Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

I’ve been accused of saying “thank you” too much.  A fellow communications colleague once told me that there comes a point when someone says “thank you” too much, and it becomes unbelievable, it takes away from the power of the words.

I thanked her, silently wished her more happiness in her life, and only see that colleague maybe once a year at networking events. For that last fact alone, I am greatly thankful.

Today is the day we give thanks. We supposedly open our eyes to all the good that is in our lives, open our hearts to the struggles those around us may be going through, and we bow in gratitude for what we have.

Much like how I feel about Valentine’s Day, I truly believe Thanksgiving should be celebrated every day (and not just because of the tradition of gorging on a massive feast).

For a while, the words from that colleague made me pause. Whenever I would go to thank someone, I would hesitate, and wonder if I had already said “thank you” too many times to the person in front of me, on the other end of the email, on the other end of the phone.

But like so many other pieces of unsolicited advice that have come my way, I have learned to let that second-guessing go. For the strength to be able to understand what she could not, I am thankful.

I say “thank you” a lot because it is what I feel. I say it because I want the receiver to know how I feel and never have to question it. I say it, because quite simply, it is very, very true.

On this special day, I know this much is true: there should never be a filter for gratitude.

No matter what etiquette rules state or what some old stuffy biddy in a suit tells you at a communications event, you can never say “thank you” enough. Especially when we live in a society that incorrectly equates denying success or great joy with being “humble.”

Say “thank you” ten times, and I am willing to bet the person receiving the gratitude will only hear it three times… and believe it perhaps just once.

Tired, ready for turkey, and very, very thankful

{Photo of me tired, ready for turkey, and very, very thankful}

So I say “thank you” ten times, and then again, and again, and again. I say it as a reflex, without thinking, because these are words that should never be thought out, calculated — these are words that should be automatically catapulted from the heart, the soul, the places where gratitude rests and begs to be expressed.

I say “thank you” in the hopes that people hear it, then feel it, then know it.

I am grateful, oh so grateful, for so many things in this world. For my children. For coffee. For strangers who smile back. For comedians. For friends who allow me distance when I need it and who won’t let me push them away when I am too scared to let them in. For Pinterest. For the luxury I hope to never, ever take for granted of having a warm home, running water, electricity, a paycheck, and a closet full of clothes. For Naomi Shihab Nye and Pablo Neruda and Anais Nin and Sylvia Plath. For my husband’s quick wit. For my parents, my brother, my cousins, nieces and nephews, in-laws, aunts, uncles, godparents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. For the ability to think and speak for myself. For bacon and bourbon and the Beastie Boys. For explorers and leaders and dreamers who inspire me to be a better citizen and to do more for others. For the crazy individuals who are brave enough to love me back and kind enough to let me into their lives.

I am grateful for the woman who told me I said “thank you” too much. Grateful for her reminding me that I need to say it more, so that one day, she will not just hear, but she will know it and she will feel it.

So go say “thank you” a million gazillion times today. HAPPY THANKSGIVING, everyone! If you are actually reading this, I THANK YOU!!

friends & family, motherhood

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Spelling Lessons

Last weekend, I woke up to hear the sounds of my kids talking downstairs. I recognized my son’s “teaching” voice immediately: not quite patronizing toward his younger sister, but definitely practicing his adult tone of voice to exert authority.

Then I heard footsteps.

Two cute little beings appeared, with satisfied grins on their cute little faces.

Then my 7-year-old son showed me this piece of paper…

Spelling01
…as he explained that he was working with his 4-year-old sister on her spelling. This was her spelling sheet, which he took the liberty to correct once she was done.

Notice he wrote the words “good!” next to words she spelled correctly. He also made notes where she needed to write a lowercase letter instead of an upper case letter.

Then he showed me his spelling key.

Spelling2

His handwriting, by the way, is far more legible than mine. I looked at him, so full of pride, and my heart exploded with so much love for these two little creatures who have so much love for each other. Even though they may fight like crazy, they also care, protect, and nurture beyond words.

My son is an amazing kid, but the role he was born to play? Big Brother. He excels in that role far beyond this mother’s expectations, everyday. I am unbelievably honored to be his mother.

It’s these random moments of goodness — these itty bitty moments of pure, unexpected joys of parenting– that I strive to document. Being a parent is an amazing gift, and in the crazy, challenging journey of raising kids, I hope to never take moments like these for granted.

motherhood

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Vacation: The New “Conference”

My name is Marlynn, and I take a lot of vacations.

BWAHAHA. If you know me – or are a fellow parent entrepreneur – you know that sentence does not just roll off the tongue.

For the past six years as a serial entrepreneur, I have traveled only about 4-6 times a year, and most of those travels have been for work. Lots of conferences. When you are an entrepreneur and you do any work at all with the online world, it feels like The Thing To Do. We are made to believe that we *should* attend conferences, speak at conferences, party/network at conferences. While I enjoy them immensely and they certainly have their place, I have decided to do something radical instead…

You see, this year things have been a little different. For the first time in six years, I have a boss other than myself. I closed one of my two businesses. My family also took our first bonafide vacation together since our daughter was born 4 years ago — a vacation to someplace tropical, just us (not to visit family, because we all know that’s NO vacation, no matter how much you all love each other!), and not to a place linked to anything remotely close to being work-related.

Something happened on that vacation: I got hooked. I want more.

My kids are hooked. They want more. My daughter talks about Maui every single day. Every. Single. Freakin. Day. It’s been SEVEN months since we were there, folks.

After a little thought and absolutely no convincing, I have decided to declare 2012 The Year of No Conferences.

OMG.

But what about…? Or can’t I at least try to go to…??

No. No conferences.

(ok, fine, if you ask me to speak at your conference, and I love you to pieces and adore everything your conference stands for,  I just may have to make an exception, but otherwise…)

Conferences shall be replaced by VACATIONS.

I like the sound of that. I think my husband would approve. I know my kids will.

Maui_beach01
photo taken at the Fairmont Kea Lani resort in Wailea, Maui

Something happened on our trip to Maui. I liked what the island delivered, and now I want more.

So on tap & in the works for 2012 so far:
1. Vegas trip with The Girls
2. Vegas trip with The Mister
3. Europe trip with the whole family (to visit family, so you know… sort of vacation…)
4. Mexico vaca with The Mister (holy cow! that’s two vacas with just us two in one year! woohoo!! omg. I don’t think we’ve ever taken a non-work trip for long w/o the kids. panic. panic. it’ll be ok, right?)

I am absolutely GIDDY just thinking about these trips!!

Let’s face it: I’m getting older. I can’t work 80 hours and answer 10,000+ emails a week (seriously) with an easy smile like I used to. I get tired and run down. I NEED these vacations. We ALL do. Real vacations. Not ones tied to conferences or work in any way. Just playtime. Me time. Family time. FUN time.

2012: THE YEAR OF THE VACATION!  Who’s with me?!

So I would love to know: where have your favorite family vacations been?

friends & family, motherhood, work

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Love Notes

I like to write little love notes to my kids at random times. It’s a cheesy MOM thing that I like to do.

Once in a while, when I am working late, I will walk into the living room to find a little love note of sorts addressed to me from my kids, placed strategically on the stairs for me to find.

Tonight, it was a story:

lovenotes2

Sometimes it’s a drawing, with “I love you mom”

lovenotes1

Sometimes it’s just a little piece of paper with “I love you mom” with no drawing, or a drawing without any words at all.

Always, it makes me smile.

I don’t work as much as I used to, which I know a lot of people don’t believe, but it’s true. With two kids (and the older I get!), it’s a lot harder to do the 9pm – 3am third shift then get up at 6:30 or 7 to get kids ready for school.

But when I do have to work late, like tonight when every single part of my professional and personal life is demanding something of me right now, I feel like my kids are always there, cheering me on, enveloping me in big bear hugs while they sleep and I type, design, strategize, plan, console, and code away. Their notes are sweet and thoughtful; they make me so proud and honored that these are my kids — kids who write their mother love notes without any prompting, who reciprocate in this silly cheesy mom ritual of sending visual “I love you” cues when we’re not together.

I love what I do — every insanely busy nonstop bit of it. I love it all even more because I think it allows my kids to love me not just for the fact that I am their mother, but for who I am. My work – all of it – is a huge part of who I am. I make no excuses for it, and I am proud of all that I do. I want my kids to see that, and I want them to find the same passion and pride for work in their lives.

The late nights are admittedly getting harder to handle, but finding little love notes at unexpected times makes it worth it.

kids, madness, motherhood

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Weekends Where We Live

I love weekends. I especially love weekends where we live. We don’t have to go far to enjoy a wealth of family-friendly fun.

Today started out with our usual hanging out in the kitchen. Coffee. Breakfast. Workouts. Food Network. (I work out while watching Food Network. It’s the only way, people. The only way.).

Then we headed to out to ride bikes and play some football, which is always interesting when four and seven year olds are making up the rules.

Weekend_football

After running some errands, we headed over to Oregon Heritage Farms. Gala apples were ready, and galas are my absolute favorite apples. Apples are also my son’s favorite food.

The farm also has goats, a hay maze, a large bouncy pumpkin the kids could play in, and a cute little store with lots of locally-made goods & treats.

Weekend_Tripleapples

Weekend_Double

After fun at the farm, we stopped by Ponzi Vineyards to pick up our cellar club shipment. Several groups were there wine tasting on this beautiful September afternoon, including couples, a party of girlfriends, lots of families, and general groups of friends. The vineyard has gorgeous tall trees with lots of tables and two bocce ball courts — plenty of places to enjoy their wines on beautiful grounds. Today they were setting up for a wedding, and I couldn’t help but feel all warm & fuzzy thinking about what an exciting day it was for everyone involved.

My daughter stopped to pick flowers and make some wishes.

Weekend_Catedandelion

Back home, there was lawn mowing, water gun loading & unloading, football watching, blogging. With several hours left in the day, the only decisions we really have left to make are:

1. What’s for dinner?
2. What dessert should we make with our fresh Gala apples?
3. Which wine should we enjoy tonight?

Weekend_Ponzi

Like I said, I love weekends where we live.

What do you love best about weekends where you live?

kids, motherhood

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