Flower Beards

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Sometime last week I stumbled upon this tumblr full of dudes with their beards packed with fresh flowers. I started digging and discover this is a thing! Why has it taken society this long to discover such hilarious perfection? 

The older I get the less willing I seem to be about hopping on bandwagons. ( I still am giving the comeback of birkenstocks the side eye) But flower beards…. make room ya’ll, we’re coming in. 

My only challenge was that I had to convince my own bearded man to play along. Brent is not a huge fan of having his picture taken and I wish I could have captured the look on his face when I told him that I wanted to shove a bunch of flowers in his beard and then photograph him. 

But bless him - he told me he’d give me five minutes, so off I went, scavenging our yard and my generous neighbor’s  for some bright blooms. I had a irrational amount of fun doing this! I seriously giggled the entire time while he mouthed “hurry up” through clenched teeth. 

Beards and flowers! Flowers and beards!

Love,

M

How Melissa Got Her Groove Back.

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When I was 24, I walked into an interview for my first corporate job. I had a sprinkling of various marketing related part-time jobs on my resume from my college years, but I actual knew very little about marketing. 

They asked me if I knew what the company did, and my response was, “I know Red Hat has something to do with Open Source.”  I cringe now, thinking back to my lack of preparation for the interview. But somehow - in spite of myself- I was able to convey to them just how hungry I was for a chance. 

I was hired under the umbrella of marketing to do a very unglamorous job. I managed a database of software applications that were compatible with our product. I spent my days reviewing software partner requests to be added to the database and digging through massive, product matrices from large technology companies. It was about as boring and mind numbing as it sounds, but I was so excited to be working in the corporate world that I didn’t care. 

Slowly, I was given one off opportunities to learn “real” marketing. I started creating marketing documents for our software partners. I wrote and distributed a newsletter. I started planning small events. 

The role grew and so did I. I got promoted and received raises. Over the years my role changed from managing an online database to managing strategic relationships with some of our largest partners and then eventually I landed in a field marketing position where I supported our sales organization and got to be involved with all kinds of events and creative marketing campaigns. I fell in love with marketing and I knew it would forever be a part of my life in the working world. 

But something happened when I moved to San Francisco. I became the sole remote member of an east coast based marketing team. I was 3 hours behind and had to work twice as hard to be heard, to be seen, to feel like a contributor. It was at this same time that some major life events were also happening - I’d just gotten married, was exploring an intoxicating new city and then learned I was pregnant. There were distractions everywhere, and being so far away made it hard to feel connected.

I enjoyed the work I was doing, but my confidence started to lack. Sometimes, being so far away and constantly feeling disconnected to the hub of the rest of my team, I felt invisible. I remember laying in bed many nights convinced that I was going to be fired. It was the heaviest feeling to know my family was depending on me to succeed and that I was certain I was failing them. I doubted that I was capable enough to be impactful. I began to think that perhaps everyone I’d worked with up until that point had overestimated me. 

We moved back to Raleigh after Everly was born and I felt re-energized as I was given the opportunity to manage our field marketing efforts in the North East and Canada. I loved working with the sales organization and once again felt that passion for marketing. But things were changing- over the course of the next year, the entire marketing leadership in my department changed.

I felt like I was treading water as our goals and objectives shifted and refocused under a new structure. Nearly half of my immediate team was let go in an unanticipated layoff. There was so much work to do and not enough hands to do it. I also had new managers that I hadn’t yet built up enough rapport with to ask the hard questions and express my true concerns. All my old doubts on my abilities crept in again… I hesitated to contribute in meetings. I questioned if the work I was doing was significant and meaningful. I wanted to live and breath marketing the way I once had but saw no clear path to getting there again. 

So I took a leap. I interviewed for a new role at a new organization. I landed the job. I left the comfort of what I knew and walked into a role that I knew was more visible and carried high expectations and would require me to do things outside the scope of my job experience.  It was a chance at a clean slate. Early on, those old whispering thoughts crept in as I tried to soak up all of the new information being shared with me. 

I was trained on 7 different systems in the first month. I jumped head first into the middle of marketing a large executive event and worked to get up to speed on supporting a customer retention organization. In the beginning, I was on information overload. I remember feeling like my new team believed in me more than I believed in myself. 

I had been there two weeks when I was surprised to see that a bullet point on a big meeting agenda had my name next to it. I felt unprepared but quickly jotted down a couple things I felt might be relevant and tried to quiet the beating of my heart in my ears as I waited for my chance to speak among a large group of new colleagues. 

That evening, there was a call on my voicemail from my new manager. I sat on the floor outside Everly’s room at bedtime and pressed play. “Several people stopped me to say how impressed they were with your knowledge in the meeting today. Keep it up.”

I sat there thinking about how long it had been since I had heard words like that from a manager and I just felt so flooded with the desire to make it happen more often. Week after week, my confidence grew. I found myself leading projects, heading discussions in meetings, speaking up often. Late last year, I was even given the opportunity to drive the marketing on a major new corporate project. 

My passion for marketing exploded. That voice that had allowed me to undervalue myself for so long was silenced. 

This past year has give me a new voice, a renewed love, and a stronger point of view. Never again will I allow myself to believe that I’m not capable of being a leader and a change maker. Never again will I shrink.

The move from Red Hat to SAS represented a clean slate - a chance to grow and start over, but this next move represents so much more. Now, I know I’m capable of making impact. Instead of starting from zero, I’m excited to push forward with my current momentum. I am hungry to make gains, to drive business, to take on projects that scare the hell out of me. 

I don’t lay in bed at night, paralyzed by the fear of losing my job anymore. Instead, I swim in a thousand thoughts of how much potential lies ahead. 

And it feels amazing. 

Love,

M

A Little History Lesson: Raleigh’s Piggly Wiggly Past

When we first laid eyes on our current home, it was nearly winter and there were few leaves left on the trees. Almost immediately, we noticed two huge signs secured to the ground in the backyard of the yard next door. 

It was one of the first things we asked about when we met our neighbor, Marshall, for the first time.  Marshall is a walking encyclopedia of Raleigh knowledge. Born and raised here, he’s also an avid collector of things and stories from the past. He’s told me more interesting tidbits about our home’s original owners and our neighborhood than I ever could have hoped to find through a google search- but the story of how he came to own these two signs remains among one of my very favorite. 

There used to be a Piggly Wiggly right between Glenwood Avenue and Fairview right in the heart of Five points. It has since become NOFO at the Pig, a beloved local restaurant that has kept a lot of the historical charm and some of the artifacts of the previous grocery store as part of its decor. 

As Marshall tells it, many years ago he was driving by one day as they were dismantling the iconic signage on top of the shuttered grocery store to see workers loading the huge Piggly Wiggly signs into the back of a dump truck. He pulled over and asked what they were going to do with the signs. The workers told him they planned to take them to the local scrap metal facility. 

"How much do you think they will give you for those signs?" asked Marshall. 

The workers estimated a few hundred bucks.

Marshall offered to give them the same amount of money if they would haul the signs to his home on our street instead. There they have sat ever since, except for the occasions that they are put on display at the downtown Raleigh City Museum. Every time I look out my dining room window, it makes me smile to think that he saved a piece of Raleigh history from the dump so that they can be enjoyed by others for years to come. 

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Fifty years ago, Piggly Wiggly grocery stores could be found all over Raleigh and hundreds of locations around the state. Today, there are only 63 stores left in NC, nearly all of them located in small, rural towns and not a single one in Raleigh. 

I’m a bit of a closet local history buff and recently stumbled upon the State Archive of NC’s flickr account. With our next door connection to this chain, I thought it would be fun to share some of the amazing photos of past Piggly Wiggly’s around downtown Raleigh. There is one labeled as the location in five points, but the size of the building doesn’t match up with what is there now and the Piggly Wiggly signage typography in the photo is different than Marshall’s signs. It’s possible there was a later remodel or update that made the building smaller and changed the signage but I couldn’t find any details online. 

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Corner of Person and Franklin streets. Governors square condos reside at this spot today.

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This is said to be the Five Points location I mentioned above. Today NOFO at the Pig, Lily’s Pizza and Third Place Coffee shop reside at the five points location.

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St. Mary’s at Peace street. Fallons flowers resides at this remodeled location today.

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I recognized this location immediately! This is at the corner of Wilmington and Martin Streets. This location is now a hub of Raleigh dining and night life - It is currently home to the very popular Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Chuck’s burgers and Fox Liquor bar downstairs. 

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Wouldn’t it be so much fun to shop in one of these stores? I read an account from a long time resident of the Five Points neighborhood who said before there were credit cards, he remembered when every local family had a card in an index box at the check out where they kept a tally of items purchased on credit. He also said Piggly Wiggly offered home delivery and would bring your groceries right in your home and put them away in the cabinets and fridge for you. (source)

I could spend hours digging through old photos looking for anything that feels familiar to me today. Often as we experience a city, we think only of how we know it in the present, but so many of our buildings hold rich and interesting histories.  Thanks for indulging me as I explored a little of Raleigh’s past.

Love,

M

(All black and white photos and details are credited to the State Archive of NC flickr page and are available for viewing here).

Something to lay down on your soul this Friday. 

You and I, John Legend. 

Love,

M

A story (as told by Brent)

"I forgot to tell you! Arlo loves Seinfeld! I was flipping through the channels and Arlo comes in and I stop on Seinfeld for a minute then start channel surfing and he says "Go back! Go back!" And so I go back to Seinfeld and it’s the episode where Kramer is obsessed with the chicken at Kenny Roger’s Roasters. You know that episode? Anyway Arlo is watching intently and I tried to change the channel again and he starts yelling, "Go back to the chicken show!" He loved it! He loves Seinfeld! He watched the whole thing!"

I think I laughed for a solid minute. Also, further proof my son is an old soul.

Change finds us again.

Some months ago, Brent and I started talking about his next chapter. Everly starts school in a little over a year and Arlo won’t be far behind her. After spending the last four and a half years of his life as the primary caregiver for our children, Brent is definitely at a place where he is eager to start making plans for his future and that of our family.

We both knew that after being out of the workforce for so long, going back to school was the next best step for him - but we had far more questions than answers as to how we would manage the added expenses of tuition and childcare on top of our already tight budget. 

Then one day, a few months ago, a little message in my inbox caught my eye. I get emails from head hunters about other jobs occasionally, but this one was different. It was an opportunity to interview with a company headquartered in San Francisco and similar in size and structure to my previous company, Red Hat. The position was 100% work from home (and provided the much needed flexibility I sought) and the salary increase was significant enough to take some of the pressure off of us financially. 

The only problem - I’ve really loved the work I’ve been doing here at SAS. The people I work with are amazing and the role has fed me creatively.  I spent nearly eight years at Red Hat before taking the job at SAS last August, and I really thought I would be here for years to come.

But I interviewed anyway, unable to ignore such an awesome opportunity even if I was unsure of what to expect. Every person I spoke with during my 6 hours of phone interviews (the entire field marketing organization works remotely across the country) impressed me more. The more I read about the company, the more I felt that this could be a real answer for us. The hiring manager came to Raleigh from Georgia for my final interview and I instantly liked her. 

The role has more travel (but only about 30% and regionally based) and involves more tactical marketing efforts than what I’ve been doing for the past year - but the work is fast paced, hands on and allows me to work directly with the sales organization again - something I’ve really missed. 

I walked into my current manager’s office to tell her the news and immediately started to cry. In only a year’s time, SAS has become a family to me. I consider my current manager a friend and mentor. This team has made me feel so supported and appreciated since the first day I started. It is hard to leave a place like that and it’s also the reason that few people ever do (SAS has one of the lowest turn over rates in the industry)

But every time it starts to feel a little scary, I remind myself of the exciting adventures ahead for me in this new role and for Brent with the opportunity to go back to school.

Next Friday will be my last day here at SAS. I will turn a corner of our bedroom into a real home office space. I will start over again- the new girl once more. But I welcome the opportunity to get to know my new colleagues and manager and I hope that I find the same sort of hard working, kind and motivated team that I am leaving. 

In two weeks time, I will no longer have to peel my daughter off of my legs every morning and hear her cry as I leave for the office. I can finally get to know my children’s teachers and classmates next school year when I drop them off in the morning. We can pay for books and classes for Brent and childcare for Arlo without having to struggle too much financially or put ourselves into major debt. 

It’s an amazing reality and one that I am still a bit in disbelief over.

This fall, Brent will begin taking the necessary pre-requisite classes he needs and will start applying to masters programs in the spring. I’ll share more when there is more to tell - but I’m just so excited for him. for us. and for all that lies ahead. 

Love,

M

Tags: change new job

Everly Says…

(While singing along to Ariana Grande’s “One less problem without you.”)

"I’ve got one less problem with arm pits… I’ve got one less problem with arm pits."

Tags: everly says

In Photos: Fourth of July in the Mountains

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Few things are as synonymous with childhood as a swing hanging from the branch of a tree. My two can’t get enough. 

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Arlo is looking like such a little boy these days. It’s bittersweet that there is hardly any “baby” left to be found in my baby.

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My mother’s backyard. I love walking around back here - every corner reveals something whimsical and thoughtfully placed. We spent most of time just soaking it all in.

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Paddle boarding with the kids at Lake Lure.

imageTrying to be like all of my yoga friends doing headstands on paddleboards with ease in my instagram and facebook feeds. My reality: I fell off a lot. Ate it real good a couple times.  I’m going to blame it on the fact that there were so many waves from passing boats that it felt nearly impossible to find my balance. (yeah…sure… that’s the reason)

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Mama and Peg bought some sort of little packets that changed the color of the fire to blue and green. The kids loved this little bit of “magic”.

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Exploring the tipi in the backyard. This simple shelter has opened up a world of curiosity about the First Nations, Native American culture, and our own family history with the kids. (Our favorite book right now is D is for Drum)

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Despite it being July, the cool mountain temps allowed us to enjoy a campfire every day.

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Watching the Gerton, NC fireworks display from the neighbors front yard. Arlo would shout with joy after the big ones!

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We went in search of a local creamy that we have passed signs for many times over the last year. A few back road turns and our search lead us to Looking Glass creamery. All of their cow and goat cheeses are made from milk from local dairies. The coconut chevre was amazing. I took home a jar of their goat’s milk carmelita sauce and mama bought cheese curds that we snacked on all afternoon.

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There’s just something about a long cabin. It’s always so relaxing and retreat-like to visit Mama & Pegs home in the woods.

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We have a little fisher-girl on our hands. Everly has been practicing her cast with Brent in our yard for several weeks and after Mimi put a worm on her hook, Everly cast her own pole into the pond and hooked a fish minutes later. Over the course of thirty minutes, this girl caught six brim on her own!

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My sweet blue eyed boy enjoying a smores by the campfire on our last night. 

Love,

M

Flying Cloud Farm

There are so many wonderful farms and farm-to-table inspired business around the Asheville area. It’s a wonderland for people who want to eat local and know where their food is coming from. This past weekend, we stopped by Flying Cloud Farm in Fairview, NC (About a 12 minute drive outside Asheville) to fill up on fresh produce and abundant wildflowers. 

Flying Cloud has pick-your-own blueberries and wildflower fields right now and their farm stand was packed with several leafy greens, tomatoes, squash and peppers. They rely on an honor system where folks can stop into the often unmanned stand, make their selections and leave cash or check in the designated box. 

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For $10, you can grab a silver bucket and a pair of scissors and choose your own flowers amongst the rows and rows of colorful beauties. Zinnias, sunflowers, and queen anne’s lace were some of my favorites.

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There’s nothing better than a little girl with her arms full of vibrant wildflowers! 

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When I was growing up, my mama planted a patch of wildflower seeds in a sunny area behind our house. She would go out and snip off blooms and put little bouquets all around our home. It’s something I remember so fondly and I make an effort to do the same whenever possible. (If only I could get a bouquet as big as this for $10 in Raleigh!)  I dream of having my own wildflower field one day. 

I also love floral arranging and had far too much fun creating these colorful bouquets.

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For those visiting or living in the Asheville area (lucky you!) Flying Cloud Farm’s pick-your-own wildflower field is open June through October. I look forward to stopping by again as the seasons change to see what fall blooms they have planted. 

Love,

M

Happy Half Birthday Everly Veda!

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With a birthday that falls so close to Christmas, we always make an effort to celebrate Everly’s half birthday - which also fall on a major US holiday - July 4th! Even with all of the events usually surrounding the holiday weekend, we’ve always managed to do something to make the day extra special for our dove. 

You will never meet a kid more obsessed with birthdays than Everly. She asks us regularly how long until her own and talks for days about her friend’s and family members birthdays. She reminisces about birthday parties like they were week long vacations. She has memorized all of our birthday months and likes to announce who has one coming up next. She told every person she encountered on Friday, “Today’s my half birthday!” Even the halfs are important to this girl!

A few months ago, I found this pink guitar for $12 in a thrift store in Jacksonville, Florida while I was visiting one of my best friends. I snatched it up and hid it in our basement with the intention of giving it to Everly as a future gift.  Every half birthday, we give our kids a little sweet treat and a small toy to celebrate the occasion. This year we celebrated by making unicorn poop cookies (go ahead and click on that link, you know you want to make them too!) and a BIG gift with a reasonable price tag. 

Everly absolutely loves her new guitar and has been serenading us ever since. Brent plans to make her a guitar strap out of ribbon and hopes to teach her a few chords this summer. 

I look forward to sharing all of the fun of our July fourth holiday on the blog this week, but wanted to write a special post for our big four and a half year old first. 

Love,

M

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