hope

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

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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.

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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  

 

Hold on, have hope! Tips to navigate life's rollercoasters.

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Rather than New Year’s Resolutions, I themed 2017 my year of freedom; 2018 of peace and joy.

Like most things in life, you plant a seed and eagerly, rather impatiently, wait for it to take root and grow. While we may be in our last 30 days of 2018, I’m (finally) seeing the fruit of these intentional themes. Hallelujah!

While I feasted and played card games in my aunt and uncle’s cabin on Donner Lake over the Thanksgiving weekend, it dawned on me that 3 years ago I was in a very different -  a very dark, lonely -   place.

REWIND:

  • In 2015 I spent Thanksgiving alone, housesitting for my sister and eating Vixen Kitchen’s paleo Chai & I ice cream for dinner.

  • I had no desire to be around family.

  • I felt like a failure.

  • I felt unworthy, unloved, and alone.

  • I didn’t want to see people happy; families together and putting in the effort to spend the holidays side by side.

. . .

  • My marriage was over.

  • I had moved two states away from my “home” for the last 16 years and had been living with different family members for two months, bouncing my daughters here and there as we found some stability.

  • I didn’t have a job (I had been raising our daughters and freelancing off and on for the last 4 years).

  • I didn’t have a home to call our own.

  • I had just spent half of my savings on marriage counseling (that didn’t work) and moving out of state to set clearly defined boundaries.

. . .  .

Talk about rock bottom.


I haven’t shared my marriage and divorce before because I didn’t think anyone would care. Perhaps no one will. However, I’ve felt a pull on my heart for months to share my story. Maybe it will resonate with one person, offering a glimmer of light and truth - of companionship. If so, I’ve done my job.

With a topic like this, I’m not sure where to begin…

 

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We joked that if we had a band this would be our cover art. 

This day back in April 2009, and all it encapsulated, was the beginning of something epic, or so we thought.

But, our first year of marriage was difficult. The highs were high, but the lows were miserable. We were ridden with selfishness, naivety and conflict.

In conflict, I retreat. I need space to walk and think or journal or a night to sleep on it. That didn’t go down so well, and if memory serves me right, I may never have explained to him my way to process. Instead, I was questioned, pushed too far out of my comfort zone - which pushed me farther away - and utterly frustrated, resorting to anger because I couldn’t understand or articulate my feelings well enough to be heard or known.

Sometimes we need to be pushed a little to see that our way isn’t the only way. However, there needs to be patience, grace, love, and communication in doing so. That didn’t exist. Only the feeling that he was right, and I was always so wrong, my feelings wouldn’t be validated because other people had it worse than me.

And so, this vicious cycle continued.

My parents who divorced when I was 10 were not examples of a good marriage, offering zero guidance when it came to conflict resolution. Since it was never modeled to me, unfortunately my marriage became the battle ground to figure it out. Yet at the time, I didn’t realize it. Nor did I give myself the space and grace to settle in and accept myself as a new wife trying to navigate marriage; letting go of the ideal of the happy all of the time, white picket fence married life image I had in my mind.

I figured there was something wrong with me. While I shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, I still held on closely to my hidden fears of thinking I wasn’t good enough, or worthy enough to be loved.

Despite showing the ugliness, my unrelenting, high walls kept me from exposing my heart and letting go of any pain and limiting beliefs from childhood as well as previous hurtful relationships. I thought if I didn’t measure up, he would leave. I thought if I wasn’t perfect (though we both knew we were both far from it) he would abandon me.

If I’m truly honest, I thought he could fill a part of my heart that ached with emptiness. Though a Christian who knows better, I thought he could save me and make me whole.

These unspoken, juvenile expectations kept me from uniquely showing up. And in turn pushed him away. Exactly what I was trying to prevent, I manifested the outcome by my actions and behavior.

Now, he wasn’t a saint either, but I’ll tell the story from my POV.

Many nights I went for long drives or sat in our car to escape the noise.

On a couple of occasions, I got myself a hotel room because I needed to get away. Our pseudo one-bedroom apartment didn’t provide the space I needed to retreat. yes, I’m an introvert and my introvert need for alone time was not met in that first city apartment of ours. Also, a friend I greatly respected told me of all the nights she got a hotel room for herself and how it saved her marriage.

I thought it could do the same for ours.

I hate to even admit this, but at times I would pack my bags, ready to leave and never look back because I didn’t know what else to do.

I felt so stuck. So small. Unheard and unloved.

Here I was, next to a man who was adored at work, passionately throwing himself into his job, leaving me at home alone or on the sidelines, soaking in his fans praises but ignoring mine.

I wanted to be in the ring with him. Doing life with him. Not an afterthought.

Fast forward to the day we were leaving for our one-year anniversary trip to South Africa. A trip I was so looking forward to as it had been 5 years since I had last stepped foot on that fine, bewitching soil. I had it planned to a T - with a safari, a coastal drive, wine, my beloved babies at Kwethu Children’s Village (an orphanage I had volunteered at 5 years prior), and an adventure we’d take together – one we’d tell our children about some day.

Of course, I have no clue what we were fighting about now, but hours before our flight, we had an intense fight, culminating in me watching a stack of our plates thrown to floor, smashing into a hundred little, jagged pieces.

Anger seethed in both of us.

To be honest, I can’t believe our friends even drove us to the airport in that state.

But again, we continued to push it under the rug, hoping it would sort itself out if we ignored it.

Sidenote: we went on our South African trip and had an amazing adventure, minus the time I thought he was going to get killed by a lion, or the time I pictured us getting murdered in the backseat of a car in Jo’berg, or our car getting broken into and my bag being stolen in Cape Town. Despite a all of that, it really is a beautiful country and If you need travel tips, I have them!

However, we returned and life continued as it had.

Our next big fight, shortly after returning (and going back to school to study nutrition) was when my beloved goldfish Pinto and his fish bowl were thrown on the floor, vanishing forever. I watched again in horror as another thousand little pieces of glass and water covered our floor.

A mere hour later, I took a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant.

It was time to clean up our shit.

Easier said than done!

Having a baby doesn’t make ANYTHING easier. Emotions, expectations, fatigue, uncertainty, you name it, are heightened. In fact, more is left to ambiguity as you stumble through those first months simply trying to survive and keep this little person alive.

Amidst quitting my job to stay home with our Charlie Bear, taking a break from school, and navigating this new life I had as a mom + wife, I also had my eye on someone who, based on intuition, was no good to have in OUR life.

I met her awhile back and upon meeting her, I felt I had to keep her close. There was something about her that rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t care for her presence in my husband’s life.

Always listen to your intuition!

However, my lack of trust for her didn’t really matter. She had finagled her way into our life and my husband was beyond pleased with it. Especially when they decided to have a relationship.

I don’t need to get into the details of how that went down. Your imagination of trying to rationally talk with someone who believes they were placed on the planet to be with your husband will suffice…..

If this happens to be where you are now, know that while hindsight is 20/20 and in the midst of things you want to think the best of your spouse by giving them the benefit of the doubt with excuses  - stress, fatigue, finances, etc – you have to face up to the truth.

Sit down and ask!

Be brave, be bold, prepare for an answer you may not like, yet know that you are still worthy. You may have had a piece of the unraveling of the relationship, but that doesn’t mean you are less than. Their actions are on them. Own yours, yes, but don’t carry the burden of their poor choices as well.

Chin up!

Take comfort in this from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Or if you’re an ’80’s child like me listen to this on repeat!

So…..

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Why am I writing this now?

I know someone needs to hear that there is still hope.

This minute, this day, this month, may not be what you expected in your life, but it’s not over. There is hope to be had; dreams to dream, goals to crush, laughter to be relished in, and love to be shared.

You aren’t alone.

Life - for everyone -is messy, good, bad, happy, sad, hard and easy. See Ecclesiastes above!

Seasons come, and seasons go. Like the leaves that fall in winter, they bloom again in the Spring with the light of the sun. You will get through this and be a better person for it - if you choose to be!

It’s up to you to look for the good. To make a choice to not give up. To make the choice to show up. No one cares more about you and your dreams than you. Let go of what your parents told you, let go of the limits your teachers put on you, let go of the ideals you cling to, and show up as your weird, badass self. Shine, my dear!

You, yes you, are more powerful and wonderful than you allow yourself to be. Lean into that power!

For me, my current goals are still a few miles off, but with each day I show up, the closer I get to achieving them. Once achieved, there will be more goals to set. One foot in front of the other, dear friend!

The process continues and so must you. You must be brave enough to keep putting one foot forward, even if the world if pitch black and cold. Believe in yourself and that ache for more in your heart.

 

What else have I learned?

I was a month shy of turning 28 when I got married. Now edging closer to 38, I look back and see that scared, young girl, unwilling to stand up and speak her voice. Too scared to risk sharing her heart.

I look back and see myself trying to have at it alone, despite having this person next to be who was in it with me.

Today, I know my worth. Today, I know my voice. Today I’m clearer on what I will and will not allow in my life.

It’s ok to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish! Especially this time of year, amidst the enchanting carols and twinkling lights, a lot of people are stressed with the financial burden, the chaos of activities, the family obligations, etc.


Here are some tips on how to say sane this (holiday) season:

  1. Remember you can’t be perfect.

  2. Take time out to 1) have a bath (or go to the spa), 2) have lunch with a friend, 3) sleep in, 4) eat the damn chocolate or drink 2 glasses of wine, 5) exercise – whether that’s at a gym or a walk, and 6) say “No!” to the activities that won’t bring you joy.

  3. Slow down. Have a dance party with your kids or by yourself. Crank up the music. Watch a movie and don’t do anything else. Schedule down time.

  4. Avoid the crowds. Shop online or locally.

  5. Get into the real holiday spirit. Visit an ice skating rink, visit Santa, make gingerbread cookies, build a gingerbread house, catch a holiday play

  6. Get crafty if that’s your thing!

  7. Spend time with family or friends that make you smile! You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with – choose your friends well! Happiness and joy is contagious, let their joy rub off on you. Just don’t be the Debby downer in the group ; )

  8. Give! Be kind; give a hug; give a compliment; smile; donate; buy coffee for the person in line behind you.

  9. Practice gratitude.

 

 

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Step One.


Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the paleo queen of my home affairs


Long story, not-so-short:

Like a lot of people, I first got into nutrition by healing my own body. You can read more about it on my website.

Around the same time, I married into a CrossFit gym, and was introduced to what seemed like the wacky world of paleo. I was already gluten free but this was no doubt taking it up a notch. I turned into the friend who made raw brownies (aka larabar bites since desserts were off limits), made every meat dish under the sun, used my crockpot to make the spiciest adobo ever, and basically spent all of my time looking up recipes. Sadly, it was the early 2000's and Pinterest was not a thing back then! Shocking, I know!

And by the way, I was not a good cook….yet!

Most of the time I got the evil eye because I turned into that friend who made social gatherings awkward when it came to food.

Ultimately my fascination with paleo and continuing my journey of healing my body through food, included my vision to step up my involvement at the gym by creating create a nutrition program to coincide with the intense training of these beasts. I also wanted to become a better chef. These interwoven aspirations spurred my pursuit of going back to school for nutritional studies, or naturopathy, or Chinese medicine, or holistic cooking.

Side note, sometimes I can be really indecisive!

While I knew a fair bit from my own studies, my intention and dream was to go to Bastyr. After attending an info night, going on a tour, and sitting on the shores of Lake Washington to pray about it, I felt certain this was the road to take. I truly felt like the world was my oyster.

And yes, I’m a total nerd and LOVE school.

After a quarter of prerequisites in the books, I got pregnant with my first daughter. Working full-time, going to school part-time, and being pregnant, was interesting. When the fatigue hit and I’d fall asleep mid-sentence of a conversation, I decided something had to give, and my dream got derailed….for a bit.

Funny how life throws you curve balls once you think you’ve figured it all out!

Then one day, now with babe in arms, I picked up a little book called Practical Paleo at Costco.  Or perhaps I ordered it from Prime, charging it to the business! At this point mom brain has set in and the timeline gets a little fuzzy!

This not so little book, in case you’re not familiar with it, is essentially the Paleo gospel. Every ailment is addressed, from adrenal health to thyroid health – with a meal plan; to how to live a paleo lifestyle – from getting started to eating out to getting your friends on board; to healing digestion to managing stress. The 470 page book truly covers it all.

I was a quick fan.

Since Practical Paleo was such an inspiration to me, I later, nearly a year post-partum after my second daughter, decided to try my first 21-Day Sugar Detox (21DSD).  Although I only did Level 1 (Elleno’s guava greek yogurt was too hard to give up, and I may have slipped in a bag of popcorn along the way), I was amazed when I noticed my abs making an appearance.

Please believe me when I say it’s not about the aesthetics of my body, but the sheer excitement of how simple shifts (um, wasn’t I already eating clean paleo?), made such a difference.

Needless to say, Diane Sanfilippo became my kitchen buddy and guru.

When she launched her 21-Day Sugar Detox beta coaching group, I was naturally curious. I was a SAHM, now with two daughters, and it was nearly 4 years between when I took the first step toward my nutrition education, with nothing to prove for it.

At this point there were so many more options to choose between. NTA was just starting, IIN was big, Bastyr was still there, FDN was gaining traction, and on and on. I felt overwhelmed with the different avenues, time and financial commitments. Did I already mention I was indecisive?

The 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches group felt like a happy medium – and an easier commitment for my little family to swallow. It was a platform in which I could get my feet wet, have the structure and support I needed, while shedding the fears and doubts of starting a business from the ground up.

Since I was already helping other mamas sort out what the heck to feed their kids, meal prep, and navigate their grocery store outings, I jumped into the 21DSD beta group.

Now let me get one thing straight - I’m not one for doing one thing at a time. Once I decided to join the beta group, I also started studying with Precision Nutrition (which I’m now certified in) and continued cooking for the frozen paleo meal service I started for some clients at the gym. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I started that a few months prior when a coach persuaded me to help his client dial in his food. Eeek!

It was a slow start but I have fond memories studying my Precision Nutrition, the more science heavy chapters, and listening to the 21DSD coaching calls at the South lake Union Whole Foods, or while slurping up pho on wet PNW nights, and while drinking chai at Uptown Espresso in Belltown.

I have visceral memories of these Wednesday nights, which was my “night off” as a mom and wife. As I pursued these things that fed my mind and future, they quickly became my favorite evenings around town.

And of course during all of this, I was raising two babies, battling infidelity in my marriage, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s NEVER a perfect time for anything.

There’s no doubt about it, with what you have at any given moment, make the wisest decision you can. But remember, you have the power to course correct at any time. Life is about constant change; and life rarely unfolds as well as you expect or plan for.

Now, nearly four years later (if you haven’t noticed TIME FLIES!):

  • I’m divorced.
  • I’m living in the Bay Area.
  • I’m Precision Nutrition Certified.
  • I’m still a 21DSD coach.
  • I have a nutrition coaching business.
  • I'm a Beautycounter Educator and mentor
  • I also have a FT marketing job.
  • I solo parent – making all the lunches, doing all of the laundry, meal prepping, and cleaning all of the toilets!

And somehow, I make it work. Even on the days when too many people comment, “I don’t know how you do it all,” and I want to slap them in the face - seriously, this comment is not helpful and really, what kind of answer are you trying to elicit? – we survive.

This not the end game.

Sure, everything takes longer than I expect. I’m tired. I don’t get to read as much as I desire. My house never stays clean as long as I’d want it to. Nor do I don’t exercise as long or hard as I’d like to.

But hope remains!

I know this is only a season.

Somedays it’s easier than others to crank out the gratitude, yet I'm always thankful and grateful for:

  • Podcasts, audible, and the kindle app for the long BART rides (does this count as my tribe?);
  • Unique chances to learn
  • For trial and error
  • For pushing myself out of my comfort zone
  • For new opportunists to create healthy streams of income
  • For fresh starts every morning
  • For cuddles
  • For the little sleep I do get
  • For my body, living room, and kettlebell allowing me to creatively break out into a sweat session.

I don’t wear any of this as a badge, but rather to thoughtfully share with you that this is the messy life I live right now. And that if I can pursue dreams and goals, so can you.

At this point in time, I get to connect with and help men and women, mamas and grandpas, across the country connect the dots between their health and nutrition.

For me, this is a stepping stone toward creating a platform for busy, career parents, in the throes of raising young kids, to find confidence, balance, and happiness in their kitchen, skin, and life.

What is it for you?

Have you forgotten that you’re stronger, more powerful, and more creative than you think?

Your beautiful mind is waiting for you to crack it open and try something new. To break free from the mold you think you’re supposed to fit into and shine brighter than you have before.

It’s about taking the first step. Putting one foot in front of the other until you get enough momentum.

I can’t say you ever gain enough confidence to never fear, even a little bit, but it’s getting up and getting in the race that will get you closer to your goal.

So again, what is it for you?

  • If it’s nutrition, call me!
  • If it’s writing more, write your 500 words today.
  • If it’s that guy over there that gives you butterflies just looking at him, go talk to him.
  • If it’s going back to school, enroll.
  • If it’s joining a gym, get your membership tomorrow.

Just please, don’t wait. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for the right moment.

One way or another, the time will pass. Embrace it because in a year, or five or ten years, I want you to have a really good story tell!