The Fog

Ingrid and Louie

 

Over the holidays, my one of my girlfriends took me and the kids out to lunch. I was attempting to eat while holding Louie and had not perfected the “Mom juggle.” Moms who can effortlessly balance their forks, cocktail and children are like narwhals to me – unreal but they somehow still exist. She offered to take him off of my hands and pay for lunch. I politely declined. She insisted, took Louie and made an off-hand comment that I was “still in the fog.”

That comment stuck with me and provided me with perspective. Much-needed perspective. I have this unrealistic expectation I should be back to my normal weight, the house should be a certain way, my meals should be a certain way, my marriage should be a certain way. Self-induced pressures and anxiety, for no real reason.

As a new mom of two, the message from family, friends and society is clear: do not worry about the house, the laundry, meals or your weight. So-and-so and this-and-that will come naturally. Take it easy, let yourself get back to normal.

Lovely idea in theory but we need clothes, meals and a functioning home. That, and, societies expectations don’t align with the messaging.

Returning to work, by definition, gets you out of that new baby mode. There are positives, it’s good for getting out of yoga pants, routines are established. Things that would have fallen into place organically. Probably when my son started sleeping through the night, which happened a few short weeks ago.

So, what’s the fog? A compounding cycle of lack of sleep, long hours at work, quick meals, repeat. It’s tough.

To say it’s tough, is tough.

We’re forced back to work while we’re still in the fog. And that, not sleepless nights, is the real challenge.

We as a nation need to have kindness for new families. Everyone in the family needs to have kindness with each other, as a new baby is stressful for all. You need time as a family to become a new unit.

Think about how you welcome a new houseguest. Make sure they have fresh sheets, pick up their favorite cereal, they visit, pack up and head home. As a new parent you’re making room in the house and having hundreds of boring, necessary conversations. Conversations about where to store the bottles and “Do we have enough bouncers?” I still don’t know. All of that stuff becomes a conversation and everyone needs time to learn how to welcome this new house guest, permanently.

When Louie was born, he needed space we didn’t immediately have. We were a unit of three and enjoyed a flexible routine. We needed time to welcome this wonderful new being into our home wholeheartedly. This process takes time. It takes time to bond, takes time to understand his quirks, and until the ripe old age of twelve weeks, he’s a unpredictable, beautiful, needy mess. Right around the time the fog lifts, moms are forced back to work – awkward black pump bag in hand – and it’s downright laughable.

The fog needs to be recognized, realized, appreciated and valued. It does not magically drift away at six weeks, eight weeks or twelve weeks. It takes effort, time, and patience. A lot of patience and kindness.

New Baby. New Discovery.

Kids

The most stressful times in one’s life include starting a new job, moving and welcoming a new baby. Collectively, Jamie and I tackled all three over the summer. Our family welcomed little Louis Lee on August 2 – all nine pounds and two ounces. Rather than explain the lack of activity on the site, let’s dive into the joys of parenting.

Last week I listened to an interview on NPR. The host with a lovely, unique name, a requirement for all NPR hosts, was interviewing a travel journalist. The topic: career changes after having kids. I always marvel at the questions women are asked and often think “Would she dare ask this of a man?”

During the interview, the host chimed in to answer her own questions – she provided personal anecdotes about her own birth experience and maternity leave. She never thought of herself as athletic or having significant physical strength yet, after having her baby, she felt invincible. She couldn’t believe what she had accomplished. That made her wonder – what else can I do? How strong am I, really? What else can I accomplish?

Then, what happens after this monumental moment of self-discovery? Your world becomes small. Daily geography shrinks to a few rooms in your house. The focus, rightfully so, is on the baby. A very important, isolating time.

I had a C-section with my daughter and a VBAC with son. Although the experiences were vastly different, I felt the same sense of amazement and pride. My body was capable of so much more than I gave it credit for. In hindsight, that’s why I became a runner. I never considered running before having kids and told myself I wanted a quick, effective form of cardio. As I type these words I realize that’s was only one little reason. The real reason is because I finally had the confidence in my body and my mental toughness. When I’m facing a tough run or steep hill, I tell myself “You made another human. You can run up this hill.” And, it’s true. Moms do run up hills.

We research doctors, create meal plans and tour daycare centers. We write out birth plans while understanding we only have so much control. We eventually recover from pregnancy and birth. We nurse our babies. We fed our babies. We work hard to craft a life that makes us happy and fulfilled. Then we wonder, if I can do ______, what else can I do?

Nostalgia

How was your weekend? This weekend I was able to spend time with family and a few dear friends who live out of state. I rarely talk or email with these friends but our friendship runs deep and we’re able to pick up where we last left off. After a few minutes of “status updates” we’re able to laugh and say things like “you know how it is.”

This morning, Ingrid, Dan and I watched a few old homemade videos before getting out of bed. We watched Ingrid’s first steps and a silly video of Ingrid at the zoo. Then, we hit play on a video called Playdough and I completely lost it.

While I was ugly crying, Dan explained to Ingrid that I had happy tears, tears of nostalgia. Sidebar – the ponytail wasn’t doing anything.

Tonight, I’m gearing up for the series finale of Mad Men. Over the winter I re-watched the series and fell in love with Don, Rodger, Peggy, Joan and even Pete all over again. I love everything about this show – the costumes, Draper’s facial expressions, Draper’s face, the characters and the ability to keep me – the audience – on its feet. Although I’m not weeping over the show’s end (yet) I do have a twinge of nostalgia and was reminded of this famous and classic scene.

Old friends, videos of Ingrid and the series finale of Mad Men. I’m itching to make a Jeopardy joke right about now (what are “things that make me cry uncontrollably for $600?”), but instead I’ll cut this post off early and leave you with these Top 10 Quotes from Mad Men(#4).

A Very Happy Mother’s Day

This morning, I woke up to the sound of Ingrid greeting our dog Harper. She hopped out of bed and squealed “Happy Mother’s Day, Harper!” then came into our bedroom and repeated the sentiment.

We enjoyed a lazy morning followed by a trip to our favorite doughnut shop and then went clothes shopping for Ingrid. She’s growing like a weed and is on the fence between toddler and big girl sizes. Honestly, she needs clothes because I couldn’t bring myself to visit this section of Target or any sites online weeks before. I’m savoring these moments:

Ingrid ran out of paper during her "nap."

Ingrid ran out of paper during her “nap.”

Instead of focusing the moment she danced around the fitting room cheering “I look like a teenager, I’m a big girl!” in her new clothes.

Then, the baby changes positions. A reminder that I’m 28 weeks pregnant and will be doing this all over again, far too soon. It’s scary, exciting and already feels bittersweet.

This pregnancy is so much different than the first – in almost every way. Sure, I was a nauseated mess for the first four months but now, it’s almost like I’m training for the baby’s arrival. With Ingrid, I didn’t know how exactly our life would change, it ultimately changed for the better. With the anticipation of a new baby, I know the first few months will be a blur. Perhaps it’s another form of nesting, but I want to be able to truly enjoy the first few weeks and months with our new little bundle. To do so, I’m preparing a lot of freezer meals and accepting help from our friends and grandparents. There are numerous spreadsheets involved. The Bump keeps reminding me to “relax and get pampered!” and I’m over here like “No! I need to label freezer bags so I can relax with my newborn and not worry about dinner in August.”

But, not today. Today, I’m going thank Mother Nature for the gloomy weather so I can watch the last Harry Potter movie and enjoy the rest of this magical day reserved for mothers. But not before giving out a whole lot of thanks to my mom or teaching me first-hand about the gift of motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Monday Motivation: Short and Sweet

Complements of the cult classic, "The Big Lebowski"

Complements of the cult classic, “The Big Lebowski”

Here’s to a quick and painless Monday.

As I also have a busy day ahead of me, instead of sharing words of encouragement, I’m just going to share one of my favorite motivational songs as of late.

Alright, now get out out there and keep working on your own masterpiece. Cheers!

Fearing the Unknown

 

Growing up, I had a serious fear of missing out.

Here I was a little seven years old, enjoying a doughnut hole during Sunday school when our teacher introduced me and my classmates to the concept of Judgement Day. Excuse me, I thought, my little second grade heart racing. How have I been alive for seven, or eight, whole years and I haven’t heard about this…event? I had a dozen questions. My hand shot up into the air. I didn’t wait for my name to be called because my concerns were urgent. Urgent! In my little world, I was scared of being left behind in the bathroom. I was sure that come Judgement Day, I would be at the wrong place at the wrong time. My teacher thought I was being silly but my fear of missing out was real. So real, that I was kicked out of Sunday school for “causing others to panic.”

My fear of missing out only intensified over the years. I was the roommate who was always game for a late night workout, a late night popcorn break, a late night search for flights to Japan. Yes, most of my housemates were night owls and had unrealistic Spring Break expectations. I said yes to everything and in doing so, I overextended myself and filled my calendar. A decade later when my family and I moved into our first home, I listened to myself and the needs of our family and got comfortable saying no. Missing out is bound to happen. It’s a fact of life that we can’t do it all, at least not all at once.

Once I stopped overextending myself, I was left with some alone time. Why was I so afraid of being alone? Being alone is a glorious treat. Before my daughter arrived, I loved background noise. Giada’s Everyday Italian kept me company while I cleaned and cooked. Now, I love the silence of an empty house.

Fast-forward to today and I now have a fear of failure. When “older people” talked about failure, I envisioned life-altering events (or worse, a personal mistake) that lead to a lost job or failed marriage.

Now that I’m no longer checking the “20-29” box on surveys, I understand that the fear of failing isn’t about failure at all. It’s failing to not start.

My fear of failure is so real it cripples my ability to start. To start anything – a complicated recipe or a complex house project. It’s the reason I have a dusty sewing machine, a vintage doctor’s bag full of yarn and a handful of calligraphy pens. It’s the reason I’m drawn to books featuring underdogs and do-it-yourselfers. It’s the reason I’m inspired by friends – my husband included – who pursue their dreams over a well-paying job. It’s the reason I love people who chart their own course. It’s the reason I love Shark Tank and roll my eyes at people who brag about their parents’ accomplishments.

When I left my first ad agency job, my coworker gave me a really touching card with the following, edited, quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I took a leap and trusted my gut when I decided to leave that job. This quote validated my decision and that little piece of paper remains tacked on my cube walls. It’s a daily reminder to be myself and remain confident (even if I have no idea what I’m doing).

To me, this year feels like a lot of baby steps in the right direction. This blog is a baby step in the right direction – to encourage consistency, practice writing and create connections. Ragnar was a series of physical and mental failures that added up to an overwhelming feeling of success.When I discovered that other women were in my boat and felt like a fraud at work, I somehow gained (a little) confidence.

Small baby steps (infant steps? crawls? scoots?) take energy. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and take that leap (or carefully calculated step) into the unknown. But, I want to be successful and happy. There, I said it! I want to feel like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone when he shouts:

“Hey, I’m not afraid any more! I said I’m not afraid any more! Do you hear me? I’m not afraid any more!”

Successful, happy and not afraid. Oh, and I also want to be cool with making mistakes while practicing calligraphy because for fucks sake – they are swirly letters!  

I Never Thought Blogging Would…

Little Mama

Please settle in and enjoy this picture of my baby holding a baby while reading a blog post about blogging.

 

I never thought blogging would… 

  • Introduce me to so many different people.
    Like attract like. It makes sense to stumble onto blogs about motherhood, writing or running, those are my passions. I also love cooking, interior design and DIY house projects. Yet, I’m drawn to people and spaces that are who are so unlike me: single, no kids, ultra-fashionable, Canadian, Mormon. Why do I keep reading? Their blogs are authentic and their voice resonates.
  • Make me fall in love with so many Mormons.
    See The Daybook and Love Taza. I love their posts about motherhood but I can’t believe how flawless these moms are while riding their bikes. It’s insane. They are so out of my league.
  • Make me crave a Dirty Dr. Pepper.
    So many Mormon bloggers love Dirty Dr. Peppers and they love to blog about loving Dirty Dr. Peppers. What is a Dirty Dr. Pepper? It’s Dr. Pepper with coconut syrup and a freshly squeezed lime. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
  • Be hard.
    During my pregnancy I started a personal blog. It was a great way to document my fears, thoughts and ideas surrounding motherhood. When my daughter arrived, I documented milestones and mundane moments on this space. When she hit her second birthday, I started pulling back from the blog. She was more active and her little personality started to shine. She had no idea that I was writing about her on such a public forum for everyone to read. Well, for my mom to read. It started to feel uncomfortable and the writing wasn’t authentic. Then, Jamie and I started this space. Read the About Us section. We are motivated, we are fierce! When the ideas are flowing and time is on your side, writing feels (and is) a breeze. Then, reality sets in, work piles up and the blog goes on the back burner. At times, that’s OK. Our careers, families and health take priority over writing. Staying motivated takes time and requires consistency and discipline. It’s safe to say that we both work well under structure and deadlines. Racing schedules help us lace up and get out the door. Jamie is writing a novel based on a words-per-day/week goal. This Blogtober challenge has lit a fire under us to post daily.
  • Be the catalyst to something more.
    Blogging is easily written off as silly and pointless because anyone can create a site. Right now, I could care less about our website traffic and statistics. I’m just happy that this space has helped deepen my friendship with Jamie and has provided me with fuel to pursue – and explore – my passions.

Enough blogging about blogging, time for some Shark Tank and wine. Happy Friday!

Dear 41-year-old me

2014: Giraffes, princesses and sparkles are all the rage. 2024: A big fat mystery.

2014: Giraffes, princesses and sparkles are all the rage. 2024: A big fat mystery.

 

Let’s get real, it was scary to type 41. I will be 41 in ten years. Glup.

Today’s Blogtober challenge is to write a letter to ourselves in ten years. I wanted to tweak this topic and write a letter to my daughter, who will be 13. But I would be listing a lot of rules and cliche nuggets of motherly wisdom. There will be plenty of time for that, little one. Plenty of time for that.

I’m comfortable with the idea of aging and entering my forties. That’s not entirely true but, I’m less comfortable with the idea of my daughter being 13. The last three years and flown by and the idea of her riding a bike without training wheels and going on a sleepover is scary and surreal. Sending her off to middle school? There’s no way that can happen within the next decade, right?

Before dinner, Ingrid, Harper (our dog) and I went on a walk around the block. It took forever. Ingrid fell down, twice. She brought along one of her “big girl coloring books” (aka, one of Dan’s old Moleskine’s notebooks) to color pictures of leaves and flowers. Ten years from now I know we won’t have these simple, slow moments. Sure, we’ll come together to celebrate family traditions but we’ll be focusing on our separate interests too. Ten years from now, I hope to remember her exactly as she is today: aims to please, has a vivid imagination, pretends to attend “Disney school” and is obsessed with princesses. She was genuinely thankful that we painted her room. She’s exhausting, hilarious and weird.

Enough about today. Let’s look ahead to 2014. I apologize in advance for the confusing use of pronouns:

Hi Lindsay,

It’s 2024 and you’re killin’ it in your 40s. 31 year old me doesn’t have any words of wisdom or lofty goals for myself in 10 years. I hope you’re loving life, having fun and have finally stopped giving a shit what other people think. Why did you waste so much of your brain power on this in your 20s? 

Let’s assume you (or I, or we?) celebrated the big four-o eating, drinking and laughing your way through New Orleans with loved ones. Great choice. Let’s also assume Ingrid is a respectful, 13 year old.  Work is going well, right? I hope you’ve welcomed another little kiddo into the family. You’re focusing on your marriage and laughing every, single day with Dan. Looks like you’ve lost those last few pounds. I knew you could do it! If you haven’t, be happy with the body you have and take care of those arthritic knees!

Here are a few lingering questions:

  • Was the last season of Mad Men everything you dreamed it would be? 
  • Do they ever make a Harry Potter prequel? 
  • Are you still paying off your student loans?  
  • Did we ever seriously address equal pay for women? Yes, finally! 
  • Remember when “butts” were all the rage in 2014?
  • When was the last time you heard the song Let it Go? A week ago? Amazing.
  • How’s everything else going? Does Hillary take the cake in 2016? Awesome.

To jog your memory, here’s what’s going on right now in your little world: You are trying your best to make things better every day, for you and your family. You’re working hard now to create the life you (or I, we?) hope to have like, now, in 2024. To focus on your dreams, to keep writing, to support Dan and his dreams. To get a piece of land up north. To wake up every morning smiling. You hope to stop acquiring so much shit and be happy with what you have. I hope you kept up with writing and started putting yourself out there. Like, scary out there. I hope you went on adventures and camped, a lot. I hope you got over your crippling fear of failure. I hope you’ve experienced gut-wrenching failure. Recoverable failure, but still gut-wrenching failure. Most importantly, I hope you’re living in the moment with the ones you love! 

Stay true to yourself, smile a lot and call your mom! 

You got this! 

You Have To Do The Hard Things

National Coffee Day

How do you get the “hard things” done each day? It’s fitting that it’s National Coffee Day – it’s the fuel that gets my day started. I rely on it again in the afternoon to help get me out of the ever-present afternoon slump.

A few weeks ago one of my teammates sent along this motivational article. At the time, my day was busy with urgent(ish) to-dos. Today, I pulled this down off my cube walls and found it to be motivating. Grab another cup of coffee and attack that to-do list!

You Have To Do The Hard Things.

You have to make the call you’re unwilling to make.

You have to get up earlier than you want to get up.

You have to give more than you get in return right away.

You have to care more about others than they care about you.

You have to fight when you are already injured, bloody, and sore.

You have to feel unsure an insecure when playing it safe seems smarter.

You have to lead when no one else is following you yet.

You have to invest in yourself even though no one else is.

You have to look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have.

You have to grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off.

You have to deliver results when making excuses is an option.

You have to search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts,”

You have to make mistakes and look like an idiot.

You have to try and fail and try again.

You have to run faster even though you’re out of breath.

You have to be kind to people who have been cruel to you.

You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled.

You have to be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong.

You have to keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you.

You have to do the hard things.

The things that no one else is doing. The things that scare you. The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between living a lift of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid. To pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage – or desperation – to do.

Do the hard things. You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

Source

Happy Monday!

What is It Worth to You?

Not sure why this image felt appropriate, but it did. The three of us taking a much-needed snooze, the first christmas we all shared together.

Not sure why this image felt appropriate, but it did. The three of us taking a much-needed snooze, the first christmas we all shared together.

I asked myself this question, this morning as we pulled away from my parent’s driveway. I was getting anxious because for the first week in seven, I was coming right up to the edge of the time I had available in order to hit my weekly word count for the book I’m working on and I needed about 2700 words in one day and I wasn’t sure I could do it.

Spoiler alert:  I didn’t hit it.

My husband reassured me that I could do it on our five-hour car ride back to Milwaukee. It was his turn to drive, so I had nothing but time…and a toddler in the backseat who sometimes requires a lot of attention. But still, I could make a decent dent in it, for sure. All I needed was something to write on. I had multiple devices – so that wasn’t an issue.

And then I started writing and I had this pit in my stomach. The pit that tells me I’ve gone the wrong way. I’ve missed something. I stopped. I thought about the story that I was writing so far. It felt close. But I wasn’t passionate about it. Why was that?

Because it wasn’t the right story.

But I’d been working on it for seven weeks, I told myself. Surely, I could keep writing in the same direction and then edit it and turn it into something better. But this didn’t feel like a case of “your first draft is shit-tosis” it felt like I was actually writing the wrong story. If I kept writing the wrong story, surely, I’d just be miserable the rest of the way. [And quit calling me Shirley!]

So I started a new document and started outlining the story in my head. I stopped. I thought things over. I continued. I added details to this part here and details to that part there. A few small revelations hit me and it seemed like it was making sense.  I think it makes sense. It could still be the worst idea I’ve ever had and there is still so much I don’t know. I thought I knew when it took place. Now, not so sure. I thought I knew who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. Now, it’s kind of unclear – mostly because I haven’t figured it out that far, yet.

And at the end of our five-hour car ride, I had put down about 900 words into an outline and captured some possible plot points. I don’t count outlines/research toward my word count, so today my official count was 148.

I failed, by a lot.

Adding insult to injury

And then there’s this voice in my head that I believe is only going to get louder and louder as I continue on. It’s the voice of “resistance” as is labeled in the book, “The War of Art.” The voice that says the following:

You mean to tell me you’ve been writing for seven weeks and you think you need to start over? Well you’re screwed. Might as well give up.

You’re never going to hit the goals you set. This is going to take years. Are you prepared for that?

This is stressful. You’ve got a lot going on at work, your fitness and health are taking a backseat, you hardly blog on HBD, and you know you want to finish Game of Thrones as soon as possible. Just let it rest for a while.

This feels too hard. Are you sure it should be this hard? I bet if you were ACTUALLY supposed to write a book, it wouldn’t feel this hard, it would come more naturally to you.

Don’t quit your day job. Literally.

That voice hits me at my core. It feeds on all my insecurities of being a hack. It’s only a matter of time before they find out that you’re not really a writer.

Don’t let the resistance win. Name it. Kill it. And pick yourself up by your GOD DAMN bootstraps and move on.

Week 8…or Week 1 as I like to think of it

So yes, I’m starting again. There may be pieces that I can salvage from the past seven weeks. There may not be much. I’m not changing my goals or my timelines or anything else. I just need to focus, put pen to paper and make the resistance bleed.

It’s a war out there. But in the end you have to ask yourself…

What is it worth to you?

For me, it’s worth enough to start over and keep trying until I get it right.

Instagram

So tired. Weekend number seven, done! Santosha (sp?), meditation, shoulder anatomy, arm balances and so. Much. Yoga. I love this practice. And, I need a beer. #balance

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