This is how I can help you

Are you one of those charming people who never says ‘no’ to anyone? Are you one of those well-meaning, eager beavers always ready and willing to say ‘yes’ to help requests? I am. I am also one of the crazies who ends up strained and stressed trying to figure out how to deliver on my many commitments.

Karol Hernandez

A helpful soul


Why do I say ‘yes’?

Very few things on earth bug me as much as a person with “alligator arms”; you know, the ones whose hands go slightly up in the air and are quick to say “that’s not my job”. Seriously, that behavior is so against my core I consider it borderline offensive.

I love the feeling of being helpful and to be honest, I love the feeling of being needed. I also understand that in the economy of interpersonal relationships, help and favors are a currency. We make deposits and withdrawals. We make investments, some yield good results, and in the best cases some give way to great friendships.

I always say ‘yes’ because I like to be liked, and we can all agree that most reasonable people like a helpful person. And here is reason #1: I like to say ‘yes’ because more often than not, helping leads to learning.

-El acomedido come lo que está escondido-

I grew up hearing this Spanish saying all the time. The helpful person eats what’s hidden. Translation reads funny but it means that special treats are reserved for those who go out of their way to help…there are delicacies only a helpful soul can savor.

Oh, but we must learn to say no.

What good are treats and delicacies if we are too overwhelmed to enjoy them? A person who likes to be liked can struggle with uttering a certain tiny word: no. We feel like we are letting someone down, or worse, we are missing out on the opportunity to razzle-dazzle. 

In order to retain my sanity and for my ‘yes’ to hold its value, I’ve had to say ‘no’. This is important, we can say ‘yes’ all we want, but that little word can be devalued if we fail to deliver. If saying ‘no’ seems uncomfortable, imagine saying a ‘yes’ no one has faith in, ouch!

I have found a happy medium. Sometimes I can help, just not to the extent the requester is expecting. In these cases I don’t say ‘no’. Why would I? There is some currency at stake and honestly my inner helping hand wants to be raised high in the air like it just don’t care. 

I take inventory of my ability to commit and simply tell the requester a magic and mighty phrase: HERE IS HOW I CAN HELP YOU.

It is a thing of beauty. Most reasonable people respond well to this offer because there is clarity, it tells them their request is not an inconvenience and I am very interested in being accommodating. Win-win.

Knowing how I can help others and being able to articulate it clearly has enabled me to be helpful in meaningful ways. I still over extend myself on ocassion but definitely a lot less than I used to. Time is a luxury, one we must enjoy and share intentionally, deliberately.

I am off to enjoy the two most beautiful creatures on the face of my earth…my kids.

PK

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Why I love Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope is probably the best character in the history of comedy and humankind! Kidding, but that’s probably how she’d describe her favorite character, with passion bordering idolatry.

I came to know Leslie Knope during my second maternity leave. After all the helping hands and train meals stopped coming I turned to Netflix for company and found the jewel called Parks and Rec. Since then, I have watched the entire show 2 or 3 times and often turn to it when I need background noise while cleaning or thinking.

It was during a recent thinking day that it hit me, I love Leslie Knope! I love her stubborn passion, I love her determination, I love her pioneering spirit, I love the goodness she sees in people, I love her relentlessness, I love how much fight she has in her. I want to be like Leslie Knope.

There have been times in my career when I have been there; hyper focused, uber motivated, super energized, unshakable, unmovable, so committed to a dream and a vision, I can hardly sleep. Those are my Leslie Knope times. My passion is infectious and I can sell ice to an eskimo. I am on top of my game and on top of the world.

Then there are times when things go dark; my compass finds no north, I feel adrift and question the meaning of everything I do. I am sure this is true for many fields. In my world one day I am bridging gaps and coming up with award-worthy ideas; the next day I am a lone fighter defending a logo. How consequential can that be?

While sitting in that funky place Leslie reminded me of 3 important truths in my life:

  1. If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care
  2. If I come on too strong, it’s because I feel strongly
  3. And if I push too hard, it’s because things aren’t moving fast enough

I have to stop apologizing to myself for my passion and the frustration that comes with it. And to quote Leslie one last time: “I’m big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself.”

Have a fantastic weekend!

Karol

Becoming a family of 4

Ava had just turned one year old. It was the beginning of June and Garrett’s high school wrestling coach was visiting with his family. I had a strange craving, beer; I am not a beer drinker. Garrett and I joked about the craving as it was something that accompanied me during my pregnancy with Ava. I excused myself, 10 minutes later I was holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand!

Excitement ensued. Baby #2 was coming, Ava was going to be a big sister! Then reality check: I would have to share my love and attention with another kid. Could I do that? Was that possible? Would I be a good mom to 2 kids? Would Ava resent the change? Etc.

The very first statement our doctor made during our visit was: “yes, you will have enough love for both of them.” Apparently being able to love more than one kid is a very common fear.

Here we are a year and a half later. Elliott was born in February and life has been so much better because of his existence. It took us about 2 weeks to wrap our minds around the idea of life with 2. The extra gear, the extra diapers, the extra activity, the extra snuggles…our world expanded.

Ava has done a great job as a big sister. There is the occasional “he pulled my hair” and “don’t push your brother” conversation but even that can be charming.

About Elliott; he brings out of me a love so tender and sweet. It’s amazing to see how different two little people raised in the same environment can be. He is observant, playful, sweet, so happy, so laid back, super attached to me. He celebrates his sister’s shenanigans with enthusiasm, owns the heart of his teachers, has daddy wrapped around his little finger, and as far as me is concerned…he is mine and I am his.

Life is not perfect. I’ve had the occasional meltdown. Some diapers have me made want to set the house on fire. I’ve had to walk out of the room when crying seems to be an untamable monster. Laundry is a never ending task. Taking a shower in peace has become a treat…we can go on and on.

All that stuff is fleeting though. We are collectively happy. Our hearts are full. Who knew humans could love so hard? I still adore my Ava. Elliott is the icing on top of everything that is good. My darling and I are growing up and old together.

Dear Elliott, I want you to know that you are loved beyond measure.

Mom

It’s your growth: Own it!

I handed him a copy of an old Nashville Business Journal article that outlined the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. “This is what I am talking about,” I said. Sitting across the table was my boss, the recipient of a heavily marked-up newspaper and my request for a mentor.

We were talking about the amount of change I had experienced over the two years leading to our conversation. I was pregnant with my second child, settling into life as a working mom with increased responsibility at work; all exciting stuff! Yet I recognized we were navigating uncharted territory. My position was new to the company, life at home was changing once again, and I was learning important leadership lessons while building our marketing team. I needed help.

Up until that point my professional development had been the result of schooling, exposure, reading, and a few thought provoking conversations with really smart people. I wanted more. I knew my boss was committed to my growth so all I had to do was ask for what I needed. Reading the NBJ article helped me realize I had a great sponsor in my boss and what I needed was a mentor; someone to help me navigate through the good, the bad and the ugly of so much change.

What happened next? Within the week I was connected with a mentor who played an important role in my process of adapting and managing change.

Why am I telling you this story? Over the years I have encountered many people waiting on the sidelines for someone else to develop them; waiting for someone to take ownership of their growth and their destiny.

My advice? Grab the bull by the horns and take ownership of your development. Sure, your boss can be a facilitator, a guide, a coach, a sponsor, a sounding board, and in some cases even a mentor. No matter how supportive he or she is, you need to be actively involved in your journey.

A mentor can show you the way, but she can’t walk the walk for you. The people who have played an important role in my growth have shown me the way by asking tough questions or sharing thought provoking ideas. Some of those conversations made me feel uncomfortable; that discomfort led to reflection, exploration, discovery and development.

You will get so much more out of the people and the environment around you if you are willing to ask for help. Take ownership of the journey that will lead to unlocking your potential. Take the pearls of wisdom others are willing to share with you and turn them into actionable plans to get to the next level.

Be selective of the voices you listen to, not everyone is equipped to provide the guidance you need. Be curious. Ask clarifying questions. Seek encouragement when needed. Take a break from time to time…then get up and keep on keeping on.

It’s your growth: own it!

My boss 🙂

Karol Hernandez

A mom in suburbia: 33 signs

My 22 year old self would laugh so hard at this list. The writing is on the wall, I am a middle aged woman trapped in the mainland.

  1. I actually think the gift of appliances is kind of romantic. Thanks hunnie for my sexy miele vacuum.
  2. Yes, that fresh scent is essential oils mixed in all my natural cleaning products…to think I used to mock those people.
  3. Dine in? Mmm, do they deliver? I’d rather direct a Broadway show than get everyone dressed for a meal.
  4. So many highly rated restaurants in the city, so many options for date night! By the time we arrange a babysitter and make the drive…How about take out?
  5. I have seen things only parents could understand. I am damaged goods in the bodily fluids department thanks to my offspring.
  6. Did I mention I enjoy vacuuming the floors? Basically, I have turned into my mom.
  7. Forget the cleaning lady…I just need 3 hours to get this house cleaned the right way. My way! (What is happening to me?)
  8. The sun is out. Break out the chalk. It’s time to draw on the sidewalk. Distant memory of beach days and drinks plays in my mind.
  9. I own a crockpot and use it often. Fail to plan=Plan to fail. #parenting
  10. Yeah, I freeze meals these days. I became one of those people as well.
  11. Gardening is a real thing. Nothing like tomatoes and onions you have shielded from the forces of nature and voracious birds.
  12. Thank goodness Disney produces such high quality movies. Can you imagine watching Frozen a million times if it sucked? Yes. We have watched it at least a million times.
  13. Our Amazon Echo plays Finding Nemo’s soundtrack most of the day. The sad part is that I like it.
  14. I wash my hair in the middle of the night. Those 15 minutes of silence are therapeutic.
  15. I own my share of Lularoe leggings and dresses; bought them in the name of comfort and became one of those people.
  16. I live in music city but rarely go to a musical event. The city is like 25 miles away.
  17. Fine dining: drive-thru hibachi. How things have changed.
  18. At what time is story time at Barnes and Noble? To think I attended a couple of first dates at BN and never noticed the kids section.
  19. Who loves audio books? This girl! Let’s be real, no one wants to read a business book after Llama, Llama red pajama.
  20. I own and wear so many Lee Company branded items…I am pretty much a walking billboard.
  21. My coffee mug is Lee Company branded. Pretty sure I used to have a cute mug with a motivational quote not long ago.
  22. Summertime margaritas in my neighbor’s backyard fill up our social calendar. They have the margaritaville machine!
  23. My online shopping carts are filled with clothes I will not buy because I am in between sizes. What if this is my permanent new size?
  24. I have started using the anti wrinkles products I bought in my mid-twenties. Better late than never.
  25. My patience for drama has worn rather thin. I am more of a “give it to me straight” kind of person these days.
  26. I wish the silly jogger who runs through our cul-de-sac at freaking 4 am would just go away. Our dogs go nuts thanks to you! Why do we have to suffer the consequences of your healthy lifestyle? Buy a treadmill!
  27. I lie, I do like drama; especially the one that unfolds a few times a week on our community Facebook group. I should have real social interaction, I know.
  28. Who knew I would start napping at 30? You sleep when they sleep is pure gold in the advice scale.
  29. Sadly, our dogs only get my attention while I am on the toilet, I am a captive audience at that point.
  30. Did I mention my squatty potty? Oh my! You must buy one like right now!
  31. Love is: “I got this one hunnie”, in reference to a poopie diaper.
  32. Chicken tenders make such a great dinner. Yes, I am one of those people too.
  33. Can I just say Publix sushi is so unjustly underrated?

I love the quirky ways of our days.

Cheers to being 33!

PK

A happy mom in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Thick as thieves

Just when I think the love I feel for my kids can’t be more overpowering it reaches a new high. Becoming a parent has been an exercise of broadening my perspective on a daily basis.

When Ava was our only child I thought there could be nothing more powerful than the love I felt for her and what I imagined she felt for me. Elliott’s arrival proved me wrong. Seeing them love each other tops anything I have felt before.

We, humans, are finite when it comes to the infinite universe that is love.

My biggest wish is for Ava and Elliott to love, support and respect each other for as long as they live. I pray for my kids to be best friends, adventure pals, accountability partners…whatever life calls for.

This picture is not a great picture yet I love it. This picture captures their relationship so well. This picture makes my heart swell…they are best friends.

PK

I love you in the valley

Love, the force that makes the world go round. Love, with its impetus lives collide and become one. Love, its fruit takes flesh and bones in our sons and daughters.

Love is more than moons, stars and promises. Love is blue, thorns and cloudy skies. Love is covenant through pastures and valleys.

I have loved and been loved through high and lows. I have roamed freely on foreign lands hand in hand with my beloved, blissful love. Yet nothing makes me feel as grounded as loving through the valleys.

In the valley I have found true friendship, encouragement, stillness, compassion, hope, resilience, truthfulness, freedom…your hand and embrace.

In the valley, I have felt your love like a thousand waves washing over me, I don’t walk alone. In the valley, I have drank your silent tears, you are the salt of my earth. In the valley, I have heard the song of your dreams, even in hopelessness we can dance under the stars. In the valley, I have seen your eyes, free from pretense and agendas. I have stared into your vulnerable soul and found myself right there…tucked so close to your heart, we beat as one.

Your pain is my pain, your gain is my gain, your valley is my valley, this is our love.

I love you in the valley, this is my fortune.

PK