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. 

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!

 

 

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?

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?

Book Reviews May/June 2015

Woo Hoo, I read a lot in May and June.  While our vacation helped that for sure, I've also been so good about making reading a priority and that makes me happy. 2 audio books, 6 regular books, 8 total for these two months, bringing my total books for the year to 18 already!

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Buddhism for Mothers By Sarah Napthali - I really, really enjoyed this book. It was full of such practical, peaceful parenting advice. I literally felt calmer every time I would pick up the book. Buddhism has always attracted me and her combination of explaining Buddhism tenets wound into motherhood was just lovely. I am very much looking forward to reading her second book. Meditation and mindfulness has made a huge impact in my life over the last few years and this was a great supplement to that. There are so many passages I liked, but particularly this one at the end: "Buddhism treats you like an adult. It's not a religion. You don't need to believe anything unless it fits with your own personal experience. You use your judgement, inspired by wisdom and compassion rather than follow a set of sacred thou-shalts. Spiritual progress is your responsibility. You set the pace." Impermanence. All is impermanent. Both the good and the bad. So much of this is true in motherhood and in life.
After Birth By Elisa Albert - Wow. This was such a good book. Albert's visceral, intense writing gave such an accurate, honest portrayal of how hard motherhood can be a times. The main character very clearly struggled with postpartum depression during her son's first year, and I think it's really refreshing to have someone be honest about the hard parts. Some of her descriptions were so spot on, I kept taking pictures of the library book and texting them to Chris while I was reading it.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives By Gretchen Rubin - I really enjoyed this book. It gave me new insight into my habit formation and what works for my particular type of person. It also made me realize why it's different for others who fall into the other 3 types. I am an upholder, like the author, which is more rare. I am also a lark and a moderator (do better early morning and am more apt to moderate something than to completely eliminate it.) I think I am typically a marathoner when it comes to habits and goals, but occasionally I do well with the quick spurts. Worth the read. And I’ve also enjoyed listening to her podcast, Happier, recently.
Toddlers Are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault By Bunmi Laditan – I thought I was going to like this a lot more than I actually did. There were a lot of things she wrote about that were hilarious and that I could totally relate to. But there was a healthy dose of mom shaming that I wasn't down with. Luckily it was a super fast read that I finished in the span of a couple days.
Station Eleven By Emily St. John Mandel - Excellent novel. So different than anything else I’ve read. I loved the storyline of rebuilding after a horrible flu wipes out most of the world. Characters felt so real and well drawn. And I liked their subtle connections between characters. One of the best novels I’ve read this year.
The Whole-Brain Child By Daniel J Siegel - There were some helpful things in this book, and some that I needed to think about for myself more than for my daughter right now because she's so young. It did seem a bit repetitive. The concepts could have probably been dispelled into a rather long blog post.
Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life By Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung- I enjoyed many of the principles here, but it got a bit repetitive toward the end. Definitely made me think about food from a more mindful perspective.
French Kids Eat Everything By Karen Le Billon - I really liked this book. The French have such a lovely approach to food. Pleasure, not calorie counting. Variety, no snacking, and no "bad foods." I so wish our American food culture mirrored how the French see things. Kids there get 2 HOUR hot lunches where everyone eats the same thing and learns a ton about food from a very young age. While a lot of it is stuff that doesn't necessarily translate in American culture and I don't at all agree with the French view on breastfeeding (neither does the author!) I definitely picked up tips that we can use with our kids I'm looking forward to reading her other book "Getting to Yum" next.

Have you read anything great lately?  I'm currently finishing up Beyond the Sling, Waking Up: Sprituality Without Religion, Raising Your Spirited Child and just started re-reading Dark Places again before the movie comes out. So look for those reviews coming up next in the July/Aug installment!

*Disclaimer: this, and most, book review posts contain amazon affiliate links, meaning if you buy a book based on my recommendation, we will get a teeny tiny commission to go towards Clare (and I’s) string cheese habit.  Thanks for your support! 

2nd Quarter 2015 Goal Check-In

We are officially halfway through 2015, how crazy is that?  Most days it feels like it is going so fast.  Though, I have to say when it’s 109 degrees here in Sac, summer feels very slow and I can’t wait to get to Fall. Like really can’t wait.

But since we are halfway through the year, I think it’s time for another check-in on how things are going with my 2015 goals.  So here we go:

Meditate Everyday – This second quarter went even better than the first. I only missed 5 days of meditation in 3 months.  Pretty excellent!  I think the best thing I have done with this goal is ‘never miss more than one day.’ The days where I did miss, I doubled my efforts to make sure I did it the next day.

Keep the 5-Minute Journal Daily – I still really love this journal, and use it on most days. Though I think it’s more of a 5-6 day a week thing rather than all 7.

New Recipes each pay period – We still haven’t been doing great with this one.  Clare can be really picky, and I am not good at cooking, so when Chris is gone, cooking just really falls by the wayside.  I am publicly accounting to those of you here that I am going to try and redouble my efforts on this one during the second half of the year.

Monthly Date with Chris – I can’t say we’ve been real great about this. I think we went out to dinner a few times in the last couple months.  We really need to get these on the calendar for the rest of the year.  The hard thing is his relief day keeps changing, so trying to plan has been near impossible…but it needs to happen. And more than just going out to eat…actually trying something new. We are thinking an afternoon water park date in July!

Read 25 Books – I am killing it with this goal this year! I have really made reading a priority, and I have already read 18 books.  5 were audio books, but the rest were actual books. (Look for May and June Book Reviews next week)

Learn to Sew a Quilt – I am hopefully going to take a class for this in July. 

Podcast – Produce 25 episodes in 2015.  Looking good for this – next week Episode 14 goes live.  Debating whether 2016 will have weekly podcasts or whether I’ll stick with twice per month.

Childbirth Educator Coursework – My original plan was to do my evaluated series in early 2016, but thanks to some pregnant friends, I have a new goal of doing it in the late fall 2015!

Running Couch-to-5K – Did this in March. The exercise front has been pretty good these days, teaching zumba twice a week, playing softball again, and making it to Body Pump at least once each week.  I’d like to be more consistent with Yoga and Body Pump though.

Not too bad!  

How are your 2015 goals coming?