“And now is right on time.”

Sometimes the simplest advice – the words we hear most often, starting as children – are the hardest to follow. There are some phrases we hear so often throughout life we completely tune them out, dismissing them as frivolous niceties. We stop paying attention because they’re said in passing, or without deeper explanation.

One phrase I’ve heard my whole life is, “Just be yourself.”

I kind of hate it. What does that even mean…Who else would I be?

The more I think about this though, the more I realize it means lots of things. To trust your instincts…to not live in fear of consequences…to be mindful in the present moment and gentle with yourself.

So all of that being said, at 32 years old, I’ve decided to be myself. Finally.

You know that episode of Seinfeld where George decides to place his exact opposite deli order? And amazing things start happening? That’s pretty much me. I’m changing my approach to thinking and doing what naturally crosses my mind, and in just two days I’ve become the Costanza of the Modern Era.

This doesn’t mean anything drastic is changing. I’m not flying off the handle. In fact, I predict that if anything, these changes will only be evident to me. But the freedom this decision allows is bananas.

I suddenly feel this tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. It might make some things harder, but I think it’s going to make most far easier.

Part of this madness stems from some big thoughts and dreams brewing lately. Another part of it comes from getting older.

Getting older is awesome because it means you’re also getting wiser. You’ve done more life and you know how to handle more situations. You learn what matters and what you can let go; where to hold your ground and where to compromise. You begin to recognize who you really are. Not who you want to be, or used to be, but who are are in this moment.

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Time out.

I don’t drop Lila off or pick her up at the exact same time each day. Sometimes, we run late. Actually, all the times we run late. And while I try to get her around the same time every afternoon, my arrival varies based on my work schedule, traffic, etc. All that being said, I don’t always run into the same parents, and haven’t had a chance to get to know all of them, even after almost nine months.

Today, as we were saying goodbye, Lila’s teacher pointed out to another mom and me that she and I are both named Jessica, and both married to men named James.

Funny, right?

Well then the other Jessica noted that my daughter’s name is Lila, and her daughter’s name is Kyla.

Ha.

And then for fun, I asked her when her birthday is. June 2. Mine is June 5.

And then we noticed we had the same bottle bag.

And then I asked what she does for a living.

Marketing.

Right. Well.

We are either destined to be best friends, or should never be in the same place at the same time again.

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The things I didn’t expect.

Being totally ok with having smeared hand and mouth prints all over our french doors. How the dogs sit patiently under the high chair during meals. The sheer volume of your cries when you aren’t pleased with a situation. What it feels like in my heart when I go into your room each morning and you rub your eyes and smile at me, scrunching up your entire face. The amount of bottles I wash. The time I spend cutting fruit into tiny pieces. The way I scrutinize everything I buy you. The feeling that washes over me when I hear you cooing and babbling to yourself while you play. The guilt. Oh, the guilt. And the worries. The way I slowly sway any time I am standing, an unbreakable instinct even when I’m not holding you. How sharp your nails are. Your fascination with necklaces and glasses. The feeling when you fall asleep in my arms, and how it’s the only time in my life I’ve ever known I’m exactly where I should be. All the ways you have changed me to be a better version of myself. The moments when it’s just us and we communicate in our own completely special way.   

 

 

11 months (is almost one year)

Dear Lila,

How do we have an 11-month old? I’m fairly certain every month goes by more quickly than the last, and that you’ll be driving by winter. The answer to whether you can date and wear make up yet remains a firm “no.”

Sweet girl, you are overflowing with personality. You’ve begun to express your sentiments about various situations quite vocally. For instance, if we try to wipe your nose, we are greeted with a blood-curdling scream at a volume I did not imagine existed in this world. Whereas, if we give you pieces of banana, you will shriek with glee as if we’ve presented you with a pony carrying a winning lottery ticket in its mouth.

You giggle and pant when we crawl around after you playing “tag,” and you crack yourself up interacting with the dogs. Last month you endured Roseola and a sinus infection like a champ, while cutting your third tooth (a top one, finally).

Your # 1 goal in life is consuming dogfood. If babies wore bumper stickers (not a bad idea, really), yours would say, “All Kibbles, All the Time.” I pulled five out of your mouth a few weeks ago, much to your vocalized dismay.

Your # 2 goal is to never go to bed without a fight. And I get it, bedtime kind of sucks. I’ve never liked it. But once the protests cease and you do go down, you sleep like a professional; 12 hours is the norm.

We’ve started taking you swimming, and there is — quite honestly — nothing cuter than your little baby self sporting a little baby bathing suit, with sunblock smeared all over your face. You love the water and are very content floating around with us.

You are walking while holding our hands or using your walker, clapping, waving and mimicking sounds that we make. You are a regular cacophony: grunts, signs, gasps, clucks…you’ve got a lot to say and sister doesn’t hold back. You’ve also started to point and are beginning to explore holding books and turning pages.

You love wrestling with your giant stuffed giraffe and are a complete wiggle worm during diaper changes. It’s become an exercise akin to calf roping.

You’ve sprouted some curls in your hair, which delights and terrifies me. The delight is that I apparently have one dominant gene in your DNA (woot!), but the terror is anticipating the 12-year stage you’ll go through of hating it. Don’t worry, mom has an armory of tricks and products at the ready.

You are the sweetest and most entertaining little human and you enrich our lives more everyday. I relish watching you grow and learn.

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An unorthodox prescription for happiness

My husband and I were out to dinner a few weeks ago — a treasured luxury as new parents — and through the course of conversation and shoveling food THAT WE DIDN’T MICROWAVE into our mouths, I paused to ask a question.

“Hey, have you noticed I don’t cry anymore?”

Now, before your brain dashes through a million scenarios pegging me as one of those girls who cries at the drop of a hat, or whenever she sees a kitten, or if a Coldplay song comes on at the wrong time, pleaseeeee check yourself.

I’m not emotionless. But I’m more practical than dramatic. My default setting is to talk or write through feelings, and it takes a great deal for me to cry in front of anyone. Meaning, if you see tears, shit has gotten real and you’re in for the long haul. However, if you are lucky enough to be married to me, besides essentially winning the life lottery, you see the good, the bad and the ugly–which in this case, is me crying. A lot. Spouses get all the unedited bonus scenes. The tears, sick days, meltdowns, bad moods, violent flip outs over laundry…amiright?

Wanna know my sweet husband’s response to this?

“Huh. Yeah, you don’t. Are you on a new medication or something?”

(It’s ok to laugh.)

But here’s the thing. I’ve made some big changes in my life over the past few months, and the combination, although largely unorthodox, has had a significant impact.

The first change was leaving Corporate America after seven years spent in three giant public companies. I relish the experiences I had, the crazy opportunities these roles presented and the amazing friends who entered my life. I’m grateful for the ways I was pushed and challenged to grow professionally and personally. But I was burned out and disenchanted. I made a transition into a smaller, non-profit setting and am so much happier. Is my new job perfect? Well, no job is perfect. I still have long, hard days and moments where I want to pull a Jerry McGuire exit. But I am so much more at peace. I’m more relaxed and connected to my work than I have in a long time.

The second change was prayer. Now if you know me, you’re possibly shocked to read these words. You may be composing a text to me that reads as follows: “Dude, are you ok? Are the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners there?” And truthfully, I’m still surprised to write this. I considered not sharing it with the blogosphere. But I don’t like censoring life and we’ve already gotten this far. Incorporating prayer into daily life brings me the kind of calm that I’ve always loved getting from meditation and yoga. It’s just more personal, and frankly, way more necessary as a mom. Prayer isn’t necessarily about religion to me, although it’s definitely connected to faith. It’s more just a way to focus, regain perspective, practice gratitude and soothe my wackadoo anxious tendencies. At the risk of sounding crass, it’s like a cozy, emotional security blanket.

And the third change? Brace yourselves. It’s been drinking Shakeology. At this point in the post I anticipate that I definitely have some concerned people poised to text me. But wait! Here’s what I mean. I first tried Shakeology to help support my immune system. Not to get bikini ready. Not to be a hot mom. Please. Barf. I have a baby in daycare and she is a germ sponge. Anyway, after trying these shakes and learning more about all the things they do for my body and health, I was sold. I’ve never felt better. It’s premium fuel you can consume. I was so taken by the product that I almost immediately became a coach so that I could learn more and share them with others. Coaching is incredible. I’m connected to an amazing network of women and am humbled everyday to see the ways we are able to help others work toward improved health and fitness. This isn’t about all the things you might think. It’s not about money or weight loss or marketing ploys. It’s about inspiring others to feel and look their best. I wrote more about my journey here.

So in summary, all you have to do to achieve true happiness is quit your job, pray and drink a superfood shake.

I kid. Sort of.

I genuinely don’t know that any of this makes much sense, but I’m going to hit post now and try to avoid oversharer’s remorse.

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When things switch from black and white to color.

At a friend’s barbeque this weekend, a woman I didn’t know approached me as I played with Lila in the pool. There were the oohs and ahhs customary to seeing a chunky infant splashing around in a swimsuit, and simple small talk. She did something my innocent pre-baby self used to do, comparing child-rearing to having a dog (man, I was a tool), but then asked a wildly unexpected question.

Instead of the typical, “What do you miss about life before kids?” She more thoughtfully asked, “What would you miss the most if you returned to life without kids?”

What the.

This woman, who had shared her own desire to remain childless, threw me for a loop with this one. She asked it earnestly, but I struggled to answer appropriately without sounding like a total whack job.

I kind of wanted to scream, “LOOK AT HER, DUH, SHE IS THE PERFECT HUMAN SPECIMEN.”

But, since I’m a lover of words–the right words–for every situation, I opted against shouting baby-loving obscenities and paused to consider my answer.

I just didn’t know what to say. It felt suffocating to try to explain the love for your child on the spot. Nothing I said would be good enough, and everything I considered felt like a canned beauty-pageant contestant response.

It’s like explaining why you need air and the sun; you sound like an idiot when you try to break it down. You just do. They are essential to life. And you don’t know or care if life could exist without them.

Until you experience it, you can’t really understand what it feels like to nurture a human life, day in and day out. To have created an utterly unique soul who is equal parts you and your spouse. You will be fearfully awed and humbled.

It’s like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when things switch from black and white to color. The world may still appear the same, but somehow everything you see is different, and brighter. And there’s no going back. 

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Some favorite things:

1. Reusable straws. I got a 6-pack for $5 on Amazon after realizing how many disposable ones we were going through. I always prefer to drink from a straw and these are durable and dishwasher safe. And pretty.


2. Everyday Shea Vanilla Mint body wash. On sale for $8 at Sprouts and has the most refreshing scent for summer.


3. Essential Oils diffuser. I pretty much always have candles burning, but this allows me to get a great scent into our home with different healing properties, depending on which oils you choose to use. Peppermint is my favorite so far.  
4. The human equivalent of a dog crate seems to be a play yard. We needed a place where Lila could safely play while we get ready for work, and this seems to suit her just fine in small doses.   5. Chocolate Vegan shakeology. I used to be loyal to vanilla, but wanted to try a formulation without dairy (whey), and this flavor and consistency amazes me. It’s the healthiest form of dessert around. I am a Beachbody coach and sell Shakeology, so let me know if you’d like more information. 

6. Hoola. Not a new find, I’ve used it for a decade, but an unwavering favorite product. Works as all-over powder or bronzer and a box lasts forever.  
7. Resistance bands. These are cheap at any athletic store, or Target, and a great way to change up workouts. I used to use these all the time and recently started again. Using a band creates constant resistance in all directions, activating more muscles and in new ways.