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?

Monday Motivation: Don’t get stuck in the in-between

Let it go

You had to know this was coming, right?

Let it go or do something about it.

That’s the mantra I’ve created for myself today.

Like many of you, I feel like I have a holiday hangover. It’s the start of the first full work week since I left for Christmas break (although I did work a couple days last week before the new year) and it feels like it’s time. It’s time to stop shoveling food into my gullet. It’s time to get focused and re-energized. And it’s time to tackle some monumental goals. Not new year’s goals, mind you (other than to face my fears, basically), but tangible, concrete goals. Goals related to work projects. Goals related to training for my next event. The goal to get our finances in order for tax season. The goal to do something with that book I won’t shut up about.

It’s a lot to take on for a Monday after a long holiday. And even just thinking about the not-so-pleasant parts of those goals had me really stressed out this weekend. Like there may have been a small episode in the grocery store parking lot where I mentally screamed “Fudge this!” (But my mind is a little more uncouth than that). And I just felt very not-present all weekend because of the things weighing on my mind.

I hate being in the “in between.” It’s the space between the “I’ve identified a problem” and whatever comes next…”I’m just going to ignore it.” or “I’m just going to get through it.” or “I’m just going to give it my all and tell off the nay sayers in my mind!”  (I wish the last one happened more often). It’s just a lot of dwelling and thinking on what I could do or should do or shouldn’t do or REALLY shouldn’t do. I try not to get stuck dwelling on these things which make me feel like “this sucks and it’s how my life is going to be forever and ever until I die!” but it happens.

And obviously, my life is not going to be terrible forever. But in the moment, it feels that way.

So going back to my mantra, today is about letting go or doing something about it. I’m pretty good at not holding grudges, mostly because my long term memory isn’t that great (I digress), so letting go is a strong suit of mine. But all too often I let too much go and then it’s a cycle where it comes back around multiple times until I decide to do something about it. So there may be some of that today, as well. For the most part though, I want to let it go and just put my head down and get through what I need to do this day and this week so that I can have a very clear mind and “presentness” (shhh, I’m making that word happen) for our trip to Florida next week.

So where others may be shouting at you to BE DETERMINED and GO ATTACK YOUR GOALS and MAKE THOSE UNICORN DREAMS HAPPEN today…to that I say. “Sure. Go do that.” But also, deal with your past so that you can move forward. Either let it go or do something about it.

Wise words from Rafiki

Wise words from Rafiki

Here’s to a blistery cold Monday!

 

p.s. this post was not in any way, shape or form sponsored by Disney, but I can’t lie, I’m MORE than a little pumped for our Disney trip next week. It may be a reoccurring theme for a bit. Just bear with me.

Happy New Year!

New Years 2012

I love the New Year holiday. The celebrations, the glittery hats and the promise of a new 12 month adventure. Like most, I have mixed feelings about creating resolutions. In theory, resolutions provide us with a road-map for the year ahead. Revisiting or creating resolutions can be the first step in achieving fitness, personal or professional goals.

Of course, they can also be a recipe for disappointment. Rather than create specific goals, I’d like to focus on one word for the year. Does it feel like a cop out? Sort of. To me, this fresh approach resonates and feels achievable. When the motivation balloon has been deflated I hope to revisit my “2015 word” to gather inspiration and keep chugging along. A list of contenders:

  • Positive
  • Gratitude
  • Yes
  • Brave
  • Possibilities
  • Happiness
  • Determined

“Yes” made the cut because I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s book Yes PleaseWhat an inspiring read by a bad-ass, positive chick. Love this:

It’s called Yes Please because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would you like to be left alone? Yes please.

“Yes please” sounds powerful and concise. It’s a response and a request. It’s not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman.

“Yes” is great but it’s not specific enough. My word for 2015 is determined. Said better,

Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction.

Determination mantra!

Determination mantra!

I’m determined to be positive, express gratitude, say yes, be brace, embrace possibilities and seek happiness every single day. I’m determined to have patience with my family and myself. I’m determined to write children’s books, keep running and above all else – have fun!

Happy 2015!

2015: The Year of “Because, Why Not?”

Because_whynot

I stated in my last post that I was not about setting goals for the new year just for the sake of setting goals for the new year. But in the back of my mind, there’s a small part of me that knows I want this year to be just a little bit different, hopefully a little better than the last. In 2014, I got a taste for embracing the fear. In 2015, I’m going to push that. I’m calling it the year of, “Because, Why Not?” (screw your grammar rules, it works!)

Maybe it’s because I’m in my thirties and I’ve started to care less and less about the opinions others have of me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been able to keep a child alive for over 2.5 years (with the help of an amazing partner, I might add) and that in itself is a COMPLETE success for me. Maybe it’s because I’m rejiggering the idea of who I am and what I’m capable of. Whatever it is, I’m glad it found it’s way to me. And I plan to embrace that sense of pushing past the fear to try new things.

Just today I stumbled across a piece of advice for aspiring writers from one of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood:

“”I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment. ‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt?’ And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.’

So I’m going to be flopping. I might be screaming. But by golly I’m going to give 2015 my all…because, why not? How about you? What will you be doing with the new year?

Monday Motivation: You Got This

Anne Murray - Christmas

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. No seriously, I have maybe five minutes for this post.

First off – Lindsay and I are starting a new series on here called, “Motivation Mondays.” We all need a little extra help on Mondays and because Lindsay and I so obviously have our act together (please note the heavy sarcasm), we thought we’d help get you started on a great week.

Today’s motivational pep talk? You got this! No seriously, you got this because you don’t have a choice.

The shining example

Like a good blogger, I spent a good chunk of my Sunday night crafting a meticulously well-worded blog post that delivers the right mix of motivation and “hey, it’s okay, let’s hug it out.” Oh wait. Did I do that? Nope. I spent my Sunday night working on something for my actual job while watching Toy Story with the family and explaining who Buzz and Woody are. Not my ideal situation to be working on a Sunday night, but sometimes it happens. So now it’s Monday morning and I’m writing this post right now. But you know what? I got this! Because it’s Monday. And on Monday’s we deliver motivational speeches and we kick butt and we do what we said we were going to do.  You got this!

Time is of the essence

Nothing speaks motivation to me like a good ol’ deadline. Do you have continuous deadlines to meet? I put deadlines on everything, not just as it relates to my job. I put deadlines on how long it should take me to read a book so that I can move on to the next book. I put a deadline on how long it should take to write a first draft. I put deadlines on how long I’ll give myself to figure out an answer to a problem before going to someone else for help. And today, I’ve got quite a few deadlines to meet. So I’m going to work my hardest to hit them. And the good news is, even if you miss a deadline once in a while, you’re still closer to the goal than you were before you started, so don’t get too down on yourself. You got this!

You can only juggle so much

You have to, have to, HAVE TO, put something down in order to keep going. Like you, I want to be super woman and super mom and super lady-who-looks-polished-with-her-coffee-and-perfect-lipstick-while-dropping-her-kid-off-at-daycare, but I can’t do it all at once. So I have to learn to put some things down for a while. This weekend, I chose to work on a project with a tight deadline and deal with a cranky toddler. I could have also tried to get those Christmas cards out and gotten up early to work out instead of sleeping in, or dust the living room like I keep telling myself I will or read those books I got from the library, but there just wasn’t room for all of that. The project, the cranky toddler and then laying low with my in-laws while we decorated cookies was all I could manage for this weekend. And I’m fine with it. Because today is a new day. There’s still time to do all of those things, just not all at once. You got this!!

Alright, that’s my dose of Monday motivation. I’m off to fill my coffee cup, put my headphones on and crank out some projects while listening to Anne Murray and Harry Connick Jr. sing Christmas tunes. What’s on your agenda for today?

Happy Monday, everyone!

 

Motivational Fitness Quotes

Don’t you just love the warm fuzzies you get from reading an inspirational quote?

They have the power to flip your thinking and recharge your batteries. Sometimes this charge lasts for a few minutes and other quotes have had lasting power. They are little motivational Energizer bunnies, if you will.

Jamie shared her favorite quotes and after reading those words of wisdom, I dug through my favorite. Here are my top motivational fitness quotes:

“By comparing yourself to others, you limit yourself to being only as excellent as they may be and in so doing, prevent yourself from achieving a higher level of accomplishment that you never knew possible. Let others be guides, not goals.”

 

Fail to plan

 

Comfort Zone

 

Get stronger

 

 

And finally,

Run

Favorite Quotes: Tony Robbins Style

Instagram_8

Confession time. I LOVE me a good quote about the value of working hard and pursuing your dreams. It doesn’t matter the dream. Any dream, really!  And where do I express this? Instagram. That’s right, if you follow me on Instagram it’s basically just me posting inspirational quotes, pictures of Jackson, links to Happy by Design posts and then every once in a while a picture of a tiger.

So instead of picking just one favorite quote for #blogtober14…which is impossible for me…I’m going to share favorite quotes that I’ve posted/reposted on Instagram in the last couple months.

Tony Robbins – sit down and take a lesson from the master.

Instagram_13 Instagram_12 Instagram_11 Instagram_10 Instagram_9 Instagram_7 Instagram_6 Instagram_5 Instagram_4 Instagram_3 Instagram_1

What are some of your favorite quotes?

Monday Motivation brought to you by Taylor Swift

This song falls into the same camp as Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I can’t believe I’m putting Taylor Swift and Jerry Seinfeld into the same bucket but here I go: both are just doing what they love and you can feel the honest passion, energy and heart in both video series and song.

 

Girl nails it with that ribbon-dancing leap.

Acceptance is the first step in order to fall in love with your passions

 

How do you respond to the request “Tell me a little about yourself.”?

Typically, I launch into a 30 second elevator pitch – checking off accomplishments and current status. Went to school (insert school), work in (insert industry), which means (explain industry/company/role) and I live (city/neighborhood) with (self/people/family). Blah.

Last week at a work dinner, I was asked to “Tell my story.” As I launched into my typically story – bullet points about my past – I was interrupted and asked a series of follow-up questions. Many, many follow-up questions. It was a great way to get a few laughs at the dinner table and a memorable way to get to know someone deeper. Sure, I played tennis in school, but he wanted to know if I enjoyed it now. Throughout this line of questioning, he correctly deciphered that I enjoy running and loved cooking shows. It was a great way to get to get the answer: “What do you do outside of work? What are your hobbies?”

A hobby is an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for fun. I’ve dipped my toe into various hobbies but rarely do I dive in and give it my all. I rarely experience the reward in learning a new skill. I have a dusty sewing machine, almost-new knitting needles, half-assed attempts at calligraphy and boxing gloves. I’m not even certain how the boxing gloves made it into my closet.

The point is, we’ve all latched onto some craze or felt a surge of energy when trying something new. I enjoy learning about new subjects. I’ve checked out sewing books from the library and signed up for online calligraphy classes with little to show for the investment in time and money. It’s frustrating and annoying. Why do I bother to explore hobbies when the majority of them fail? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Why am I stressing out about my calligraphy form? I’m sure someone could analyze the reasons why but I’ll take a stab in the dark and assume it’s because I think it’s easier. Easier to not try verses try and fail.

It’s easier…but not fun. Or fulfilling. Over the past year, I’ve experienced personal success with running. It took me months to even call myself “a runner.” It took me even longer to realize how much I truly love the sport. With every new investment – running shoes, race fees, clothing – I questioned my intentions and commitment level. Would this be “worth it” in the end? Ultimately, I experienced some level of “mom-guilt.” Everyone (EVERYONE) tells you to take time for yourself but, is this too much time? Too much focus on my needs and wants? Regardless of someone’s definition of “too much,” I fell in love with running and now consider it to not only be one of  my hobbies but, one of my passions.

Rather than skim the surface of my loves: running, yoga, writing…what would happen if I took a leap to really give it my all? The risk of failure is greater but the reward is sweeter (Jamie hits this point in another post). Ragnar gave me a taste into the pay-off of training. Now what?

In order to keep myself accountable, I joined my gym’s yoga/running program. Our class instructor sends out a weekly running schedule and healthy recipe. Each Saturday morning we get together for a group yoga class and go on a run. I was hesitant to sign up for this program because of the investment. It’s not expensive but, am I willing to wake up early every Saturday in order to run? Am I willing to make up these runs even if I’m out of town?

My goal is to continue running on a regular basis – regardless of race schedule. Plain and simple.This program combines my three fitness “loves” – running, weight training and yoga into one. How could I resist?

Getting “into” something takes guts and can sometimes be read as selfish. Who cares what others think. Just go for it and take the shot.

Morning People Have Super Powers

Morning run motivational quote

“The best part of waking up is (a grueling workout followed by coffee that’s better than) Folgers in your cup!”

A couple years ago, I remember hearing this “I’m a morning person” speech from various individuals:

If I don’t work out in the morning, I feel like my whole day is shot. I need to get my endorphins boosted so that I can make it through the rest of the day. I actually find that I’m less hungry when I workout in the morning.

And a couple years ago, I rolled my eyes. I just wanted to turn around and shout, “Quit shoving your ability to be a morning person in my face!” At that point, I liked to sleep in. The thought of waking up at 6am to get ready for work was torture. If I wanted to work out, I was fine doing that after work. I loved going for a walk or run outside —while it was still light out — not something that can often be enjoyed at 5 a.m. I also didn’t love going to the gym during the 5 p.m. rush, but at least I wasn’t alone. On the contrary, the few times I tried to work out in the morning felt like wading through a never-ending sea of molasses. And what’s the point in that?

So I came to the conclusion that morning people were born that way and that how they functioned was supernatural. Maybe it’s similar to how those born left-handed are more likely to be creative. Whatever it was that made them this way, I didn’t have it. Even if I wanted it, it didn’t matter because I wasn’t born that way, right?

Cue movie sequence where a lab accident happens and I become super human

And then at some point, I became supernatural.

In my mind, the transformation would look a lot like the scene where Spiderman inherits his mutant powers: a little spider bite and VOILA! – super human abilities! But I live in reality. And in reality, it was probably more like a lab assistant falling into a vat of icky chemicals, and then slowly over time he transforms into this evil super villain both because of the vat of icky chemicals and the new way of thinking he’s acquired. But then let’s drop the villainy part, and that’s me…plus I have female parts.

In laymen’s terms, what really happened is I had a kid. And to be perfectly clear…yes, I’m comparing that to falling into a vat of icky chemicals because basically that was nine months of torture for me. And like the lab assistant, it didn’t change my state of mind, at first. At first I was just in shock and trying to cope. “Okay my life is different now, no problem, I’m just going to keep doing what I do. Oh I can’t? Okay, adjusting expectations then. And I don’t get to sleep…ever? Okay, REALLY adjusting expectations now.” And so on and so forth.

This is how I basically went from dreading early mornings to building a tolerance for early mornings…because what does it matter when you’re sleep deprived, in general.

Harnessing and growing my super powers

About nine months after little man was born (and some sort of routine was forming), I not only accepted the early mornings and lack of sleep – I started embracing it. And let’s face it, I still had a good 20 pounds to lose and this was the only reasonable time that I could truly call my own. So I started to have thoughts like, “What would it matter to wake up a half hour early and go for a walk before everyone wakes up?”

So I started getting up at 5:30 a.m. and walking around the nearby park and running for a minute or two, every couple minutes. The biggest shocker was that I did this WITHOUT coffee (don’t ask why…it was a silly decision, in retrospect).

Once my activity level increased, I found that I needed a little more time before everyone woke up so that I could get in the miles I was building up to. So then I started waking up at 5:15 a.m. Now I was able to get in a solid three-mile run. It was about this time that I noticed that I wasn’t dragging through the day or feeling ravenously hungry, like I thought I would be.

But let’s not forget about the factors of influence

To be clear, motivation and determination are the primary factors of influence in growing my morning super powers. However, other factors helped get me started and are certainly worth mentioning:

  1.  The temperature. Once the summer hit, getting up in the morning started getting easier because I wasn’t worried about how cold it was. I was actually more concerned about humidity. I then found for the first time ever that I was happy to be working out while it was still dark.
  2. The “Couch-to-5k” training plan. I found a really great mobile app with voice directions that would come through over the music I was playing while running. I found it very important to think as little about running as possible, while I was running. I liked that I could just be told what to do and when, and then go back to being lost in the music.

Other factors, such as comfortable running wear, proper running shoes and a good playlist, can also make your life a lot easier in the morning when you’re debating whether or not to get out of bed.

The final test

I came to a point where I could consistently run three miles. It took a couple months to get there, but I knew that’s not where I wanted to stop. I used to train for half marathons so that seemed to be the next step.

Once the training progressed to four- or five-mile runs, I made the jump to a 5 a.m. wake up time. Again…without coffee. And as any coffee drinker can attest, my running was okay, but still a little bit of that “running through molasses” feeling at times.

So that’s when it happened. To start my day off right, I knew it would be important to have a cup of coffee before my morning run or workout. And one day I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. the next morning and laughed at how ridiculous that was. And these thoughts started swirling through my head, “Clearly, I’ve crossed the line. No one in their right mind can wake up that early, do that many things and still be a productive member of society throughout the day. I will be a zombie. Clearly.”

And the next day, I continued with my plan. Was I a zombie? Of course not. Did I want to dive straight into my bed at 8 p.m.? Yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my mind.

My super powers…which aren’t really super powers after all

I’m here. I’ve done it. I’ve conquered the world. Okay, maybe not the world, but I’ve conquered the ability to be a morning person.

I can get up way earlier than I ever thought was humanly possible.

  • I can find and harness the motivation and the drive needed to make better choices.
  • I can dig my way out of the sweet syrupy fog of sleep for the betterment of my personal health.
  • I can finally start my day on a positive note.

And most importantly, I can be that super annoying morning person you hate. And I make no apologies for that.

I now know that being a morning person is not easy. Sure, there may be some exceptions for those whom it does come naturally. But for others, it’s a combination of personal circumstances and hard work pushing us forward each and every morning.

Is it still a work in progress? Yes. I no longer have the lack of sleep that I once had, and now have to work harder to get up early each morning. Some days I downright fail. But I know that when I do get up early, it’s always worth it. So I’ll keep trying.

How can you get morning super powers?

Like most goals in life, it’s hard to get started, but once you’ve started, it’s a lot easier to keep going.

  1.  Start slow and keep building on your perceived limits.
  2. Drink coffee. I’m convinced that if you’re not caffeinated…or at least slightly high strung…you’re just plodding through life, at this point.
  3. Have a good reason for getting up, and make sure that reason is so strong that you will have major regrets if you don’t commit.

And if all else fails, fall into a vat of icky chemicals…i.e. have a kid. You will have no choice but to become a morning person.

Good luck!

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