Just do it!

I needed a hug.

My daughters had been at my mom’s house for the week because they didn’t have school, and I hadn’t planned a vacation for us.

Though physical touch is not my top love language, it is high on the list. Deprived of the daily hugs and affection, and nightly cuddles at 3am with my littles, by Friday I was feeling rather empty.

Little did I know my tank was going to be so full after a weekend of masterminding.

Let me back up…

Two years ago I showed up at a Bschool mastermind feeling completely out of place. Why did I think I belonged there with people doing greater things than me?

Sure, I had a burning DESIRE to change my life in XYZ fashion; sure, I had the knowledge of the steps I needed to take; sure, I had a dream in my heart. But me? It seemed out of character.

You can read more about it here, but I can tell you that I walked away from that weekend with clarity and new friends, including a friend in Sean Croxton, whom I had followed since 2015 or so.

Now 2 years later, I couldn’t be happier that I said yes and stepped out of my comfort zone in 2017.

This past Labor Day weekend I was lucky enough to assist Sean at yet another epic mastermind with his BSchool and Money Mind Academy students (I’m part of both groups)..

After being surrounded by beautiful souls full of passion, burgeoning goals, and even greater visions for not only their own lives but the lives of many, is such a privilege.

To be privy to the early entrepreneurial days - the untangling of kinks, the clarification of ideas, and the typical wrestling of internal voices - is nothing but beautiful.

I can honestly say that coming together in one room for two days has changed all of our lives for the better. Not to mention, the Saturday evening party is the best!

I tell you all of this because perhaps you’re wrestling with loneliness or fear, doubt or a general feeling of being stuck.

While an event like I described above is amazing, you don’t need to travel far or find 50 like-minded people. Simply look to your inner circle and create your own mastermind.

Jim Rohn says we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Who could you spend more time with to encourage you, nudge you in the right direction, and hold you accountable to your dreams?

Find those people and meet regularly to celebrate your wins, set goals, ask for support, and above all help each other live success-filled and happy lives. (Learn more with this book: The Power of the Mastermind by Mitch Horowitz)

In reflection, it’s also interesting and rewarding to review the steps and journey I’ve taken the last two years. During my first mastermind in 2017, I was pursuing health coaching. My action items from the event was to slow down and create the space to enjoy the process of creating my nutrition ebook and website.

I’m not good at slowing down. I’m either all in or completely all out. Ha!

But I tried, and in the following 7 months I designed my website and wrote and published my Bowl to Belly ebook, which is a paleo cookbook paying homage to my heritage and travels.

Now 2 years later, with some prompting (thanks Sean!) and introspection, I’m pivoting and will be launching my podcast this next week! Woot!

But guess what, while related to health and wellness in some sense, it’s not nutrition focused. In the subsequent year after writing Bowl to Belly, I realized I loved cooking and my kids WAY more than I loved coaching.

My podcast, PG-ish, is your parental guidance to help you grow yourself as a parent and raise healthy, happy, successful humans. On Pg-ish I’ve gathered - in manageable bites - wisdom from today’s teachers, psychologists, doctors, authors, and parents that can help transform your parental experience from overwhelm and frustration to growth and success. Not only for your children but for yourself.

If parenting had a guidebook, this would be it.

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In short, my podcast is my dedication to becoming the best mom I can be. For me, parenting is the hardest, yet most important job there is. Let’s be honest, I don’t think I’m alone in this thought or in the desire to figure out how to be good at it and help your kids have a rewarding, less traumatic childhood.

I hope you’ll join me on this new journey! We launch this week - I’ll post the link when we go live!

All in all, if you’re in the midst of chasing your dreams, give yourself grace. Keep going, but know it takes time and most likely several pivots that can be riddled with fear and doubt and impostor syndrome. Keep going, knowing you’re in the right boat, in a sea of others feeling all of the same feels!

“People Overestimate What They Can Do in a Day, and Underestimate What They Can Do in a Lifetime” -Bill gates, Tony Robins, and lots of other really successful people!

Just do it!

Is resiliency overrated?

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At my 9-5 gig, I was discussing ways to improve the morale in our local San Francisco office with our Chief People Officer (CPO, yep, that’s a thing. So cool, right?).

For several months, employees in a different department than my own had been working crazy OT and quickly diving head first into burning out. They were getting bitter over the lack of communication, that the end was most definitely NOT in sight, and the fatigue.

With a history in the Army, I’m not surprised our CPO mentioned resiliency.

Sure, life requires resiliency. To be able to recover quickly from difficulties takes a mental and sometimes physical toughness. To persevere despite hardships and bounce back is somewhat of a learned behavior.

But I question the general assumption that everyone has a similar threshold for resilience. Like any muscle, resiliency grows through flexing it while overcoming trials. But when is it too much?

We tabled the resiliency discussion, promising to pick it up later this summer. In the meantime, we’d keep paying OT, providing dinners and breakfasts for those that stayed late or came in early, and giving a day off here and there.

Moving on, his next question to me was, “Do you feel appreciated?”

Those words cut through me and I immediately blurted out, “No!,” followed by a downpour of tears.

I did not expect to break so easily.

I may not have been experiencing the stress and long hours of my coworkers, but I was experiencing burn out as a working, single parent, trying to juggle it all well.

Sometimes being the mom is being the most underappreciated person in the room, especially when trying to do it all.

Also, as women, I don’t think we think about it until the question is asked point blank.

We do a lot – mentally and physically – and we don’t give ourselves credit. We keep forging ahead, resilient. Possibly too strong for our own good, as we carry heavy emotions, and most certainly too busy to stop and reflect, to feel and understand. We just keep trucking because we think that if we stop, all that we’ve built will crash.

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This recent article from Motherly hit home for me.

“…85% of moms said that our society does not do a good job of supporting mothers.

Eighty-five percent.

Society is asking you to nurture in an environment that does not nurture you back.

 

Through my divorce, moving, sick kids, and remote days, my 9-5 gig has accommodated many of my requests. Yet my schedule and commute keep me a slave to the corporate world.

Can you relate?

I feel this when I tell my daughters they can’t sign-up for a gymnastics class because the only times are at 3:30pm  on weekdays when their mama is working.

I feel it when they’re sick at school and I ask them to wait because I’m nearly 30 miles away, dependent on a train schedule, and I’m the only one who can pick them up.

I feel it when I’m depleted from a long day and they sound more like the Peanuts mom, than my two hungry daughters.

Despite only needing and wanting love, compassion, trust, grace and an eager ear to listen about their unicorn art work, being a parent to young kids is exhausting.

Worth it, but the job is an all encompassing, 24/7, position


Yep, I’ve written about this before, but it begs repeating.

We don’t need to hide behind phrases such as, “I’m fine!” or identities of being “strong” or “resilient.”

We’re designed to have emotions and not be ok. To feel knocked down and discombobulated on occasion is part of the human condition.

However, we don’t need to wrestle through these emotions alone.

  • We need to speak up.

  • We need to ask for help.

  • We need to have conversations with our loved ones about the imbalance we feel.

  • We need to ask for raises.

  • We need to create better boundaries at work and at home to help us feel more sane.

  • We need to say no.

  • We need to rest.

  • We need to get outside.

  • We need to go on adventures.

  • We need to step away from the grind.

Two things I’d love for you to consider and put into practice this week:

1. Give yourself credit 

We’re always evolving and growing. Recognize how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to the goal you’ve been chasing or the habits you’ve wanted to create in your life. If you haven’t listened to this interview with Michelle Obama, I highly recommend it. The whole thing is stellar but the first 5 minutes about Becoming, is priceless.
 

2. Celebrate little victories


As noted above, when we aren’t giving ourselves credit, we aren’t celebrating the little victories. If we aren’t celebrating the little victories, we’re simply grinding. Head down, and grinding, all the damn time. Life is too short to not have fun and celebrate. I promise the celebration, even if it’s a short victory dance to your favorite song in your living room, will create more space for creativity, excitement and breakthrough.

 

What can you put into practice this week?

Where do you need to speak up in your life?


I saw this quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” 

Quotes like this on failure, especially coming from a man sometimes rub me the wrong way. However, I want to dissect it for a minute,

Our struggles are our story to share and to build bridges into the worlds of others. Hardships don’t have to translate into mustering up all of our strength to fight to the very end alone and barely get by.

Sometimes not surrendering equates to asking for help so that you don’t surrender to the darkness, to the loneliness, or pain.

Surrendering can mean surrendering your tendencies to hide and instead choosing vulnerability, allowing people to step into your life, to help light up the way, and to give you a purpose again.

I’ll say it again,

Remain patient,

Give yourself grace.

Ask for help.

Write down your goals where you can see them everyday and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Baby steps, my friend! You’ve got this mama!


If you want in on this conversation on a more consistent basis – bi-monthly to be more specific - join my mailing list here.

When in doubt, travel!


Two moms and a bottle of wine is what we said we’d name our Barcelona guidebook. While accurate, it was more of a nod to the insanely affordable, yet delicious wine, as well as the comical circumstances only one can find themselves in while traveling in a foreign country.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Back in February of this year, I hit a wall. I desperately needed something to look forward to, other than the 1st and 3rd weekends of the month without my kids.

That sounds horrible, I know. As a single mom with a bent towards introversion, peace and quiet, uninterrupted time, not feeling like a nag or having to prepare yet another meal or feeling like I was working 24/7, is exactly what I needed.

It had also been far too long since I traveled outside of the United States. My travel itch was furiously scratching.

One night, when I should have been asleep already, I started searching for flights to Europe. I’d go anywhere to escape, but Europe felt right! When I found a direct flight to Barcelona on Norwegian under $400, I was sold.

I was set to go alone, as I had plenty of times before (and quite enjoy it), but I threw it out a dear friend who I’ve known since 6th grade. And what do you know, she was game.

The few short months leading up to the trip were nothing less of one curve ball after another: foolishly playing on the playground resulting in 10 stitches; late nights working a part-time job in addition to side hustles; very little downtime on the weekends and being on the road a lot; rough parenting patches; and lastly, my Uncle having his final stroke mere days before we were scheduled to go. With multiple hospital visits to see him leading up to the flight, I was uncertain if I’d even be able to leave town.

Long story short, and sadly, as I was taking off in Oakland, he passed away.

But let’s focus on the fun things, feet on the ground in Spain!

We packed light, mainly because we opted to not pay an additional price to check luggage. Though I might get some opposition, I loved the challenge of meeting a weight limit and packing minimally.

To meet the requirement, I utilized the following and even had 2 pounds to spare:

1.    A lightweight backpacking backpack to hold -

  • Minimal clothing and toiletries – 5 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, a skirt, a hoodie and jean jacket, 2 pairs of shoes, makeup and cleansers, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and done.

  • Workout band

2.    Carry-on bag 9a smaller backpack) –

  • 2 books

  • Journal + pens

  • Snacks: chomps, epic bars, Organifi green and gold juice

  • Travel scarf to double as purse when I didn’t want to carry my smaller backpack; minimalist wallet

  • Phone + headphones

  • Beautycounter makeup wipes to feel a little fresh and clean on the plane

  • Neck pillow in hopes of sleep

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HOTEL: Being the start of the busy season, I missed out on AirBnB apartments. I was a bit disappointed at first but when I found the fun boutique hotel chain Praktik (I’d compare it to a Kimpton here in the states), I was stoked. We stayed at the Praktik Vinoteca, but after visiting two other centrally located Praktik hotels, your stay would be well enjoyed at any of them.

Though the metro is easy and cheap to get to/from the airport into Barcelona, Praktik arranged a taxi to pick us up at the airport. After a red-eye, it was the best thing we could have done for ourselves. I highly recommend the splurge and ease.

. . . . . .

From here I’ll break it down by our daily activities, what we loved, and what we would have done differently:

DAY 1 –

arrive! Once we dropped off our suitcases at the hotel and enjoyed a complimentary glass of rose on our mini balcony, we put on our walking shoes and hit the Ramblas, walking nearly 2 miles down to the water to soak in the sights and sounds, hitting up the La Boqueria for a meat “bouquet” snack along the way. Realizing we hadn’t eaten barely anything since before boarding our flight, we booked it to Ciudad Condal, a highly recommended restaurant by many family and friends.

You’d think two college educated women with two maps could find the dang place, yet we walked by it three or four times before succumbing to hunger at 9pm and entering the restaurant called “Ciutat Comtal.” For a good 15 minutes I was convinced that it had to be the place because the letters were close enough, but you get two perfectionists together and you want to be accurate.

Needless to say, we put our name down and hung out in the bar, hoping someone would leave soon. Sure enough, a seat opened up and we pounced on it. Starving at this point, we ordered everything that sounded and looked delicious around us. IT.DID.NOT.DISAPPOINT.

I highly recommend the following dishes:

  • Solomillos (little filet mignon tapas)

  • Pimientos de Padron (sautéed shishito peppers)

  • Baked artichoke hearts

  • Asparagus and mushrooms

  • Honey Aioli Cod

  • Egg and chorizo over fries

 

DAY 2 –

The longest day ever…. With the idea that we would get our bearings and make it a Gaudi day, we jumped on the on/off bus. We grabbed the blue line to hit up Sagrada Familia on the way. Upon our arrival, we discovered that you CANNOT purchase tickets there, only online. Despite the free wifi around the cathedral, we also found out that tickets were sold out for the next couple of days.

TIP: FOR ANY ATTRACTION YOU WISH TO VISIT, BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE.

Many friends told us to buy tickets online but never why – it’s because they don’t sell them there on-site, in most cases. Save time and stress by creating your schedule before you get on the plane.

A little bummed, we jumped back on the bus to discover Park Guell.

Let me tell you, the anticipation of traversing this park has been on my heart for 18 YEARS since I studied architecture at University of Washington. I was so excited.

Yet I wasn’t so excited when the bus dropped us off in a residential neighborhood without clear directions. We followed the masses and got there but it was certainly touch and go and some points.

TIP: BRING YOUR FAVORITE GUIDEBOOK!

This was the first time I traveled without a guidebook nor doing as much research as I would have liked. I skipped the guidebook because of the weight limit and the working mom life kept me from planning more. All in all we survived just fine, but there were moments I was a little bummed I didn’t have them.

Back to the Park…

It was a lovely, sunny day. We meandered, got annoyed at the vendors, toured Gaudi’s house for 5euros (so interesting), and even sat on a bench to read while listening to live music. So dreamy! If reading in the sunshine wasn’t making me sleepy, I could have sat there all day.

We explored some more only to realize we needed a ticket into the section I REALLY wanted to see. And again, no tickets were being sold there and it was sold out. Boo!

So we decided to head back to the bus.

Mistake #1, we didn’t grab a route map that were available on the bus; mistake #2, we opted to find the stop after the one we got off on, which turned out to be NOWHERE near where we were. We figured we’d keep walking until we found it. We did, but it was back where we got on, over 2 miles away!

Fatigued and hungry, we grabbed some lunch, got back on the blue line and began our journey again, taking a few naps while basking in the sun on the second level of the bus. I might have urged us to get off at a few different stops along the way, especially at Montjuic, but I let my companion sleep. We were exhausted! Jet lag and walking miles upon miles is no joke!

Needing a pick-me-up, we jump off near the waterfront for a snack at Cecconi’s. I can’t vouch for the delicious food that passed us by, but the pistachio gelato, tiramisu, champagne and cappuccinos went down all too smoothly. My architecture heart also loved the space. It was the perfect pitstop before more exploring.

We jumped back on the bus and went back to Casa Batllo. We lucked out and were able to purchase tickets and join a tour right then and there. Go team! The 35euro price tag seemed a bit steep, but it was so worth it. Gaudi’s work is impeccable and the guided tour via a personal iphone/headset told the history and inspiration of the space, and delighted all of senses.

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After jumping back on the red line for an hour to see other parts of the town, we realized it close to 10pm and hungry.

We walked to a local restaurant a block from our hotel, L’Olive. Shocking, the kalamata olives tapa may have been the best I’ve ever had (I may need to go back to Greece to confirm!), the simple, grilled veggies were perfection and the paella never tasted as good! This Michelin rated restaurant should be added to your list.

DAY 3 –

With a number of people telling me not to miss Montserrrat, we read a few posts about how to get there and went to the Plaça Espanya train station.

Like everything we read, it was a bit confusing. Basically, keep following the signs to the R5 line to Aeri de Montserrat; be sure to buy the combined ticket for the train and cable car at Plaça Espanya.

If confused, there are people to help you with any questions. I promise you won’t be the only one going to Montserrat.

By train, the journey takes about one and a half hours. From the Aeri de Montserrat station, take the cable car to the top. It’s very obvious at this point what to do!

Unlike what we had experienced in the city, Montserrat was the complete opposite. For the hiker, you’ll want to wear your hiking shoes and be prepared to explore. We meandered for a bit after a surprisingly tasty lunch in the cafeteria, and finally making our way to the Benedictine monastery and basilica. Located inside the basilica is a statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the few black madonnas of Europe. The trams to the other parts of the mountain were closed, but I suspect the views and trails are impeccable.

For dinner we hit up Teleferic. Coincidentally there is a Teleferic in Walnut Creek, my current hometown, so we had to stop by! I have to say, the Sangria may have been my favorite.

The only way up is on that teeny tiny, yellow teleferic.

The only way up is on that teeny tiny, yellow teleferic.

DAY 4 –

Woke up to rain. It’s a sad day when you want to explore but it’s wet and dreary out. We certainly didn’t pack for rain or cold weather, so we were quite miserable, but we made the most of it. After striking out at a restaurant we thought we’d try for lunch, we ended up at Black Remedy, where we noshed on food and drinks, and read some. It wasn’t incredibly cozy, so we moved on. I tell ya, I never used to mind the rain, but after living in Seattle for 16 years, I’ll take all the sunshine I can get. It definitely affects your mood. Also, being cold is simply not my favorite at all!

We walked through the Gotic quarter, through another market to see the weirdest sight: the tallest Asian couple I’ve ever seen (both were well over 6’ tall) dressed up as if it was a warm Spring day, getting their engagement photos taken. Rather than photos though, they were being followed by a cameraman. They also looked incredibly apathetic.

If you ever come across a music video with a forlorn couple walking through a Spanish market surrounded by dead fish and chorizo, with two American girls huddled together for warmth, you better believe that was us!

But I digress….

Since we were near the Picasso Museum, we meandered in the drizzly weather that way, only to find it jam packed, with NO tickets sold on site, as well as no WIFI to buy them online.

I imagine they lose a ton of money by the way this system is set up, but I guess they don’t care.

Striking out again, we meandered the alleys to find a drink! Wine or hot tea would suffice.

A couple of cafes later, we decided to head back to the hotel to warm up.

Dinner was at Ciudad Condal again to make sure it really was as good as it was the first night in our starvation stupor. It most certainly was!

DAY 5 –

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The sun was out and we had plans to jump on the train again and head to Stiges, a beach town about an hour down the coast. We felt relatively comfortable by now riding the metro but this trip also involved a train. By all of the online searches we reviewed, we knew we were going to take the C2 train from Estació de França on to Sitges. But it wasn’t that simple and to be honest I couldn’t tell you the exact way to get there. We followed a suggestion from a website to look for Vilanova i la Geltru, but this was a stop after Stiges.

Apparently, we got on an express train which didn’t stop at Stiges and therefore we had to play the “Stupid American Girl” card and tell multiple train agents that yes, we had paid our fare, we went an extra stop, let us on the damn train!

It all worked out but there HAS to be a better, more simple way to get there!

All in all, Stiges was a quaint beach town where we meandered through the town and the along the beach, stumbled upon a honky tonk talent show (!), negotiated a blanket to be able to read comfortably on the sand, and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

If you don’t care about beaches or shopping, this day trip may not be wrth it for you. However, Stiges is home to Don Bacardi, so that may be worth checking out if you like Rum.

We returned in time to make our Sagrada Familia tour at 7:15pm, only to realize I didn’t actually have the proper documentation, which I thought I had!

TIP: be sure to have the accurate paperwork downloaded on your phone or printed out

It all worked out though as I had enough information for the security guards to print out proper tickets for us.

We joined the masses and finally got into.

YOU GUYS, I wasn’t prepared for the incredible architecture inside the cathedral. The lighting was impeccable, breathtaking. I can’t even begin to articulate the precision and beauty, the attention to detail. You just have to see it for yourself. Gaudi was a genius. Period.

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I’ve been to a lot of incredible places around the world and I have to say this may top all of the man-made structures I’ve seen, even in my beloved Roma.

We would have stayed later but it turns out they close at 8!

Despite our mega big, late lunch, we figured we’d try a new restaurant and just get drinks and dessert. Jumping on the metro, we went to Silvestre.

It was 9pm but we were the first ones in the joint. It was a bit odd, but we embraced it as much as we could, especially since this was the first place on our trip where they didn’t speak much English.

Embrace it we did. After reviewing the menu, we decided we had to order more than dessert and wine.

We devoured:

  • Duck crepes (Crepe con pato)

  • Scallops with bacon and asparagus

  • Shrimp

  • Cod Croquette

  • Apple tart

  • Vino

This may have been the best meal in my life!

And shockingly, as most meals we enjoyed, it was roughly $60 total. There was no way in hell we’d enjoy such delicious food, including wine and dessert for $60 in California. Perhaps I’m jaded because California, the Bay Area in particular, is so ridiculously expensive, but this seemed outrageously affordable. Too good to be true, in fact!

DAY 6 –

We took one of our last days, very slow. We had lunch at Honest Greens, a beautiful paleo restaurant which spoke volumes to the awareness and demand of healthy, fast food. We meandered the Ramblas again, and grabbed a gelato. We rested and read in our hotel’s courtyard until our 5:30 reservation back at Park Guell. This time we took the metro to the Park, which was another journey to note!

We took the green line (L3) to Vallcarca, where we heard of some magical escalators up the hill. Yes, there were escalators, but half of them weren’t working and you still have to walk  up a significant hill. Bring water!

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All of that being said, I was thrilled to be back in the park. Like I mentioned above, seeing, touching and sitting in the famous Trencadis Serpentine Mosaic Tile Bench has been a dream nearly 20 years in the making. Minus the selfie taking crowds, it was perfect. Like the park’s mosaic kimodo dragon below on the steps, we basked in the late afternoon sunlight, reading our books. Pure bliss.

I never wanted this moment to end, but as the sun went down it got chilly and we got hungry. We also knew it may take a while to get down the hill again!

We were Gracia quarter pros by now and knew the metro well enough to navigate our way back to the Gotic quarter where we found our way to dinner at Sensi. Another all-star dinner!

We devoured:

  • Tuna tartare

  • A fancy green salad

  • Stuffed tomatoes with beef and lamb

  • Vegetarian lasagna

On the eve of my birthday, we thought it was only appropriate to get dessert. All attempts failed as it was a Sunday night and the restaurants we had earmarked for a special treat were closed. On our way back, we stumbled by a chocolate shop and grabbed three rather large truffles to share.

Back at our hotel, we toasted the evening with a bottle of cava and our chocolates as I rang in my 38th birthday.

DAY 7 -

I’m always a little melancholy the last day of trip when the hours seem to move at rapid pace signifying the return to reality. I never feel like I have enough time to soak in the history, the people, the entire experience of traveling.

To make matters worse (perhaps that’s not right) – to add another layer to all of the emotions on our last day - it was my birthday.

Sure, I booked the flight back knowing it was going to be my birthday, but more than anything I wish I could have gifted myself one more day.

After breakfast I quickly wound around the Eixample to get one more breath of the Catalonian culture. Coffee cups clanked against table tops as people started their day, Spanish words rolled out of local’s mouths on the street corners, and I simply tried to absorb it all, wishing time would stop.

Could I take a seat at one of tables and blend in?

I didn’t want to go back to long days behind a computer or frustrating commutes on a packed train into a dirty and lifeless city (compared to this one). I felt alive amidst the history and culture; going back to laundry piles and responsibility seemed cumbersome.

That’s what traveling does though. It gives you perspective and a renewed sense of self as it adds another dimension to your story. It allows you to take a step back, a long breath, and re-calibrate

It’s empowering.

My love for travel and architecture blossomed at the same time, around the age of 10. Now nearly 30 years later, I’m still in awe of the entire experience every time I go somewhere new.

I have to say, I already knew I was going to love Gaudi’s work, but I fell in love with the rooftops of Barcelona.

Man, I never want to stop exploring our amazing world.

I look forward to the day I can do with my daughters, until then I get to recap the adventures and inspire them to see the world.

P.S. I may have had the longest birthday ever. We chased the sun from waking up in Barcelona to finally going to sleep in California on the same day! It’s one for the books!

Wine, chocolate and a good book are always in style!

Wine, chocolate and a good book are always in style!

In the company of pain

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“I’ve given birth to two kids,” I joked. “Nothing compares to the pain of childbirth.”

The two male EMTs laughed as they lifted me into the ambulance, proceeding to question me about my pain level and vertical jump standards.

Clearly my vertical jump was not as high as I thought since I failed my school playground (pick-up play time) box jump, resulting in tearing that sweet spot between your knee and your shin.

It was such a freak accident.

I missed, felt the pain, but DID NOT expect to lift up my unscathed pant leg to see a 3” gaping hole in my leg. I was not supposed to be witnessing the inside of my body, let alone the collection of blood pooling.

Perplexed by the sight, I quickly ordered my oldest to get her friend’s mom that just walked by; to my youngest, to go to the car and get my wallet and dying phone.

They obeyed, not quite understanding the urgency as my mind raced on what to do next. It was obvious I would need stitches. Going to the ER however, was not on my Wednesday evening agenda.

In their absence, as they followed my orders, I closed my eyes and breathed. I prayed and visualized my leg healing.

Their running steps with a fellow teacher brought me back to the moment, needing to explain what happened again and again to the newcomers and EMTs.

Once situated on the gurney, I kissed my girls goodbye as they went with their friend for the evening and I went to the closest ER.

The pain was bearable but escalating in intensity. My body shaking and cramping out of holding my leg in a weird position, and most likely warding off shock.

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It wasn’t until the EMTs left me in the ER waiting room when I felt the gravity of the pain: I was alone, my leg was throbbing, and the anticipation of what was coming (shots and stitches), heavily clung to me. For the first time, I let it all go, cried and felt all of the feels.

The 1% left on my phone was my lifeline – texts to friends to pray, a call to my dad to come, if he could, and of course an Instagram post. Ha!

In that moment, the following dawned on me:

It’s ok to feel pain without having to rationalize it.

It’s ok to cry

Its ok to hate being alone

It’s ok to be scared.

It’s ok to surrender.

What a simple concept in theory. Yet in practice, we make it more difficult.

As women, we hold onto this façade of having our lives together when we may be falling apart inside. We may not be able to articulate the feelings in their heaviness, so we don’t. We shield our wounds, our pain, our questions, and only show a little bit of vulnerability, to appear authentic but not weak.

Yet, when we grip onto our expectations, our routines, our kids, our spouse, our past, our fears, our anger, our façade, our life so tightly, we miss out on the blessings that surround us every day.

Let go!

From the point of the injury to the waiting room, I clung onto composure. I confidently directed my kids to find help and to gather my belongings from the car; I maintained focus and an upbeat attitude. It wasn’t until I was in that waiting room I could let it go and feel. I could let the anxety and shakiness I was holding in, pour out externally.

I’ll say it again, let go! It’s ok!

When we let go, we can accept the waves of emotions that consume us – the fear, the pain, the annoyances of others not moving fast enough, as well as the highs of joy, love, sunsets, and beauty – but we don’t need to allow them to define us. We’re emotional beings after all. Not allowing yourself to feel the weight of an emotion or the circumstance means you’re disengaging from what it means to be human, to be authentically YOU.

You’re disengaging from a God-given emotion that is inherently you.

SIDENOTE: You’re held by an incredible God who knows you and loves you, and wants to graciously bless you, despite all of your mess-ups, failures, mistakes, cruel words, and busted shins. I may not understand now why this needed to happen, but it did. I can accept that and move on with my life, grateful for the doctors and nurses that know what they’re doing, as well as knowing that I’m loved and cared for by someone who holds the universe in his hands. I can feel the pain, and yet laugh knowing this is part of my story, even if it’s a silly one in the grand scheme of the tapestry of my life. I can let go of wanting to control everything because the creator of the universe, who ensures the sun sets and rises daily, knows ME and has a plan. Sure, I need to participate and not sit idly by, but I relax and loosen my grip.

How often do we do this? How often can we fully surrender all the pieces of the puzzle to God?

While I knew my injury wasn’t life threatening (although I will admit that at one point, I thought, this is it, I’m going to have to get my leg amputated!), I couldn’t help but think about how accidents like this happen in a split second, all of the time. Lives altered by a jump, by a glance down while driving, by uncontrollable circumstances…..

I was leaving my girls for the night, but some leave for good.

Not to be totally morbid but it’s the truth!

Something so silly as a freak accident playing on the playground with my daughters reminded me that our days are not in our control; our lives are rather short. Stop playing small and pursue those things that light you up; love hard; give hugs; have living room dance parties; travel the world, do all the things and LIVE!!

Above all, love this one life!

We’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Carpe diem!

- - - - - - - - -

In case you’re curious, the remaining night unfolded as such:

Like a jouster preparing for battle, ER attendants wheeled me back with my leg sticking straight out in front of me. Once comfortable-ish in my private room, nurses took x-rays to make sure I didn’t fracture anything, as well as to ensure no foreign pieces entered my body. We confirmed I was good to go on stitches and nothing else, I got a tetanus shot as they cleaned out the wound (double whammy of distracting pain), followed by several rounds of numbing agent directly into the wound and 10 stitches, creating an excellent check mark on my left leg. Now on to recovery. For tips on what I’m doing to help the process, check out this post.

 

On being a (working) M-O-M!

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There’s no crying in parenting!

It was nearing midnight as I folded the corners of my clean sheets over my mattress - to merely climb in my bed 5 minutes later - as I reflected on the many dark facets of my Saturday. It started at the breakfast table when my youngest, who is on the older side of being 5, started crying for no apparent reason. Thick tears and pure exasperation came over her as she hunched over her full plate of home-cooked waffles, bacon and fruit. Stubborn as all hell, she also wouldn’t say what was wrong.

All I wanted to do was rectify the situation and make her stop crying. For heaven’s sake, it was only 8:30am on a Saturday morning and my brain couldn’t function with what appeared to me was sheer nonsense. What possibly could have happened when I turned my back to get something in the kitchen?

A few hours later, I ran (literally ran, pushing both of them in our non-jogging stroller, ha!) to the park. We hadn’t done this in quite possibly a year and it was the perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, the first warm temperatures of the year, and we were ready to get our wiggles out.

Again, I have no clue what set off now my oldest but as she climbed off the stroller her temper flared and she kicked a branch. Sometimes as moms we should really keep our mouths shut, but as I tried to tell her that she should be grateful we were at the park, the branch got stuck to her foot and I laughed.

Perhaps I was shaming her some - call it what you want - but of course that made her more mad. More so that I was laughing, not that the branch was now attacking her shoe. Karma lady!

This quickly escalated. Once she got the branch free, she threw it at me, resulting in a time out. Not that anyone rejoices in a time out (except for me perhaps, when I lock myself in my room to take a parenting breather), but this contributed to her anger going up another 5 notches. I get it, you’re at the one place where you want to be to have fun and you’re not allowed to have fun. This also included myself.

I’m a firm believer in teaching my kids that there are consequences to their behavior. You don’t get to be mean, rude, or hurtful and not get away with it. Not all of life plays to those rules, but I think there is value in teaching little people that our actions *most of the time* will have repercussions – whether good or bad – and that the good ones make the world a nicer place. 

Let’s be honest here, you can’t be an asshole and expect your life to smell like roses.

As you can imagine, this didn’t go well. She got louder, disrupting everyone on the playground and I got more annoyed as I just wanted to have some fun in the sun – and selfishly get a workout in as they played. I suggested doing what she needed to do - a reset of her liking, breathing techniques, a good ol’ conversation, but nothing worked. Never mind that every time I stepped away to make sure I could see her sister or to possibly diffuse the situation, she screamed “MOM” incessantly.

Since she wasn’t calming down, I decided to remove all of us from the situation. With the library nearby, I thought that perhaps changing her environment, where she had to be quiet, would be helpful.

Needless to say, it was another fail and we basically got kicked out for being loud.

Completely frustrated, I simply ran us home. Thankfully I had headphones with me so that I could drown out her complaining the entire 1.5 miles back. Do note that this was the FIRST time I’ve ever run with headphones with my kids in tow. I like to talk with them on our runs, but this time it was necessary!

Long story short, motherhood – parenting in general – can suck. Especially when there isn’t another adult to punt to, I easily find myself in a tizzy.

Motherhood.

Work.

Commutes.

Drop-offs and pick-ups.

Side hustles.

Household chores.

Dreams to chase.

Piles of books to read.

Relationships to nurture.

Summer planning (in March!)

Exercise.

Self care.

Fun.

Sleep.

Phew!

Everyone has burdens to carry, that’s life. However, I do feel that mothers carry a disproportionate load.  We don’t need articles like this one, reminding us that here in the U.S. working moms are “drowning” in stress. We already feel it, as we live it every.single.day.

Nor this study about how moms are sleep deprived until their first child is 6-years old! Or another outlining that the average moms work is 98 hours a week - basically 2.5 jobs!

Simply put, give yourself grace and share these studies with your spouse to confirm that you’re not crazy, simply tired!

Yet, what’s the solution?

Sadly, I don’t have one.

I’m the last person to say buck up and deal with it. However, I do want more women to recognize their value, their worth, their voice, and their power.

Too many times I see moms completely fall apart when their husbands are away for any length of time. Their whole world is turned upside down and they go insane. I get it, a two-parent household is so much easier than doing it on your own. I understand the comfort of having an adult to talk through your day with or the arms to nestle into in pure exasperation or to handle the nightly battle of brushing little people’s teeth. A family was designed to have two parents and therefore, yes, it’s amazing when intact.

As a single parent though, I’ve experienced both worlds, and let me remind you, ladies, YOU CAN DO THIS!

  • You can ask for help.

  • You can have a conversation with your spouse about how to help around the house or with the kids, or simply how to love you best.

  • You can speak up at work and see how you can contribute differently (not more) to get the raise or the promotion.

  • You can create boundaries – at home and at work – to help you stay sane and be present. It shouldn’t be an all or nothing mentality, nor should you feel like you’re shackled to your desk missing out on all of the school potlucks or the only parent present to do all of the parenting duties.

I do believe we should expect greatness and look for wonder in all things in our lives, but that doesn’t mean it will be void of hardships or hard conversations or some introspection to help decide what it is we truly want.

In short, you can use your voice, create balance AND you can do all of the hard things! You’re more powerful than you think!

In closing, at the root of my recent internal wrestling, is that I’m understanding more how the political side of the corporate world works. Not that I didn’t have any idea but being closer to the inner circle has given me insight into the policies and procedures. Looking in from the outside, I’m more frustrated than ever, especially being a woman.

I stepped away from the corporate world for four years.

Four years, which now seems like a death sentence.

I shouldn’t have to, but forgive me for stepping away from a J-O-B to raise my daughters. For wanting to spend time with them and be their primary caretaker from day one.

Now I simply feel overlooked, undervalued, and “behind” in my career. And you know what? Sure, I have some lofty aspirations on how I want to help people, but ultimately, the only thing I really, really care about is being present with my girls - being the best mom I can be.

At this point quite frankly, I’m too burned out to be any good..

At the end of the day, I don’t mind putting effort in and working hard, but when you trade dollars for time, miss out on your children’s lives, and feel like you’re barely scraping by because of the economic climate (and living off of one income) in the area, I think something is wrong.

The mere fact that we’re having this conversation today, that women are still fighting their way in the work force for equal pay and acknowledgment is disgustingly wrong.

Honestly, I could rant all day, but I’ll stop! I’m truly curious….

  • How do you steward your money?

  • Do you have the same sentiments?

  • How do you feel about being a working mom?

  • What works for your family?

  • How do you handle the emotions of your children?

  • How do you execute time-outs or how many bottles of wine or CBD oil to you go through?

Curious minds want to know!

Vitamin D: Why you need it and how to get it + Hawaiian travel recommendations.

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Until recently, I haven’t seen an OB, or any doctor for that matter, beside my acupuncturist. In fact, I believe that last time I’ve seen an OB was shortly after my youngest was born. She’s now 5 and a half!

I don’t know for certain, but I feel I may be in the in the majority with the lack of maintaining my routine exams. Truth be told, unless I’m dying, I still probably wouldn’t go.

Where do you fall in the spectrum?

At my recent visit, we ran all of the usual blood tests.


Sidenote: you should get these typical labs done to have a baseline knowledge of your health:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

  2. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)

  3. Lipids

If you want to take it a step further, and begin to address root issues, you should include these labs:

  1. GI MAP

  2. MRT (food sensitivity test)

  3. DUTCH Complete (sex hormones + adrenals)

  4. Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis

If you’re curious about these, please reach out for more info or talk to your physician (who may or may not agree - it’s more about politics than health!)


Back to my lab results - I didn’t expect any shocking news, even when she told me my vitamin D levels were scary low.

Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D without knowing it, but there are some consequences if we don’t take actions to rectify the situation. The normal range of vitamin D for adults and children is recommended between levels of 25-80 ng/mL. That’s quite a range. Regardless, my levels were at 18. Well below adequate levels.

Despite living in California, I’m rarely outside soaking up the sunny rays. I’m sure you can relate with working a typical 9-5 job, with most of those hours sitting behind a screen (I won’t even get into the negative side effects of siting all day). With it being winter, I’m also not winning any sunshine points. That in addition to my office being in a not so nice area of San Francisco, as well as in a basement (it’s a pleasant basement, but a basement nonetheless), are further strikes against me in attaining the midday sun.

So why should we even care about vitamin D?

First of all, without enough vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed. Calcium is essential for signaling between brain cells, development of bone, and tooth formation. In essence, vitamin D helps to maintain bone density. We all have that grandma who is hunched over because her bones are becoming more brittle. Don’t let that become you.

Studies also reveal that low vitamin D levels are associated with:

  • Increased loss of muscle strength and mass as we age

  • Increased risk of cancers

  • Lower levels of immunity

  • Higher blood pressure

  • The development of neurological disorders

  • The development of diabetes

Vitamin D levels can also be affected by age, body fat levels, time of year, and skin color/ethnicity.

Did you know that as we age, our ability to make vitamin D is reduced by a whopping 75%!

Did you also know that depending on where you live, your body’s natural ability to create vitamin D from the sun will fluctuate? For example, if you live north of Atlanta, GA, you will make zero vitamin D from the sunlight between November and March. If you live below Atlanta, GA, you’ll be all right. Crazy, right?

How do we get Vitamin D?

The best way to create vitamin D is via natural sunlight. In fact, vitamin D isn’t really a “true” vitamin, as we don’t need food to attain it.

If you need to supplement, I recommend a liquid D3. In fact, I’m taking this one now and really like it.

For more info, I highly recommend giving this article a glance, especially the last bit about how much vitamin D you can create through the sun based on where you live and the time of year.


This past week I was in Honolulu attending a SMPS (marketing) conference and found enough sun breaks to get sunburned. While I don’t advise getting sunburned, I do suggest getting out in the sun without sunscreen for a good 10 minutes before applying your favorite SPF (mine happens to be this one). This way you will absorb a good amount of Vitamin D, whereas applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher will decrease the amount of vitamin D made in the body by about 99%!

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Speaking of Hawaii, I wanted to also share our top 3 restaurants to hit up the next time you jetset to Honolulu. If you’re like me and typically travel to Maui, Waikiki was new and foreign. Since it’s been nearly 25 years from the last time I stepped foot on Oahu, my bearings were a wee bit rocky!

While we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which provided enough restaurants and activities to never leave the site, we ventured nearby to get a flavor of Waikiki.

 

SCRATCH– a short distance from the hotel is Alo Moana and Ward Village, shopping centers that have everything you need. You don’t come to Hawaii to spend time at the mall, but to find some basic necessities and a meal, I would recommend these two. Based on yelp reviews and proximity, we hit up Scratch and had a great dinner. My mom and I shared a steak and eggs dinner, which was not only a fun play on the standard steak and eggs breakfast, but also plenty of food to share. Flavorful steak, lightly dressed arugula, brussel sprouts, crispy potatoes, and a fancy deviled egg. My girls got steak tacos which also looked amazing. At the rate they ate them, they were either starving or delicious – or both.

 

GOOFYS– I was a little skeptical by the name, but the yelp reviews offered only positive marks and since it was a 5-minute walk away, I was willing to try it. Hands down, this place was awesome. Local and organic ingredients, plenty of options for everyone and super friendly staff. After working up a good sweat in the gym prior to going, as well as being up since 4:30am with the little people who were still on California time, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to get enough to eat. I ordered an omelette and kale salad. It was perfectly divine, keeping me full until dinner.

 

HOUSE WITHOUT A KEY – For our last night in Hawaii, we decided to go fancy! Since I was determined to go somewhere to see the sunset in it’s pure Hawaiian splendor, in addition to jonesing for poke or sushi, we chose House Without a Key. We put on our finest and walked just under a mile along the beach to Halekulani, the gorgeous hotel where the restaurant is tucked away, facing west toward the sea. A live Hawaiian band welcomed us, as well as hula dancers silhouetted in the fading sunlight. Shortly after we were seated, the sun continuing is setting journey, peaked in it’s fiery glory behind the sailboat races and cruise ships neatly placed along the horizon. We soaked it in, watching Diamond Head grow darker in the night shadows behind us. Ambiance obviously is a huge factor, but the food also needs to live up to the hype. I ordered poke, sautéed asparagus, and a Halekulani Sunset (a guava pineapple mai tai – a girl likes to indulge ever so often). My poke was a hefty portion and just what this mama wanted. The asparagus was just as nice, lightly buttered and seasoned with garlic. My mai tai which I savored after my meal, felt more like dessert, capping the evening off on just the right note.

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Bonus/snack spots:

Lanikai Juice – the Kale Tonic was everything I needed in the morning without my usual Organifi Green Juice. The acai bowls also looked tasty.

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Leonard’s Bakery – Though not paleo, I hear the malasadas are the best around. My mom took the girls one day and they said they were the tastiest they’ve ever had. Then again, they never tasted my Grandma’s so the jury is still out.

 

What are your favorite restaurants in Honolulu?

I can’t wait to get back and explore without having to also attend a conference!

The secret sauce to parenting + recipes

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You know when you set out to do something that seems fairly straightforward, that is until you get 10 minutes into it to realize there are about a thousand other intricate steps that need to happen before the one simple task can be completed?

That’s been my first full weeks of 2019! Yikes!

When I write down my daily goals and to-do list, it looks reasonable. I even question why I don’t get it done most days. Then I remember it’s those pesky “behind-the scenes,” smaller steps that trip me up. As well as the loftier, ambitious goals I haven’t taken the time to break down into manageable steps. They stare at me, whispering I’m a failure, because they linger on the page untouched for days.

Truth is, I’m far from a failure. This goes for you, too.

Balancing life - motherhood, parenting, work, sleep, exercise, goals, dreams - you name it - truly is a juggling act. Balance and successfully getting our to-do list done each and every day, perfectly wrapped with a nifty little bow, is simply a lie.

So today, I’m starting my day early, restructuring my to-do list, and crossing off some of those tasks. Join me in tackling those items that you keep pushing off. I challenge you to look at the ones that you keep pushing to the side because you’ll get to them “someday.”

Because they’re not necessarily “urgent.”

Because they’re just some things you’d “like to do.”

STOP.

Would any of those tasks bring you immense joy?

Do any of those goals you’ve declared for 2019 feel too far off because you feel there are other pressing life issues to handle?

DO them! Do them today.

In fact, sit down right now and spend 10 minutes, yes, just 10 minutes, focused on you, on an item that you keep pushing off that would tickle your heart and mind. Forget Marie Kondo-ing your home right now (unless that is something on your list) and bring joy to your heart.

Just 10 minutes my friend!

I promise that when you shift the mindset of spending just a little bit of time on something you want to do, the ripple effect of creating greater leaps of success and joy in other areas of your life will happen!


 Ok, getting back to the reason I started this post in the first place.

While I was in Seattle last week, I enjoyed a dinner out with some dear friends I haven’t seen in quite some time. It was life to these bones to reconnect, catch up, talk about the challenges of parenting, and of course devour some tasty food. BTW, the brussels sprouts are tasty at Perihelion.

There’s no question about it, parenting is hard. As mamas there is a baseline pulse of being in the arena together, bonded by the mere fact we’re trying to raise healthy – physically, mentally, spiritually, etc – children. On top of that though, we’re all fighting battles. whether or not is blatantly apparent, or we dare speak of them, motherhood affects almost our every move and thought.

I don’t think we’ll ever feel like we’ve found the secret sauce to balance as a parent, but after listening to and commiserating with my friends as we search to keep our family’s sane and healthy, I hope to help you find some balance with some easy, tasty recipes.

When it comes to food, I hear it all the time, “I want to eat better but I don’t have the time,” or “my son won’t eat XYZ,” or “I’m so busy taking care of the kids, I don’t have time to feed myself,” and on and on. Smoothies and soups are my go-to avenues to pack in nutrition, especially on the go.

Health comes in many shapes, but it’s my goal to give you tools to get momentum in your life, to fuel the good stuff - the joy!

 

Green ginger smoothie

Ingredients

  • 5 slices of cucumber

  • Handful of spinach

  • 2 celery stalks

  • juice from ½  a lemon or lime

  • 1 apple, sliced

  • A knob of ginger (a little goes a long way)

  • ½ an avocado

  • 2 tbsp collagen

Preparation

Blend until smooth in a high-speed blender, like a vitamix

 

Superfood smoothie

  • 1 scoop or packet of organifi green juice on-the-go (you could also simply mix this with water and collagen and call it a day!)

  • 1 green-tipped, frozen banana

  • Handful of spinach

  • 1 ½ cups of milk of choice

  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds

  • 1 tsp of flax seeds

  • 1 tbsp. collagen

Preparation

Blend until smooth in a high-speed blender, like a vitamix


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Tuscan vegetable soup (stove or InstantPot)

  • 1 bunch kale

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped

  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1-28 oz can diced, peeled tomatoes, drained

  • 8 c chicken or vegetable broth (preferably bone broth)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Salt and pepper

  • Sprig of thyme

  • 2+ cups of cooked, diced chicken based on your preference

  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


Preparation

Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add carrots and celery, stir until softened, about 6-8 minutes. This can also be done in an InstantPot on the sauté function.

Add kale, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until kale wilts, about 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes.

Cook until the liquid is almost evaporated.

If using an InstantPot, turn off the sauté function. Either cooking style, add broth, spices and bay leaf.

In InstantPot: use the soup function to cook for 5 minutes

On the stove: Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Add cooked chicken, garnish with olive oil, and parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

Here’s a throwback to a similar post with a recipe for a Turmeric chicken and veggie soup and a chocolate smoothie, with some hidden veggies.

Enjoy!

Chin up, buttercup! If you have the post-holiday blues, I've got you covered.

A Seattle stormy day…

A Seattle stormy day…

Now that the holiday cheer and merriment that kept you busy from Halloween to New Years is over, you (or a loved one) may be feeling a range of emotions from relief to sadness to fatigue to explainable body aches.

While we expect the holiday season to be busy, somewhat stressful even, we tend to ignore the emotional aftermath, which can leave us navigating unfamiliar, dark territory. Unlike a physical wound where we would apply a bandage, emotional distress can be harder to acknowledge and therefore heal. As humans we also have a propensity to make our emotional wounds worse by discounting them as something else.

Post-holiday blues are unique to everyone. However, when some basic symptoms arise that seem out of the ordinary, you may want to slow down to evaluate why they may be cropping up.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue or insomnia

  • Muscle tension

  • Negative self-talk

  • Lack of focus or ability to concentrate

  • Anxiety

  • Hopelessness

  • Anger

Now, if you simply feel off this winter or show any of the above signs, read through the following list to determine what resonates with you. Pick one or two that you can commit to, to help remedy your symptoms.

Be sure you’re maintaining an excellent baseline for your body to function.

This includes:

  1. Quality sleep (ideally 6.5-9 hours) in a cool, dark room; if this is not possible, carve out a time to take a power nap. Most Americans undervalue sleep, yet if the majority of us would get enough sleep and drink water, our lives would be dramatically different!

  2. Staying hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day; set yourself up right by beginning your day (yes, before your coffee), with a large cup of lukewarm, lemon water to get your body hydrated and active, flushing out toxins that have settled while sleeping.

  3. Eating fresh, whole foods; include vegetables with every meal, as well as some healthy fats (nuts, avocado, coconut and extra-virgin olive oil); skip the sugar and processed foods and drinks. The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is scarier today than in any other modern time. Buy organic meats and know the Dirty Dozen list to avoid breaking the bank on fresh produce.

    People like to bypass the importance of nutrition and focus on the exercise component. I can’t emphasize it enough that you CANNOT exercise your way out of a bad diet. Those abs truly are made (or lost) in the kitchen.

    If this is an area you truly struggle in, I highly suggest you reach to me so that I can help you achieve your body health goals or at the very least outline a plan to help you create healthy eating habits. I have 21-Day Sugar Detox groups monthly or can also coach you one-on-one, digging deeper into the root cause of your health, or lack thereof.

  4. Exercising. This doesn’t have to be intense. Simply start your day with a minimum of 10 minutes of your favorite movements. This could be push-ups in your living room, squats while brushing your teeth, a dance party with your kids, or getting off of the bus or train a stop early to walk to the office, etc. Extra points if you can get outside in natural sunlight while exercising.

  5. Speaking of sunlight, get outside every chance you get. We have a very bad habit of sitting for hours, tucked inside, possibly never seeing the light of day for more than 5 minutes during the winter. By regulating your circadian rhythm, you’ll naturally have a lighter mood. Shoot for 20 minutes outside in the light. Better yet, break up your day with a walk at lunch with your best bud.

Create new  routines in your day that provide proper outlets and boundaries to help you thrive, including:

  1. Breath work – most of us take our breath for granted. Take a few minutes out of your day (ideally first thing in the morning or before going to bed) to slow down and pay attention to your breath. Simply breathe deeply in and out of your nose slowly 10 times or better yet meditate for 10 minutes.

  2. Be grateful – express your gratitude by pen or by voice daily. Finding 3-5 things to be grateful for daily, big or small, has a significant impact on your mental health.

  3. Draw or journal.

  4. Create time for creativity and play; detox from technology and the competing noise from being plugged in. We become more inspired and creativity flows freely in these “white” spaces of time in our day than forcing the hustle mentality.

  5. Get into nature – as noted above.

  6. Exercise – again, as noted above, make this a non-negotiable. If you’re sitting most of the day in front of a computer, be sure to take breaks every couple of hours and walk around the office or go for a walk outside. Getting your eyes off the screen and moving your body will dramatically alter your state and clear your mind, making room for better creativity.

  7. Mantras – your thoughts are incredibly powerful. What do you say about yourself; how do you talk to yourself? If necessary, change the self-talk to something positive and/or proclaiming powerful, optimistic statements that start with “I AM _____!”

  8. Level up your squad – Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” To expand on that, 1) you become more like your entire circle of influence, and 2) you should audit the people you spend time with. Are they encouraging you to be a better person? Do they promote healthy habits? Do they help you be the person you excel to be? Do they help you pursue the activities that speak to your heart? Excellence and joy are contagious –make sure you surround yourself with people that make you better.

  9. In the same vain, genuinely connect with people and environment. Unplug your phone. Show up and sit down for family meals. Look people in the eye. Tell people you appreciate them. Look around at the sights and sounds, the architecture and the diverse people, when you’re walking. Listen closely as someone speaks; think before you speak. Stop and smell the roses.

  10. Celebrate little victories – it’s easy to get swept away in the busyness of the season or the work week or the deadlines, but if we don’t stop and celebrate the little wins, we keep plodding ahead with little to no enthusiasm. By nature, we beat ourselves up over perceived poor performance or mistakes. However, when we celebrate our little wins, we are building our confidence, pride in our work, and reinforcing the good behavior that produced the successful result. in contrast to the hustle attitude, it’s energizing. Don’t forget to find people to celebrate with you!

  11. Give – whether that’s giving of your time by volunteering, giving back to the earth by planting a tree, donating to your favorite charity, or purely giving of your time and being present, the ROI is always more than expected.

  12. Give yourself grace. Some days are simply easier than others, don’t beat yourself up. Especially after the holidays, it will take some time to get back to a normal routine. If all else fails, a good Epsom salt bath usually does the trick!

  13. Break down larger projects into bite size, actionable tasks. When you write your to-do list, either at home or at work, be sure to keep your tasks specific, and limit each day with no more than 8 priority items. Tackle the hardest item first to get it out of the way, gain momentum and be more confident moving forward. (remember, we want to celebrate the little victories!).

  14. Research shows that physical clutter clutters your mind and reduces your productive. Gift yourself the best gift this year and purge your desk or your closets at home. Take the one-minute to tidy up at the end of each day.

While creating new habits can feel overwhelming, take one day at a time. Reject the idea that you must do everything all at once and perfectly. Choose one thing to focus on and master it before moving on. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. So, remember one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow or how often you must get up and try again.

All that being said, if your winter blues seem a shade darker, refusing to lift in the days and weeks upon returning to the office, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common, legit issue that should be addressed properly. Above all, know that you’re not alone in the process.

Filling my cup and how you can fill yours....or just make chocolate peppermint cups (recipe)!

Homemade peppermint coconut cups

Homemade peppermint coconut cups

Four-day weekends should be a thing at least once a month, don’t you think?

During these four-day holiday breaks from work, I’ve:

  • slept. A lot. Man did this exhausted mama need it!

  • read.

  • tidied up the pantry, the bane of my existence craft cupboard, and tomorrow will be for my children’s messy room. Shhhh, don’t tell them I’m in a purging mode.

  • taken my time at the gym.

  • made yummy, chocolate treats. More on that below.

  • Taken at least one Epsom bath so far.

  • watched both seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I highly recommend it. I may have even shed a tear when Season 2 concluded.

Most importantly, I’ve connected with family, friends, and my community.

Today I hit up my local, Walnut Creek farmer’s market to visit my friend Chris at the smoked salmon stand. Since I get most of my produce from Imperfect Produce and rarely need anything else during the week, grabbing a salmon filet (and possibly a waffle from Rooted) is the only reason I go to the Farmer’s Market. Strange, I know!

Anyway, I knew Chris was taking January off, so it would be a good 5 weeks until I got my salmon fix. Prepared to buy more than usual, Chris, pleased to see me, went on to bless me with 3 salmon filets, for FREE. What? He said it was a gift because he enjoyed seeing me and the girls on Sundays.  We’re far from regulars, but I’ve made a point to not only consume but take my time and get to know him. We banter with his neighbor vendor, the sweet potato pie guy, and genuinely like to chat. There’s something about having friends and being known, even if it’s not a deep relationship.

Before the crowds became too overwhelming, we hugged it out and I wished him well until I saw him again in February.

This interaction reminds me of the vendors I befriended at Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market, when I lived near the market and was a SAHM. Everyday I’d push my babies through the market, to say hello, grab some veggies or eggs, and just be a kind face in the sea of consumers.

That’s how you get to know people anyway, right?

A simple hello, a smile, some kind words…..it doesn’t take much. Or as Ed Sheeran says, “Love can change the world in a moment…”

Last night, I was also able to sneak out with some moms from school. Turns out 3 hours at True Food was just the thing I needed – perhaps what all three of us needed. If we hadn’t shut down True Food, I’m sure we could have talked the night away drinking our pomegranate kombucha! Ha!

Connection, let alone sharing stories that make you feel not so alone, is important. We may come from all sorts of backgrounds, but we share common denominators of being moms, working moms at that, trying to figure out this life as an adult, being transplants - moving across stateliness, even countries, to name a few.

It’s refreshing to commiserate, as well as celebrate this moment in our lives; share our worries and fears, hopes and dreams, question our school’s hippiness and horrible math homework, and our awkward conversations with our kids about sex, the internet, and gender. Who knew back in the 80’s that we’d have so many different gender pronouns in 2018! Sheesh! And why in the world have they changed the way they teach math?!

Anyway, I implore to get out. To connect. To smile at a stranger. To say hello and ask them out.


santa's cup.jpg

Moving on to tasty things though.

I was on dessert duty for Christmas and made some deliciously rich peppermint fudge cups I saw on the eating evolved website here. They were a hit. You’ve been warned though, they’re very rich and one is sufficient, even for this chocoholic. As well as Santa!

Earlier in the month I also made my own peppermint coconut cups which were just as wonderful. They’re very similar (i.e easy) to make as outlined in the recipe above, but I’ll note it here:

Coconut center Ingredients:

  • 1 cup homemade or premade coconut butter

    (To make homemade coconut butter, simply dump 16oz of shredded coconut  - feel free to lightly toast beforehand - with a pinch of salt in a food processor an let ‘er whirl until you have a smooth consistency, about 10 minutes.)

  • 2-3 drops or an ⅛ tsp peppermint oil - a small amount goes a long way

  • 1 crushed candy cane--optional

Chocolate Cup Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup dark chocolate melted

Instructions

Filling Instructions:

  1. Once you have your coconut butter, add the peppermint oil and blend again until mixed.

Chocolate Cup Instructions:

  1. Take a wax lined cupcake liner OR silicone cupcake liner an spoon 2 tablespoons of melted primal chocolate into bottom. Swirl around, covering the ¾ of the cupcake liner. Place on a flat surface and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Assemble:

  1.  Drop 1-2 tbsp of the coconut butter into the bottom of the chocolate cup (with the liner still on). Liquid coconut butter is easier to work with, so you may need to warm it up slightly, but be sure it’s not hot otherwise you’ll melt the chocolate! Let harden some – 5 minutes in the fridge should suffice.

  2. Pour another tbsp of chocolate over the top, spread to the sides, and place back in fridge for at least 20 minutes.

  3. Enjoy!


How did you relax this holiday season and what did you make? I’d love to know!

P.S. If you need help weaning yourself from chocolate and all of the sugar this season, or simply need some inspiration on how to create healthy habits or a kick start a healthy eating plan come January, reach out or join my January 21-Day Sugar Detox group! I’ve got you covered.

A season of expectancy and why to stay in the game.

This time last year, I was a bad-tempered girl complaining I wasn’t getting any Christmas presents. I don’t know who that girl is anymore. I want to be her again because she didn’t know what would be savaged and almost lost. And yet, I don’t want to be her because of all I’ve gained.
— Jo, Little Women

together.jpg

The oldest of my little women started watching Little Women on her own volition. So last Saturday morning when I stumbled downstairs after sleeping in a bit, I cuddled with my little ones on the couch and listened to these poignant words boldly proclaimed by Jo.

They fell on me like a weight.

So much can change, so fast.

Be it a moment, a month, a year – or three.

Sometimes we’re impatient because we feel we aren’t getting somewhere fast enough; our goals and dreams still seem too far off. And so we quit.

But what if we stayed in the game a little bit longer and refused to give up, knowing that whether or not we succeed, we will be changed; whether or not we were able to physically hold our dream in our hands, we will have gained.

With Christmas 3 days away (side note: what the heck? This was the FASTEST year ever!), I find that despite the hustle and bustle, in the backs of our minds we know the new year is around the bend. We know New Year’s resolutions are thing whether or not we subscribe to them. We know we should be mindful of setting some goals and not let another year pass us by.

We know, but do we plan on pursuing that person we want to become or the idea that has been rattling around in our brain? Or do we let fear hold us back because we don’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t work out in the time span we gave ourselves?

Sigh! It’s ok!

It is a season pregnant with anticipation after all, and I want to remind you of that.

While I’m most definitely NOT pregnant, the excitement of the season reminds me of my anticipation of meeting my babies for the first time.

In this season of expectancy - of Christmas gift giving and receiving, of fresh beginnings with the coming of the new year - there is renewed hope.

Hope that our resolutions, our goals and dreams will come to fruition, and the new year will magically transform us.

Now let’s get one thing straight. There is no magic! Those hopes and dreams don’t simply happen! It’s a PROCESS requiring planning, discipline, and effort....a certain gestation so to speak.

elephant.jpg

Did you know the average elephant pregnancy lasts 640 – 660 days? That’s roughly 95 WEEKS or 22 MONTHS! Granted, a baby elephant is rather large at birth, about 200 lbs to be exact, but that is a long ass time. I certainly would not want to be pregnant for nearly 2 years. No thank you!

But you see, things take time! I’m sure the mama elephant is just as content carrying her baby for 22 months because, like I did, I knew it was going to be worth it, no matter how unconformable I was at the end.

When things don’t come easily or naturally, we’re inclined to give up because it’s harder than we expected. It’s not ok to quit (unless perhaps it was a terrible idea to begin with) but it’s ok if it demands some elbow grease and patience.

Another side note: my second grader naturally loves words, reading and writing. Math, like her mama, is like a foreign language to her. It takes effort. Nowadays math is also extremely different from when I grew up and I have no idea how to help her, nor the time to YouTube how to do it every night. Both of us want to give up. That’s not really the answer though. She needs a foundation in math to continue to make progress. I don’t expect her to be a mathematician someday, but today, I trust that as we put the effort in, we will succeed.

That’s faith. That’s hope.

HOPE changes things....the way you face your day, the way you walk and talk. Hope, a level of unseen expectancy, puts that fire in your belly to look for miracles, to be patient through the trials, and to keep pushing through, turning the intangible ideas in our minds into tangible facets in our lives.

Be faithful to YOUR process. Stay true to your intuition, your values. Don’t let the shiny stories and objects of others - or even your own doubts and fears - distract you. Stay true to you, friend, and find a few friends to celebrate the victories along the way. We must stop and celebrate otherwise we’re susceptible to burnout, or worse yet, not even realize the progress we’ve made.

In conclusion, I’m not saying it will be easy, but I have faith that in a year, when you reflect back on the previous year and look ahead to the next, you will be proud of your growth - the successes and the perceived lows that taught you how to problem solve in a different way. And like Jo says in Little Women, “…I don’t want to be her because of all I’ve gained,” you will have gained a new perspective on where you stand versus who you were a year prior.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot!

So, embrace the rhythms of life (know the universal laws), be generous, love, be responsible (you’re in control, don’t play victim), and take captive your thoughts - unraveling yourself from the lies you’ve believed, the stories you’ve narrated that hold you back, and unlock yourself from limitations.

Enjoy this very merry Christmas season and have the happiest of new years!

I trust you’ll get after 2019 and embrace all that it has in store for you. In fact, I can’t wait to see what you do over the next 12 months.

xox, erin