Who cares why the elephant is standing on your foot? Just get him off.

2014 August 10
by Grace Boyle

So much of our time is spent talking about why we are, where we are. We lament about the windy, difficult path that led us to this exact (frustrating) moment.

I know, I do it too.

As Danielle LaPorte so eloquently shared, “too much analysis creates paralysis.”

Her insight to getting “unstuck” just really resonates because we care to talk about the stuck piece so much, instead of just putting all our energy to the place we need to get to and shift to. Get unstuck, by getting unstuck.

10 Truths My Mom Taught Me

2014 May 22
by Grace Boyle

My mom’s birthday is in April. It’s also on Earth Day – which for her, is perfect. She’s a matriarchal mother nature of sorts, and is an avid gardener. Then with Mother’s Day just past us, she’s been on my mind.

Mom and Me

I’ve written about my parents before and I’m eternally grateful for their love and support. Now, I want to share 10 truths or pieces of wisdom I’ve picked up from her over the year.

1. Always have organic, extra-virgin olive oil in your kitchen: I remember one year when she came to visit, she was appalled at my olive oil choice selection (or lack thereof) in my kitchen. In my early 20′s I wasn’t too concerned about that and it’s expensive. We’re very Italian, so she came back with two high quality bottles, clucking her tongue at me. Now, I’m always cognizant of my olive oil selection.

2. Perseverance for what you want (oh, and our cultural heritage on being Italian): My mom started the process for us to gain our Italian Citizenship and we all weren’t sure how it would unfold. As the journey began, I couldn’t believe how many hours, paperwork and quite literally years, that it took for her to complete the process. She researched online, she made friends with others going through the same process, she connected with a judge and ensured our grandparents confirmed that the last name was changed in the immigration process (no one could understand those Italian names and accents), and she uncovered the needed paperwork in hidden hope chests. We went / flew to the Italian Consulate in Chicago multiple times, and she never gave up. For things she believes in, she takes it seriously and this story alone always reminds me that we don’t give up. We persevere.

Italian Citizens

3. What a self-defeating belief means and how it doesn’t serve anyone: Try growing up with a mother as a life coach. Actually, I feel lucky but I often joke being 10 and my mom demanding, “That’s a self-defeating belief and doesn’t serve you,” when I was lamenting about how bad I was at math or that I wasn’t good enough.

4. How important friendship is. My dad has always traveled for his business and as a gemologist. My mom told me she knew in marrying him, that she had to be “okay” with it, and accept he may be gone more than other husbands (physically that is). Over the years, my mom has always had a steady group of girlfriends. She is committed to cultivating those relationships and now as “empty-nesters”, she’s having a ball with girlfriends. She has had master-mind groups (discussing their vision for their life and career), women’s groups, walking groups, writing groups, Italian group, etc. I’m not kidding, she regularly has gone to these groups and friendships for years (often 10-15+ years with the same friends). She has her hands in many different worlds and as I look at my life, I’m just like her. I love how engaged she is and how much fun she is having in her life with friends.

5. Fresh flowers brighten any room. In college or my younger years, I couldn’t be bothered to have a bouquet of flowers in my apartment. Now, I love how they brighten up the room. My mom and her dad (my grandfather) are longtime gardeners. She’s constantly working on our yard, the garden plots and beautifying things around her. She cares about those aesthetics and there are always interesting flowers (she knows all the names) in our kitchen at home. Now, I love buying flowers or picking some up at the farmers market. Especially in the warmer months, you’ll now usually see a bouquet of fragrant flowers on my coffee table or kitchen. It’s the little things and my mom passed that onto me.

6. The centrality of the kitchen table and dinners together, nightly. Growing up, up until my last day of high school my mom insisted on dinners together as a family. We never watched TV while we ate, we sat at our dining room table, and quite often it was a homemade meal (both my parents are great cooks). We even would do encouragement feasts that my brother and I would whine about, but who gets to go around the table and talk about what we loved about the other as a youngin’?! Now, I can look back and feel warm and fuzzy about it. Now, I know it’s something within reason, that I want in my own family someday. We ate good food to fill our belly, and family is so central so our life I know it’s how I want to operate always.

7. The importance of a bed skirt. Now this one, I might not agree with, but it’s too funny to not include. Similar to olive oil and flowers, my mom laments when she comes to visit that I don’t have a bed skirt for my bed. Honestly, just not a priority in my life right now and it’s not my style. I get texts from her with pictures of a bedskirt while she’s shopping saying, “What do you think of this one?” Or asking, can she even just send me one if she buys it would I use it? I think it’s all about putting forth the way you want to look and be, and dammit, having that bed skirt matters (to her at least). Note: I have yet to rock a bed skirt. Shh, don’t tell her.

8. The power of thought. My mom is constantly reminding me that what we put out in the universe, is quite literally, what we’re requesting and manifesting. She has countless stories of ways you can manifest and create what you want in front of you. I cringe when I think negatively, and it happens to all of us, and although we can’t say that in X amount of days, if you “want” it enough, it will just appear, we at least know that it’s better than thinking of the alternative. She is a big vision board advocate, and this year I created one for the house I desire and the life I desire. She still says, she willed our beautiful home through her vision board and didn’t even think a house like ours existed. The vision down to the colors of the walls were the same.

9. You are what you eat. My mom is proactively non-GMO, eats organic, has gardened our whole life and even as little kids we ate high quality food. She cares so much about the way we eat, she would go out of her way to ensure it was possible. There was rarely frozen or canned food in our house, and far before it was trendy or even well-known, we were learning about how to eat, what to put into our bodies, and why it was important. Our body is a temple, let’s be careful there.

10. Snail mail. My mom taught me to send hand-written thank you cards, and that care packages always brighten someone’s day. She still sends my brother and I Easter packages and every birthday we still get a hand-written card. I believe so much in the power of mail and even as a digital person, hope to carry that throughout my life. It’s a wonderful manner to have, and there’s nothing like opening your mailbox to still get wonderful hand-written cards.

Book Giveaway: Uprising – A New Age Is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter

2014 March 16
by Grace Boyle

Women used to be viewed as victors of poverty and illiteracy, of violence and seemingly unbreakable cultural traditions. Melanie Verveer, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues says, “Promoting the status of women is not just a moral imperative but a strategic one; it’s essential to economic prosperity and to global peace and security. It is, in other words, a strategy for a smarter foreign policy.”

As I paged through Sally Armstrong’s new book, Uprising – A New Age is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter I scribbled notes in the sidebar, underlined quotes and shook my head in disbelief. Armstrong, a humanitarian and journalist, gets right to the core and heart of women’s plight, struggles and successes – all around the world and as she laid out facts, stories and new future visions, I rode the wave right alongside her in awe.

Uprising Book

Some of her stories of women are appalling and hurt my heart. But they must be read. We can no longer ignore what’s happening around us. Sometimes, it was hard to read and sometimes, you’re so inspired you want to jump out of your chair. She take a holistic view at historical evolution, cultures, careers, and uncovers many women’s personal stories. By giving these women a platform and voice, it is time that these issues of race, rape, inequality, war and fear no longer be ignored or turned a blind eye to.

What was always evident, in every story, these women never seemed to falter. By going through some of the worst situations imaginably, they still have hope. They still are brilliant and shining with vision. It’s also a balancing act and it’s not about bashing men. At all. It’s about opening up our eyes globally to equality.

As Margot Franssen, a businesswoman who brought the Body Shop franchise to Canada says in the book, “When women aren’t included in the conversation, in equal rights, when they don’t have the whole menu of opportunity, it affects the entire world. We need to invest money in women and girls so they can sit at the table and bring their voices to the table. WE need the men too.”

I think this is a book every woman (and man really) should read. I’m excited to be giving away two copies of this newly published book to Small Hands, Big Ideas readers.

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment here sharing the story of a woman you respect and admire most in your life. I will be announcing two winners by March 28th.

How you walk through the fire

2014 February 5
by Grace Boyle

Oh what a month January has been. It has been rough. What a start to 2014.

Devoid of all the draining details of why, my brain has been a pile of mush and many things in my life has been suffering because of it.

I was running a quick errand in the middle of my work week and in my spaced out state, I was looking for a parking spot in a cramped, busy plaza center in Boulder. I saw a spot last minute and as I was making my turn into a parking spot, I heard that awful grinding sound as my car made contact with the parked car next to me.

I couldn’t believe it.

One woman walked by me with the, “Ooh, ouch. Feel bad for you,” face and I got out and looked at the damage. It wasn’t that much, I had clipped the car and the front of my car had little to no damage. I looked around desperately. There was no one else around and I couldn’t go into each store looking for the owner, as I was headed to an appointment. Flustered I wrote a note, blinking back tears, and stuck it in the car’s dashboard.

I hadn’t heard anything and I thought, maybe I’m “lucky” and the note flew away in the wind. Then I realized, that isn’t luck for that person’s car. I just couldn’t handle another setback, another failure, another pile to what I’ve experienced.

Then I got a call from their insurance agent and basically went through the motions. I’ve never hit a car or been in a car accident and like to think of myself as a good driver. Then when I’m parking, I hit a PARKED car.

I basically have accepted it, as another thing to just deal with and these are the reasons we have insurance, right? Also, at the end of the day, it’s not that big of a deal. Just piling it on top of all the difficult things that have been going on, it feels worse though.

At the end of the day the insurance company was in touch, I received an email rom the person (they did everything through insurance, so I didn’t even know whose car I had hit). It was short and simple and actually, just made me smile (even though I’m the one screwed here).

Hi Grace,

Just want to thank you for leaving all the info, I appreciate that very much
____________ will be taking care of the issue .

Thanks again for your honesty.

I’ve been victim of a hit and run and incurred the costs myself, so I’ve been on both sides. It’s not a good feeling.

Sometimes, just being honest is all you can do even when it’s not a favored outcome or isn’t immediately rewarding.

So while I’m cringing thinking about the dollar amount, what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.

My Favorite Reads of 2013

2013 December 28
by Grace Boyle

I read 27 books in 2013 – about 2.5 books a month. I wasn’t trying for any number, but thanks to Good Reads they just reminded me. Reading is my solace and if I could, I would have read double this number but you know, excuses…

As the year wraps up, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads of 2013. Some of these are old books and some were written this year. In no particular order.

The Namesake and The Lowland by

I discovered Lahiri this year and love her carefully crafted storytelling. Her books albeit slow moving, paint details that make the characters come to life. The books are thoughtful, but even without action jumping off the page, I turn through her pages swiftly. With her Indian background (Bengali specifically) both The Namesake and The Lowland (different stories entirely) focus on families, tragedy, culture, transition and generational change of two Indian families. I really cherished both books. I see The Lowland on many “Best of 2013″ book lists this year too.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I was able to see Afghanistan born, Hosseini when I was a freshman in college. He visited my college and spoke about his famed book, The Kite Runner. His latest book, published in 2013, And the Mountains Echoed takes a deep look at families and the ties that bind us together. It hops from character to character, showing the web they weave spanning from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Green island of Tinos. Filled with emotion and beauty, the story reminded me of the movie Crash – how everyone was eventually intertwined together, regardless of race, family or birth.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

This is my first Richard Russo book, and since, I’ve picked up a few more of his to start. New England has a special place in my heart, and this takes place in Maine in a small, blue-collar mill town. It tells the story of a sad recently-divorced Miles Roby, his trying work at the Empire Grill for 20 years. It uncovers what he has lost (and gained) along the way. It’s a great American story that covers grace, heartache, loss and even has slight turns of mystery.

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

An intertwining tale of two twin brothers, one with schizophrenia, the other bound to his twin with love and brotherly devotion but also through guilt. From the book itself: “When you’re the sane brother of a schizophrenic identical twin, the tricky thing about saving yourself is the blood it leaves on your hands — the little inconvenience of the look-alike corpse at your feet. And if you’re into both survival of the fittest and being your brother’s keeper — if you’ve promised your dying mother — then say so long to sleep and hello to the middle of the night.” It covers the course of their lives, diversions, mental illness, truth, and what it means to really be alive. It’s a very human book and although with many pages it can be daunting, I never wanted this book to end.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

This was a quirky book that was lighthearted and enjoyable to read. It tells the story of Bernadette Fox, who is a wife and mother, but clearly has unique opinions, is allergic to most people and has a past that is covered and hidden. When she disappears, her daughter Bee pieces together documents and emails to find her mother in an absurd chase to the end. With an odd twist of events, you’re delighted to follow the story straight through the end.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Largely taking place in the wild Amazon, Dr. Marina Singh embarks on a journey to find her mentor and friend Dr. Annick Swenson, who mysteriously disappeared while working on a new drug. Not believing his disappearance, she’s on mission for his family but also for herself as she finds beauty and wonder in the tribe she spends her time with. It’s an interesting read and I haven’t quite read a book like it.  You’re also left surprised at the end, which I love.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This is a great winter read. It takes place in Alaska in the 1920′s on a couple’s dreary, cold homestead farm. The couple is childless and one night, a mysterious young girl appears after they built a snow child in a snow storm. With hints of fairy tale magic, the couple come to love the girl as their own daughter but understand she isn’t quite of this world as she comes from the woods.  The transformation throughout the book as you follow this unique family and those that they encounter are quite touching and you’ll really expand your imagination in enjoying this mysterious, yet beautiful book.
What books did you love reading this year?

Don’t Bully My Breed

2013 November 20
by Grace Boyle

I’m a big dog lover. Really, all animals.

I grew up with a dog, a horse, two cats and many little “starter” pets like hamsters and turtles (not necessarily in that order or all at once).

In particular with the horse and dog, they’re so human to me and there were many times I preferred their company to humans. They are comforting and in most cases, want to please you so much through love and respect. It’s only natural that we provide that goodness back to them.

Three years ago we rescued Cerna (Czech for the color “black”), from Humane Society of Boulder Valley. I’m so happy to support a great organization like that and in a world where there are so many unloved and unwanted animals, to take one off the streets (he was found on the streets of Pueblo, CO as a puppy) warms my heart.

Cerna is a lab-pitbull mix (from what we garner). He’s all black, with a few white pops on his toes. He has warm golden eyes, an earnest face , loves giving kisses and has a kind heart. He’s pretty epic at frisbee and fetch and in the Summer, likes hopping in the creek behind our place. He likes snuggling in bed in the morning, when he’s most tired (see below). He wouldn’t hurt a fly (nor has he).

Cerna

Pitbulls, are largely a misunderstood breed. I can understand why. There has been violence from them in the past and there’s media frenzy with fighting rings and celebrities, creating horrible reputations from them. People feed on that even if there’s unjust or non-truth. But it’s not often looked at as holistic. You’re given a label then people just assume it is what it is, and not look at the whole picture or even the facts.

On that note, the deed should be reprimanded by all means. Punish the deed, not the breed. If there’s a dog attack or something fatal, look at the owner and circumstance – the answer will likely be there and should be dealt with because to be clear, this is by no means minimizing dog attacks or bites.

But pitbulls are not aggressive by nature. Studies by the Center for Disease Control have proven that no one breed of dog is inherently vicious. The CDC supports the position that irresponsible owners, NOT breed, is the number one cause of dog bites.

Screen shot 2013-11-20 at 10.37.03 AM

Furthermore, pitbulls are no more vicious than Golden Retrievers, Beagles, or other popular “family” dogs. In a recent testing done by The American Canine Temperament Testing Society (ATT), pit bulls achieved a passing rate of 83.9%, passing 4th from the highest of 122 breeds. That’s better than Beagles, passing at 78.2 and Golden Retrievers passing at 83.2%.  The average passing rate for ALL breeds is 77%.

Pitbulls as a breed{Via Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue}

The UK banned a variety of dog breeds including pit bulls and what do you think happened to the number of dog bites reported in the UK after the ban? They stayed exactly the same. Another responsible dog owner thing? 97% of dogs that do bite people are not neutered or spayed. This is important in protecting your animal and yourself.

A lot of times you hear that pitbulls have “locking” jaws so they’re more dangerous. That’s entirely untrue. There is no dog that has locking jaws. Dr. Howard Evans, Professor Emeritus, at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University shares, “I have spoken with [Dr.] Sandy deLahunta (the foremost dog neurologist in the country) and [DR.] Katherine Houpt (a leading dog behaviorist) about a jaw locking mechanism in pit bulls or any other dog and they both say, as do I, that there is NO SUCH THING AS “JAW LOCKING” IN ANY BREED.” It’s yet another media blitz blown out of proportion.

We can’t even bring Cerna to Denver when we go visit friends or their dogs, as there are city-wide bans on a breed and Denver is one of them. That means we could also never live there. City-wide legislation against a breed is ridiculous. It’s like limiting a certain type of person in a city (well, almost).

Don’t bully my breed.

Dont bully my breed

As you can tell, I’m passionate about the topic. Our dog is a mix and to most people, probably doesn’t even look like a bully breed (he’s so black lab looking). But there’s a great misunderstanding and it’s not going to be solved over night.

It feels funny to be judged and discriminated by our sweet, softy of a dog by landlords, cities, people, etc. We all have our judgments and I respect each person’s decision it’s just hard to imagine the repercussions here for a breed that’s so largely misunderstood where what I see from the pitbulls in my life, is nothing but love, loyalty and good hearts.

All I know is that I’ll provide a good example as a responsible dog owner and Cerna being an obedient, loving and happy dog. You can take baby steps and at least affect what you can control. Ill also continue to support the cause to create better owners, mandates and support for breed specific legislature.

Learn more and educate at Pit Bull Rescue Central: http://www.pbrc.net/

 

 

 

Career Thank You’s: Home Depot Careers, The Great Giveback

2013 November 1
by Grace Boyle

When I was asked to think about who and what I was grateful for in my career through Home Depot’s The Great Giveback, my arrival to Boulder and the story around that popped into my head. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to publicly thank those people that have helped you so much, too!

When I first moved to Boulder I had no network and didn’t understand the economic ecosystem but I knew I had gumption and was ready to do whatever it takes to get that first job out of college. I had completed five internships in college, I actually liked working, and I had compiled a list of everyone I knew who knew someone in Boulder.

It was a start, right?

After a month with relatively nothing coming to fruition in Boulder, with no friends and no job I felt a little desperate (did I mention I’m impatient)?

Then, someone from that list of friends who knew friends in Boulder came to fruition. My college professor Ann, from my public relations class at college, had a friend and longtime previous colleague in Boulder.  She introduced us and that’s how I met David Mandell – one of my first connections in Boulder.

Dave at the time was working at a startup he was part of, but was also involved as a mentor at TechStars a tech incubator that at the time, I knew nothing about. We met for coffee and his kindness eased my nerves. He talked about the startup “scene” in Boulder and immediately had ideas for who I should meet next.

He introduced me to two guys who had been accepted into TechStars that year (2008 class), from Ignighter. From there, they passed me onto Micah Baldwin at Lijit. I laughed to myself as I realized, my newly started blog at the time had installed the custom blog search that Lijit produced at the time. I was already a user and had no idea this company was in Boulder. Little did I know, this bit of luck and involvement would help me so much.

I remember seeing Micah run in for our informal meeting as he breezed past me. He was wearing flip-flops even though it was cold and rainy out (funny for those who know him, know this is his style). Micah and I chatted for a bit and near the end of his conversation he mentioned, “So, we might be hiring actually. Do you want to meet our COO to learn more?”

I walked over to Walter’s office that morning after my chat with Micah and a few hours later, I had a job offer and had accepted my first job in Boulder at Lijit (doing a mix of publisher services and business development).

Side note: Walter was telling Todd (CEO) about hiring me and he said, “Yeah, we met this girl her name is Gayle and I just decided to hire her.” We still joke about it that he didn’t even know my name and offered me a job.

It all started with leveraging who you know, and David’s kindness in believing in me. To this day, I’m still friends with Dave and I love how it all comes full circle.

I should mention with this conclusion, I stayed at Lijit (acquired by Federated Media) for three years and got to work with one of my favorite bosses to-date, Perry Quinn. Perry and I still see each other frequently, and after countless years/hours of working together, I learned so much from him and the crew at Lijit. I know I can ask Perry for anything and it’s nice to have that mentor available to you, as you try to navigate the rocky career waters.

 I like telling this story for a few reasons:

  1. Career moves and discovery isn’t linear. It’s a zig-zag and you simply do the best you can with what you have. Don’t be discouraged by the ups and downs.
  2. It all starts with one simple connection. For me, it started with someone who didn’t even live in Boulder, but I asked my current connections for those that knew someone in Boulder and it led to my first job and working with a great boss and many friends I still have to this day.
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of kindness and giving back. Five years into living in Boulder and being entrenched in the startup “scene” that I knew nothing about in 2008, I’m often asked to meet for networking sessions or to connect with those just moving to Boulder. Sometimes it’s tiring, but then I always remember how much guidance and help I was offered when I first moved here and I’m down with paying it forward. Give, get, give, get. It’s part of the career journey.
  4. Hard work usually pays off. Some things don’t always go the way we want, there are no guarantees, but these people mentioned in this story must have seen something in little ol’ me so I just tried to be honest and showcase who I was and what I was willing to try.

 Most of all, I’m grateful. In this funny chain of events, the groundwork is imperative to a successful structure and growth. It’s also about people investing in your success and perhaps taking a risk on someone to give them a chance. For that reason I’m so thankful. Thanks to Ann Pechaver-Schmidt, Dave Mandell, Micah Baldwin, Perry Quinn, Walter Knapp and Todd Vernon to those early days and all your help and support. I still think about those days and thank you!

Giveaway:

Flipping it back to you – what are you thankful for in your career? Share it with The Home Depot Careers Facebook page and be entered into the #GreatGiveback giveaway for your chance to win one of many amazing prizes while supporting a great organization in Team Rubicon. Enter to win here.

There’s more! Home Depot is giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky Small Hands, Big Ideas reader.

To enter on the blog, share with us what you’re thankful for in your career in the comments below.

Home-Depot-Logo

We will pick one winner at random on November 18th!

 Disclosure: The Home Depot partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in their “The Great Giveback” social media contest. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to say in these posts and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. The Home Depot’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Tuscany

2013 October 9
by Grace Boyle

At the end of September through early October, I went back to Italy for 10 days with my family and James. It was glorious, gluttonous and at times, a typical family vacation with all of us yelling and getting lost (have James tell you about it). Mamma mia.

This was the longest vacation I’ve taken in a long time (sad). The villa we stayed at, on a small working vineyard in Greve, Tuscany didn’t have wireless so we were really unplugged. Occasionally at a restaurant we would visit we had quick wireless, but I didn’t check email and didn’t do a lick of work.

Tuscan Countryside

On the way there, we had a long layover in France and we got to hang out with Lindsey and Cedric in Paris for the day! Lindsey and I have known each other for years on our blogs and had never met before. We were extremely sleep deprived and disheveled from our previous red eye connecting flight, but Paris put a nice glow on things (except our tired outfits/expressions) :)

In France!

I read 4 books (plus finished a fifth I was halfway done with). This is a sweet luxury to me. I love reading.

I slept 12 hours many a night (thanks jetlag).

I ate pasta, pizza and gelato daily. A lot of wine and espresso.

I spent every waking moment with my mom, dad, brother and James and we road tripped around Tuscany to various vineyards, restaurants, farms and little hillside towns to indulge and enjoy.

Tuscan Collage

I got to spend a day in Florence, the city I used to live in and found my old apartment and had a rush of memories flow back to me, six years later.

We packed in a lot. A lot. For that reason, I purposefully left a day in the middle of completely nothing. James and I stayed back to read, relax on the terrace and do nothing as that is also a key part of any vacation for me. It’s rare to have a day of nothing these days.

It was glorious and as Italian dual-citizens, so great to all be back in the homeland. It’s good to take vacation. Well earned, well played, time well spent.

Family in Siena

 

 

 

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