Once a year, I post a list of my highs and lows. The brightest moments from the last twelve months—and the unpleasant experiences, too.
If you’ve never made a high / low list before, I encourage you to try it. Because life can move so quickly. Before we even realize it… boom. Ten years zip by, and then your kids are graduating from high school and heading into the world, and you’re standing there in the doorway sniffling into your Kleenex and wondering, “What just happened? Where did all the time go?”
It’s so important to slow down, write things down, celebrate the wins, and make peace with everything that didn’t go exactly as planned.
Here’s my list for 2018…
25th Anniversary Weekend
My 25th wedding anniversary was a major high—especially because, about 15 years ago, I was convinced we needed to get divorced. And we almost did. I was ready to hire lawyers and draw up the paperwork, but thanks to Scott’s stubborn determination—and thanks to many hours of marriage counseling and life coaching—we got through the rough patch. I’m so grateful we did.
Looking back, I’ve realized that if you feel unhappy in your marriage, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need a divorce. It just means something in your life needs to change. Maybe it’s time for a new career that excites you. A new self-care routine that makes you feel amazing. A new attitude about life. There 1,000 different ways you can change how your life feels. Getting divorced might not be a requirement. (Or it might. But for me, it wasn’t.)
Back to the anniversary weekend… Scott, my kids, and I all went to my hometown of Savannah, Georgia. We visited the place where we first met, the courthouse where we got married, so many meaningful spots from the early days of our relationship. The whole weekend was full of magic.
The grand finale was when Scott got down on one knee (!!!) and presented me with a gorgeous diamond ring and proposed to me all over again. But here’s the craziest part—I had tried to purchase that exact same ring FOR MYSELF two years earlier. I had seen it in a shop (Scott was there, too) and I was obsessed with it. It was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever laid eyes on. I wanted to buy it as a gift for myself. The next day, when I went to get it, the shop owner told me it wasn’t available anymore. “Oh, so sorry, someone came by and already bought it!” I was so bummed. On my 25th anniversary, I learned it wasn’t available because Scott had secretly gotten it for me—and then held onto it for two whole years, waiting for this exact moment to present it to me. The whole thing was a complete surprise and I was sobbing uncontrollably.
Scott, I love you. Not because of the diamond ring (although it is verrrrry nice, haha!) but because of your patience, tenacity, and your deep love for me and our kids. Here’s to another 25 years.
Amsterdam and Berlin with the kids
We took a family trip to Amsterdam and Berlin with Ryan and Cora.
We floated down canals, wandered down streets filled with jaw-dropping architecture, and sipped coffee in sun-filled cafes. I felt immense gratitude that I have the financial ability to take my kids on these kinds of trips. I’ve worked hard to grow my business—and it feels amazing to spend my hard-earned money in meaningful ways, creating memories together. I like to spend money on “stories” instead of “stuff.” (OK, well, maybe occasionally diamonds though. LOL.)
Launching the kids into their “grown up” lives
My son Ryan continually teaches me lessons about flexibility and patience—to put it mildly! HA! After lots of surprise twists, Ryan eventually decided to leave his old college and transfer to a University in Montreal, Canada. So far, he loves living in Montreal. I feel proud to have raised an adventurous young man who’s never willing to settle for a “mediocre” or “just okay” experience. He wants an unusual, exceptional life—and he’s creating one.
Cora is applying for colleges and scholarships. I’ve been helping her navigate the whole college admissions process, which is exciting and also daunting at times. I’m so proud of the strong, intelligent, and creative woman she has become. Sometimes when I see her creating art, or putting on her signature deep red lipstick and looking so “grown up,” I burst into tears. (Parents, I’m sure you can relate.)
Starting a Scholarship for Entrepreneurs
Lemme tell y’all something….college tuition in the US is no joke. I’m on a mission to help female entrepreneurs generate so much business that they can pay cash for their kids college (or their contribution to it).
Back when I was a Sophomore in college, there was a woman who created a scholarship especially for female students majoring in Political Science. I applied and I got it.
I received $2,500 a year, which I was allowed to spend wherever it was needed most. $2,500 was a life-changing amount of money for me. It meant I could buy books without feeling stressed. It meant I could invest in a couple of nice outfits for job interviews. It meant I could hold my head a little higher, knowing that someone out there believed in me and wanted to help me succeed. That scholarship meant the world to me. And now, I get to pay it forward.
The applications were fierce. I cried reading them all.
I was so proud to award the first ever Hyatt College Scholarship for Entrepreneurs to Alanna Wall. Alanna will attend USC after the holidays. She’s an amazing human being and student, and I cannot wait to watch her SOAR.
Reinventing my company
At the beginning of this year, I made some major business decisions. For starters, I decided to shut down a few of my biggest revenue streams—including my international retreats. Previously, I’d been organizing 5 international retreats per year.
It was fabulous to travel to Italy, Spain, France, Scotland, and so many other locations to organize these events and work with my clients. But it wasn’t a sustainable pace of life for me—and it took me away from my husband and kids too much.
I decided to strip things down to just one or two retreats per year. This change—along with some other changes—meant I was basically saying “goodbye” to about $500,000 in revenue each year. I was taking a significant financial risk and “betting on myself” that I could figure out how to replace that income.
And… I did! I launched some new programs—ones that didn’t require me to travel so much—and I was able to get that “lost” income back. I’m proud of that. It was a good reminder that running a company isn’t a stiff, immovable thing—it’s always flexible. You can reinvent “how you do business” at any time. You’re the boss.
Hiring my own marketing director
Yaaaaas! I love marketing and sales. I’ve always enjoyed coming up with my own creative marketing ideas. But this year, I decided to step things up to a new level. I brought a marketing director onto my team and she is rockin’ it. I’m so grateful for my whole team—Larissa, my amazing right-hand woman and assistant, Holly, my Designer and Marketing Director, and Patti, my Membership Community Manager. The Hyatt Squad is STRONG.
Y’all. I had a stalker incident and it was not cool.
I got a private Facebook message from a woman I’d never met before. She told me that she had driven down from Missouri that day—specifically because she wanted to meet me—and she was in my neighborhood and would love to meet for coffee.
I politely explained that I wasn’t available. She told me she would wait all day long—as long as it took—until I was available. I got a funny feeling in my gut. There was something “off” about her messages. I explained that I don’t meet up for coffee with people I don’t know, especially on such short notice. ”
Then she got furious and sent a horrible video message to me, saying awful, threatening things, and basically “shaming” me for not being willing to meet her. Yikes. The whole thing was icky and upsetting. I felt like my privacy had been invaded.
Unfortunately, I’ve had several experiences like this throughout the years—including a male stalker who sent me lewd and disgusting messages on Facebook, and who followed me to an event I was speaking at. As things escalated, at one point, I had to hire a bodyguard to keep him away. So creepy.
Folks, if you’re ever being harassed, make a record of what’s happening (save the emails, take screenshots of texts and social media bullying, etc.) and contact your local law enforcement a.s.a.p. if you feel unsafe. Report what’s been happening and ask for protection. It’s sad that we have to go to such extreme measures to protect ourselves and our families, but sometimes, we do.
Oh yeah… this was fun! LOL. Not. I spent $4,500 on a Facebook ad campaign that was super successful. Tons of people clicked the ads and enrolled to attend a webinar with me. And then the webinar link didn’t work. All of those potential clients and customers—lost. I felt like chucking my computer into the fireplace and burning it to smithereens! Uggggggh. Very depressing. To get myself back on track, I blasted the song “Whatever It Takes” and got my attitude back into a positive place. We rescheduled the webinar and ultimately, things worked out okay. But still. That situation has been burned into my mind as a definite “low” of the year.
MOST SURREAL MOMENT
The yacht party
A surreal moment was definitely the yacht party that I hosted on the Chicago River. This was the kick-off party for an event called Finish Strong, which is all about finishing your year on a strong, powerful note. Women flew into Chicago from around the country. The boat was packed with inspiring female entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants, women doing all kinds of amazing work.
At the party, we had a gospel choir that sang renditions of pop songs like “Level Up” by Ciara and “Work B**ch” by Britney Spears. UNREAL. The ladies and I sipped cocktails on the deck and toasted to our goals and dreams. Everyone came dressed as their “future self”—the woman they aspire to be in five or ten years. We even made a last-minute decision to turn the whole boat around and pick up two ladies who had arrived late—they were waving from the dock and we spun around and got them! The captain was like, “This is completely bonkers, we never do this” but we INSISTED. No woman left behind!
It was a night of glitter and laughter and music and so many happy tears. I had several moments where I looked around the boat—and out towards the water—and I thought, “Is this seriously my real life?”
BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL VICTORY
The new book
My favorite professional victory from 2018 was… putting the finishing touches on my next book manuscript, finalizing the cover design, and seeing the book listed on Amazon. OMFG. This book, BARE, represents a decade of work with thousands of women on health, weight, self esteem, and body image issues, and it’s unreal to see it finally come to life. When my publisher emailed me the galley (which is basically a sample version of what the final book would look like) I sobbbbbbbbbbed at my desk.
It’s so hard to pick just one! A few favorites…
Sitting on the beach off of the Amalfi Coast, wearing this outlandish hat, drinking this drink.
This year, I’ve been inspired by so many heroic women—particularly Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her courageous testimony (and for continuing to be a role model for women everywhere, despite receiving death threats telling her to shut up), Michelle Obama for her grace and strength and her phenomenal new memoir (which everyone must read), and Supreme Court Justice Rather Bader Ginsburg who is unstoppably strong and hopefully will NEVER retire.
Ohhh, bring it!
2019 is nearly here and I cannot wait for…
— My new book, BARE, to hit bookstores everywhere! I want to inspire millions of women to stop dieting—and stop hating their bodies—and to feel strong, confident, and powerful. The revolution is on!
— Delight. My “word of the year” for 2019 is “Delight.” As I recently explained to a friend, I want to feel “fucking delighted.” Haha! Delightful experiences. Delightful meals. Delightful moments.
— A brand new album from Beyoncé… hopefully? Let us pray.
— Watching my daughter Cora walk across that graduation stage. My baby girl is going to light up the future.
RECAPS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS
MY QUOTE FOR THE NEW YEAR
No fucking around. All in. … LOL ….quote me.
I will see you in the NEW YEAR!