Smart, Gifted & Tough. Making a Change to Create a Better World, Meet The Color Blue & Hope Founder, Jenna Dail
Q: For those in our audience, who may not be familiar with the nonprofit, The Color Blue and Hope, can you share the story behind it?
JD: The Color Blue and Hope started as a blog after the loss of our twins, Grady and Ryder. At five months pregnant, I went into preterm labor after one complication followed another. At the time, not many knew I was expecting, let alone experienced a great loss, and I needed to find an outlet to share my feelings and process my grief. I published my first post a month following our loss because I could no longer pretend that I was okay. I needed to share our story.
Through the early years of my grief journey, I often asked, “Why me?” and I remember a day, a turning point in my healing, if you will, that I heard the answer to my cries, “Because she matters.”
Prior to our loss, I was placed on a strict bed rest in a Miami hospital four hours away from home in order to fight for our boys’ lives. I was told to lay flat on my back, even while eating, rely on nurses to care for me, and not move a single inch. I just laid there, alone and in need of so much: A glimpse of hope, lotion, and a support system.
From my experience, I realized support for mothers on bed rest was lacking in our hospitals, and I set out on a mission to provide that for them through a gift box. Today, The Color Blue and Hope is a non-profit organization that provides Boxes of Hope to roughly 600 mothers a year who are expected to stay in the hospital a week or longer during her pregnancy.
A Box of Hope is filled with everything she could possibly need while on bed rest: Toiletries to keep her clean, journals and stationery to keep her busy, and devotionals to keep her heart full.
Together with our community, we gift each mom a reminder that she is not fighting this fight alone.
Q: How has The Color Blue & Hope made a difference and what impact do you still wish to see made?
JD: The Color Blue and Hope currently serves roughly 600 mothers a year in Central Florida. We have heard from many nurses that our boxes serve as a bridge to fill the gap between the patient and her care provider because each mom considers a Box of Hope as a personal gift from the hospital staff. Also, we have heard from many moms following their bed rest journey that our boxes provided them the hope they were searching for all along. It is our goal to reach more moms outside of Central Florida.
Q: What is it you like to say to potential donors and volunteers?
JD: Like others, I once believed bed rest was just that, “rest.” That was until I found myself in the thick of it. Bed rest can be painful, degrading and summed up with one word: Hard! These mothers are riding a roller coaster of emotions, worrying whether her baby will make, missing her loved ones at home, and forgoing all her comforts (i.e. restroom, shower, exercise and life as she once knew it.) We get to come together to change that experience for her through one simple gift, A Box of Hope. Your giving matters. Hope matters because she matters. Through your gift, she will feel loved, cared for, and a little less alone in her fight.
Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?
JD: To me, balance is not 50/50 and this realization has changed my whole perspective on work-life balance and how I approach it. I am a wife, mother, business owner, writer, and I homeschool my two older children as well. There is no possible way I could balance all of that evenly. I know that some days certain areas of my life will require more attention than others, and I’ve given myself the grace to know that’s okay. Where I’m called in specific seasons is where I go. There certainly is a time for everything.
Also, I’ve learned to choose my best yes’s and say “no,” when I feel my plate is too full. In the past, “no” scared me because I worried about what others would think or if it would hurt them, but over the years, I’ve learned that “no” simply means “not right now,” and by saying no, I get to say yes to what really matters in the specific season. That act alone frees me from commitments that feel overwhelming and allows me to be fully present where I am called.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
JD: A year after launching our non-profit and partnering with the same hospital I delivered our twins and said our final goodbyes, I received a phone call that a mother on bed rest wanted to meet me and say thank you. I walked into her room and I saw our Box of Hope beside her bed and instantly cried in her arms. The same place our boys took their last breath was the same very place they were making a difference. Here, a mother living out our same story, was sharing with me how the box brought her hope in a time of despair and worry. She told me it gifted her a new outlook on her journey. She delivered her healthy baby boy the day following our meeting. I love that our boys’ story didn’t end after our loss and they continue to live out their purpose through The Color Blue and Hope.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
JD: Someone once told me to never have a Plan B because if you do, your Plan A will never work out. Also, I’ve learned to value your time and your worth. If you don’t value your time, no one else will, nor should they – it begins with you. Time is the most valuable asset we are given, and we do not get it back.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
JD: I feel women are faced with one major challenge: the pressure to do it all. Work, stay home, share, keep quiet, look put together, let go, etc. Women are being pulled in so many directions, and the hamster wheel is wearing them too thin. A few years ago, everyone was trying to live out the word, “Hustle,” especially women who owned their own business. The word was posted across social media like a badge of honor but those same women, today, are waving their white flag and sharing the truth behind hustle. ‘Hustle’ leaves you feeling tired and burned out. Before you know it, you’ve been hustling so much you forget the reason you started in the first place. You forget yourself. I think we need to release women from the pressures of doing it all and expecting them to do it all well. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Let rest be the new hustle.
Four Things About Jenna Dai
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Emily Ley. She is an author, business owner, wife, and mother. I respect her and look up to her in so many ways. Through her books, I’ve learned so many tangible practices to simplify my life, and I would give anything to sit down and talk with her face to face to thank her for her commitment to build a sisterhood with her customers/community and for sharing her heart so openly.
2. What book are you currently reading?
Remember when I shared about balance and how it’s never 50/50, I like to think of my personal library in the same manner. I never open and close one book at a time. I am currently reading ‘The 4-Hour Workweek,’ ‘It’s Not Supposed to be This Way,’ ‘Buried Dreams,’ and ‘The 5-Hour School Week.
3. What app can’t you live without?
Instagram! Now hear me out, I love social media and the community it provides. I follow so many women who are encouraging, who share their hearts openly with no filter, and uplifting accounts that help me feel a little less alone in whatever it may be that I am facing. Also, Instagram allows me to share what I’m passionate about: my family and my work. As a child, I would journal everything. I had stacks of notebooks spread across my bedroom floor with pictures taped inside and my heart written out on each page. Instagram has become my journal.
4. Do you enjoy cooking?
My husband is laughing at this question. I love the idea of cooking! Both of my Grandmother’s are the chefs of the family, and I always aspire to be as good as them. But let’s be real here, I let my husband do the cooking. He’s just so great at it! I do have a few staple recipes I love to create but there’s nothing better than a homecooked meal made by someone else.