September 17, 2022 4 min read

I used to be shy. Like really, really shy. I remember being young and being so scared to talk to anyone - I was so scared I would not even think to ask for a glass of water at a restaurant. So, I had my little brother speak for me in public. He is 5 years younger, but Roger has always been a reliable and helpful guy (he's a nurse now so it still holds true.)

One time, in an attempt to get me to be "braver" my mom sent me into Waldron's bakery - our local bakery - with some money and told me to get some donuts. I was probably 10 or so. Surely a little kid would gladly hand over some money for some donuts and in the process she would have to actually talk to an adult. Nope. I don't remember exactly, but I probably cried - (and my mom probably did too now that I know the types of things moms worry about).

I remember walking down the sidewalk looking down the whole time from when I got out of our super fancy station wagon until I walked up to the door of the bakery. It was a big wooden door painted with warm greyish blue on the outside wood part and thick glass in the middle. It had bells at the top so when customers walked in the guys working in the back would know someone walked into their store.

The smell of flour and oil and warm sugary goodness flooded our noses the second we opened the door (which we had to open together it was so heavy).  I remember looking at the donuts and being so shy there was no way I was going to order them myself, but I whispered into Roger's ear which kind we should get and he was more than happy to not only tell Kathy which donuts we wanted, but he also talked to her! Ah! That happened so many times. I really owe a lot to my little brother. I walked back to the car with a skip in my step and looking straight ahead and not at the ground.

I eventually over came this shyness. I don't really know how - but it was a process. Golf helped. I was a good golfer in high school (for a girl from Iowa where it's cold for 6 months out of the year) so the confidence that came from being good at something helped. With golf, I was at least forced to talk to the other players we played with, because if I didn't, it would have been weird. 

Then when Josh and I got married and started our businesses I quickly realized we had to sell things to actually stay in business and to sell things you had to talk to people. Josh wasn't going to. He just wasn't. So - I had to. With some practice and modeling what my dad does best (talking to people), I started talking to people. What helped was that it wasn't people. It was just one person at a time. And it wasn't talking to people. It was connecting with people - through questions and conversation and nonverbal things like smiles and laughs. And with enough practice I have actually done a complete 360. I'm still very much an introvert and find it happy and easy not leaving my house or yard for a couple of weeks at a time, but now I enjoy talking and connecting with people.

I'm sharing our life on here. Not all of it of course. But enough. And it's not scary anymore. It's honestly mostly for me. To have a record of the time that is passing oh so quickly. But it's partly for you too. I love seeing how other people live and gathering inspiration and connection from wherever I can and maybe you do too.

This is our life right now. Three little (growing quickly) boys, flowers, sunshine, art, animals and building a new business. We still love our "old" business Steel Cow, (this business still feels like it's just getting started!) and will be adding new paintings soon. But it's fun to do something different as well.

Maybe it's because this is still so new to me. Maybe it's because I'm seeing things through my kids eyes. But growing things is so damn inspirational. There is beauty everywhere. There are lessons everywhere. There is death (I kill a lot of plants...) there is suffering (sometimes we don't water the plants enough, get bug bites, sunburns or step on thistles with our bare feet), but there is also overcoming obstacles (sunscreen and sun hats work!), growth in the plants and our boys, contribution (we give a lot of flowers away), love, wonder, awe, and so very very many things.


And I want to share them with you. Because maybe it will inspire you or maybe it will just give your heart a big smile. Because everyone has something and something different in different seasons of our lives and you never know where you can find inspiration and connection.

And, although I used to be in the camp of eww - I don't want to look at pictures of kids and flowers - I am firmly in this camp now and probably will be for the rest of my life. And, we have lots and lots of pictures of both. lol

I hope you enjoy connecting with our family, flowers and art with us on this journey we never expected to be on!


With Love,

Valerie Miller

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