Life Lessons

Finding Balance

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As we were driving to school I told Ry today that I am working on finding balance in my life. Mondays are especially crazy for me. I’m trying to understand if I should just lean in and push through it all or if there is something I’m missing that might help me strike a better balance in my life. I often wonder especially on Mondays when my stress levels are at their highest if there is in fact a better way.

She told me that there is a puzzle inside me and I need to work to fit all the pieces together and when I do, I will find peace. That finding new pieces to the puzzle can only be achieved by doing new things. She told me she’s sharing this with me because I’m honest, strong and I help people.

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It’s a strange feeling when your 6 year old child tells you something that is wise beyond her years and causes you to pause enough to journal and think about what puzzle pieces you might be missing in order to find that balance to make your life all fit. So this morning while waiting for a Monday meeting at one of my favorite coffee shops, I’m doing some self reflection. I’m thinking about what she said and wondering how I can better fit the pieces to my life. I want to question my own personal choices less but push myself more. I want to be a better mom, wife and human being. I want to enjoy life and I want to continue to work, live and dream with a passion. I don’t want to be a robot just going through the motions. I also wonder a lot about how I’m being tested, what lessons I have to learn and what it all really means.

I told my daughter she was a wise girl and what she said gave me chills. This sage advice is coming from a 6 year old. It’s not secret that I love my kiddo, but time and time again she fills up my cup, inspires me and most importantly gives me pause in how I am living.

 

Recipes

Watermelon Mint Cooler with Vanilla Vodka #Recipe

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Several weeks ago I traveled to Boston for work. It was my first trip to Beantown, and I took some time to escape from business meetings and spent an afternoon with my friend, Mira Greenland. She was my tour guide of beautiful Boston where we had drinks, food, laughs and walked the amazing Freedom Trail.

We walked, and walked and walked around this amazing city. To beautiful gardens, cemeteries filled with history and even stopped by for a quick picture at the bar that inspired one of my favorite shows of the early 90’s, Cheers.

 

me at Cheers

Where everybody knows your name…

 

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Creepy yet beautiful.

 

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The city at night captured my heart and I left with a full stomach after some amazing wine and gnocchi.

 

While the city was absolutely breathtaking, I very much enjoyed down time with my friend. We had cocktails, conversions and most importantly laughs away from the hustle and bustle of our lives as business executives. moms and wives. Quite randomly we ended up at a restaurant/bar for an hour or two before dinner where we enjoyed some wine and several amazing cocktails. One of which was a watermelon mint martini which I decided to re-create.

While I’m a fan of martinis, I wanted this cocktail to be versatile so I went with a cooler instead. It needs to be adult as well as kid friendly.  It goes from kid approved to adult friendly with just a touch of vanilla vodka which is exactly what Mira asked for when she ordered her customized watermelon martini.

I started with a medium sized watermelon and mint from the Barton Creek Farmer’s Market in Austin, Texas. I cut up the watermelon in cubes added them to a pitcher. From there, I added my mint, coconut water, sugar, limes and then the vanilla vodka for the adult friendly version.Mix well and refrigerate.

 

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The good thing about this cocktail is that it is almost like a sangria because it gets better and more concentrated with time. I made a double batch because I know that my daughter and husband will drink it while we enjoy our Austin, Texas, vacation by the pool and patio. I’m adding the vodka to my drink individually.

 

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Watermelon Mint Cooler Recipe

3 cups of cubed seedless watermelon

3 cups of water

2 limes squeezed

1/2 liter of coconut water

1/2 cups of sugar

1 cup of mint

Optional: 4 oz of vanilla vodka

Mix together in a pitcher. Add as much vanilla vodka as you wish. I like to keep things a little light, but how strong it is can be customized to you. I like to garnish with mint on the top. Enjoy with friends, by the pool or just because.

Forgo the vodka and these could double as popsicles for the kids. I like these kinds of homemade drinks and popsicles because you can control the fruit and sugar levels.

 

 

 

Life Lessons

New Beginnings Are Opportunities Not Endings

Last month I attended one of the two big conferences for my consulting business and blog. It was the first time in 6 years I attended the conference solo meaning no roommate, no bestie or person to hang or connect with during those down times. I walked into the hotel room the first night with just a weird uncomfortable feeling.

Those that know me know that I am a very reflective person. I do incredible amounts of research and evaluation before making a change. I feel in the most control by researching, planning and anticipating the change.

Research serves as my method of control, but it is not a guarantee. Sometimes but not often there are outcomes that I wasn’t prepared for. A quiet and reflective time allows for me to best work through the situation, challenge or problem and move forward with the change.

The uncomfortableness from the conference had me feeling not just vulnerable but I realized it also opened me up to new conversations, friendships and just random meetups that attending the conference with a crew, click or best friend would have kept me from happening. While I love my friendships, I think that they can be a huge barrier to new opportunities especially to someone like me.

Sometimes our friendships and business partnerships not only insulate us but also protect us not from the uncomfortableness but from possibility. And as I sat at the Las Vegas airport I realized that these industry friendships while wonderful and supportive are also keeping me from the opportunities that a meetup of 17,000 industry professionals might bring.

These friendships are most often a barrier not an ally to my business. They are hurting not just my business but are allowing me to protect myself from others and most importantly change.

It’s not just the conference that is bringing out change. My long time contract employee is moving on to what is an amazing opportunity for him. I knew he was moving on from the moment he sent me the text. While I wasn’t surprised,  it was the finality of it that sent me reeling. The unknown that lay ahead.

Opening myself up to new experiences and relationships led me to a fabulous late lunch meetup with someone I have respected for years but known little about. The conversation was well-worth the cost of the cab ride, but I wouldn’t have known that because my besties were influencing the decisions of who I should and should not be connecting which is completely ridiculous and silly. It’s just dumb really.

After not just surviving but thriving at the conference, I am reminded that I can do absolutely anything I set my mind to and while my business, my blog and just life might change, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And for the first time in a long time, I’m excited to mix things up, change up my business and do things my way. Instead of the way that others expect me to be or the way that I thought at the time would work best for me or the way that resulted from the advice I took from a friend.

Random Observations

Who I Am

2015 has been a year of growth for me. I’ve been meditating and listening to myself. I’m trying to understand why I get irritable, upset or just feel unbalanced. Equally important, I’m trying to better understand what drives me like my constant need for knowledge and information as well as the consistent feeling that I have to on the move and going forward like I’m being chased.

I’m often motivated by an injustice or a wrong. Someone pisses me off and tells me I can’t or doesn’t believe I can do something and it sets me down a path to prove them wrong. That’s how I launched my full time business. My boss fired me and I spent the next two years working to prove him wrong. I went so far as to send him an email telling him how his actions motivated and drove me to be the person I am today. It took a while but I moved from anger to acceptance to the realization that his actions helped me make a leap that forever changed me.

The flip side this always being on the move is exhausting. I’ve never been one to sit and take a breather especially once I escaped my old life. At no time will I ever feel as lost and just suffocated as when I was married to a domestic abuser with no way out. I appreciate every day, minute and second I have because I know I was close to being forever gone. I’m thankful and maybe that’s why I feel like I always have to be moving forward. I always have some new idea, project to do or just work. I am always busy.

One of my friends this week described me as “always hustling.” I try to pack a ridiculous amount in a small schedule. Sometimes it works, but tonight in particular I’m completely exhausted. I’m in Austin for a conference and meeting with a potential client. Instead of going out for networking, I’m in my hotel room writing, thinking, reflecting and sleeping. In truth I feel guilty because I might be missing out on an opportunity, but my body and mind is telling me I need the solitude so I’m listening.

I wonder if I will ever slow down. I wonder if what I am doing in running forward because I am subconsciously thinking about my old life. That I have to make up for those 7 years I lost. That I can’t slow down because I never know when it might be over and I want to squeeze every minute out of being me. I worry if all this hustle is keeping me from my daughter, my marriage and friends. I wonder if all this hard work is worth it or I should take some time to step back and just enjoy what I’ve built. Putter in my yard. Can for two weeks straight or just watch soap operas with no concern about the hours that I’m wasting away. In short, I believe there is more change for me on the way. Sometimes I just wish that changed involved a 6 month vacation, lots of margaritas and a beach where I can get away. I’d be okay with inheriting a bunch of money and doing a lot of shopping.

Except I know that even when I’m on vacation I’m still dreaming, thinking and most importantly writing. Even during my long weekend trip I will be taking photos for a client’s instagram and working through ideas that are marinating.  It’s nearly 10:00 PM and I’m here on my personal blog writing right now. I know I have something I need to work through. I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. I have some growing. I have a story to tell maybe just to myself that I need to work through. And maybe that will change as I become more self-aware and reflect. I sometimes envy those people who just dance through life. They keep with them only the shirt on the back and a smile on their face without a care in the world. My mind won’t let me follow that philosophy. It’s always churning, turning and creating. It’s the reason I’m at the hotel room instead of out and about sipping cocktails with conference attendees. I need time to listen to me in a room filled with silence. My project is me and I’m all in.

 

Review

Ludivine Restaurant Brings Food to Table Hipster to #OKC

Having been back in the South since the beginning of this school year on a semi-permanent basis, I’ve been venturing out with my husband to try more local fare. While we rarely eat out these days mostly because we love to cook, we decided to give Ludivine a try during a recent date night in Oklahoma City. I made sure using OpenTable to make my reservations for earlier in the week. The main restaurant space is quite cozy with an open kitchen. We were seated right in front of the kitchen where we watched the chef’s work together cooking and plating.

We started off with an exciting twist on the Moscow Mule called the Midtown Mule. It gives a nice homage to the original mule with mezcal, cilantro, lime, ancho chilies and ginger beer. The chilies give it a nice little kick. This was a great way to start things off immediately.

As a starter off with some pate which was delicious as well. I especially loved the pickled onions and of course the pate. Greg and I opted for the Chef’s Tastings which consisted of 4 courses plus desert. I was excited to have someone make selections for us and challenge us a bit by presenting us food in different ways. Our first course was a carrot curry rabbit soup which was colorful as it was tasty. I absolutely love the gamey taste of rabbit. Eating this course made me not regret the fact that I went for the Chef’s Tasting and not the rabbit risotto. Presentation was beautiful on this one. I loved everything about it from the micro greens to the blue willow saucers. It was perfection.  

The second course was a escargot and brown butter micro green salad. The butter just gave the escargot melt, and the only I was sad that I only had four on my plate.

I decided to mix things up upon the recommendation of our greeter who suggested I give the cocktail Bee Smash Kneecaps a try. I recommend you try it too. Almost like a lemon drop but with just the right amount of lavender, lemon, vanilla and vodka. For the third course, we received a blue fin cannoli with greens and tomato sauce. It was delicious but definitely not my favorite course of the night.

The fourth and final main course was a nice wagyu with a froiegras purse, fennel and beet greens. For me the wagyu was just a tad bit overcooked for my liking, but still good enough to clean the plate. I was extremely hesitant of the beet greens as beets are one of my least favorite childhood tortune devices vegetables growing up. Ludivine just might change this thinking.

Our desert was a blueberry shortcake with an amazing ice cream. We enjoyed it with a nice glass of Moscato di astri which I gave an Instagram #winerating of 9.0. I’ll be picking up this one for a home tasting shortly.

Greg and I were extremely impressed with our visit to Ludivine. Their fresh ingredients combined with their creativity and team of chef’s impressed us. In fact, we think it rivals most any San Francisco Bay area farm to table restaurant we have visited yet to date. Ludivine is located at 805 N. Hudson in Oklahoma City. I recommend using OpenTable to make an reservation. Ludivine has a four star Yelp rating which was surprising. The experience was 5 star with me. Read my Ludivine review on Yelp.

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