Episode Archives

Making Veggies Irresistible – with Green Joy Founder, Jenny Cawthon

Jenny Cawthon, founder of Green Joy, is raising the bar when it comes to accessing healthy foods and vegetables. Jenny believes everyone deserves the right to healthy, wholesome foods and don’t think access, geography, or circumstance should impact the ability to get the nutrition needed for growing bodies. Green Joy believes if we can get kids eating 3-4 servings of vegetables each day, we will literally be changing lives for the next generation.


Links to things we discussed: 

Green Joy – website

Green Joy – Instagram

Green Joy – Facebook

Fili West Farms (South Carolina) – website

Dallas Farmers Market (Texas) – website

Bonton Farms (Dallas, TX) – website

Fresh Point (Dallas, TX) – website


Coming Soon

What’s for dinner? – more with registered dietitian, Brianna Pilawski

I don’t know about you, but figuring out what to feed my family since the world turned upside down has been, to put it mildly, challenging.  I am not used to bulk shopping or cooking.  I have never put a ton of time into meal prepping.  On top of all of that, half of what I need isn’t available at the grocery store.

Thankfully, Brianna Pilawski, a registered dietitian, is here to help.  She shares some of her favorite tips and tricks to get even the pickiest of eaters involved in the kitchen.  She also shares the staples she is keeping on hand and some of her favorite go to recipes these days.

Oh, and if you are interested in knowing what it takes to be a registered dietitian, we cover that too.  🙂


Sample Dinner Ideas

– Pulled Pork in the Insta Pot w Bagged Salad & Strawberries
– Chicken n’ Rice – Cream of Mushroom Soup + frozen Chicken, minute brown rice, broccoli & cheese
– Whole wheat spaghetti, frozen meatballs, pasta sauce  + frozen broccoli cooked in the bag
– Fish On Monday Nights – Salmon – Fish Sticks + brown rice, Green Beans & Raspberries
– Taco Night is always a fav – ground beef – can be frozen, diced tomatoes (canned low sodium), hopefully lettuce, shredded cheese
– Trade Joes – chicken stir fry w/ veggies, chicken meals

Links to recipes

To find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you, use the Academy’s online Find an Expert service.

Mama Knows Nutrition – website

Mama Knows Nutrition – Instagram

Veggies and Virtue – website

Veggies and Virtue – Instagram

Sesame Street Cookbook Link

Easy Fried Rice Recipe Susan found online that her family loves

Curried Chicken Salad – Ellie Krieger



Coming Soon

Nutrition isn’t what it was two weeks ago, with registered dietitian – Brianna Pilawski

I don’t know about you, but figuring out what to feed my family since the world turned upside down has been, to put it mildly, challenging.  I am not used to bulk shopping or cooking.  I have never put a ton of time into meal prepping.  On top of all of that, half of what I need isn’t available at the grocery store.

Thankfully, Brianna Pilawski, a registered dietitian, is here to help.  She shares some of her favorite tips and tricks to get even the pickiest of eaters involved in the kitchen.  She also shares the staples she is keeping on hand and some of her favorite go to recipes these days.

Oh, and if you are interested in knowing what it takes to be a registered dietitian, we cover that too.  🙂


Sample Dinner Ideas

– Pulled Pork in the Insta Pot w Bagged Salad & Strawberries
– Chicken n’ Rice – Cream of Mushroom Soup + frozen Chicken, minute brown rice, broccoli & cheese
– Whole wheat spaghetti, frozen meatballs, pasta sauce  + frozen broccoli cooked in the bag
– Fish On Monday Nights – Salmon – Fish Sticks + brown rice, Green Beans & Raspberries
– Taco Night is always a fav – ground beef – can be frozen, diced tomatoes (canned low sodium), hopefully lettuce, shredded cheese
– Trade Joes – chicken stir fry w/ veggies, chicken meals

Links to recipes

To find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you, use the Academy’s online Find an Expert service.

Mama Knows Nutrition – website

Mama Knows Nutrition – Instagram

Veggies and Virtue – website

Veggies and Virtue – Instagram

Sesame Street Cookbook Link

Easy Fried Rice Recipe Susan found online that her family loves

Curried Chicken Salad – Ellie Krieger



Coming Soon

How She is Hanging in There, COVID-19 Edition

Learning how to navigate this new reality?  Me too!  In this episode I am sharing a few things that are working in our home (so far) and things that aren’t working at all.  We are talking all things limited scheduling, making time for self care and giving heaps and heaps of grace to ourselves and those we love.


Links: (Will be updated regularly – be sure to check back)


Links for Kid Activities

Cosmic Kids Yoga – YouTube (free)

The Best Kids Crafts & Activities Facebook Group – open to the public.  a quick scroll through and I am now following this group too.  Lots of neat ideas to do with stuff you already have around the house.  No need to special order.


Links for Parents

Managing Stress and Anxiety, COVID-19 (CDC Website Link)

Talking with Kids about COVID-19 (CDC Website Link)

Links for Arts and Entertainment

Metropolitan Opera – Streaming (some free)



Links for Education – Kids

ABC Mouse (not free, but not expensive)

Ms. Sydney’s Pre-School at Home (YouTube Channel Ages 3-6)

Scholastic Learn from Home (some free stuff)

School House Rock – YouTube Channel

Links for Education – Adults

Center for Action and Contemplation – Online Education

Life in the Trinity Ministries (Enneagram Work – Suzanne Stabile)

MasterClass – Online classes from experts in an array of subjects.  Everyone from Annie Leibovitz to Judy Blume to Shonda Rhimes to Anna Wintour. 80+ classes. Avg. 20 lessons per class. Avg. 10 minutes per lesson.  Pricing info available on their website.

Great Courses Plus – Think more academic style online learning.  Everything from Economics and Finance to Food and Wine.  1st month currently free. Pricing info available on their website.

Center for Action and Contemplation – The CAC, founded by Richard Rohr (a Franciscan) offers a plethora of options for spiritual seekers.  (Podcasts, Online Learning, Books, etc) Vision: Amidst a time of planetary change and disruption, we envision a recovery of our deep connection to each other and our world, led by Christian and other spiritual movements that are freeing leaders and communities to overcome dehumanizing systems of oppression and cooperate in the transforming work of Love.  Mission: Open the door for a critical mass of spiritual seekers to experience the transformative wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition and nurture its emergence in service to the healing of our world.

Racial Reconciliation Recap

Even though we are wrapping up our series on racial reconciliation, the conversation is not over.  We will continue the conversation and do our best to include voices of those who have been marginalized.  When I launched How She Got Here the intent was to create a platform for women to share their stories in order to encourage and empower others.  We are doing that.  We will continue to do that. We are doing our best to include the voices of all women.



Be the Bridge

The Cross and the Lynching Tree

The Liturgists

The 1619 Project

1619 Podcast

think with Krys Boyd

HER with Amena Brown

Evolving Faith



Coming Soon

Racial Reconciliation: Judgment Free Questions and Conversations, with Catrina Berka

In this weeks episode in our series “How She is Doing the Work of Racial Reconciliation” Susan chats with her friend Catrina Berka.  Susan and Catrina have both been involved with racial reconciliation work since 2017, though it was different incidents that brought them together at a Project Unity event.  Want to be a fly on the wall while two white ladies sit around and chat about racial reconciliation and why you should care?  Have some questions, but not sure how or who to ask? Looking for a few resources to help you understand? This conversation is for you.


Links To Things Discussed

Year of Unity – Project Unity Website

We’re Different, We’re the Same – Sesame Street Kids Book

Be the Bridge

Latasha Morrison’s Book – Be the Bridge

White Awake – Daniel Hill

Pass the Mic – podcast

Truth’s Table – podcast

The Colored Commentary – podcast

We Are Threaded – resource page


Coming Soon

Racial Reconciliation – A Beginning

Our series this month is “How She is Doing the Work of Racial Reconciliation”.  Susan recognizes that so often, as a white woman, she has left racial reconciliation to her sisters of color, not sure where she fit into the conversation and not asking where she fit either.  For this series, Susan is going to be in conversation with white women about the role white women can and should play when it comes to racial reconciliation.  Today, Susan is sharing her story of how and why she finally dove in.

Where to find what we discussed today

Be The Bridge

Be The Bridge – Public Facebook Group

Project Unity

My e-mail: susan@howshegothere.com


I am both excited and nervous about introducing this series to you.  This series is entitled: “How She is Doing the Work of Racial Reconciliation”. In our first episode in this series I am going to share my story of how and why I got involved in this work.  My goal for this series is twofold: if you are not involved in this work already, I would ask you to have an open mind and open heart and open ears.  I know some of the things I say or my guests say will be hard to hear.  You might feel guilt, shame, confusion, disbelief and more.  All of this is normal and I have been there.  I still read or hear things and my first reaction is “No way!” Just stay with me.  If you have questions, concerns, would like resources or just to talk about it…you can reach out to me at: susan@howshegothere.com or dm me on FB or Instagram.

If you are already involved in this work, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  This work is not meant to be done alone.  You can e-mail me at: susan@howshegothere.com or dm me on FB or Instagram.

If you are a woman of color, you probably know I am a white woman.  My goal with this series is to talk with other white women on what is ours to do with this work.  Too often we have relied on you, our sisters of color, to do this work for us.  This is my humble attempt to speak up about racial reconciliation and why white women need to be involved.  If you can/want to listen.  Awesome!  I’m not going to get it all right.  You are probably going to be frustrated with how I say or tackle things.  If you want to reach out about any and or all of it.  You can also reach me at my e-mail address: susan@howshegothere.com or dm me on FB or Insta.  I am here to learn and listen.

I have been officially involved in racial reconciliation work since 2017, but have been mulling over it since June 17, 2015.  That was the day that a white supremacist walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Also known as Mother Emanuel) had bible study with, prayed with and then murdered 9 people for no other reason than their skin was not white.  There names are:

Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd
Susie Jackson
Ethel Lee Lance
DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Tywanza Sanders
Daniel L Simmons
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Myra Thompson

As you probably know, I am from South Carolina. I have lived in Dallas, TX for more than a decade, but will always be a South Carolinian.  And while South Carolina has a very troubling past, not to mention that 40% of all those enslaved in the U.S. entered the country through the port of Charleston, I did not fully understand that past until I was a grown woman.  I will always love South Carolina, even with its horrific past.  Though it is HARD, I am finding it better to recognize the past, come to terms with it, and try to move through it.

I grew up loving trips to Charleston and its surrounding islands, so much so that we spend a week on the coast with family every year. I know exactly where Mother Emanuel is located and have walked past it countless times in my life.  So when this horrific evening happened in my beloved state and in a city I cherish I was shocked and horrified.  It had happened in my own backyard.  How could this happen?  In 2015?

Then, on July 7, 2016, a little over a year later, another mass shooting.  This time in my current city of Dallas, TX and not all that far from my house.  This time it was an individual targeting members of law enforcement that were white.  This man was angry over police shootings of black men.  This shooting followed a peaceful protest against the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

I am unsure what the community in Charleston did to begin healing from the murders.  In my research I did not find anything like what has been created in Dallas, so if you know of something…please don’t hesitate to reach out.  I would love to learn more about it.

What  happened in Dallas was that Rev. Richie Butler, minister at St. Paul UMC, created The Year of Unity project. I will go into Project Unity more in depth in our next episode, but suffice it to say this was how I got involved in the work of Racial Reconciliation.

I am grateful my own church has participated in Project Unity and one of the group dinners was at my church.  I wasn’t sure what to expect walking into that dinner, but I knew my church was a safe space and I believed a higher power would be present.  While this work isn’t always done in faith spaces, nor am I saying it should be, it made my move into the work a little (like a smidge) easier.

I think a good place to start, if you aren’t in Dallas and your area doesn’t have a “beginner racial reconciliation” anything is to look up Be The Bridge online.  There is also both a public and private FB group you can join.  The resources LaTasha Morrison and her team have put together are outstanding and regularly challenge my thinking and perception in a way that it needs to be challenged.  The private FB group has a curriculum you must complete as well as a silent period after joining.  You must complete the course work and the silent period before speaking in the group.  I have learned so much just by reading and listening and it has been tremendously eye opening.  Latasha also has a new book out with the same title, Be The Bridge, and I highly recommend it as a starting place.

Here is what I know.  This work is not easy.  I was taught a narrative and a history growing up that was incomplete at best.  It was a narrative written by and for white people.  Is that my fault, no.  Is it my fault that the system was literally set up for me because of the color of my skin, no.  Did my family own people? No. I have heard and in my younger years even used some of these excuses.  However, what I can humbly recognize now is that it doesn’t mean that I haven’t still benefitted from it.  I have absolutely benefitted from it.  By the luck of the draw I was born a white woman in 1982 in the United States of America to a white solidly middle class family and there is a benefit to that.  That can be hard to grapple with.  It is something I must grapple with though in order for my child and, God willing, his children can continue moving the ball of reconciliation forward.  I know racial reconciliation will not be complete by the time I die.  It is too big and there are too many nuanced pieces to it.  My best hope is that we can set up the next generation for success and that means recognizing a more complete history of our country’s past as well as acknowledging my own complicity.


Clarifying Your Path with, your host, Susan Long

In our final episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan reflects on the conversations with Rachael, Jessica and Lindsey. She then shares a few of the tools she uses that help her clarify and ultimately succeed in reaching her goals.

Where to Find What We Discussed

Emily Ley Simplicity Challenge

The Business Lounge – Prosperous New Year

Vision Board Examples on our Instagram

Shanterra McBride, founder of Marvelous University discusses purpose partners

Conversation with Business Coach, Caytie Langford


Finding an Organizing System That Works For You, with Lindsey Taylor

In our third episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan chats with organizational guru, Lindsey Taylor. Organizing comes easily for Lindsey, so much so she is seriously considering it as a side hustle. Today, she shares some of the tools she uses to keep things straight and encourages us to try a few of her tips out for ourselves.

Where to find what Lindsey and I discussed

Container Store – Gift Wrap Organizers

Container Store – OXO Pop Containers

Container Store – Clear Plastic Shoe Boxes

Emily Ley – 30 Day Simplicity Challenge


Susan: Okay, Lindsey Taylor. I am so excited to have you on my podcast. I think it was you who pointed out to me not that long ago, that this month January, we will have known each other five years because our children met when your oldest—gosh, you have two now—when your oldest was three weeks old or was it two weeks old? I never remember.

Lindsey: She was three weeks to the day.

Susan: Three weeks to the day. And Will, mine, was, what? Six months? Four months?

Lindsey: Four months, I think.

Susan: You know these things better than I do. You know dates and you know numbers so much. You keep up with that stuff so much better than I do.

Lindsey: I know. But now you’re going to make me like tear up before we even start chatting about my love for you.

Susan: I’m just so excited to have you on this show to chat with us about something you are very good at or something you have a passion for. I would call it borderline obsession, and it is something I suck at. And it’s organization. But before I share everything that I know about you, the good, the bad and the ugly—I’m just kidding—I’m going to let you talk about yourself. So tell us a little bit about who you are and share a little bit of your passion with us.

Lindsey: Well, I’m Lindsey and I’m married to Scott. We have been married for almost eight years. It’ll be eight years in May. 10 years that we have been on this journey together. And we met through running. So in my past life, I was a marathoner. And that might be something I get back into in the future. But then my world changed like you said about five years ago, and I became a mama. So I have Caroline Grace, and she just turned five. She was our New Year’s Eve surprise baby. And from that moment on, things have been on her timing and she has shown her personality early but she is a delight and a joy and she’ll be going to Kindergarten in the Fall. And then we have our second miracle baby Jack and he just turned one right before Christmas. God has a sense of humor with my babies’ birthdays. And Jack is all boy. And as you’re coaching me, I’m learning about how to be a boy mom and to let go of some of my love of organization that he does not understand quite yet.

But yes, I have a passion for organizing. And we can talk about when that started, but I love it. I love all things, but I love making it accessible and easy depending on who the right person is.

Susan: So let’s chat about that. Where did this passion for organization come from? How did you get this gene and quite frankly, how did it skip me?

Lindsey: I will tell you that it is definitely not genetic. I love you Lolly if you’re listening right now, but I’m anxious to get my hands on to my mom’s house. So it’s not something that I watched, but I can definitely pinpoint and kind of look back at how I approach things and interacted with things. So I probably didn’t really play with my dolls like my American dolls, for example. I had a wonderful dollhouse that my grandfather built for me and my favorite thing to do was to take every single thing out of the doll house, clean the doll house, and then put everything back in its perfect spot, and kind of reorganize and redecorate. And I didn’t really understand what I was doing. But looking back as an adult, I realized I was organizing my doll house or I would organize my dolls things and that would kind of be my playing with them.

So I guess I would say that that’s where it started. And then some of it, I don’t realize that that’s what I’m doing and that I am organizing, that’s just kind of how my brain works and how my brain thinks. But there are other things that I definitely do not do as well. I shift a lot so when I’m in the process of organizing, I might move things from one room to another, in piles, as my husband calls them. And they were even in our wedding vows that I would work on my piles. So I definitely don’t want to give people and impression that just because you love organizing means that everything is always neat and perfect, because that is not how it looks in my house.
Susan: So you have a passion for organizing but maybe not taking pictures and posting all the pictures that you do have your organizing on Pinterest.

Lindsey: Correct. I use Pinterest sometimes as an example of things that I could do or to get ideas. But I think Pinterest can be a tricky place. So, I’m good at organizing so I could look at a picture of a closet and I could say “I could do that,” and I can use kind of Pinterest as my roadmap. However, something that is not necessarily my forte or my passion is arts and crafts. And so if I were to look at Pinterest and think that that was kind of the attainable goal, and it needed to look like that I would fail every time. So I think you have to be careful with Pinterest depending on what your strength is, are to recognize what your strengths are, to be able to truly see if that’s something that’s going to make you feel successful or not.

Susan: That’s a really good point because as a One that is something that I struggle with is I would see something on Pinterest and go, “Oh, it’s never going to look like that so thus, it’s never going to be good enough so why even bother trying. “

Lindsey: And I think that’s where organizing is kind of a four-letter word to people. And, you know I’m working with…We’ll talk about goals, I think later, but one of my goals for 2020 is to kind of turn this passion into a potential business or something where I could help others. And I think the one thing that I want to get across to friends that I’m helping or to future clients is that there is no right or wrong way to organize. And I think that just because your closet doesn’t look like the container store when you walk in, or just because you know, you can’t make your pantry look like that perfect Pinterest picture, doesn’t mean that it’s not organized. It just might mean that it’s not organized in that way.

I have been playing around with the idea of a beautiful mess because I think that, and maybe this is, you know, my love for my piles. But I think that messages aren’t bad, whether we think we ourselves are messes or you know, we’re looking at our closet and thinking that it’s a mess. I think you can make beauty from that. But you have to be open to making it work for what’s best for you and using the right tools for you, not the right tools because that’s what and society or that blogger that you love, or that beautiful home that you saw on the neighborhood home tour says you’re supposed to do.

Susan: That’s such a good point that inspiration doesn’t mean exactly. Does that make sense? Like it’s supposed to inspire you but you don’t need to replicate it to a T.

Lindsey: Right.

Susan: That’s really helpful.

Lindsey: And I think what trips people up is, you know, you kind of talked about how I have this gene and how I was born with it, I guess, and so some things just come naturally to me, and I’m learning as I’m researching more, and I’m talking to friends that not everybody thinks the way that I do. And so I have to really, I think, what’s a challenge and what makes me somebody that can really help someone is to figure out okay, what is that right system for you, Susan? Because even us being close friends, it may not be the right system for me.

And I think that in the world of organizing, people get caught up in, there’s only one right way. And here’s the road map. Here’s all the tools you’re going to buy and here’s all the money you’re going to spend, and it’s going to look like this. But if that’s not still kind of wired to how your brain is working, then you’re still going to fail. And it’s going to look nice for a few days and then it’s going to get messy again. And I don’t think that people need to continue to pay professionals to come back into their home. They may need somebody to help them at the start. But if you can figure out kind of the best tricks or if you can set smaller goals to help you, I think that in the long term, it will be longer lasting.

Susan: That makes sense. You think this is something people can do on their own. They don’t have to call in for help. Am I understanding your thought process on that well?

Lindsey: Yes and no. I definitely think that this is something that I encourage people to try. And it may be something as simple as trying to tackle a closet. I think that I am guilty of this. Especially as we start the New Year and the holiday decorations come down and it’s kind of a fresh start in your home and in your mind and so you want to tackle everything, or maybe it’s just the obsessive organizer in me. But that is not usually something that is a good idea. Because I think that focusing sort of on one room, or even one drawer is something that I think everybody can do by themselves. And I recently had a client that I helped and I was doing her kitchen and /or her pantry and she had a junk drawer and she was so embarrassed. “Oh, I have this junk drawer in my kitchen,” and I reassured her that everyone has a junk drawer in their kitchen because where else would you keep your post its and your breath mints, or, you know, for me, we have a lot of wine openers in our junk drawer.

And so I sent her a picture of what mine looked like. And before I went back to her home to finish the project, she had actually done the junk drawer by herself. And I had given her just some ideas and some tips of some tools that I use to kind of help hold my things in place. And like I said, a beautiful mess. And it still had “junk stuff” in it. But they all had their spot and their place to live. And she did it all by herself, and she was so proud of herself. And I almost think when you do it yourself, and you kind of put that hard work into it, it’s something that you want to keep that you have that pride behind it, and so you want to make it last longer.

Susan: I think you’re absolutely right on all of that. We all have a junk drawer, and we all have to go through it from time to time and I love that you’re junk drawers has junk in it and you just kind of make it, you make it work and you make it work for you. And that’s what’s important. It’s not about making it look pretty so you can post it on social media. It’s really about making your stuff and things in your home work for you. And I know that when I walk into a room, I can have a pile of books in the corner, and it’s not going to bother me because I know that those are books have trying to get through. But if I walk into a room, and there are Legos all over the floor, I’m like, “Oh, this isn’t working for me.”

Lindsey: Yep.

Susan: So what are some of your favorite organizing tips and tricks that you feel could benefit some of us working moms or work from home moms? What are some of your favorite? Especially in the stage of life that you’re in right now, that I’m in right now. We have young children. What are some of your favorite organizing tips and tricks that have really worked for you?

Lindsey: I love clear plastic shoe boxes. Mine happened to be from The Container Store. But I hit it up a few years ago at their annual sale and I think got 40 for 50% off or something crazy like that but you can even find them at the Dollar Tree. You can find them at an Ikea if that is local to you. But plastic shoe boxes have so many different uses. So I use them obviously for their main use as I put shoes in them. And because they’re clear, my shoes are put away and they stay dust free. I live in an old charming house but it brings in a lot of dust and so they stay clean, but you can visualize them.

And so that’s also what I use in my kids playroom a lot is I organize everything into a clear plastic bin. Now, what’s inside the bin is not necessarily organized. So if we have a bin for all of her magnets, they’re just all dumped in there. Because she’s five and that’s not going to be long term for me to put all the magnets kind of into a different little compartment. But I do have a space that she knows, okay, these are where my magnets live. They’re easy for her little hands to pop the lid off and put them back in and then she can put the box back into the cabinet where we keep those things. I would say plastic bins are my number one favorite.

My second favorite organizing tool is I love drawer containers and or drawer organizers. And so when I say that, once again, it doesn’t have to be from you know, whatever fancy organizing store or brand you have online or in your town. The dollar store will have them or I love going to Home Goods or what Garden Ridge used to be. At Home Now, I think is what it’s called. And just simple usually they’re branded art is desk organizers, and I think you have to kind of get your head out of what if I don’t have a desk, and that’s okay. That’s what I have my wine openers in. That’s what I have my post its and my Kleenex, all the things in my junk drawer. I might even use them in my little girl’s bathroom drawer so she has a bin that just has all of her hair rubber bands in it and a bin where her hair brushes go and it’s not to make her kind of anal and OCD but it just helps her know when she needs a hair rubber band she knows where to find them. I’m trying to teach independence.

And I would say my third favorite, or kind of my third favorite thing to organize is probably pantries. And I love using myself as an example because I don’t have a pantry. In this old charming house, we have just simple cabinets and the cabinets are what serve as our pantry. And so as much as I look at and pin all this beautiful walk in pantries that I dream about, as long as I live in this home, I’m not going to have that. And so I’m finding tools to kind of help organize. I think Oxo containers are every mom’s best friend. I personally have the Oxo brand but I found them recently for a client as an off brand at Home Goods. And they are just simple plastic containers that you can put your Cheez-It’s in or your Yeggie Straws or Wheat Thins, Oreos you know, sorry for all my friends on Whole 30 right now, but put all those in you can see how much you have, and your kids can see what’s in there and it keeps things fresh longer.

Because as a mom, I don’t have time to go to the store all the time and I don’t have time or the money to waste by having food go bad. So I think good storage containers in your pantry and then having baskets in your pantry. Or you could go back and use those plastic shoe boxes that we talked about at the beginning, and having a shoe box that has all of your gummy snacks or all of your granola bars in it and kind of having a designated snack area for your kids and family. When you come home from the grocery store, one trick that I like to say is take everything out of the box. So you bought granola bars, you bought fruit snacks, recycle those boxes and put them somewhere where you can truly see how many you have. Otherwise you might be guilty and you know, I’ve been guilty of it before too. I buy five things of oatmeal because I can’t see how many I have. And so instead I just have five half open boxes versus being able to kind of see the quantities. Those would be my kind of favorite organizing tools.

Susan: You know, as we’re talking about this, that is definitely something I do in my pantry, but I’m thinking about a place that I could do this that I don’t do this, and that’s in my fridge. Do you do this in your refrigerator too?

Lindsey: I do. So I don’t use the shoe boxes I use…I found them at Bed Bath and Beyond. And that’s kind of a side note. So I’m kind of naming all of my favorite places to find things. And that’s where I think using a home organizer or using a friend that has a passion like I do, because if you’re already overwhelmed about organizing, then sometimes walking in to a Home Goods is not going to help you feel like you can tackle your bathroom cabinets that day. Because there’s a lot of digging and there is a lot of trying to find the match of what it belongs to. Versus, you know, if you really are wanting to do this on your own and kind of start by yourself then I do recommend a place like The Container Store you are going to pay more, but it’s going to be less overwhelming. And there’s going to be somebody there that can kind of help guide you and show you the right areas of what you can buy.

Susan: So walking into the Container Store is helpful, because there’s somebody there who can guide you but if you’ve already got that person who can guide you and /or you don’t feel overwhelmed, hitting up the Dollar Tree or a store like that would work perfectly as well.

Lindsey: Absolutely. And I think it depends. So if I was going to come and help you organize your home office, let’s say, one of my favorite tools—I have a lot so I couldn’t fit it into my top three, but I would say my number four favorite is kind of unique to the Container Store and it’s part of their Elfa system and it’s my beloved gift wrap drawer which you have seen and that is a tool that they utilize that helps you get all those bags and tissue paper and gift wrapping ribbon all in a neat and organized way. And I’ve not seen something like that at other places.

However, the shoe boxes, or I love to use the cloth kind of pop up storage boxes. You can find them at the dollar store, you can find them at Target, you can find them at IKEA. And obviously, where you choose to find them the quality may be a little different. So it depends on kind of what you’re using them for. If you’re using them like I have them in my guestroom closet from IKEA. And they’re flimsier, but they’re not used all the time. And they help kind of keep that closet clean. But in my kids rooms, I use sturdier ones from Target because we’re constantly every day, getting the handles and going in and out of those, and I need them to last.

So I think you kind of have to weigh quality versus pricing. But I would say a plastic shoe box is a plastic shoe box, no matter where you get it. And so to be smart about where you want to spend your money and spend that energy of looking. I think they go kind of hand in hand.

Susan: And I appreciate you really thinking through—and I know you do this personally, you’re much better at this than I am—thinking through what is worth spending dollars on when it comes to organizing and what isn’t. I think sometimes it’s just easy to go, “Oh, I’m just going to go get that off Amazon Prime,” or “Oh, I’m just going to run The Container Store because I know they have it,” and just not think twice. And sometimes it’s okay, because that’s what you have to do because you have a child who’s cranky or whatever, you just need to get the errand run. But then there are other times where you can take more time and be a little more cost efficient and effective. And I appreciate that you do that regularly. And I think that’s something else that you do really well.

Lindsey: Well, thank you. Or you can have somebody help you. So, a client that I had, I purchased all of her things from Home Goods, because I live in a big city where I have access to one in my neighborhood, which is good and bad, and then from the Dollar Tree. And so those were the two places like I said we were doing her pantry and we were doing her kitchen cabinets, and I was able to kind of fulfill everything we needed. And we did make a few Amazon purchases where I kind of wrote down and she wanted to be able to pick some things out and to kind of have her personal hand in that.

And I think something too…And once again, maybe it’s my love for organizing, but I tend sometimes to get into that instant gratification where I just have to do this closet now and I’ve got to have everything. And so I find myself going to that one stop shop, whether it’s Target or Walmart. And I feel like so many different places have stepped up their game in kind of the world of organizing. But if you can be patient and sort of make yourself that roadmap, then I think you will find it to be something that’s not as scary when it hits your checkbook if a budget is important to you. It depends on kind of who the customer is. At our house, it is, and so sometimes I have to kind of slow down and not be so ‘I want it now’ to make sure that I am finding the right price of things.

Susan: Well, I think having that ‘I might want it right now, but I don’t need it right now,’ I think that’s something we could all do a better job of incorporating into our lives. I mean, one of the things we keep hearing about with using Amazon constantly and hey, I’m not dogging Amazon, I am as guilty as using Amazon as anybody. I used it this morning. But it’s how that affects our environment as well. And I know that’s like a whole different tangent we could go down. But when we think about things, it’s not just your pocket book that’s affected, it’s the environment as well. So I think everybody should definitely look at this from one side or another, no matter…I mean, it affects all of us. What are some of the tools that you incorporated in 2019 that you’re going to be carrying with you into 2020? Because 2019 your life changed yet a little bit again. Well, no, it was in 2018, I guess when the little guy was born, but 2019 was kind of crazy.

Lindsey: Yes.

Susan: So what are some things that you incorporated in 2019 that you’re carrying with you into 2020?

Lindsey: I think the two big things is, I would say, the courage to say no, and the courage to walk away and be okay with that. And that kind of goes into 2020. And I’m not usually somebody to have a word, but courage keeps kind of popping into my head, because I think those are both examples that might bring up negative connotations. But also, you know, to have the courage to start an organizing business or to have the courage to try something new, whatever that looks like, fill in the blank. But I would say kind of organizing my life, and I don’t mean through plastic shoe boxes and through a really fabulous planner, but I also highly recommend Erin Condren or Emily Ley’s life planners. I’m an old school pen and paper girl.

But I would say, organizing my feelings and my relationships. And so that’s where it came the courage to be able to say, “No, I’m not going to volunteer for that this year.” Or “no, I’m sorry, I can’t have that position at church or at my kids school.” And the courage to walk away from some friendships. I did that this year. And it’s scary and it’s hard, but I think that I needed to kind of reorganize my emotions, and that involved that.

Susan: That’s excellent.

Lindsey: And I think a lot of, you know, I used to think, when we talk about the Enneagram, I used to think that I was a One because I love to organize and well, the One is the perfectionist and so because you know, my shoe drawers are perfect or I am one of those people that my personal closet is color coded, and it makes me very happy to have a rainbow in front of me. But you look to the left where my husband’s clothes are and they’re not and he doesn’t even have all the same hangers and that really drives me crazy, but that’s okay because those aren’t my clothes. I don’t have to worry about that. And I’m certainly not going to color coordinate Caroline’s closet because It would last for about two seconds and would give me unneeded anxiety when I could focus that in other areas.

But part of my tools of having the courage to organize my life and my relationships and how I want them has helped me realize I am an Enneagram 2, and wanting to be liked and loved and needed. And that can be a really positive thing, like, it can help me in a business of helping people be organized. I just have to make sure I have the right motivation and intentions behind that.

Susan: That is such a good point, the right motivation and intention. It’s something that I struggle with as well, as an Enneagram one. Like, why am I trying to perfect this specific thing right now? Yeah, so I really appreciate that. And I love your word for the year that it’s courage. That’s a great word.

Lindsey: Well, and I think that you know, my heart for wanting to help people organize or you know, my hopes of somebody can listen to this and walk away and think, gosh, I can tackle that one drawer in my master bathroom. You know, it goes back to resolutions and goal setting, and I am somebody to say it’s okay to not have a new year’s resolution or it’s okay to not have a goal. I’m going to have to kind of look back at the last five years of my life and I’m, you know, I really resonated with your infertility podcast because that was a big part of my story and going through treatment and then ultimately having the baby and then going through postpartum depression and being treated for that. I would set myself these New Year’s resolutions that you know, when I fill in the blank or if I fill in the blank, whatever that looks like, then I’ll feel, be, look, etc, better or somehow feel whole. It can be a whole slew of things. And I’m not dogging resolutions at all, and I’m not dogging saying, hey, if your resolution is when I lose those 10 pounds or walk the 100 miles that I’ll feel better, because you probably will. There’s validity to that, but I see the kind of approach goals in the New Year similar to organizing and for me…

Susan: Don’t beat yourself up.

Lindsey: Well, becoming a new me or, you know, I think I saw a quote, and I’m going to butcher it about how tomorrow is January 1 and I can’t wait to meet all of these new friends of mine because everybody says, like, you know, I’m going to start this new year. And I’m becoming a new mean instantly on January 1 isn’t sustainable to my personality, just like I don’t want somebody to beat themselves up because they try to do that master bath drawer and it doesn’t work. That’s okay. Maybe that wasn’t the best place to start. Maybe go organize your china cabinet and your dining room that you use once a year. And so you can fix that cabinet, it can be perfectly organized and you’re not going to touch it again for 12 months, but hey, it stayed organized. And that should be something that you’re proud of.

So I think that having your whole house or your whole life or all of a sudden using a paper planner, when you’ve never used one before, “Oh, you forgot to write that doctor’s appointment down, paper planners aren’t for me.” Give yourself grace. Because if somebody were to tell me that I had to 100% use a digital calendar, I would have a complete heart attack, and I could not do that. And that’s okay. We’re all different and we’re all wired differently. And so like we talked about the beginning, organizing is going to look different for everyone, but I think it can be a really freeing and a really liberating thing w you kind of do, let some of that stuff go. And that doesn’t means that your house has to look like Marie Kondo says it does.

Susan: I love that. And I love everything that you just said,.That is fantastic and so helpful. And just the way you said it was so peaceful and so kind, because I think as women, we’re so bad, just about beating ourselves up all the time, that nothing that we’re doing is enough. And just the way you said that just gave me such peace of mind going into this year, because it can be so stressful.

Lindsey: Absolutely. Well, and I think people might be laughing at me that I might compare organizing to a scale. But as somebody who has kind of been through a whirlwind of five years, you know, to me, it’s like you don’t make that one gym class, or you can’t lose those last five pounds and you might get into your head, and this might be a little enneagram one in me, “Okay, I’m never going to be in shape again.” So just because you can’t keep your shoes organized doesn’t mean that you can’t have an organized life. That just might be not the right place for now. I know shoes are a silly example. I probably as a mom, I want all the moms kind of to hear that where you are in this stage of life, like, yes, my daughter knows that the magnets go in the shoe box. But if you were to look at my house, at the end of day, I work from my home and so my kids are with me a lot and things go everywhere. But because we have an organized system, then when my husband and I do attempt to tackle the mess after bedtime, it’s easier to pick up because we know where things are supposed to go. But that doesn’t mean that my kids don’t make messes or that things don’t get out of hand. And I have to decide like, hey, at one point, I had all of her Barbie shoes together and they’re not anymore. And I’ve got to let that go. That might have to do with my word of courage, is deciding where to pick my battles. But I think just taking baby steps and organizing. And maybe it is hiring that professional to help kind of get you a kickstart just like people might hire a nutritionist, that nutritionist isn’t going to eat every meal with you but they’re going to help give you the right tools that hopefully when you are making lunch or dinner or choosing a snack at the store, that you know the right ones to choose. That’s how I see kind of personal organizing.

Susan: That’s awesome. I’m going to ask you one more question, and it can be as short or as long as you want it to be before I let you go.

Lindsey: Okay.

Susan: And that is, what are you reading right now? And what are some books that should be on our list for 2020?

Lindsey: And I’m laughing at myself when I talked about my tools, my courage to say no, and to walk away because ironically, the book that I’m reading is called How to Walk Away. And it’s by Katherine Center. It was actually recommended by you. So I’m reading that. And next on my list is a book called A Woman is no Man by Etaf Rum. And I know that it’s going to be a heavy book. So I’ve kind of been putting off of when the right time to read that. But I highly recommend and from the reviews that I’ve read for any woman who’s listening to pick that up, especially in the political climate that we’re in this day and age, it’s about three Palestinian women living in America and their story. So I will have to report back after I read it.

But kind of books that I think should be on everyone’s list. I loved 100 Summers by Beatrice Williams. She writes historical fiction about things that you may not necessarily have known happened in America and there’s always romance and there’s always a little bit of drama. But 100 Summers would be my favorite book of hers. I loved, you know, The Great Alone and Where the Crawdads Sing. I think those might be cliche answers because the books have been so popular, but don’t be scared to read them because they are. And then I would say my last two if y’all can’t tell I’m a reader. And if somebody is planning a beach vacation this year, I think you should read Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn Dingman. It is just a light hearted, fun read, but actually does have a little history in it. And then if you’re wanting a book to stick with you, It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover has never left me. I read it in 2017 and it’s about domestic abuse and how it really can happen to any of us. So it was a really powerful fiction book for me. I love to read. So that’s my escape from organizing, is to read.

Susan: I love it. And I hope you’re enjoying How to Walk Away. I didn’t realize you were still reading it. I hope you liked it as much as I did. Thank you so much for being here today. This has been so much fun.

Lindsey: Absolutely.

Susan: I know you have a ton to get to for the rest of your afternoon. I think a little certain somebody I can kind of hear him in the background.

Lindsey: He’s not too happy.

Susan: I love that he joined us because one day he’s going to hear this recording and he’s going to go “What is that?” And you’re going to go, “That was you, you little stinker.”

Lindsey: Refusing to take a nap.

Susan: Sweet baby.

Lindsey: Yes.

Susan: Alright, friend. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it today.

Lindsey: Thank you for having me.

Everything Is Not Important and Everything Is Not Urgent, with Jessica Weidman

In our second episode of the series “How She is Nailing the New Year” Susan chats with Jessica Weidman, Senior Manager of Development at the Texas Women’s Foundation. Jessica understands what it’s like to wear many different hats, both at work and at home. She shares some of the tools she uses to keep everything flowing smoothly and encourages us to evaluate if what we are doing is helping us achieve success.

Where to find what Jessica and I discussed

Texas Women’s Foundation
You Tube Videos on Time Blocking
Half Breed: Finding Unity in a Divided World by LeTesha Wheeler


Susan: Jessica, I am so excited to have you on the podcast this week. I have known you for a little while at this point. And it is just so nice to be able to sit back and kind of continue through January talking with folks that I know, that I love, that are amazing women who are doing really fantastic and amazing things. So before I sit here and talk with you all about you just from my perspective, how about I let you speak for yourself and share with us a little bit about who you are and what you do? 

Jessica: Oh, you are so sweet. And I was simply honored to be here, number one. You’re such a dear friend. So thank you so much. Yeah, so I guess…Hey, I’m a woman who wears many different hats. As you know, I’m a wife, a mother, a hard worker, a servant leader in so many ways, because I really just love serving others in every aspect of my life. And the way that we know each other, which I know you’ll probably touch on this too, but it’s through Texas Women’s Foundation, which is formerly known as Dallas Women’s Foundation. 

I’ve been working on the development team for three years. And just like you, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting incredible women who are just as passionate about uplifting women and girls like I am. Of course, today I’m not here on behalf of the foundation. I have to say that. But I’m here as a friend, and I’m really looking forward to our conversations. So I hope that’s a good kind of explanation. 

Susan: No, I think it’s perfect. This whole conversation came about because of a previous conversation we literally had at lunch. And while we were sitting there, I said, “Jessica, we should be recording this.” This is some sort of attempt to kind of get at the nuts and bolts of what that conversation was. And what we were talking about was, the foundation had literally just gone from the Dallas Women’s Foundation to the Texas Women’s Foundation. 

So you guys had gone rebranding, but a pretty significant expansion when you think about going from Dallas to Texas. And so, shortly after that had happened, you kind of took on…Well, you got a promotion, and you took on a new role. And you were already wearing a few hats, but I think you started wearing more hats. And so tell us a little bit about that and what that transition was like for you. 

Jessica: Yes. Yes. So, I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. And like you said, for me at Dallas Women’s is Foundation, then Texas Women’s Foundation. And really, I feel like anyone who works in a nonprofit role can relate to me when I say that you really juggle a lot of different responsibilities just across the board, just to be sure that we’re, you know, staying on target with our goals. 
And in a lot of ways, you just kind of fill in, right? Where where you need to fill in and, and so sometimes, you know, of course, many working moms can relate. You know, there are always new responsibilities when you start the new day. You know, what is my day going to look like? I’ve got all of these new tasks, because somebody’s got to do it, right? And, and that was no different for me and my new role. 

And so just like you said, you know, having to learn how to manage my time more effectively, more efficiently, you know, that was something that was very difficult for me. And I got to a point where in a lot of ways, I felt overwhelmed because there’s so many responsibilities in a day and, and how do I get it all done? And I think the best thing for me, and, you know, I shared with you that I went to… Well, I did a training, it was a webinar, and it really helped me kind of just take control. I kind of got to a point where I was so tired of my calendar controlling me. I wanted to put the roles in reverse. And so that’s what the training allowed me to do. 

Susan: I really appreciate that you recognize that in yourself one, because I think so often… Well, I shouldn’t say so often. For me, sometimes it takes me a hard second for me to realize this is happening. Because I think it happens to all of us. And I think there’s, I shouldn’t say a constant tweaking, but maybe a regular reevaluation of what’s working and what’s not. 

Jessica: Yes.

Susan: So I think it’s interesting that you found this webinar and you were able to really zero in on what things would help you move forward in this new role. Tell us a little bit about that training. How have these new tools that you learned helped you going forward? How have they helped you in your personal life, in your work in your career? How have they helped you get that space that you need to facilitate growth? 

Jessica: Yes. I love that you asked this. And before I really dive into kind of the details of the training and the things that I’ve learned, I really want to take a moment also to kind of put that moment into context. I’m going to be a little vulnerable in sharing that. As a working mom, I often feel like I am failing at everything. Is there somebody out there that like feels that way? I think there are a lot of women. 

I can speak for everyone. And for me personally, you know, I’ve been living in North Dallas for nearly 13 years. My husband and I, we have two children, a seven and a three-year-old and, you know, that’s a loaded statement there, a seven and a three-year-old. So, you know, just kind of managing being a working mom. And the thing about Texas, we all know that everything in Texas is big. So when I commute to work every day, I feel like I’m going on a road trip. I really do.

You know, just the hustle of just my everyday life. It requires so much discipline when it comes to maximizing my time and to take care of my responsibilities at work and to take care of my family. And truthfully, whether you work in or out of the home, our lives are just simply overwhelming. There’s so much that I have on my plate and saying yes to every request that comes my way. What I realized in that moment is some of this is actually my fault. Is there anyone else out there guilty of just over-committing? 

Susan: Absolutely. 

Jessica: And so, I’ve been so guilty of this and I took a moment to, like you said, you did the same thing, take a step back, reevaluate. I realized that I was not making the best use of my time to set myself up for success when it came to my work, when it came to my family. Me and my husband, we serve in leadership at our church and I was just stretching myself so thin to help other people reach their goals that I was neglecting my own, and so I had to get real with myself and I had to say the same amount of time in the day is anyone else. And so I had to start protecting my time for the things that matter the most to me. And so about the training, I know that was a long kind of context there. 

Susan: No. That was so helpful because they all feel that way. And if there are tips and tricks out there that people can implement, I think the more that we can share with each other, I think the more that we can be honest and talk about these things out loud. I just think it’s going to be a huge help, especially when we’re talking about setting intentions for, I guess, in this case is 2020. So we can just say a new calendar year. 

Jessica: Right? I mean, this is a fresh start. And it really is a fresh start. And for me, I’m a very organized, nice person anyway, and so I’m so taking this webinar, it really made me think about my time management in a way that I could really get organized. The training webinar was offered through our HR vendor. And for me, the way that they kind of structured the webinar and the training was life-changing. I mean, it really was because it helped me find a method of organizing my days in ways that would ultimately set me up for success. 

And if I had to summarize the biggest takeaways, like the biggest principles of the training, I could actually sum it up like this, you know, everything is not important, and everything is not urgent. Okay. And even just that principle in itself was mind-blowing for me because I used to be the type of person that if you asked me to do something, I just drop everything to help you right then and there. I’m also, that type of person that has a really, really, really hard time at telling people no. 

And so this training, it really helped me learn how to prioritize my tasks in a way that helped me focus on the things that would best help me fulfill my responsibilities at work. And it gave me freedom to say no, and not allowing other priorities to get in the way of things that were important to me like spending time with my family. There were times I said no to meetings after work because I plan this time to cook dinner for my family and nothing’s going to get in the way. 
Or taking time to rest and reset, taking time for me and do the things that are most fulfilling for me. And so being able to just kind of take these tips, it really helped me organize my life and prevent the over-commitment that we are all so guilty of. 

Susan: Yes, we all do really need to work on over-commitment. What is one thing…? This is totally off-topic, but what is one thing that you have been able to say no to that you didn’t think you’d be able to say no to? Yes, three on that one. 

Jessica: I can’t think of anything really specific that stands out right now. But you know what I will say like I can be more specific. You know what I mean by prioritizing and like protecting my time. Like, for example, Mondays for me, are mostly like my administrative days where I focus on the most important urgent tasks that I have for the week. So if I have deadlines this week, I’ve already blocked off Monday afternoon to start on those tasks that are deadlines because I don’t want the entire week to get away from me before I even start. 

And so even though responding to an email, how many of us allow our emails to just take over our day, especially on a Monday, right? You come back, you’ve got this whole just litany of emails and every email is not urgent. Every email is not important. Remember those two takeaways. So there are times when I get an email, if it really needs an explanation, if I really have to plan something out and if it’s not really urgent…You know, I’ve actually blocked off time on Tuesday. 

Okay, I’m going to get back to you on Tuesday morning, right? Because I really don’t want my Monday to be spent on catching up on emails all day. Because guess what, my Monday, I have urgent things to do. I have deadlines this week. And my Monday afternoon is, is where I have this full block of time where I can get it done. So for me, I had to do that because otherwise my whole Monday will get away from me and I really don’t feel like I’ve accomplished any of my priorities. 

And so building in that consistency, like I said, that’s my every Monday, my every Tuesday morning, I’m getting back to all of those people I didn’t get to on Monday, and maybe there’s some more. And so it really helped me just build in these routines. In my role, like I said, I wear so many different hats and I really had to narrow down the tasks that I absolutely must do in order to be successful in my role. For example, I’ve got to get out of the office and meet with my donors. I’ve got to network and meet new people. I need to take time and thank people and check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay.

The funny thing is, these are things that really are, they come very naturally to me, and things that I love to do anyway. So prioritizing this as a part of my calendar, not only set me up for success in my role, but it brings me like the greatest sense of joy, you know, being able to focus on the things that I enjoy. And so, like I said, having that time already prioritized, it just really empowers me. Because guess what, my calendar is already full. I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t have time because I’ve already prioritized my time for these specific things that I must do. So does that kind of make sense? I’m sorry I couldn’t give you like a specific, but in a broader sense, that’s how I was able to really get organized. And really, like I said, set myself up for success just by making sure that I was using my time to do the things that I know I need to do. 

Susan: Well, and I think you touched on something and you didn’t lay it out exactly like this. But there are metrics that we are all measured by, and we know what those are, and whether they are set for you, or you set them yourselves or you set them yourself. And it’s one of those if you have those metrics, if you have those things in place that you know, at the end of the day, this is what I need to accomplish. For you, you need to be meeting members  and making sure… I mean, it’s a revenue thing for you. For some people, they need to have a certain article written by a certain day. I’m thinking of myself. It’s things that you have to do specifically to meet your end goals for either your… I don’t know. Everybody has different things. Year end bonus, whatever… Maybe you’ve got something you’ve thought yourself that if I hit X, then I’m going to get myself Y. Whatever those goals look like, we have to figure out a way to meet those goals. 

And I think that’s one of the other things by prioritizing your time, you’re also able to meet your metrics and whatever your own personal goals are. I mean, you could set this up, however you want to. I think what you’re facilitating here is, “Hey, this is what I’ve implemented in order to make X happen.” And I think it’s really incredibly helpful. 

Jessica: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

Susan: What are some things you found with this new format that might have surprised you? Was there anything that just surprised you that you weren’t expecting? 

Jessica: Yes, just like I said, being the person that can absolutely just say no. I have never been that person. It’s very hard for me because, you know, we did a Strengths Finders actually this year and I found out that I’m that type of person where I like to empower the people around me to be successful at what they do best. To me it’s about really helping others achieve their maximum potential. But where does that leave me? If I’m busy helping, everyone else, where does that leave me? And the fact that I have actually transitioned to be that person, to really let my no be no and not feel guilty.

Sometimes as women, when we say no, that guilt kind of, sets in and you feel like,” Oh, no, how is she going to get this done if I don’t help?” Or I don’t know, “I’m missing, I’m missing this function or I’m missing this birthday or I’m missing this meeting.” Or, “What’s going to happen if I’m not there?” And I had an epiphany. I actually last year, December I got to listen and hear Michelle Obama when she came to Dallas, and one thing she said is she does the same thing. She protects time on her calendar and for her family, because you know what she said. Get this. So the First Lady of the United States, you know, the former first lady says that she’s just not that important to be here. And when I thought about that, I said, “If Michelle Obama doesn’t feel that she’s as important then who am I to feel like this function is just going to crumble if I’m not there?” I’m going be okay. And for me to say no, let my no be no and not feel any shame or guilt about it. I mean, that was the surprising thing. It’s actually very freeing you. We should all say no a little bit more often. 

Susan: But I liked that you added we should say no, and not feel shame or guilt around it. Because that, I think is the trickier part. I’ve said no to people and then I feel awful about it. Because, “Oh my God. They really needed me and I could have gone if I have been there and yada, yada, yada.” But it does get back to the, “Who am I?” And it did. Okay. And could they have used you? Absolutely. They would have found a way to use you, but it doesn’t mean you have to be there. That is so good. Oh, that’s good. Don’t feel shame. 

Jessica: Thank you. 

Susan: Do you read Brené Brown at all? This is way off-topic. She has whole books on shame and dealing with shame and you need to pick up one of her books. I’ll just go back now. What are some of the tools 2019 that you learned that you’re taking into 2020 and then vice versa? Was there anything that you learned in 2019 that really was maybe helpful, but you didn’t have to take into 2020? 

Jessica: Yeah, there were actually… I would say if I were to look back on my year, the three kind of key takeaways of things that really helped me. You know, like I said, when I think about, you know, what was really, really the most helpful, I would say, there were three things: being able to focus, to stop the multitasking. I actually remember having this on my resume that I was a master at multitasking. 

After, like I said, this, really, like, I was proud of it. After I did this, I was like, you know what, I’m taking that off. I literally went and I took it off my resume because when we multitask… Do you ever feel like you’ve done everything and you’ve done nothing at the same time, right? I mean, I realized that I just was not very effective at you know, marking things off the list. So, staying focused is key. And it really helps me with my just own, mental well-being. 

I have to focus on the here and now. What do I have to achieve today? That’s it. Once I think about the big picture, anxiety sets in, and if I can just focus on this one thing, I can rest assured that the steady grind of what I’m doing today then tomorrow and then the next day, it’s helping me. It’s helping me accomplish that big plan or that big goal that I’m working towards. I mean, I don’t call it slow and steady. I call it small and steady. Small things add up to big things. And keeping that in mind, like I said, staying focused and focusing on the small things. That’s one thing I absolutely am going to take into 2020.

The second thing, self-care. I have to be honest, I am the worst at taking care of myself. The time that I set aside for myself is at five o’clock in the morning when my kids are in the bed and no one needs me so I get up I actually pound the parking lot doing burpees and push-ups and laps with my Camp Gladiator friends and taking some time for me is essential to my sanity. 

It’s easy to burn out so you’ve got to build in those breaks whatever that looks like for you. For me, it’s fitness, it’s working out. That’s when I can kind of get out all of the jitters and all of the frustrations. That’s how I start my day. Another third thing that I definitely am going to take into 2020 when I look at my calendar and the things that I prioritize is for me is actually prayer. 

Prayer for me is really big. I like to sit down with my tea and my journal, just me and God and I can always rely on him to give me peace. So, I was actually just talking to my husband last night about how challenging it is for me to live in Dallas when you most of our extended family lives in Mississippi. And so funny, I bribed my mother a million times, I kid you not, to come here and move in with me. Like the struggle is really real. 

So, like I said, three things for me, focus and taking better care of myself, prayer. Those are the things that for me, that I prioritize that really help me stay on task, kind of building in that time. I think for anyone listening, whatever that looks like for you, do that and make it a priority. That’s what’s going to help you succeed in every area of your life when you can be sure that you’re whole and you can show up 100% every day.

Susan: That is very good. That is amazing. I love what you’ve incorporated and I love those three takeaways. That’s fantastic. And I also really appreciate because we don’t have family that live here, either. So, I really appreciate you saying how hard it is to live far from family and figuring out how to do that with kids. It’s not easy. And I think so many people live far, far enough away from family where it’s not like mom, or you know, aunt so and so can just come over at the drop of a hat and go and help out. It’s a lot. It’s a lot to take on. So I’m glad you mentioned that. Okay, three fun questions before we end. This has been fantastic. But I know you… 

Jessica: Me too. Thank you for inviting me. 

Susan: How do you like to start off a new year? And some people I’ve realized this is the first year for me where normally I’m very school calendar-based. So I’m very academic year focused. So like I kind of kicked off at the beginning of the academic year, and now I’m kind of, six months later and I’m going to do it again. So I kind of like doing it twice. But how do you like to start off your new year? Is it Are you a goals and resolutions person? Are you a word person? Is there what you want to read before the end of the year? What does that look like for you? 

Jessica: I’m so glad you asked this. I usually am a goals and resolutions person because my husband is too. We usually do it together. We’re a little bit behind the ball but we’re going to set some time. Like I said, I’m block out our calendar right when our kids are in the bed and focus on those things. And we’re going to do it. We love to sit down and number one, like our goals start with finances. What can we do this year? Like last year, we were big on giving, like we really wanted to give. 

We really wanted to be able to support the organizations, the people around us and whatever that looked like, financially, we wanted to be able to set some money aside for that. We wanted to save, we increased our percentage on our retirements last year because we want to be more aggressive in how we’re saving for the future, or for our kids, you know, with the 529 plans and things like that. I mean, we really sit down and get detailed about, okay, what are we going to do with our money this year? 

And then also, what are we going to do with our time? Like I said, we both like to serve together in our church home. And this last year was awesome. We became marriage coaches. We are working with a ministry called Renew at our church, where people are really just taking their marriage either first, from surviving to thriving or from thriving to just amazing, incredible marriages. And so that was something that came about, and the fact that I said, no, I said no to some other commitments. It actually, when this one came around, I was able to say yes, and I love that. God has his way of doing things like that. It was very wonderful.

And so this year, you know what, we’re pairing down. The fact that we took on that new responsibility, I’m thinking about okay, what am I going to take off my calendar this year? What responsibility am I going to let go because I started to feel a little bit of burnout towards the end of the year. And you never want your commitments to feel like what we were talking about that feeling of overwhelming. You definitely don’t want that to set in. 

And so, yes, like I said, money, time, hopefully we’re going to go on some vacations this year and I can plan that out. As far as me personally, I am so bad. Like I like I said, I’m a mom, I work. When I really think about me personally, what I want to do, just me, I love photos. I really love taking pictures and videos. And for me personally, I want to start setting aside some time to make photo books. 
It’s so funny, my son, he’s three years old now. And so he’s aware of the fact that I made this really nice, special baby book for my oldest daughter back then when I had one child. I had all this time. I made her book. And now he’s like, Mommy, where’s my baby book? I’m like, “Oh my gosh, it’s been three years. I haven’t done his book.” 

Susan: You are not alone.

Jessica: No pictures. 

Susan: They’re all on my phone and I’ve got stuff stuffed in the box. 

Jessica: You’ve got all this stuff, don’t you? 

Susan: Yes, but it’s not put together. It’s that last step. 

Jessica: No. We’re going to hold each other accountable. We’re going to take a day on a weekend. And we’re going to tell our families that hey, we’re ghosting, we’re out of here. And we’re going to get together at Starbucks and we’re going to do these photo books together. How about that? That’s the resolution there. 

Susan: Yes. That’s amazing. Yes, let’s do that for sure. 

Jessica: But anyway, I mean, yeah, I’m a resolutions person. And I do like to think about… I’m always very forward-thinking and so planning ahead, you know, kind of what we’re going to do collectively as a family, you know. Even at my job, we sit down… We are in our third quarter and so we’re thinking about what do we need to do to get to goal by the end of our fiscal year. 

So, I mean, in every area of my life, we’re sitting down and we’re strategizing and we’re really thinking about the future and I love it. I love that people do that because the beginning of the year is a great time to just reset, reevaluate, just kind of have a fresh start. And so, yes, that’s what I’m doing. 

Susan: Well, that’s awesome. I had one more question. What are you reading right now? Is there anything that you are reading that either my listeners need to put on their shelf for 2020? Is there anything that you are reading that you have read that you’re like, in 2020, this is a book to read? 

Jessica: Oh my gosh, I see. We talked about goals. I need to read more. I need to stop all the scrolling on my social media. That’s what I read. I’m that person that’s just reading all the updates, you know, on my Instagram and my Facebook and I’m so bad. I really have not been reading but that doesn’t mean I don’t have books on my bookshelf. I actually have a friend and her name is LeTesha Wheeler and she goes to my church and I think it’s awesome. She has this book called Half Breed and it’s a biography. 

She is a mixed woman. And her book is a great story about her life. But in a lot of ways, it’s very unifying. Her message about race relations right no in this day and time. Both of us, we go to the same church. Our church is very diverse. I think it may be one of the most diverse churches in the Metroplex and to be able to come together on a Sunday morning with everybody black people, white people, Asian, you know, Latino. I mean, everybody. For her, that’s where the reconciliation begins. And like I said, I’ve got her book on my bookshelf, and I’m going to read it and next time we talk, I’ll be able to tell you all about it. How about that? 

Susan: Well, tell us the name of that book one more time. 

Jessica: Yes, it’s Half Breed

SusanHalf Breed. All right. I’m looking that up. That sounds like a fantastic book to read that we should all be reading right now. 

Jessica: Yes. Especially going into this political season, we need that. We need to be unified. 

Susan: Yes. But just with everything that’s happening, that’s surrounding that with just the way people…Well, not that people haven’t always been mistreated. Don’t hear me wrong on that. But it’s an uptick in this. And it’s not getting better. And it is breaking my heart when I turn on the news, or just open my Reuters or AP app, and it’s like, and something else has happened. And it is a breaking my heart and I feel powerless about it. 

So, thank you for bringing that book up and thank you for bringing that to the forefront of this New Year. Because you’re absolutely right. This is going to be a year to seriously consider that for sure and your own role in it. I’m talking more. 

Jessica: Absolutely, yes. 

Susan: Okay. Well, I have had way too much fun with you this afternoon.

Jessica: Me too.

Susan:  And I just want to appreciate you for making the time to come and share with us about something that you kind of really undertook in a time or a season of change in your life. I think I always felt like you were really organized. So when you told me you were doing this at the time, I was just stunned. So I’m glad to know that most of the organized people that I feel like I know how to struggle with these things too. It just brings us closer together and makes us realize we are all human. 
Jessica: Yes. That’s it. You’re right. And I hope this is helpful to you and to anyone listening. So thank you for inviting me. 

Susan: Thanks for coming on, Jess. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Jessica: Yes, I’ll be in touch. Thank you.