New Adventurers, New Love

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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Yes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. . .

30.

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.

 

Putting Together our Puzzle

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Often it can feel like all or nothing… parenting, working out, eating whole foods, all of it. I’m eating whole30 and meal prepping, or I’m making eggs and cobbling together snack plates full of chips and too much peanut butter for my kids. I’m reading, on the floor playing, making it to all the extracurriculars, and homeschooling like a boss…. or, it’s too much netflix, me lost in my book, or Facebook, and telling them “sure, in a minute!”. And more often than not I vacillate greatly between these. Working out five days a week, or days on top of days off in a row, lethargy, and a bad mood I can’t quit.

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I’ve found it harder and harder to find that balance of my needs, their needs, and my body’s needs. Summertime seems like it wouldn’t be that different for a homeschooling family, but it is. The schedule gone, the friends home from school, the pressure to soak up the sun on the days it’s here (PNW sun guilt is REAL), and the desire to be a really involved Mom who does fun stuff! often! I’ve been letting it eat me up a bit.

As I made it to several of the end of school year parties and activities, I found my neglect of my needs becoming acute, the workouts getting sparse, and the sugar abundant. I also found that as I fell out of balance there, I fell out everywhere, and so did my family. I was taking the girls places, but I wasn’t present. I was pushing them off, even at the beach in the sun. I was retreating from all of our needs.

Last week I attended a monthly Moon Tea (women circle) that I am lucky enough to be a part of, and in it I talked about  my fears with blogging, and IG, and really embracing how much I love it and want to work in social media and marketing (eek, putting that out there!). I got to let myself go inward a bit about how strange it feels to be so vulnerable in a public space, and how much I love it, even if it feels judged or strange, or that others can’t understand it. Since getting that all stirred up in my heart, and affirmed by lovely people, I’ve been in a new space about this balance.

Watching myself struggle and fall, and able to begin to pick up and put in line my priorities. What felt like needs in opposition is now starting to look like pieces to a puzzle of a Whole Family.

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Hiking and ice-cream, beach days and saying no to that activity in favor of a workout is okay. Whole30 foods, and missed workouts in favor of a longer snuggly bed time is okay. Telling my girls that I need this hour to do yoga and they can play or read is also okay. Asking them, directly, “what do you need?” is important. Following through is more important. Asking myself “What do I need? Now? Tomorrow? In a year?” and stepping towards each motion, is paramount.

Starting today, we are all holding our pieces and putting them into our family space, with equality and respect for each of these desires and needs we all have. Today that looks like hours spent coloring, hard conversations about life and current events (in age appropriate words), and me investing deeply in them and then in myself by quieting the noise with yoga.

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This post is rambly. And strange. And all about where my heart is at right now, and how I am finding peace and balance in the imperfect, and reflecting on how ridiculously and thankfully easy and light these needs are.

I want to fully acknowledge that I have an intense privilege to get to examine all of this. I live in a dream world where I am allowed and able to ask myself these questions, shift my perspective, and enjoy these years so fully. I know that many (most) others, don’t get this privilege, and I strive to be doing what I can to hear, see, love, and give to the communities who don’t have the same ease that I get.

Our family has so much to give, and we are giving it out everywhere we can, and brainstorming better ways to do and give and love more. But I’m starting here, at home. Raising kids so overfull of love that my hope is that they know and learn to listen to and pour that love out on everyone, anyone, those who need it most.

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motivation.

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I never used to be motivated by images or by other people being active. I immediately converted that into comparison and shame. I could feel disordered thinking and negative self talk get wrapped right up into my view, as quick as my eyes can snag the image I have made it inextricably linked to “I am not good enough”.

It’s bizarre. We, as a culture, and especially as women, are often fed the idea that shame is a good motivator. That I will do the extra squat if I imagine how jeans shopping will feel.

That I will wake up early to dedicate time to a workout I hate because I need to earn that pizza I ate with my husband the night before.

It’s insidious. It’s in the names of products, and  ‘bikini boot camp’ classes, and on all our lips and brains as we imbibe in more and more fitness media everyday. Someone selling you something to give you a “beach body” or something to fix your flawed self by screaming that “it works!” instead of you “hey! You already work!”.

And, it works, for a bit. Shame can get you out there once, twice, maybe a few months or so if you are really low. But does it satisfy? Never.

Every time I have ventured into health because of shame I lose steam. Or, I reach my goal and set a new one because the old one suddenly isn’t enough, my brain still sad. I meet a weight goal and am still not enough… because I never would be, no matter how small I got, because I am doing it all as a mean of satisfying a cruel voice of shame. So no number on the scale will feel like enough.

This past year+ has been the first where self care has trumped weight loss for me. Using whole foods to heal, and the real key: allowing myself to take days off, choose a bath, choose TV with Charlie, choose rock climbing or hiking or yoga over calorie blasting cardio… choosing whatever speaks to the health of my Whole Body.

I’m still learning this. It’s really really slow and forward/backward work. But I am moving forward. Mostly in a self love drenched fashion.

It’s given me an interesting shift in how I see images. The women I follow on instagram don’t make me feel bad. I don’t compare. I am stopping any negative thoughts in their tracks or {this is important!} unfollowing when I feel that I am unhealthy viewing these people. Lately, I can scroll my feed and feel inspired by head and handstands that I have on my goals, I can see sweaty workouts and heavy weights lifted and think “yeah! get it!” because that is awesome. Regardless of their bodies, that are by and large a good 50 pounds smaller than mine! I’m slowly curbing my comparisons and instead growing my sisterhood. Seeing women not as shame vehicles or a competition that I am failing. 

It’s helping. It’s showing me more concrete ways for Me to be motivated. To see pictures and be inspired, to see them and get up and try that pose! To want to wake early because the ball is rolling and I can feel how strong momentum is. It feels so good to be in control of my thoughts more.

My thoughts love grace, love thanks, love strong women, and love to be inspired. Those are my motivations. Is what I am doing, now, making me feel better, loved, grace filled, inspired? If not, then change something. Delete something. Journal something.

And, to be clear, sometimes what I am doing is nothing. Because sometimes, doing nothing is exactly the kind of ‘better’ I need to be feeling.

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dreaming.

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Motherhood is my calling. What I wanted to be, what I dreamt about, what I played as a kid. I enjoyed college and it gave me my love of writing; but finding out I was pregnant before I graduated wasn’t heart breaking, it was exciting. The confirmation that this was what I wanted to be only grew with each month of being a mama.

In these past six years have felt more myself, known, at home, and sure than ever before. I have also, obviously, questioned everything so many times, but my main feelings since having Nolie have been of such content.

Motherhood gave me myself. A clear image of my skills, my talents, and just how deep and wide my empathy and patience really run. Being a Mama has made me more secure in being me. The deepest joy I could have ever asked for, and the biggest gift I would ever receive.

As the girls grow and my time grows I’ve written a few times about feeling adrift… what next? what happens when they’re older? And that feeling has been sailing about in my heart for the past several months.

Till fairly recently I haven’t had an answer. I’ve been trying to find myself in homeschooling. But it’s just not there. {I love homeschooling, but it’s not a passion, it’s a project and a job and a necessity for our family. Thankfully, there is zero shortage of motherhood wrapped up tight with homeschooling, and it’s working well for me.}

But I’ve found something different. Or, rather, it found me, again. Where I have found relief, answers, calm, and myself whenever the storm picks up, is Yoga. My heart is starting to dream of what this is, could be, and what I could do with this passion. But it’s all wild dreaming for now. I’m researching and spending late nights practicing and googling. Searching some more.

For now, all I’ve got is dreams. But they feel so indulgent and magic and full right now. I could burst.

(bitter)sweet 6

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She was my cozy, cozy, baby. She and I logged endless hours of rocking and nursing, cuddling and bouncing. Those first two years she rarely left the Ergo. As she grew it was obvious what an incredible gift she was. She played, she imagined, babbled, and chatted. She included whoever was near her, her arms outstretched to the world to know everything there was and to welcome it in.

As she grew up her hands just reached out further. Knowledge, curiosity, questions, and ability grow, grow, growing. Her words and vocabulary sky high, her gentleness and love unending, and her ability to include her sister, enjoy her deeply, and play without ceasing… was beyond anything I ever knew.

At around 4.5 she weaned, but her snuggling never left. She cuddled and chose to start sleeping in our bed around that time. She found connection wherever possible and whenever needed. She has always known her needs, asked for them to be met, and generously met others without hesitation.

Nolie is magic.

Knowing her is a gift, my closest friends will all agree. She’s different.

At five she was textbook exuberance! Newfound kid-hood was exploding and with it was so much joy. New experiences. New confidence. And it was all so beautiful and exciting. I rejoiced with her as she found her footing in dance classes, and drop off playdates. As she sounded out words and and wrote first poems. Her songs unending as life opera spilled from her lips whenever she began to imagine deeply. She and her sister grew from siblings to best friends. Paramount to each others’ play, worlds, and imaginary worlds alike. She grew up, a little.

And now six. It’s all still there. The light behind her eyes, the hands outstretched, the unapologetic curiosity, quick grin and the brain that never stops. But there are new shadows. She’s aging, she’s on the cusp, she’s emotional, and deep. Her feelings growing more complex by the day. Her need for me changing. Her world exploding as she sees that there are doors, and experiences, worlds outside of her own. How she needs me is deepening in many ways but becoming lighter and lighter in the most tangible ways. I don’t often carry  her. I don’t often buckle her in. I don’t always make her food. I don’t hold her to sleep often. I don’t get up with her. I don’t nurse her. I don’t give my body to her.

I give my head. Her questions still run the gamut of “why is air invisible?” but now also are more …thoughtful “why do some kids not like me?” or “why are adults mean to kids sometimes?” “are there homeless babies?” “how can we give away more?”…. it’s changing.

She’s emerging. She might be an introvert? Craving time alone, all alone, to just stare into space “and day dream” and recharge. She is asserting herself. She’s choosing her friends, activities, everything with strength. When kids say “let’s not tell our Moms” she easily turns it around and suggests a new game. She’s so incredibly strong in heart. Her bravery deepening and her compass always pointing true North.

I read this post on Humans of New York today… and it summed up everything that’s been hitting me so hard. “…there is an unexpected sadness to getting your life back. Like you’re getting laid of slowly from an equally grueling but joy filled job…”

I often find myself with an hour here and there, where I am untouched and unneeded. Hours where the only sound is two little voices narrating amazing play. And I should use it, feel freedom, all the rest… but I feel sadness. Deep, deep, mourning for the years that are past.

Oh Noele Grace, you made me a Mama, you took my heart and cracked it wide open for me to learn to love and embrace. You did it all. You saved my life. I would live your baby years over again and again and again till my arms couldn’t carry you. You’ve been nothing but a gift my girl. And I am excited, but slow embracing, this new you. 6 is so little. So, so little. And so big. Slow down, my baby. Slow down.

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