(Again, not political. Just an observation)
I’ve been looking at this picture for awhile now – I actually put it together on the night of President Trump’s inauguration day as it depicts what this country is all about. I am the first one to tell you I love the United States of America (yes, that’s America with an “A” – not this shorthanded “merica” junk).
Just hearing the Star Spangled Banner sung gives me goosebumps and tears. It stands for something. It stands for all men ...and women. It stands for what this country has gone through and has yet to see.
America has always been the land of dreams. The land of hopes. The land of prosperity. The land of diversity. Those qualities are what make us great. As President Reagan once stated, “The colors of our flag signify the qualities of the human spirit we Americans cherish. Red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice.”
And these three women in the picture? Look at them. When you put them side by side, together they form the colors of our flag – red, white and blue – in the best form: grace.
We hear it all the time to "Shop Local" or "Shop Small", but do you know what it means at Absolutely Her?
Awhile ago I was asked the question about what it means to have AH. And when I answered, it was surprising to the person who asked. You've all seen us grow and do different events, but when we do these it isn't just about myself. It's about our consignors. I have AH to be an active part of the community. Because, here's the thing...when you buy from us, you've actual...ly helped out another person. Last week I heard a consignor tell me they were going to use the money from their account to buy her son baseball cleats because last year's didn't fit and money was tight. She was so excited and almost in tears. That's what local does. That's what local feels like. And that's why I am so passionate about AH and shopping local. Because keeping my doors open opens doors for others.
Our word for something which touches our heart and soul. Something we just have to share because we feel it is outstanding. Something we just can't keep to ourselves because the power of believing in each other is more magical than anything we could ever do on our own.
This morning I stopped at the Family Fare in Papilion. I love starting my day there because of the wonderful ladies at the Starbucks counter. We always enjoy our few minutes together and laugh and giggle about silly things. It's the perfect way to start the day as I head to the store.
As I was leaving, I saw two women in the parking lot. They were getting out of their separate cars, but it was like they lit up when they saw the other. As they started walking closer tog...ether, their arms opened up for the big hug I could see was on its way. And for a moment, I was a little jealous. I know they had no idea anyone was watching and I know they honestly probably wouldn't have cared because why would they think it mattered to anyone but them? But it did.
On Sunday, I was blessed to be a part of a FitGirl class for young girls (age 7-14). We talked about fashion and other things related and I had the best time seeing their own sense of style. Afterwards, I went to LaMesa with another member of the FitGirl team who brought me on and who also happens to be the one who named Absolutely Her and helped me start this journey. As we sat there, we talked about our story and how our friendship began. And what would have happened if I hadn't have looked left into the office I would pass. I would never have seen her. And what would have happened if it just stayed an artificial "hi" each day? I never would have sat down and, for whatever reason, spilled my story. And what would have happened if we never went to lunch and I asked her a simple question that launched a HUGE friendship.
As we were talking I began thinking about how many opportunities we miss because our blinders are on and we only see straight ahead. How many wonderful people are we not friends with because we didn't choose to look through the door and truly see them. And how many are we still friends with because we still let our hearts lead the way?
This past week AH lost a member of our family to cancer. She started out as a customer and quickly became a friend who battled to the end. She brought joy, beauty and grace into my life each time she walked through the doors. I think of her and of you all and realize if I hadn't opened AH, I wouldn't be so blessed.
Today I ask you to think about stop being so focused and staring straight ahead. Today I ask you to look left and right to see who might be right next to you and needing you as much as you need them. Today I ask you to believe in the power of a hug to another person and how it can fill your soul. Today I ask you to actually tell someone who blesses you what they mean to you. Today I ask that you believe the power of the world's kindness is in your small act of love and friendship. Today I ask you to put your head in the backseat and lead with your heart. Today I ask you to love.
One of my favorite parts of owning Absolutely Her is meeting women of all ages. Each person has a personality which can make the day so much fun. And being able to interact to learn more about them and how to help them just kind of drives home the point of why I opened AH.
This past week I had a customer return who pulled me aside and asked if I remembered helping her a few weeks ago. She's younger and had come in to find clothes for her first interview for a "real job". She's getting ready to graduate this spring and wasn't sure what was appropriate. As we talked and she explained the position she was applying for, we played fashion show. We found her a great outfit in which she felt confident and looked professional. When she got to the checkout, she stopped and realized she hadn't looked at the price tags. She was on a budget and was afraid with what we had chosen, she was going to be over. She knew the brands she picked were out of her price range at the mall, as she'd just left there a little stunned with the costs. It was an honest deer in the headlights look she was giving me. The moment of truth came as I rang up her purchases. I had no idea what her budget amount was. Her total for a blazer, blouse, pants and necklace was $43.76. She just started giggling then laughing...she wanted to stay under $75!
Well, she came back this week...with her new business card in hand to give to me and ask for some of mine. Not only did she get the job but the woman who interviewed her loved her necklace and wanted to know where she had found it so she got our AH card to take to her.
Taking the time to learn about our customers brings me such joy. To be able to share with them the hightlights and sadness creates a bond of friendship I never had known before.
At times we may seem busy with our every day operations, but we'd love to help you! Because at Absolutely Her, every style has its story and shopping local has its rewards.
This past weekend I had the most AHmazing weekend. As time passes, I have realized it is important to take opportunities when they are presented in such a way that you just say "YES"! Using planes, trains and automobiles my best friend from high school and I met in New York City for a girls weekend.
Now, if you haven't figured out, I am usually a planner. I google and research and then check it out again to find the things to see, places to shop, restaurants to try. This ...time? Except for finding a hotel close to Macy's and Penn Station, I only really looked for ONE thing...garment/fashion district. It was the only main thing for me this trip.
So, when Eve asked about the plan for the weekend, I told her it was "fly by the seat of our pants" time. And you know what? I couldn't have planned it better for the experiences we had. Shopping & Starbucks were our staples for the four days.
On the last day, we were sitting in Starbucks with our cups labeled "Nebraska" (a new game we're playing) and watched the rain lightly fall and the people briskly walk. Eve looked at me and asked "What's your takeaway from the weekend?" My mind flashed through all the intriguing activities & people watching, the shops which gave me inspiration, the aromas of the street vendors and the laughing of old friends.
I didn't know how to answer her question, because how can I pick just one takeaway? As I got into the taxi, I gave her one last hug and tears came to my eyes as we said goodbye.
As i write this, I still think of the question. I know, especially watching the thousands of people walking the streets of NYC, I may just be one small speck. That to those people we passed and interacted with, that I was a very fleeting thought. And I probably didn't make an impact on anyone. But those who gave us directions, served us in the different restaurants/Starbucks, helped us in their stores, treated us horribly in their stores and those which made us laugh, well, they all left an impression on me. They are intertwined into my thoughts of this trip. They became a part of my takeaway:
1) I am inspired to continue to create and explore and let things happen without planning
2) I am happy to live in a small town to appreciate it's quiet lifestyle
3) I am excited to know there are still so many adventures ahead
4) I am blessed to have a friend for over 30 years who still knows, understands and believes in me and I in her
5) I am wanting to become a part of someone else's takeaway by doing the right thing and providing the best experience for them
6) I am strongest when I believe in myself
7) I am joyful
Now it's Tuesday and I have the week ahead of me and the trip behind me. And I can only think of one thing...
Where will those planes, trains and automobiles take us next time?
This is such a hard lesson to learn. I struggle with it when I see a woman who has it all together. I wonder why I feel like a crazy mess. But then I TRY to remember, that crazy mess is what gives me my personality, my quirks and what others love about me. I can be flighty and focused. I can dress up and dress down. I can leave a trail of unfinished projects around the store but I can get them done eventually. I know I focus on what I THINK others see, but in reality, ...I'm wrong. So maybe I gained a few pounds or have a few extra gray hairs and wrinkles. I have to tell myself it's ok. To just keep moving forward and living a grateful life is my goal.
But most of all, I'd rather be the person who helps others see that beauty in themselves. To give them permission to see what they can't. It's so beautiful to see a woman smile when we are sharing what we see in them. If you look into another woman's eyes, you can see her soul, her true beauty and her strength. So today, share your true spirit and show joy to those you encounter - together we can be AHmazingly beautiful.
I don't think we can ever truly understand something until it becomes a part of our lives. Not until it truly touches us at the core of who we are or thought we were. And then, in the midst of it and after it quiets down, we realize what we lost and how we were changed. And even 6 years later, we can see one picture and feel it all over again.
Memorial Day. The day we honor those soldiers who died fighting for us. For our freedom. For our lives. For ensuring we keep ...the United States of America.
I look back at pictures in my personal facebook albums and see the face of a man. A soldier. A boy I loved like a son. The smile of a kid up to something and a tattoo of praying hands as if he knew.
Almost every week I see the memorial still kept alive in his honor. You might see it too if you are on Lincoln Road in Papillion between 84th and 96th. Flowers and flags adorn the sign of the street where he was raised. But now it's also known as his street as well. They don't forget.
Every year you'll see his friends holding a big banner on the overpass in Papillion while wearing Nebraska Husker gear in tribute as that was his favorite team. They don't forget.
Each Christmas I hang a soldier ornament he made for me. He proudly painted on his Lieutenant bars as he had just made the rank. I don't forget.
He was in the first Criminal Justice Academy my husband taught. He won't forget.
I see my daughter holding her dog, Peanut. A present from him. One of her last ties to him. She doesn't forget.
And I still feel the love of his parents and siblings when they come back into town to visit. Holding tight in their hugs as if to remind us all we're still connected. They don't forget.
And I ask that you don't forget the real meaning of Memorial Day.
1st Lieutenant Mark A Noziska.
We'll Never Forget.
Memorial Day 2016
Have you been there? You know, that moment when you're told something and your first response is all the bad words you've ever heard before (but definitely never said...). Somewhere deep down inside you begin to doubt what you're doing and where you've been heading.
I had that happen this past weekend. The details don't really matter, but the reaction does. A small part of me wanted to just throw up my hands and say forget it. I can't compete with that. I'm not strong... enough. Just go into easy mode and coast until the end is here.
Why do I let my doubts get in the way of this roller coaster ride of my life? Hands up is how I should be. Finding the joy in all the small things. Laughing at all the silly faces.
I know my journey. I know where I've been these past almost 50 years. I know what I survived. I know where I failed. I know what I know...and it really is a lot. And so do you. You know your path hasn't been all happy-go-lucky. Sometimes life is just downright awful. But I can't let my doubts rule. I just can't. And neither can you.
Yesterday I shared my favorite quote, "knowledge is the enemy of fear". And when I put that knowledge into action, I become a new person. I become focused. I become logical. I become strong. Instead of letting these doubts of what brings me joy become what brings me stress and anxiety, I win.
I certainly do not know the outcome yet, but I know one thing. I am blessed to have those in my corner who know me best and calm me down. And I have faith to know I am exactly where I should be. And if you look deep down, well, you'll see you've got that fire to take on your doubts and let determination win.
Feel free to share a comment or thought with us.
We LOVE hearing from our friends!
Women's Upscale Consignment Boutique
I posted the following in response to a post which was put on a local Facebook page in regards to stores closing in another part of Papillion...
As the owner of a small business, Absolutely Her, and president of the Tara Plaza Association, I can tell you it is very difficult to watch any business close. Unfortunately, when circumstances occur which are out of control for the business, the reality takes place and the doors close. It’s not done to inconvenience someone, it’s done because it’s the reality of owning the business and not being able to pay the bills to keep it alive.
The reality of it all is we live in an e-commerce world where we can find just about anything we need or want and have it shipped to us. The convenience of not having to get out of our home to go to the store is enticing. Why not? In my pajamas, I can channel surf, drink a glass of wine and shop long after the brick and mortar doors have closed . It’s the good life, just as our state’s motto reads. Until another store closes and everyone starts wondering why. And complaining.
Part of the solution is rather simple. Get off the computer and go into the stores. Shop them instead of online. We are where things become personal. Small businesses are where you make connections and our lives become intertwined. My shop has been referred to as its own little “Cheers”. I listen to my customers and learn what they want. I’m honest with my opinions and have become a trusted source for my current consignors/shoppers as well as new visitors to Absolutely Her who can see the authentic interactions take place.
As a small business consignment store owner, not a chain, I can see the difference in just the last couple of years with the popularity of the on-line stores. That’s the harshness of what’s happening all across our country. That’s the reality of shopping via computers, tablets and smartphones – you aren’t supporting those who are here in front of you. It doesn’t support the infra-structure of the city in which YOU live. Instead, your money is heading in so many different ways but not the ones which are the most important. So when you start to question and wonder what’s happened to your favorite places across the community, don’t place all the blame on the landlords and the business, take some of it yourself.
Oh, and as for “Shadow Lake turning into Tara Plaza” just watch. Our little center might just surprise you.
I know I am a little late on posting today, but I was having a little bit of a hard time about what to write for #TellItTuesday. Total blank, if I'm honest. I stepped in to my office to prepare for a meeting I have in a little bit and I turned on some music: Amy Grant's "If These Walls Could Speak". Now I have loved her music since I discovered it years ago and she's coming to town next month so I thought I would just give another listen since it had been awhile.
As the song is playing, I think about what the walls here at Absolutely Her would say. They would tell you all the facts about 6,000+ brands that have come through the doors in the last five years and about the struggles of owning a business and the joys of the friendships created. But the most amazing part I think they would share is the power of a single piece of clothing.
I have watched the power of clothing turn a woman who believes she is ordinary into a beautiful and confidant warrior. She stands up to the negative voices in her head and wins the fight. She defeats the perception of what others believe to be true of her. She blossoms and she radiates joy. What's happening is she is finding herself. Some days she is finding what she thought she lost years ago. A love of herself.
And, above all, I hope these walls tell all who enter #AbsolutelyHer, come on in and let us help you find the power.
As I sit in the quiet of my store, I remember a man which few would understand what he meant to me and why. Early this morning I had a realization about him which, for some reason, I had never really thought about. If you were here in Papillion years ago, you may remember when St. Columbkille was “the old St. C’s” across from where it currently resides. Instead the corner held a beautiful big house with a beautifully manicured lawn surrounded by a wrought iron fence (at least that is my memory). I loved looking at it as my parent’s would drive us past. I would wonder who lived behind that gate and how he must have been someone very important whom I would never get to meet because we weren’t in that “circle”.
Fast forward to the Spring of 2011. I had to walk into the office of a man I had never met and was actually afraid to talk to. I rehearsed how I was going to greet him, how I would sit and, most importantly, what I was going to say. This one meeting was everything to me because this location was where I wanted to create and grow Absolutely Her - but that didn’t mean it was where he was going to want it. I timidly walked through the doors and was escorted into the office of Mr. Mike Hogan. He greeted me with a smile on his face and made me feel welcome. I told him being in Tara Plaza felt like home and there wasn’t any other place I wanted to be. I can’t imagine what he thought that day about me and my idea, but from that day he became my landlord, but more importantly, my friend. Not one time after shortly meeting Mike did I leave his office without a hug – he knew it was a requirement from me.
After we established the Tara Plaza Association, we invited Mike to come to one of our early meetings to learn more about him and to share what we were working on. As he told us his story, one thing he spoke about has stuck with me. “Find out what the people want and give it to them.” That was the basis for how Tara Plaza came to be all those years ago. The houses had been built, but there wasn’t anywhere close for the residents to shop. He listened. I remembered the stores: Tara Foods, Mr. Ed’s, Lynam Drug, the hardware store and most importantly, Ben Franklin – my current location. It was all here for the people of Papillion to shop. As I go through my day-to-day operations and the planning for the future of Absolutely Her, I still hear that small bit of advice. That was how I grew as not only a store but as a person.
Three years ago this month we celebrated Tara Plaza’s 45th Birthday and I was introduced to Mike’s family and friends. It was never more clear to me how a man who seemed larger than life in the business world was loved and who loved right back. I saw he was proud to be with us celebrating the Plaza’s milestone and at the same time I could see the family’s pride in his strength. That day he offered to let me drive his red sports car. I was too afraid. Now I wish I did so I would have that memory with him. But in retrospect, that’s okay, because I have so many other memories. And today as I think about him, I know Mike, not as the successful businessman in the big house, but as a mentor and a gracious man.
The last time I saw him was about a month ago. God placed me where I needed to be and Sunday God placed Mike where he belonged - living in a big beautiful home on a hill surrounded by the gates of Heaven.
Today is "Tell It Tuesday" and I am asking a little indulgence as you read what may turn into a lengthy post. It's not an easy task to admit sometimes when you aren't happy about something. Especially yourself.
Owning Absolutely Her has turned into a "great adventure" which has taught me more about what we, as women, have to believe. And it's a thought that can drive me crazy...that somehow, if we aren't skinny and perfect that we aren't good enough. That we don't matter. That we are failing in someone's eyes.
Here's where I have found myself. At that same place. That I can't be who I want desperately to be because I gained some weight. That I have to hide. That I have to be ashamed. That I can't dress cute. And, most harmful to myself, I wasn't good enough in my own eyes. I kept looking at my clothes in the closet and hating everything. Nothing fits and every morning I get a little more depressed. I gravitated to the same things every week and hated it. I kept telling myself to just stop drinking coffee. Stop drinking wine. Stop eating...well everything! I didn't see myself of being of any real value. Basically, I lost my mojo. How could I tell anyone what they should be wearing when I couldn't even dress myself?
And then, a stranger walked into my life (and into the store) and touched my soul in a way few do. She woke me up. Her name is Celeste and she is visiting from back East. She came in the day before with her sister and then came back again and asked to try on a dress...a cute sleeveless Calvin Klein with a ruffled/layered skirt. A little out of her comfort zone, I suspect, but she walked in to the dressing room and came out...well different. When she came back out to me, she twirled a little, danced a little, smiled immensely. A whole new outlook. She leaned over and said "I feel pretty!" And boy, was she.
It wasn't just the way she looked in the dress physically (but it fit her like it was tailored just for her), it was the way she just shined. It was a beauty that enveloped her. Like something I have rarely seen.
As we continued to accessorize and play, I began to wonder what would make me feel that way again. Sure, I know I can lose the weight, but that isn't going to happen overnight. It will take awhile. But do I have to wait to feel pretty until I'm a certain size? Wil that really be the answer? I knew I couldn't do that anymore. So I left AH and went to find solace.
I wasn't sure where to go, but ended up at Kajamas in downtown Papillion (twice). There I learned a few lessons for myself about what styles work better for me and you know what, I felt pretty again. Not just on the outside, but inside too. I learned I have the power. I learned I can share the power. I learned I don't have to hide. I learned we all struggle. And I learned we all need a little boost to find our own comfortableness.
In no way am I saying clothes are the only things that make you beautiful or a size/weight makes you beautiful. What makes us beautiful is letting go of this sense of perfection. Of thinking only certain people have worth because of what they have or look like.
Ladies, I know you struggle. I hear you tell me and I hear the dejection in your voice. It's okay to share, because you are not alone. And when you walk through the doors at Absolutely Her, know you are walking into a safe place to ask for help, ask for opinions, to talk. Because I don't see you as a number - FORGET THE NUMBER. I see you for the beautiful woman you were wonderfully made to be.
There have been some days in the past where I would find myself in a totally unfamiliar mood. It wasn't a feeling I had ever really encountered so I didn't know how to deal with it except to let my emotions just take over for a few minutes and cry and scream while asking questions of God over and over again. Trying to find some kind of answer to what I didn't even know was truly wrong. But after a few minutes, something strange would happen. A peace would come from the tears and a strong sense of "you got this" would happen. It would bring me away from the struggle and into a motivation to make it better. And if I didn't share this with you today, I'm guessing you might not guess I have these moments. Because I would never tell anyone.
Until now. I've learned over the past few months that some of my posts have hit close to home with those reading. It's surprises me how many women have told me they didn't know others had those same thoughts. And as I hear this, I think about how hard and for how long I never told my story. I never thought anyone would care, so I never really shared. Especially the hard things. We all know it is easy to tell tales which make others laugh, but telling our heartbreaks? Well that's a burden I never did.
Last weekend I went to a birthday party for a childhood friend. I've known this family for a very long time and each time I see them, they greet me with open arms and hearts. I sat with my friend's husband for a little bit and as we caught up with each other and I told him of a few things that were on my mind, he basically told me he never would have thought I would have doubts about my life because I was always so happy and had the smile on my face that everyone always saw. That kind of gave me mixed thoughts. For the most part I was thinking "perfect - no one can see through this smile I put on", but then it wasn't such a great thought. Because how can I be my authentic self like I want to be if I never let the other show. And like the quote says, my story may be the key that unlocks someone else's prison. So here's a piece of my story:
I will NEVER celebrate Mother's Day at Absolutely Her. NEVER.
Now, if you read just that statement and nothing else about it, I probably sound pretty harsh. Especially if you've read what I've written about my own mom in the past (I love her dearly). For me, at AH, I celebrate all women instead. Mother or Mom can be a word which instead of having a loving feeling with it can be quite the opposite for some of us. You see, I couldn't have children. We did all the tests & treatments and what you could imagine. It just didn't work. And in the beginning when this was fresh in my mind, I would see the word Mom everywhere and just be heartbroken and cry. And feel like I wasn't good enough or that I was being punished. At church they would have all the moms stand up to be applauded. I would cry. Restaurants would give all moms free meals. I would stay home. The hurt and anger was too raw.
As the years have gone by, the hurt and anger have lessened. I still question sometimes, but like Jeremiah 33:3 says: "Call to me and I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know" so I have to have faith. And instead I have chosen a different way to be a mom. I have beautiful step-daughters and intern daughters. I am venturing into an organization which believes in building confidence in young girls. I have found a different path to the loving and nurturing qualities of being a mom. But in order to do that, I had to make peace and find joy and forgive God for what I didn't understand.
If I look around at all of the women who come through the doors of Absolutely Her, I have to rejoice and celebrate that simple fact alone. A customer turned friend this past week told me women need to build up other women and I couldn't agree more. We are here at this time and in this moment to create a path for others to follow. To have a time when we know what it takes to help others and actually follow through and do something instead of sitting by and waiting for someone else to do it. We all have chapters in our life story that are there to show we made it on to the next. One to let others read to see a silent struggle isn't always an honest struggle.
Today is a new and fresh start to what could potentially be a new chapter in my story. I'm not sure how it will read, where it will lead me or who will enter, but if I start believing each day I turn the page to great and mighty things, how can I have anything less than excitement?