Posted in Love Life

Confession of Wedding Dress Terror

Pretty sure this is THE ONE for me…eeeeek!

So in early January 2011, I had my first invitation ever to go wedding dress shopping with a friend. Woohoo! Fabulous! Can’t wait! Isn’t this every woman’s dream? To go wedding dress shopping? To imagine and dream of that one perfect day when she is a true princess, looks gorgeous no matter what.

Yeah, right.

Just a few minutes in the first shop, and I wanted out. While my friend tried on dresses (and I wrangled one of her two children), I walked around and looked at the dresses. At least, I tried. So many styles, colors, embellishments. It’s truly overwhelming…even more so for a woman (uhum, me) who hates shopping for clothes.

Nope, this is not the dress she picked for her vow renewal, though it was one of my favorites on her!

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to dress up and look good and be really stunning on occasion as well. But when faced with the pressure…heck, just the thought of the pressure…of finding that one perfect dress that will do all the right things and not even think of the wrong things for that one perfect dream day, well shit. That is definitely enough to turn this old, hardened realist into a coward.

And then the truth was forced out of me. I’d never even tried on a wedding dress. You know, like that episode of Friends where Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe all go get a $99 sale dress from Kleinfeld’s (when it was still on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge Brooklyn) and just hang around the apartment all day, pretending.

And then I made the mistake of posting said admission on FaceBook, which netted me a slew of commented, texted, and even called-in astonishments and dares.

And I can’t resist a dare.

So at the last store…David’s Bridal…yes, I tried on a dress. And damned if it isn’t THE ONE. Simple, fitted, with just a bit of bead embellishment on the top and straps. And best of all, it fit in my exact dress size, not the few sizes up that wedding apparel seems to run. And the bonus: under $500 regular price. Huh, not bad for a girl who started the day terrified of doing more than offering my opinion on the dresses my friend was trying on.

 

 

NOTE: I originally wrote this post on January 6, 2011 though I didn’t post it until January 31, 2020.

Posted in Being Healthy, Everyday Musings, God Loves Me!

Re-Discovering Self-Care

I started a new job six weeks ago. An amazing job. A dream job. An exciting job.

And in classic CeCe fashion, I’ve given it everything and more: 10 hour days, nights in front of the tv, weekends. I truly do love it and am enjoying the many ways I get to help others through this job.

Yet no matter how much I love it, it still wears me out…every day.

So last week when my co-leader caught me rubbing my eyes just after lunch, he started a campaign to send me home early, take some time off. Even if I hadn’t been working long days, I’d certainly accomplished well more than expected in a short time and had earned some extra self-care time.

So I left at noon on Friday only to realize I had absolutely no plan for self care. And it didn’t take me long to remember that when that question came up in my interviews, my co-leader had noticed…and noted…that I didn’t have a good answer for what I do for fun (self care).

So I gave myself permission to treat myself to some things I used to do regularly, a long time ago, that had somehow fallen off of my schedule:

  • massage – for the gift of touch, of meditation, of being present and focusing on the real needs of my physical body, of my acceptance that I can’t will away the tired when my body really needs rest
  • my favorite coffee – for the uniqueness, the spice, the warmth, the moment of earthiness with the first sip
  • my favorite handmade soap/shampoo/lotion store – for the indulgence, the expense, the luxury, and the promise of a bath rarely prepared
  • my favorite clothing store – for the self-expression through clothes that I’ve discovered only with age and acceptance of my body and my inner weird
  • my favorite rock – for the gift of stability, a place to sit, the elevation above the ground so I can see farther and more clearly whatever I’m looking at
  • my favorite church – for the blessing of my God, the comfort of a familiar place to worship, the words of prayer and absolution, the message I need to hear whether I like it or not, the safe place to cry it out in frustration, pleading, or thanksgiving
  • cooking – for myself to make intentional choices about how I feed my body and mind, for others to care for them
  • blogging – for sharing how my brain works things out, not always problems – more things that intrigue me, challenge me, seem important even when I don’t yet know why

Things I didn’t do that might also become part of my self care:

  • read a book or listen to a podcast – a devotion, a memoir, I think of this as something soul-feeding rather than mind-feeding, though certainly I’m happy for it to do both
  • hike a trail or waterfall – the mountains call to me, so that’s where I instinctively head for quiet time; and I wasn’t in the mountains this weekend
  • paddle a dragon boat on the lake (coming in spring)
  • meditate – something I’m trying out with a group starting 1/14

I have so many questions about what and how, all because I got out of the habit:

  • What do you do for self care that I might add to my try it out list?
  • What are you looking to achieve with self care?
  • What hasn’t worked for you, and why do you think it didn’t work?

I’d love to read what your self-care experiences have been.

 

 

Posted in Everyday Musings, leadership

2020 Bucket List

IMG_0613I’m a #theonething #the1thing follower. I read the book annually. I listen to the weekly podcast. It heads my 411.

I use the #411to plan success.

So what do I want to achieve in 2020? Here’s my #2020BucketList – and these are in importance order:

  1. find a church and faith community where I can continue growing
  2. celebrate my 45th birthday at Harry Potter World 10/31/2020 – with my nieces and anyone else who wants to join!
  3. add 5 states/countries to my list of places visited (get a map to start tracking and planning this; get a National Parks Passport): Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Spain – this covers 2 vacations this year
  4. go on one big hike each month (join a hiking group/meetup?)
  5. get my real estate license (for referrals, y’all!)
  6. write to the people who live in my house in Homer, AK to start working on buying my house
  7. pay off planned debt reduction (part of larger financial plan)
  8. save/grow at least $15K (part of larger financial plan)
  9. enjoy a full year’s subscription to Sparkle Hustle Grow – and the books and growth training included in that!
  10. design and get my fireweed tattoo

PS: my bucket list for work is different. How? It goes on a Growth Plan as my focus for each month – ways to ensure that I am constantly in a system review and quality improvement mindset.

Oh, and the best part: I give you permission to hold me accountable. To text me and ask where I am in accomplishing one or more of these goals. I mean, you read this far, so deserve that permission. Make it count!

Posted in Everyday Musings

Heart: Word of the Year 2020

I’ve never chosen a word for the year. In fact, for the past 8 years, my word has been chosen for me as I picked a star out of a basket on Epiphany Sunday at church. And now that I’m in a new place and a new job and headed down a new-ish path, I’m taking charge.

As of New Year’s Eve 12/31/2019, I had the following “short list” of words for 2020:

  • brilliant
  • rescue
  • feed
  • heart
  • love
  • present
  • be
  • abundance
  • joy
  • open
  • yes
  • answer

All of these words came from prayer and meditation on the classic word-choosing questions:

  • What did I enjoy receiving or giving in the last year?
  • What did I *need* more of?
  • What did I *want* more of?
  • What did I *not* want any of?

And then I gave myself one last night to sleep on it and my #firstdayhike to make my final choice. I’m still not quite sure if I chose it or it chose me. Either way, it was immediate and confirming, and I have no doubt this is my word for 2020.

IMG_0619The moment I saw the heart-shaped rock in my path, right where my footstep would naturally land, I stopped and picked it up. It was freezing cold, as I expected and hoped it would be; I love the way rocks hold cold and are cold even when the world around them is warm.

IMG_5207I held that rock in my palm the rest of my hike. It fits perfectly. And it’s pretty close to the same size as my heart rock from Homer, AK, though a completely different stone.

Why “heart,” you ask? Especially since I’m not particularly fond of the shape!

I’ve heard people – lots of people – tell me in the past year about how they can see my heart, that it’s a big heart, and a good heart. I think it’s a result of being authentic, and I want to be intentional about it – not accidental – because I truly don’t know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, that shows my heart.

And I want to be intentional about helping others find ways to show their heart and to know their heart is seen and valued.

It sounds so simple when I put it like that. Simple, but not easy, right!?

So you’ll help me, yeah? Tell me when I’m doing it!

Posted in leadership, What I Read

Read What Ops Leaders Read

Ops Boss Pink Carpet Photos
Kacee DeVore and CeCe Mikell at Ops Boss Leader Retreat 2019.

It was #OpsBossLeaderRetreat 2019. #WeGotBossy.

  • 13 hours of scheduled retreat: speakers, workshops, masterminds
  • 18 hours of unscheduled retreat: dinners, lunches, train rides, the National Mall at night

Homework #1: schedule reading these books that ops leaders use in their thinking and doing every day

Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod: recommended by Kristen Brindley. Structure your morning to get your head right and maximize the day for success.

High Performance Habits, by Brendon Bouchard: recommended by Kristen Brindley. And get the planner to go with it. It’s about the questions you ask yourself every day!

Procrastinate on Purpose, by Rory Vaden: recommended by Kristen Brindley. Focuses on the significance of time

13 Fatal Errors Manager Make and How You Can Avoid Them, by W. Steven Brown: recommended by Adelina Rotar. There are a lot of ways to mess up managing people, and some key corrections YOU make to make managing others more successful.

Scaling Your Business: How to Drive Revenue, Save Time, and Create Your Dream Company, by Daniel Ramsey: recommended by Daniel Ramsey. Text SVP to 31996 to get this book free

The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker:  recommended by Sheena Saydam. About creating meaningful client events that they’ll fight to come to.

Stand Up: 75 Young Activists Who Rock the World…and How You Can Too!, by John Schlimm: recommended by John Franklin Stephens. Bust through limiting beliefs!

The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath: recommended by Stephanie Bracket. Creating a culture that makes agents and staff seek out your company to join.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen: recommended by Stephanie Brackett. Check out the workbook too!

The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan: recommended by literally EVERYONE

Visual Journaling
First page of my visual journal. Same concept as a vision board with more focus on discovering yourself and your goals.

And you can see the full list on Amazon here!

There’s more…soooo much more. I’ll share it over time.

PSST: when you go to order your books, make sure to order through smile.amazon.com and choose a charity to receive a donation from Amazon for every purchase you make. I choose Special Olympics South Carolina because it’s through sports and training that my brother, a brain injury survivor, has continued to set and achieve goals in his life, including as a public speaker and advocate for others with disabilities.

Posted in Everyday Musings

Why I Call Myself a Grinch – but I’m Not Really a Grinch

It’s like a switch that automatically turns me off as soon as the Advent 1 church service starts. All of the joy and excitement and celebration that suddenly becomes the center of everyone else’s life for four weeks to Christmas just falls right out of me. Dries up. Heck, runs away screaming.

Because of this, I’ve always called myself a Grinch, sometimes a Scrooge or a Humbug.

But dammit, I’m not. I’m none of those characters. I’m not mean or nasty or heartless. I don’t steal anyone else’s fun and cheer.

I don’t hate the holidays – the secular ones or the holy ones. I don’t hate the traditions, the gatherings, the food, the songs, the colors, the festivities.

But I’m an introvert. The holidays, and my reaction to them, is one of the few ways I know, truly know that my Myers-Briggs 1-point preference for introvertism is really true; seven other behavioral analysis, several repeated, confirm this. I know, it’s hard to believe of me, right?

“The holidays” are inherently a social phenomenon; they can’t happen without the tacit cooperation of groups – mostly large groups – of people, whether parade marchers or watchers, naughty and nice list comparisons, and the most basic present giving and receiving. Even more so, the religious foundation of holi-days is social, beginning with and culminating in a collection of the largest worship services of the year for most churches.

Think about it. There is not one single holiday tradition that carries a positive connotation and is experienced without engagement with others.

And for me – an introvert with a 6-person max – this is excruciating. Even if I’m mostly left to “wall-flower” (which is what I always secretly hope will happen), I watch the clock so that I can cut and run as soon as I’ve attended for a respectable amount of time.

And I do want to be respectful when I choose to attend; I never want to make a host/ess feel like s/he has done something to make me uncomfortable or unhappy. It’s why I choose quite carefully and deliberately when and how and with whom to engage during the holidays.

If I cow to expectations and attend, I’m often noticeably reserved, even if I have a drink. In fact, I willingly – actually cheerfully – volunteer to cook, serve, and especially clean up just so I have an easy excuse to just be rather than interact.

If I do what I want and RSVP regrets in favor of Die Hard and Home Alone marathons, I’m labeled a Grinch, a Scrooge, a Humbug by others.

It’s a Catch-22 of the purest variety.

Because I’m not a Grinch with a heart too small to love others. I’m not a Scrooge who’s been hurt by others and just wants to hurt people back. I’m not a Humbug out to squash others’ celebration. (While I do detest yard decorations with a passion, I’ve never once suggested that others stop decorating or take theirs down.)

But I don’t have any other cultural references to use when trying to simplify my discomfort with the norms of the holidays than to call myself a Grinch, a Scrooge, or a Humbug. They serve to convey that I don’t want to participate, certainly. But the edge of negativity they come with is something I’d like to figure out how to divest.

Posted in Being Healthy, Cooking, corn free, gluten free, nut free, soy free

Prep-ahead Clean Lunch for $3.72: Ginger Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Roasted Potatoes

You know those prep-ahead clean eating lunch videos – often from Tasty? Well, I decided to give one a whirl.

Here’s the basic concept: pick 1 protein for 3-oz servings, 2 vegetables, and 1 gluten free carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, quinoa).

IMG_2144Mine: chicken breast with ginger aioli, brussels sprouts, asparagus and mushrooms, and creamer potatoes.

I took some help from my local Harris Teeter produce: cut and salt/pepper/garlicked brussels sprouts and asparagus pack ($3.99 each) and a ready-to-bake-in-pan package of creamer potatoes (also $3.99). The potatoes came with a seasoning packet, which I chose to use because the sodium was really, really low.

The only thing I made was garlic aioli. How? Peel some garlic – about 2 inches worth – and pour 1/4 cup of your good oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut) and a pinch of salt into your bullet blender and let it go. Then I brushed it directly onto my chicken breasts. I drizzled the little bit left over onto the brussels sprouts, just because.

Into a 450°F fully preheated oven for 30 minutes. That’s all it takes.

IMG_2148Let it cool and divvy it up into four microwave safe food storage containers. Voila. Lunch for the week – for me, at least, since I have only four days with a fixed lunch hour.

Cost Analysis

  • $2.90 – Chicken Breast – one giant one from a 6-pack, cut into 4 pieces
  • $3.99 – pre-cut asparagus with sliced mushrooms and minced garlic
  • $3.99 – pre-cut brussels sprouts seasoned with salt and pepper
  • $3.99 – creamer potatoes already in a baking pan and including seasonings

Total = $14.87

Cost per lunch = $3.72