don’t let the door hit ya, 2016!

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Fresh start to the year with a fresh organizer! {similar}

Oh hey there – it’s been a while! We have officially said goodbye to the shit show known as 2016 and there’s A LOT to reflect on. So let’s reflect, shall we? This past year was a doozy.

It was this time time last year that I started this blog as a warm and fuzzy little project where I envisioned writing about our home renovations and lifestyle, under the umbrella of honesty and authenticity. I wanted to pull the veil back a bit from the ever-present idea of attaining perfection and boy, did I ever! A year later, I absolutely still think that there is a sweetness in embracing the imperfections of life and finding joy in the mess – maybe more than before. I also still enter each day with a heavy dose of sparkle, but this year changed me a bit. I felt a general heaviness or heightened awareness of things happening in the world, and I couldn’t push it aside in my personal life and that came through in my writing.

For better or worse, I opened up myself online and I got some criticism and a lot of questions about WTF I was thinking. Some people ultimately pushed away from me, but others pulled closer. I learned that it’s easier to play the “everything is AMAZING!” game, in an effort to fit in and not make any waves. Apparently, my subconscious had other ideas about the importance of not making waves. Funny, or actually not funny, that even in my mid-30’s, I’m still playing little games with myself to make sure people like me. If I learned anything throughout this last year, it’s that the status quo doesn’t work for me anymore. I decided to face {mostly} every messy, confusing and uncomfortable thing head on.

The events of 2016 became a flashpoint of connection that created new or more substantive friendships. It highlighted the importance of meaningful relationships and mended some old friendship fractures and strengthened already strong bonds. Because I was so open, casual friends reached out and shared their own experiences with me. Those connections have turned into some of my most treasured friendships: the neighbors I didn’t know very well, the friend from middle school whom I haven’t seen in two decades, colleagues and more people than I can count on two hands. Other close friends offered a different perspective on the things I wrote about, which broadened my outlook.

2016 also drew a line through some relationships; like a line through the middle of a shared bedroom with a sibling – your side/my side. You can still live in that same space, but you’re always aware of the division that creates a comfortable distance. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have lost friendships and relationships with family members, due to dormant issues that bubbled to the surface. Now that they are out in the open, those issues feel like a fundamental game changer. That is a difficult thing to process. Like a teenager, I definitely noticed when a few friends stopped “liking” my photos on FB or Instagram. It took a while, but I finally learned to stop second-guessing myself for just being… myself.

2016 hit my marriage too. There was a moment when I was really worried. That worry was straight out of one of our favorite writings that we have hanging up in our home. The Desiderata poem has been an important work for both of us since before we met, and somehow I completely missed a major point and how it was impacting our relationship.

“But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” – Desiderata

 

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The print of the Desiderata that we had made, emphasizing specific phrases, even though we love every single word of the piece. This is hanging in the most high traffic spot in our house, with the idea that we should be reminded of it every time we pass.

I was most certainly distressing myself with imaginings. It turns out that 2016’s effect on our marriage was to bring us even closer and show us our strength. For the 13+ years that we have been together, I thought I was somehow tricking my husband into thinking I was an unblemished version of myself. This summer, I learned that he knows me far better than I ever gave him credit for and even better than I knew myself in some cases. I had a few epiphanies and thought “WOAH. That makes total sense now!” but when I told him, expecting shock and awe, he responded with something like “Ummm… yeah? Duh. I’ve known that about you for years!” I married the right guy. I married my best friend. What excellent foresight I had 8 years ago!

None of this was my resolution for 2016. I can’t even tell you what my resolution was last year. But, I think it’s important to continue setting goals and checking in with ourselves as we make our way through each year. None of us know what challenges, successes, heartbreaks and joys 2017 will bring in each of our lives or in the world and we can’t control it. What we can control is how we respond to those things and how we choose to begin each day. For now, I’m going to continue down this road of authenticity and see where it takes me. I’ve cleaned my desk, and I have a few things up my sleeve that I’m ready to set into motion. If I see something I want to accomplish, change or be a part of, I’m going to get after it!

So, I guess this year didn’t change me so much as it provided a choice: stay safe and take the path of least resistance or not. I chose the latter and it was uncomfortable. Last year I dug deep, and analyzed lots of experiences and how they have influenced who I am. It was intense. It was lonely, but it had to be lonely because it was work I needed to do by myself. At times, I felt like I had a first class ticket aboard the Hot Mess Express, but I was reminded by a few amazing friends – old and new – that I wasn’t a mess. Life is messy.

Sending everyone a heavy dose of New Year sparkle.

xo

friday faves! kate somerville

Today I’m launching a new series that will celebrate Fridays with a focus on some of my favorite finds. Kicking it off, we need to talk about how I’ve been unfaithful. I have full on cheated and replaced some of my favorite skincare staples. I felt a little guilty about it, but ultimately, I found something that was a better fit and fulfilled my needs in ways that I didn’t know I was missing.

I think Kate Somerville is my new BFF. {Okay, and also the blogger/interior designer whose coffee table book has a prime spot on my shelf and with whom I’ve had a few Insta exchanges lately. I’m convinced we are now friends. Don’t judge.} A couple months ago, I stopped into the wallet vortex that is Sephora intending to grab a new bottle of the cleanser that I’d been using religiously, but instead I scooped up two items from the ExfoliKate line on a whim. The result: my skin hasn’t been this soft in years. Glory, Hallelujah!

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ExfoliKate, Kate Somerville

I am pretty loyal to products that I love, evidenced by my praise singing of the GLAMGLOW masks here and here. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a soft spot in my heart for them, especially the SUPERMUD, but this little gem has changed my exfoliation game. My results from this exfoliation treatment have been very similar to the results I get from the FLASHMUD by GLAMGLOW – my skin is super soft, brighter with a bit of a glow {which is also highly dependant upon how much water I drink and how much sleep I get}, my fine lines are less intense and my pores are clear. But you see, Kate Somerville figured out how to deliver all of this magic in keeping the treatment on for only 2 MINUTES compared to 20 minutes. I don’t know any mama or busy working gal who can’t appreciate that! I actually haven’t used any other masks in at least 6 weeks and I love a good mask. Sorry FLASHMUD, but we have to break up.

Another thing that I love about this product is that it’s available in a small size from Sephora, so you can get your hands on it without dropping a ton of money. This is the size I have been using for the last 2 months and I still have plenty. Once I do run out, I will for sure be getting the full size though!

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ExfoliKate Cleanser, Kate Somerville

The ExfoliKate Cleanser is not the kind of exfoliating cleanser that has little granules as you wash your face – you get the granules in the exfoliating treatment mentioned above. It has a great, creamy texture so my face feels really hydrated but fresh at the same time. It uses other ingredients, like lactic and glycolic acids along with fruit enzimes, to exfoliate gently. It also removes my makeup without requiring a separate step before I cleanse, which is key for me. I think that this has been a step up from the cleanser I had been using, which I still love and choose to be the partner with my Clarisonic a few times a week. But the ExfoliKate Cleanser has taken things up a notch – my pores feel and look better and my skin has been in excellent shape without breakouts or any reactive irritation.

I’ve found that the treatment and the cleanser pair really well together and have noticed a difference in my skin, which is saying a lot from a girl who has super sensitive, dry and reactive skin. One thing that I have learned over the years with regard to exfoliation, is that is great to pair the two types of exfoliation both through physical/mechanical and chemical in your beauty routine. This combo of products does just that and it packs a punch. A gentle punch.

Note: This post has not been sponsored and this is my 100% unfiltered take. This whole blogging project is certainly not a money maker whatsoever, but even if it ever does evolve into something bigger, I promise I will only write about something that I have tried for a considerable amount of time and feel strongly about. Especially when it comes to beauty products. I feel like you need a minimum of 2 weeks to see how it’s working with your skin, so I wouldn’t feel good about singing praises of a product if I haven’t tried it for at least a month.

Happy Friday!

xoxo

 

perspective

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This isn’t the first time I’ve cried for a stranger, but this one hit me hard. Through Instagram, I saw bits of myself, or the version of myself that I aspire to be, in a fellow wedding planner 2000 miles away. Her two littles are the exact same age as mine – 4 and 1. Yesterday, she passed away from the cancer that was diagnosed, as her baby was born, not much more than a year ago. I am heartbroken for a complete stranger and her family. I am shaken to the core. And… I feel a little ridiculous about how I have been impacted by someone I never knew.

It’s no secret that social media is typically a carefully curated and filtered highlight reel that can often gloss over the realities of life. {I am certainly guilty of posting pictures that conveniently crop out the giant pile of laundry that seems to reappear immediately after I get it under control.} There are several people I follow on Instagram and I glance at their photos thinking that their lives really are just one constant highlight reel. Even though I know that’s far from the truth, my mind’s eye tricks me into seeing a perfect photo as a representation of overall perfection, giving me major life goals. In Tori’s feed, that’s exactly what I saw, with the added bonus of seeing slight parallels between us in our careers and children. Until I read about her illness. All of a sudden all of those perfect images that I’ve been re-scrolling through have a different meaning. I think about what she must have been thinking as she held onto her babies, made sure that she was in front of the camera with them, creating something for them to look back on.

When I think about the struggles we all face each day – laundry, stress, money, work, etc. – it all pales in comparison to the struggle of someone fighting to just live. Fighting to be there as their children grow. Fighting for the ability to carpe diem. Our lives are already beautiful, no matter how much they actually line up with the images we post. Even in rubble, there is beauty simply because we woke up today and have breath in our lungs. Right now, I have tears in my eyes for the emotions I’m feeling, joy in my heart for my children, stress for my to do list, a pile of laundry that needs to be folded and a splinter in my foot. It’s just a standard, unremarkable day, but I’m here.

What do I hope to accomplish by writing this? I want to put it out there as a reminder to myself to really live and be in the moment. I want to hold my children so close that my heart might burst. {Because just writing this now it feels like it could burst in the form of tears all over my laptop, so a group hug seems like better use of that feeling!} I want to tell my husband all of the things that he means to me more than I tell him about the things we need to do around the house. I want to make sure that the people I care about know that I love them, even the people that I’ve drifted from. I want to have more adventures, travels, explorations and experiences and not let the weekly monotony envelope me.

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One of the moments that put my life into perspective. Jen Lynne Photography

So, #fortori, I promise to take advantage of the now; to not wait for a more convenient time. I promise to remember, no matter how rattled I might feel or how much coffee I may need, each moment is fleeting. I promise to live each day with purpose and to fill my moments with zest and light.

https://www.gofundme.com/helpingthehendrixs

 

finding my voice

 

 

 

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My sugary gumdrop.

When I first set out to start this blog, I had a clear vision of the range of subjects I wanted cover – complete with an idea burst on the back of scratch paper, 3 months worth of blog ideas and a few pre-written pieces. In my blogging research, I read that it’s important to have a pretty specific and narrow subject. I’ve definitely deviated from my initial list and I’m not sure how narrow my subjects have been. I’ve steered off the original path that I planned, touching on subjects that are much more sensitive and personal, but those are the ones that seem to resonate the most. I’m writing about the things that feel relevant, hoping that they connect with others. Reflecting back on the pieces that I’ve felt most strongly about, I think I’m also working on finding my voice not just in writing but in life, in a way.

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Initial sketch of blogging ideas.

I’ve always been very outgoing and outspoken, probably to a fault. It’s like I feel the need to fill silence, in an effort to deflect from my flaws. If I keep talking, maybe no one will notice that I’m not feeling very put together or polished. Part of it is certainly a defense mechanism of sorts, but I also genuinely love connecting with people, be it having a conversation with a stranger or digging deeper with the people in my life. I also don’t have much of a filter. Believe me, I’ve tried, but it’s like I just don’t have the ability to not put all of my cards on the table. I’m terrible at poker. I might be able to smile through frustration and people please with the best of ’em, but typically I’m an open book.

While I anticipated that this blog would center around my favorite products, experiences in renovating and styling our home, parties that I love to host, my career, parenting and pretty little life details, it’s taken an additional path that probably shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Life isn’t always full of fab details and it’s much more than just the outward appearance of things being polished. There’s always something beautiful in the mundane or simple, even if it’s just gratitude for being in that moment and being alive.

Since starting this blog a few months ago, it has helped to keep me accountable in my goals, like being nicer to myself or the constant struggle for work/life balance. The pretty things should have their moment in the sun, sure, but digging deeper is what makes life rich. I’m always looking to make things better, with my life, my family’s experience, my home and my career. Be it broad, I guess that’s my blogging direction; constantly growing and improving. Writing about more introspective topics or taking an unglamorous yet honest tone has been cathartic and now that I’m seeing how this is developing, I want to stay true to that.

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Currently.

What types of posts would you like to see more of??

xoxo

the other side of the filter: my girls

 

tribeDo you ever look at social media and feel like your life isn’t as pulled together or as beautiful as it should be? I love a pretty Instagram post as much as the next gal, but sometimes I start to look at my surroundings and question myself. I’m sure that I’m guilty of the humble brag and putting perfection-panic inducing material out there, but I think we could all use a little more honesty. With honesty and substance, we build each other up, rather than focusing on a heavily filtered highlight reel, that ultimately makes others feel less than amazing about their own lives.

There are those people in your life who remind you to embrace and appreciate your own imperfections, that those are the things that make you beautifully human. Because perfection really isn’t a thing; it’s just some lofty ideal that no one can ever attain and constantly reaching can be exhausting and sometimes demoralizing. Over the last several years, I have learned to do some filtering of a different kind: I have stepped away from the negative voices and now make a conscious effort to surround myself with people who exude love and support.

I have incredible women in my life and in honor of International Women’s Day this week, they are my highlight reel. These are my people.

 

COLLEAGUES 

The wedding industry is filled with a high percentage of women and I am lucky to work so closely with colleagues whom I have admired for years. Our industry, on a whole, is one of support rather than competition. In a time when it’s still not uncommon hear stories from working mothers who have been discounted in the workplace or have not been able to take a reasonable amount of time after giving birth or adopting, I think that sometimes women can be toughest on each other. In my colleagues, I have found nothing by the strongest of supporters as I navigate the complexity of working motherhood. Through an unshakable camaraderie, they give me strength to tackle challenges, however insurmountable they may seem. They inspire me to have even bigger dreams, to think outside of the box and to set lofty goals. With them, I believe that anything is possible and feel a sense of pride and drive to leave my mark. They are more than just colleagues, they are friends, family.

 

FRIENDS

 

My friends don’t fit into one tight little group and I couldn’t possibly upload photos of all of them, or it would take up this entire post! They are scattered throughout close individual relationships and a few different clusters. Some I have known since childhood, others I have only just recently met and some I used to rely on heavily as mentors and now count as friends. There seems to be an ebb and flow with friendships and you may go months or even years without connecting, but you can still pick up just where you left off. My friends are moms, students, teachers, scientists, designers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, marketers, musicians, artists, foodies, yogis and more. Some of them can check many of these boxes all at the same time! As different as they all are, they carry similar qualities and have had a profound impact on my life. They are therapists {well, only one is technically a therapist!} and they always seem to know the right thing to say to help pull me out of a rut. They are confidants and keepers of my embarrassing moments, my heartbreaks and my insecurities. They inspire me to make the world better and they shape the way I parent. They love me as I am, which helps me love myself. Friends are the family you choose.

 

SISTERS

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I grew up with one younger sister – just the two of us. Marrying my husband gave me two more sisters, and for all intents and purposes, another sister who is technically a cousin. There’s something about growing up with a sister that holds a steadfast bond, even if the tides take you in different directions. You may have memories of intense conflict over stealing borrowing clothing, but right next to those memories are ones of inside jokes and sidesplitting laughter. Your sisters are there for you when you need them and in an instant, they’ll swoop in with a meal or help take care of your kiddos. You are connected to your sisters in a special way; your heartbreaks are their heartbreaks and your joy is their joy. Your history is shared and your lives are intertwined. Sisters are all about honesty, even if the honesty is brutal, you’re stuck with each other!

 

MOTHERS 

Mothers are everything. They are support systems, cheerleaders, confidants, advice givers, hand holders and beyond. I have three of these special ladies in my life: my mother-in-law, my stepmom, and of course, the incomparable original. My mother-in-law is the whole village in the phrase, it takes a village. Living nearby, she is a constant presence taking care of my children and taking care of our family in general. I would not have gotten through my last pregnancy and 12 weeks of bed rest without her. She is truly an extension of our parenting system. Now, stepmom is a word I only recently started using and I think it’s one that she’s only recently been comfortable hearing and using herself. But over the last ten years since they’ve been married, she has become so much more than just someone who makes my dad happy. She is my friend, my foodie resource and a mentor. It’s hard to find the right words to describe it, but she occupies a space in my heart that didn’t feel empty before, but now feels complete.

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And then there’s my mom. Where do I begin? How do I put into words what my mom is to me. My mom is my best friend. We talk multiple times a day and she is my go-to for just about any question I might have. I have a respect for her that cannot be matched, even when both of our strong-willed personalities butt heads. She has walked a path that was far from easy: as a woman working in a scientific field rampant with misogyny, a single mother jumping through fire for her daughters, a woman with an open heart and mind challenging those with closed minds, just trying to make a difference. She loves my children as if they are her own and spoils them like any good grandparent would do! She has set a lifelong example of the importance of character and compassion. Though we are very different in many ways, she has influenced me beyond measure.

The women in my life have all impacted the woman that I am and hope to be. It’s so important to build each other up because we women are fierce and we can move mountains together. When we support each other and drop the pretense, we are ultimately making our own lives richer.

xoxo

surround yourself

winter skincare overhaul 

 

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My new skincare must haves.

I have a new skincare jam! Being the product junkie that I am, I have to spread the gospel. I have super dry and sensitive skin and it has been misbehaving for the better part of the last year, but things are finally in check!

On one side of my extended family, the women outnumber the men by almost double. We ladies have a lot in common: our laughs, our smiles, our voices that carry, and our deep-rooted love for beauty products. So, maybe it’s part of my DNA, but I have a bathroom cabinet filled to the brim with scores from Sephora. I had a stint working in skincare with the cosmetics department at Nordstrom. I don’t claim to be an esthetician, but I will say that my product habit, paired with that hot Nordstrom minute have helped me to understand my skin and how to care for it.

Rewind to my postpartum skin last year. Dry, angry and reactive to just about anything I put on it, even just simple vitamin e oil. I had this stubborn irritation that popped up in April that I initially attributed to stress acne, but acne treatments just caused it to flare up even more. I was never able to diagnose it, even after a few visits with different doctors, skincare consultations and prescription topical creams. We ruled lots of things out, but never identified the culprit. When I wasn’t focused on battling this angry skin situation, my face still just looked dull and my wrinkles/fine lines seemed to be more pronounced. I stressed for months and simplified everything to try to keep my face from waging war against me. The irritation finally cleared up around September/October, thanks to cortisone. Since then, I’ve slowly added things back in and built a new skincare routine, piece by piece. After all that, I’ll be damned if I stray from this lineup anytime soon!

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Soy Face Cleanser, by Fresh

Cleanse: This cleanser by Fresh was one of the first things that really calmed down my skin this past summer. I think the cleanser I had been using had grown too harsh with my changing skin. This is so soothing and gentle and it also removes makeup, easy peasy. In the mornings, I use this cleanser along with my Clarisonic cleansing brush with the radiance brush heads. {Although, I do have my eye on a new cleansing ‘brush’ that I’m planning on snagging in the near future – stay tuned!}

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Flashmud, by GLAMGLOW

Exfoliate: I’ve mentioned this mask before and I will sing its praises again! I use this guy 2-ish times a week. Once a week, I’ll use one of its sister masks that deeply cleanses pores. I always multitask when I’m doing a mask, because who has time to just sit and meditate for 15 minutes?? Lately, I’ll throw it on as I’m getting ready to jump in the shower and then rinse it off at the end and there seems to be something good happening with the steam from the shower. Full disclosure: showering does not happen daily, because #momlife. Sometimes I only get to do a mask once on the weekends and skip the weekdays completely, but when that I happens there is a noticeable difference in the way my skin looks and feels.

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Rose Water, by Poppy Austin

Tone: I’ve recently fallen hard for rose water. It’s super hydrating and I love the scent. I’ve been using this straight up rose water toner lately but I also love this one that is blended with healing witch hazel and hydrating vitamin e. The big thing I’ve learned with toner is to be sure that it is alcohol free.

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Truth Serum, by Ole Henriksen

Serum: We need to talk about the magic that is this vitamin c serum by Ole Henriksen. {Pronounced Ooh-la.} The texture is perfect and vitamin c is known for protecting the skin from irritants in the environment and also brightens. I use this guy only in the mornings and another Ole serum at nights. What I like about the night serum is that unlike retinol, it’s safe to use when you’re pregnant or nursing and I just stopped nursing within the last week. I am officially hooked on this line and can’t wait to try out more!

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Sheer Transformation, by Ole Henriksen

Moisturize: Did I mention I have crazy dry skin? Another goodie from Ole Henriksen, this moisturizer by totally does the trick without feeling heavy or greasy. I also love that it doesn’t have any ingredients that react to my tinted moisturizer when I’m doing my makeup. {Ever notice tiny balls beading up when you’re blending makeup? That’s a reaction between ingredients in your moisturizer and your foundation/tinted moisturizer/bb/cc.} I use this morning and night, and just switch up my serum. I need to mention that you don’t have to have aging, dry skin for this moisturizer to be worth a shot – our nanny, Young Mary Poppins, actually introduced me to this and is using it herself. We both are newly converted groupies for Ole, even though there’s a 12 year age difference between us.

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Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24, by Shiseido

Eyes: This eye cream is my new winter staple. I have a feeling it will feel like too much in the summer, but it has totally hit the spot like I’ve never experienced before in an eye cream. It’s really rich and ultra hydrating. I haven’t had a problem with using concealer or other makeup on top of it. It is a heavier consistency, so I tread lightly with the application and I lightly swipe, even though I know you’re supposed to tap. I have been using it for about 3 weeks now and I’m already noticing a difference in the lines around my eyes, I believe that is due to finally getting a solid level of hydration that really penetrates rather than just sitting on top.

All of this takes less than 5 minutes, after I rinse the exfoliating mask.

When it comes to makeup, I have a dirty little secret: I keep my makeup bag in the console of my car and just throw it on at red lights or in the drive through lane at Starbucks. My poor vanity desk isnt getting any love these days! My makeup bag lives in the car because again, #momlife and I would have to move the pile of clothes off my vanity chair even if I did want to be civilized about my makeup application. But the great news is, lately I’ve been skipping makeup altogether, save for some mascara and lip gloss!

What skincare products do you swear by?

xoxo

the things we don’t talk about: miscarriage & fertility

So much for my plan to write about my new favorite eye cream today. Apparently, I am getting super personal this week, but I promise to lighten it up next time!!

A dear friend of mine is currently in the middle of a heartbreak – she just had a miscarriage a few days ago. I was talking to her about grieving this loss and I said something like, “You don’t realize how common it is, until you mention your own loss and then the flood gates open with stories of other women who have miscarried.”

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I’m not sure why it’s such a taboo subject, but there seems to be a certain code of silence that comes with miscarriage. I’ve mentioned my experiences, in passing, a few times and the people I’m talking to usually seem shocked that I’m acknowledging it. When you’re in the thick of that loss, it can be extremely lonely and feeling like you must be shrouded in secrecy only amplifies that loneliness. For people like my friend, I am opening up about my experience with pregnancy loss and fertility because it doesn’t have to be such a lonesome and quiet road.

Before we had kids, we struggled with fertility issues for over a year and part of that struggle included several very very early losses. That whole experience was difficult because it was easy to blame myself and pick apart things that I might have done to contribute to our challenges. {If only I hadn’t walked so much…} I understood intellectually that it wasn’t my “fault” and that I couldn’t have changed the outcome through anything that I did or didn’t do, but I still felt responsible somehow. I finally accepted that it wasn’t anything I had done and in my case, it was a physical condition that required surgery. Also, it’s funny how everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant and staying pregnant when you desperately want to be.

During that year of struggle, the hubs and I had a fun way of taking our minds off of it: following each realization that a baby was not on the way, we would pull ourselves up and make a night of it. We’d do all the things we knew we wouldn’t be doing once we were parents, which usually involved our favorite sushi restaurant, a bottle of wine, then bar hopping our way back to our apartment! It dulled the disappointment by sheer distraction. Traveling was a great way for us to reconnect and to help keep ourselves from being consumed by the desire to have a baby. Without consciously taking the time to have fun and step outside of the fertility bubble, I don’t think we would have maintained our sanity.

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We made sure to keep having fun together through it all.

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Travels kept us feeling like a team and feeling connected. Being connected kept us hopeful.

When Henry was about 14 months old, the pregnancy symptoms were intense and recognizable almost immediately, even though we weren’t trying. At 7 weeks, I noticed the beginning stages of miscarriage. I was in complete denial at that point – googling everything that could possibly indicate that it was just normal first trimester stuff. A few days later, it became obvious that it wasn’t normal and that I had lost the pregnancy. We left directly from the doctor’s office to be with my family, 4 hours away, for my grandmother’s funeral. Even though I was surrounded by family and love, I still felt lonely – like it was something that only I could understand.

I felt guilty because I had been shocked and maybe a little less than excited when I saw the positive pregnancy test. As though my mixed emotions had caused the miscarriage. In those few weeks, I had gone from shocked and scared to excited and fully envisioning our growing family. Even though I was only pregnant for a short time, I still felt connected and bonded, so I had to grieve that loss. I had to give myself the space to be sad. I think that is key – to give yourself permission to grieve, because it is a loss. It’s a loss of possibilities and hope.

I eventually regained my focus by fixing my gaze on my blessings; a wonderful husband, a healthy one-year-old and all of the possibilities for the future. I regained my sense of hope. I also did A WHOLE LOT of snuggling with my little guy, which I’m sure helped the process! We decided not to try for another baby for a while and exactly a year after my miscarriage, I found out I was pregnant with Graham. Those feelings of loss are still seared in the back of my mind and probably won’t ever go away, but I have two crazy kiddos now, so I don’t go there that often. Even when I do, there is a sense of lightness attached to those feelings now, because I’m at peace. I’m at peace because it’s just another part of our family’s journey that brought us to where we are now.

After I told my friend about my experience the other day, she said she just wanted to give me a hug, even though she knew that everything eventually turned out well. I said the following to her: “Everything will turn out well for you too and you won’t be able to imagine your life any differently. You’ll probably also be having a similar conversation with a different friend who is grieving a miscarriage and you’ll be the one telling her that it’s all going to be okay.” xoxo

UPDATE: Here are a few resources that helped through my journey.

  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility – I have the 10th anniversary edition, but I’m assuming the just released 20th anniversary edition is even better. I still use this as a resource. {Why didn’t they teach us all of this information in health class?!?}
  • Fully Fertile – For those of you who have an inner hippie, like me.
  • Pulling Down the Moon – This is a space that promotes a holistic approach to health and fertility. Their resources are really supportive and if you’re local to Chicago or DC, you can make an appointment for fertility or prenatal massage, take a fertility specific yoga class or get acupuncture, which is what I did. I cannot recommend them enough. Side note, the above book Fully Fertile was written by the founders of Pulling Down the Moon.

 

kindness

 

birthday photo

Yesterday, I turned 35. I used to make a huge deal about my day, but somewhere along the line, I stopped feeling that special birthday buzz. Not sure if it was the February weather in Chicago that diminished the sparkle or if it was just adulthood. This year, I made a point of making a bigger deal out of it, for the first time since my 30th. In the last several days, I’ve had dinners with friends, brunch with more friends, spa time and date night with the hubs. Actually, he was the one who helped me to stop feeling guilty about taking time for myself this year.

I’ve been making a conscious decision to stop feeling guilty about a lot of things lately, as you may have noticed from a few previous posts. In honor of my birthday, I am taking the opportunity to make another change.

I am going to be kind to myself.

There are lots of ways that we can be less than lovely to ourselves with our internal monologue. I usually tend to pick on the fact that I am not always usually the fully put together version of myself that I want everyone to think I am. I know this is completely ridiculous. Life is short and there is a lot of unkindness in the world, so why am I wasting time, even if it’s only 30 seconds, being unkind to myself? Enough. I am going to hold myself accountable by putting it out there.

Baby Weight. Looking at myself during pregnancy, I had so much respect for my body and what it was doing. Why do I feel disdain for that same body after my babies are born? Those 10ish extra pounds are still with me a year later… I need to remember that they are there because I grew life and then continued breastfeeding each of my little guys for over a year. {Anyone else have a body that doesn’t abide by the adage that breastfeeding is the best way to lose baby weight?!} It’s frustrating that most of my clothes don’t fit at the moment, but I don’t need to hate on myself because of it.

My C-Section Scar. That scar is a symbol of a baby who was born safely. I couldn’t look at it for several weeks afterwards and when I finally did, I felt straight up maimed over the next few months. I’m used to it now, but I definitely need to work on feeling respectful toward that scar. I should respect it as a part of me and something that facilitated the safe arrival of my youngest, in the same way that I respected my pregnancies.

Perfection. I’ve been followed by feelings of inadequacy since I was a kid – early elementary school. As an adult, I put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to be perfect, as a way of compensating. I didn’t have the perfect childhood or adolescence, but who does… other than my husband, The Beave?? I sometimes I feel like I need to make up for those insecurities by having a photo-ready existence. The reality is that things are usually far from photo-ready and that is OKAY.

I’ve said for a while that I think it’s important to be authentic, in the spirit of following your heart and your gut, to live a meaningful life. But how can you really have authenticity if you aren’t embracing the things that make you you, but instead striving for something unrealistic? So, I need to stop being critical of myself and replace that criticism with the same kindness and love that I extend to the people around me. I need to cut myself some slack. I need to respect my scars.

decompress: the power of a good shower

Last weekend, it dawned on me that I neglected a very important aspect in my boundaries post. With our nonstop to-do lists, the thing that routinely gets pushed to the bottom of that list is making time for ourselves. Amiright??

I hate the phrase “me time.” It makes it sound like something we should feel guilty about. When I’m a hot frazzled mess, it doesn’t serve anyone well. So, in addition to setting boundaries, we need to acknowledge the importance of making time for ourselves. And then we need to not feel guilty about it!! It’s just another piece of the puzzle to maintain or regain sanity, so we can be our best at work and at home. One of my friends calls it hitting her reset button. When things work out perfectly, the reset button might be dinner out with girlfriends, a mani/pedi or an elusive spa appointment. When things are less than perfect, we might chill by ourselves with a giant dish of pasta or something else carby and a bottle glass of wine, followed by something chocolate. Worst case scenario, has anyone else pretended they needed to be in the bathroom longer than necessary, just to be in a quiet room?

Last weekend, I was reminded not to underestimate the power of a good shower. We installed a new shower head, so I promptly locked myself in the bathroom for an hour or so. When I came back out, I felt surprisingly refreshed. I’m a total product junkie so I started thinking about my must haves for a little shower escape.

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1 – I’ve never loved our bathroom; in fact, it was almost a deal breaker. This new shower head has changed the game for us, until we can renovate our master. Note: some extender arms come with a little rubber flow restrictor, so you’ll probably want to remove that so it doesn’t turn your rain shower into a drizzle shower.

2 – My favorite face masks are by GLAMGLOW. You might be familiar with the original GLAMGLOW mask, SUPERMUD. It pulls all of the icky stuff from your pores and gets better the more you use it because it keeps your pores from clogging.

3 – More from GLAMGLOW! One of their new masks, FLASHMUD has become my new fave. It’s claim to fame is that it brightens while also exfoliating. I notice a huge difference in my skin tone on days I use this bad boy.

4 – One more face mask. I love love love Fresh products and the Rose Face Mask is a staple. You can use it daily, in place of a traditional toner.

5 – Speaking of masks, they are great for hair too. I regularly use the Phytocitrus Color Protect Radiance Mask to help protect my highlights. A friend of mine is a big fan of the Neutrogena Triple Moisture Hair Recovery Mask and she always has shiny, amazing hair, so I am definitely snagging some on my next Target run.

6 – I love bubble baths, but our current master bath is shower only, so I’m living vicariously on this one. My friend swears by Laura Mercier Honey Bath and it sounds like it’s fab enough to make taking a bath in the kids bathroom worth it. I love that it comes with a cute little honey stick!

7 – Essential oils are definitely having a moment. Another friend suggested adding a few drops of lavender oil to coconut oil or an unscented lotion. A few drops would be perfect in the shower for aromatherapy.

8 & 9 – Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!!! If you aren’t on the exfoliation bandwagon, you need to be. Splurge. Save.

10 – Especially in the winter, it’s key to keep lips exfoliated too. I love this yummy sugar scrub by Sara Happ.

11 – Hydrating is huge for me because I have crazy dry skin. Right after I turn off the shower, I apply shea & coco butter baby oil. Then I do lotion on top of that – especially in the winter. My usual system is shower, baby oil, bathrobe, face mask, lotion.

12 – I am always on the look out for new lotions or body butters that don’t feel greasy. Right now, I’m swapping between this one by L’Occitane and this one by a small company from Indiana called Bass Farms. My mom gave me the Bass Farms goat milk body butter in Mandarin. The citrus scent really helps to beat the winter blahs.

What other must haves do you swear by? If a trip to the nail salon isn’t in your plans this weekend, hopefully you can at least get yourself to the shower and go off the grid for a while to decompress and hit your reset button. xoxo