I Was Leading

Because I’m going to UVU and very busy writing assignments all the time, I thought I’d start sharing some of them on my blog. It only makes sense, because I blog to share with my family, and I go to school to continue growing, for my family.

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     When I was first married and we lost our business, I never imagined that I’d be considered a leader in the community. I felt lost and alone. Each day consisted of trying to imagine what I’d feed my children. Usually our options were potatoes with ranch dressing or ketchup, or any simple recipe that could be made with deer meat. Our close friends brought us deer meat because our lives fell apart during that season’s deer hunt.

I had a stepdaughter as soon as I was married; I gave birth to two daughters really quickly; and a week after the second was born, I promised the state of Utah that I’d take my niece into kinship care. The timing of it all just happened to be when Jon had a prescription that had been misfiled, which basically brought our lives crashing down around us.

I realize now that during this time, I was leading. I wasn’t speaking in front of large crowds or representing our companies on community boards, but I was leading my children. Putting on a smile each day as I was walking through pain — this was being a leader. Of course, my skills and depth in leadership have grown over the years, but this is where I feel like my leadership really started.

     The challenge with being a leader in the community and having a large family is that I consistently find myself second-guessing my responsibilities and decisions. I often miss an important community event or business engagement that I should attend because I’m spending time with my family. I also sometimes miss family activities as I’m fulfilling my responsibilities in the community or attending to a business engagement. For years I’ve debated whether the good I’m doing in the community or in our business outweighs experiences I could be having at home with my kids.

     I have to believe that my kids are watching me and learning from my sacrifices. I believe they are learning to sacrifice some things, such as not having me there sometimes, for the betterment of their community. My decision to return to school has already had an extreme effect on my children. They have watched me struggle and cry when assignments are hard for me. They’ve seen me get up before the sun to have phone meetings or finish my homework. I can tell that they are taking their schooling more seriously because of these things. They have also had the chance to help me, which builds confidence in their abilities.

I can’t imagine a better class to take at this time than Leadership! On the family front alone, I love taking what I learn and sharing it with them. It builds our family unit and gives us confidence to push forward together. Having six daughters and one son, I’m very passionate about encouraging, supporting and helping them to see their potential, and through my experiences, I believe I’ll be able to better do that for them. Thank you.

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Back to School

Next week I go back to school after twenty-two years.

This is a huge step for me. I wish I could say that I went to college the first time and finished, but I didn’t. I did, however, have a grand time living with roommates, dating my boyfriend, and skipping class to do who knows what. You could say that I still learned a lot during this time in my life, it just wasn’t anything that helped me finish my degree.

Now I have children going to college with me! I took my first class last January. I decided to hit it head on, and I began with the one subject that has given me grief my entire lift – MATH. I’ve never liked math and I knew that if I could prove to myself that I could overcome this obstacle, I could do anything. I took the class with Whitney, Kinley and Ethan. The timing was pretty crazy, as Ethan and Kinley were married the week after our finals. This class moved very quickly because it started on a junior high level and worked all the way through college algebra in one semester. I only cried three times in math lab, but I finished.

During summer semester I decided to take two block classes. This was also a miserable decision because the classes moved very fast, and it was summer! My kids wanted and needed my attention, but I knew I couldn’t get into my program this fall if I didn’t plow through and finish my Psychology class (a class I had dropped once 20 years ago) and my Health class (a class I dropped three times 20 years ago). So I did it. My grades weren’t perfect. My grades have never been perfect, but I finished with an A- in Health and a B+ in Psychology. I enjoyed both classes and I wish they wouldn’t have gone so fast. I also believe I would have enjoyed the lectures and interaction with other students, if I had the class at the university.

But it was all worth it! I finally get to start into my program next week! I’ve decided to get a degree in Integrated Studies with emphasis in Psychology and Leadership. I believe this will help me to build the Parent Advocacy Council and give me more knowledge to help run our companies. I’ve wanted to learn Spanish for a long time because we have roughly 1,500 employees that speak Spanish! My goal is to stand at the Christmas party this year and speak to them in their native language. I want to do this to show them appreciation for who they are and what they bring to our organization.

Cross your fingers and toes for me, I’m sure there will be more tears! Some tears will be because I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and other tears will be because I’ll be sitting in Statistics for the next nine months.

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Last week I went to the Thanksgiving Point Gala. It was lots of fun and we came home with some pretty great stuff. This picture is of myself with Jeanette Bennett (Owner of UV Magazine and Mike Washburn, CEO of Thanksgiving Point).

I was asked to dress to look like I was attending the Grammy’s in the 40’s. First I went to Hale Center Theater to rent an outfit, but as they pulled several options for me, I realized I had the same thing in my closet and it would actually fit me right. So I went hope and pulled out one of my formal gowns that I recently bought, and watched a YouTube tutorial on how to do my hair in pin-curls. It all came together and we had a great night! People often confuse Jeanette and myself because we do look quite similar, and we attend a lot of the same events. Jeanette joked that we are the “Sequin Sisters”, because we rarely see each other in anything other than formal gowns.

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I feel like since I stopped blogging consistently for several years now, I’ve lost huge chunks of my life. I know they still happened and I have glimpses of memory, but it’s hardly the same as being able to look back and read my thoughts. I want to change this.

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Kinley + Ethan = True Love

This video captures Kinley and Ethan’s wedding day, perfectly. I’ll never forget the rain, the sun and the radiant atmosphere. The dancing took on a life of its own, and love floating all around was beautiful to watch. I cried, again, when I watched this beautiful video.

We were worried about the weather, and for good reason. The winds blew and even knocked out the sound system for the bridal march down the aisle. Luckily, Jonah, Ethan’s brother, had an iphone with the exact playlist we needed. And our friend had extra speakers from our business that he ran over really fast from his house!  When we finally figured that all out, the ceremony began. The sky cleared and the sun came out as my father, David Gourley, married Kinley and Ethan. He had to project his voice without a microphone – because it was knocked out with the sound system. Of course he did a fabulous job and I couldn’t have been more proud.

After the ceremony, the winds picked up (big time) and blew over all the flowers on the tables and every other beautiful decoration that Kenzie’s Events designed. (Which you can see she did an unbelievable job from the video!). The cake was luckily stable and very beautiful. Ethan’s mom made the natural decorations that topped it off. The kids hid under the picnic tables during the downpour, and everyone kept reminding me that everything would be okay. But I already knew.

When my kids were young, I’d ask that they ran out into the rain instead of come inside. This is a tradition in our family and we have so many fun memories of jumping on the trampoline in the rain, or running around together soaking wet! So when her wedding was pretty much all soaked, Kinley and I smiled. We saw beauty and peace.

Right before the reception started, the rain died down, the food trucks all arrived, the desert, the D.J… and the next part of our party began! Most of all, I felt so much happiness. My daughter had found the man of her dreams, and they were beaming. How do I even begin to share my thoughts about how important that is to me as her mother? I simply can’t. I have a ton of photos to share, but today (three months later!) I’m sharing her wedding video.

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LOVE

How do I even begin to understand love?

I have learned a lot about love over my lifetime, but it has been different watching my kids experience love. When my heart hurts and is happy, it’s only my heart… well, I take that back as soon as I write it. When my heart hurts or is happy, it affects my parents more than I previously thought it would. I know this because as I watch my children love, and deeply feel all the emotions around it, my heart is much more involved than I ever planned.

I’m grateful that my children have all dated people who have treated them well. Of course they have their disagreements, but they have been good people who treat my girls like gold. As a parent of many girls, it’s something I worry about and pray for. Both Sydney and Kinley are married to fine young men and I’m proud to call them family.

We celebrated Kinley’s wedding on May 6th and it was a beautiful event! Hopefully I can share some more images soon. It was a wonderful day to remember!

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Moving on, I haven’t had any time to blog. I’ve been so busy with school! I just finished up my Summer block classes. I took Psychology and Health. Health was pretty easy online, even on a block schedule, but Psychology went really fast! I studied around 5 hours average on most days, and I still only earned average on quizzes and tests. I loved learning about Psychology, but I really wanted the ability to digest it more slowly. Seven weeks was a lot for heavy reading and without any class discussion. In the end I actually passed my classes, I’m always shocked. I’ve never been a great student, as I constantly find random fun things to do instead of focusing on my studying. But now I work really hard and I still don’t get straight A’s. In the end I pulled an A- in Health and a B+ in Psychology. For me and situation (block class, having kids home from school etc.) I am completely happy with my results.

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This week I spoke for United Way to the campaign managers of the fundraisers within each company. Because it is summer, I brought Brighton and Halle because they were bored at home. I like my kids to get a chance to see what I work on, if possible.

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This week I went up to Trucco for a breakfast that was put together for all the landscaping guys. I haven’t talked much about business on my blog for a long time, but now we have five companies. RBM, Alpine Cleaning and Restoration, Trucco Landscaping, 5 Star Pest Control, and DoubleTake Carpet Cleaning. Jon is continually building and I support our businesses by supporting him and working in the community to create great relationships. We are a great team this way and it fits both of our strengths.

As I spend time in each of our companies, I see few differences between the people working – but mostly I see similarities.

I see good men and women working hard to support their families. Through exhaustion, long hours, heat, and adversity – I see leadership and devotion to support the people they love. It is a beautiful thing and it drives me to never give up and to keep pushing with them.

When you see sadness and despair on the news, remember that there is a lot more good than bad. There are great mothers and fathers fighting for their families, and this is more important than the craziness we can’t control.

And if your spouse is ornery and tired at the end of the day, try to have compassion for the hard work they do, both inside and outside of the home. In the end, it’s all for the same purpose, to support those we love.

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Maybe I can get a little caught up on my blog now that I’m out of school for the rest of summer. I sure have a lot to say and I love being able to look back and read the things I felt important to remember. Have a great night!

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Little Adventures Dress-Up Princess Party

Do you remember when you were young, and all you wanted to be was a princess?

We knew we were pretty. We believed that the world was full of adventure, just waiting to be discovered. We understood our talents and what made us special. And when people gave us compliments, we accepted them whole-heatedly. In fact, we often reminded others of our achievements and strengths. Do you remember?

After I agreed to do the first sponsored post on my personal blog – ever – I pushed myself to discover why. But when I learned more about this company, Little Adventures product I was so impressed and I knew how excited my nieces and nephews would be when they received their favorite princess dress! And to make it even better, the new Beauty and the Beast movie was coming out right after I receive the dresses from Little Adventures and so we decided to go to the movie all dressed up!

“Little adventures started when two moms discovered the lack of clothing-quality dress-ups and princess costumes available for their children, they decided to take action. Jenny Harrison, mother of ten, and Heather Granata, mother of five, began their own little adventure by sewing and selling their very own dress-ups at local craft fairs. They made them soft and machine washable! They engineered them for everyday, all-day adventure! It didn’t take long for Jenny and Heather to realize the potential of their little endeavor. During their first year in business, they sewed over 2,000 dresses in Jenny’s basement…and with that, the Little Adventures brand was born.”

My favorite part was watching their faces glow, because they knew they were beautiful! We can all learn a thing or two from little girls. Often we push them to grow up and act more mature, but in that moment, something is lost that never really comes back. Sure, we can re-learn that we are beautiful, smart, funny, and fantastic, but once girls become older, we are inundated with ideas that challenge our self worth.

That’s why it’s important to enjoy our little ones while they are young. Tell them they are wonderful, every chance you get! I’ve heard some parents say that they “Don’t want their daughters to get too high of a self-esteem”, but NEVER worry about that! There are plenty of other people in the world that are willing to take hits at your daughter’s self worth and you don’t want to be one of them. Having raised six daughters, I can tell you this is true.

Carefully choose your words when complimenting them. Celebrate their personalities, not only their physical beauty. Although girls want to feel beautiful, this shouldn’t be the way they judge their worth. Talents aren’t only the ones that are easily spotted, like piano, soccer or ballet. We need to also share things like “strong”, “happy”, “giving”, “funny”, “patient” etc. You know your child better than anyone, so tell them the things you admire. When we study our mind, we understand that if we focus on our positive traits, we are more likely to strengthen ourselves overall. Basically, it is not uplifting to focus on our weaknesses all day, everyday, yet often when we listen to our self talk, we do it!

When you get the chance to dress up, do it! Dance with them, sing with them, play with them! I’ve spent time running away from my kids mentally and physically before, and I’ve spent time actively running toward them mentally and physically. Parenting is WAY more fun when you purposefully engage! We had so much fun at our princess party and we planned it just for fun. Just look at their faces! Oh, and the boys were so jealous about our party, we let them come last-minute and enjoy balloon swords and crowns.

AND I WANT TO GIVE A HUGE THANKS to my nanny, Kenzie! She has an amazing wedding planning and events company, and I take full advantage of her skills when I can! She is so talented with everything she does (do you remember my Harry Potter Halloween Party?!) Well, when she found out I’d be hosting a Princess party, she offered to decorate it so she could refer to our pictures when talking with clients. Her website is Kenzie’s Events – go and check her out to find her information. She’s priced wonderfully and oh, so talented! And finally, my daughter, Whitney, took all the photos and I edited them. She is so naturally talented and it gave me a chance to wrangle the kiddos and keep things flowing.

 

 

Oh, and remember to find Little Adventures online by visiting and liking their FACEBOOK PAGE.Their products are very well made and can even be washed in the washing machine! I can’t help but wonder why this is so uncommon for children’s dress-ups!

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