Pardon the peanut butter on my pants 

As I wiped peanut butter off my slacks with a wet paper towel in the women’s restroom this morning, a younger female colleague walked in. Initially I was kind of embarrassed and tried to cover up what was happening from this innocent person still safely cocooned from the madness of parenthood. 

But, ever-phobic of awkward silences, I played it cool for about 1.5 seconds before blurting out an enthusiastic version of, “My daughter wiped her peanut-butter hands all over me while I was washing yogurt out of her hair, and I thought I got it all, but guess not!” 

And this gal 10 years my junior gave me a compliment more meaningful that she ever could have planned. 

“I can’t believe you’re a mom before you come in here, that’s just so impressive that you do all that. I can’t even imagine. You’re awesome.”

I’ve been given all kinds of advice as a woman in the corporate workplace, some spot-on, other pieces wildly offensive. The ones that really irk me though are the pieces that seem to detach motherhood from a woman’s career – rather than letting the two intermingle. 

“Don’t ever tell anyone when you’re thinking about getting pregnant, people will write you off.”

“When you come back from maternity leave, you can’t cry or show that you’re emotional, it sends the wrong signal.”

I understand this advice, I really do. And I recognize that it’s always been well intended, offered up from those who’ve traveled this road before me. But it supports the outdated idea that work-life balance is easy…”I shall work now without a thought of my family for nine hours, and completely transition to home life as the clock strives 5!” 

There’s no perfect balance in any one person’s situation, but I wish there was a greater focus on work-life integration – how to support employees at work so they also feel supported at home. It’s not realistic to compartmentalize our lives in ways that stifle important parts of it. 

If you’re showered and wearing matching shoes when you come back from maternity leave, you are a champion human being. And if you can balance your family commitments and still show up ready to kill it at work each day, you deserve every possible type of recognition. Not just kudos for wearing a lot of hats, but support and flexibility when you need it to keep all the planes in the air. 

That funny little interaction this morning was such a refreshing pat on the back that it’s ok for more traces of one side of life to bleed over onto the others, even if it ruins your outfit. 

  

Lila at 18 Months: Outside! No! More!

I posed the following question to Lila this weekend, “Sweetheart, do you feel like you live in a foreign country for giants?”

Because seriously.

This tiny human babbles to us in a language we’re just beginning to be able to comprehend, and navigates a world where she can’t reach, see or maneuver the things she wants on a daily basis.

This age is so fun and so hard. Fun because we are really starting to communicate. You answer no (and occasionally, yes) to questions and express consistent demands. “More!” “Outside!” You have so many more words than even a few weeks ago (outside, owl, sock, open, apple, elbow (or Elmo, hard to say) and so many awesome animal impersonations.

You are content to spend hours outside in the backyard and on walks, and love your slide and playhouse. You like to watch and mimic what mom and dad do, which is a great help in yard work. You do not like to go to bed.

We know when you are happy, angry, tired or scared (verses early infancy when there were fewer distinct emotions). When you hear loud trucks or motorcycles, which previously were ignored, you now start repeating, “No, no, no, no” and run to use to be held. Confession: I do not mind this one bit.

A new favorite pastime is climbing into your plastic laundry hamper so we can push you around the house in it like a racecar. You are also fascinated with buckles of any kind. You can buckle yourself into your highchair and swing and it is a painstakingly slow process that we DARE NOT interrupt. You wave at airplanes and tell strangers “hi” and “buh-bye” everywhere we go. You love to climb and are remarkably strong, I often can’t get things out of your grip without a proper distraction.

You went through a dramatic food throwing stage for a few weeks that seems to be passing, but you have definitely moved past the garbage disposal stage of eating. Now you are still into most foods, but too busy to sit and eat. You prefer to grab a bite, run around, come back for more and repeat.

You love school but drop off is still a dramatic event most days where I hear you screaming my entire walk out. I’m told it’s your age, and that it’s normal, and that it passes 30 seconds after I leave, but it’s the worst part of my day to leave you screaming. The best part of day, that has me speeding the whole drive home, is walking in to get you. As soon as you see me you shriek and smile and run over laughing. Best. Thing. Ever.

I feel like we are friends, you and me. That may be a silly thing to say about a toddler who can’t really verbalize much yet, but it seems completely fitting. I am in constant awe of you and of our connection in a pinch-myself-is-this-real kind of daze. I constantly ponder the miracle of your creation and how truly remarkable you are. How fully you embrace parts of your dad and me, but also how parts of you are innately unique.

It’s weird how fast and how slow time goes at different moments, but ever since you were born I’m so much more aware of time. Of days starting and ending, the culmination of a month, the significance of a year. I think that’s an entirely new perspective gained as a parent. No matter how fast or slow it goes, it’s amazing to spend it with you.

18

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Current Faves

For snacks: These pre-sliced organic apples from Costco are everything. Like most things from Costco they come in a ridiculously large quantity for an obscenely low price, rendering you useless in the battle of “but will I eat them all?” But they’re good for you and individually packaged (sorry Mother Earth) and they complete me.

apples

For #momlife: Oh Jessica Alba, as if we didn’t already love you enough, you’ve gone and made the most lovely toxin-free home and beauty products and this spray makes toddler bath time just a delight. Because Lila totally needs a haircut but I will slay you if you try to trim those sweet baby curls. Until then, this will get us by just fine.

detangler

For the fitness: Hammer & Chisel is the newest program from Beachbody, and while I was flat-out convinced I’d never like anything as much as the 21 Day Fix, I’m kind of obsessed with this one. I’m such a brat about giving new programs a chance when I have one I like, but this one’s been awesome. Very much my style of fast-paced lifting and strength training, with unique moves and tons of different approaches.

hammer-and-chisel

For spontaneous dance parties: I’m sorry, have you not heard this jammy? I dare you to listen to it and not get at least a little head bob going, but my money’s on you really getting into it. I am straight GANGSTER when this comes on, you know, in my 2007 Volvo sedan, driving to my corporate job.

flo-rida-my-house

For germ blasting: This is the oil that got me interested in oils in the first place, because it is the most amazing immune system booster ever. EVER. I diffuse it in the air, use it topically on me and Lila, and when I feel a cold coming on I drink a tea made with a drop of it. I cannot get through winter/cold season without it. My friend Jennelle is the oil guru who introduced me to this. If you want it, find her.

Thieves

For drinking: I’ve developed a slight infatuation with chai lattes, for two reasons. One being that they are delicious, and I can make them in our Keurig, and two being that I finally have something to order at Starbucks which, for years, has been a cause of great angst. I don’t drink coffee, and I like tea but don’t, like, need it. So every time I go to coffee I have this paranoia of having to order something I can’t figure out in a foreign coffee-talk language. Thank you chai latte for sounding fancy and tasting wonderful. PS Dunkin Donuts (my special place) will make them with almond milk.

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For the fact that it is awesome: We just got new carpet in our bedrooms, and the padding it made from recycled Nike shoes (it’s a material called Nike Grind). As you can imagine this is wonderful because it it super cushiony and good for the environment, but also, when I work out in my bedroom now it really ups the home-gym vibe. My floors are Nike, friends.

carpet

 

From baby to toddler

At 17 months I’m tempted to start saying, “she’s a year and a half,” verses “17 months.” I’m not quite ready to commit to years though — too soon.

Your vocabulary is growing and your emphasis on certain words is pure enthusiasm. 
“SHOE!” 

“NO!”

“HIIIIII!”

You’ve certainly mastered shaking your head when something isn’t to your liking, and sitting or laying down and throwing a fit when we take away something you still wanted or attempt to corral you in a direction other than your desired one.

You are fascinated with the outdoors and love exploring in our backyard and walking around outside. Picking up rocks, putting them back. Pulling leaves off plants and handing them to us. Marching triumphantly to the mailbox.

You’re incredibly agile and strong, often catching yourself before you fall in precarious situations, and somehow landing on your feet at the bottom of the slide. You love to climb things and sit in chairs, and play in your kitchen.

You give hugs and kisses upon request and wave hi and bye. You are an excellent night sleeper but aren’t a big fan of long daytime naps. 

You are so genuinely happy and inquisitive. Animated and chatty. You are pure mischief at times and it’s hard to reprimand you without laughing, even when you pull my hair or throw carefully chopped organic food on the floor by the handful.

What a joy it is to parent you. There’s no other way to describe it. 

I feel guilty quite often that I’m not with you during the day while I’m at work, especially when you have a tough day or don’t feel well. I imagine no matter what a mother chooses, the guilt will always lurk like a quiet shadow. My hope is you will look back on these choices as us always doing our best for you. That we always tried to achieve the intangible balance parents seek. 
Lila we love you. We are so blessed by the way you’ve elevated life to new meaning.  
  
  
  
   

  

Whatcha doing Monday Night?

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you likely know that last year when Lila started daycare and I went back to work fulltime, she got sick. And then sicker. Holy germs, batman.

She had five ear infections in four months, plus RSV, Roseola and too many colds to count. Oh, and the boogers…

I was exhausted, and kind of looking around wondering, is this really going to be my new normal? I was taking care of my own health with Beachbody products and Shakeology, but I didn’t know how to help my family. I was in a low place and couldn’t really see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Fortunately I have this friend, this caring thoughtful and generous friend Jennelle. She gets me, and loves me even when I’m a mess. She saw me hurting and lost with my sick kiddo and drove 40 minutes across town to quietly drop off a care package of essential oils, specially blended for each person in my family, plus some other Young Living products and a diffuser to help my family get back on track.

I was touched, of course. But also hugely skeptical. Hugely. You all know I’m a health freak, but I thought oils were for hippies. So, I ignored them.

But a few weeks later, randomly I just decided what the heck, I’m desperate, so I picked them up and started using the oils slowly. I got comfortable and started loving them. And HOLY COW, Lila was HEALTHY.

Flash forward another six months and I now use oils daily for all kinds of things for our entire family. For Lila’s health, for my anxiety, for Jim’s congestion, to clear odors from home projects and to soothe sore muscles. I’m amazed at how much oils help me in my fitness and health. I mix oils into my sacred Shakeology and even use them to help muscle soreness.

Jennelle and I are both passionate about the health products we use, and have teamed up to put together a kickass event for this Monday night to share our passions for these products.

It’s online. You can join us from your living room, your treadmill, your dinner table – wherever you want to be. You can wear sweatpants, yoga pants, work pants, NO PANTS!…completely up to you!

What will this event be? Basically a low pressure way to learn about neat products that mioght help you achieve your resolutions (because I kind of assume most of us resolve every year to be healthier, and last about 8 days…). 

I love fitness. Jennelle loves oils. And there are some amazing ways to use these products together. Come hang with us online and find out how Beachbody, Shakeology and Young Living Essential Oils can help support your health, wellness and fitness in 2016 (and the rest of your life). You will not regret this choice. It is 90 minutes and it will change you. No purchases required, obligation or homework, just shoot me an email if you’d like to join us (jesstaylorfitness@gmail.com).

“New Year, New Me Bullsh*t”

I cracked up when a friend sent me this meme. People love to hate on resolutions, don’t they? I’m the opposite though, I obsess over them and in a sick way I love being held accountable to specific goals.

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When I was a teenager, I got super emo about the new year. Once, when I was 16, my best friend and I drove up this crazy mountain road, early in the morning, where we parked and stared into the sunrise, huddled under blankets, rehashing all the things that seemed SO important over the past year. Author’s note: I cannot remember a single thing we discussed – not one – but I guarantee 98% of it related to boys we liked who did not like us back.

I have no idea why I put so much pressure on this day and my resolutions, but I’ll chalk it up to being an old soul.

Nowadays, New Year’s feels a little different. It’s a time to reflect, sure, but my focus is more forward-facing. Partially because #momlife is exhausting and there’s way less time to sit around just thinking about things (what a luxury that would be!), but also because I’ve learned that you don’t need the symbolism of a special day to make a change in your life. It doesn’t have to be a holiday or a new month or even a Monday, it just has to be your time. Maybe Groundhog Day resolutions are more your thing.

This past year I made a decision to take control of my health. It wasn’t a quest to be skinny or wear a size 2. It wasn’t following a special diet or training for a marathon. It was just a series of small changes and choices that I hoped would help me as a new mom. I was exhausted from sleeping in 3-hour intervals, constantly sick from daycare germs, stressed at a fulltime job and surviving on whatever sugary treat or caffeinated beverage I could find. When I made the choice to change, it was out of legit desperation.

Begrudgingly, I purchased Shakeology and the 21 Day Fix.

Begrudgingly, I started the half-hour workouts.

Begrudgingly, I began following the guidance for clean eating and balanced portions.

And then euphorically I saw the most amazing changes in how I felt. I had energy (without coffee!), my post-partum hair started to regrow. My immune system was back on track. I had new muscles.

ALL THE THINGS happened, my friends. No chemicals, no gimmicks.

If New Year’s resolutions are your thing, then go forth. Ain’t nothing wrong with any road toward positive change.

But if you’d rather skip the pressure and fanfare and just get some amazing results, I’d love to connect you to these products. They’re on sale all during January, they’re simple, and they work. Promise.

It takes a village (to lose your ego, raise a baby, get healthy, etc.)

The older I get, the more I recognize the absurdity of trying to power through things on my own (which I still stubbornly do) for the sake of pride or ego. 

You know that old saying, “If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far, go together?” So. painfully. true.

I learned this lesson forcefully when I became a mom last year, starting with the moment I went into labor. My exact thoughts before giving birth were along the placid lines of, “I’ll breathe through it,” “Everyone does it,” and “Whatever, it’ll be fine.”

Oh, Jessica. You sweet, naive little rosebud.

I’d received plenty of offers of birth plans, classes, coaches, etc. and naively poo-pooed it all. “I’ve got this,” I told myself, and I guess I did – in a way – but golly, if I’d been less obstinate and let my guard down to take some of that advice and support, things would’ve been a lot less overwhelming.

Same thing during those first few months of parenting. Even with an outpouring of offers of help, even in the throes of post partum depression and anxiety, I still declined help because I wanted to do it myself. 

This was dumb. 

You know what else was dumb? When I wanted to start working out again after baby, when my whole world was upside down and new, and I thought I could do that on my own, too. I didn’t realize that with the right support, the process would be easier, more effective and FUN. I was fortunate to find this community in the least likely of places (online!) but thank goodness I did.

There’s a beauty in the support we find in the right tribe and community. It creates an environment where we become stronger by showing our weaknesses. We can be ourselves and learn to be brave. That process – the softening of walls we build around ourselves – is vulnerability, and it’s the most amazing thing. 

Today, after all the challenges and wonder inspired this past year, I’m thankful to have the opportunity to guide other women through the process of finding their strength. As a health and fitness coach, I get the awesome privilege of seeing firsthand the magic that happens when we let our egos take a hike and rely on each other. What we can achieve when we come together. That’s when changes happens that we can’t always make on our own. Not because we’re weak, but because we are stronger together.

Every month I lead free, private, online groups full of help, support, accountability and humor. If you want to buy products, I’ll connect you, but no purchase is ever required – that’s not why I do this. 

If you’re wondering if change is possible, let me tell you it is, for all of us.

 I’d love to talk and share more; please reach out if you are interested in joining a group or have any questions. It’s never to late to find your village: jesstaylorfitness@gmail.com