On Balance and Clare turning Two

On Clare’s 2nd birthday, I find myself reflecting on what a different place I am than I was a year ago. Yesterday I became officially certified as a Childbirth Educator. Last year I was wondering how I was ever going to finish the daunting task of all that coursework.  Perhaps this is also because I am reflecting as I read through submissions for my anthology, The Postpartum Year, and I am remembering how hard those early days were. The uncertainty, the strain.  These stories are transporting me back to that time, and also making me entirely grateful for what a better place I am in, mentally and physically. 

            Her birthday falls in the space between two weekends that I am going through the Yoga Assistant program at the yoga studio that has quickly become such a big space in my life over the last several months. On the 2nd day of the program, our teachers asked us to raise our hands if we felt like we were good at self care and good at balance, and I didn’t raise mine.  I’m not really sure why. I feel like I still question whether I am good at those things, or that I feel like somehow I am not a good enough mother if I AM good at those things.  (Which is ludicrous, I know.) But in a culture that values busy, bottom lines, overworking, super moms and perfection, it’s really hard to put your hand up and say “YES! I’m good at self care,” without feeling weirdly guilty.

            But when I really take a good look at what my life looks like right now, I would say I AM pretty good at those things.  And part of that is because in these first two years of parenthood, I’ve learned that I HAVE to be for the sake of my mental health. If you've been reading for a while or you know me, you’ve heard me talk so many times on this blog about how a mental breakdown following the cessation of birth control caused me to turn my life upside down and rebuild with a better foundation in place.  And because of that, I’ve learned to prioritize self-care, to sleep, to meditate, to do yoga as much as possible, to not neglect exercise, to get regular massages, to read, write and pursue passions that make me happy.  To get up earlier than my family to journal, or just drink my coffee and read The Skimm in peace.   I don’t do these things out of selfishness. I do these things because I am a better mother, wife, friend and person if I’m doing them.  I do them because I know – unfortunately from much experience – that if I’m NOT doing them – I’m at a huge risk for mental health spiral. 

            Am I perfect with them? Of course not. There are weeks that I get too many nights in a row of less than 6 hours of sleep or I don’t get to yoga enough.  And I FEEL it.  I get anxious. I snap at Chris and at Clare.  It’s all bad.

            But while her birthday comes in the midst of a very busy season for me, wrapping up birth and lactation certifications plus this yoga program, looking at her 2nd birthday compared to her 1st, it no longer looks like “Holy crap we survived that year” – it looks like “Wow, we are managing and sometimes even thriving with where everything is at right now.”  Of course a big portion of that is owed to the childcare help of my parents - couldn’t do it without you mom & dad - and a bit of relaxation and confidence on our part as parents, and a whole lot of self-awareness on my part. Not to mention Chris currently having a set schedule (which likely won’t last after the next few months, sadly)

            Clare is a big, brilliant, bright, ball of energy and personality these days.  She is exploding with language and understanding, which is both magical and utterly exhausting. They say a huge part of parenting is that the second you get comfortable, everything changes.  And I’d say that’s pretty much been our experience so far.  But it’s nice, at least in this snapshot moment of time, to feel like we are in a sweet place of comfort and relative balance. 

            Happy birthday my sweet girl, mama & dada love you so much.

My First Tattoo

When I was 18 and a freshmen in college, flaunting our newfound independence some of my best high school girlfriends and I went out to a tattoo/piercing place. Two of them decided to get their first tattoos, the rest of us got random piercings, mine of course being the “tame” second earring hole. (Which now of course are probably completely closed up because I never wear anything in them. Heck, I hardly ever wear earrings in my primary holes!)

I was in awe of my friends’ ability to throw caution to the wind and put something permanently on their bodies. (which they loved and totally didn't regret) But I really didn’t know who I was back then, and there was nothing that felt like it was something that I’d be okay with being indelibly inked on my body.

Fast forward to now, 10 years later, on my 28th birthday, today I got my first tattoo.

As I’ve written about before on this blog, I had a complete mental breakdown when I went off of birth control.  I was anxious all the time, could barely leave the house and was having panic attacks that literally led me to stop functioning and quit my job.  It was scary.  At times, literally all I could do to get through the day was remind myself to breathe. My psychiatrist suggested I try the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.  Shortly after quitting my job and getting pregnant with Clare, I took the program.  It was a huge game changer for me.  It was uncomfortable and scary and trying to learn meditation in a group of strangers (while suffering morning sickness, mind you) seemed nearly impossible. I was terrified driving there the first day. But I did it, and it made a huge difference for me. After each session I was markedly calmer. I think that the breathing practices I learned in that program not only helped my anxiety, but helped allow me to have a natural birth with Clare and continue to allow me to manage whatever life hands me. (including the many trials of being a mother) I remind myself that I can always come back to concentrating on my breath.  The symbol is the “OM” symbol which is a  commonly used mantra in meditation and yoga chanting. Soon, on the opposite forearm I am going to get: be here now. because it didn't quite fit on this arm and we decided it looked cleaner with just breathe and the om symbol.

I can quite literally say that meditation and yoga and learning to just breathe have thoroughly changed my life over the past several years, and I wanted this to be a permanent reminder that I see daily on my arm, always reminding me to come back to now, and come back to the breath. 

It hurt like hell, but I would definitely do it again. I see why people say the first tattoo is a gateway drug. :) 

2016 Goals and One Little Word: Enough

I’ve been thinking over a couple words for my ‘One Little Word’ for 2016 and finally settled on ‘Enough.’  The more I've rolled it around in my head, the more I've really felt it was the right word.  I particularly like it because it can cover so many different facets of life. Constantly reminding myself that I am doing enough, being enough, good enough.  Also that we have enough and the season of life that we are in is enough.  And I can also flip it on its head and remember to say Enough and let it go when something in my life is not serving me well. I like the idea of using our "one little word" as a lens for how we see the year.

And along with focusing my 2016 year on ‘Enough’ here are my other 2016 goals!

·      Complete my Gadanke “Home” Journal – Over the summer, I wrote this post about how special this little rental house is to me, and I really want to capture similar sentiments in my Gadanke Home Journal.  Check out Katie’s journals, they are amazing!

·      Organize our most used recipes in ONE place and come up with a system for them.  – Right now they are SO scattered. Some printed, some on Pinterest, some memorized.  Really planning to come up with a system and keep better track of stuff we try and like. I'd really like this to go along with better meal planning, grocery shopping and just simplifying food in general.

·      Read 30 Books – Considering I read 35 in 2015, 30 seems like a good goal for 2016! So many are already on my list!  Follow me on Goodreads for more book stuff.

·      Be more intentional about monthly date nights with Chris – As I mentioned yesterday, this year I’d really like to actually plan our dates better and maybe do some things we haven’t done before.  Not just the same old.

·      Learn to Knit – This is also on my 30 before 30 list.  I can do really basic crochet, but I really want to try out knitting since I tend to like finished knit projects better.

·      Finish Lactation Counselor and Childbirth Educator Certifications – On track for both of these by the end of the spring!

·      Publish Postpartum Year Anthology Book - (or at least have it on its way!) I am going to be looking into traditional publishing and hybrid publishing before going the self publishing route, so depending which direction it ends up going, I’m not sure how long this project will take to complete, but it’s one I’m very passionate about, so I am excited to work on it!

·      Continue Mom’s One Line a Day Journal and 5-Minute Journal, but also do the 52 List Journal – I got this journal a few months ago and decided to start it in January, I like the idea of spending a little bit of time every Sunday writing out a different creative list. And still love my One Line and 5-Minute journals.

·      Go to a Yoga Class at LEAST twice every week, preferably 3 times, or even more. – When I don’t have Zumba and the Lactation counselor classes at ARC going on 3 times is TOTALLY doable…but with the above in Feb-May, I'm going to tell myself that two is... enough. 

·      Complete the Zuda Yoga Assistant Program – Registered for this in February!

·      Meditate everyday, but shoot for 5+ minutes – Continuing the habit from 2015, but trying to up the length.

·      Publish a blog post once per month – a lot less from 2015, but with everything else going on, I think this is a reasonable goal!

·      Podcast – 3 Full Episodes per month (36 for the year - up from 2 per week and 25 for the year in 2015)

·      Eat Less Sugar – I’m not sure how I’ll quantify this one…but I know that I get into ruts of eating WAY too much sugar and it makes me feel like crap.  Everything in moderation and all that jazz, but I need the even the moderate amount to be lots smaller. And of course this also can be filed under the header of 'enough.' 

2015 brought a lot of growth, and finding a good groove. 2016 is sure to bring even more and I'm excited to see where it takes us. 

Happy New Year to all!

2015 Was A Very Good Year

2015 was a very good year. This time last year I was just starting to come out of the crazy baby fog. I had a 10 month old and I was finally starting to feel like myself again…do the things that made me feel like me.  So I set out with a list of goals for 2015, because honestly, goal-setting makes me feel like me.  It helps my frame of mind to always know I’m working towards something.  That’s also why I just posted a 30 before 30 list as well. 

So now that the christmas decorations have made their way back to the garage and as we get ready to sip the champagne and ring in 2016, here are some reflections on my 2015 goals and how they panned out:

Meditate Everyday – This has been really good.  I think for multiple reasons – One, I said any amount of time counted even if it was only 2 min. (Hoping to up that next year) and two, I promised myself I would never miss more than one day in a row.  Also using Coach.Me and Elise’s Goal Tracker helped too! Visual reminders are the best. I have meditated 319 out of 365 days this year.  Pretty darn good!

Read 25 Books – Completely surpassed this goal and read 36!  Two of these were very short, and 8 were audiobooks. But still. Super proud! For sure planning to up my reading goal in 2016.  Especially now that the husband has decided he wants to battle it out for who can read the most... 

Learn to Sew a Quilt  - Yeah. Didn’t happen.  I started to take a class locally and the teacher was terrible so I quit going.  I have a bunch of squares cut out and sitting in the closet but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.  Eventually…

Blog once per week – With the exception of a few weeks here and there, this mostly did happen.  It helped me be consistent with writing but it also made me try to find filler posts to meet that quota.  I’m backing off this goal quite a bit for next year since I’m going to have my hands very full with some other projects and certifications.

Date nights with Chris each month – So I’m pretty sure you could say we did go on 12 dates over the course of the year, but they weren’t planned out, intentional and much more than dinner or a movie.  (Which is still something of course) But I am hoping in 2016 we can be more intentional about planning 12 dates that are maybe a little bit different from our norm.

Do the 5-minute Journal Daily – So according to Coach.Me, I think I did this about 220 times? Certainly not everyday, but a lot.  I really like this exercise, and plan to keep it up in 2016.

Try 2 new recipes per month – Again, we probably did this…but not with much intention behind it.  Hoping to get better organized with our recipes and meal plans in 2016.

Produce 25 Podcast Episodes – Success, my last episode of 2015 was #25 where Kelsey interviewed ME. :)

ICEA Childbirth Teaching Series & Prep for early 2016 test – I passed my evaluated teaching series just a few weeks ago and am submitting the paperwork to schedule my test for February 5th! Ahh! 

Do the Couch-to-5K – I did this last March.  And I’m glad I did it, but it also reminded me that I am not a ‘runner’ – that is to say, I don’t enjoy running like I enjoy Zumba and Yoga.  Zumba and Yoga make my soul happy.  Running is just a means to an end for me. 

 

My “One Little Word” for 2015 was Presence. I think because meditation and yoga were such big aspects of 2015, and reading  several mindful/Buddhist parenting books…my view of the year was definitely zeroed in on Presence.  But I like what another blogger had said about the one little word, it’s not that picking a new word for 2016 makes Presence null en void, it means that I take that word with me and also have a new one to focus on.  More on that and 2016 goals tomorrow. 

30 before 30: A List of Goals

Well I’ve been remiss on the blog front lately.  As usual, the holidays have taken over this time of year, and on top of that, I’ve been finishing up my childbirth class series for evaluation for my certification (which I passed last week! Woo!) and something just had to give.  Looking into 2016, I likely will be blogging less just because other things are going to take priority.

But before we get into 2016 I do have some ‘end of the year’ posts planned, starting today with my ’30 Before 30’ list!

I’ve seen so many of these lists floating around the Internet. My friend Katie recently completed hers, so it got me to thinking, what would I like to accomplish in the next 2 years and some change? (I turn 28 in January) Here’s what I came up with. I think it is a pretty balanced list, though the education piece is probably a little bit ambitious.  But do remember, I’m nearly done with both the childbirth educator certification and the lactation educator certification.

Creative:

1.     Learn to Sew more proficiently (I only know basics)

2.     Learn to Knit (I kind of can crochet…)

3.     Take a Pottery Class (Like the kind with an actual wheel)

4.     Learn to take better photos (I think I may be relying on my friend Elizabeth with this one!)

5.     Learn a new song on the piano just for fun (For as many years as I’ve taught piano, I very, very rarely sit down and just play for myself)

6.     Learn to play some on the guitar (Chris wants to do this too, so maybe we’ll do this together?)

7.     Keep up a project life album of photos each year (I’ve been pretty good about this over the last year, though the last few months have been a little crazy and I need to catch up.  I like her “mini” albums for a more simplistic layout.)

8.     Learn to garden (Chris and I ALWAYS say we are gonna do this every spring…it’s time to actually make it happen)

 

Trips:

1.     Visit Las Vegas (April 2016!)

2.     Visit the Pacific Northwest (Oregon/Seattle) Probably a 2017 trip…

3.     Go to a MLB game – Seriously, I’ve never been. Even though one of my best friends from high school used to work for the Giants!

4.     Go to a NFL game – Especially now that the 49er stadium is on the Amtrak line!

5.     Take a trip to see Christmas lights in a limo (Marcie, I’m looking at you with this one – we’ve been talking about this forever)

 

Certifications/Education:

1.     Complete Childbirth Educator Certification (Early 2016)

2.     Complete Lactation Educator Certification (Early 2016)

3.     Complete Doula Certification (2017?)

4.     Complete Yoga Teacher Training….This is a big one…so I’m not sure when… but doing the Zuda assistant program in 2016 for sure!

5.    Take certification for another Zumba Specialty

 

The Practical:

1.     Learn to drive stick shift – My friend Curt said he’d teach me. 

2.     Make out a Will with Chris – Cause, you know, adulting.

3.     Pay off all of our credit card debt – More adulting!

4.     Learn to cook several meals well – Cause I can’t keep doing mac and cheese when Chris is out of town.

5.     Do consistent volunteering – Sutter Davis! Yoga Assisting! Yay!

6.     Minimize our stuff (ala Marie Kondo) Read the book if you haven’t yet!

 

Other:

1.     Publish a Book – (Working on going through submissions for The Postpartum Year!)

2.     Get a Tattoo – Planning this for my 28th birthday next month

3.    Keep up my Podcast.

4.    Keep up my Meditation Practice.

5.     Regularly Journal (besides my One Line a Day and 5-minute Journal everyday ones)

6.    Write a letter to myself to open in 5 years

 

Do you have any big birthdays coming up with goals you’d like to complete? :)

Look for a Book Recap, 2015 recap and 2016 goals coming in the next week or so!

Happy Holidays to All!

 

Rebuilding The Way I Live & Staying With The Present

A few days ago I serendipitously ran into an old friend at a coffee shop.  I had just come from my monthly check-in appointment with my psychiatrist, and headed to the coffee shop to do my usual 2-hour burst of work while Chris was at home putting Clare down for a nap. 

We of course exchanged the usual “How are yous” – and because my friend has such an open demeanor I felt like I could say “I’m doing really well…but I just came from my psychiatrist and I always worry when I’m doing well that I’m one misstep away from a crash.” Rather than just the typical “good” or “fine.”

Which is a hard thing to explain to anyone who doesn’t struggle with mental ups and downs.  Luckily Kathryn is just the person to not only understand that feeling but also give me some sound advice/thoughts about being in that state. 

You see, much of my adult life has been characterized by bursts of busy-ness filled with lots of “get it done” attitude followed by a spiraling crash, breakdown, illness, etc.  In college it usually manifested itself as sickness…and in my jobs out of college, I think it a lot of it was emotional turbulence and anger. (I know I’ve mentioned it a zillion times in these posts, but I really hated the corporate-like-looks-like-societal-success jobs I held just out of school.) They literally felt like they were sucking my soul.  At one point I added a master’s program that I felt like I “should” be doing to an already stressful and frustrating job…and on top of that, tried to compensate for my sheer unhappiness by over-exercising and trying to fill the fulfillment void with too many outside activities that left me over-extended and of course led to more crashes.

Then the icing on the cake of it all was when starting a new job in February 2013, just figuring anything different would be better than where I was…and then pulling the hormonal rug out from under me by stopping the birth control pill. This one sent me completely over the edge and as my psychiatrist described it the other day “forced me to rebuild my life and the way I lived it from the ground up.”  And that's really been the work for me over the last three years. 

(This is not to say that those otherwise shitty experiences didn’t give me much-needed people in my life. Looking at you Lori & Curt)

But now.  Now, my life is so full.  In a good way – full.  I’m busy, but not in an overextended way. I have found a career that allows me to be creative with my time, balance being with Clare and doing something that I truly love. I have been SO much better at making time and space for myself, creating a solid morning routine, starting to pick up a yoga practice, consistently meditating this year, making exercise / zumba and reading a priority. Working on a book, and creating and sharing a podcast that I really believe in. I just got into the amazing Sutter Davis volunteer doula program. I have built a wonderful tribe of moms who all support one another as we go through the ups and downs of motherhood.  Chris and I did almost a year of couples counseling and are SO much better at communicating with one another.  My parents now live close by and can lend a much-needed hand with Clare.  This isn’t to say I don’t go through struggles with balancing it all, feeling burnt out, etc. Believe me, I definitely still do.

But overall, right now,  I’m good. I’m feeling well, happy and strong.  And yet with that wellness comes this nagging, niggling feeling that if things are going well, then something bad must be coming. It feels as if I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  For my hormones to betray me and cause me panic attacks again. For my schedule to reach a tipping point where I can’t "handle it all.” Wanna know a weird childhood quirk? When my parents would travel, I was always terrified that they would die in a plane crash, and I somehow felt if I worried, they would be okay, but if I didn’t worry, they wouldn’t.  Nuts? Maybe. The anxiety struggle is real, people.

But I’m a different person now.  I’m in a different place, and I’ve got better support, boundaries and protocols in place.  And as my psychiatrist also pointed out – I LOVE what I’m doing now. Although she put it more softly "I get the indication that you didn't like the work you were doing before." Duh! I hated it. But now, my work and side projects are born out of passion and love, not out of obligation, money or fulfilling someone else’s bottom line. And that’s a key difference. Even with as busy as I am, it’s all positive stuff.  It’s all good. I often get people saying “I don’t know how you do everything you do.” And I think sometimes even that comment alone can shake my confidence.  My monkey mind starts going Should I not be doing everything I do? Is there something wrong with it? Wrong with me? Spiral, Spiral. Anxiety. Etc. 

Kathryn’s words really struck me too.  She said “I hear you. I hear the story you’re telling. I hear you taking past experiences and bringing them into the present. Expecting things to follow the same old patterns. But you don’t have to do that.  You don’t have to bring the past into it.  You just have to stay with where you’re at in the present.”

Wow. I needed to hear that.  All of that.  PS People – when someone tells you something – tell them you hear them.  Because isn’t that what we all want? Just to be heard.  It also struck me – wait a minute, my word for the year was/is Presence, I’ve read probably six books on meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism and presence this year.  But I haven’t really been living it as much as I could.  Kathryn is right, my psychiatrist is right. Right NOW, I’m doing really well.  And that’s all I should be focused on.  Not what’s going to happen with my mental health tomorrow, next month, next year.  Because I can’t predict it.  And I can’t dwell on previous patterns either.  Because just because they were a pattern before doesn’t mean they are going to repeat. 

And not to mention, that the whole premise of my blog is that we have a choice everyday in how we act, react and see the world.  So I’m choosing to be grateful for and celebrate the fact that, right now, I’m well.  And I’m happy.  And man, has that been a long time coming. 

2015 Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Well this is a little later than I would normally be posting my fall capsule wardrobe, but that’s because it took until November for Sacramento to even come close to cooling down enough to actually consider it Fall.  Sheesh.  Hallelujah for cool weather!

Normally this would be Oct-Dec’s capsule, but I was literally still wearing sun dresses and flip flops in October, so this will likely be Nov into January’s capsule.

This capsule is a tad larger than some of my other ones – 52 items, NOT including boots and scarves or heavier outerwear.

Here’s the breakdown of items:

10 Shirts

6 Skirts

5 Pair Leggings

1 Pair Jeans

14 Dresses

16 Jackets/Sweaters

And here are the pictures of the items along with where they came from. An * indicates this item is new for this season. The rest are rolled over from previous seasons.

shirts.jpg

Clothing Swap* | Target* | TJ Maxx | Clothing Swap | Thred Up | Thred Up | Ross | Ross | Clothing Swap | Target*

TJ Maxx | H&M | Clothing Swap | Stitch Fix* | Clothing Swap* | Ross* 

Motherhood Maternity (Yes I still wear maternity leggings sometimes because they are sooo comfy. | Target* | JCP/Ross/Ross

Clothing Swap* | Stitch Fix | Thred Up* | Clothing Swap | Ross | Clothing Swap | Thred Up *| Thred Up | Thred Up * | Thred Up* | Clothing Swap | Target | Ross | Clothing Swap

Ross | Clothing Swap | Target | Clothing Swap | Clothing Swap* | Target* | Thred Up | Boutique in Truckee* | Ross* | Clothing Swap | Clothing Swap | Clothing Swap | Clothing Swap | Clothing Swap | Clothing Swap | Ross

As always a whole lot of Clothing Swap, Target, & Thred Up.  If you use my Thred Up or Stitch Fix links you get a discount and I get a credit.  Win-win. :)

 

 

October Fav Bits from Around the Web

Here's your monthly dose of links from around the web.  Some great stuff in October!

Lesley often feels like my faraway mama twin. As someone who is often straddling the working/mama fence, this post really resonated! 

As a mom of a high needs child, this made me cry. "Your baby is not “good” but your baby is essentially himself/herself. Babies like him/her become the people the world needs: people with a fire in their bellies and a firm footing in love. Your baby is not “good.” Your baby is perfect. And your baby will change the world."

With all of the crazy gun violence that still continues to permeate our schools, this article about lockdown drills really hit home.  Something HAS to be done. 

Dear Mom, You are Stronger Than You Think. 

This is a beautiful craigslist letter.  You never know who's life you are changing

Overthinking Worriers are probably creative geniuses. #Winning.

Screw Finding Your Passion. "If you’re passionate about something, it will already feel like such an ingrained part of your life that you will have to be reminded by people that it’s not normal, that other people aren’t like that." <-- You mean not everyone screams at the TV when the media portrays birth incorrectly and fear mongering? Or your husband doesn't tell you "Shh I get it, you're right, I'm just trying to watch the Girls finale." Great article.

Did you read anything great in October? 

Book Reviews: September/October 2015

It’s November! Can you believe it?  I can and I can’t. I love this time of year, but I also know it’s a crazy quick slide right into the holidays and 2016, and there is inevitable chaos that goes with that.  Hoping that I can find a way to stay focused on goals while still enjoying all the lovely things about the season.

I’ve read 28 books so far this year! I am such a happier person when I’m making the time to read.  I think I already linked, but I loved this post from Fast Company about how busy people find time to read.  It really is all about your priorities. And I love that they commend those who are reading multiple books at once.  I’ve always gotten flack for that, but it turns out that’s one thing that helps me read more!

So here are the 5 books I read in September and October.  If you want to read reviews of other books I read this year, here are Jan/Feb, March/Apr, May/June & July/Aug.

Her: A Novel By Harriet Lane - I can see why the reviews on this one are so divisive. People hate the ending...but I have to agree with the reviewers who also liked the nuance of this psychological thriller. Honestly I don't think I'd even call it a thriller because it's so subtle. And it is all the better for that. I too had a bit of a "wait, wtf??" moment at the end of the book also, but I think the open ended-ness adds to it's realness and charm.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear By Elizabeth Gilbert - I don't give 5 stars on Goodreads lightly on books. But this one deserved it. I have read many a creative books over the years and especially in college getting my degree in creative writing, but I really loved this one. It's a cheerleading book for creativity and very readable because of how she breaks up the sections. I love her anecdotes and her basic premise that everyone can be creative, how it ebbs and flows and to stop worrying about creativity paying your bills. I like her more esoteric ideas about ideas finding people to carry them out, and her forgotten story that was written by another author gave me chills.

Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters By Carla Naumburg - I enjoyed this book. I thought it had a lot of similarities to Buddhism for Mothers, Momma Zen and Mindful Parenting, but it did so in a less esoteric manner. As meditation and mindfulness has been a big goal for me this year, I appreciate all the reminders I can get. Here's two of my favorite quotes:

"Soothing is about getting in the rain with our kids and letting them know that we’ll hang out with them until the storm passes."

"When we become aware, over and over again, of the voices in our head telling us that we need to use what little free time we have in the most productive way possible, we can let them go. We can tune into what we want and what we need, and make the choice to take care of ourselves just a little bit"  I am so guilty of this and often need a reminder to sometimes just ‘be.’

What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty - Liane Moriarty is quickly becoming one of my favorite fiction authors. She's consistent. I know that may sound boring, but it's something I really appreciate in novels. I know that I consistently will get a good story and good writing. It seems I can pick up any one of her books and whip through it. This book was lovely, and being a big fan of "what if" type stories the whole plot line of "what if you lost your 10 years of your memory - what would your 10 year younger self think of your life now" was an enjoyable one.

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood By Jennifer Senior - I liked this book a lot. It's not a typical parenting book, but an interesting look at how parenting affects the parents, not how parenting affects the kids. 

So many great things in here, but I liked these in particular:

"Joy is connection" It's not about our solitary pleasures that bring us joy in the long haul, it's our sense of connection and bondedness

"Joy is attachment"

"Joy is about being warm, not hot"

"We don't care for kids because we love them, we love them because we care for them" 

I loved what she talked about with the experiencing self versus the remembering self and how we enshrine our memories differently than they were actually experienced. This is true of birth, and parenting. 

Great stuff, definitely recommend to parents to read!

On the docket to finish out the year:  Redefining Girly, our book club pick for November, Bird By Bird which I started a while back and need to get back to. The Good Gut, currently checked out from the library and fascinating. Finishing up Woman Code still & just started Between The World and Me on audiobook. Will compete with my podcast consumption, but it’s a short one. :)  That’s 5…not sure if I’ll have time for anything else, besides reading Clare ALL the Christmas books.

Please send me your recommendations for 2016 though! And follow me on Goodreads.

Happy reading, friends!

 

 

K&c September

Every month I am documenting a few of our Mama/Baby Favorites. See July and August for more.

Getting Creative with Big Magic & Bird By Bird |  Getting ready for Halloween with Spooky Pookie

Boots, even though it's still hot | Sweater Pants in the morning, Cool Jumpers in the afternoon

Fall Fruit | Lara Bars, shoving the entire thing in her mouth

Planning all the things for the Fall | Carrying around her "balls" shouting Owwwside

Finding pockets of time to work on crafts | Mama's new zumba stereo and her music on it

Fall is for Pumpkin: Easy Pumpkin Spice Bread

We recently got four cans of pumpkin in a bulk order of food. They have been constantly staring me in the face asking me to bake something.  Especially when the weather is finally starting to cool off a bit here in Sacramento.  Last week was a bit of a chaotic week, so during one nap time I decided it was time to bust that bad boy out. I tweaked this original recipe to make it a teeny bit healthier and quite a bit less sugar.  Honestly, you could probably even take the sugar down to 1/2 or 3/4 cup total.  It's more about the pumpkin and spice flavors anyway!  I also changed it to half whole wheat flour and switched canola for coconut oil and upped the cinnamon a little bit. You can even add a dash of vanilla should you so desire. It came out great. Super easy and super delicious. 

Enjoy.  Yay, Fall!


September Favorite Bits Around the Web

I read so many blogs and articles in any given week.  Whether they are blogs I have in my feedly list or links that people share on social. There's always so many.  But some really stick out or strike a chord in a specific way. Here are some of the great things I read in September. 

Zen Habits always inspires me to be more focused and intentional, and I love this about How to NOT do it all. 

I am totally guilty of at times being the person on the phone, but I am trying so hard to be better about this.  Alexandra always gets right to the heart of the point. 

I'm often asked how, given the insanity of my daily & weekly schedules do I find the time to read - so I particularly enjoyed this Fast Company article about how busy people make time to read.  Really, it's possible if you make it a priority. I promise. Also this one about "reading and neglecting your family" is great too. Sarcastic title, but same point. Priorities. 

This resonated so much.  I am SO guilty of being achievement based, and not solely doing something for the pure Joy of it.  Really need to be better at this. Why you need a true hobby and not just a side hustle.  

Really interesting article about why much of the Gen Y/ Millennial generation is unhappy.  I am thankful that I have somewhat of the opposite problem.  I have a hard time being confident in my worth - but I can definitely see how this 'specialness' is rampant and apparent in much of the Millennial generation.  Generational stuff has always fascinated me.  I am uncharacteristic in that I am Millennial with older Baby Boomer parents.  My dad is nearly in the generation pre-baby boomer.  Whereas, the majority of millennials were raised by Gen X and very young baby boomer parents (which my dad would say aren't really baby boomers at all, ha.)  I do think that makes a difference, or at least it did for me. 

I am pretty sure I often experience all of these seasons of motherhood on a weekly basis. 

Yes! The research Dr. James McKenna has done on cosleeping is amazing and this new concept of "Breastsleeping" so scientifically makes sense. 

What kinds of good stuff have you read lately?
 

3rd Quarter 2015 Goal Check-in

The happiest time of the year to me is definitely the Fall.  The weather is cooler but not freezing, the scarves and boots come out of the closet.  It’s all good.   It also always gets me thinking about what I want to accomplish as I close out the year, and looking towards goals for next year.  Also just trying to figure out how I can get through the last 3 months of the year and the craziness of the holidays with joy and intention and not stress and anxiety.  Because even though Sept through new years is my absolute favorite time of year…let’s be real, it’s not without chaos.

I’ve also been working on a “30 before 30” list that I hope to share on the blog later this fall. It’ll be 30 things I hope to accomplish in the next 2 and few months years. (I turn 28 in January)

But for today, here’s an update on my 2015 goal progress. You can also see Q1 & Q2 progress.

Q3 2015 Goal Progress:

Meditation - This year so far I have meditated 236 out of 267 days.  That’s insane.  I NEVER have been that consistent in past years.  I think part of that has to do with monitoring progress via Elise's chart and via coach.me, forcing myself to never miss more than one day, and not having a limit on the time I needed to spend meditating. Anywhere from 2-15 min counted.

5-min Journal – Fairly consistent with this one, typically only on weekdays.  I think my goal on coach.me for this one is 5 days per week? I do highly recommend the 5-minute journal though. It really forces you to find things to be grateful for everyday and to keep your head on the positive.

One Blog Per Week – This has been a great goal to force me to plan ahead on blog posts.  One per week has been SO much more doable than other goals I’ve set previous years. I really think I’ve completely stuck to, if not surpassed this goal. I’ve toyed with the idea of upping it to twice per week for 2016, but I’m not sure if that’s setting me up for failure, or if by setting that goal publicly I’m more likely to actually stick with it…? TBD.

New Recipes – I haven’t stuck to this in any intentional way this year.  I think we’ve definitely tried new recipes, sometimes more than one per pay period, sometimes not.  I think for this last quarter I’d like to really track ones that we try.  And as a longer goal, actually get all of our regular recipes in ONE place.  We have some on Pinterest, some on paper, some in cookbooks, just all over the place.  And having them in one central location would make meal planning SO much easier. Hmm, perhaps 2016 goal?

Monthly Date Nights – Again not real intentional about this one.  I think in August we went to eat, and in September we went to a movie. Perhaps we also did something in July? I can’t even remember.  Here’s to being more intentional for October, November, December and 2016 on this one.  We will probably see the final Hunger Games movie in November, and there was talk of ice skating and Ginger Elizabeth hot chocolate in December.

Read 25 Books – Killing this goal! Already at 25 and it’s not even October yet.  Maybe I’ll up my goal for 2016! 

Learn to sew a Quilt – I have the quilt squares cut for a very simple quilt, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.  Still hoping to finish it before the end of the year.

Podcast Production: 25 Episodes – So far so good! About to release episode 20 and have 5 more in the hopper to finish out the year.

Complete Childbirth Coursework – This is becoming more real.  I just ordered a bunch of class materials, my evaluated series is set for December.  After that I’ll just have to attend one more birth and take the final test.  So exciting!

Run Couch to 5K – Completed in March.

As the fall draws the year to a close, I plan to really pump it out and finish the childbirth work, teach my evaluated classes and hopefully schedule the test for early 2016.  It’s a bit of a crunch, but I am optimistic that I can do it! I’d also like to get a few months ahead on my podcast recordings.  So far, so good there. Another project that wasn’t on my original list is the book that I am working on.  It will be an anthology about the first year of motherhood. The submissions close in December, and I am hoping early 2016 with the childbirth coursework done, I can turn new energy to the book and propelling that project forward. I also hope to complete Clare's Baby Book and Project Life Year 1 & 2 books at the end of the year. 

It’s been a really good year for goals for me, and I don’t think that I can necessarily point that all at one specific thing.  Coach.me has been a big help for tracking. Having a mantra of doing a little bit at a time and setting reasonable goals has also helped.  I think following the miracle morning principals on most days has also contributed…and just picking goals that are really personal and near and dear to my heart.

I’m ready to finish out 2015 strong and prepare for even more great things in 2016!

How are your goals coming along?

Book Reviews: July/August 2015

In an effort to not have a huge long list of books at the end of the year I've been doing book reviews every 2 months on the blog. You can also check out Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June. Looks like summer was 5 books.  A little less than May and June. Mostly parenting books this go around. Hoping to include more fiction in the Fall.  Have I mentioned before how much I love Goodreads? I'd never be able to keep track if it weren't for that.  

Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way by Mayim Bialik - I had read some articles recently that Mayim wrote about breastfeeding, so I decided to check this book out. I really enjoyed it. I think mainly because I liked how Mayim has a PhD in neuroscience and backed up her parenting choices with this knowledge. Considering we already parent with the majority of the attachment parenting tendencies in mind, it was major reinforcement for why we do things the way we do. More than "attachment parenting" it's really about INTUITIVE parenting. Doing what makes sense to you and not going against your instincts because perhaps society parents a little bit different than you do. I love what she says about the need for night-time parenting, the benefits of co-sleeping, babywearing and breastfeeding, natural birth, etc. Check, check and check, all stuff that we agree with, do and will continue. I'm also a big proponent of the Waldorf style education tenants and I appreciated her section on why we don't need to pressure our kids (and babies!) and she noted some resources on gentle discipline that I want to check out as well. Her discussion on sharing and why she doesn't force her kids to share really made sense to me also. I don't see us trying the elimination communication method, and we do vaccinate, but seeing as those two things made of just a tiny fraction of the book and didn't at all feel preachy to me, it was all good. All in all, great book, quick read. I enjoy reading parenting books that are more in this memoir style than in a 'how-to' type read. Makes them more relatable.
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka - I finished this two months ago and I already feel like I need to read it again. This book was so excellent and I feel it will be one I re-read many times. Clare is the epitome of the spirited child and I found myself highlighting half the book as I read. Definitely recommend to anyone else raising a spirited kiddo.
Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion By Sam Harris - I'm not really sure how I felt about this book. There were definitely some interesting parts of it. But sometimes his talk of consciousness got a bit too esoteric for me. It seems like his philosophy is that he doesn't like religions, except Buddhism is okay, but only some of it, and oh btw you should take psychedelic drugs. I did like the end where he said you can still have everything that religious dogma holds dear without having to follow one of those specific dogmas. Nothing says you can't have/do charity, community and believe in the contemplative life if you aren't of a specific religion. All in all, interesting read, but a bit scattered at times.
Dark Places By Gillian Flynn - I forgot just how dark Dark Places was since it had been a few years since I read it. I wanted to re-read it before the movie came out. It’s the second of Gillian Flynn’s three novels. About a young girl who’s family is murdered. I definitely look at it differently as a mom now.
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason By Alfie Kohn - What a refreshing perspective. I 100% agree with his take on punishments. We have been against physical punishment from day 1, but seeing how he explains time-outs and other conventional punishment discipline techniques as "love withdrawls" and how damaging that can be really makes sense to me too. I think when it comes to praise, his logic definitely makes you consider the reasons behind why you are praising - ie are you doing it to get a certain outcome or are you just geniunely excited about something your child did. This is definitely something we will take into account as Clare gets older. We've tried to replace 'good job' with 'you did it!' a lot already. This approach is tough and very much not the mainstream of parenting. But it just all intuitively makes sense to me. I agree with my friend Mary that I would've liked more practical tips on top of the theories. Chris is reading it now and he's brought up parts of it that can relate to our own relationship and interactions also.

Did you read anything great this summer?

K & c in August 2015

I started sharing our Mama / Baby Favorites last month in pictures.  Here's what we were up to in August. 

What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty & All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood By Jennifer Senior | Toot By Leslie Patricelli & Night-Night Little Pookie By Sandra Boynton

Bella Materna Anytime Tank* | Saltwater Sandals*

**I wear that tank all the time, multiple times per week. It is so comfy and stretchy and fits well, highly recommend.  Clare also wore those Saltwaters pretty much every day this summer.

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins from Grateful Bread | Raisins

Childbirth Education Studying | Trying to play with Bertie Cat and his toys

Adult Coloring | Dancing to her Music Together CD

What did you love in August?

Best Things I Read This Summer

So I don't think I'll ever quite get it together enough to share links on a weekly basis like many bloggers do,  but perhaps eventually monthly will happen? Instead, here are the best articles and blogs I read over the course of the summer.  Fitting since Labor Day weekend tends to mark the actual 'start' of fall, no?

Honestly, I think that is one of the best parts of the internet. Being able to share our stories and have someone else resonate with them in some way.

Some of these I shared with just friends, some on Facebook. Some not at all.  They're all great though!

 8 reasons I'm not weaning my 14 month old anytime soon.  Yep, Clare's 18 months. Totally agree.

As someone who used to work with autistic kiddos, this one was so sweet and really hit home.

Interesting npr article about why indigenous cultures don't have back pain. 

This weaning story reminds me of the hormonal upheaval I experienced going off the pill.

I really want to instill this kind of body positivity in Clare. It's so hard. 

Since meditation has been my big daily habit/goal this year, this is SO true.

Breast milk is freaking amazing. 

20 mom things I wish I'd done more of. Such a good reminder for those of us in the thick of it. 

And two of my most favorites:

When did we start trusting experts over our own eyeballs. This. All of this.  Thank you, Janelle. Can we be friends please? :) 

Dear Moms whose partners work long hours.  Oh Man, this.  It's crazy how someone with a husband starting his medical residency can be so similar to that of an amtrak engineer's wife. This will have to be a post I go back and read again and again. Taking comfort that other people 'get' our unpredictable lifestyle. 

What great posts did you read this summer? Hopefully I'll be back in October with just the best things I read in September. :)

  

Summer Recap & Fall Bucket List

Photo taken at Boeger Winery in Apple Hill 2012

Photo taken at Boeger Winery in Apple Hill 2012

Fall is finally upon us!  Sorta.  It’s 80’s the next couple weeks and officially September, which means FALL! So I wanted to take some time to look back at my summer bucket list and see what we accomplished and then also share my fall bucket list!  This fall is gonna be a bit busy because of all the birth work stuff I’ve got going on but I really want to enjoy all of the things I love about Fall and do so intentionally.

Summer Bucket List Recap:

  • Go to the State Fair
  • Go to a Waterpark
  • Enroll Clare in Swim Lessons
  • Go to the Farmer’s market every week
  • Spend some time outside early mornings
  • Take at least one day trip to San Francisco
  • Take at least one day trip to Truckee
  • Go to an outdoor concert in the park
  • Go to the drive-in movies
  • Go to Yoga in the Park as much as possible
  • Put together Teaching Outline for Childbirth Classes
  • Launch new website
  • Back load Podcast interviews to avoid being stressed during the holidays.
  • Have a yard sale.
  • Insight Meditation 6-Week Meditation Online Course
  • Learn to sew a quilt

Alas, the water park didn’t happen again this year.  Maybe next summer it will actually happen.  It may not really count, but we will be in San Francisco this weekend to see Billy Joel. Perhaps we’ll make it to the drive-ins this fall, also. I still would like to have a yard sale…in fact maybe it’ll be better with the cooler weather anyway. Same goes with the meditation online course. I really would like to finish that before the end of the year. And finally, I started to take a quilt class, but then the lady teaching it was all over the place, not organized and clearly not used to teaching beginner sewers… Sooo I’m looking at some tutorials online and still hoping to complete a simple quilt by the end of the year.

And without further ado, my Fall 2015 Bucket List:

·      Go to a Pumpkin Patch - probably Dave's in West Sac! 

·      Go to Apple Hill Multiple Times - Yes!

·      Bake a pie from scratch - I'm not sure I've ever done this...at least not by myself.

·      Make a homemade Pumpkin Latte - Monica made a pumpkin syrup last year that was delicious and not chemical filled like Starbucks' are.

·      Make a scarf - It seems I start one every year but never finish. 

·      Take Clare Trick-or-Treating - Now that she's old enough to walk around, we should at least be able to hit a few houses this year. 

·      Bake. And Bake some more.

·      Have a “Friendsgiving” -  I know a lot of people do this every year, and I'd really like to have a big group of friends get together for our own thanksgiving.

·      Do the Run to Feed the Hungry- Not running of course, but with Clare in the stroller. Haven't done it in a few years, but I always love the fall community and that it supports the Sacramento Food bank.  

·      Take Fall Pictures

·      Monday Night Football Happy Hour - Mikuni does all night happy hour on Monday nights, and this is always a fall past time Chris and I have enjoyed. 

·      Carve Pumpkins - This is a long time tradition with Chris and I.  Ever since we met, we've always done pumpkins. Can't find the picture from the very first year. 

2014 Pumpkins

2014 Pumpkins

·      Go to a Corn Maze - We always say we are going to do this!

·      Have a Fire

·      Watch a Scary Movie

·      Go to a Haunted House

·      Do a Fall Craft - Hello Pinterest!

·      Try a few new soup recipes - Cozy fall soups are the best, and they are usually pretty easy.  We've got a few go-tos, but I'd love to try some new ones. 

·      Read a couple novels - I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, but something about Fall calls for novels. I just started "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty.

What plans do you have for this fall?

More Podcasts Favs

So at the beginning of the year I did a round up of my favorite podcasts right when I launched my podcast.  One Bad Mother, Totally Mommy, Totally Married, The Lively Show, The One You Feed, Sarah R Bagley, Highly Sensitive Person, Serial, Elise Gets Crafty and Girls Next Door remain 10 of my favorites, but over the course of the year I’ve discovered some really awesome new shows that I wanted to share with you guys.

Some people ask me how it’s possible I listen to SO many podcasts – my answer is this:

1) I drive to my piano students houses each week so I have specific podcasts for each of those commutes – Totally Married Mondays, Totally Mommy Wednesdays and The Lively Show Thursdays.  These are the ones I listen to driving to those students’ houses EVERY week.  I look forward to it, so it makes the drives a little bit better. 

2) I listen while I’m getting ready in the morning, and/or while we are eating breakfast. Depends if Chris is home or not or if we have a new one of the few podcasts we listen to together. (This American Life, Undisclosed)

3) I listen whenever I am in the car, piano teaching or not. Errands, visits to friends houses. I can't even remember the last time I listened to the regular radio. It's either podcasts, or Zumba music so I can go over routines in my head.

4) I listen sometimes when we are just hanging out playing with Clare, or cleaning.  Podcasts are a fantastic way to get your mind engaged without having the distraction of a screen on TV.  (For yourself and your kids!)

So here are 11 of my favorite new ones that I’ve started listening to in the last 6 months. (If you’re keeping count folks, that’s 21 podcasts – and that’s not even all of the ones I listen to! However, some are only biweekly (Like mine) and a few are just monthly shows.)

  • Creating Your Own Path - I think I had heard about this one on a different podcast, and as a creative person myself and someone who has followed a pretty unconventional career path, I love this one. Not to mention, she is also a local Sacramento dweller.  Recommended for those who are in creative careers or hoping to transition to one. 
  • After Buzz TV - After stumbling on several podcasts dedicated to Gilmore Girls, I thought I'd check to see if there were other shows that did "recaps" of tv shows. I really enjoyed listening to the After Buzz shows for Wayward Pines, True Detective and Orange is the New Black this summer, and I imagine I'll be checking out the ones for all of my fall shows when they come back next month.  Recommend for anyone who loves chatting about their favorite TV shows.
  • Criminal - This is one of the monthly ones.  Each episode follows a different and unique crime.  I think it was recommended based on if you liked Serial. It's interesting. Not as good as Serial, but still good.
  • The Truth - Another one that I heard about on another podcast at some point.  This one is cool because it's more like radio drama plays with actors acting it out and they tend to have some twist to the story.  Recommend if you like Twilight Zones, Audio Books and Plays. (They're nice and short too)
  • Start Up - Another one of the big ones last year that a lot of people listened to.  Basically it's a behind the scenes look at the starting of a business.  They've done two seasons so far and I've really liked them both.  Recommend if you like This American Life, Serial and other podcasts produced in that style.
  • Sawbones - This one is on the Maximum Fun network that One Bad Mother is also on.  They are a husband and wife, where the wife is a doctor and they talk about medical history.  Interesting and funny.  Recommend if you are curious about medical procedures throughout history and want a good laugh.
  • Motivating Mom - Lisa Druxman founded Stroller Strides and Fit 4 Mom. I also had her on my podcast a few episodes back. I love her show because it's always informative, motivating, and useful.  Plus her shows are short, and I really appreciate having a variety of lengths in the podcasts I listen to.
  • Dear Sugar - I love love LOVED Tiny Beautiful Things. This is basically the advice column "Dear Sugar" that Tiny Beautiful Things was based off of turned into a radio show.  Love it! Recommend if you like Cheryl Strayed, enjoy the questions format of Totally Married/Totally Mommy, and of course if you loved Tiny Beautiful Things. 
  • Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin - Alec Baldwin interviews all sorts of interesting people biweekly, actors, directors, musicians, all kinds of people.  Plus, who has a better radio voice than Alec Baldwin?  Recommend if you like pop culture, and hearing about interesting people in that realm. 
  • Spilled Milk - I tried this one on a whim when I heard Molly interviewed on Creating Your Own Path (see above) and I really like it!  Her and her friend Mathew tackle a different food or drink every week, talk about what memories they have of said food, and do a taste test of difference versions.  It's short and hilarious. Recommend if you need a laugh and like food. 
  • Matrimoney - my internet/blogger/podcaster friend Kelsey just started this one with her husband.  They talk about money and how it relates to their relationship and family.  I have really enjoyed listening to her on The Girls Next Door Podcast, so I have enjoyed adding more Kelsey to my podcast lineup!

Have you listened to any new or new-to-you podcasts lately?  Do share. I'm always adding new ones!

Dear College Freshman

Fall at Sac State is the best. #Cityoftrees

Fall at Sac State is the best. #Cityoftrees

Dear College Freshman:

This article: “Four Steps to Choosing Your College Major” got me thinking about those early days of college.  Age 18, so much journey ahead of you.  So many choices.  So many changes.  SO much.  So I wanted to write an open letter to those about to go through this life change.

·      First, really, don’t stress too much about what your major is.  And it’s OKAY if it changes.  Conventional wisdom leads us to believe that this major choice that we make at age 18, 19 and 20 is what will completely decide where we will be in 10, 20, and even 30 years.   And to think that is always the case is just crazy in the world that we live in these days. Especially as a millennial and beyond.  We are a generation known for moving around, for exploring our options and for often choosing out of the box creative or tech careers that just don’t look like traditional work used to.  I was always a little bit jealous of the people who vehemently knew exactly what they wanted to do at 18 and followed that career to completion.  Those that want to go into medical school and follow that trajectory, or want to be a college professor and follow that.  Major props to them.  But you know what, it’s okay if you aren’t one of those people, and it’s okay if you think you are and then change your mind later on.  I promise, it’s okay.

My husband has a degree in Sociology…and drives Amtrak trains for a living.  My dad has a bachelor’s in advertising and nearly a master’s in film. He delivered Fedex while I was growing up, and was and continues to be a writer and DJ in retirement.  One of my dear friends just found an awesome career with her master’s in communication, late 30s, military veteran and 2 kids later.  I started out at one college as an English major, switched schools to become a music major and then switched back to being an English major with a Music minor.  Even within English, I wavered between teaching and between creative writing, settling in the latter. 

I worked in publishing, marketing, corporate and state environments, I played around with the idea of early childhood education.  And then at age 27 after the birth of my first daughter, I fell in love with Birth work.  It was a meandering path that led me here, but when I think about it, there really was no other way for me to get here.  Paths are rarely straight.  Dear new college freshman, the path is long, and it winds, changes directions quickly and sometimes you come upon a major roadblock that keeps you stagnant for a while.  It’s all okay.

·      Enjoy it. (Cliché as all hell I know, but it’s true) There will be stories that you will continue to tell for years to come.  You might get as lucky as I did and meet your soul mate and husband at 19.  You might make friends at your college orientation or concert band that will be in your life for years to come.  (I’m looking at you Annie and Rose!)  Or you might be afraid a certain someone isn't going to like you when you meet them after switching colleges and then they become your forever friend, no matter how far apart you are - love you Steph. 

·      Take as many classes as you can that make you excited.  You might find something obscure that leads you to a path that you might not otherwise thought of. 

·      Do internships.  Get a feel for all different kinds of jobs.  You can really find out what it would be like to actually be in a career, not just in some abstract way, but in a real tangible way.  You might love it. You might hate it.  Try to find paid ones or at least ones that give you college credit.

·      Learn to QUIT things you don’t love. This is the big one. We aren’t good with quitting.  For some reason as a society we equate it only with failing, but sometimes quitting can be the healthiest thing for you. You hear it SO often with people in my age bracket.  People have a master’s degree in something they don’t care about because they just felt like they “SHOULD” do it after undergrad, or they went to law school because they ‘didn’t know what else to do’ after they graduated.  I almost fell into that trap doing a master’s degree that made me incredibly unhappy or staying in Music when I was beginning to hate music as a music major.  (FYI -When you come home crying once a week from classes or a job, that’s probably a pretty decent red flag.)  Quitting being a music major, and quitting my master’s degree program were two of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make. I still remember both of those days crystal clear.  The terror.  The relief.  In those moments, they felt like life altering choices, and I guess looking back they kind of were, but not in the way I thought.  Not in the “I’m failing this” way.  Instead, now I can look back and say Wow, thank GOD I did that.  Could I have continued on either of those paths and been successful? Sure.  Would I have been happy? Not a chance in hell. Be brave.  Don’t be afraid of quitting because of what others will think. Be afraid of staying because of what YOU may feel.

·      It’s just the beginning. When you come to the end of the 4 or 5 years you spend in college, you know what? You still may not have it all figured out and that is okay.  It’s just the beginning of your path. I will never forget sitting in the car on top of the parking garage next to Capistrano Hall the day of my last final crying my eyes out on the phone to my brother.  The “what am I going to do with my life, NOW?” feelings are totally normal.  I had already been married a year and even had a decent job out of college but I still felt that crushing doubt and inadequacy.  Remember, it really is just the beginning. At 23 I had no idea where I’d be now at 27.  Or what I'd go through to get there. Trust that you will figure it out.

I’ll leave you with the sunscreen song. 

Be Brave. Have Fun.  Take it as it comes.  You’re gonna do great!

And because it's #throwbackthursday here's Chris and I at a concert in Tahoe my first year of college. 

Ode To Our First Home

It’s been on my list for ages to write a post that was an "ode" of sorts to our first little house. I just hadn’t gotten a chance to really put it into words. There is a space in Clare’s baby book for “a picture of your first house” and I think that’s what sparked the thought originally.

My friend Carol, who was also the mom of two of my first piano students when I started teaching at age 19 and who with her husband Kendall has been our landlord for the last 6 years lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away last week.  Our little duplex was also her first house.  And while we may just be renters, it will always truly feel like our first home. 

At Carols funeral, the priest spoke about “dwelling places” and all of the places that Carol called home, and it really struck me because we are living in one of the first places that she called home and it is because of her that we have been lucky enough to call this place our home for the last 6 years (and continue to do so!)

It seems like there's always a reason to want more or to not be satisfied with what we already have. Words often heard around here lament “I can’t wait till we have a bigger bathroom.” “I can’t wait till we have a dishwasher” “I can’t wait till we can have a real garden, or a better place to keep the cat litter." Stressing that we aren't in a position to afford to live somewhere bigger, always worried about being too cramped when we have large groups over because there just isn’t enough space for everyone.  And on and on. 

But when I really stop and think about it, there are so many wonderful things about this little house  that far outweigh the rest and we have made so many unforgettable memories here.  The charm that only a 50 year old house could have, we've got a pull down ironing board, a mail slot, a full brick walled fireplace and an adorable kitchen to living room "window." Someday way in the future when we do upgrade to something bigger or decide to buy a house, there will be even more memories that we will be leaving behind. 

This is the house where we came home from our wedding and honeymoon to.  Our newlywed home. (While Carol took care of our sick kitty while we were gone.) After the exhaustion of wedding planning and traveling, it really felt like a wonderful home to return to.

This is the house that we lost my dear kitty of 14 years, Kitters in. That week of finals, I will never forget laying with her in the hallway knowing this was probably the last day I would have her.  Waiting for Chris to come home so we could go to the vet.

This is the house that Chris started his career with Amtrak. After several years of us both working 5 jobs combined and him working 7 days a week, I remember sitting in the office with him all dressed up for training and thinking, wow, we’re really starting a new chapter. 

This is the house that I graduated from college in. Where we had my college graduation party. Where so many college choices and decisions were made.

This is the house where I made huge career changes myself, leaving my stable state job for a subsequent marketing job and then letting myself accept and realize how much I hated corporate environments, Chris and I making the choice to go off the pill and start a family. 

This is the house where I had a full blown mental breakdown in Spring of 2013, after the hormonal cascade of stopping the birth control pill. This house was my safe place to get through that incredibly tough span of time. Wrapped in blankets with Chris watching hours upon hours of West Wing.

This is the house where in early June 2013 I peed on a stick and ran into the kitchen waiving it in Chris’s face yelling “I TOLD YOU” and him lifting me up and spinning me around.

Yes, I peed on 3. Don't judge. 

Yes, I peed on 3. Don't judge. 

This is the house where I went into labor, and spent nearly a full day laboring before Clare’s birth.  Walking the neighborhood over and over with Chris, my mom and our awesome doula Nataly.  Kissing my Bertie cat goodbye and telling him we’d be home with his ‘sister’ soon.

Rocking in a chair in this living room with a tiny newborn on my chest is where I had the epiphany that childbirth education and birth work is what I was meant to do.

It’s where Clare had her first smile, said her first word, took her first steps and had her first Christmas.

Crammed with love, this house was full to the brim with friends and family for both of Clare’s one-year-old birthday parties.

So far there have been six Christmases, countless birthdays, other parties, get-togethers, book clubs, clothing swaps, this house is so full of memories and love. Tears shed, news relayed, some of our hardest days and some of our most joyful.   This little house will always have a very special place in my heart. 

Thank you, Carol (and Kendall!). Even though cancer took you from us far too soon, I can feel your sweet spirit permeating the walls of this place we call home, and I am so grateful that you have allowed us this space to live in as part of our journey.  

Rest in Peace, Carol.  We miss you.

Rest in Peace, Carol.  We miss you.