When I Write About Failing Miserably

I had no intention of broadcasting this very personal failure.

I didn’t even need to.  I had a poetic Alaskan post in the queue for today.  I went to format it last night and sat staring at the screen with this failure on my soul.  And I wondered what I had learned from it.  Then I wondered if what I was learning, still in the steep sadness, might help anyone else.  Because these private failures often offer some serious teachable moments as I sit with God in the quiet wondering why I have to be so stubborn.

You see, we rescued a dog two months ago.  Bandit.

The kids had been begging for a dog since their fourth birthday a year ago and both my husband and I grew up with dogs of assorted mutt and rescue lineage.

As August approached this year, the kids started in again in earnest, and I thought this fifth birthday would be a good time to explore the option. I researched breeds.  We met a bunch of rescue dogs over a few weeks.  I got feedback from friends in real life and on Facebook.

There were some warning signs that maybe this wasn’t the best time.  One, my hubby is not a fan.  Staunchly in the “I’d be fine if we never had a pet” camp.  Two, I am fried.  I have a million things going and am already worn pretty thin as I’ve written about some this fall.  Three, I have triplets that are only turning five.  Not fifteen.  We weren’t experimenting with a goldfish but a whole dog.

However, I plowed ahead, and we kept returning to this one precious rescue mutt so we adopted her.

And then everything after that was just really hard.  I almost took her back within our two week trial period.  She ate everything – like our furniture and swim trunks and my high heels (and yes she had bones and balls and yes she slept in a crate and on and on – all the stuff we were told to do).  She was super high energy and we didn’t have much of a backyard.  But I dug in.  Partly because I’m stubborn.  Partly because I didn’t want to emotionally scar my kids.  Partly because I was embarrassed about failing and being judged.  {Here’s where I ask you kindly to please keep your judgment to yourself.  Feel free to judge, but just don’t share it because I’m smarting from how I mucked this up right now.}

Twice more I almost took her back but didn’t.  Two of the three kids were even okay with it because this precious mutt who was wonderful with my kids was still wreaking a fair amount of havoc in our home.  I tried to find her another family.  I checked with folks in all sorts of avenues.  I consulted with my hero friends who regularly, and successfully, rescue dogs.

Yesterday, after agonizing and going back and forth, I finally took her back.  We could not provide her with the attention and space and energy that she really needed.  And the rescue I had worked with, who I finally, tearfully, called Sunday afternoon, said they always take their own dogs back and try to find them a new family.  So as the boys worked at the ranch and little bit napped with my mom, I returned our family rescue mutt and cried the whole way home.  I cried that we couldn’t make it work.  I cried that she might not find a wonderful family.  I cried that I’d let my kids down.  I cried that I’d failed.

Here’s what I’m learning as I sit here trying to figure out how to do better:

1.  Make sure your spouse is on board with big decisions.

If something goes south, then at least you are in it together.  Do not press hard into something if your partner is in full resistance.

2.  Listen to people who are wiser than your preschoolers.

I’m not saying there’s not some sage wisdom to be had in preschoolers, but we can let their untested idealism trick us into believing that’s what reality might look like.  It’s not.  I followed my kids visions of happy playful pups piled in wrapping paper during our holidays, and I did want them to have it, but didn’t weigh all the other competing elements in our life or ability to juggle new responsibilities.

3.   Don’t parent out of guilt – from my very grace-filled and wise friend Christine

Instead of chiding me for making wrong decisions, she called out the right one – making the very hard, but right, decision for our family that we couldn’t accommodate this sweet doggie.  If I’d allowed guilt to keep guiding my choices, I’d have been two months further down the road having the same struggles but with all the more heartbreaking attachment.

4.  Just because you let something go, doesn’t mean you don’t grieve the loss.


Fashion Fridays: Steal This {Casual Fall} Look

I’m in a fall kind of mood girls.  You probably picked up on that from my last Steal This Look!

This is not an outfit I would normally select.  First, it has stripes running horizontally which typically only works if you’re slim or the stripes are covered up.  Second, it involves a color pretty darn close to mustard which is hard to pull off for most folks.  Finally, it involves the knee high boot which I love but can’t make work without paste-on jeans because I end up with wrinkles around my knees, and I try to avoid looking like an elephant.

However, here’s today’s Steal This Look for fun fall weekends:

fashfri1 fashfri

(And also, I’m totally in a steal her hair mood on this first woman! Any ideas on how to achieve that?)

For the sweater, there are lots of great options out there this season at lots of price points.  Take this steal of a deal from Target for $20:


For not much more, you can get this cable knit boyfriend cardigan from Mod Cloth in Honey which feels just perfect for fall:


Or, for a twist, if you want to formalize this look for work, you could swap out the jeans and trade the sweater for this stunning velvet blazer from J. Crew (which I am TRYING to keep myself from buying, especially since it is ON SALE THIS WEEKEND):


For the striped layering piece, I am in LOVE with this cashmere tee sweater from Land’s End but can’t bring myself to spend this much money on a top:


In the much more reasonable category, you can get this striped boatneck from Ann Taylor Loft for $39 in either the dove gray stripe or a darker navy stripe:


For the jeans, I leave it to you to find your best worn skinny jeans that work with a knee high boot because I am NO jeans expert!  Then, you will need a pair of knee boots to complete the ensemble, but you probably already have several pairs.  Just in case yours are a little dingy and in need of a revamp, I recommend either these cognac Sesto Mucci Boyle pair or burgundy Franco Sarto pair – both from DSW and run under $200:

boot1 boot

To cap off the outfit, try either an oversized scarf (if you’re less comfortable with the stripes layer) or an oversized necklace as your accessory to tie it all together.  With this relatively neutral palette, you can go as bold as you want with patterns and beautiful fall colors.  This leaves and blooms infinity scarf only runs $15 at Charming Charlie’s:


Better yet, (y’all may think I am nuts) try this evergreen scarf with NAVY HEARTS (um, PRECIOUS!) from Old Navy to add visual interest to this ensemble (it only has to coordinate – so don’t freak out that it doesn’t “match”):


The sparkle in this Courtyard necklace from Charming Charlie’s probably makes it a smidge dressy for this ensemble, but it could dress it up for date night.  Plus, I love the way they use the mustards and olives against gray – great color combo for this outfit!


Even more in keeping with the feel of this steal, try adding an element of texture to your outfit by topping it with this wooden disc necklace from Mod Cloth (I have got to remember to shop there more often – such cute stuff at reasonable prices!).


What’s inspiring you this fall?  Happy shopping friends!  Share your tips, tricks, and troubles for upcoming blog posts!


Fashion Friday inspiration this week via All Things Katie Marie and Stylin’ Mommies.

For My Friend Being Stretched


Dear Friend,

All too often, the stretching leaves you sore and aching.

You wonder why you’re doing all this stretching and if the ones asking you to move so far out beyond your limits even know why they are asking or if they have an achievable goal in mind.

I don’t know why you are being constantly pushed and pulled in this season.  I do know how hard it is.  Because I’ve been in that season too.

And a part of you really just wants to throw in the towel.  To stop working so hard only to be told your best wasn’t good enough.

You want to lead well, and up until recently, you thought you were.  Then this season hit and you aren’t sure of anything anymore.

I don’t know the specifics of your situation or if you are being guided by strong or weak leaders or if this path you’re on is even the right one.

I only know one thing in this leadership push and pull – keep your compass pointed at true north.

If you hold fast to your faith and your values and your core beliefs, the stretching will only test and approve that core.  These challenges will refine you, they will not define you.   {===>Click To Tweet}

I cling to these promises when battling through a season testing my limits and capabilities:

I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Phil 1:6).

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will (Rom 12:2).

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).

Believing this, and more, for you today.  Keep stretching.  Hold fast.  Hang on.

We’re in this together.

Fashion Fridays: Cleaning Out Your Closet

I try to seriously organize and clean my closet out once a year.  Truth be told, I should follow my friend’s advice and give something away every time I acquire something new (but I don’t do that!).

So here’s a few tips that I use when I try to clean out my closet.


I’ll tell you right now that I don’t follow the “haven’t worn in a year” rule.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I am working to get back into some clothes that don’t fit right now and they will certainly be modern and work appropriate if (when!) I get back into them.

These rules disregard the time wearing rule and the size of the label and focus on a few key issues that plague every closet.

1.  The fabric should go.  There’s a few reasons the fabric in a piece of clothing requires you to eliminate it.

If it’s worn or faded looking it should go into the trash or a second-hand shop.

If the fabric is poor quality (see this black and white shirt) and detracts from the overall sophistication of the outfit by cheapening it.  (This doesn’t have to do with cost but some fabric, regardless of cost, looks cheap and you missed that fact when making an impulse buy.)


Finally, if the fabric doesn’t wear well you should let go of the clothing.  These pants pictured are a great example.  They were super crumply linen khaki trousers and I always looked disheveled when I wore them so they needed to go.


2.  The top, bottom, or outfit has a pesky quirk.

You may pass over an otherwise lovely wardrobe item because of a weird tick it has – it lays crooked on your neckline, it always folds in an awkward place, or as in the case of this gorgeous pink blouse (y’all, I loved this fabric so much) the buttons will not stay buttoned no matter what I tried.  If the outfit won’t work well no matter how much you love the color or fabric, you’re not going to wear it or you will fidget while you wear it and undercut your confidence, so release it to the land of secondhand clothing.


3.  It’s seen its fashion peak and is now beyond its prime.

I don’t know if you get sentimental about clothes, I mean they do have a story to tell, but it may be time to rely on the photos and let it go.  An old sorority enemy sweet friend posted a #TBT picture yesterday featuring a lovely yellow and black shorts/vest/tie ensemble I was wearing in my early ’90s college days, and it was glaringly dated and donated many a moons ago.  But some items are a little less obvious.  These are two suits I donated because the pinstripe was too visibly prominent making it look super matchy-matchy.  The days of the uber matchy suit has gone and while a subtle navy pinstripe suit will always be a classic, these are past their prime.


It may help to bring a third person in to give you some perspective – make sure it’s a friend who will be brutally honest with them and give them yummy snacks or wine for their service in the name of fashion.  Everyone needs a friend who will give you honest opinions.  You don’t have to take all their recommendations, but at least then you’ll more objectively consider what should go.

Where should you donate those things that can be repurposed like these items I cleaned out?  In Houston (and many metropolitan regions) you have so many good options.  For work clothes, I generally bypass Goodwill and donate to Dress for Success or The Women’s Home.  So do a little good and make some space in your wardrobe – you know it’s time!

Leadership “Presence”

Recently I started looking through a book by Sylvia Ann Hewlett called Executive Presence : The Missing Link Between Merit and Success.  I loved one of the summary lines from the book: Know your values.  Bring strong talented people on your team.  Work with people who complement you.

Isn’t that the key to leadership?  Setting out, and holding fast to, your values, and then building a team that propel you further than you could go alone buoyed by the different strengths in the team.  So that drew me in.  Then Hewlett started outlining what executive presence is and how it enables you to bring strong people around you and serve in more and more complex leadership roles.

The book offers three key elements to having executive presence which set a leader apart:

  • Gravitas or how you act.  This means you don’t shy away from hard questions.  You exude confidence and competence – marrying the ability to be tough with the ability to have empathy.


  • Communication or how you share your message.  This is everything from your words to how you walk, shake hands, sit and stand, body language, expression, etc.  This affects what your audience (whether 1 or 1,000) hears and remembers.  Hewlett recommends you learn to read a room – talking longer than your audience can listen diminishes your ability.  Learn how to make small talk and watch for nervous ticks that detract from your presence.


  • Appearance or how you look.  Hewlett reminds us that people do judge a book by its cover, and recommends you assess your façade before assessing gravitas or communication.  This isn’t your attractiveness – it’s your grooming.  This is looking polished and professional.  Dress both for the job you have and the one you want.   Find someone you trust to provide honest feedback on your attire and the image you project.

I’m enjoying these reminders about the multi-faceted aspects of executive presence and am reminded once again that it is a critical component to achieve distinguished and distinctive leadership.