badge with honor. They love to talk about how many irons they have in the fire and all of things that keep them going a mile a minute. I love the days that I can say, “great, it’s been very relaxed lately. We’ve been able to enjoy a lot of family time, got outdoors a lot this fall and loved the foliage and crisp air. I’ve taken some time lately to invest in myself and found that writing is an outlet for me, something that really makes me feel inspired. I’ve been working on that in my spare time. And, YES, I have spare time and I’m proud of it!”

Ladies out there, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s ok to opt out of things in order to take care of yourself. You should be able to enjoy your morning coffee and not be running on an all day long coffee drip, no sleep, and a hand full of vitamins in place of meals. Forgive yourself for slowing down and not getting to every single little thing that you “could have done” completed.

Watch your kids laugh, catch that naughty smirk on your husband’s face, notice the changing of the leaves outside, light that candle, enjoy a glass of wine, go ahead and take that nap you so desperately need. Life is short, find the things that fill you up, not the things that make you busy and drain you.

Karla