Dec 14, 2018

OBS Last Minute Gift Ideas for Her

UH OH! It's December 14th... and there's still shopping to do! But it's not too late to put together a thoughtful, personalized gift for the creative farm girl in your life. These ideas are great for moms, mother in laws, daughters, wives, sisters, girlfriends, aunts, best friends, etc. These are some of my favorite things I personally own. All of these items can be ordered from Amazon and are included in the Two-Day shipping program. They will be here in plenty of time before Christmas! I tried to keep everything under the $50 range.

If you click on the photos, you will be directed to my Amazon affiliated links!

Urban CoCo Women's Printed Tassel Open front Poncho Cape Cardigan Wrap Shawl

Dec 3, 2018

Wrapping Guide

Every year, since I was young, I have always enjoyed curating a wrapping theme complete with trimmings and tags. The other day, I shared a post on Facebook and Instagram about my love of gifting. I had so many responses and questions on Instagram in regards to where I get my supplies from and how I put my presentation ideas together. This year I chose:

Buffalo Plaid Paper + White Paper w/ Black + Red Accents + Kraft Paper

So, I thought it would be fun to gather up some resources for you and help you out with the similar theme concept I used this year. I tried to gather up links from places that you can order everything at once but unfortunately that didn't happen. The items are divided up between Target, Wal-Mart and Current. I also made sure to link things that are in stock.

These are not affiliate links and I do not get any commission but I would like to give credit to Wal-Mart, Target and Current for their product photos.

Nov 29, 2018

For the Love of Gifting

My love language is Gifts.

That use to embarrass me because it sounds so superficial. I enjoy the hunt. I love spending hours finding exactly what I had in mind. I love coming up with things people don’t realize they need in their life. I am even intentional about my wrapping. I have been known to go into store after store after store just to find exactly what I had envisioned.

It’s not rare for me to stray from lists and registries. If I see you out and about in the distance, I may flag a waitress down and secretly buy your lunch. It’s just what I do. I’ll spend hours upon hours hand addressing all my Christmas cards.

I think I get it from my mother who got it from her parents.

I’m not a hugger. I’m not always the first one to suggest making plans. Sometimes I’m not even the best at keeping in touch verbally.

But I love sharing my gifts with you. Whether it’s something I purchased, made or something I wrote.

This holiday season, you’ll receive gifts from a lot of people. Please don’t tell them they didn’t have to. As a gifter, we know we don’t have to. We WANT to. Please don’t tell that person they spent or did too much. That’s our choice. Just sit back and enjoy the thought, intention and the TIME that was devoted to YOU because someone loves and appreciates you.

And rest assured, you never ever have to feel obligated to give a gift in return.

Don’t make gifting about the money or the thing. Make it about the time and cherish that moment when you opened it up, even if it’s something you won’t use.

Sep 10, 2018

Marriage & Appliances

PC: Sarah Straeter Photography

Opening up the fridge, needing something for lunch, I rummaged around looking for the leftovers I placed in a Tupperware over the weekend.

Shoving containers aside, I thought to myself, “Ok. Time to clean out the fridge. This has been here for three weeks. No one is going to drink this. When did I put this meat in here to thaw? Gross.”

I pull out the container I was looking for and popped it into the microwave. Closing the door, I punched in “3 minutes. 30 seconds.”

Ah yes, perfect,  just enough time to go fold a few things in the laundry room.

As I was carefully folding my husband’s crisp, white t-shirt, I heard a *POP* in the kitchen.

Gosh darn it. I forgot to pop the little tab on the container. And food had exploded all over the microwave. Our clean, like-new microwave.

As I stood there grumbling over the food splattered all over the shiny surface inside, a part of me wanted to leave the mess. I’d have to grab a wet cloth, stand up on my tippy-toes stretching my 5 foot tall body as far as I can and utilize some elbow grease to remove the food debris. I hadn’t been feeling good this week, so it would be okay to come back to it later, right? Ugh, but then the food would be dried and caked to the surface.

As I stood there, for the first time debating whether or not to take care of it, I realized our microwave was 7 years old. And it still looked brand new as if it were just unboxed from the Sears store. My husband and I have taken such great care of it all these years.

I panicked. What was wrong with me?

Were my microwave and I going through a 7 year itch? Why did I suddenly not want to take care of it?

As I stood there, silly as it sounds, having a talk with myself over this microwave, I realized that my marriage too would soon be 7 years old. We bought all of our appliances in 2011, the year we got married.

7 years ago.

Not quite a decade but long enough to go through a heck of a lot together.

Some highs. Some lows. All challenging.

There were times when things got hard and there were times we were having so much fun that we made marriage look easy.

But let me tell you this, an easy, like-new marriage takes work.

It requires standing up on your tiptoes, using a little elbow grease and taking care of things as they surface before you find the debris caked on so hard you can’t remove it.

Marriage is a lot like an appliance. They don’t make ‘em like they use to… you know, that harvest gold Whirlpool refrigerator that JUST WON’T DIE so you grandmother continues to keep it out in the garage to store Capri Suns for the great grandkids.

Appliances today are cheaply made and require care, a lot of maintenance and sometimes a good warranty plan.

But marriages… they don’t come with a warranty plan. There is no swapping out when something breaks.

You have to fix it.

You may have to fix it on your own or you may need some outside, professional help and that’s okay.

We all weren’t born to know how to fix appliances and we certainly weren’t born knowing how to have a perfect marriage. That’s why they have appliance repair guys. And marriage counselors. And books. And podcasts. And conferences. All devoted to all things marriage.

Just don’t seek counsel with the appliance repair guy.

What I do know, is we are all capable of wiping down the inside of a microwave when food explodes.

And for goodness sakes, we can all clean out the three week old leftovers from the refrigerator.

What have you done lately to maintain your appliances… errr, marriage?

...because when you take care of something, it will last.

Unless it’s a factory lemon, of course.

Happy 7 years today to my favorite appliances....oh, and that husband of mine!

Jul 26, 2018

Trade, not Aid

My husband and I are young farmers. We are 4th generations on a 1st generation budget. We've purchased our farm, our equipment and we work together trading labor for bin space to help my father in law and grandmother in law get their crops in as well. It's not your average farm set-up, we all work off the farm and that's how we roll. That is our story.
We would love to grow. We'd love more than anything to farm full-time. However, with the prices of land, the lowering grain prices, the influx of inputs and the rightful competition, it's been a struggle. We have a calling and we will do what we can to make sure nothing gets in the way of that.

We want a market for our grain and those markets don't show up over night. We don't expect them to. The agriculture industry has worked for many years on having options and markets for our products. We can can do a better job of educating the public on what we do and what we grow. We are getting there. This requires many of us leaving the farm to work hand and hand with many organizations and constituents. Farmers can no longer stay on the farm and expect things to continue. We must also suit up and show up.

There's a huge political elephant in the room and like usual, people have their opinions and of course they are entitled to them.

Although the offer is appreciated, I am here to tell you that this farm does not want a government bail out. We don't want a temporary band-aid that will help line our pockets short-term. We want a long-term plan of fair trade and open markets for our grain and an honest living. We want to generate an income because people use and want our products. We want to provide top notch, valuable, safe, sustainable commodities that are well sought after. Farming is a very unique business complete with unique trials and struggles but there are also other industries out there who work just as hard and struggle just as much.

The air is thick right now and it will continue to get thicker as we wait all of this out. In the meantime, it's important for you to share you story, regardless of where you stand. You have a voice. Use it, but be kind when you do.

The American Dream is a wonderful thing, but it's not handed out. It's a continual fight and it doesn't or shouldn't come easy.

For now, I will stay off Ag Twitter, Ag Talk and listen to some Frank Sinatra because, sanity. And people are mean.

Mar 13, 2018

Try it Tuesday: Travel Version

It is Tuesday, right? I've had to check like, twice.

Yep, it's sort of Tuesday.

They day that follows Monday.

So, winter 2018 has definitely been dubbed the winter of traveling. In the last 5 weeks, I've been to Houston, Reno, Anaheim and St. Louis. All for agriculture-related business. I hold a few leadership positions with a few organizations and winter is usually when meetings and conventions go down.

This may not be a huge deal to some, but for this inexperienced traveler, I've been on more plane rides this winter than I have in the last 10 years combined. Pretty sure.

I've learned A LOT and I still have a lot to learn.

With each trip, I feel like my suitcase gets like a half pound lighter as I come just a bit more efficient. It should be illegal to limit a girl to 50 pounds. P.S. I LOVE my lightweight  IT hard-case luggage.  I learned a few years back that good luggage makes all the difference when traveling. Be sure to weigh your luggage before you go and toss in this luggage scale so you can weigh your suitcase before you come back home!

While you're tossing the scale in your luggage, toss this portable steamer, too. If you hate ironing like I do, you need it. There's nothing worse then waking up for a meeting the next morning after getting in on a late flight and wrestling with the ironing board as you're trying to get out the door. No matter how hard I try to carefully pack my clothes, they still always get wrinkled!

Toiletries take up a lot of room so I love my FLAT toiletry bag. It has made packing my toiletries so much easier especially with all the separate, easy to access compartments. When I get back from a trip, I refill all my bottles, Qtips, cotton balls and keep them inside. I love this bag because I can just grab it, toss my makeup in, lay it on top of my clothes and close the lid! There's no need for Tetris and strategic placement!

Speaking of Tetris, I am in love with these packing cubesI put all of my business clothes in one and casual clothes in another. I also have two smaller cubes for pajamas and under garments. They really help keep everything organized and protect your clothes from shoes and anything that spills out of your toiletry bag.

I am excited to say with all my airplane hours, I finally finished watching The Crown on Netflix. If you like the Royal Family, history and really good acting, this show is for you! I love that you can download a bunch of shows from Netflix and watch them offline. Always make sure to pack your headphones so you can watch Netflix on your phone or iPad! I've been wanting to invest in a pair of noise canceling headphones but I haven't pulled the trigger yet.

I think I shared this is my last Try it Tuesday, but my husband and I have been able to easily keep track of each other's travel schedules with the Cozi app. There are a variety of options when setting up a new event. You can opt to notify your spouse or family member whenever a new event is created, set reminders closer to that date, create shopping lists and much more. We used our iTunes gift cards and subscribed to the Gold version where you can access a full calendar view and some other features. Having this app has also allowed me to leave my Erin Condren Life Planner at home to save some weight in my briefcase. I can take a look on the Cozi app to see what events and tasks I have planned for when I return.

When traveling, I've also learned it's important to feel comfortable but also to look slightly put together especially when you're traveling for business. You just never know who you're going to bump into! I have learned to snag a pair of comfortable jeans with a little bit of stretch or a really nice, flattering pair of black leggings that can be paired with a jacket, blazer or a vest. Layering is important because you're either freezing or you're really hot on a plane! Vests and jackets are also great for mixing up outfits on the duration of your trip. Tossing on a big, fun pair of earrings also helps me feel put together. I really enjoy these leather earrings! They're light and versatile. I've also found out the hard way that cowboy boots are not practical to travel in. I've found in the winter a comfortable bootie, neutral colored sneaker and in the summer a pair my favorite moccasins, loafers or supportive sandals work best! I know my fellow farm girls can relate to this struggle. The downside is, your boots can add 5-10 pounds to the suitcase! The struggle. is. real.

What are some things you've learned that has made traveling a bit easier on you?

Jan 23, 2018

Winter on the Farm

Post created for Ranch House Designs, Inc.

It seems whenever we go to an agriculture-related conference, the hotel staff always enjoys talking to farmers and ranchers, asking questions about the industry.

Our most recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee for a conference was no different. In fact, I was asked a question by our front desk clerk that I have not been asked before as a grain farmer.

“Do you guys work all year round?”

Instantly, my answer from within was a, “Yes!” but I knew it would be hard to explain the kind of work we do in the wintertime since we are not in the fields, working on our soybean or corn crops.

We may not be in the field, but we are still working on our old and new crops all winter long!

Those in the livestock industry are obviously destined to chores 365 days a year regardless of the weather! In the winter they have animals to feed and issues to battle when the snow, ice and freezing temperatures arrive.

At one time, it was a stereotype that midwestern grain farmers would “winter” in warm places such as Florida or Arizona. Fortunately, winter work allows us in a nice, warm office or meeting hall, but there are some chores that involve being outside in the harsh weather.

Farms have grown in size, resulting in on-farm grain storage and the need to market and truck grain all year long. Sometimes younger farmers and seasonal farmers will take a job off the farm during the winter to supplement their income and even some seasoned farmers will do so as well. It really depends on one’s individual situation.

For us, my husband and I and my father-in-law all work full-time jobs, off the farm, year round.. Our farm is not large enough to employ us full-time. Winters seem like they should be a slow down for us, but we feel just as busy in the winter as we do in the spring, summer and fall. We just don’t have a lawn to mow or weeds to tackle, which is a nice break!

So what do we grain farmers do in the wintertime?

... to find out, visit the rest of the article over at Ranch House Designs, Inc.

Jan 10, 2018

Life Lesson from a Grocery List

I sent my husband to the grocery story on his way home from work last night. He drives right by so it’s convenient to have him pick up a few necessities between my large stock-up-all-the-things trips.

He walked in the door last night, hands me the bags and I set them on the counter. As I begin putting stuff away I already recognize a few things that are “wrong”. He bought a package of fresh mushrooms. I wanted mushrooms in a can or jar for the pantry. He bought organic spinach. I wanted conventional. He bought a package of individually wrapped processed Swiss cheese product slices. I wanted real Swiss cheese from the deli. He bought whole chocolate milk. I wanted 2%.

I can go on.

I could have been mad that he bought the “wrong” things. But was he “wrong”?

Take a look at the list I sent him:

Based on my list, he bought exactly what I had asked for.

I provided zero details. My list lacked brands, sizes and flavors.

You see, I assumed and expected he would know the exact brand and package I wanted. But, how would he know?

Last night, I watched the new episode of This Is Us. Kevin, one of the triplets, now 35 years old, was checked into rehab for an alcohol addiction. The family was brought in to dig really deep into the triggers of his addiction. He shared a perception of his childhood, his siblings Kate and Randall shared theirs and his mother Rebecca took a turn; each having a different view on how things were growing up in their household.

The family argued and the conversation turned into several walking out of the room in frustration.

Towards the end of the episode, after everyone has cooled off, Randall shares an excerpt of his childhood from when he first had to get glasses; looking through the various lenses of the device that would then help determine his prescription. Some of the lenses were blurry, some clear.

He makes a point that we all view life through different lenses.

We can’t expect everyone to view through our lens when they are looking through their very own, unique “prescription.”

Details are so important. Whether we are describing a process from an industry outside of someone’s familiarity, such as agriculture or sending our husbands or wives to the store to pick up something for us, we have to communicate in a detailed language that people understand.

Things are no longer black and white anymore.

We live in a world of variety and choice. Our world is full of information.

When it comes to choices and expectations, we only know what we know through our own lens.

So, the next time you make out your grocery list, provide details.

Or you’ll end up with organic spinach and processed Swiss cheese product.

Jan 9, 2018

Try it Tuesday

So, my husband and I just got back from a long weekend in Nashville. We were there for the American Farm Bureau conference at the beautiful Opryland Resort & Convention Center which is full of indoor gardens, restaurants, shops and even a lazy river! Definitely a wonderful destination spot. You'll never want to leave the resort. 

.... and I found this photo in my phone from the weekend. You just never know when something may inspire you.

Even a bathroom door from a bar downtown Nashville.

Our groups ate at the Wild Horse Saloon, Claim Jumper and Caney Fork Restaurant while in Nashville. All delicious.

President Trump addressed thousands of farmers and ranchers at the convention we went to. Unfortunately we were on our way home during his speech, but we watched it live from my phone and you can watch it here if you missed it!

We used the Uber app a lot in Nashville. Tip: Download the app and set up your account prior to your trip. And be sure to swipe right for Economy or you'll pay twice as much. 

These boots paired well with my business casual attire this weekend. Especially this blazer.

The one thing I hate about traveling is having to iron everything out of the suitcase. My friends told me they always pack this so they don't have to iron. Genius.

Also hate traveling with winter coats. Try this one if you need something packable and warm.

Can't wait to get back to a normal breakfast routine and try this Instant Pot accessory in my Instant Pot with this recipe.

Watch this quick video on the importance of plant breeding innovation. I like it. Quick, simple, and to the point. It showed up in my inbox today.

Well, back to the grind in the office today. We have a Beck's seed meeting later this week, some friends are taking us out to dinner and I need to take Granny to get groceries sometime. And maybe some for us, too. Fingers crossed for a quiet weekend at home!

Jan 2, 2018

Try it Tuesday

Did you guys have a wonderful holiday season? I took some time to reflect, spend time with friends and family, work on a few projects in the office and really think about some goals and outlooks for 2018.

Gadgets have been a new love of mine lately. Especially ones that make our busy lives easier and maybe... less busy?

My husband and I purchased this robotic vacuum with some money we were given for Christmas. My brother and sister in law have this one and we've noticed how much they've enjoyed theirs. Needless to say, with a dog and two cats, this gadget was worth a try. So far we are loving the job it's doing! I love walking into a room and it feeling/looking like it's been freshly cleaned. It's like having your own digital maid.

I made this in my Instant Pot last night and my husband and I loved it!

I am trying to read a novel every two weeks in 2018. Starting with this thriller. So far so good. Half way through but technically I started it in 2017. Any tips on getting your reading in?

I am also trying to listen to more Podcasts. If you like agriculture, try this one and this one.

Got my husband these socks for Christmas. Says his feet stay dry and warm. Brownie points for this wife. Possibly our new go-to.

I also thought he would like these.

Mom got us these for Christmas.

I want to watch this on Netflix.

If you can never have enough chambray button downs to layer under your sweaters.

This winter coat is the warmest. Did you know today is the coldest day on record in my lifetime? Brrr.

Been connecting with my friends on this free app.

Any gun-toting ladies out there? I put this bag on my Amazon wish list. Fringe or no fringe?

I hope you learn, laugh and love a lot in 2018! My husband and I were appointed to a national position with this committee. We will have a lot of traveling and many dates to keep track of this year! We downloaded this calendar app to keep our lives in sync.

Dec 1, 2017

It's only December 1st

It's been one of those weeks! And it's about to be one of those months.

We arrived home from Thanksgiving vacation in Kansas late Sunday evening. It's always good to see my sister in law and her family! Such a much needed trip for our family.

We finished our custom harvest job this week for our Mennonite neighbor. Harvest '17 is OFFICIALLY OVER for us. The combine can now go into hibernation.

I've been working diligently in the office trying to take care of some hot projects for clients. My husband has been working on end of the year quotes for his customers. We've had several meetings and this weekend is full of fun events with friends. More meetings, events and projects next week.

I have no idea when we will get our Christmas decorations up or get to our Christmas shopping. And you know what? For the first time, I don't care. It's only December 1st.

It always gets done.

It'll happen when it happens.

So many of us stress over the holiday season. It's a season I don't look forward to for many reasons but this year, it's time for a an attitude adjustment.

I am going to focus on the people and all the wonderful events. Not the things or the details in-between.

I've already worked on some ideas to eliminate stress.

What have you done over the years to make your holiday season more enjoyable from Thanksgiving to New Years?

Nov 8, 2017

Struggles Small and Large

I’ve been reflecting on the episode of This Is Us from last night. I’ve never seen a show that comes even close to touching so many emotions. It’s a show everyone can relate to.

One thing I am really learning from this show is that we all have struggles small and large. Sometimes the people that seem to have the most perfect of lives and have it all together are struggling the most. There is no such thing as a perfect life and a perfect family.

I try to share content that gives you a peek into my life in hopes you’ll find a small nugget that you or someone you know can relate to. My content may not always be relatable to everyone and you won’t always agree with me. We are all wired differently, share different struggles and we come from different places.

Last night on the show, a poor, heart-broken drug addict and a judge came together in relatable disappointment. The judge found himself in constant disappointment every day because of the sentences he had to serve. The drug addict was in constant disappointment because of the everyday down spirals he was experiencing in his life.

This goes to show that two people living completely different lives can share the same emotion and struggle.

Under-minding someone’s struggle or accomplishment is one of the worse things you can do. It is not up to you to decide how someone should be feeling. Come along side and help someone find a solution to their stress or problem. Be a cheerleader through the good and the bad.

We don’t have to settle. We can always be better. There’s always time to redesign the ending to our stories; especially with the help of others.

Oct 23, 2017

Farm to Town: Fall Edition

Yesterday, my husband and I ran into town for breakfast and on our way back we ended up moving farm equipment. Not too dirty of a job, but you still needed some sturdy clothes and boots to handle the uneven dirt, hook up a trailer, tie down the grain head or fill a flat with air. I wasn't in what I consider my farm clothes but I was still dressed for the job. You just never know what you will get roped into around here, especially on the weekends!

One thing I've experienced living on a farm, is that during the busy seasons and maybe all year round for those of you with livestock, sometimes it's hard to find things to wear that you can quickly work in if needed but also feel put together if you need to run into town for errands. (Now, if I know I am going out to farm for the day, I pull on an old hoodie or flannel, a college t-shirt an old pair of jeans and my work boots...)

So, I'm sharing my favorite 'farm to town' pieces with you because they've been put to the test. They've been worn a season or two already, have been washed, washed and washed again. They've done some light duty work around the farm. And I simply could not live without them. 

So, husbands, listen up because psssst... Christmas is coming.

Oct 18, 2017


Two months ago, I signed up to do an online Bible study by Proverbs 31 called, 'She's Still There.' At a time when I have really been experiencing a lot of stress, wondering if that happy go lucky girl was still inside this busy body; this study couldn't have come at a better time.

In my 30s, I've started to experience a lot of anxiety, especially recently. This year I started my own business, I took on some leadership roles that are amazing opportunities but have left me feeling alone at times, my husband and I have continued to farm another year even through this rough farm economy, my in-laws have separated and there's the constant pressure from family, friends and society to start having children when that's never been something I've wanted. I began questioning my purpose and direction. I found myself constantly getting caught up in the what if. 

I instantly ordered the study's foundation book, She's Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You and joined a small accountability group with a friend and her friend. I counted down the days until the study began. I could. not. WAIT.

On the first day of the study, I got up at 5, made my coffee and felt like a kid on Christmas. I printed off my study guides, watched the videos and got through the first chapter of the book; nodding my head over every word and marking it up with highlights, notes and filling out all the reflection options. I felt like a champion. I felt refreshed. I felt inspired. I was a new woman [for a day]. I was really looking forward to diving even deeper into the study.

The next morning, I dove into Chapter 2 and the new lessons. I made some more notes and continued to enjoy myself. By the time the third day rolled around, I saw that I needed to get through a few more chapters. We were getting ready to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a weekend get away with some friends so I saved the rest of that week's study to do before everyone else got up, overlooking the mountains on our cabin's front porch. Long story short, our cabin's front porch was little to be desired as well as the rest of the cabin. I was very stressed about the false advertisement and very unhappy for someone who was on vacation. I used our unideal situation as an excuse to not crack open my study like I had planned.

Oct 13, 2017

The Rules of #Real

Social media is here.

I don't know if you've noticed or not. I hope you sense my sarcasm.

In fact, it's been here.

I was thinking the other day, that I've been on social media for roughly two thirds of my life. It dates back to the MSN messenger, AOL messenger, Xanga and Myspace days and then onto Facebook when my college was one of the first networks created. Before Facebook came along, my friends and I were already using instant messenger statuses as a way to share what we were up to or the latest group of song lyrics that applied to our current life situation at the time. I remember always crafting an 'Away Message' before leaving my dorm room.

Social media has become a way of life especially as it now fits into the palm of our hands 24/7. Whether you're on a blog, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, Pinterest and many other channels, it's how we search for information on a business or person, look for today's headlines, discover new products and communicate with our loved ones and... not-so-loved ones. Whether we like it or not, we have all become influencers. Unbeknownst to us, we are crafting our own personal brand by what what we share and how we share.

However, in a world where some are still reading print newspapers and watching local TV stations, we still look at social media as this realm of entertainment or information resource and communication tool hat doesn't count.

But it does count. Oh, how it does.

Much like fashion, photography, design, the food industry, automobiles, farm machinery and technology, social media hones trends that are constantly changing. From what channels are popular to use to how we should share things whether it's through photographs, writing, video or memes, if you don't stay up with the latest trends, your voice will get lost. If you go to a Facebook or other social media workshop, the content of that workshop is relevant for the month, if that. That's how often trends are changing. It has become standard for companies to hire outside contractors to consult with on social media trends and many even have in-house staff members whose job is to run the company social media channels. That's yesterday's news but so many people to this day still roll their eyes at the mention of careers in social media.

People are constantly preaching about what kind of content should be shared and not shared. With social media, we've become extremely personal. Complete strangers may know more about us than our best friends or family members. Social media has given literally everyone a platform if they so choose to use it; politically or not.

However, as we've become personal, we've also become unreal. We hold off sharing good news and large purchases as we don't want to appear as boasting. We bite our lips as we erase an emotional post about a hardship or struggle we may be going through because we don't want to come across as an emotional basket case. We are afraid that our struggle or blessing may be menial to someone else.

Over six years ago, I started Old Blue Silo. I was afraid to share pictures from the old farmhouse we were living in as it was old, outdated and some rooms were very less than ideal. I was embarrassed of it, not knowing that many, many, many folks were living in the same kind of situation. We started building our new pole barn house and as much as I wanted to share the entire building process, our floor plans and my journey through decorating, I held off because of a comment a friend made. Because they didn't have a new house, they didn't think it was fair that I shared our new home. That same person also knocked me down in my journey through leadership. I held back from inspiring others with some things I was so proud of because of things one person said. Even though I didn't go into a lot of detail or share the process of building our home or my journey in leadership, I still have provided some sneak peaks and enough information to spark reader interest. I find myself receiving emails on a daily basis, full of burning questions from readers who too have interest in pole barn homes and furthering their leadership journey.

I have found myself buried in a situation where it is going to take a lot of work to dig myself out. I've recently been inspired to go back through and start sharing more of our home and my leadership with readers, regardless of what one person said years ago. However, as you know, it's much harder to go back in time and relearn all of those basic details you once knew by heart. In fact, I don't have a digital copy of our floor plan anymore. I will have to recreate that. But, it's something I want to do for you because... it's time to start being real.

Be #real... regardless of your current status or situation. Your successes will inspire others to be successful and crush their own goals. Your struggles will help others through their own.

When it comes to being real in person and on social media, the rules are wide open as long as you stick to these guidelines:

Share the good.

Share the bad.

And YES, share the ugly.

But please. Please don't BE ugly.

By ugly, you know what I mean. Find that fine line. Don't post on a social media channel what you wouldn't say to one's face. And for goodness sakes, what happens behind a closed door, keep it behind a closed door.

The other day, I shared a very raw video on Old Blue Silo's Facebook page with my readers. Some thoughts were weighing heavy on my mind and I couldn't take it anymore. I literally turned off the TV and sat up straight as I started recording. I shared some successes I've been keeping from you guys and I shared some hardships that our family has been going through. My in-laws separated this summer. It's been very hard. But that's all I need to share for now. The rest, is their personal business. Our family isn't perfect and neither is yours. You know how to get a hold of me if you're through the same thing and would like to talk about it. That's why I shared it. You can share your struggles without airing your dirty laundry too.

Social media is not going anywhere. It's time to really learn how to use it.

You can use it as a tool to influence, inspire and relate or you can use it to craft an unreal life that makes someone else feel less than ideal.

Share that new vehicle. But share it because you've worked hard for it. Share the features and functions you love about it so someone else vehicle shopping can learn something. Share that hopefully positive experience you had with the dealership and the salesperson so we can pay them a visit our selves. Don't share it just because you want to one up your neighbor. Just don't.

I am inviting you to forget about what others may think and join me in a challenge to be more #real in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.

Will you join me?


PC: Sarah Straeter Photography