Shiny Happy Human

Dear Mama in the Dark

I waved to a fellow mama dropping her daughter off late to school today. “It’s nice to know my kid isn’t the only late one!” I joked cheerily. I was having a good day. It’s sunny outside. I managed to summon the ambition to walk my kid to school and enjoy some fresh air, even though she had had an accident seconds before we walked out the door. I was all raindrops on roses.

She seemed a bit zombified. “My girl won’t go to sleep. She went to bed at 11:30pm last night and then couldn’t wake up this morning.”

“Oh man. That is rough for YOU. I was so excited to get my alone time when Aria was little, I put her to bed at 7pm.”

“I’ve tried everything. She’s just a night owl. We have zero time as husband and wife. It’s rough.”

She got back in her minivan and drove away, coffee in hand. Mustering a smile as she waved goodbye.

This may not seem like much—just part of the classic parenting rite of passage—but to me it is. These are the dark spaces in between the bright moments of mothering when we don’t say what we’re actually feeling for fear of making ourselves too vulnerable and open to judgment. “I’m having a really hard time. I need a friend (and a drink). I need space from my child. I want more time with my husband.”

Dear Mama in the Dark
Dear Mama in the Dark

As I walked back home down the Greenway, pushing an empty stroller in front of me, I was struck by how all-consuming those human moments are as parents when we’re IN them. Just last week, my toddler turned on me (as toddlers are programmed to do). Meltdowns and tantrums every 3.5 minutes, screaming and crying and the words, “I don’t want to!” over and over. My nerves were shot. I was losing patience. My preggo hormones were raging. I literally reached a point where I COULD NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. I wrote to my Mommy Soul Tribe that day about the turning point when I lost my ish. I left my LO with her father and walked away from them. I walked far. I walked fast. And every step farther away felt like this giant weight lifting off my chest. With the accountability of my Soul Tribe, I forgave myself later that night for NEEDING space from my toddler and for taking it. I also forgave myself for leaning HARD on my husband that afternoon into evening. I clocked out and handed over the reins to him. I was so grateful for my partner that day.

So when I looked at this exhausted mama a little closer today and really SAW her and HEARD her: “We have zero time together as husband as wife,” I felt what she was feeling and my heart went out to her. She’s where I was just days ago. In the quiet dark spot—the space we’re ashamed to speak of—in between the brightness of mothering. I am her and she is me.

The hard bits won’t necessarily all be the same for all of us. And they won’t happen at the same time. And maybe sometimes we’ll smugly think, “Well my kid slept through the night at 6 weeks,” and a year later your kid will start biting other kids at school and guess what? WE ARE ALL THE SAME AND DIFFERENT. And there are smooth, easy days and weeks and times when the hard is HEAVY. So let’s all be in this together and always tell each other “You’re doing an amazing job. I feel the same way some days. This, too, shall pass,” and be grateful for the sunny days. Because we all know that when the dark days hit us over the head, it feels like they will stay forever, and then one morning you wake up more rested and your kid snuggles you and kisses your pregnant belly and tells daddy she loves him and sweetly asks for pancakes and just like that - that human moment in parenting time is over. And it’s whiskers on kittens again and you can just barely remember what was ever hard about it in the first place. (The parallels with childbirth are suddenly dawning on me . . . )

So, dear mama having a dark day - to you I say, “Just put pants on. This, too, shall pass. You’re doing an awesome job and I have 200% been there. Take whatever scrap of space you can when you need it and put yourself and your marriage first for a day, too. That’s okay. It’s important. IT MATTERS and can make all the difference on the bad days. And don’t forget to LEAN HARD on your partner. He can take it and he wants to see you happy.”

If you are wondering how to lean on and also prioritize your partner so you can have the relationship you signed up for, register for the next FREE Mommy Masterclass. The topic, by popular demand, is Staying Connected to Your Partner After Baby. We go live on March 28th and you don’t want to miss this soul tribe partay.

What Balance Actually Looks Like for a Mom

I just had this amazing conversation with virtual friend and fitness coach, Laura Waller about fitting fitness into your #MomLife. (Stay tuned for the interview, which will be shared for a special edition of tomorrow’s #TIRL Thursday!) But something came up in our interview that really had me thinking about this idea of balance for moms, because I know it’s something that we ALL crave as human beings.The word balance is a bit of a trigger for me because I think what it actually IS and what it SOUNDS LIKE are two different things. Laura and I talked about how life with kids is constantly changing because kids are constantly GROWING into different creatures with different sleeping, eating and behavior patterns, and I know as a new mom I fought against that HARD. I wanted a SCHEDULE. I wanted to know what to expect so I could plan around it and create my own sense of “balance.”

But that is not what I was actually trying to create in my life. I wanted CONTROL—over my life and schedule and to-do list and social calendar, and I think as mamas we accidentally associate this control with BALANCE. And when you are trying so hard to swim upriver (metaphorically) in a new world where it feels like floating downstream would mean relinquishing some control and parts of our pre-baby identities, we get frustrated with the process. But the irony is that floating downstream (away from control and “Balance”) is where we find PEACE in our new roles as mothers.

Accepting that life with children is ever evolving is the only real ticket to the freedom we seek. Changing our mindsets from “control” to acceptance is a guaranteed path to becoming shiny, happy humans. I know because I made the internal shift for myself. And DON’T YOU WORRY—I’m still QUITE the control freak.

So now that we’ve cleared up the difference between a parent’s natural desire for order and control and consistency, let’s move onto what I believe balance to actually BE.

Here’s an excerpt that I shared with my soul tribe via my email newsletter this week. It showcases the past week of my life. As you can see, it was all over the place.

What Balance Actually Looks Like for a Mom
What Balance Actually Looks Like for a Mom
  • The hubs and I planned an impromptu ADVENTURE to California (with potty-training toddler) for 2 weeks from now. Keep up with us as we explore Yosemite, Big Sur, Monterey Aquarium and San Fran viaInstagram before I head on solo to Sonoma for some preggo entrepreneur sisterhood and my last Boss Society retreat!
  • Aria caught the pink eye stink eye and then gave it to me (just don’t. please.).
  • We moved all the furniture around in our home to make room for Baby Squishy. I write to you from my NEW home office conveniently—or dangerously—located directly next to my bed!
  • More potty training. More poop accidents. Some huge successes (staying dry through the night!) Huge shout out to Jessica Bentson of The Potty Training Revolution for being my on-call counselor. This is a “thing” for us. I know it’s ridiculous AND thank you, but no I would not like your advice (read: opinion). I got me a guru. ;)
  • And, of course, I had like 3 hormonal pregnant meltdowns and just needed some extra self-care. And as you know, when mama needs self-care, mama TAKES IT.

You know what all that stuff equals when you put it together? A balanced week!

Balance as a mother means floating downstream and accepting that you may never have the same day twice. Or you may! But that’s only taking your family into consideration. The thing I find too many mothers don’t integrate into their plan for balance is that WE (women) don’t feel the same every day either after having kids! Take my 3 hormonal meltdowns this past week—I’m not going to get into judging that as normal or not normal because it really doesn’t matter. It’s what happened, and it’s what happens in REAL LIFE when you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have crazy kids running around. And YOU deserve to do your own Mind Body Soul check-in every morning to see what YOU need that day and do whatever you can to give it to yourself. All the while having the mindset that it doesn’t have to be the same routine as yesterday and you don’t need to control your toddler’s poop schedule to GIFT THAT REDEFINED IDEA OF BALANCE TO YOURSELF.

Balance is available to all of us, but let’s stop confusing it with a routine or a clean house or an obedient child or a perfect husband. The buck stops here. I’m responsible for my own balance, and I consider that an opportunity to work on myself every single day and make sure I’m always doing what I can to keep the ship afloat (that’s ME), as well as the passengers onboard (that’s my people).

By the way, if you haven’t joined my people, we are over in the free Mommy Soul Tribe Facebook group talking about our beautifully messy mommy moments and we’d love to meet you. If you’re human, you’ll like it there.

The Audacity to Have it All: Interview with Kiva Leatherman

I first met Kiva Leatherman because she was one of the featured mentors in Boss School, the entrepreneur online course I took a year ago, which kinda sorta changed my life. She’s a financial ninja and a magnificent coach, but there’s more (there’s always more). She’s also a mother to two children, a wife and someone on her own journey to use her gifts to impact the world and live a life that fills her to the brim. I started reading her posts on her Wise Women Network Facebook page and found myself either tearing up or fired up. She was bravely putting into the world the radical ideas and beliefs about motherhood and entrepreneurship that are baked into my mission for Shiny. Happy. Human.: Mothers reclaiming their identities as women. Women setting themselves FREE from the preconceived constraints of motherhood as an institution for selflessness. Women making their lives count not because they made children, but because they LIVED their one beautiful life to the fullest and that example made children who grew into fulfilled and fearless adults.That is the future I want to create for my daughter.

That is why I return to my laptop day after day and make myself as vulnerable as my soul calls for it to be. I want to give our Mommy Soul Tribepermission to HAVE IT ALL. I want us to not live in fear of other people’s judgment when we do life and motherhood differently, because it is what our souls are longing to do.

Kiva has been doing it differently for 6 years now and she is as ambitious, devoted and inspiring as they come. To me, she is one of the very few women in the world showing ME what is possible for my life, not only as an entrepreneur, but as a mother.

This 40-minute video is a MUST-WATCH or LISTEN. Whether you press play as you go for a walk or wash the dishes or lay in bed, press play. It’s juicy and I’m so proud to bring it to you. It’s also an important message for many women who don’t hear it often enough. Women are scared to talk about these things for fear of judgment, but as Kiva says in the interview, “People will judge you, and you will still live.”

Exhale.

The Audacity to Have it All: Interview with Kiva Leatherman
The Audacity to Have it All: Interview with Kiva Leatherman

Controversial video highlights include the following:

  • Her own story of trying to find herself in the new context of motherhood (hint: she may have gotten herself fired so she could stay home with her kids)
  • Why it’s a dangerous proposition to not at some point find something that’s just for YOU. And why NOT doing that, puts a lot of pressure on your kids and ultimately, isn’t fair to them.
  • Why anytime we make a choice to give over the impact, success and joy of our life to another human, it’s is a risky move.
  • The belief that you cannot get something outside of you that you do not have yourself.
  • Answers the question of how we can evolve parenting and the role of motherhood so everyone isn’t living in fear (of judgment, of being different, of being themselves, of trusting their intuition, etc).
  • What to say to the mother who has defined her life by her selflessness and sacrifice to her children and wakes up one morning to notice her light is dimming.

When you’re living the life that you don’t want to be living it’s “soul-crushing.” I know this, because it’s exactly how I felt every day from the time my daughter was 3-6 months (my period of being back at work after Aria’s birth). And I want to emphasize that it’s not that working, per se, was crushing my soul. It’s because of a quiet intuitive whisper that kept reminding me, “this isn’t IT.” It doesn’t matter what your professional role or choice is. It just matters that you are honest with yourself and pay attention to your own inner guidance. The instant question I kept hearing during that dark period of my life was, “Is the life I’m living, the life I would want for my children and if not, what can I do to move towards that life?”

Ignoring that answer cost me my own light and joy. Answering it gave me back my identity.

I’ve since learned that I can HAVE IT ALL, and so can you, and I want you to remember that every time you feel trapped by preconceived constraints of obligations, finances, sacrifice and on and on. I’m not the richest I’ve ever been, but I’m the happiest and most fulfilled, and THAT is what having it all looks like for me. And I know with every fiber of my being that I’m on the right path, and it only gets better. And THAT is true freedom. I want that for you, too.

I’m with Kiva on this one. We can be present and involved in our children’s lives without self-sacrificing our own ambition and paths as women. Kiva doesn’t believe that “mothering in itself is IT.” What about you? What do you think?

We are the first generation of women who can have this conversation. So LET’S HAVE IT.

In humble gratitude for this life, its gifts and our Mommy Soul Tribe,

G

PS: Please forgive the sound quality of this interview. I’ve since learned the massive importance of headphones.

If this video leaves you wanting more, check out my coaching services. We can have it all, mama. Let me show you how.

The Importance of Scheduling Time for Yourself

Let’s get real here for a minute. Every single person on the planet needs some time to themselves. Simply put, we just can’t be around the same people all of the time. If we’re being honest, too much time around our husbands, family, and even best friends, and we start to seriously get sick of them. So why do we try to pretend that the same thing doesn’t happen around our kids? Because we’re afraid of being seen as a “bad mom” if we’re honest and say that we just plain can’t stand our kids right now? Because that’s just not fair.

All moms need time away from their husbands, away from their kids, away from everybody or else you’re going to burn out and slowly begin to hate everyone. (That may be a slight exaggeration, but I don’t want you to wait long enough to find out.) Start making time for yourself today using these tips.

1. Schedule a “Daddy and Me” night.

Or whatever fun name you want to call it--we all really know that it means “Mommy needs some wine and damn alone time night.” Get your husband and kids out of the house together or get yourself out of the house and get pampered with a trip to the salon, spa, or bar.

2. Take advantage of when the kids are sleeping.

Instead of cleaning or cooking when the kids are asleep, take some time for yourself and watch some Netflix, read a book, take a nap yourself, or take a bubble bath. Housework can wait. (Trust me, it’s not going anywhere.) But time for yourself absolutely CANNOT wait.

3. Take a class.

Commit to a weekly yoga class at the gym, a knitting class at the local craft store, or even a cocktail-mixing class. (No judgments here--I’ll probably invite you over so you can teach me a few things.)

4. Get a group of moms together.

Do you know of other moms who need some time away from their families? I have just the thing. Get all of your mommy friends together, find a date that works for everyone, and join me for Mom’s Night Off. We’ll drink wine, talk about the awesome (aaand the not so awesome) stuff about our kids, and get some group coaching on.

Trust me. You need, need, NEED to get away sometimes. Get rid of your mommy guilt and admit that you’re a human too and all humans need some time for themselves.

The Importance of Scheduling Time for Yourself
The Importance of Scheduling Time for Yourself

Pregnancy in Real Life

I mentioned in this week’s newsletter some pretty big news from my corner of the internet - we are preggo with baby number 2! Aria Rose is going to be a big sister, and she is more excited about it than anyone else, it seems. “Baby Squishy,” as we’ve lovingly (and perhaps, weirdly) named him/her is 14 weeks young and due to arrive July 29th, or mercifully sooner if he is a good little mama’s boy. ;) I’ve been taking some non-negotiable down time from SHH—and life in general—for the past couple months. I say non-negotiable, because despite how badly I’m missing Boss Lady Gervase and wanting to dive headfirst into all the new things we’re rolling out in 2016 (and there are A LOT), my BODY (stupid body . . .) has been like “sit the F down, girl fraaand and CHILL.” We’re working on getting along - me and this bod, but to be honest, it’s been tough.

Some days during my first trimester, I’d shakily and determinedly rise from bed and wobble over to my computer to #dowork and end up closing it 20 minutes later. Then I’d curl up in a ball in my corner of the couch to sleep off my nausea until Aria came home from school. The guilt was debilitating. Spending my precious toddler-free work hours NAPPING day after day? Laying there lethargically while toddler watched Mary Poppins for 2 hours in the afternoons? Turns out I’m a horrible mother—OBVIOUSLY.

And then one particularly rough day, while nibbling saltines and slurping ginger ale and willing my body to allow me to rise to my passion and purpose of helping mothers de-stigmatize the human moments of motherhood, the irony and the OPPORTUNITY flashed before my eyes.

I’m a bit overdue for some of those shitty human moments I’m always talking about, aren’t I? The ones that buckle your knees and blur your eyes and throw you completely out of your typical functioning mommy orbit. What better life experience to go through with my new Mommy Soul Tribe than my second pregnancy?

If you think I’m being a bit melodramatic (you’re totes entitled to your opinion) or if you never read up on pregnancy #1, when I was crumpled in a ball of defeat on the bathroom floor wondering if there would ever again be a time when I’d feel like my old self again, now’s the time to grab some context.

My loss of identity and frustration with my newfound physical limits was greater during pregnancy than as a new mother the first time around. Pregnancy IS my Mt. Rushmore, and I’m freaking determined to climb to the top with a more positive mindset and experience this second time. For myself and for the sanity of my dear, sweet husband. (Love you, babe!)

Without the valleys, there are no peaks. Without pushing through the uncomfortable, there is no reward in the comfortable. Not only is my second pregnancy an opportunity for me to rewrite my pregnancy story, but it’s also a beautiful chance for me to peel back yet another layer of motherhood to share with my tribe with the goal of enriching the meaning and the message of everything I do.

And nothing, literally NOTHING, gets me fired up like keeping it real with my tribe to start that ripple effect of helping us all be gentler to ourselves TOGETHER, kinder to ourselves TOGETHER, stronger in the face of culturally “easy” things (like pregnancy, motherhood and life in general) TOGETHER. If I can forgive myself (and my body) for the next 6 very human months of my life, then maybe you will, too. And we’ll all be free of the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect and put-together and do everything with a smile on our faces.

So before this gets way too long, here’s what I need to tell the Internet, firmly and without apology:

Pregnancy in Real Life
Pregnancy in Real Life
  1. Pregnancy is effing hard, and I AM INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL: Women I love very much are going through hell and back just to GET pregnant as I type this. I deeply empathize with their Mt. Rushmore and send them my love and still say, “I’m having a hard time forgiving my body’s limits right now. This shit sucks sometimes, AND I am overjoyed that I get the gift of another human in my little family.” There is a misconception that you cannot feel two opposing things simultaneously - ESPECIALLY where motherhood is concerned. Ex: “My kid is an ass, and I’m obsessed with them.” Well guess what? This isn’t Mary Poppins - this is the real world, and I assure you it’s 100% possible to have those feelings and still be a great mom just as worthy of the gift of children as anyone else.
  2. Self-care is more than going to one yoga class a week. It is checking in with yourself and not assuming you can push yourself every day without consequences. Burn-out is a real thing, loves. I know firsthand, which is why I’m sharing my experience and the secrets I’ve accumulated about practical self-care mixed with necessary sanity in next week’s free webinar. Self-care is listening to your body, feeding your heart and soul and forgiving yourself at the end of each day for things that went less than perfect. It’s knowing when to push and when to curl up in a ball and just feel your feelings without judgment. It’s pausing to see if you can even hear what your heart, soul and body are screaming at you in the first place. I began my self-care pushback during my first pregnancy and refused to listen and refused to slow down. I refused to see myself as anything other than weak and pathetic for allowing the tiny act of GROWING A HUMAN to change my daily physical and mental capabilities. That is totally ridiculous. This time, it will be (and already is) different.
  3. I’m saying NO to basically everything this pregnancy. Last time I was all, “Pregnancy ain’t gonna slow me down! Yes, I’ll go clubbing with you! Yes, I’ll take that hip-hop class. Yes, I’ll drop everything if you need me! Yes, I’ll still volunteer for that panel and yes, I’ll show up in the freezing cold to collect tickets for your cause!” Now, I’m defaulting to NO, and I have zero apologies about that. It is liberating, empowering and energizing. JOIN ME, PEOPLE.
  4. My gentle reminder for the tougher days has been, “It’s a bad day, not a bad life.” When I’m down, like really down, I start to think super negatively (it’s a bit dramatic, once again), and those negative thoughts have the momentum to spiral out of control, but hey! that’s what hormones do to you! F YOU, HORMONES! It’s just a bad day, and I’ll try again tomorrow.

In summary, getting pregnant is exactly what I wanted and envisioned for my family. We are ecstatic and every morning when Aria kisses my belly and says with her giant smile, “I love baby squishy,” I am acutely aware of just how much of a blessing this baby has already been in our lives. AND women sacrifice their physical bodies and capabilities, their careers (sometimes), their mental stability, their alcohol (read: sanity) and so much more to bring babies into this world. All I”m saying is, it’s hard AND I’m grateful, and if have ever found yourself in this position, I’m writing this for you, so you realize you’re not the only one, you’re not a bad mom and this is part of what makes us HUMAN.

Seeking out the pearls of wisdom and the growth opportunities inside all of life’s supposed “challenges” - well, that’s just what makes us superhuman and even better mamas, and I’m pretty sure that’s why you’re all here. Because you’re a unicorn.

27 Beautifully Messy Mommies Share Their Biggest Lessons

You know how when you meet one of those women who is just SO NATURALLY AWESOME, you instantly think of another friend she must meet? Because you want to share her awesome-ness with other awesome women who will appreciate it? That’s basically what happened with our #BeautifullyMessyMommy campaign. I had this mission to celebrate shiny, happy and human women. I wanted to put THOSE WOMEN front and center and share them with our Mommy Soul Tribe. I wanted you to hear from some of the REAL mamas I am lucky enough to know and collaborate with, so you could collect wisdom from a collective of beautiful messy mommies.

These women are the real deal. They are authentic. They are powerful. They are perfectly imperfect and unabashedly kick-ass, and I want you all to meet them, take any nuggets of goodness from their life’s experiences and LOVE ON THEM. Because in this tribe we celebrate ourselves and each other. And it always comes back around.

Each women answered the question, "What's the most important thing you've learned as a beautifully messy mommy?"

The most surprising thing I’ve learnt about myself in the process of motherhood is that I actually love being a mom. My kids are my inspiration and my source of never ending amusement. Being a mother taught me that no matter the challenges, I have what it takes in me to overcome them. If anything, motherhood taught me confidence. And I know I am a better human today because I am a mother.

The most surprising thing I’ve learnt about myself in the process of motherhood is that I actually love being a mom. My kids are my inspiration and my source of never ending amusement. Being a mother taught me that no matter the challenges, I have what it takes in me to overcome them. If anything, motherhood taught me confidence. And I know I am a better human today because I am a mother.

I grew up in a home where you didn’t make a “mess.” We didn’t air out our dirty laundry and we sure as hell didn’t talk about our feelings. So now that I have my own family, I’m all about the MESS! The most important thing I’ve learned about being a *beautifully messy mommy* is…. When I’m okay with my beautiful mess and I’m smiling in the process, the more I empower my girls to live authentically and be happy with their own mess.

I grew up in a home where you didn’t make a “mess.” We didn’t air out our dirty laundry and we sure as hell didn’t talk about our feelings. So now that I have my own family, I’m all about the MESS! The most important thing I’ve learned about being a *beautifully messy mommy* is…. When I’m okay with my beautiful mess and I’m smiling in the process, the more I empower my girls to live authentically and be happy with their own mess.

The *most* important thing I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is that I need substantial alone time. When I mean substantial, I mean like 3-4 hours away from my children on about 2-3 times a week. Baby sitters are the bomb, and they are my saving grace. I’ve learned not to be too hard on myself for demanding this time because it makes me a better mom and wife to my husband.

The *most* important thing I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is that I need substantial alone time. When I mean substantial, I mean like 3-4 hours away from my children on about 2-3 times a week. Baby sitters are the bomb, and they are my saving grace. I’ve learned not to be too hard on myself for demanding this time because it makes me a better mom and wife to my husband.

My kids are teenagers now (how did that happen?!) and reflecting back on my VERY messy mothering career, the most important thing I’ve learned is that the more I focus on ME, my happiness and fulfilment, the better mother and overall human I am. I treat my life like an ongoing project by breaking it down into different parts and doing a monthly self-check-in to ask myself how it’s going in each individual area. This flags up whatever needs more focus and helps keep me on track. It ensures that I’m not so child-focused that I lose sight of my fun, friendships, health or personal growth. Or that I’m not so lost in yoga classes or socialising that I’m neglecting my kids or my husband! I wish I’d learned this trick much sooner as it’s very simple to do each month and truly works to keep me in check. My kids know all about my monthly self-check-in and they think it’s a great idea too because they feel the positive effects having of a well balanced mama! (Instead of the cranky bitch they used to have…)

My kids are teenagers now (how did that happen?!) and reflecting back on my VERY messy mothering career, the most important thing I’ve learned is that the more I focus on ME, my happiness and fulfilment, the better mother and overall human I am. I treat my life like an ongoing project by breaking it down into different parts and doing a monthly self-check-in to ask myself how it’s going in each individual area. This flags up whatever needs more focus and helps keep me on track. It ensures that I’m not so child-focused that I lose sight of my fun, friendships, health or personal growth. Or that I’m not so lost in yoga classes or socialising that I’m neglecting my kids or my husband! I wish I’d learned this trick much sooner as it’s very simple to do each month and truly works to keep me in check. My kids know all about my monthly self-check-in and they think it’s a great idea too because they feel the positive effects having of a well balanced mama! (Instead of the cranky bitch they used to have…)

Since becoming a mama, I’ve realized how important it is to be flexible and not overly rigid. There is so much information out there about how to raise your baby, which can lead to crazy amounts of anxiety if you believe everything you read. Ultimately, each child is different and has their own unique set of needs. Actually, each family dynamic is different so what works for some, may not work for others. In understanding this, it’s really helped me slow down and learn about my daughter, as the individual she is. Which means, being flexible with what I thought I would do once she arrived and doing what works best for our family now. In turn, I’ve gotta lean into trusting my intuition on a moment to moment basis. While remembering that in any given moment I am doing the best I can. I laugh as I write this, because really, this applies to all of life, not just being a mama. So, I’ve created two mantra’s I say to myself daily; “Flexibility is key.” and “I trust my intuition.” I say these to myself daily, especially in the moments where I feel like I may lose my mind from the sleep deprivation and you know, all the stuff that comes from being a new mama. Lastly, laughing it off pretty much always works. Having a sense of humor about this wild and crazy ride of parenthood makes life way more enjoyable! Also: Under eye concealer is my friend.

Since becoming a mama, I’ve realized how important it is to be flexible and not overly rigid. There is so much information out there about how to raise your baby, which can lead to crazy amounts of anxiety if you believe everything you read. Ultimately, each child is different and has their own unique set of needs. Actually, each family dynamic is different so what works for some, may not work for others. In understanding this, it’s really helped me slow down and learn about my daughter, as the individual she is. Which means, being flexible with what I thought I would do once she arrived and doing what works best for our family now. In turn, I’ve gotta lean into trusting my intuition on a moment to moment basis. While remembering that in any given moment I am doing the best I can. I laugh as I write this, because really, this applies to all of life, not just being a mama. So, I’ve created two mantra’s I say to myself daily; “Flexibility is key.” and “I trust my intuition.” I say these to myself daily, especially in the moments where I feel like I may lose my mind from the sleep deprivation and you know, all the stuff that comes from being a new mama. Lastly, laughing it off pretty much always works. Having a sense of humor about this wild and crazy ride of parenthood makes life way more enjoyable! Also: Under eye concealer is my friend.

I’ve learned so many things but I guess the most important is to embrace change. As you’ll know, change is a constant when you’re a parent! Logically, before becoming a mum, I knew a baby would be a huge change in my life. But in reality it was bigger than I ever thought possible. I never wanted to resent being a parent, or see it as something that would hold me back from doing the things I wanted. But whilst continuing to strive to honour my own dreams and desires – a tricky juggling act we all struggle with – I also learned to embrace mothering a small baby and now a toddler as a season of my life that I wanted to enjoy as much as possible. I wanted to embrace the change in my life and welcome it. Babies bring huge change when they arrive but we continue to deal with it daily too! As they grow, they constantly change, and we must be flexible and learn to adapt. Learning to let go of expectations and expect the unexpected has been a huge learning curve. For example, coping with no naps during the day any more has been a big recent one of mine, and finding time to fit in my own projects, being as productive as I can be during such little time, is a challenge I relish.

I’ve learned so many things but I guess the most important is to embrace change. As you’ll know, change is a constant when you’re a parent! Logically, before becoming a mum, I knew a baby would be a huge change in my life. But in reality it was bigger than I ever thought possible. I never wanted to resent being a parent, or see it as something that would hold me back from doing the things I wanted. But whilst continuing to strive to honour my own dreams and desires – a tricky juggling act we all struggle with – I also learned to embrace mothering a small baby and now a toddler as a season of my life that I wanted to enjoy as much as possible. I wanted to embrace the change in my life and welcome it. Babies bring huge change when they arrive but we continue to deal with it daily too! As they grow, they constantly change, and we must be flexible and learn to adapt. Learning to let go of expectations and expect the unexpected has been a huge learning curve. For example, coping with no naps during the day any more has been a big recent one of mine, and finding time to fit in my own projects, being as productive as I can be during such little time, is a challenge I relish.

The most important thing I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is that “progress NOT perfection” is key. I want my kids to see that I have goals, that I am trying, but that I mess up too. I want them to see that when I mess up, I learn from it and keep moving forward. I think showing my kiddos that messes can be beautiful learning opportunities gives them a chance to try and maybe even fail. That is ok! When we try (and maybe mess up) we learn new things and maybe even something we didn’t expect to learn. I want my children to bravely step out of their comfort zones and try new things with the confidence of my support . I want them to know that their mommy wants them to shine and be happy and human and beautifully messy. I want Jackson and Elli to see that the beauty is in the progress and perfection is not required. I’ve learned that to teach these things, I MUST show them on a daily basis that I am ok with the beautiful mess we live in! Progress NOT perfection.

The most important thing I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is that “progress NOT perfection” is key. I want my kids to see that I have goals, that I am trying, but that I mess up too. I want them to see that when I mess up, I learn from it and keep moving forward. I think showing my kiddos that messes can be beautiful learning opportunities gives them a chance to try and maybe even fail. That is ok! When we try (and maybe mess up) we learn new things and maybe even something we didn’t expect to learn. I want my children to bravely step out of their comfort zones and try new things with the confidence of my support . I want them to know that their mommy wants them to shine and be happy and human and beautifully messy. I want Jackson and Elli to see that the beauty is in the progress and perfection is not required. I’ve learned that to teach these things, I MUST show them on a daily basis that I am ok with the beautiful mess we live in! Progress NOT perfection.

For me, being a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is about finding joy in life’s messes and imperfections and tantrums and poopy diapers. And for me, it’s a daily struggle. Some days, I win the battle. Other days, I fail. But I’m always trying. One tip I’ve found helpful when I find myself being pulled in different directions, whether it’s last night’s dirty dishes or folding the mountain of clean laundry on my dining room table (or, let’s be honest, my always-tempting Instagram feed), is looking at a recent photo of my kids. I study the photo. And then I ask myself, “How long will they be this little?” And, “When they are older, will I look at this photo and wish I was more present today?” Somehow, that last question always gets me. I love that it both knocks me back to reality and also reminds me that the greatest joys of my life are the ones that are right in front of me every single day.

For me, being a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is about finding joy in life’s messes and imperfections and tantrums and poopy diapers. And for me, it’s a daily struggle. Some days, I win the battle. Other days, I fail. But I’m always trying. One tip I’ve found helpful when I find myself being pulled in different directions, whether it’s last night’s dirty dishes or folding the mountain of clean laundry on my dining room table (or, let’s be honest, my always-tempting Instagram feed), is looking at a recent photo of my kids. I study the photo. And then I ask myself, “How long will they be this little?” And, “When they are older, will I look at this photo and wish I was more present today?” Somehow, that last question always gets me. I love that it both knocks me back to reality and also reminds me that the greatest joys of my life are the ones that are right in front of me every single day.

The most important thing I’ve learned (and have to continue to re-learn each day!) is to love and care for myself as much as I love and care for those around me. Mamas can be so tough on themselves – have the highest expectations, be the most critical, and be the least forgiving of themselves. I’ve learned to set realistic goals for myself – and even then, be more forgiving of myself when I fail to meet those goals. I’ve learned to say no to people and things that don’t matter as much, so that I can begin saying yes to myself more often – take care of myself, nurture my soul, and just BE. I’ve learned to be as nice to myself as I am to my clients, my best friend, my loved ones. And this makes me such a better mom – because really, you cannot give from a place of emptiness – the best thing we can do for our children is to love ourselves first.

The most important thing I’ve learned (and have to continue to re-learn each day!) is to love and care for myself as much as I love and care for those around me. Mamas can be so tough on themselves – have the highest expectations, be the most critical, and be the least forgiving of themselves. I’ve learned to set realistic goals for myself – and even then, be more forgiving of myself when I fail to meet those goals. I’ve learned to say no to people and things that don’t matter as much, so that I can begin saying yes to myself more often – take care of myself, nurture my soul, and just BE. I’ve learned to be as nice to myself as I am to my clients, my best friend, my loved ones. And this makes me such a better mom – because really, you cannot give from a place of emptiness – the best thing we can do for our children is to love ourselves first.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to take a step back. If things seem overwhelming or chaotic, just remember how much your little babe loves you and seriously get in as much snuggle time as possible! I love snuggling with my Blake girl as much as possible, especially when things aren’t perfect or if she’s been crying all day because she’s teething. That’s the reality of being a Mom and some days are REALLY hard, but nothing a little snuggle session can’t fix.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to take a step back. If things seem overwhelming or chaotic, just remember how much your little babe loves you and seriously get in as much snuggle time as possible! I love snuggling with my Blake girl as much as possible, especially when things aren’t perfect or if she’s been crying all day because she’s teething. That’s the reality of being a Mom and some days are REALLY hard, but nothing a little snuggle session can’t fix.

I have learned so many things through motherhood, but I think one of the most prominent things I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is the importance of laughter. We can’t get too serious with this whole life and parenting thing. It’s serious business, but we have to find humor in it and remember to seek out joy in even the littlest of moments. I connect to my boys through a million tiny moments each day, but some of the best ones are the ones when we are laughing at our beautiful messy selves together.

I have learned so many things through motherhood, but I think one of the most prominent things I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy is the importance of laughter. We can’t get too serious with this whole life and parenting thing. It’s serious business, but we have to find humor in it and remember to seek out joy in even the littlest of moments. I connect to my boys through a million tiny moments each day, but some of the best ones are the ones when we are laughing at our beautiful messy selves together.

The most important thing I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMom is that every day is not going to be perfect–and that is okay. Motherhood is continually teaching me to embrace the mess and see the loveliness in life’s imperfections. Don’t get me wrong, I still love those picture perfect, Instagram-worthy moments…but I know they wouldn’t mean as much without the crazy, chaotic life that’s being lived in between.

The most important thing I’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMom is that every day is not going to be perfect–and that is okay. Motherhood is continually teaching me to embrace the mess and see the loveliness in life’s imperfections. Don’t get me wrong, I still love those picture perfect, Instagram-worthy moments…but I know they wouldn’t mean as much without the crazy, chaotic life that’s being lived in between.

Motherhood has taught me that raising kids is not a competitive sport. It doesn’t matter what others around you are doing. Just stay true to what you feel is right for yourself and your kids, and don’t compare yourself. It will only lead to unhappiness. Even when you feel that you aren’t, you are doing the MOST important work raising children. You don’t expect your children to be perfect, so don’t expect that of yourself either!

Motherhood has taught me that raising kids is not a competitive sport. It doesn’t matter what others around you are doing. Just stay true to what you feel is right for yourself and your kids, and don’t compare yourself. It will only lead to unhappiness. Even when you feel that you aren’t, you are doing the MOST important work raising children. You don’t expect your children to be perfect, so don’t expect that of yourself either!

The most important thing that I’ve learned is to be myself and be true to myself. I don’t have to live up to someone else’s image of what I should be and no woman should ever have to. We need to embrace ourselves and be happy with WHO we are. That’s one of the most important things we can instill in our children, to accept themselves and others.

The most important thing that I’ve learned is to be myself and be true to myself. I don’t have to live up to someone else’s image of what I should be and no woman should ever have to. We need to embrace ourselves and be happy with WHO we are. That’s one of the most important things we can instill in our children, to accept themselves and others.

I believe that kindness, compassion, and a sense of humor are the keys to a happy life. I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as perfect, and that by accepting and enjoying myself, my family, and my house in all our imperfect glory, I can give others permission to do the same. Life is so much easier and more fun that way!

I believe that kindness, compassion, and a sense of humor are the keys to a happy life. I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as perfect, and that by accepting and enjoying myself, my family, and my house in all our imperfect glory, I can give others permission to do the same. Life is so much easier and more fun that way!

What I have learned is no matter how often I fumble this thing called MOM they still love me at the end of the day. I’m embracing my imperfect life and my imperfect style of parenting.

What I have learned is no matter how often I fumble this thing called MOM they still love me at the end of the day. I’m embracing my imperfect life and my imperfect style of parenting.

The most important thing I’ve learned is the value of hanging up my Cape of Perfection and sharing my raw, vulnerable self with other moms. By sharing the nitty gritty moments of motherhood, I’ve found an unparalleled strength and sisterhood that I wouldn’t trade for the world! Knowing that I’m never alone in this beautiful, messy adventure makes all the difference.

The most important thing I’ve learned is the value of hanging up my Cape of Perfection and sharing my raw, vulnerable self with other moms. By sharing the nitty gritty moments of motherhood, I’ve found an unparalleled strength and sisterhood that I wouldn’t trade for the world! Knowing that I’m never alone in this beautiful, messy adventure makes all the difference.

There will always be difficult times and plenty of times when you feel like you can’t possibly do it or you don’t know you’ll possibly get it all done. But if you can muster up the strength and the courage to work through it and do what it takes to get it done, the feeling of accomplishment truly is worth it.

There will always be difficult times and plenty of times when you feel like you can’t possibly do it or you don’t know you’ll possibly get it all done. But if you can muster up the strength and the courage to work through it and do what it takes to get it done, the feeling of accomplishment truly is worth it.

I’ve learned that I am so much more than I ever thought I was capable of: in body, in mind and in my capacity to love and be loved, just as I am. I’m shocked that I am still breastfeeding my son at 20 months of age as I NEVER would have imagined being physically and emotionally able to do this for so long. It’s been the biggest lesson in trust and mindset. Trusting in my body, trusting in my baby and trusting in my way of mothering. I view my body differently to before I was a mother, I am awesome! I grew life and gave life and sustained life! I’m totally a #beautifullymessymommy and it’s the only mess in my life I don’t want to clean up.

I’ve learned that I am so much more than I ever thought I was capable of: in body, in mind and in my capacity to love and be loved, just as I am. I’m shocked that I am still breastfeeding my son at 20 months of age as I NEVER would have imagined being physically and emotionally able to do this for so long. It’s been the biggest lesson in trust and mindset. Trusting in my body, trusting in my baby and trusting in my way of mothering. I view my body differently to before I was a mother, I am awesome! I grew life and gave life and sustained life! I’m totally a #beautifullymessymommy and it’s the only mess in my life I don’t want to clean up.

I’ve learned that at the end of each day I have two choices. I can dwell on the ways that I’ve failed as a mom and give in to that ugly feeling of mom guilt. I can put myself down for not completing my to do list. for feeding my toddler fruit snacks instead of real fruit, or for wearing yoga pants for the third day in a row. Or I can celebrate the fact that my daughter is thriving! Is she happy? Is she healthy? Is she loved beyond measure? If I can answer “yes” to those three questions, then I’ve done my job as a mom for the day and that is enough.

I’ve learned that at the end of each day I have two choices. I can dwell on the ways that I’ve failed as a mom and give in to that ugly feeling of mom guilt. I can put myself down for not completing my to do list. for feeding my toddler fruit snacks instead of real fruit, or for wearing yoga pants for the third day in a row. Or I can celebrate the fact that my daughter is thriving! Is she happy? Is she healthy? Is she loved beyond measure? If I can answer “yes” to those three questions, then I’ve done my job as a mom for the day and that is enough.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about being a mom (a single mom, albeit) is to be completely open and honest with your children. I have the BEST relationship with my fourteen year old daughter and twelve year old son, because I communicate with them on their level. We share everything and they come to me with all of their issues and problems, as well as their joys and triumphs. Because of this open line of communication, we share a bond that ties us inexplicably. My children are my world, and having a close relationship with each of them is something I cherish. Honest and communication. Those are the most important things I’ve learned being a mother.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about being a mom (a single mom, albeit) is to be completely open and honest with your children. I have the BEST relationship with my fourteen year old daughter and twelve year old son, because I communicate with them on their level. We share everything and they come to me with all of their issues and problems, as well as their joys and triumphs. Because of this open line of communication, we share a bond that ties us inexplicably. My children are my world, and having a close relationship with each of them is something I cherish. Honest and communication. Those are the most important things I’ve learned being a mother.

The most important thing I learned as a beautiful messy mommy is to accept my parenting for what it is. Accept me for who I really am as a mom. Stop trying to be someone I’m not. I might not feed my kids all organic food and that’s ok. They might not take a bath every night and they’ll survive. Go easier on everyone. And in turn accept my children for the beautiful little souls they are. Exactly as they are. They’re perfect. And so am I.

The most important thing I learned as a beautiful messy mommy is to accept my parenting for what it is. Accept me for who I really am as a mom. Stop trying to be someone I’m not. I might not feed my kids all organic food and that’s ok. They might not take a bath every night and they’ll survive. Go easier on everyone. And in turn accept my children for the beautiful little souls they are. Exactly as they are. They’re perfect. And so am I.

I read a quote somewhere when my son was just an infant that has stuck with me. It was, “You cannot control the outcome, only contribute meaningfully to the process.” That quote has saved me many times during the last 5 years when I wonder how my actions today are going to affect his future. How I teach him, speak to him or just love him. Or even when I am so mad, I am just trying not to throw him out the window. Wait. Am I the only one to think that? Sometimes that I just want to throw my kid through the window? *Sigh* I guess owning that is what makes me a Beautifully, Messy Mommy.

I read a quote somewhere when my son was just an infant that has stuck with me. It was, “You cannot control the outcome, only contribute meaningfully to the process.” That quote has saved me many times during the last 5 years when I wonder how my actions today are going to affect his future. How I teach him, speak to him or just love him. Or even when I am so mad, I am just trying not to throw him out the window. Wait. Am I the only one to think that? Sometimes that I just want to throw my kid through the window? *Sigh* I guess owning that is what makes me a Beautifully, Messy Mommy.

That you can have fun, dance in public, and show your kids that life is about experience and adventure. …The inner voice telling you that you are not enough….is a liar! You are enough and perfectly imperfect. Own that! …Being a mommy is hard. Some days it’s a cake walk, other days all sh*t has hit the fan and you want to throw in the towel. It’s ok. The day is not over yet…

That you can have fun, dance in public, and show your kids that life is about experience and adventure. …The inner voice telling you that you are not enough….is a liar! You are enough and perfectly imperfect. Own that! …Being a mommy is hard. Some days it’s a cake walk, other days all sh*t has hit the fan and you want to throw in the towel. It’s ok. The day is not over yet…

The biggest thing I’ve learned as a BMM is that being present with these munchkins is the most important thing in the world

The biggest thing I’ve learned as a BMM is that being present with these munchkins is the most important thing in the world

After becoming a mom, I’ve come to realize that what makes life most beautiful…most memorable…most noteworthy is to embrace the unexpected. For me personally, the times when I’ve chosen to embrace the unexpected imperfections of life, I’ve been able to help others (my kids included) relax more and giggle often. This life is indeed full of daily opportunities to find beauty in the mess. So smile at the crazy. Laugh at the unplanned. And relax.

After becoming a mom, I’ve come to realize that what makes life most beautiful…most memorable…most noteworthy is to embrace the unexpected. For me personally, the times when I’ve chosen to embrace the unexpected imperfections of life, I’ve been able to help others (my kids included) relax more and giggle often. This life is indeed full of daily opportunities to find beauty in the mess. So smile at the crazy. Laugh at the unplanned. And relax.

That I don’t have to be perfect, or fit someone else’s image of what a “mom” looks, acts, or sounds like. I can be me in all of my hot (but beautiful) mess glory and my #teenmanboy loves me anyway. He also really enjoys making fun of me, so it’s probably for the best that I’m not perfect 😉

That I don’t have to be perfect, or fit someone else’s image of what a “mom” looks, acts, or sounds like. I can be me in all of my hot (but beautiful) mess glory and my #teenmanboy loves me anyway. He also really enjoys making fun of me, so it’s probably for the best that I’m not perfect 😉

 

What have I learned? That we are all more similar than different. That we are all beautiful and imperfect. That we can feel simultaneously opposing emotions: Resentment and joy. Grief and love. Struggle and resilience.

At the end of the day, we can forgive ourselves for what went less-than-ideally and pat ourselves on the back for all of the LOVE we poured into our tiny humans.

And in this way, we can show our children that self-love, self-forgiveness, and sisterhood are the truth paths to the things we covet, like “balance”, perfectionism, and popularity. Love always wins.

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned as a #BeautifullyMessyMommy! Share your biggest lessons in the comments and on social media. Can’t wait to hear from you mama.

PS: All of these beautifully messy mommies would love to connect with you!

The Mommy Myth That’s Driving You To Drink

I used to cling to this deep-seated fear about motherhood: That becoming a mother would inevitably mean I had to sacrifice fun, self-care, career, travel… and anything else that had previously been part of a playful life that didn’t include a child. Then I joined the proud ranks of mothers and misinterpreted the rite of passage once again: I confused DOING it all for HAVING it all.

My thinking was that if I could still show face at every social function, stay up dancing till 3am every time, climb the corporate ladder, keep my house clean, dress like I’d never had a baby, get my errands done and post cute “I know I’m a mom, but I’m not a ‘mom’” social media posts then I was #winning. I assumed the more I accomplished, the more I was defying mommy stereotypes. The more I said “yes,” the more I was crushing it. I was determined not to let this baby SLOW ME DOWN.

Naturally, I burned out, exacerbated a predisposition to postpartum depression and found that doing it all made me feel like I was living my life according to a preconceived and false idea of what pre-mommy Gervase might call “successful.” I felt unfulfilled, like a fraud, like I was working way too hard to make other people happy and always trying to prove myself.

It doesn’t have to be that hard.

You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. You are already exactly the woman your family needs you to be. Most likely, the only thing missing is your willingness to confidently step into THAT.

What if you didn’t need to change anything about yourself except for self-love, self-forgiveness and a vampire-like ability to sleep on way less sleep than you did pre-motherhood?

What if we stopped trying to photoshop the hardest job on the planet to pretend we were doing it better than everyone else?

And, why, WHY, do we associate “slowing down” with failure?

Slowing down saved my life. Slowing down saved my sanity, my marriage, and my sense of self. I mistook martyrdom for motherhood. I confused doing it all for having it all, and I thought it was better to hide my dark, human moments in shame than to proudly post to the world that I was DOING IT ALL.

You know what we’re ACTUALLY failing at? Celebrating beautifully messy mommies.

If we’re going to drink, let’s toast to THEM. If we’re driven to drink, let’s share those glasses of wine with our non-judgmental Mommy Soul Tribe, in the same boat lamenting, “me too!” If we’re crying into our wine glasses, let’s remind ourselves we’re not the only ones. (Tribe rule #1: Never be sad alone.)

Just because you don’t see it on social media, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Just because your friends aren’t talking about it, doesn’t mean you’re the only one.

All over the world, there are mothers—women, really—who are choosing something different for themselves and their families. They are choosing to hold on to the parts of their former lives and their innate identities that make them feel alive and whole and they are letting go of the mommy myths that make them feel less than, like failures or like frauds. They are choosing sisterhood over mommy wars. They are choosing self-love over sacrifice. They are replacing the myth that they have to DO IT ALL with the actual truth that they can HAVE IT ALL.

And you can, too. The first step is figuring out what choices you’re making based on the myth that you need to do it all and what you would do differently if you knew you could be exactly who you wanted to be.

Because, like I said, that’s exactly who your kids need you to be.

Be that person, because the world needs more of YOU. The next generation needs more of YOU, and that’s who you were born to be anyway.

Welcome, you belong here.

Ready to join your Mommy Soul Tribe? Click here.

2014: The Year I Decided to Have it All

2014 was the year I got everything I always wanted and never imagined I could have. It was also the year I realized those "things" I really wanted were relationships, moments, feelings and a true sense of self and not money (which I thought would bring me that wish list above for so long).

If the year had a signature graphic, I would go with the lightbulb.

As in, "{LIGHTBULB} A "big girl" job isn't necessarily better than one I don't hate that pays my bills..."

"{LIGHTBULB} I actually LOVE being a stay-at-home mom."

"{LIGHTBULB} I've been informally coaching my WHOLE LIFE."

"{LIGHTBULB} I'm meant to be an entrepreneur!"

2014 was the year my soul lit up and burst into red-hot (ambitious) flames in a way I never saw coming. It was the year I stopped being complacent and started "showing up" in every way: as a mother, wife, creative, business owner, student, and coach. It was the year I tapped into a part of myself I wasn't even confident was still in there anymore. The dreamer who demanded she get to have her cake and eat it, too. (Speaking of cake, I ate a lot of that this year, too. Fitness is on 2015's list.) It was the year I happily allowed myself to stay in my pjs with my daughter and snuggle til noon if I felt like it, because, well, I freaking felt like it, and while I'm reflecting, lazy mornings with A stand out as one of THE top 5 greatest things about 2014.

I'm feeling clear-headed, creative, calm & "on fire" since returning home to Charleston in 2015 after 2 weeks of holiday travel. I credit this new and welcomed state of mind to the time I've taken to reflect. This past Sunday, after we unpacked the car, cleaned the house, put the baby to sleep and crawled into bed, I took out a journal my prima brought me back from Paris ages ago (thanks, B!) and finally knew exactly what I wanted to fill it with: important moments and achievements from 2014, visions for 2015, business goals, creative ideas, my personal "WHY," my professional "WHY." Coaches I follow swear by this ritual so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Now I know and will force you guys to adopt it, too. It gave me clarity, gratitude, perspective, strength, humility, ambition and filled me with even more love for my little family.

When I think back to this time one year ago, I was just starting to glimpse the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. This is a combination of so many things: My husband and I had set the end date for my job (Valentine's Day), my antidepressants had just started kicking in and my postpartum depression was quickly being managed, and my body was starting to feel like my own again after, well, you know. And because of all of this I was starting to feel close to my best friend, my husband, for the first time since A was born. The heaviness that had plagued me was lifting, and I ran to burst out the other side of that tunnel as fast as I could, knowing whatever waited for me in the light would be better than the dark. I knew that leaving my corporate job was the right thing to do. The ONLY option left. The only choice I hadn't even considered because it seemed so irresponsible. But once I entertained the idea, I just had this overwhelmingly confident feeling that everything would work out the way it was supposed to. Like suddenly I remembered and had faith in myself that I was born with all the tools I needed, and I just had to employ them. 2014 was the year I discovered what those tools were and used them to build something that makes me proud personally and professionally.

We get so caught up in the "What am I supposed to do with my life?" epidemic that we lose sight of the "Who do I want to be?" question that should come first. Once you determine the WHO, the WHAT naturally follows. But you have to trust your gut and have faith in YOURSELF that your tools will be enough.

I think you're supposed to say that the moment your first child was born was THE most important moment of your life. And I used to feel guilty that my child's first weeks of life were not spent feeling entirely "complete." I felt overwhelming love and gratitude for the miracle of life that I was gifted that some women dream of and never experience. AND I felt kind of like a milk-producing zombie with no social life or mojo for a few months there. It was all good and life-changing stuff, but I would not say it was my BEST moment. My moment arrived when I shifted from unfulfilled working mom into deliberate role model. When I started showing up for MYSELF, and MY dreams and MY relationships, that is when I became the best mother I could be and felt like I was living my life in a way that would make my daughter proud someday (I hope). That’s when I felt like I deserved the beautiful baby that was bringing me so much joy and love every day. Like I was giving back to her the best part of myself that she was freely giving to me. When I decided WHO I wanted to be the WHAT just presented itself to me, and it was suddenly SO OBVIOUS what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

On the last day of my Coach Training Alliance class phone call, everyone on the line shared the biggest impact coaching has had on their relationships over the 6 months. Most people said something about innately coaching those in their lives and receiving positive feedback. I went last and felt nervous to share something that felt more personal.

"The biggest impact for me has been on my marriage. But not because I coach my husband, because I don't. Instead I feel like all of us here have essentially run and jumped off a cliff by choosing this new career and entrepreneurship. It's risky. And I feel really grateful because I didn't have to jump alone. My husband held my hand and jumped with me and has supported me every inch of the fall into the unknown, and because of that, I feel like our marriage is even stronger now."

2014 was the year I fell back in love with my husband in a way that feels like we are cemented together. It was the year I became a certified life coach. It was the year I walked away from a perfectly good job (and paycheck). It was the year I started saying YES to personal challenges and NO to anything that didn't propel me and my family towards our newest collective goals:"OUR happy."

2014 was the year I learned what it feels to be my Best Kept Self, and now that I know how I feel when I'm "on fire," I'll never be able to sit back comfortably and watch as I coast through marriage, motherhood or my personal development ever again.

What did 2014 mean for you? How will 2015 be different? Have you written down what you want from this year and how you're going to get it? YOU SHOULD.

2015 is the year I'm diving into something fun and exciting I've wanted to do for a LONG time: VIDEOS. I have plans to cram them with valuable content and give them to you for FREEEE with my Rise & Shine Series, a monthly video workshop that will cover a wide range of topics to help you design YOUR happy. I'm kicking it off in January with, "How to Get What You Want in 2015." It will be a five-part workshop that launches Monday, January 26th, and ends Friday, January 30th, and to get it you need to SIGN UP HERE. This will allow you to access the private videos and have them delivered to your inbox every morning for the last week of January.

2014 was the year I turned "shoulds" into "wills" and RECEIVED EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED. I want to teach YOU how to do the same in 2015. 

The Thing I Didn’t Know About Prenatal Depression

I was about four months pregnant and sitting around my cousin's cozy dining room table—wine uncomfortably out of reach—when the irony hit me. I was surrounded by my best friends, laughing, drinking and eating, and I felt utterly alone. It didn't make sense. I knew it didn't. And yet, that's how I felt. Negative thoughts crowded my hormonal brain. I didn't belong anywhere. No one really cared or understood. Not even these people. My people. Everyone was oblivious to how much I was struggling. I resented my baby for my nausea, mood swings, exhaustion and acne, and I felt zero connection to her whatsoever.

I hated being pregnant.

That night in bed, I made a pathetic attempt to explain this isolating feeling to my supportive and level-headed husband. As I lay in his arms, sobbing, he quietly whispered what I needed to hear: "I think it's time you spoke to a doctor."

The thing about depression is sometimes it takes you a minute to realize your shit is all out of whack. You're so trapped in your current state of misery that it's hard to think about the bigger picture. You start to believe, "this is just how I am," instead of rationally recognizing that misery as a red flag. THE red flag that you should seek help immediately. You are not meant to feel/be that way, or else it would feel a whole lot better.

As ridiculous as it sounds, particularly with a history of depression in my family and my vulnerable pregnant state, it had never occurred to me that I could be depressed while pregnant. Oh I was TOTALLY bracing for the postpartum shit show that Brooke Shields made a hot topic with her book back in the day, but this? I had never heard anyone mention it. Not my OBGYN, who knew my personal history, nor any pregnant friends, nor the What to Expect When Expecting book.

Instead I guiltily masked my misery in response to knowing smiles excitedly asking, "Don't you love it!?" I didn't love any of it. Not the pregnancy, and not my growing fetus the size of an avocado, who I couldn't possibly conceptualize as an actual human yet. All I did know was that I was in shock from the less-than-gentle transition and overwhelmed with guilt, exhaustion, anxiety and fear.

The thing I didn't know about prenatal depression was that IT EXISTS.

During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone levels rise by about 40 times. However, in some cases, the placenta doesn't produce enough progesterone; This imbalance causes symptoms of depression and this affects one in eight women. It is under-recognized and under-treated by physicians, and while there is lots of controversy about whether or not medication is safe for the fetus and health studies arguing both sides, we're going to skip through all that crap (because this is about ME, yes?). I did not feel I needed meds (this time), though I know some mothers who have truly needed them and I 100% support the choice they made to take care of themselves. I counteracted my prenatal depression with talk therapy and exercise, and the heaviness lifted very quickly after my first conversation with my amazing and hilarious therapist specializing in prenatal/postnatal care.

Going from being a physically and socially active and independent woman to a pregnant one IS A HUGE TRANSITION. One that alters your physical capabilities, your emotional state, what you can eat, how well you sleep, how much energy you have for important friendships, jobs and your marriage. It messes with your skin and your digestion and sometimes, in my case, your mental health.

We don't talk about it enough. I want to talk about it.

"You have to realize," my counselor explained to me at one point, "from the outside you REALLY appear like you have your shit together. You're extremely high-functioning and a naturally bubbly person." Just because people seem like they have their shit together does not mean they do, my friends. Be kind and compassionate, because you might be surprised by how many of your pregnant and mommy friends are struggling right now.

It reminds me of the quote by Plato: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I am not interested in focusing on the shiny and happy parts of pregnancy and motherhood, without paying respects to those dark human moments when you're crumpled in a ball of defeat on the bathroom floor wondering if there will ever again be a time when you will feel like your old self again.

If you are reading this and that's where you are, I want you to know YOU WILL.

There will come a moment when you are snuggling in bed with your little family after EVERYONE will have had a good night's sleep (and maybe even some sex). Your beautiful baby will rest her face on daddy's and, smiling, lean over and plant a big kiss on your lips and squeal, "MOMMY!" In that moment you will know EXACTLY why you sacrificed your body, mental health and wine to create this family. Your family. There will be hard moments and moments you can't even remember what used to be hard about it. It is work, but it is soul-feeding work. Rewarding work. Prenatal depression is one of the growing pains.

You are not alone, and you CAN do this. You are doing it, and it will get easier. I raise a glass to you (because I'm not pregnant and need to take advantage), because you're a freaking super hero in my eyes.

Were there any tough moments during your pregnancy? I'd love to hear your story in the comments below.

Just Because It’s Hard, Doesn’t Mean I'm Not Grateful

The other day I was washing dishes while our almost-2-year-old daughter watched Frozen on the couch for the third night in a row (thank you, Jesus, for TVs). Since becoming parents, the hubs and I are not obsessive about cleaning or dishes (because—marriage), but that particular night the kitchen was a disaster, and dishwashing duty couldn’t be avoided. I had my first class call for a course I just started taking (shout out, Boss School!) and queue of emails I hadn’t been able to answer since that week was Aria’s school’s Spring Break at (REMINDER: SHE IS 2). I had 2 guest blogs due, a video workshop to script, a group coaching program I was passionately rewriting, some homework, and an email to send out to my subscribers.

The reason I’m explaining all this is to give you a peak inside my brain’s to-do list. I was stressed and overwhelmed. I had been snapping at Kev since he came home, and my mind literally felt like it might explode with all the things I had wanted to complete in the last few days, but had been unable to (with said 2-year-old on Spring Break).

Kev looked over at me and asked if I was okay.

“Nope. No way. Not okay,” I replied.

“What’s wrong?” he probed.

“I’d say my anxiety is at about a 9 at this moment,” I explained.

Then Kev said something to the effect of “but you wanted to stay home with our baby.” He said it in the nicest way possible, of course. And he MEANT, “Can you shift your attitude to be grateful that you get to stay home with Aria when she’s on Spring Break instead of going into work?”

I know he did.

But it didn’t FEEL like that’s what he said, and it touched on something that had been percolating in my mind for a while.

“Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean I’m not grateful,” I shot back.

And then I got all intense on his ass and the poor man wished he had never said anything.

“This is the problem with society today! We put so much pressure on women to enjoy every SECOND of parenting, when realistically, sometimes it’s effing hard and we wanna scream at the top of our lungs because we’re being pulled in a million different directions and trying to balance it all, and it’s just not realistic! Why can’t we focus more energy telling mothers, ‘I know today is a hard day and your plate is so freaking full you want to burst into tears, and I know you still love your baby and appreciate her beautiful, perfect little face every time she looks at you, or throws her milk at you or hangs on your leg howling for no reason while you’re trying to pee, and that’s NORMAL. Just because you’re having a hard day doesn’t mean you’re not grateful.”

And I meant every word. Just because I’m having a bad day, week, month, trimester, whatever DOESN’T MEAN I’M NOT GRATEFUL. Life is not shiny and happy all the time, people. Life is full of human moments when our anxiety levels are at a 9 and the only thing to do about it is to feel those feelings, wash the stupid dishes, apologize to your saintly husband, put the baby to bed and then work until midnight. Not only is that okay, I think it’s the norm. I meet and coach way more women who tell me stories like this than, “I wash the dishes every night with glorious abandon and really have no stress.”

Let’s keep it real, shall we?

I am the happiest I have ever been. Literally. I love my family. And I love my choices, and because of that every day I wake up and I truly do love my life and know that I am creating it just the way I want it. And there are still days or weeks when my plate is full, and I’m struggling to juggle it all and it’s Spring Break, and I just collapse in overwhelm. And on those days, I use every single resource I have cultivated over the past year to slow down, shift my mindset, repeat a mantra, have an important conversation, stay up late, vent, ask for help and just…. get it done. There’s no magic formula for getting shit done. You just have to do it with as much grace as you can muster. Oh, and then, you will probably have to apologize to someone. Don’t leave out that part. Every time I apologize to my hubs it opens the door for a much deeper conversation about what is really happening in my head and heart that day.

Some days it will feel REALLY easy, and some days it will feel RIDICULOUSLY hard. Some days you’ll forget it all and go out and drink your face off (not sorry) and some days you’ll know THIS is what needs your time and energy right now, and it IS worth it for some stress. And you do it all for yourself, for your family, for your baby who makes you happier than any other thing ever did and for the things you can’t even anticipate yet.

Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean we’re not grateful. We can do hard things, but let’s be honest, we’re not going to do them with a smile on our faces every single time.

Do you have a story to share of a recent instance when it was HARD and you felt ungrateful? Tell us in the comments below so we can collectively squash that shiz.

Shiny, Happy and Human,

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