A Quest for Peace

2018 is here but I’ll be writing 2017 until June as per the usual. If you stumbled upon my blog in 2017, you know it was a hell of a year for me. Most of it I was in the dreaded “fake it till you make it phase.” I made it. Sometimes barely but I’m here and standing.
There are good people that unfortunately got the worst of me. I owe apologies to some of you. I think life has finally leveled out for me. I was blessed enough to wrap up the year with a life changing trip to Africa over Thanksgiving. And boy, did it ever change my life. But now what?
I want peace. 
But what does that mean exactly? It likely has a different definition for each of us. Having peace from struggles and bondage we manage to walk through life with will be different. We’re all human. We all fail. I think failing forward is something to celebrate though.
Why do I want peace?
I came out of the womb struggling. Literally. The cord was wrapped around my neck. I’m stubborn so I managed to wedge my foot in between the cord and my neck. That likely saved my life. That same perseverance has saved my life both physically and emotionally time and time again.
I want peace so badly because I finally felt it in Africa. I’ve never felt it so powerful and obvious. I vividly remember a moment where I stood at the top of a hill at a school. With my back turned to instruments being played, singing and laughter, I took in the greenest rolling hills I’d ever seen.  I was finally alone. Tears filled my eyes because I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of peace. Excluding the absence of my son, I could have taken a one way ticket and stayed until my welcome was worn out.
Let me paint a more clear picture. This is day four of our journey. At this point I had spent days feeling guilty for where I was blessed enough to rest my head each night. I had a clean pillow and a mattress. I had windows. A lock on my door. And an actual toilet. I had just gifted a child I connected with a mosquito net. When she realized what was happening she gave me the most fierce hug I had ever felt.
How do I get that peace? Here. In America. In Dallas.
What I’m finding is in our busy lives here, it’s more about evaluating what is in our lives first. Personally, I can’t possibly add in something else to my life without removing some things. Ask yourself a few questions. Is this bringing me joy? Peace? How is it enriching my life? If you don’t have a valid response, opting out of it may not be a bad option. Let’s take social media as an example. (Ironic I know since I’m writing a blog that is shared via social media… stay with me though.) If you removed yourself from all social media, do you think you would be as connected to your current group of loved ones or friends? What percentage of the relationship is part of the “fakebook” world? I’m not dissing social media as much as it may seem.  It’s more of a personal inventory. Am I pouring my energy into what I should in my life? If I answer honestly, no. No I’m not.
What’s the plan?
My plan is simple. Delete my social media for one month. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. After one month I’ll write about what I’ve learned, what I miss about it, and how it’s affected my life mentally, physically and spiritually. I plan to spend more time taking care of myself. More time in prayer and reflecting on where I am. Sitting in silence and taking in life isn’t a bad thing. It’s often quite difficult to do for this small town girl in a big city. I’m always on the go as I juggle being a single mom, employee, friend, and my sometimes nonexistent love life. However, I think if I just slow down and take in what’s actually happening in my life, I’ll find more of what brings peace to the world around us that so many of us miss daily.

Thoughtful Thursday: 26 Days

It’s been 26 days.

photo226 days since I closed my front door and fell apart because I wouldn’t see the better part of myself for 30 days. I’ve almost made it. Only 3 more days to go! I’ll be back to complaining because he didn’t really brush his teeth and nagging him to put his dishes in the dishwasher. I can’t wait for him to ask me to read just one more story or have that stinky boy smell back in my house. I have a feeling it’ll smell a little sweeter.

As I reflect on what I’ve done with myself this month, I realize how busy I’ve purposely made myself. If you judge my life during the month of July solely by my social media you will be deceived. I know I used a lot of my free time for good. I volunteered, worked towards goals personally and professionally, had a lot of meetings, and spent more time with friends than I probably will the rest of the year combined. My social media profiles look like I’ve had the time of my life in July! Another reason why many people call it “Fakebook.”


Don’t get me wrong, my friends are amazing. I’m so grateful! I have a lot of really amazing things happening in my life right now. But there hasn’t been a second go by that I didn’t know how long he’s been gone and how many days until he comes home.I’ve had to stay busier than ever to keep myself from being so sad that I bury my face in tacos and ice cream. (Not that there’s a single thing wrong with that!) I’ve had to keep his bedroom door shut. I waited until this past weekend to do all of his laundry. I wonder if I will ever get used to this?
If I hear one more parent tell me, “Oh that sounds amazing! How nice to have a break!” I will scream. You have no idea. It’s not amazing to not know if your child is okay. It’s awful. It’s pretty helpless and exhausting to go a month without a hug from your little. This isn’t a situation where they are off to camp for a week.
I can’t wait to get back to eating popsicles and building pillow forts. Perhaps the silver lining of my lonely July is that I have a reminder every year that I’m truly so fortunate to have a child as magical as mine.

Don’t forget to submit your thoughts to info@adventureswithalley.com 
to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!

Thoughtful Thursday 

“Learn to be thankful for what you have while pursuing what you want.”

2017 has been a year full of change. I set out with the goal to be humble and grateful regardless of the many changes I have been adjusting to. Without a doubt, this year I have been more aware of the need to be vocal to those I appreciate. Overall, I’ve made a conscious effort to be grateful for the daily things that make life so great. 

Don’t forget to tell people how much you appreciate them. It takes just a moment but lift their spirits in a way you didn’t know they needed.

Don’t forget to submit your thoughts to be featured on Thoughtful Thursday!

I Like To Be Scared.

Weird title, right?

It’s true. Perhaps I’m just weird.

Being scared represents a lot to me. It means I’m out of my comfort zone. It takes a lot to make me feel like I’m outside of my comfort zone. I’ve never been in a “zone” long enough to feel comfortable. Perhaps some of you may understand it when I say that feeling uncomfortable makes me scared because I realize how much it takes to get me there.

The topic of my life right now is Uganda, Africa. I can’t explain why my heart was 110% there the moment the opportunity presented itself. The reality is that I can’t explain most of the amazing things that have happened to me the last 6 months. I’m just humbled.

Why do I want to go?! There’s this intangible factor that I’ll never be able to articulate. I just have to. This is something I can’t work hard enough on. I can’t talk about enough.  The potential impact we can have on the lives of the people we will visit is constantly on my mind. The collective group I’m traveling with have contacts and a platform with resources that can be used for so much good. It’s a sense of responsibility that I’m gladly willing to accept.

I’m scared. I’m scared I won’t make it back. I’m scared I’ll leave my son without a mother and he will forever wonder why children I had never met were worth the risk. I’m scared that I’ll be so physically exhausted from the 16 flight to Dubai, 24 hour layover, and another 6 hour flight, and the unknown ride from the Uganda airport to our destination that I’ll be worthless. That I’ll essentially provide nothing of value to those who will be chanting from afar in anticipation of our arrival. I’m scared that I come back only to realize I’m infected with some horrible disease that leaves me in a bubble forever. (Dramatic, right?)

I’m scared. I like it. I like that I’m doing something so out of my comfort zone yet I find it so rewarding that I’m doing it. I like that I have this much passion for something nuggetoutside of my daily life, my city, my state and my country. I like that I’m bringing awareness of the world beyond the beautiful lives many of us lead in Dallas.

I feel very responsible. I feel responsible to find a way to make sure the organization that provided the opportunity for this trip to be possible to feel as connected and involved as possible. It may not be easy to accomplish but I think about it more often than most may realize.

I’ll feel sick. I’ve been researching and talking to those who have made a similar trip. Thank goodness I have 4 months and 27 days until I leave. The immunizations required will likely make me feel like shit. There are multiple shots that have some rather unsavory side effects. Prophylactic drugs before, during, and after for Malaria. Typhoid and Hepatitis A for any disease spread through food or water. Yellow Fever that is spread through Mosquitos.  I still haven’t flenched. I’m going.

This evening there was a membership meeting with the organization that has indirectly afforded me this opportunity. As the Vice President of Philanthropy, during the meeting I speak for a couple of minutes to outline what events we have coming up and how members can become involved. It’s customary to mention donation sorting or a local soup kitchen. Doing similar events in our local community are crucial and deserve more attention than they receive. However, tonight was different. I’ve never spoken up to ask someone to stop me if I ran over my allotted time. I’ve never had ugkidmore conviction in the topic I presented. I have a tendency to not take compliments or praise very well. Yet tonight when I told the brief story about how the organization brought me to the radio station the day I heard the men from Uganda tell their story and how it has ultimately led to me visiting Uganda, I couldn’t help but encourage the excitement in the room. When I finished the sentence, “So I’m going to Uganda for 10 days in November.” the group began to clap. It was so incredibly unexpected and warm.  I couldn’t believe it. I really felt in that moment how proud everyone else was that we were able to do this. WE. Rather than clap, we could have given each other a high five and had a dance party. For once I didn’t shy away from it. I actually said, “YES! Clap! This is worth celebrating! It’s amazing!”

Mom, the risks are there. I know.

I’m with incredible people. Our safety is priority. We are going about this in the best and safest way possible. I’m so proud of what we are doing. I’m so proud to have an opportunity to show my son what giving back means on a global level. I am so proud that I have a seven year old son who is irritated that he can’t go help his mommy in that country that “starts with a U.” I’m not just talking the talk. I’m walking the walk. I can’t think of a more meaningful life lesson to give him.

Popsicles & Pillow Forts

This morning I woke up with a first grader. By lunch I had a second grader. In between the carpool lane and the chair in my office, I teared up. It wasn’t because I’m worried I didn’t take enough photos or didn’t attend a field trip. It’s because I’m just so damn proud. I’m proud of both of us. 

Our faces should be the number one image when you google “resilience.” We’re a team. I’m the ketchup to his nugget. The ranch to his pizza. What an incredible year we have had! I can’t be more thankful for the village of people in our unlikely yet magical bubble in Dallas. People can be amazing. 

My goal this year is to remain humble and grateful. At the halfway mark, I feel on target! I love our life and the people we hold close to our hearts. I’m proud of how we’ve navigated this year. I’m humbled by how much grace has been shown. So many of you who barely know us have individuality and privately reached out to show your love, concern, and generosity with your heart and we cannot begin to thank you enough. 

Life is amazing, full, warm, and just blessed in infinite ways. My life is so busy. When my son falls asleep, I always sneak in to just look at him. In those moments my life slows down and I’m in absolute awe. It’s those beautiful moments where a sleeping little boy is capable of showing me a world of love that no one else can. If anyone deserves a superhero cape, it’s him. 

This summer I’m looking forward to sleeping in on Friday, too much time at the pool, lots of orange popsicles, pillow forts that take over our house for days, staying up too late, and being guilty of too many snuggle parties with one very cute little boy. 

I really love summer.

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.

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.

“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.  

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.