Finding my Roots in Cowboy Boots

I grew up traveling the world. As the toe-headed daughter of an Air Force officer, I learned my first English words in Japan. I sailed into puberty in Hawaii. I woke up to flaky, chocolate croissants in Paris on my 13th birthday — and attended Oktoberfest long before I could enjoy the heavy steins of rich, frothy beer. But no country, culture or people have inspired me like my birthplace — Texas.

As a northern friend once joked, Texas is the only state that actually “lives up to its parody.” Big hats, big boots and, most importantly, big pride. Because I’ve spent much of my life relocating (and reinventing), I found great comfort in the sense of belonging that came with being a local—a Texan—when I finally settled down here.

To walk the walk, I finally bought the right shoes—my first pair of cowboy boots. (Or are they cowgirl boots?) Either way, they’ve already molded to my feet. Funny enough, I love wearing them to the office. I prop them up on my desk and admire the juxtaposition of durable cowhide sewn together with tiny, delicate threads. The warm, caramel leather hugs my ankles as swirls of gold and peach designs wind up my calf.

At first, I wanted a pair of boots for novelty, something to wear for a night on the town or maybe to a country music concert. But what I’ve discovered is much more profound. With these boots, it’s not just about where I walk. It’s about following in the footsteps—and clinging to the no-nonsense horse sense–of past generations.

In my little corner of corporate America, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of marketing plans and conference calls. My boots help me wade through all of that — and when needed, step over it. They give me a genuine Texas swagger, a boldness, and a soft-spoken rebellion. And at night, when I take them off and set them by the door, they remind me that I’ve gotten the job done yet another day. Even if they aren’t covered with dust from riding the range, they’re still, as my grandma called them, my work boots.

Many boot aficionados have the same pair their entire lives. And like a wrinkled, elderly face with a lifetime of laugh lines, old boots come with a story. Their nicks, scuffs, dings, and cuts add personality and charm. They just seem to get better with age. They fit better. Look better. Feel better. And I like that.

In several decades, my boots will tell a story of their own – the story of a Texan. They’ll remind me of family portraits taken in fields of Bluebonnets. Of tramping through piles of hay on my grandma’s East Texas farm. And of the time when — long, long ago — I was a young career woman with her first pair of cowboy boots.

Transitions

Maternity leave is a strange time of life.

It’s not really a vacation – where you come back to work rested and tan with sand still at the bottom of your purse. In fact, the only similar thing about maternity leave and vacation is that you come back from both looking to drop a few pounds.

And it’s not really stay-at-home-mom-land, because any schedules or regular activities and routines that begin will soon fall to the wayside once you’re back in the working world. So it’s hard to settle in fully as if it were a permanent state.

On top of that, there’s less time to sleep – but strangely more time to think about life and the direction you’re headed. What kind of mom do I want to be? What do I want for my children? How long is it socially acceptable to keep wearing my maternity jeans?

It’s one of those transitions in life that causes us to pause, reflect, and rebuild. But like many transitions, we’re often too distracted to really make the most of it. Too busy reflecting on the past, the pregnancy, the birth – and too focused on the future and what comes next.

And in the meantime, life passes. These precious moments – this “free time” of sorts – fall through our hands like grains of sand as we look to the next milestone. I use this term “we” very loosely, as it’s obvious I’m talking about me here.

I think it is the mom’s greatest challenge to just be present with her kids. To not think about the messy house, the grocery list, the laundry pile, and on… and on. But to truly just be. No cell phones. No computers. No mental to-do lists. Just right now.

After all, now is all we really have.

“The future is not in our hands. We have no power over it. We can act only today. We have a sentence in our Constitution that says: ‘We will allow the good God to make plans for the future – for yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come and we have only today to make Him known, loved and served.’ So we do not worry about the future.” – Mother Teresa

In this moment

In this moment, I have a sleeping baby on my chest. Her little butterfly eyelashes dip and curl over fat cheeks in that edible baby way that photographers love to capture. Her airy baby hair whisps and waves into a perfect perch atop her head – a soft mohawk to add a little punk rock to her perfection. Her lips, slightly parted, breathe out the sweet scent of baby and I watch her tiny body rise and fall to the rhythm of her tranquil nap. She is… peace. And it’s times like this that I want nothing more than to soak up this moment, and remember it forever.

Word of the Year

I followed a link to Lisa Leonard designs and stumbled upon this: the Word of the Year Necklace. I love this for many reasons, a few being: I love words, I love reflection – and most of all, I love the word that she has pictured on her website… grace.

Grace, the middle name of my precious second born, embodies a beautiful virtue. It is a gift that God gives us – and what we, in turn, can give each other. It is humility, compassion, respect, dignity, forgiveness, love, beauty and elegance. It is hope in moments of desperation. It is optimism in the face of fear. It is being the bigger person. And showing small acts of kindness.

I love the simple, yet profound, question that Lisa asks on her website:

What will your word be this year?

My Favorite Things (this week) Vol. 1

Oprah and I have a lot in common.

Well, now that I am trying to qualify that statement, I can’t think of too many things that we actually have in common, except for one: we both have favorite things. (Cue Julie Andrews)

And so, as the new year approaches, I am announcing: “My Favore Things (this week).” Because why? Because it’s fun. For me.

Disclaimer: This list may seem a bit underwhelming. HOWEVER, let’s remember that I’m on maternity leave, people! And when you’re covered in crusted breast milk half the day, there’s rarely room for glitz and glamour.

1. Victoria’s Secret Boyfriend Sweatpants

I’m wearing them right now. These are the most comfortable sweatpants eva’. They are super soft material and wide leg (I’ve convinced myself that they’re stylish). The perfect post-partum uniform, if you ask me.

2. Caldrea Hand Soap – Citron Ginger

It’s a fresh, spa-like wonderscent. Sure, it’s a little pricier than your grocery store Softsoap, but it’s a nice luxury in a guest bathroom. And they sell Caldrea at Target now.

3. Target Water Bottle

My friend, Lori, gave me this water bottle when I was pregnant with my first. When that one broke, I went out and bought another. It’s not organic or hypoallergenic or BPA-free or titanium alloy or whatever all the fancy bottles claim, but I like the twist top and the grippy sides. I’m an old-fashioned girl with these kind of things.

4. Slatkin & Co. Leaves Candle

I was watching the Food Network the other day and Paula Dean was heating some sort of fruity, cinnamony homemade potpourri in a crockpot to fragrance her home – and it looked wonderful. But who has time for that sort of prep? This candle gives Paula’s crockpot concoction a run for it’s money.

5. Moby Wrap

I cursed this thing the first few – well, maybe 10 – times I tried it. It’s 16 feet of fabric or something and you have to wrap it around you in this elaborate parade of pulls and twists and ties. But now that I’ve made it sound truly cumbersome and unattractive – I tell you, after you get the hang of it, it’s wonderful! And my little girl feels like she’s in the womb when I snuggle her in.

6. Lemon & Olive Oil salad dressing


Top your salads with a half-tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the juice of half a squeezed lemon. Healthy. Fresh. De-lish.

7. Mrs. Myers All Purpose Cleaner – Lemon Verbena

This isn’t your grandmother’s Lysol. This stuff makes me WANT to mop my floors.

Great. Now I’m humming “Raindrops on roses…” Hope this week is full of your favorite things.