5 Tips to Grow Closer to your Partner and Feel More Known


(photo by Tiffany Burke)

Charlie and I have been together for 12 years, and married 8. That seems like a blink when I imagine the long haul of decades ahead of us, but the reality is that we’ve lasted longer than many marriages and seem to be on the right trajectory as we are only falling more in love, like, and ridiculous ‘HOW DID I GET MY FAVORITE PERSON FOREVER?!?!’ each day. Or, most days. . .

The ups and downs are there, of course, and as such I wanted to share a few tips that help us to stay more up than down and keep us moving forward in our respect, understanding, and mutual love.

  1. Ask for what you need. This feels obvious, but it’s a lesson we’re both still learning. I’ll give a little example; Charlie works a really physical job and is someone with an incredibly fast metabolism, so he needs to eat. . . a lot. Whenever he would get home from work (after bike commuting too) he would be famished! He would be irritable, shaky, and short tempered. But still, we plugged along, me annoyed that he wasn’t immediately helpful to our household, and him HanGry (it’s real). This past week he started texting me a bit before he left saying “would you mind making me something so I can eat it when I get home?” and I did. It wasn’t a ton of extra work (the kids ask for what they need, food, all.the.time. I can whip up one more apple and PB!).  I liked that I wasn’t being expected to anticipate his every need (this is an important note, I could have just seen that he needed this and done it, but I hadn’t, because I’m up to my ears in peoples’ needs.) and that he didn’t have any expectation that I do this. But, he knows that if he asks me for something, if I can, I will. If I can’t, I won’t. This little change made a huge effect on our week! Looking back I wish I would have just said “hey, do you want me to have a snack ready for you?”  and opened that door of communication. Alternately, I’m really glad this was of his own accord, asserting a need he had, and asking for help. That’s so healthy!
  2.  Make a point of asking them about their day, in detail. This one is huge for me. It’s like my kid’s. Noele will go through two hours of classes and if I just say “so, how were your classes!?” I can want to hear it all, but she only answers the immediate question, so I get about 15 seconds of review from 120 minutes away. The same is true for Charlie and I. If he says “how was your day?” I’m likely to respond with the generalities. But if he asks me “How did you feel during that playdate with so-and-so?” or “did you get time to write about that thing we talked about yesterday?” or “I know we left that conversation unfinished last night when Ever came into bed, are you doing alright?” He asks me questions that show he knows me, thinks about me, and wants to know me more. I work to ask him the same, not just “how was work?” but about specific meetings, jobs, tasks, and things that I know are on his mind. This is one of those ones that grows the more you do it, the more you understand each other, the more there is to ask and know. It’s a snowball effect, and the end game is a far deeper empathy and love for your partner as you gain a bigger understanding of their heart and a better picture of their life through their eyes.
  3. Know not only their love language, but your own. Ask for that love. I read and loved The Love Language Book about ten years ago and it was so important. But, then I read it again to figure out not just how to love Charlie, but how to ask for love. The gist is that your spouse might have Physical Touch as their love language and be hugging you, offering to rub your back, hold your hand in the store, and you may just think “UGH, get off of me. Just please do the dishes, and play with the kids, mow the lawn, and take something off my plate!” but they feel like they’re giving you so much love. But if you’re love language is Acts of Service (all those things I just listed!) you won’t feel love from all their touch. It can be so hard! Charlie and I have very different love languages, and it means that you have to choose to give love in a way that might not be wholly natural to you. For example, one of my love languages is acts of service. I feel so, so, so loved when I come out from putting the girls to bed and the kitchen is clean. Like, SO loved. Consequently, Charlie does just that; Every Single Night. The other day we were cleaning up and then I went to read for awhile and when I came back he had rearranged the office… REARRANGING IS MY HEART SONG… I nearly cried! It meant a cleaner space, and he did it on his own! I couldn’t have felt more loved. Knowing my love language, and being able to really recognize the ways Charlie is loving me through it, make me appreciate him even more. I followed my own advice, above, and told him what that love language was and asked for him to help me out. It works! And now it’s become easier and easier and to show each other love in the ways we really need.
  4. Hear Them. This goes along with all the rest, asking all these questions, showing love how they need, but the piece that is often missing is hearing them, compassionately. If you listen slowly, empathetically, and with unabashed care, you’ll hear more of them and not just your frustration. Try to hear subtext. Frustration is often underwritten with fear, or sadness, or worry. Try to hear that, and ask boldly about it. If your partner is angry at work, try to hear what the fear might be and ask them about it. The more you have out in the open about those big and small worries and feelings, the more they can diffuse or be helped. Be a safe space.
  5. This one is really important. And one that can be really hard. But possibly the most important. Call out unhealthy behavior. This can mean gas lighting, manipulation, violent communication, ect. All of those sound like really big words, and when they’re chronic, they are. But all of us fail in these ways from time to time, but it’s paramount to not let this style of communication and treatment become normal in relationship. You, and your partner, are worth compassion, non-violent communication, and empathy.

Employing all of these is a lifetime work. We’re constantly checking in with one another to make sure that heart and needs are being met. I can say, with total assurance, the more we do these things, the easier and brighter our love becomes.


Also, there are affiliate links (the book!) in this post, clicking them helps me pay to keep this blog up and running. Thanks!

You Are a Badass, a book review, from a Love/Hate reader.


I’m a former self-help book hater. I don’t know why, they fit my sunny I LOVE IT ALL! view to a T. But I never found one that seemed to be helpful, about something I cared about,  or felt like I needed help with. The first deviation from this was when I read It Starts With Food. It’s basically a science-heavy self help book about diet/food relationships. I hated it, but, it changed my life in really amazing ways.

You Are a Badass worked out about the same. I had heard all the buzz, was curious about it, sure I would think it was hokey, but picked it up anyhow.

What I Hated: I didn’t want to start with what I didn’t like about the book, but I think it’s so glaring and important that it deserves a big caveat. This book says a lot of big and hard and inspiring things about changing your life, you capability in that, and how it’s basically all there for the taking. This leaves out the enormous reality of privilege (many many things are easily there for me, a white middle class woman, that aren’t there for others. That’s important to point out) and experiences where all the positive thinking in the world won’t pull you out. It also leaves very little room for anyone who isn’t neurotypical, or who has any sort of disabilities. The book also talks in generalities about people who have a big dose of privilege, are not chemically depressed, and who don’t have any disabilities. My other beef with the book is her tone. This was the same issue I had with Melissa Hartwig’s writing. The “tough love” and super abrasive tone are lost on me, and coming into a book about a theme I have at least a base level of understanding about and being written to like I am an idiot is a complete turn off.

But. . . it’s testament to how much I love that content, that I was fully capable of reading past the tone, and getting a lot out of the information in the book.

What I Loved: So much. When the book isn’t abrasive, it’s conversational, and feels like a therapist who is actually giving you exercises and tools instead of just telling you all the ways you’re screwed up. It’s rife with journaling ideas, walked through step by step, and so much empowerment. This book is a self-help book for those who either hate self-help books or have already read a million and nothing has changed. She makes it all very easy to follow, feel accessible, and somehow manages to weasel the words “the source energy” into your daily lexicon! I mean, I find myself saying to Charlie (to rolled eyes sometimes) “I manifested this! Heyo for source energy!”

I also loved that there is a LOT of room for religion and faith in this book.  . . or not. The author is a Christian and likes to call God “Source Energy” but is quick to admit that you could say anything you want for this; The Universe, Love, Magic, Source Energy, whatever! It’s faith. Faith in what you can do, and have, but can’t see.

I loved that this book introduced topics that I didn’t realize I was so uncomfortable with, but needed to face my discomfort in order to change and grow out of. Old thought patterns that I believe have been keeping me from really going after so many of my goals. It also had a big effect on how I talk to my girls about these things. What do I say to them about money, their dreams, what they are capable of, ect.

It was a head scratcher in all the best ways. I found that I couldn’t read much more than a chapter without needing to sit and just think, or write, or read it again.

How it Changed Me: In hokey ways I’m almost embarrassed to write, but want to share anyhow. It gave me new goals, and a fire to know that those goals are within my reach. I am writing down my goals, saying them outloud, and making plans for them to be true… soon. The book has made me really rethink my ideas and feelings on money. Like, really really rethink them. Previously I’ve  never had a savings goal that was anything beyond “what we need” nothing extravagant, because that felt like it was prideful or gross. Now? I’m making some big money goals, and am really (really) excited about what I can do with that extra money. I’m dreaming of being able to expand the Giving Tree in huge ways, dreaming of one day being able to afford to really help our homeless community more than the $20 I can give to the guy I always see outside the mall. There are people out there making enormous amounts of money and doing terrible things with it. I want to be the opposite. I want to see how much I can make to see how much I can give.

I’ve restarted my meditation practice. I’ve had it, lost it, had it, lost it and am starting it up again. The benefits of meditation are proven far and wide beyond what this book talks about, and I know them intimately. I’ve upped my game and found ways to really make mediation work for me and how my mind rolls, and I’m excited about it! I plan to share some tips that have worked for me, soon!

Now What: I read it again. I do the journal entries a bit more in depth. And I really, really, step into the things I know I am capable of. It feels so bizarre, and hokey, and maybe a little strange. But I can look back on my life and see how much The Universe  (or God, but I actually really like “The Universe” as a name for God even more, but that’s another post!), is for me so many times where I thought “how will this work?!” and it did. In exactly the most perfect way.

Adriene, of Yoga With Adriene (my favorite online yoga!), has a mantra that goes “The Universe is for you, and so is everyone else!” and I LOVE that, the idea that we can all be on one team, pushing each other on to succeed in the ways our hearts are most designed to! I am embracing that mantra, along with my other favorite one “Yes, please!” and setting goals, small and big, writing them everywhere, and moving forward.

I am expecting big things from myself, not just as a Mama (but as that too!), but as a teacher of my kids, as a partner, and as a writer!


Also, there are affiliate links (the books!) in this post, clicking them helps me pay to keep this blog up and running. Thanks!

Dear Mama of a School Aged Child, October is here.

img_1708I know we thought we would hit this age and magically it would be easier. We wouldn’t be as sleep deprived, our kids would communicate and tell us when they needed to pee and eat and to hold them when they’re sad. Bedtime wouldn’t be (so) laborious, and the idea of waiting would make some sense. We wait, so diligently, for the empathy teaching and emotion coaching to pay off in these kids who know their hearts and minds, tell us their feelings. Thinking all of that would make it feel easier.  

I thought that around year five of parenting, we would have a clue. That I’d feel tougher when they cry, or that it wouldn’t sting and hurt and awake the Mama bear any time they weren’t included in the playground game. But here I sit in the gym at school with my kids running wild, all of us Mamas with our hands over full, and looking at each other with our big kids and our little kids and our ‘wtf are we doing for lunch’ faces thinking “do you have it together? Does she have it together? I don’t have it together.”  because we’re all still a little adrift. A lot adrift.

I thought when I hit 30 we’d have it financially figured out. My kids would be in sports, theatre, clubs and the like. I thought we would be a two car family who was keeping up. I didn’t anticipate having to carefully plan every meal to fit the budget, pick and choose the extra curriculars only as they fit with our odd jobs’ incomes and random selling of stuff we purge.

We looked forward to age 30 the way I used to look at age 16. So old. So grown. So mature. So ready. When I was 9 I remember praying with every fiber of my heart to just have God give me a vision of what I would look like at 16. Would I be as pretty as my sister? Would I have a boyfriend? I’d drive, and eat fast food with friends at lunch, I would be mature, and cool, and smart, and attend every football game. Then, at 25 with two babies, I dreamed of  30. Then my kids will be in school, I’ll be having all the time in the world. I’ll pursue my dreams, and feel so fulfilled. I’ll have written a book and be a success. I’ll have gotten my ‘body back’ and be hotter than before. “God, please, please, show me how hot and amazing I am at 30!”

Now at 30 we carousel our children from activity, to class, and lead them all because it’s cheaper. All the Mama’s, exchanging glances over these heads that almost reach our chins, still without a clue as the kids ask us hard questions that stop us in our tracks. Questions that make me rethink my beliefs, daily.

The homeschool Moms, all huddled with our snacks, and bags, curriculum overflowing, and doubts tumbling out as we reassure ourselves that we can stop anytime, and that this is just going till they’re done. We’re in deep. We’ve created classrooms at home, and overscheduled to the point of exhaustion just to be sure we never succumb to the stereotype that our kids aren’t socialized.

The Mom’s with kids in school fretting over how their child is faring, being treated, adjusting, and; are they missing us? Waking early, rushing to drop off, fearing they haven’t packed them enough or enticing enough lunches.  They are rushing off to jobs and meetings, expectations that they have their head in the game, and not be balancing the anxiety of The First Day of School. Or they are dropping off and going home. The home feeling changed, a first born gone and subsequent kids adrift and in need of extra attention, playmates, work for you. Or an empty home. The weight of all that you ‘should’ do with this time pulling in every direction. Productivity is your assignment and report card to your family. “You were home alone all day? What did you do?” as culture signs you up for mimosas, brunches, a new exercise regime, and a spotless home. When really, all that would serve your heart, is a long break after years of serving.

We’re all there. Packing lunches, fretting over our children’s futures. They no longer can’t tell us how they feel, but they often choose not to. It feels harder, and bigger, than when they cried and we bounced them to sleep. It feels like the tool box is empty and all we have are open hands, faces, and not enough time.

I see you and hear you, Elementary Mom. The new normal and eventual balance will swing into place. As we watch our children make these transitions, we can follow their lead. Break down when needed, fall into the arms of the person or people who love us most, and trust our own growth. Or, see where change needs to happen and adopt it with resilience as the routines shift. We aren’t alone.

The months tick on, September leaves us behind (thank God), and Fall hits it’s full stride just as we do to. Children who now know the routine, Mom’s who are shaking out and into their new roles.

Mostly, I remember, that the tool box is still full. Big kids still need rocked. School aged kids  still want to lay in bed together and snuggle in deeper. Weekends mean more to us, time means more to us. October is here, and the sigh of relief that September has passed is palpable. Fall has arrived, and so will we, as motherhood keeps on moving on.


Know Thyself, getting to know myself.


The older I get the more I realize how much control I really do have in this moment. I am not at the whim of my monsters, I am in control of them. Because they are me. Those thoughts, are mine. Those words and cruel intentions, mine too. The desire to lash out, say awful things to my husband, bury myself in my bed with my phone and distraction layered with indulgence, pretending it’s ‘self care’ is me. All me.  When inspiration runs dry I find myself shutting down. The sure indicators that I am choosing to sit in an empty well are my next actions: I run to Facebook, Netflix, Snapchat, or any distraction that allows me to imbibe without giving.

I allow the negative thoughts to grow larger and larger in my head until they loom like monsters who rule the space and my positive thinking and strong little voice are sobbing in a corner, fearing the next actions.

When my well is dry, inspiration gone, I am in a scary spot. Extra prickly. Depleted and looking for self care, confused.

So when I feel that familiar ‘rug pulled out from under me’ feeling that accompanies heartache, hurt feelings, and inspiration gone… I have two options.

Let myself fall fully. Heartache wide out there, tears streaming, kicking my feet in embarrassment and frustration at my own incapability to shake it off. Or stand slowly back up, and gather my tools. (I don’t always choose wisely, and I’m learning that that’s also ok.)

It’s taken 30 years to know my tools well. To be able to distinguish the self-care bandages, from the self indulgence bleeding out. Sometimes I tend to the latter. I feel unliked, embarrassed, or made fun of and instead of moving out of that I sit and think through all the reasons they are likely right, that I am a silly narcissist oversharing on the internet and that the way I love to parent is over the top and I need to cut some apron strings… or something. I do this with chocolate, internet, bitterness and TV. Nothing lends itself to feeling worse-better than hate-reading IG and overeating ice-cream. I know it’s indulgence and not healing because I end it feeling more depleted than before.

My self care tools look different than before. I would have listed them differently than I do now. My self care now… right this minute: Writing my heart out, in ways that leave me exposed, to the sound track of The Magic School Bus.

My self care is a hot bath and no media, allowing myself the space to cry about things no one else would, judgment free. My self care is the workout I’ve put off. It takes my brain somewhere else for 45 minutes and leaves me with space for new thoughts, loving thoughts, at the end. Self care can look like chocolate and a perfect view, but most of the time is looks like Getting Stuff Done, and spending that ‘self care time’ reminding myself that I am capable, and worthy, even if I am over sensitive and empathetic to a fault.

I’ve started to embrace that what a calm brain looks like for me, won’t be the same as someone else, and that’s ok. Even if it’s something that gets poked fun at. An organized, curated home, calms me. A clean kitchen and home cooked meal fills me up. Playing deeply with the girls gives me love and satisfaction that no cup of wine ever did. I have tried for quite a while to push those off as ‘not self care’ because they still Serve someone else. Lately I realize, my self care, and my serving, are often inextricable. Ridiculous or not, that’s written into my code pretty deeply.

Charlie and I made a pact in our marriage to always “Strive to Out Serve” (FYI: this only works if you are both into it, duh). It’s given to us hugely. It’s changed perspectives, kept our home in a way that calms us both, and leads us both to asking “what do you need, now?” on a regular basis. It’s been scoffed at as ridiculous, but 8 years in, it’s still pulling us closer to each other every day. It’s self care, for me, to serve in a way that builds up my confidence. My confidence in my parenting, my marriage, myself. When those things bloom, so do I.

I in no way have this figured out. Earlier this week, tending to my over-sensitive wounds looked like skipping a workout, eating an enormous fro-yo, and crying to cheesy early 2000’s music (Save tonight, fight the break of dawn!) while I spewed all my jumbled thoughts to my BFF (Charlie). Today I woke up ready to pick up true self love.

Waking early to write, hot coffee, employing Ms.Frizzle as my babysitter, and putting my heart out onto page in the way that moves me forward, even if it doesn’t make sense to everyone.

I think my life mantra for year 30 is a simple one. Know Thyself. 


New Adventurers, New Love


Charlie and I have known each other forever, we began dating at 17, married at 22, and had a baby at 23. We weren’t adventurers then, we were college kids, day laborers, many minimum wage job holders, and bar hoppers. If you weren’t an adventurer before, two kids: two and under won’t make you one in any grand REI’looking sense. You might adventure to a movie after bedtime (and check your phone frantically). Or adventure to a dinner out with children… Or possibly adventure to a new park, or a short day hike, and then pack it up quick when you realize you forgot wipes. But, for us, becoming an outdoor adventurer, was dang near impossible with children under 4.

But this year it began to click. Both the ages and stages of our kids, and our desire. I’ve always wrestled with whether or not I’m a “city girl” or “outdoorsy girl”, finally coming to the obvious conclusion. I’m both. I don’t feel any need to boldly proclaim either, as I adore both. I’m fed by both. I grow in both. It’s similar to how I feel about claiming my extroversion or introversion, I snag both. Whenever I need them.

Our marriage has had rough patches. Those seasons in marriage that are just . . . less fun. The going through the motions, overrun with work and orders and hours. Children and planning and school. This Summer was a little divisive and a tough season for us. The girls and I were out and running and playing nearly every day, sun for hours, new spots to uncover in our home. But the divide felt huge when we came home, as Charlie couldn’t join us on much and the weekends were spent trying to accomplish the to-do list, all that was left undone while we were out exploring, and trying to keep up with all the work.


These past several weeks we’ve really made a point of just ignoring the long to-do list at home, not letting the possibility of crowds deter us, and plunging into the long car rides it can sometimes take to find a treasure… and going! So often I let all of the “that could be hard…” or “that will take a long time…” or “I don’t want to pack all that.” keep us from getting out. I’m seeing more and more how when I just rip off the bandaid, it gets easier and easier, more and more worth it, and fills me up in a way I didn’t quite realize I was missing.

I expected this would make me love where I live more, grow my list of what I want to see, and endear my kids to nature in a new way. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with my husband again.

Everyone talks about when you have a new baby, you fall in love all over again with your spouse. Seeing them parent, love, give, all of it, it will take your breath away and give you a brand new facet of love for this person you thought you knew so fully. I had that experience, twice, but now I’m getting a piece of it all over again.

Seeing him play, adventure, and speak out loud what new things he wants to see, seek, try. It’s reminding me of watching him rock our babies and kiss their tiny noses for the first time. It’s obviously slightly less enchanting, but it’s no less captivating. Being shown a piece of him that I didn’t know before, feels like such a privilege. Checking off ‘bucket list’ items together is bonding in a way I didn’t expect.

We’re adventuring, getting out, and hungry for more. These pictures are from our last summer adventure. But we have plenty planned, and unplanned, for fall. I love this seasonal transition so much, both in the PNW and in us. It’s another time that I’m really embracing, and loving, our growing up family.


These pictures are from Ross Lake/ Lake Diablo in North Cascades National Park. It’s a gorgeous drive, and there are some fun spots to break up the trip. I’ll share more about it soon!


{There are no affiliate links, this is in no way sponsored. I just want to share about a space we loved!}

Life After Whole30


On day 20 of my most recent (last week) whole30 I felt a punch to the gut as I realized, I’m doing this for all the wrong reasons. How long have I been doing this for the wrong reason?

I was listening to a snap(chat) story from Melissa Hartwig (Whole30 creator) where she addressed the many, many people asking her “are you doing the September Whole30?” and she responded with brevity and confidence. “I do not need to do the Whole30 to support you on your whole30. I don’t need a whole30 now.”

Those words hit me hard. Why was I doing this…. 10th? round of Whole30?

I was whole30ing for friends who wanted support, for a couple of puffy spots I wanted to go down, for an easy way to have pictures to post that I loved on Social Media, and for the thrill of doing it “perfectly” another time. For the rules, and space, to feel “safe” in food and food filled situations. I was doing it with a diet mentality.

I wasn’t doing it for food freedom, to learn about my food sensitivities, to grow my ability to be a great at home cook, to heal my food relationships, to to take care of myself in important ways. I have already done that, and used Whole30 to learn that (and a ton more!).

Doing the program, without any “cheats, slips, or excuses” is important. Once. Maybe twice? But doing that ten times? That’s unhealthy, overkill, and attempting to get something out of the Whole30 that it’s not meant to give you. It’s using it as a diet, as a tool to lose weight, and not for it’s function of whole body and mind, health and food freedom. 

I think I have just wanted every round to give me something more, something I already knew, already learned, but wanted confirmed through deprivation and success. I am a Whole30 junkie. Addict. I love the rules, the reset, the results. I love the community, accountability, and the guiltlessness I feel each evening going to bed feeling like I ate “right” (for me). It gave me so much. And I greedily wanted it to keep giving me more, instead of realizing that without it, and with what I’ve learned, I could give myself unending freedom and growth, in my failures and bumps and learning. I could give myself intuitive eating with back ground knowledge (thanks to what I learned on Whole30 and in reintroduction). Any time I “failed” was not a reason to need another round. It was a mirror to learn from and have grace. You need to go back to bad habits, weird coping foods, and “failures” in order to conquer them and know where they live in the shadows. Unending compliance won’t teach those moments.

It reminds me of climbing. If I never let myself just hang in my harness, I never trust my belay. I cling to the wall in total fear and compliance. I stick to easy routes I know I can do. If I hang, if I FALL, I will grow and figure out new skills and abilities. But it’s terrifying.

Letting myself hang back and see my habits for what they are… restrictive still, here and there. Binging still, here and there. And allowing guilt to navigate my food choices, still, here and there. Those are not things I learned in the Whole30, those are what I ended feeling capable of overcoming. Only, I haven’t given myself much time to really live in the overcoming, only in the failure and then the immediate “I must need another Whole30” feelings.

I know food freedom. I’ve felt it. For the first time in 20 months I had a drink. And it was a moment of freedom. Choosing champagne, not allowing it to choose me/guilt me/rule me/feel obligatory. I drank a tiny flute, enjoyed it, and haven’t gone back. I’ve tasted food freedom, and I know I am capable.

Whole30 fully changed my life. It gave me immense steps towards healing really broken food relationships, it gave me freedom to enjoy parties and park and beach days without feeling preoccupied by whatever Trader Joe’s was sampling, and making myself sick on ice-cream.

Far more importantly it gave me a break from alcohol long enough to show me how much I needed to eliminate it from my life. It revealed an intense gluten sensitivity in my youngest daughter and has made her life, and mine, significantly easier and brighter. It helped me heal near life long eczema and finally wear my wedding rings without blood and irritation.

But I believe it gave me those gifts, information, and healing all in my first two rounds. After that… it ping-ponged between healthy and obsessive, for me and for others, helpful and cumbersome, and guiltless and most recently; guilt filled.

Once I realized I wasn’t doing this for the right reasons I realized how thoroughly I had stepped into promoting this lifestyle, as a long long term diet, without realizing the ramifications this could have to those who read along.

Whole30 is not the be all end all. It will not be the means to the end for everyone. And it can be easily abused. The tag line of “no cheats, no slips, no excuses” is imperative for your first round, when you are looking to find very real food sensitivities, and begin to feel feelings you’ve masked with food. But that mantra can become very dangerous in round five (or two or twenty, whenever) when it becomes your reason to restrict food, lose out on friendships, and not enjoy dates with your spouse. It isn’t what the program promotes, and I can only imagine the hair flip and eye roll the Whole30 social media team gives me when they see my umpteenth post in their hashtag… ‘she’s doing this? again?’

I want to be very honest, I love the Whole30 program. I am endlessly grateful for all that I have learned. I will still talk about it, answer questions, and support people through their W30 journeys. But I will no longer DO any whole30’s. It makes me feel sick to write that. Like I am leaping from the airplane of my bad food relationship and leaving the parachute behind. But I am taking a leaf out of Melissa Hartwig’s book and reminding myself that “I can support you on your whole30 without being on one…I don’t need one, I’ve found food freedom.” {paraphrasing}

I think it’s a great program that works for a large group of people, and that it’s worth sticking through the hard-hard-hard of it when you still have more to gain from it. But I have shifted my perspective and now feel like, quite possibly, the hardest learned lessons in food are in the #lifeafterwhole30 times. In choosing foods that fuel and fill you, even when you don’t “have” to. In choosing moderation, and fun, and that worth it meal. Food Freedom Forever to me doesn’t mean a guiltless and never bumpy ride. It means learning to enjoy my life, fuel my body to it’s very best. And know how to love and grace myself back to health, even when I don’t do everything just right.

I have failed this whole30, but I am not a failure.

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I used to say yes, always. Yes, yes, yes. I’ll bake that cake, make the extra meal, take care of that toddler, write that, post that, moderate this, email them, yes yes yes. Then I read the quote about “…saying Yes to this means saying No to that…” I thought deeply about what I was saying No to. I was too tired to look for  middle ground. The early years of motherhood should just come with a large dose of; Don’t bother with yes or no, go with it, go with grace and grace and grace. Only that.

I shifted; No, No, No. No to all of it, to you, to me, to everything. I was left with saying yes to the only thing I knew I could say yes to without mistake, my children.

It’s strange. I’m a grey believing person, little in my life is black and white and the older I get the less black and white there seems to be. Why this quote shook me so hard, and shifted me so thoroughly from black to white, I can’t quite pin down. But I can feel, and know, that it was wrong. Where my heart and growth are rich is in my Yes. I know myself better the more I give.

The often heard quote in mom’s group (to be fair, it can’t be heard enough!) is that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. So as I’ve begun to say yes again, to taking these pictures, writing those posts, moderating that group, holding this baby (yes, emphatically!), and making that meal, I’ve also added some new yeses to list.

When the girls were so young I had to find the way to say yes to me in the small moments. In washing the dishes and watching the wind in the tree out my window. In laying in bed for the precious half hour before all the little feed padded in to join me (still do, but now it’s about three hours!). I worked to find it in the small spaces. But as they’ve grown, so has my space, and with it I let guilt creep in. But whole and healthy has hollered louder, and now I just accept my space as a huge gift.

Yes to self care, yes to yoga, yes to writing blogs that might make no sense or seem wholly self indulgent, yes to things that I may get made fun of  for, yes to boldness, yes to what makes my soul sing. Yoga, writing, running, lifting heavy weights, dreaming bigger than before, and yes to new. New experiences, new ways of viewing myself.

My yes has multiplied the ways I can serve. The way I can give more now, while feeling full still. I’m relentlessly on the search for some balance as I still Yes where I should NO, here and there. But seeing that selfishness and selflessness can coincide in the same hour, I feel some freedom.

If you are Yes to everyone else and a No to you, take a moment to stand and think what you need and can do for you in a two minute span. Can giving yourself two minutes of deep breaths change you? Yes. Can a meal eaten alone, in your laundry room, with your eyes closed change you? Yes. Can a door closed and music loud for five minutes of sun salutations heal your heart, just an inch, YES.

I’m all over them map, the self care and giving map. Trying to find my north star as I, aimless, shoot arrows into ideas that might pop into a blissful rain of YES. But, sometimes, they just deflate the cloud and leave me standing there deciding; now what? And that’s okay. That’s my Yes, and it’s okay.

Right now, this season, I am saying yes to dreaming and trying. Failing and becoming even more of character of ridiculous millennial musings. I’ll say, it feels good. It feels so good.


The sun, the sand, the hauling.


The end of this summer has been full of day trips, mountain adventures, and driving to new places. The girls’ familiarity with “quiet, Siri is telling me where to turn!” has grown exponentially the past few weeks. We had a slow start to summer as all the adventures felt overwhelming. Packing, food, life vests, hikes with small children, bed time worries, on and on… I let the anticipation of it going wrong eat me up and keep us home. But I tore the bandaid off and it’s been awesome. Now I’m sending out messages to friends with cabins, researching camp grounds, and wishing I’d packed this all into the earlier months, but don’t care much because Summer is rolling and the heat is here and we’re READY.

The magic of their ages is hitting me so hard. They are competent and strong hikers with legs to match their dreams. We can climb without carriers, they can pack their own little packs, and their zeal for sleeping outside is unmatched. They aren’t quite babies anymore, and that’s beginning to show up in our adventures in ways I couldn’t hardly let myself dream in the years before. If this summer, at 4 and 6, we are rife with day trips and few mile hikes met with smiles and conking out hard in the car… I can’t fathom what 7 and 5 will bring next year. I’m already starting to plan.


School in our district starts in a couple weeks. But I have a feeling our school will look a lot like rock identifying, bird watching, and swimming ‘lessons’ in every body of water we can find until the weather turns. These girls have given me a gift in this life, in ways I can’t put accurately, they’re always allowing me to learn as I teach and teaching me with unending grace for my failings. I can’t hardly stand that I waited so long to just get OUT here, but now that we are, we are.

Each time we get where it’s wet enough or high enough, our family reconnects. The phones go away, the dishes aren’t present, the projects invisible, and all that is there is us. It’s hard to harp on a messy room when you can’t see it, impossible to stay angry at a husband who is pulling you up out of a river that took a hold of you. Hand holding over slippery rocks, wild adventures up strong streams, and rock collecting, on top of shell collecting, on top of agate hunting. I hear them clearer over the river, Charlie holds them closer near the cliffs and we all go quiet at the stars.


Pacific Northwest Is Best isn’t just a slogan, it’s heart true. On our drives we are inundated with green and mountains, tree’s and rivers, and on our hikes up it’s wild flowers and berries, chipmunks and the tiniest grey mouse the girls had ever seen. It’s a dream to live here. I never want to leave.

I’ve always wondered why I don’t have Wanderlust… I think it’s because I’ve found my place. It’s all the high’s and valleys, beaches and rivers, trees and bright skies that are all within an hour from my cozy neighborhood. We have adventure and home all in one breath.


ebb and flow(ing) all over the place

I am deeply sensitive and emotional, my mood affects my heart and my heart changes my mood in the most high and low ways. I’ve often wished to be different. To be unaffected and capable of just setting routines, schedules, and goals and not live so swayed by heartache, the news, a photo on Facebook, a harsh word from a friend, a squabble with Charlie, all of it.

The longer I live as a highly sensitive person the more I learn. Lately, the more I see that I can harness those highs and lows and emotions in ways that feel connective and full, and work for me. The less self-conciously I can feel my feelings, the brighter I feel and the more I have to give.

My heart is a naturally inclined to give, my answer nearly always swinging to not just a ‘yes’ but an emphatic and encouraging “of course!” and the same goes for my demeanor. While most of the people I surround myself with would claim that they have intense “resting bitch face” to the rest of the world, I stand out as a resting “hey! Come chat with me!” and I’m done thinking that’s wrong, or weird. I’m fully ready to know that… it’s just me! I am always wanting to hear someone’s story, and want to listen. Even if it is with a kid on my hip, another in the cart, and you’re ready to tell me all about your allergy heartaches after seeing all the raw nuts in my cart.

I am taking the ebb and flow of my feelings and using them. I am deeply rooted into loving giving. My knowledge, my experiences, my answers. I’m spending hours a week  (via snapchat, instagram, Facebook, and email) answering questions about online workouts, weight lifting, birthing, breast feeding, cultural appropriation and how we can grow in awareness. Answering questions about no-poo hair care, oil pulling, supplements, gentle parenting, marriage after betrayal, marriage after the ‘honeymoon’ phase ends, and on and on. I’m in the space of wanting to give, and put it out there.

I have been a user of social media forever, my blog dates back to my first years of college and sharing recipes for nachos (yes, seriously). I am a sharer, and lover of connecting people to each other. The only constant in my life is that I am always, inadvertently often, working on building communities. Always.

Since leaving the Mama network in the capable hands of Moms who had the right love to give, I’ve gone on to create a large network for Whole30, an active network for currently W30ing people, and a thriving group for fitness and encouraging each other without selling/product pushing. I can’t help myself. {also, if you’d like links to any of those groups, let me know in the comments here or on FB and I’ll add them}

All this to say, I’m not great at cultivating a niche, my heart is all over the place. I will continue on this space to overshare about weird natural skin and hair care, whatever strange super food is giving my heart and body a boost, my woes about time management and routine setting, body positivity, body positive fitness, and all that I am struggling with in joining that world and community. I want to share about the big goals I have for myself and the ways I am aching to reach them, and here and there about my parenting and my children. They’re my first and world, but as the internet explodes with growth daily I feel more and more hesitant to share them in a space where they will some day soon share themselves, and want to paint their own pictures. So they will always play into my writing, because they are everything. And where 99% of my time is. But know that the reason this space is quieter and quieter about parenting is because it is done with thought, not because I don’t have words just bubbling out and up and over about parenting in this phase (my heart aches to blog it, but they aren’t just my stories…).

I’m applying and pitching my heart out lately, I’m working to create some sponsored content I care and believe in, as a means of growing this blog into one that can help our family start to achieve some big dreams. Some unspeakable goals. And some fun. I hope that you’ll stick with me though this, as I muddle through figuring it out. And, mostly, I welcome and really really appreciate any feedback about what/how I am doing here. I want this space to function as a journal, because my heart needs it. But I also want it to work for someone reading, what information do you want? What are you looking for? And how can I help give that more freely?

Thanks for muddling through with me. And, shamelessly, if you ever want to work collaboratively, email me. I would always love and welcome the opportunity to talk through ideas.


This photo is from a day we spent at a beach, alone. I snapped some photos that I’ve held tight to for a couple months now. They are traditionally ‘unflattering’ and highlight parts of myself that I’ve been wholly conditioned to hide. But, soon, I’m going to blog about the importance of normalizing bodies of all shapes being fit, and will get brave with them. But, for today, this easy to digest one that I am proud of. I’ve worked so hard to make headstand possible and create enough strength to hold it, so now I pop it up everywhere! Now to cross my fingers and begin a draft sharing some much more raw images. . .


Waking up with a plan. A small routine. Knowing my legs can carry me far. Feeling my muscle tighten when I bend into a Sun Salutation. I trust the floor to hold me up and my shoulders to propel me forwards. I can kick up, and in, and hold, a headstand. I am confident in my curvy frame that shakes around as I tighten everything and focus hard in an effort to breath, and not fall.

Looking at them and feeling calm in their chaos. Love for them in the screaming. And deeper grace for their freak outs. I feel less frantic, more sure, and even surer still that the storms will end and the calm lapping water of them falling into me will resume as quickly at the tempests rage.

As parenting changes and gets harder and different and easier and new, I am trying to fall in deep and embrace it. Knowing that now, even more than before, I’m tending the hearts of eventual adults. And the deep arms of someone who will unconditionally listen, hear your subtext, and wait for between the lines to be spoken; even when it takes a long time. Those actions are life changers. Gifts my parents gave me and now I have the capacity to give to my girls, a cycle I want to continue and continue forever.

Not every day do I feel like an anchor. There are days I’m the trash bag that shouldn’t be in the ocean, being beaten by the waves and then flying away whenever the storm allows me to (often, to the bathroom to stand and cry and think “what can I do??? how can I do this??”). But the deeper their needs and hearts and desires grow it seems the more my days of feeling like a beacon and sure spot, grow too. It reminds me of the baby days, as they got rolling I felt so out of my depth and like the impossibility of meeting these immediate needs was crushing, and then days and months and years when by and I met the needs without thinking and filled cups and held them to my breast without thought, without ache or complaint, it became more and more my state. I feel that with this stage, not yet do I feel confident, but I’m nearly swimming.

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. I’ve never felt like I’m old. Rather, I’ve identified as a ‘young mom’ for about seven years. In the end of that title, I am finding a little pause… age. I am no longer a young Mom in the sense that I am young. And I am no longer a young mom in that my baby is not young. I am just, a Mom. The Mom, in my home. Mom.

I’m in a unique position of always having the framework surrounding me that I am *young*. My siblings are all around a decade+ older than me, so being the baby by a long shot has always aged me up. I felt comfortable (enough) in conversations with people much older than me, for as long as I can remember. When I finally had a friend group my age (college) that quickly shifted as I got pregnant young and made friends with other mamas, my peer number jumped up to about 30 while I was still 23, and ever since then I’ve always been the youngest of my friends too (nearly always).

Mama is slowly fading as it’s replaced by “Mom! Can you help with with this?”. Young Mom is gone. Peer group’s no longer care about age, I’m not even sure the ages of most of my friends, I know they range from around 23-44, but I doubt you could even guess whose on what end.

At 30 I feel more sure of my body than ever before. I feel surer still of what makes it tick and run and work it’s best, and more grace for the times I don’t choose that. I feel confident in knowing that I’m not someone who needs best friends, and treasure alone time and time with my family above basically all else. I feel calmer about time passing and more confident that I can absolutely have it all, just not all at once.

It isn’t all happening gracefully. I tantrum and cry about what I want right now, and cannot have. I wail about my need for more support, and more time with my love. I see the things coming that I crave and sob for the things ending that I love.

But, here at newly minted 30. I feel different. And glad. But not old. I feel more than ever that ages are fairly irrelevant. I’m a baby, so young, to so many. And ancient and “your 30?!” to so many others. But to me, I’m glad. To my girls, I’m Mom. And to Charlie, I’m his best friend.

30, thus far, is just fine.