I like to be SNEAKY.

This pet peeve bothers me the most. It’s the one that shows the true colors of someone’s heart. I feel sad when I see people who are ungrateful, entitled, or unforgiving.

I am not perfect. I have very bad days. Even days where I fall into one of those categories. I can’t point to a day in my life that I could label as perfect. (Well.. with the exception of any moment with my son.) I wake up trying to be better than the day before. I usually fall short in some capacity and I’m okay with that.

The only thing I can confidently say is that I’m always trying. It’s not enough for some. But for the people who know me, it is.

Something that brings me a lot of joy is doing something to pay it forward. Out of nowhere. In secret and for the fun of it. Can you relate? Do you think about how fortunate you are and have the intention of giving back?

Our hectic daily lives can get in the way and cloud our minds. I’m so guilty of this. I have so many wonderful people in my life. In 2017, I’ve done my very best to keep a sense of gratitude at the forefront of my mind. There are days I have to write a “pro-con” list to get my mind right.

I want to share something that always brings me back. It’s sneaky. It’s a deck of cards. It’s exactly what I need. img_0400-2

Sneaky Cards can engage anyone. You. Your significant other. Your child. Co-workers. Sometimes we need a reminder to find the bright, lighthearted side of life. This is a good start.

Isn’t it fun to be a little sneaky?

For less than $10 on Amazon you can lift your spirits, set a good example for your family,  and do something good for a stranger.  That means giving up your Starbucks for two days. Just do it.

Dallas Life: Giving Life back to Dallas

This year I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous organizations that give back to our community. The best part for me aside from the act itself, is learning what led people to work so closely with a particular organization. Knowing the right questions to ask can give you amazing knowledge. 
This past weekend I volunteered at Dallas Life. Along for the ride were several members of the philanthropy committee we started this year. And let’s not forget my seven year old son who joined in as well. I’m so grateful I have such a phenomenal group around me this year. I know we wouldn’t be able to accomplish half of what we have without each of them.
Our task was simple. Sort the donations. We entered a giant warehouse like room. It was nothing fancy and filled with clothing and shoes for men, women, and children. We spent close to two hours removing the winter clothes from the hangers and tossing them into large bins. Where do the clothes go from there?
Our chatty and gracious guide, Tammy, thanked us repeatedly for coming out. I had more questions however. Where do the winter clothes go? I assumed they stored them in a room in the building only to pull them out next winter. I was wrong.
Tammy took us to the next room where hundreds of plastic bags sat waiting for a truck to haul them off. I couldn’t believe how many bags were there. Tammy explained that once the season was over, the clothing gets sent to another part of the country or world that needs them. The shoes specifically are sent to Africa. The clothing could go to Memphis or Mexico. It’s really about who is in need at that moment. 
From there she toured us around the basement of the facility showing us the supplies for the shelter. The toiletries, diapers, books, socks. All things we take for granted. The holiday supplies got to me. Can you imagine spending Easter at a homeless shelter with your small child? Tammy spoke of a little girl who was 4 years old. She currently lives at the shelter and is so tiny she needs 2T underpants. While Dallas Life is blessed with donations, most donors don’t consider a need for 2T underpants. Most two year old kids would have a greater need for pull-ups. This sweet 4 year old girl just wants underwear that fits her petite little body. And you could see the heart Tammy had for this child without her even saying a word. During our conversation Tammy also mentioned she had graduated from the program at Dallas Life. I have a feeling she’s a very strong woman with a big heart trying to give back to an organization that was there for her during a very tough time.
My son helped a lot that day. He was patient and willing. At the end of the day Tammy, offered to let him pick a stuff animal from the hundreds they’ve had donated. At first I was reluctant because after all, another child surely needed it more. After Tammy insisted, I backed down. Tammy was right. My son did need that stuffed animal. Only not in the way another child might. It was has been a reminder of how fortunate we are. On our way home, I asked him how he felt. He replied, “Happy and Sad, Mommy. I feel happy I was able to help. But I feel so sad that anyone has to go there.” I could see him processing his conflicting feelings as he looked out the window. 
I know it’s called Dallas Life. However, they are reaching a lot further than Dallas. The shoes are sent to Africa. The unused clothing is sent anywhere in the world there is a need. It has put my life into perspective and hopefully yours as you read this. In the few hours I was there I saw many people in and out of a chapel to pray, people walking into an AA meeting, and men receiving haircuts from a barber. They’re simply giving life back to many people in Dallas. 
For more on how you can help Dallas Life, Click here. 

Salon Avalon: Aveda Product Review

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Aveda products! I’m convinced I’ve tried everything at least once. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to attend Salon Avalon’s invitation to attend their “Blogger Soirée” event! As I entered a host of people with the most enviable hair greeted me with smiles and wine. (….well played, Salon Avalon!) I had the opportunity to enjoy many great products. The swag was amazing and I can’t wait to give you the scoop so that you don’t end up with drawers full of unused products. 

I used to hesitate at the thought of using hairspray. I need it but picking up the wrong bottle can leave you smelling like cheap a fragrance or feeling like helmet head. Gross. Aveda’s witch hazel hairspray smells amazing! It’s so perfect you’ll wish it was a perfume! 
What’s even better is it gives you the perfect look by taming those pesky flyways without your hair feeling “gunky.” It never fails to give me the perfect texture and make me feel like I’m having the best hair day. 

The product claims to “provide light hold, reduce static and eliminate fly-aways.” and “provide the tonic quality of witch hazel while boosting shine.” Its true! It’s the best $22 spent. Don’t forget to follow Adventures with Alley as I review the rest of the swag bag!

Sip, Swab, & Save a Life with the DJCC!

Click here for original publication by the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce

For our March Happy Hour we had the honor of working with DKMS, an international non-profit organization with the tagline “We Delete Blood Cancer”.
DKMS partnered with the DJCC Happy Hour to provide the opportunity to swab members’ cheeks to register into the DKMS bone marrow registry.

“It’s not everyday one gets presented with an opportunity to potentially save a life, let alone with such ease. The swabbing process was surprisingly fast and far from inconvenient. I have to say, I felt very proud knowing that I would potentially make an invaluable difference in a person’s life someday”.
-Derek Brisson

The Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce had the honor of partnering with DKMS at our “Sip & Swab” event during our happy hour at Mac’s Southside this past month. When partnering with an organization with such an amazing cause, it’s easy to become consumed with the idea of saving a life. The philanthropy committee worked for weeks to ensure all of the details were taken care of. We’re incredibly proud to say our hard work paid off! The Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce registered a total of 22 bone marrow donors!

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the DKMS organization. More specifically, our event representative, Judith Garcia, is top notch. She walked us through the process from the very beginning. Her passion for her work is unmatched and contagious.
A big takeaway for me personally was seeing the uneasiness of some of our guests when chatting to them about donating. We registered 22 people as bone marrow donors, but we raised awareness to so many more people that evening. Many people I spoke to that evening knew very little about the process and what it can truly do for someone in­ need. It was incredible to see so many genuine and surprised faces when they learned the options for being a bone marrow donor.

Spirit Person

I love a picture that can make me feel reflective, free, and just happy. In this new age I hear people refer to their spirit animal. I think I have a spirit person. Do you have that one person that no matter where you are in life the second you share airspace with them you just feel better? Even if you thought you felt great before, they make you feel better. It’s so great you may think it’s too good to be true. 
A heart of gold. A friend who truly brightens up inside when they see you happy is priceless. I’m 32 and I think I just now have that. Having a friend who makes you have the kind of fun where you feel half of your age while doing nothing at all.  

The timing of life events can be quite comical. My “spirit person” recently had the most amazing thing happen at the time my life was falling apart. As much as I wanted to feel sorry for myself I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the true joy I had for her. The joy for her overshadowed any self pity brewing. I know what she’s been through, how hard she has worked, and how much she deserves every single good thing life can offer her. 
It’s sometimes difficult to not let the dark clouds engulf you. But rising above it all is so much more rewarding. And it’s simply just a happier place to live. 

The Accidental Blogger

I never thought I’d be asked to be on a panel of bloggers. Life has been quite interesting lately. Quite honestly… life is exciting! 

When I was asked to be part of the panel I thought, “Wow! They must be pretty desperate.” The more I thought about it the more it actually made sense. I believe I fall into the category of the “accidental blogger.”

My reason for blogging started solely for the purpose of healing myself. I knew that in order to heal I had to face some very personal and painful realities head on. What better way to be accountable than to make it available for the world to read?

My experience as part of the panel was all positive. I was by far the most amateur blogger. This meant I was able to learn a lot from my fellow panelists. It was interesting to hear their process of making their thoughts come to life. I quickly realized my initial reason for beginning my blog was different than theirs. I was able to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. While my intentions for sharing my experiences are pure and simple, I have room for improvement if I hope to reach more people. Truth be told I figured out how to properly hashtag about 6 months ago. I often publish posts that aren’t categorized meaning I haven’t attached a hashtag and no one will ever find my post. I also realized the value of releasing posts on a consistent basis. Having readers who can rely on getting the goods on a particular day can foster their loyalty to you. 

I’m glad I was involved in the panel. Most importantly, I’m thankful I was able to learn from others on how to be a better blogger. I respect the opinions of the other bloggers. We all have reasons for what we do and things that matter to us. I did have a different opinion than a panelists and I wish we had time to explore that. We were asked what tips we had for those just beginning to blog. A panelist explained that she felt you should know yourself, your brand, and what you stand for before beginning your blog. My experience has been the exact opposite. I feel like the niche that I’ve found myself in is owning the fact that I have nothing figured out and that life has low points and we’ve all been there. I’m being vulnerable by letting the world know that I’m figuring out this next phase of my life one moment at a time. 

The event was well organized, lighthearted, yet informative. It was great seeing the different motivators and stages in the process. It was a great night with great people!

“My life, my life has to be like this. It has to keep going up.”

It seems like an eternity since I scribbled down my thoughts. My dark tunnel turned out to be the passage to unveil a beautiful period in my life. I once heard someone say, “Things are replaceable but people and relationships aren’t.” I thought I had a grip on what that meant but I was wrong. 

I have a few very special people that have walked into my life recently. They have given me grace when I haven’t deserved it. They have offered it just because they are good souls. They’ve listened when I have cried or complained and been at my most vulnerable. They’ve held me when I had no idea how I would pick up the pieces. I recognize that not everyone is so fortunate. This is a thank you to each one of those people. Little do they know how much they have renewed my faith in people during an otherwise dark time for me. 

My son is the person I owe the biggest thank you to. He’s the reason I refused to crawl into that big dark hole to throw the most extravagant pity party you can imagine. His heart is so pure and kind. 

I’m so excited for life right now. I’m amazed when I think back on where I was even two months ago. I think it speaks to how amazing the people around me are. They are forgiving and understanding beyond measure. I’m the busiest I’ve ever been both professionally and personally. I’m often tired but I don’t remember the last time I was so happy and had so many things to be proud of. I think it’s easy to agree when you hear some cliche about people and relationships not being replaceable. But being at your worst and having people who show up and unknowingly elevate you to your very best is a pretty incredible and humbling experience. 

Here’s the truth. 

I’ve glanced back at my previous posts and they’ve been pretty sappy. I have read each of them 10 times (at least) to find perspective and I still get a little teary on a few of them. Reflection can be quite a roller coaster. 

The truth is that this is a form of therapy for me. A place to be honest. And the honest truth is that I’m going through a difficult season. 

My primary focus is my son. Making sure I make it to work everyday and look put together and smile is all the world should expect some days. Another truth is that accomplishing those simple things is truly my very best some days. 

The unraveling of a life you once thought would be shared with someone is painful. No matter who’s fault, the reasons why, or the amount of support you have will make the heartbreak seem like less of a failure.

And yes, it is that stressful and painful. 

The specifics do not matter. What does matter is that my son will pull through this. Anyone who knows him, knows I’m right. And I will make it through this just fine. In fact, I’ll be better. I’ll be better because this is one more life experience I’ll navigate only to help someone else through later. One less person to pass judgement on them. One more ear to listen. I’ll be one more hug they’ve been dying to feel.

I’m gradually accepting this new season. I’m finding the rainbow. I’m throwing myself into things that used to scare me yet I’ve had passion for. 

I’m typically not a mantra type of gal. But I keep having the same phrases race through my mind. BE HUMBLE. BE GRATEFUL. I promise, when you think the good in life has left you in the dark… someone else’s life is darker. Colder. Lonelier. Being humble and grateful can mean the difference of being in a rut and living your life in a valley.  

My Visit to Jonathan’s Place:Break the Cycle, Not Her Heart.

Some of you may know I’m involved with the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce. I honestly had no idea what I was signing up for. My life recently has had some serious stress that I can’t control. What I did know is that I needed something positive to put my energy into. (Cue Beyonce’s “I’m a Survivor” anthem.) Along with the position came a lot of responsibility. Philanthropy is something our community needs. But what I think about most is who won’t be helped if I fail or don’t try hard enough. 

This feeling was intensified when I paid a visit to Jonathan’s Place. Our organization has worked with them many times but being a new face I felt I needed to really absorb what they did first hand. I got more than a brief tour and a counselor telling me they need construction paper and bed sheets.

The first building we entered was the home of 7 young girls. The girls who live there have endured traumatizing sexual abuse. Stories I can’t repeat. Stories that shook me to my core and gave me chills. We all know this is happening, even in our backyard. What I wasn’t prepared for was to be standing in this beautiful girls bedroom and to stare at her precious face in photos as I heard how her innocence had been taken from her repeatedly. 

She’s beautiful. Her smile is bright. I could almost hear her laughter. Yet I know the pain she’s hiding from the world. She wakes up every morning and attends public school. She sits next to a “normal” girl who has a “real” home to go to when the bell rings. That “normal” girl doesn’t fear being an object to a monster that should love and protect her. She goes home to a house full of other girls who share her same tragic story.

So often this story repeats itself. I witnessed this during my visit. I walked through the emergency shelter. I saw two children. A boy and a girl. The little girl was probably about 2. I asked about their stories. I was told about the boy’s life. He was beautiful and reminded me of my own son. The little girl was just as wonderful. I heard her story shortly before her mother walked in. I was told the little girl’s mother was a 16 year old who lives in the house I had just toured. A mother at 14. She had been raped repeatedly by a family member. She sought love in all the wrong places and became pregnant. This is the cycle Jonathon’s Place is dedicated to breaking.

I’m so glad I visited Jonathan’s Place. I’m hopeful as I make plans this year for our organization that I remember those stories. After all, that’s what it’s about. Being a voice for those can’t speak for themselves. Making a difference by pulling together as a community. It’s so convenient for many of us to fly through life without realizing the pain some people face. I’ve been guilty myself. 

For more information about Jonathan’s Place and how you can help, check out: http://www.jpkids.org

Reset Your Humble Gauge.

There are evenings I look at my tired self in the mirror and want to write the phrase “STAY HUMBLE” in red lipstick on the mirror. I’m hoping it will leave a stain that I can’t seem to get rid of no matter how many times I find an amazing Pinterest pin declaring it will completely remove lipstick from a mirror. Why? Because I never want to forget to be humble.

Let’s be honest. I’m tired. I’m really tired.

hosHowever, I am never too tired to pry my eyes open for “One more story”, “Mommy, please sing sunshine song again.” I salute you too, Moms. You are doing the same thing. Every. Single. Night. Your daily schedule is likely different from mine but we are all moms. Do not let anyone tell you that your day is any easier, less complicated, more cushioned than theirs. The reality is that every one of us magically gets the day done only to lay our tired heads on a pillow. We all fall asleep praying that this wasn’t the day we didn’t do enough, love enough, or pay enough attention. Just stop it. It was enough.

I’ve been in a room of others mom’s before and thought, “I have nothing in common with any of these women.” My perspective was wrong. Common ground is all you need. We each pray for our babies to be healthy and happy. It’s simple. We are each doing our very best for our children.

I’ve never been a new year’s resolution kind of girl. I have never understood why I can’t just decide something is right for me and do it. However, I feel differently this year. I want to be consistently humble.

Last month I randomly went to tidy up the restroom my son uses. I’ll admit, I used to become slightly irritated for what I found. Often I’d find that he hadn’t put his towel up, imagehad wasted the ENTIRE tube of newly purchased toothpaste to paint the mirror, or that he thought it was super cool to decorate the bathroom with a roll of toilet paper.

This particular evening was different. I checked out of my day for a moment and sat there. I saw a shower curtain halfway closed. I felt proud he tried to close it on his cute tippy toes. I saw bath toys randomly everywhere. I felt grateful I was blessed with a child with a creative mind. I saw toothpaste in the sink where he had drawn a heart for me to find. I found toothpaste splattered on the mirror. I felt relieved I didn’t have to ask him to take some initiative. Oddly enough, I left that bathroom more humbled and grateful than I had anywhere else in my life in a very long time. I savored each page of the story book that night. I sang our special “Sunshine Song” until I saw his sweet face fall asleep. I sat there wondering if he would ever truly know how much he’s taught me.

yardSince that evening, I’ve felt more grateful for many people in my life. I’ve recognized just how great people can be. Perhaps it’s always been there but resetting my “humble gauge” has given me a renewed heart that is incredibly grateful. Each of us know how challenging
parenting can be. I can also attest to how difficult juggling life can be. I’m learning to really savor the reality that I am guiding my son through life. However, we will forever be educating each other as we navigate each phase of life. And that is the most beautiful and humbling gift I could ever receive.