Inbox Zero

I spent an hour one afternoon cleaning out my email. I went with the inbox “nuclear option” (delete or archive everything) and also unsubscribed from over 350 newsletters. Then, I declared it the best use of 60 minutes.

INBOX ZERO! Not even a “Welcome to Gmail”!

Email Zero

It is a relief NOT having over 3,000 unread messages waiting for me. If that number gives you heart palpitations, be assured that most of these emails were press releases and blanket blogger pitches that I have every “intention” of getting to, but please… let’s be real. NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

I had some misgivings about unsubscribing/deleting messages to things from my tech writing days. It was sad to let that part go, but it’s much better than letting the guilt and stress consume me everyday. So I just held my breath and moved it all to “Trash”.

Trash. What a funny place to put something I once thought of as my “life’s work” and “passion”.

For the past few years, I’ve carved out a modest and meager online reputation as a freelance tech writer. Living in Silicon Valley, being courted by top tech brands, and working with some of the best, I had found my “tribe” in the tech world. It was exhilarating to coast up Highway 101 to meet  a potential new client or fly over the the glittering Vegas strip on the eve of another Consumer Electronic Show.  I would get a little light headed in my own fangirl ether and swoon over this gadget, that device…

As quickly as I was sweep up into it, it all fleeted just as fast.

I have not written an honest-to-goodness, Grace-caliber tech post in over a year. I’ve barely written any posts in over a year. It’s not a coincidence that that seems to coincide with our move back to Texas. I’ve been told that things are supposedly “heating up” in Dallas, but frankly I don’t feel the fire… in me.

I don’t feel the fire in me.

Months upon months ago, someone reached out to me an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY his company is investing in. Would I be interested getting it started? I would only have to commute an hour and half every day (puke!), but there is NO ONE ELSE DOING what they’re doing. It’s a GAME CHANGER.

“It’s like Groupon and Facebook for dog lovers who like Pinterest!* What do you think? Are you interested?” he cooed over the phone.

I just closed my eyes and thanked them for thinking of me because that’s the polite thing to do. Then, I let them know that there’s already something just like that (“It’s called Pinterest.”) because I just couldn’t resist.

There are people… everywhere.. doing awesome things and I love it! I appreciate it! I truly do, but my head… my heart… my focus. It’s just not there right now.

As most of my tech tribe heads off to (or is already in) Las Vegas this week for CES 2014 (i.e. our Christmas), I’m writing my lesson plans for the next few weeks and refusing to let myself get jealous. Okay, too jealous.  I sincerely hope to be back in my bright and beautiful tech world someday. Someday…but that’s day is not today.

Today, we’re starting our Map Unit and my daughter has a treasure hidden somewhere in this house. This is what I will be going after at the moment.

*Disclosure: I made up this “product” for the purpose of this post since I signed an NDA with the actual company prior to our phone conversation. But trust me, it was pretty darn close to this…. My response, however, was genuine.

One Word 2014: Cultivate

When I chose “Persevere” as my One Word for 2012, I had NO IDEA how eerily prophetic it would be.

I wish there was an anonymous place online where I could pour out everything that happened to us in 2012– blow by devastating blow. Maybe one day I will find the strength to tell our story, dear reader. Or perhaps I’ll just continue to repress it and drink every night. Bottoms up! 

For now, just know that 2012 was christened the “Year of Suck” for a reason and “persevere” was more akin to “survival at any costs”.

Since one follows the other, my focus in 2013 was “Rebuilding”– rebuilding my marriage, rebuilding my career, rebuilding my LIFE. 2013 was about getting back on our feet and remembering how to trust again. We moved back in Texas in mid-2012 to be closer to family, but didn’t move into our house until the end of the year– our VERY OWN house again.

(That was such a monumental shift from where we were just a few months before that I feel like this requires pause… and deep sighs and yoga breathing.)

We got settled. The kids went to a new school/daycare while I went back to work for a brief period. We got back on track.

One of my biggest lessons in 2013 dealt with letting go of certain relationships and learning how to moving forward. I think that was also part of the rebuilding process, but how could I adopt the same idea in other aspects of my life?

I thought about what it means to set boundaries for my time and energy.

Limits? Too negative-sounding. 

I considered focusing on myself for a change– my needs, my wishes, my ambition, my comfort.

ME?! haha! That’s completely contrary to who I am!  

I want to stop consternating on “what if” and really focus and tend to “what IS”.

And with that, I  landed on my One Word for 2014: Cultivate

One Word 2014

Cultivate carries many meanings– To prepare and work on. To promote growth with labor and attention. To foster or attend to. To devote oneself to an art, science, etc. For me, it comes down to one thing: 

One Word 2014

What is worth harvesting?

I read a post tonight called, “8 Reasons You Should Turn Down That Job Offer“, and realized that I had held Every. Single. One. of those jobs in the past two years. Why? Because my family needed to money to survive. Now that we’re not in that place anymore. It’s time to decide what it is that I REALLY want to do next professionally.

I have no idea what that will be… what it will look like… or even where. I just know it’s definitely NOT what I have been doing and I have a full year to thinking about it. Huzzah!


I started homeschooling my daughter when the expensive daycare-that-refuses-to-call-itself-a-daycare no longer made sense for us. My contract ended in October and there was really no point in paying someone else to put my child down for the naps. Besides, I thought I could handle teaching  Pre-K, so I put together a basic lesson plan and have loved every second of it.

When I realized there’s really no mystery to teaching, I started to seriously question some of my son’s public education. A Dallas Morning News article from the perspective of an area teacher shared this week only confirmed my deepest misgivings– teaching to the lowest common denominator, lack of resources/support, other people’s terrible parenting, etc.

I don’t know if homeschooling is the RIGHT decision for all of us. I see the value in public versus private versus home-schooling and have been weighing all of the options. I would rather work to improve things from within the system than run away from it, but it is worth risking my kids’ futures?


FOOD! I have been incredibly transparent with my children about why some food is… well, poison. We read food labels, avoid fast food, soda, and artificial ingredients, and  have super nerdy conversations about bio-chemistry. I think I shall keep this up in 2014.

What is dead weight?

Another aspect of “cultivate” that I find appealing (and what I hinted at earlier) is letting go of dead weight. 

I don’t know much about plants. In fact, I have poinsettia that pretty much died within seconds of being brought into my house. Aren’t they supposed to be… resilient… like a Christmas version of a cactus or something? In any case…

I don’t know much about plants… OBVIOUSLY. But I have learned that no matter how “dead-looking” a plant may be, as long as the roots are salvageable, it can still be saved. You simply have to trim off the dead stems and leaves because they aren’t going to do anything except  slow the plant down and divert energy and nutrients that could be better spent on growing new stems and leaves.

I’m ready to make space for the new by clearing out the tiring, draining, and unnecessary in 2014. I’m excited to see what wonderful things will be harvested by next winter!

What’s your ONE WORD for 2014? If you have written or decided to write a post about it, leave the link below. I’d love to read it! 

On Learning How To Let Go and Move Forward

Duffy Christmas Card 2013

Our annual Christmas card is the highlight of my holiday season! I spend weeks… if not, months before… finding an amazing photographer, selecting coordinating outfits, choosing  just the right layout… And when it finally comes together, I cannot wait to mail them to all of our family and friends, near and far, just in time for Christmas. […]

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{Sponsored} Navigating the Holidays with GameStop


Disclosure: I was hired to host a blogger lunch and learn with Techlicious and GameStop in Dallas, Texas. This post, as well as any related promotion, was compensated as part of this event.   I grew up in a household full of girls. We had a myriad of dolls and tea sets, instruments and bikes, a […]

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{Review} Virtual Piggy: A Safe Way for Kids to Spend, Save, and Give Online


I started getting an allowance when I started junior high, which is probably late by most standards. But it’s not like I had anything to spend it on since I was not allowed to LEAVE THE HOUSE except for school and piano lessons until then… Any money received as gifts was hoarded away in a college fund, and everything I ever […]

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If you have decided to talk to your kids about the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, chances are your already have. I, for one, have decided to shield my children from this horrific news in every way possible. They are already under enough stress and anxiety over our upcoming move and around school that there is absolutely no […]

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December 17, 2012: Thank a Teacher Day

There’s a quote from Mr. Rogers making its way around since the wake of Friday’s horrible school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut: “Look for the helpers.” When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” […]

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