Impact Over Impressive

2018 was a year of going, building, hustling, and learning. From speaking at the Museum of Flight in Seattle in January to launching our NASA project in DC this fall, exploring my own state, trusting my expertise and my scholarly pursuits, my first sprint triathlon, my fourth official half marathon, and high rising ropes courses. The bed rock to all of this was a growing and deepening relationship with my husband and our children, who spent a lot of time camping in a tent this year.

In 2019 I want to do more staying. Not necessarily literally “staying,” as I still have to travel some (but hopefully less) but focusing on quality over quantity and understanding that “more” doesn’t always have to be the goal. Last year I hustled for my career, this year I want to be strategic and mindful. I want to sit and be present with my husband and my kids more often.

I want to focus less on “impressive” and more on impact.

I want to continue to spend lots of time outside and sleeping in the tent.

Love and light to all if you! Make 2019 a good one and honor whatever experiences 2018 laid at your feet.

Hugs!

One Zip Code Over From Where I Started

file1-1
My husband and children take in the Mt. Cutler hiking trail during a recent visit to Colorado Springs – I was there for business, but built in some family vacation before and after.

My phone is pretty old, in modern terms anyway. I’m multiple iphone generations behind. The new OS’s take more space and I have to comb through and dump or delete things to keep storage free. This constant review of my “data” as it were brings something into focus… beyond just, “I should probably upgrade my phone.”

In combing through my gallery tonight to make storage space, I realized that one month ago today I was leaving Austin to head into San Antonio. A week prior to that I was at NASA headquarters and then helping to run one of the largest space law specific conferences in the country – where we announced that we’d been awarded a NASA pilot program grant. Since then I’ve driven rural highways in Kansas, worked with students and attended the American Ballet Theater in New York City, and enjoyed the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I took my kids trick or treating this week. Tonight I read them 7 books and I rocked my baby girl while I sang to her. This month I’ll be in my place, showing students rural Nebraska and showcasing the critical telecom and broadband infrastructure that keep modern agriculture alive. In December I’m back to DC. In January I’m speaking in front of colleagues from law schools around the country in New Orleans. And so on. I’m always in motion. I visit Universities and military bases all over the U.S., and soon abroad.

I don’t “have it all.” That’s a cliche proverb by now, but I’m “having all of it.” Every last bit. Lately, when someone casually says “how is it going?” I’ve been responding, “I’m exhausted.” It is true, but it’s not complete. I’m taking a moment now to reflect on my infinite gratitude. My position has taken me all over this country in the past six years, but my thankfulness extends beyond travel. I’m having my life. I’m in the driver’s seat.

While in the Chicago airport I received an email that several of my co-workers at the law college had nominated me for an internal award for those who show dedicated service to building our institution; for dedication to our students and our mission. Our Dean, a leader who I respect and invests in his team, selected me from these nominations. Sitting in a dirty airport terminal on a Friday night, away from my kids, cleaning discarded gum off my bags (ugh), I had tears streaming down my face. They believe in me – because I believe in Nebraska.

The prairie is in my bones. I love where I am from, though I didn’t always. When I was 18 if you’d told me I’d be buying a house and raising my family just one zip code over from where I grew up I’d have been horrified. Foolish girl, bless her. She was impulsive, focused on fun and attention, and well, didn’t get into many schools. Nebraska held her. I found my undergraduate education at a small local liberal arts school. I could have left for law school, I got into several schools, but we didn’t. I had reasons, talking points, but I really couldn’t tell you why my husband (then fiance/boyfriend) and I didn’t take that opportunity to move. Educated here, living here, raising my kids here, the open horizon is just a part of who I am. My children are having a picturesque life, and I’m more than a little obsessed with their awesomeness.

I have a career that is growing and changing and taking me to places and opportunities I never anticipated. I’m sometimes restless, being human and all, and around that time some unusual and surprising thing comes along that keeps me engaged and growing where I’m planted.

Life isn’t perfect. I’m tired. I gained all my weight back from my last weight loss (shrug). I forget to do things. Emails sometimes go unanswered. I put my foot in my mouth almost daily. I drink too much cheap wine (see also; weight gain). I sacrifice things I don’t want to – I’m not the best friend, sister, daughter, wife, co-worker, or mother I know I could be if I could any one of things the attention it deserves. I absolutely miss events and important moments in my children’s life because I’m working (that one is the real knife in the gut).

But here it is – I’m having it all of it.

All of life. The excitement of professional growth. The deep bonds of building a family with a partner I cherish. The fulfillment of raising children… the patience and tolerance built from raising children. The ups the downs, the joy.

All of this, one zip code over from where I started. That, right now, is something I’m in awe of.

Space Force

A friend posted to my wall on Facebook yesterday shortly after Trump’s declaration of the creation of a Space Force at the Space Council meeting (primarily dedicated to space traffic managements move to Commerce) asking for my reaction. Since yesterday afternoon I’ve seen plenty of memes mocking the idea.

In quotes below is my response to my friend. My expertise is still developing and growing, but here are my two cents, mostly intending to simply clarify the need (and long-time existence) of security threats in space.

“Despite a lot of folks laughing at Trump thinking this sounds ridiculous, it’s actually not (this is not an endorsement of him, to be very clear on that key point), in fact it has been discussed for awhile. Also, know that we haven’t yet seen an actual directive, only the verbal announcement at the council meeting which most of us were watching for the space traffic management directive. Anyhow, back to the space force, for context, earlier this year the House and Senate’s proposals on space organization differed significantly this year: the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 called for the organization of a Space Corps by January 1, 2019 a proposal that was not adopted in the Senate version of the bill and which was opposed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Following that there has been significant (if not a bit predatory) criticism on the US Air Force’s handling of space and their procurement process. The USAF has too many friends in the senate to get something like this through there but this directive bypasses that. Related, lots of folks seem to think this is ridiculous and I admit “space force” sounds that way. But I urge people to keep in mind the entire satellite industry including our military space assets. This is a major part of our national infrastructure. In fact GPS satellites are responsible for validating every financial transaction happening electronically in the country. Security of both commercial and public sector assets in space is fundamental to our national security. Further, wars are already fought and space, not with space ships but via satellite nudging, jamming and interference – given the new tech it is a major part of the new war-fighting mission set. Personally I felt the US Air Force was up to the task with some new organizational planning but others obviously felt differently.”

To clarify one of my points above, the administration can’t entirely bypass congress. Trump will need Congress to rewrite Title 10 of the United States Code that specifies the roles and missions of the armed forces.

Boldly Go, Class of 2018

I can tell graduation is near. I enjoyed attending the Nebraska Law end-of-year alumni awards luncheon this afternoon and I’m looking forward to a dinner this evening with the amazing undergraduates in Political Science Intelligence Community Scholars program. I’m a sentimental dork, but indulge me. Each year we support students to the best of our ability. I, with many others, strive to provide opportunities for intellectual growth, real-world practical experiences, and for bonding and engagement with peers (future colleagues, y’all!) for all the students I work with. We can’t spend the time with each individual we wish we could but each year I get to know an amazing group of people – and each year yet another amazing group graduates. They each face successes and struggles in the years following their graduation, but whether they know it or not they’re constantly on my mind. It is truly a joy and privilege to engage in the world by training the legal workforce that supports innovative technology and serves our country.

As with the careers they will all go on to have, my own has bad days and good days, but I can always say this: I believe in what we do here. I believe the law must grow and adapt and legal education must reflect that. I believe the impact Nebraska alumni – undergrads to JDs to LLMs – have on the world makes it a better place.

I am so unbelievably proud to be a part of so many journeys.

Boldly Go, class of 2018. I’m cheering for you… but you should probably get back to studying because finals are next week and to my LL.M.s – one word.

Thesis.

My Big Fat Yoga Practice

When you think about people who do yoga 3 to 7 times a week some of the characteristics probably lineup with me: I own Uggs. I recycle. I talk about stuff like “self-care.” What you probably don’t imagine are people who weigh over 170 pounds (raises hand). I run, bike, or swim almost every day and I always fit in a little bit of yoga, but my body is still big, curved, soft, and all mine.

I became a runner about three years ago and lost about 80 pounds (which also coincided with a year and a half of breast-feeding my youngest child). Since then I’ve gained about 30 pounds back, but I’ve been maintaining this weight for about eight months now. I don’t love it and I miss my old pants, but I struggle with self discipline when it comes to food and, well, I probably need to do a lot more weight lifting. Here nor there, my life is busy as hell. The amount of exercise I already get in takes and an exhausting amount of self motivation. This might just be what my butt is going to look like for a while, guys.

So what does that have to do with my yoga practice? I stopped thinking about yoga as a workout and started thinking about it as “this fun thing I do.” I started – without meaning to – focusing on how good the stretches felt and how open my big ol’ body feels when I pour myself into my practice.

I often like to record my yoga so I can check my foundation on certain poses. I want to share some screen grabs of that for all of the other big, curvy, beautiful, Yogi mamas out there. Your body is perfect for yoga, right now, as it is.

Also, you may notice Saturn in the bottom left picture on that first collage. My kid was totally using the toilet in that picture. That is mom life y’all. You do yoga while your kid poops with the door open. Just lean into this life and remind yourself: you wanted this. Ha!

Lately, my time on the mat has nothing to do with getting the best ass, it is completely about laughing at myself and loving my myself for simply being there.

 

I do all my yoga at home with Yoga with Adriene or Comic Kids Yoga (both via YouTube) when the kids want in on the action.

Namaste y’all.

 

 

My Fellow Millennials, Cheers

26170643_870059737631_1385246405300429353_oMy New Years Eve post goes out to fellow millennials.

First, may we continue to take selfies because you know it drives them nuts (hashtag not sorry).

May we continue to work our asses off and enjoy the occasional avocado toast.

May we, as parents, professionals, students, and individuals build bridges, support our communities, look past failed political divisions, innovate our businesses, and put passion and people before profits. May we scorn debtors and push our future ourselves, paying our own way.

And to everyone, snarky generational commentary aside, remember that no year, be it this one or the one you were born in, may define you – only you can do that.

Cheers.

In 2018, do you. Authentically you. 

2018 Resolutions: Look up and pay attention.

There is no denying it. New Year’s Resolutions are cliché, but for some inexplicable reason they resonate with me. The cycle of the year holds power in my life. In particular, the past three years my resolutions have been very important to me. I have changed my life by becoming more active. I have applied myself intellectually and professionally in new, brave ways. I’ve always focused on pushing myself toward some new and great achievement. This year I’m competing in my first women’s sprint triathlon and will train for my fourth half marathon.

I’m proud of those things and they’re great goals (I’m a bit goal orientated if that wasn’t coming through) but in 2018 I want to focus on presence.

I spend a lot of time taking pictures of my kids. They’re adorable and hilarious and I’m ridiculously proud by every little thing they do. Then, after I get the perfect photo, I spend more time posting those pictures to Facebook and/or Instagram with my witty asides or commentary.

Any parents familiar with the following?

Parent: “Oh that’s so funny! Let me grab my phone!”

Kid: “Cheese!”

Parent: “Why are you smiling weird? Smile normal.”

Kid: “Cheese!”

Parent: “Got it! Oh look at that so cute!”

Kids: “Mom, let’s play! “

Parent: “Hold on I’m picking a filter.”

Kid: “Mom, can I play on your phone too?”

Parent: “No, hold on I’m almost done.”

Kid continues cute activity but disengages from parent.

I really hate this. I’m really, really not proud of this. But that? I do that more often than I’d like to admit.

Sometimes I’ll wait until later in the evening to post the pictures, but I’ll say it: I take a lot of photos with social media in mind. Not for the memory books and picture frames, but so I can find a good picture for posting. Ew.

My 2018 resolution is to stop posting pictures of my kids on social media.

I will not stop taking pictures all together. I want photos for our family to print, share, send to each other, and enjoy, but no more posting. I’ll still mention family moments and activities because my family is my world, but no photos of the kids. No more drafting the post – sometimes even spending time thinking about possible posts ahead of time – and putting off engaging in the moment.

I don’t want their family memories to be of mommy staring at her phone… and I am worried I have veered off in that direction.

It is my hope that removing the “showing them off” element of capturing moments in my children’s lives will make me more present the moment.

My resolution is NOT a commentary on other people’s posting habits or choices. You can post many adorable photos of your kids and still be a present, wonderful parent (to be clear, I also do not think I’m a bad parent). This is just something I want to try for myself. This is about me focusing on the present rather than the post.

My reason is not about privacy so much as presence. I’m not combing through and removing old pictures and my parents, my husband, and other friends and family will, I assume, still share some pictures. I’m all-good with that.

Truth be told when I think about not sharing their adorable Halloween costumes or their first day of school pictures it sends sad little pangs across my heart – but here is the deal – they won’t know the difference. For them Halloween will be exactly the same whether my friends from high school know what they wore or not. We do Halloween events for them, not for me and certainly not for LSE Class of 2003, so I need to suck it up.

So, sprint triathlon and half marathon aside, my 2018 goals? Look up and pay attention.

Words For My Children

It’s rainy. I feel as though my life is in beautiful transition. Forgive me my sappiness.

Words For My Children:

Just like the rest of the world, you do not always bring out the best of me. I’m more patient now, which you likely can not believe. Yes, I was somehow even less patient than now. You’ve changed other things too.

My Maxwell, you’ve made me strong. My mother raised me as such, but you cemented it, drawing strength out of me from pits I didn’t know existed. You are my refuge from fear. You made it clear your first day on earth: there is nothing love can’t heal. Your arrival marked me as a warrior. You plant my feet to the ground.

Maxwell, I expect too much from you. I know that. But you, my little soul, are worthy of great expectations. You’re clever, sometimes too clever, and careful. You play and fall, sure, but you anticipate what is to come. You are made of emotion and passion. I hold you to high standards because your own standards are higher. Your heart is gentle and your mind is fierce. Your spirit is much like mine. I imagine you and I have shouting and arguments in our future, but know, please always know, you have my love unconditionally. Knowing you makes me better. Raising you makes me proud.

You’re creative too. I’m never quite sure what is happening in your mind, what story is unfolding. Embrace that son, even when I’m barking at you to get into the car faster because it is raining. I can’t promise I’ll stop being grumpy, but I can promise storytelling will always be worth your time.

My Eleanor. Oh, Eleanor. I call you little warrior because of your stubborn impulses and love of plastic weaponry, but there the title fades. You’re made of joy, and delight, and possibly kittens. You’re a playful and compassionate little being. Your grin shatters me into pieces of love and happiness that leave me incapable of coherent thought briefly. You get away with a lot. You call for me a lot, which I secretly love, though less so at three in the morning. I sometimes feel as though we have a secret language you and I. One made entirely of touch and smiles. You sink into me when we hug and snuggle.

You dance Elly Bear, oh how you bop about and jump and twirl. You bring the world light it desperately needs. You’re also confident. Your sense of self is more robust at two and half than mine at 32, but that is a gift you’ve been sharing.

You’ve taught me to love myself where I am, not a far off ideal. Watching you romp about discovering things made me stop putting off my joy. I find peace in everyday now. My hope for you is that you grow and change but always know yourself the way you do today.

Words for my children: Thank you.

#mileaday

In April of 2015, roughly 3 months post-partum, I challenged myself to start walking one mile per day (or 30 per month). In May 2015 I started taking one photo each walk to document my journey and tagging it #mileadayinmay, later just #mileaday. A few months later I added running. Since then I’ve run three official half marathons and a handful of 5K and 10Ks. I lost 85lbs, reaching a peak low in the fall of 2015. Since then I’ve grown professionally somewhat significantly… and I’ve gained about 35lbs back. Whoops. I’ve been feeling so discouraged in my running, my weight, and my overall stress level. I loved feeling so strong, but lately find myself short on time to devote to fitness given my passion for my career, community obligations, and caring for two kids.

The long and short of it is this: time is precious and I can’t take the emails with me. I want my career to grow, but I need to take care of myself and my family. It may make things take longer, but I’ll have my health for that time. It’s time to let focus in, get back to work, and continue to be proud of journey (the scale’s opinion be damned).  My favorite thing about “mile a day” is that it is so doable. Just one mile per day; more if I can, but no pressure. Just get up and move. Celebrate small victories. From January 2015 (pre #mileaday but started tracking) to today, I have run and walked 1,900.04 miles. That’s a reason to be proud, setbacks and all.

To inspire myself, I combed my Instagram and pulled every photo I tagged #mileaday or #mileadayinmay. There are 520 of them, spanning from May 2015 to yesterday, September 25, 2017. They include walks, runs, and moments I associated with my fitness journey (seriously, just anything I tagged with #mileaday).

My comments and context has been stripped – I’ve saved only the images. They’re not in perfect chronological order, but a happy mess of achievement and determination.

These pictures show love, they celebrate several of the trips I’ve taken since 2015, they showcase Lincoln and the University, they remind me that I have passion, drive, and will power I never knew I had until I dug for it.

Here’s to another 520 photos and another 1,900 miles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

wonder woman to human trash fire and back

We all have hard days. Days we feel bad about ourselves; feel like we’re not enough. At least I do.

Not every day. Most days I fly my fabulous flag high and authentically. Less often I have days I feel like a miserable failure of a human. This is, of course, not true but that doesn’t fix that overwhelming “I’m a human garbage disposal” feeling entirely.

I thought that when I lost “the weight,” or passed the bar exam, or finished this, that, or the other, THEN. THEN I would finally stop having days this occasionally. For example, I truly believed I only had self-doubt regarding my intelligence mostly because I hadn’t passed the bar. I thought that a piece of paper would suddenly make me realize my intellectual worth – and truth be told, it does help. It’s a concrete marker of skill. However, here I am today having a “I’m a human trash fire” kind of day. Same goes for my weight loss, running, or anything else.

Our external markers of success don’t always speak to our internal ones.

Oh. Did you think I was going to present a solution to conquering self-doubt even when you’re in a period of external/public success? Nope. I ain’t got one. I just thought someone else might like to hear they aren’t alone. Some days I feel like a human septic tank too.

… although, I think it’s OK to feel sad some days. Maybe we don’t fix it. I think, just maybe, we should hold hands with the anxiety, and the worry, and the doubt. I think we let our brains be scared, hurt, and vulnerable little kids for a day – for tomorrow we raise our flags again.

PS – you are never a human trash fire to me ❤