One big reason we are stressed during the holidays is we have no idea what to buy those people in our lives who seem to have everything they need.
Somewhere along the way, I got off track with social media. On the one hand, social media has great benefits including staying in touch across the miles, promoting your business and finding a new job. But there is a balance one should maintain, and I, during the last two years especially, was doing a terrible job of pulling back when I should.
My first social media account was on MySpace. I know I am dating myself! As everyone knows, MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook, which I joined in mid-2008, four years after it launched, hesitant to go where I thought only college students tread. Other social media formats followed, and it was not long before we were Tweeting, Pinning, Snap Chatting and Instagramming with people far and near.
I created a business page on Facebook, and I joined Twitter as a means of raising my business profile for my new career in image consulting. It worked. By late 2010, I was receiving business from Google searches. Pinterest swept me into its arms in 2011, and I built boards geared at educating clients and keeping myself on top of trends. I joined Instagram in 2013, mostly to maintain a presence to avoid looking like a dinosaur. One must keep up!
I spent a good amount of time building a following across these four platforms, in addition to my personal business website and my blog. The time I spent on social media was mostly reasonable, and it rarely eclipsed the day-to-day work required of a small business. By 2014, my business was on a roll. I was speaking at least once per quarter and working with a steady stream of personal clients. I give a lot of props to social media for this momentum.
Yet, after our move to Seattle in January 2015, I became depressed and I collapsed into social media as an escape. The mere idea of starting over in a new city drained me of all energy, and I spent more and more time immersed in a world of highlight reels.
My husband tried to talk to me about my social media use on a few occasions, and each time I became defensive. I was homesick, and I missed my friends. Seeing them on social media was my way of being with them. On a deeper level, I was angry at my husband for this big change, and retreating into social media was one way I could punish him. What I realize now is I was punishing myself by missing out on life with my family. I was often choosing social media over them. The happy moments occurring right under my nose were going unnoticed and unappreciated.
Social media, at first an innocent escape, became a robber in my life. It robbed me of time, motivation, confidence and joy. When I finally decided to pull my head out of my rear and examine my social media use, I realized my husband was right and I was wrong. He was not asking me to give up social media. He understands the benefit of it for my business. He was simply asking for more of me at the appropriate times.
The solution that worked for my husband and me is we drew up a schedule of when neither of us would be on social media at all. With a few slips here and there, we have stuck to it. The things I need to do for my brand marketing are easily condensed, and I am feeling much more engaged with my husband and my kids. Further, I am reading more, working out again, and doing other things that bring me happiness and fulfillment, like writing.
If you are struggling to pull back from your phone, here are a few tips:
- Set a time schedule of when you will or won’t be on social media.
- Keep a log of when you are on social media, and write down the reasons you are using it. Escaping occasionally into social media is fine. Escaping for several hours per day when there is important work to do is not okay.
- Ask your partner how he/she feels about your social media use, and adjust where needed. It might enhance (or save) your relationship.
- Remember your social media feed is not real life. If you feel you are missing out, you are. Look up from your phone and observe the world around you. Don’t miss it!
Honestly, I have struggled with low self-worth and marginal self-confidence since moving to Seattle two and a half years ago. I have worked my entire adult life, pulling in a decent paycheck to cover my expenses plus a few extras. Now that I am the new girl in a city where I have few friends with a business that is relatively unknown, I am making about zero. Although I am taking excellent care of my family, I am equating my business net worth with my personal self-worth. I know this is the wrong way of viewing it, but it is a difficult mindset to alter.
I was recently asked to attend a $150 per plate (suggested donation) luncheon for the second year. I am new to Seattle, and although this is a hefty sum for my business, I accepted because, me forever being the optimist, you never know who you will meet and the connections you might make.
My table captain texted me the day of the event telling me she had oversold the table by one and that I would be sitting nearby. I was not bothered because I knew I could make good connections regardless of where I sat. I arrived uncharacteristically early to see I was not only one of the first to my table, but I was also sitting at the table of my original table captain. Great!
I settled in and I began chatting with each person as they arrived. I was delighted to see one lady I recognized from last year, and I waved and smiled as I drawled, “Heeeey!!!” across the table. I was having a nice time!
About five minutes before the program was to begin, I noticed a small hubbub off to the side. My table captain and another lady were speaking to each other. Suddenly, my table captain asked me from across the table if I would move so this other lady could sit down. I was stunned and embarrassed. I quietly told the gentleman seated to my left I was being asked to move, and I quickly gathered my belongings and vacated the seat.
As I sat one table over in my new seat, I was rattled and hurt. The little self-worth I had remaining was spent. I felt tears welling up despite telling myself not to be upset. That’s when I knew I had to leave to avoid making a scene. As discreetly as I could, I left with my $150 check still in my wallet, and I cried in my car all the way home. As I recounted the story to my husband that evening, I cried some more.
To be made to feel you are not welcome, not good enough or not important hurts beyond description. To be fair to my table captain, her actions were not a personal attack. She was simply accommodating those who had been long-time supporters at this event. However, I was taught one makes the newcomer feel the most welcomed of all.
Because I am an optimist and I look for lessons in the trials of life, here are three things I took away from this difficult day:
- Know your place at the table. You may not be good enough to be at one person’s table, but you sit at the head of your own table and you have the seat of honor at many tables of those around you. One person’s opinion of you does not define you.
- Keep saying yes. Do not allow one bad experience to send you into hiding. Keep your head up, remain true to yourself and continue to accept invitations that come your way. Keeping your heart open is a vulnerable position, but closing your heart is damaging to you and to those around you.
- Remember the lesson when it’s your turn. One day I will be the table captain so to speak. That will be my opportunity to handle the situation differently, making all in my company feel as though they are the most important person in the room.
Parting thought: If one day you are asked to move (either literally or figuratively), my advice would be to do so quietly and gracefully, holding onto the knowledge that you are valuable beyond measure.
Roughly 20 years ago, I saw photos of the San Juan Islands in a travel story. I was nothing short of mesmerized by the natural beauty of a part of our country, which, to that point, I didn’t know existed. It looked like another world, not the United States. The San Juans have been on my “must visit” list ever since. Little did I know I would one day be living less than a half day’s journey from them!
For the twins’ Spring Break this year we packed our bags for Friday Harbor on the largest island, San Juan. Their friends were bragging about travel plans to Palm Springs and other sunny destinations, which made me feel a little guilty, admittedly. We were basically taking the twins on a week-long nature hike, but we know our kids. They may have preferred to be in Disneyland, but they love the outdoors.
Here are our favorites from our trip
Roche Harbor – a short drive from Snug Harbor Resort, where we stayed, this village is quite charming, complete with a little white church and brick-paved streets. We dined at McMillin’s in Roche Harbor later in the week, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, not to mention tasty food.
English Camp – even a long-time (50+ years) American history professor (my dad) had never heard of this “conflict” between the British and the United States, which all began with the killing of a pig in 1859. What ensued was an argument between the two countries over who owned the San Juans. This stand-off dragged on for 12 years until in 1871 the boundary issue was placed in the hands of Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany for arbitration. Thanks, Wil! The camp sits on Garrison Bay, and the hikes around the property are easy and scenic. A visit to the cemetery where 7 British men are buried is worth the walk (across the road).
Lime Kiln Point State Park and light house – we read this spot was our best bet for seeing whales, short of a whale-watching tour, and if we had brought binoculars, we would have had a great view of a group of orca swimming far off the shore. Darn it! We will know better next time. This park includes a nice hike along the water to a beach/bay full of driftwood and rocks. Just beware of a sharp cliff near the whale-watching sign not far from the light house. After I wrote a letter of concern to the park, they have agreed to install warning signs of the cliff danger.
American Camp – situated on the south end of the island (English camp is on the north side), we were astounded by the vast open land here. The drive to American camp looks like the English countryside. We would have enjoyed more time for exploring, but the kids were wearing down by this point of the trip.
Jakle’s Lagoon – two ladies at a local winery told us to take the twins here, and we were not disappointed. The short hike to the lagoon was very pretty through dense trees, and the beach is long, rocky and full of driftwood. A driftwood fort had been built by previous visitors, and we had fun adding to it.
We look forward to returning and to visiting the other islands, as well. We promised the twins next time we will ride horses and drive scooters. They love those ideas (but they remain curious about Palm Springs).
(All photos are my own.)
I will preface this blog by saying I am not an expert in raising a child. I have 6-year old twins, but this by no means makes me an authority. I read one or two books on caring for a baby before the birth of mine, and that was it.
I was asked by a soon-to-be mom for my motherhood advice. I proffered what was on my mind. She loved it. So, I thought I’d share it on my blog for others who may appreciate it, as well.
- Don’t go it alone. We’ve all heard “it takes a village” to raise a child. Truer words were never spoken. Don’t try to do everything yourself. If others offer to help you, let them. You will need breaks, and you will need extra hands. Find a mom group in your community for advice and support, for play dates, and, most importantly, for Mom’s Night Out!
- Trust your instincts. You will be amazed at things you will “just know” because you are their mom even when they cannot tell you what is bothering them. You will learn to read their cries and their moods. However, call the pediatrician and nurses as much as you need to. You will need their guidance.
- The baby phase goes fast. Try to enjoy it, but it is okay if you sort of hate it sometimes, too. There will be days when you are over all of it. That is fine, and that is normal. (See point #1 about Mom’s Night Out.)
- Feed your baby however you need to. Advice on breast feeding changes constantly. Do what you can and do what feels right to you and your baby. Each situation and baby is unique. If breast feeding doesn’t work out for you, your baby will be fine! I pumped milk for seven months for my twins and guess what? Once they started crawling, they were sick all the time, and they pretty much stayed sick until two months ago. I am sure I gave them good nutrients, but do not put a lot of pressure on yourself to make it work.
- Your life will be messy and disorganized. This includes your schedule, your house and don’t get me started on Mommy Brain. It’s real. Just know that one day you won’t have bottles spread all over your kitchen counter, or diapers filling up your trash. You will get back to a new normal, which will still be a bit chaotic and messy, but not as much as the baby phase.
- You will be a GREAT mom. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I am a horrible mother,” either from other women or inside my own head. No, we are not horrible. In fact, we are fantastic. Do not feed yourself negative talk ever. You will have your own strengths as a mother. They may not be the same as your mom’s nor will they be exactly like those of other moms around you. But your child will think you are THE best mom ever. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
Have fun, be yourself, don’t compare, and by all means, sleep as much as possible!
(Photos of Nathan & Vivien as infants by Dahlia & Daisies Designs.)
About two months ago, my six-year old daughter asked to have her shoulder-length hair cut like her brother’s hair (quite short). I waited a few weeks before making the appointment for her, periodically checking to see if she still wanted to do. Yes, she was firm. I talked her away from Nathan’s super short cut, however. My advice was to do a more feminine style: a pixie like Michelle Williams. I showed her a few photos on Pinterest. She liked them and agreed.
I am in the business of helping people refine their personal image. It is my job to make sure my clients look like who they are and what they do. My daughter is a tomboy and she hates me to do anything with her hair (no pony tails, no braids, no barrettes, etc.). While a pixie is amazingly well-suited to her face shape and bone structure, it is also the perfect cut for a sensible, slightly boy-ish young lady!
I asked my personal hair stylist, Julianna of Bocz Salon (photographed below with Vivien), to do the cut. I didn’t trust anyone else to do it. Great success! The cut is so easy to wash and style. And best of all, no tangles for me to comb (my daughter is quite tender-headed). Vivien has been skipping around, super happy with her new haircut. She has loved it from the start.
Here is what I hope Vivien takes away from this experience.
Do what you love. This applies to the career she will one day pursue, the clothing she will buy and the updates and changes she will make over the years to her image. Do not worry what others think. Make up your own mind and go for it.
She is in charge of her image. Vivien is free to express herself through her personal image. While I still play the role of her mother, protecting, guiding and teaching her, she can make image choices for herself. I may not agree with all her choices, but she has the power to make them!
Change is good. Vivien has always resisted most new challenges. This is not something she was taught. It is simply in her DNA. However, now that she has experienced a dramatic image change that made her very happy, I hope she will understand that change is a part of life, and many changes are good ones.
Here is what I took away from this experience: I am very proud of my daughter. She is smart, strong and very capable. While she has received a little bit of negative feedback on her new look from a couple of peers, she stands firm in her choice to cut her hair. She loves it, and I love her.
Brother Nathan was less than interested in what was happening.
Vivien made a sweet new friend before she left the salon.
What image change would you like to make? Let me know in your comments!
All photos are my own.
It was a pleasure to attend the Aeon Neue Fashion show last night, showcasing collections of students of the Art Institute of Seattle. This student-run show was the school’s 19th, and this year it was hosted at the Canvas Event Space, which itself is an industrial work of art. I was mesmerized by the oversized chandeliers with numerous individual LED lights.
It takes great courage to show your art and your hard work to an audience of not only friends and family but also the local fashion crowd. I applaud the students for their hard work on their collections and for pulling together a wonderful show.
As you can see from the photos above (my own), there is a wide-ranging aesthetic among the students who showcased their work. It is refreshing to see their hard work come to life on the runway.
Thanks for taking a peek. See you again soon!—Bethany
It is with great pride I announce the launch of my new website with an updated logo by New Orleans based Sea Level Design and photos of me by Dallas based Christina Childress. This website looks and feels like the woman I am today. Please look around and leave comments here (constructive criticism is welcomed).
For those of you familiar with my former website, you may notice I am paring down my services. Gone are the custom color analysis, the image & style evaluation and makeup lessons. When I moved to Seattle, I wanted my business here to focus on my greatest strengths and the services I most enjoyed, closets and shopping. I have rolled the style evaluation into the wardrobe consultation as it is crucial to understand the client’s style before working with their wardrobe.
I have added photography as a service. It began as an idea to do street style photography for my blog. Then a couple of people used my photos on their website, and the idea to offer this service was birthed. The photos are web-ready for use on social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
I continue to do public speaking as the opportunities arise. I have always enjoyed speaking and educating groups of all sizes, and I would like to see this part of my business grow. Stay tuned!
Last, but certainly not least, my new website features a new blog! I will be adding an e-mail subscription to that blog soon, and once it is complete I will let you know so you can follow me there. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Here’s to the next chapter!—Bethany