motherhood

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!

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.


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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

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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  

 

Do you have eyes and arms?

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Ten years ago, while out on a date at a Tavolata, Ethan Stowell’s deliciously, fancy Italian restaurant in Belltown, we delved into the topic of physical traits we were drawn to. Joking I said, “eyes and arms.” It was a quick, flippant comment, with some actual depth behind it. 

Let me explain.

Yes, I would prefer my significant other to have a pair of eyes and two functional arms, but all joking aside, it is these physical body parts that give me a sneak peek into the person they belong to.

Eyes.

Eyes hold so much truth and personality. Personally, I want to look at someone with kind eyes; someone who will listen not only with their ears but with their eyes. Intention – whether kind or malicious – can be seen in someone’s eyes. Quite simply, when in fear, when in love, when in distress, when simply needing a hug, I want someone to look me in the eye and with a single glance confirm, ‘all is well, whether I understand you completely or not, I’ve got your back.’ In the same vain, I want someone to look me in the eye when I’m out of line and lovingly tell me to redirect my gaze to a better path.

Arms.

Similar to eyes, arms are important in the sense of comfort. I want a hand to hold and a hug that means business. No sloppy, loosey-goose hugs for me. Bring you’re A-game, dude!

Charlotte, the genius eight-legged star of Charlotte’s Web explained, “With the right words, you can change the world.”

Yes, words, whether spoken out loud or repeated in our minds, are crucial, but so are our actions.

With children, as I realized this morning while cuddling my gangling 5-year old back to sleep at 5:30 a.m., I value the same traits in them as I do in a significant other. As their mother, I’m confident they look for the same thing in me: comfort, safety, truth, eye-to-eye contact when both right and wrong, and strong arms to embrace them when scared, mad, tired, or sad…or just because.

I love the book Hug Time for that very reason.

“The world is so big and yet so small. It’s time that we embrace it all. That’s something that we all can do. Start with the one closest to you.”

I realize this is a silly, simple post, but.....

If I need to remind myself after four, quiet (and selfish) days without my children, that we all need some love; that along with the sappy, mind-blowing moments, there will be the opposite extreme of disobedience, whininess, and 1am wake up calls because a finger hurts, I figured I wasn’t alone.

Perhaps you needed to be reminded that a gentle, thoughtful touch, or a simple glance that says ‘I forgive you, I really like you’ is always in fashion….and always welcomed. Perhaps this is a reminder to be abundantly grateful for the sweet moments, but not sideswiped and discouraged by the darker opposites.

Let this be the reminder to hug those you love…a little longer, a little tighter. To look them in the eye and say what you need to say, hopefully in love and not selfish gain. To see them for who they are, not someone you want them to be. To accept the good, with the not so good.

 

No recipe.

No nutrition advice.

No health and beauty tip.

Simply a request to choose. To make the choice, which you’ve always had, to love well today.

 

Tell me, are you a hugger? A hand holder? An eyes and arms kind of person? Or is physical touch and quality time, not your thing?

                                          

I was simply heartbroken.


Seven!

Seven!


July is birthday month around here.

My wee Samurai kicks us off on the 1st, followed by her older sister's birthday on the 3rd. You can only imagine how that goes down. Your little sister has her birthday first and the day between feels like an effing eternity, so tantruming it out is the best thing to do. But I digress.

A hefty handful of family birthday's follow, not to mention the good ol' 4th of July. Needless to say there is a lot of celebrating going on.

Despite having an uncanny memory for anyone and everyone's birthday, birthdays were never my thing. Or perhaps it's because gifts are not my love language. Similar to Christmas there is too much pressure, and quite honestly, I prefer experiences - quality time with my favorite people, a hike, a picnic, a fancy dinner, a flight to Greece - over some gift you felt pressured to give me. 

Gift giving, is also a struggle. I'm happy to give the gift of a delicious meal I prepared, or packing your bags for a surprise trip, or buying you a book to read while sitting next to me in quiet. Beyond that, I'm left dumbfounded.

As I write this, I sit in the still aftermath of a giddy pool party, the last installment of birthday week. I take that back, I had to take a nap after everyone left. I was toast. 

Leading up to July, the wonder and excitement of my girls is rather contagious: the counting down of days, the crossing off each calendar square with a monster, unruly "X," and wide-eyes as we discuss birthday plans. It's endearing. Simple pure joy. 

But let's be honest, for the parent, back to back birthdays, especially for competitive sisters, is challenging.

The Samurai was totally down with visiting the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. Ironically as it sounds being a nutrition coach, I recommend the trip out there. Perhaps not on a weekend since you won't see any live jelly belly action in the factory, but regardless, the tour is still a good time. I even tried a few flavors and enjoyed them; coconut and strawberry jam topped my list. Shocking because for most of my life I thought jelly beans were the worst candy ever made.

Not quite sugared out, more treats ensued as we rounded out her day at Pressed Juicery for a soft serve dessert. At least I didn't feel bad about this dessert since it's made with dates and almonds.

Her requested birthday dessert at Pressed

Her requested birthday dessert at Pressed

Soon enough Charlie Bear's birthday arrived. Thank goodness! Having taken the day off, I was intent on spending some one-on-one time with my 7-year old! She aches for quality time and we simply don't have enough of it. Truth be told, that one-on-one time with my children is pure gold. No rivalry, no bickering, only their sweet souls in pure bliss with all of the attention.

We chatted over a steamer and matcha, we hugged, we held hands, we did our own business (a little bit of work for me and for her, a puzzle) at home, until we picked up Sam from school to have a picnic before heading out to the Oakland zoo. In the blazing July, afternoon sun, we had our fill of animals, carousels, and even a rollercoaster before heading home. 

To make it fair, since her sister had a treat even after the Jelly Belly factory, we stopped for her requested bubble tea at Mr. Green Bubble. Dessert before dinner? Only on your birthday lady! However, being a Tuesday, which meant TACOS, it was imperative not to get full!

I spell all of this out because the heartbreaking moment came after dinner, after this full day of fun, love, and splurging.

I can't even recall what started it, but I found myself with a screaming 7-year old telling me I was the worst. Words loosely falling out of her mouth as she stomped up the stairs, declaring that no one liked her. 

Perplexed, I tried to name off all of the amazing things we did that day; that I did out of love.

I tell ya, 7:45 - 8:15pm in our household, is a witching hour.

By that time of day, we've held it together for so long that we fall apart. Our brains want to shut off. We're physically and mentally done, yet still awake. We're tired but before we manage to climb in to bed and keep our mouths shut, we turn into reactive, ugly creatures. It's so common it's nearly become a terrible habit I'm aware I need to stop. 

Sigh!

Once we were able to regain control, which involved a hug - one that can take up to 20 minutes to receive because we're all to stubborn to initiate - we chatted and the statement that broke this mama's heart was:

"I don't think I'm important to you."

Talk about a punch to the gut. 

Immediately tears streamed down my face and thoughts raced: How can she articulate this thought already? Where did I fail her? Why does she feel this?

Her caring nature took over as she wiped my tears and told me I didn't need to cry. 

I never thought I would hear those words being uttered from either of my babes mouths. 

Oh how my heart aches for more freedom. Time with my children that isn't wrought with stress as we race from school or an activity, or chores, or meal prep, or time management of this and that.

I don't accept that this is the only reality of motherhood, of being an adult. 

My heart aches for my children to know they are wholly and beautifully loved, even in their imperfect, fumbling messes of childhood. 

My heart aches for them to enjoy these moments, to know the tension of joy and disappointment, yet still be content.

My heart aches for them slow down, to not be in a hurry to grow up.

I have no solid conclusion. 

I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my babies are no longer babies. Their gangly arms and legs are awkward to carry. Their understanding of the world is expanding. They're more independent, but still need me. It's a transition for all of us. 

The only real conclusion is that part of me is glad birthday week is over. The pressure is off for another year, when I'm certain I'll be in shock again at how fast a year flies.

Another conclusion is that by actively working to change our situation - so that we don't get sucked into the time and stress conundrum - by this time next year, we won't have a repeat. 

I get it, it's hard to treasure the mundane moments or even be fully present through dinner conversations as my mind races and scans all the things that need to be done against the racing clock. 

But like we did that night after hugging it out, and again, for the thousandth time, confirming how important she truly was to me, we read a book together. A birthday gift, A Tree for Peter, I think is going to be a really special book for us. We alternated between reading until both little ones drifted off to sleep on either side of me. 

It's these moments I treasure above all. It's these gifts of their lives, of their thoughts, of our time together, reading, even drooling on me as they sleep, that are the best gifts a mama can receive on their birthday - a day that forever changed my life.

seem like yesterday we were celebrating her 1st birthday and refusing to let her eat ALL of the chocolate cake

seem like yesterday we were celebrating her 1st birthday and refusing to let her eat ALL of the chocolate cake

Can anyone relate? 

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!

Do you have a PULSE?


drowning.jpg

When in a moment of wanting to zone out on my commute home on an overly packed BART train, I accidentally read an article about mercury going into retrograde soon. Dude, wasn’t mercury just in retrograde?

So yeah, while I’m over here trying to simplify and creatively be the superhero in my life, I guess things could get crazier. However, that’s not where I choose to focus or put my energy.

That being said, March snuck up on me like a ninja in the dark. 2018 is whizzing by and I’ve barely been able to come up for air. I’m bursting to create but I never feel like there is enough time. Yet, it’s time to manifest this whirlwind of dates, ideas, words, and emails that have been swirling in my mind.

It hit me especially this last week when everyone wanted something yesterday. As soon as I began to focus on a task, an email, a skype message, or a text would buzz through and someone needed something else. My mind was ever shifting from this deadline to that deadline, or to this idea scribbled on yet another sticky note, to another line item on the personal development to-do list, to what’s for dinner, to wondering who I could pay to come fold the laundry that’s in a pile on the couch. I’ll skip the many “mama, mama, look at this,” and “MOM! She hit me,” and “I’m starving, I’m going to die,” interruptions, conversations, and fatigued shifts in direction and focus. Phew!

I jokingly told a coworker that I was going to lead a lunch + learn on mindfulness and single-tasking because I was fed up with the barrage of chaos, stacking deadlines, and the feeling of early onset Alzheimer’s, let alone the shame of wanting to sit in silence or take a time out.

Having deadlines is nothing new and can be great motivators, but when your work becomes subpar because there are too many week after week, it’s simply too much.

list.jpg

And somehow, despite not being proud of the busyness, I get used to it and don’t know how to turn off.

Even on vacation, I find myself checking email unnecessarily because I fear I might miss an important email (even knowing I won’t) and more so, don’t know how to fully relax, because it almost makes me feel like I’m lazy if I actually enjoy myself.

Can we all agree that’s not healthy?

Based on a suggestion, I started reading Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte. When I initially began reading the book, I found myself wanting to throw it across the room with every other page I read. As a woman, and a single mom, I could relate with the author’s frazzled existence and pursuit of leisure and time. Simple enjoyment of one’s life and family -  the elusive balance we all talk about but seldom discover, seemed more doomsday and I didn’t want to read it. I’m more hopeful than that, or so I want to believe. Perhaps I’m just being naïve – or else I need to move to Denmark. Regardless, I kept reading.

She made it apparent that women, especially mothers, have a bum deal.

“Women’s leisure tends to be more fragmented and chopped up into small, often unsatisfying bits of ten minutes here, twenty minutes there, that researchers call “episodes.” ….that’s too short for anything other than a quick item on the to-do list.”

“Mother’s leisure tends to be more interrupted, contaminated by mental noise, and “purposive.”

It seemed like a dead end. This was something I most certainly didn’t want to read about since my pursuit of 2018 is to include more peace and joy, and surrounding myself with freedom and learning from the dreamers and doers, the high achievers, movers and shakers.

Redemption came toward the end of the book, as it usually does.

This nugget of wisdom, and the following tips of how to create the time management, leisure, and freedom we all crave, is golden. Because let’s be honest, at the end of the day, all of our problems are a TIME issue:

[Terry] Monaghan’s approach to time management is simple:

You can’t manage time. Time never changes.

There will always be 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in that time. And what busy and overwhelmed people need to realize, she said, is that you will never be able to do everything you think you need to, want to or should do. “When we die, the email inbox will still be full. The to-do list will still be there. But you won’t,” she told us. “Eighty percent of the email that comes in is crap anyway, and it takes you the equivalent of 19 ½ weeks a year just to sort through. Eighty percent of your to-do list is crap.

Look, the stuff of life never ends. That is life.

You will never clear your plate so you can finally allow yourself to get to the good stuff. So you have to decide. What do you want to accomplish in this life? What’s important to you right now?”

So much grace, with a healthy dose of reality and tough love.

So let’s do it. It starts with you, me, right now. Yes, right now.

time.jpg

How, you ask?

If Shulte can do it, so can you.

Her trick: “Pulsing — deactivating and reactivating the brain — actually makes it pay better attention.”

Despite the belief we accomplish more when we multi-task, it in fact fragments our time and our thought processes, making tasks take even longer.

We've become a society of lollygaggers, with extended water cooler conversations, multiple IG and FB scrolling every 20 minutes as source of a “mental break,” all the while extending our actual work day.

What if we got our work done in an allotted time frame and allowed ourselves the rest of the day to be free? To actually live, in the moment without thinking about the emails that “need” to be written (hint – they probably can wait), or the dishes that need to washed when our kids ask us to play a game.

This tactic of pulsing allows you to focus on yes, a single task, and follow it through to completion without interruptions.

As a result, the structure of dedicated time allows you to accomplish more, more efficiently.

Much like attempting meditation for the first time, it may seem foreign and excruciatingly painful to sit there for 30 minutes in utter focus. If needed, set a timer and begin with a single task for 30 minutes before you take a break or move on. Most tasks require more than 30 minutes, but begin there and slowly increase the time to 45 or even 90 minutes. Take a short break and come back to the task, or move on to something else. But given that time span, only focus on that one issue – do not be tempted by the black hole of email, or any other “alarm” that sounds.

Applied to the family side of things, this can be accomplished with family rhythms which provide an organic approach to creating structure around reoccurring activities built into your day. This works especially well with kids who need to know what comes next as a sense of well-being and safety.

Meal time is a good place to start. Turn off all electronics and focus on your food, each bite, and the people sitting around the table. Talk to them, ask questions, and get to know them!

For example, in our house:

  • Friday is our Picnic movie sushi date night, where we make homemade, nothing fancy sushi, pick out a movie, pull out a towel and eat dinner picnic style on the floor while watching the film. Ok, yeah, this one involves a movie, but we it’s really the only time we have the TV on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Saturday mornings are for waffles or scones and sausages before ballet classes.
  • Sunday mornings are for farmer’s markets and church.

It’s in these little moments where the extraordinary can happen.

Not only can this time be more focused because we’re somewhat on autopilot due to the rhythm we created, but we also allow our brains to sit happy with the single task rather than jarring, redirection every 5 seconds attending to this thought or that email or that person’s emergency.

The world will not end if we slow down.

The weight of another’s crisis, is not a burden we’re called to carry alone. You’re not Superman.

The laundry pile and dirty dishes don’t have a heart and soul like the child that simply wants to play a game with you. It can wait, your child cannot.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

Don’t waste it away with a frantic brain in a sea of deadlines and busyness. Pursue purpose and passion, and create the space and time to love on those that mean the most to you. What’s the point of running the race, burning out, and forfeiting your precious time?

It’s up to you my friends. Seize the day and seize your life.