The Middle.

It’s April now, the in-betweenest of all the months – in between winter and spring, not the beginning of the year, but not yet the summer. The middle.

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That’s where I find myself right now, in the middle (cue Maren Morris).

I’m not a new mom or a newlywed, but I’m still a young mom and a young-ish wife. I’m not super early in my career, but I also haven’t yet built the thing that I want to build. I’ve passed the discovery phase of my 20s, and now I’m learning how to undo patterns and habits that have rooted their way into this new decade.

The saying – when the student is ready, the teacher will appear – has never been more true in my life than in these last three months. My life since January has felt like a bootcamp in life skills: finances, emotional health, communication in marriage, parenting. I’ve been a sponge, soaking up new skills, shedding old perspectives, adopting new paradigms.

For one thing, we’ve stopped using personal credit cards completely. And I don’t mean that we use a credit card, and we pay it off every month. I’ve literally closed down credit lines. It’s one less thing for me to manage, and I will never go back.

Emotional health has become a real pursuit for me. We went to marriage counseling for the first time. I’m wrapping up a study on the subject with women from my church. Dates have become a weekly non-negotiable priority.  I’m learning every single day better ways to give and receive love, so that I can be the best mom and wife possible.

I’ve had a onslaught of gray hairs appear that I attribute to this particular learning season, but at the same time, I am enjoying this season so much because I have a glimpse of what’s ahead for our family. I have total and complete faith that our family legacy is being built, day by day, right now, in this season, in this year.

I am the farthest person from a marathon runner, but there is a special place in my heart for athlete analogies. I’m in the slog of the training phase. It’s slow. It’s hard. It’s sweaty. I’m moving a single step – a single action – at a time, but I’m confident that I’m heading in the right direction. The beautiful thing about this “race” is that it could be 26.2 miles, or it could not. Maybe it’ll only be 3 miles because God’s timelines and God’s ability to fulfill are infinitely greater than our own. Good news for us non-runners.

Books for the new year.

I love the fresh start of the new year.  The beginning of January is one of my happiest times of the year. I set my goals and intentions the last few weeks of December, and seeing them in action gives me so much satisfaction and joy.

 #shelfie

#shelfie

A theme that’s already started emerging for me this year is help and coaching. It’s harder to accomplish goals in a vacuum. One of my self-care goals for Q1 of the year is to get our youngest sleep-trained by the end of the month. If you know us, you know that we are incredibly lackadaisical about kiddo routines, which has backfired! After three years running of sleep deprivation, I finally bit the bullet and hired a sleep consultant. I don’t want to jinx it, but so far, it's been a game-changer.

Books to me are like consultants that live in your bag. They are such low-barrier ways to access expertise and a fresh perspective.  No better time to start a reading kick than in the new year. My January reading list:

Work

Lifestyle

Home

Spiritual

  • She Reads Truth Bible – I have it in the Navy LeatherTouch and love it - it feels so special.
  • The Soul Tells a Story - all about the discipline of writing and the practice of creative pursuit - motivating and inspiring.

What are you reading? I'd love to know!

Welcome, 2018.

It feels kind of fitting that this is the last day of 2017. New Year’s Eve, and I’m feeling impatient and burned out, like I’ve felt for so much of this year. Nothing’s working today – our internet, the baby’s sleep schedule, even my latte was subpar. I burned the bacon and cut my hand on foil (???).  Break out the champagne – I need a new day and a new year.

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When I reflect on 2017, I can’t say that I knocked my goals out of the park. Twenty-seventeen was the year of parenting two under 3 and working full-time. That’s pretty much it.

And yet (because there’s always God’s goodness) –  there was our first house, and Judah’s first birthday. There were parties and dinners with friends, getaways and a gala.  We got to watch our boys grow. It was a yearlong season of trial and error and no sleep and long days. It was a year of beauty, and blessings, and also a very ordinary kind of hard.

Going into 2018, I’m not working on big milestones, but a day-to-day that’s aligned with my priorities and values. In past years, I’ve chosen a word to describe the theme for the year: intentional, present, creativity. This year, I’ve chosen a chapter: Proverbs 31, a vision for daily God-seeking, housekeeping, child-raising and working.

My goals for the first quarter of 2018 stem from my priority buckets: self-care, relationships, personal growth, resources, and work. I use a Day Designer, and I love that for each goal, there’s a section for monthly actions, a weekly routine, a daily habit, and what progress looks like. I’m ready to turn the corner into 2018, with lots of scaffolding via coaching, scheduling, and microactions. I’ve hired a sleep consultant, found house cleaning help, and signed up for a women’s study. I’ve penciled coffee dates with the hubs into my planner and financial check-ins. Baby steps. Progress, not perfection.

We’ve been sick for the better part of December, and off work for this last week. This time has been so crucial to helping us slow down, readjust our priorities, and remember what it’s like to have margin. I’ve really lowered the bar for myself these last few weeks, trading in “adventures” for hanging out at home, and big organizing projects for just one load of laundry. Even today, we had plans to go to Cortina’s for lasagna and tiramisu, and instead I made a weeknight bolognese, in my sweatpants, with leftover pecan pie for dessert. In many ways, these weeks have been the perfect transition to a new year. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in 2017, it’s that simpler is so often better.

Tomorrow, we’ll have breakfast while watching the Rose Parade, a tradition for me ever since I was a little girl. In the afternoon, we’ll head to our favorite bed & breakfast, with a room overlooking the water. It’ll be our fourth year there, our annual family retreat starting off the new year with each other.

We were together. I forget the rest.
— Walt Whitman

Watercolor in 30 Days.

So I failed miserably at the Whole30 challenge. Clearly I've been lacking in the whole self-care department for months now. If not food, then maybe art?

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I pre-ordered Everyday Watercolor earlier this year, thinking it might help me turn around my creative dry spell. I mean, the only written words I've managed to eek out have been I'm so exhausted. And when every journal entry for weeks have started out that way, it's time for an injection of inspiration, ya know?

November, I'm coming at you with watercolors. I'm stocked up on supplies: cold-pressed paper, Princeton synthetic sable no. 2 brush, no. 6 brush, no. 16 brush, and a starter paint set. I have practice time scheduled (5 a.m. – it's fine) and my accountability partner, Instagram stories. If this isn't setting myself up for success, I don't know what is (#famouslastwords).

 

 

My Whole6.

I quit Whole30 on the morning of Day 7.

For six days, I stuck to the program religiously. (Enter the theological discussion of the letter v. the intent of the law).  Whole30 was the letter when my intention the whole time was discipline and healthy choices. I even tediously removed the flecks of quinoa that Dave accidentally had put on my greens bowl at Cava and stuck the coconut milk yogurt – marred by the iota of rice starch in its ingredient list – at the back of the fridge.

I felt progressively hangry and then, weak. It was hard lifting even 8-lb. dumbbells over my head in Orange Theory. I’m not talking feel-the-burn hard, I’m talking why-won’t-my-arms-hold-themselves-up-I’m-so-tired hard.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was me, being up at 3 a.m., emailing my doctor about issues with my body that I experienced that are TMI for the internet. At six, I went downstairs and ate a bowl of plain whole milk Greek yogurt with a handful of chia seeds and frozen berries (no added sugar, mind you). It was delicious. Then I ate a plain multigrain waffle which hit the spot – had sugar in it, but I’ve decided I’m ok with five out of twenty-five grams a day.

Later that morning, I had oatmeal (also banned), with unsweetened Milkadamia and topped with sliced banana and avocado. I brewed French press with the yummy (but, really, so good) Ecuador Estate Small Lot coffee from Trader Joe’s with a splash of cream. It was perfection. I’m talking happiness in a cup.

Do I feel like I’m missing out on the full benefits of completing the program? Kinda. Did I experience benefits? Some (more of this in another post). Was my body (still breastfeeding) going bonkers? Yes. So it feels 10% like failure and 90% like freedom. I’m not convinced that going without plain yogurt (probiotics → good gut bacteria) or whole grains is beneficial for me in the long run, or in the short-term.

 No sugar bingers, but not gonna lie, these look good.

No sugar bingers, but not gonna lie, these look good.

Is it a failure or win? I’m not really sure, but I’m leaning towards the latter. I still have a Whole30 compliant dinner planned, but before that, I fully plan on snacking on sesame crackers and a cheddar stick. ✌🏼