Progress > Perfection

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I’m pretty sure this has been my all out mantra for everything lately.

Life with a high needs “spirited” one year old for this goal-oriented, anxious perfectionist is HARD. Any other mamas with kids as intense as Clare, I know you feel me. I just started reading this book and I find myself highlighting EVERYTHING.

As you probably saw, my 2015 goals were pretty lofty this year…but slowly and steadily I do feel that I’m making progress on them. And PROGRESS is what’s important. As we’ve just finished the first quarter of the year (what?!), I thought it good to do a check in on goals and how things are going so far.

 

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Meditation: I think I’m doing pretty good at this one! I’ve only missed a handful of days, mostly due to the rampant illnesses that seem to be plaguing our house, and I’ve consciously made an effort to never miss more than one day in a row. Sessions vary between 3 and 15 minutes depending on the day, and I do feel like I get more out of the practice if I do it for at least 10. Finding the time that works best has been tricky. When Chris is home, I try and do it first thing in the morning as a part of my morning routine. If he isn’t, I try and kind of do a ‘do over’ of my morning when Clare goes down for a nap. I find it’s a LOT harder if I save it to the evening. My brain is spent, and I am barely able to stay focused on a short one. Apps that I use are Calm, Buddify, Mindful and Headspace. Do you know of any other good meditation apps? Please share.

Five Minute Journal: I’ve also been really good about this one. I like that it includes gratitude, planning and reflecting on the day. I also try to always remember to write in my Mom’s One Line a Day Journal, but sometimes I find myself catching up on a couple days of that one.

Blogging: So far so good on the one post per week. I’ve only missed a week or two, and some weeks I included my post for Girls on the Grid in my count. Once per week is a much more doable goal than writing goals I’ve tried to make previously.

Recipes: We definitely haven’t really been trying out a new recipe per period. We have made a few things out of the baby led weaning cookbook. This green bean recipe is also awesome. And we’ve been making our own corn tortillas. Honestly between Chris’s schedule, Clare challenges and all of the sickness that has been plaguing us, food has dropped on the priority list. Cheese and crackers and hummus and bread have been regular meal staples for me. It’s bad. (Okay it could be a lot worse) But we’ve gotta get a bit better in this area.

Date Nights: This one has been a big fat fail. One of my best friends who was our neighbor and would sometimes watch Clare recently moved away. And when my parents have been up here, Chris has been gone or we’ve all been SICK. Have I mentioned we’ve all been sick?? So we just haven’t really made it happen. We did have a breakfast out at the end of March, but that’s about it. Here’s hoping in the later part of the year when my parents MOVE up here, we’ll get back on track with this one.

Read 25 Books – Totally on track. 6 down, 19 to go. Reviews of my first 4 here. Books and Podcasts are totally saving my sanity. (Though I am a bit ridiculous in that I am currently reading 5 books at once!)

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Learn to Sew a Quilt: Again, maybe this summer once my parents are up here, and I can plan on someone to watch Clare.

Podcast: This is going really well. Yesterday, episode 8 launched, and I’ve got some AWESOME guests lined up in the coming weeks. More at www.postpartumpodcast.com

Childbirth Educator Work: It’s SLOW going, but I’m starting to get on a better track. They re-did the program, and I like the new structure better, but it’s still very daunting the amount of work I need to get done. But, I do have a mentor, and some childbirth class observations lined up. I’ve joined a support group for other ICEA students in training on FB. Hopefully again, once my parents are here I can get into a more regular study routine, I can observe some births, and get on track to finish it all up in early 2016. I know that sounds so far away…but with the amount of work I need to get done, it sounds scary that it’s even that close.

Couch-to-5K: So I got about six weeks into the program. Now I think it’s an awesome program, and it made me not hate running, once they got to the part where you’re running straight for 20-25 minutes they lost me. But by running in intervals I ran the Girls on the Go 5k in 32 minutes at the end of March. Not too shabby for my first time running a 5K. And I’m going to chalk it up to, I can do running for cardio in a pinch, but it’s not really my ‘thing’. Zumba is. And I’m going to hopefully be teaching 3 zumba classes this summer! Hooray!

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In a perfect world, I’d dedicate several uninterrupted hours per week on my childbirth work and podcast and writing and working on a new project that I’m really excited about. But our world is far from perfect these days. So instead I’m having to make progress in the cracks and crevices of the days. On the fringe.   And that’s okay. Because Progress > Perfection. And DONE is > than perfection.

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My episode as a guest on the wonderful Sarah R. Bagley’s podcast today discusses just that! Please check it out, and the rest of her episodes. Her guests always resonate with me!

 

And remember:

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It’s Hard. Social Media and Reality.

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Sometimes Instagram can be a great source of inspiration and happiness. I love scrolling through pretty pictures, slices of people’s lives. With the adorable “Cat of Instagram” picture, smiling baby or the super inspiring messages from people like January Harshe of Birth Without Fear and my friend Sarah of Scout and Feather.

But other times all of the pretty pictures can totally make me feel worse about whatever trouble is going on at that moment. I guess that’s the catch 22 about social media in general, right? Do the potential harder moments outweigh the benefits or vice versa? I think of it more as a see-saw. Some days I’m the one crying in the bedroom after having a mommy meltdown that Clare won’t stop screaming and I don’t know what’s wrong or what to do to help her for the 5th day in a row. (Thank god for that usually happening when Chris is home to pick up the slack.) Days like that it feels like scrolling through IG is just mocking me. “You don’t have that picture perfect coffee picture next to the beautiful planner with the chipper status.” “You aren’t on that exotic vacation, or hanging out with friends.” Instead, I’m desperately trying to juggle it all, working, primary care giving a very high needs spirited toddler, (sometimes both at the same time) and working on my slow crawl to an eventual career in birth work. Not to mention trying to cultivate other relationships in my life.   It’s fucking hard. Yes, I’m cussing, even though that’s usually not my blogging MO. For that sort of blog you should check out Renegade Mothering and of course the One Bad Mother podcast. Love them.

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But seriously, though. It’s hard and I think it should be okay to say it’s hard. It should be okay to have a meltdown every once in a while. To cry. Get some hot chocolate on a rainy day. And then dust yourself off and get back on the merry-go-round.

I guess I should be setting limits on Instagram like I have been on Facebook and Email. I use the Coach.me (previously Lift) app to track habits and that includes trying to limit my checking of those two. Hard habit to break. But I probably should do the same with IG. If for no other reason than to save myself from the hard days of it making me feel worse rather than inspired.

Some days I AM the one with the delicious coffee and the beautiful planner. Next month we ARE going to Hawaii. I’ve made some new friends on IG, participated in a gift swap through @joyfullyinspired and used social media to make other’s days better and even to leverage partnerships and contacts for various endeavors over the years. MOST days, to talk in childbirth speak, the benefits do outweigh the risks…and so I tend to err on the side of soldiering on in the world of social media.

Sometimes it’s just about reminding myself that this is just a slice of life. Just a slice of my life and just a slice of others. And every once in a while it’s worth putting our more ‘real’ moments out there – not solely the highlight reels. I like to think that by doing so, we’re reaching out a small olive branch, saying “I’m not perfect. I’m not all sunshine and rainbows and beautiful coffee and workouts and happy mail and smiling babies. I’m also crying in the bedroom after a long week, binging on sweets, panic attacks, cancelled plans, screaming babies, yoga pants-all-day, chaos so deep that sometimes driving to the dentist feels like a break.” I’m both. We’re all both. And we could do with sharing that more.

There’s a Box For That

You can pretty much find a subscription box for ANYTHING these days. Want fancy underwear delivered to your house? Fresh Fruit? Razors? Soap? Check, Check and Check. There’s box for that. Gifts are absolutely my love language, so getting a surprise on your doorstep each month is an awesome little treat that I always look forward to. Who doesn’t love happy snail mail?? Today I’m sharing the subscription boxes I’ve tried over the last few years. I’d love if you share your experiences with these monthly boxes in the comments section!

Let’s start with the ones I’ve tried but no longer subscribe to:

Birchbox – I’m pretty sure this was the first one I got. Birchbox sends you a few sample sized beauty items each month. The biggest pro of this one is that it’s only $10. However, I like Ipsy better (see below) because their products tend to include more full size items, are more personalized and come in a cute bag each month.

Farm Fresh to You – I miss farm fresh actually. They deliver a mix of organic produce to your door as often as once a week and you can even do only once a month. I enjoyed it while we got it. Every Thursday night I would be excited for the “Fruit and Veggie” fairy to come. But because we also have such awesome farmer’s markets here in Sacramento, Chris and I decided cost-effective wise it made more sense for us to just go to the markets. Though we do need to get more consistent with that.

Conscious Box – I think this was maybe a Groupon or something that I tried? It didn’t really feel like it was for me. You did get a LOT of products in the little box compared to other subscriptions, but a lot was specialty vegan foods that weren’t really my thing. I just tried it for the one month.

Nature Box – Ha, so my friend Steph got me this one as a gift to try. And then she kept forgetting to cancel it, so I think I ended up getting like 4 months of it. It was kinda fun, but I didn’t always like all of the snacks that came with it, so I didn’t renew.

Okay, now onto the monthly boxes I currently get and LOVE!

Ipsy – As mentioned above, I really like Ipsy better than Birchbox. I get 4-5 products in a cute little pouch every month for just $10. I’ve gotten makeup brushes, nail polishes, chapsticks and lip glosses, and some body/hair/face products. I’ve liked most everything I’ve gotten from them. I think I’ve gotten Ipsy for about a year.

Studio Calico – This is a new one for me. I think I’m on my 3rd or 4th month. You can get subscriptions from them for just regular scrapbooking or card making, but I get their Project Life kit. Monica got me hooked on Project Life. I’ve been working on Clare’s first year photo album with them, and I hope to create a family album each year. PL is basically scrapbooking for the lazy (or busy!) and I love it. Studio Calico is $20 each month.

Driftaway Coffee – This is a small coffee roaster out of Brooklyn, NY. While we mostly get our coffee from the local shops here, this is a fun little treat that comes in the mail each month. (You can order it more frequently) What I really liked about them is they send you a sampler of 4 different types of coffee to try first and then personalize your shipments to what you like. We just get the smallest ‘solo’ plan that’s $12. It’s a fun change from our regular Temple Coffee here. You can get your first delivery FREE if you use my referral link.

Citrus Lane – Mommas, Citrus lane is awesome! We’ve been getting it since Clare was just a few months old. She gets age appropriate toys/items/samples each month. Sometimes we get books, sometimes food samples, her favorite teether came from CL. I can’t say enough great things about Citrus Lane. If you would like to check them out, you can use my referral link and get 50% off your first box!

Mommy Mailbox – And last but not least, one of my favorites! Mommy Mailbox launched in December, and my mom got me a gift subscription for my birthday. I love it! You get fun treats each month curated by bloggers to help give moms a little boost. In February I got delicious biscuits and cozy socks, in March an awesome coffee mug and cute tote, among other things. I highly recommend this one to any mamas out there!

I’m curious about a couple of the other ecofriendly boxes like EcoEmi and I have to say I like the idea of the underwear one. Shopping for underwear pretty much sucks, so it’d be nice to have some comfy ones just show up at your door.

What boxes have you tried? Loved, Hated?

My Favorite iPhone Apps

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Today I wanted to share with you my top 8 favorite iPhone Apps. I know I love hearing about new apps that are really useful, so I hope you do too. I picked ones that you may or may not have heard of before. Because of course there are several apps I use ALL the time that you probably already know about (goodreads, kindle, podcast, Etsy, Amazon, Cartwheel, Gmail, and the usual social media culprits)

Coach.Me (Previously Lift) – I LOVE this app for tracking daily goals. I think I heard about it originally 3 or 4 years ago when it was Lift. I read about it in the Mindful magazine and it is awesome. It recently just changed to “Coach.Me” in January and the creators are now allowing you to hire “coaches” to help you motivate in your goals. But the cool thing about it is you pick goals and pick how often you want to achieve these goals. It tracks them for you and you can look back on your stats. There is a social component too where you can get props from other users with the same goals and ask questions. There are motivational quotes and even virtual high fives. I highly recommend it!

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Any.Do – I have recently shifted to more paper planning and to do lists, and thanks to a recommendation my friend Jessica and a birthday gift card from my in-laws I have a brand new awesome planner headed my way soon. But for virtual to do lists I really enjoy any.do because it separates lists into today, tomorrow, upcoming and someday. These categories work well for me to parse out my to do list.

Feedly – If you read blogs then you have to have this app. I used to try and keep track of the blogs I read in a whole bunch of different places. I would ALWAYS miss posts and forget which blogs I even liked. Feedly is awesome because it shows when blogs post new posts and it’s super convenient to read on the go (or while nursing a sleeping baby!)

Mindful – One of the better meditation apps I’ve found. I do wish there were more options of different tracks to listen to, because with trying to meditate every day, the same tracks do get boring or harder to follow. If anyone has suggestions for other meditation apps they enjoy, please share! (Of course for some reason I couldn’t find the link for this one.  I don’t know if that means you can’t download it anymore?)

Headspace – Another great beginner meditation app. I enjoy this guy’s voice. It’s not grating or annoying or patronizing and it makes meditation more accessible to people who may be skeptical.

Couch-to-5K – I actually really love this app. I’m only into the second week of couch to 5K but I love how this app runs over the top of your music and tells you when to switch from warm up to running to walking to cool down. It also tells you when you’re halfway done and tracks your miles and pace. Great for beginning runners like me.

Overdrive – I think my mom originally told me about this one. You hook it up to your library account and can check out audiobooks and ebooks directly to your phone. If you are a reader, it’s great!

Thred Up – Oh Thred Up, I love you. Thred up is an online consignment shop. You buy like-new clothing at much cheaper than retail. I’ve bought several items off of here and always have been happy. You can also sell them your old clothes and get a credit. They do have an option to by free shipping for the whole year for $10. I definitely plan on doing that this year. If you want to check it out, use this link to get $10 off your first order, plus then I’ll get a credit! Win-win. Oh, did I mention they have BABY clothes now. It’s like a jbf sale without the crazy lines. Love!

2015: Presence

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Some people have an aversion to goal setting and particularly new year’s resolutions. I loved how Teresa put it on last week’s episode of One Bad Mother. It becomes a joke of how quickly people will fall off the wagon, forget their goals, etc. And I do admit that I usually look forward to February when the gym does become less crowded all of a sudden. 😉 But something in me has always loved goals, lists and plans so it is something I enjoy doing most every year. I also really love this document Lesley posted for reflected on 2014 and into 2015. I plan on completing it as more of a journal exercise.

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I also like the concept that has become more commonplace the last several years of “One Little Word” where you pick one word to represent your year and take it on as a kind of mantra or over-arching idea that you want to remember throughout the year.   For me, my 2015 word is going to be PRESENCE. I was toying around with Simple, Priority and a few others, but Presence really has seemed to stick. Especially since my number one goal for 2015 is to incorporate a meditation/mindfulness practice into every day. A few years ago I took the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR), and through yoga and other avenues I have dabbled in it for a while, but this year I have decided to get more serious about it.

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I hope that the word presence will resonate throughout my goals and my year.

And here are the more nitty gritty 2015 goals that I am committing to.

Meditate Everyday. I know this sounds like a lot. But we aren’t talking 20 minute sessions. We are talking even if it’s just a few minutes.   And I got this handy calendar from Elise’s Make 29 project to track it.

Read 25 Books. In 2014 I read 31 books, though several of those were childbirth books pre-Clare. So I’m being realistic with 25 in 2015. Look for some book reviews of the books I read in 2014 on the blog tomorrow.

Learn to sew a quilt. I got a sewing machine from my parents for Christmas. I took a super basic beginner class a few months ago, and I’d really like to learn to sew a quilt this year. (Along with other fun sewing projects!)

Write one blog post every week. Over the years I’ve had many different blogging goals that have seemed to fizzle out. One per week seems more realistic. Writing refreshes me, is enjoyable and helps me sort things out. So I really need to make it a priority.

Have a date with Chris once every month. I was inspired by Ashlee’s year of dates, and Chris and I have planned our own year of dates for 2015. It’s a bit of a challenge to do given how unpredictable his Amtrak schedule is, but we’re making it work.

Keep this Five Minute Journal daily– which incorporates gratitude. I heard about this on Jess Lively’s podcast, and I really love the concept, 5 min in the morning and 5 min in the evening and it has gratitude incorporated into it.

Try one new recipe every pay period – We grocery shop every two weeks and Chris and I haven’t decided to alternate picking a new recipe to try. Hopefully at the end of the year we will have 26 recipes to add to our arsenal…because there are many times this year we’ve gotten into a food rut. I am embarrassed how many times I had a baked sweet potato with blue cheese for dinner or lunch. Ha!

Launch my podcast and produce at least 25 episodes in 2015 – You may not have heard yet, but I am launching a podcast next week called the Postpartum Podcast. I am really excited about it and hope that you will tune in! Details coming soon.

Complete childbirth educator coursework and prep for early 2016 evaluated teaching series – When I started the ICEA program, I had two years to complete it. Which means by July 2016 I have to have it all done. Self paced is great but also really hard. My hope is to finish all of the coursework, birth observations and class shadowing throughout the year and plan on teaching my own evaluated series in early 2016, followed by the final test.

Try Running the Couch to 5K – I’ve never really been a runner…I tend to like Zumba, yoga and body pump, so I thought I would try to throw something new into the mix this year. Plus goals wouldn’t be complete without something physical. Right?

Then the more general ones…

  • Spend more time each week being creative, i.e. writing, crafting, sewing, scrapbooking/Project Life. I didn’t come up with a real measurable goal on this one, but I know that I am a happier person when I make time for these things.
  • Be more intentional with my social media and technology use. Doing a beta test for this mindful messaging app has me thinking more about my social media and just really phone use in general. It’s a precarious balance, using it for good and sharing and productivity versus using it out of boredom, in uncomfortable situations, and the inevitability of comparison. I LOVE this video on why we need to put our phones, tablets, computers down more and experience the world around us. I’m not sure what this will look like for me. I’m not going to go whole hog and delete and deactivate everything, but seriously culling the use. I slowly have been over the last few months, and I do notice a change in feeling when I do.

And there you have it. I plan to do some check-ins throughout the year, so keep me accountable, friends. Do you have any resolutions or goals for the New Year? Any similar ones?

Motherhood Mondays: Anna’s Story and Being Happy

I love a story that one of my close friends Anna tells about this “epiphany moment” she had in college while walking home one day. (forgive me Anna, I’m sure I won’t re-tell it as good as you do 🙂 ) But I’ve been thinking about it alot lately.

Anna was terribly upset about a test she had just taken at Berkeley – maybe it was even a midterm or a final? – and she thought she’d done really bad on it. Her mind was spiraling thinking “Omg, I did so bad, I’m going to fail and then I won’t get a good job and I won’t etc, etc”

I’ve definitely been there. I was a ridiculous type-A perfectionist most of school and my version of “failing” typically was a B. Chris would roll his eyes at me when I would come home having similar freak outs about tests and grades, because typically by the end of the semester I would end up with mostly A’s and a few B’s. Although the semester we were planning our wedding, I think I got a few C’s (gasp!) Which is so funny to lack back at now, because honestly NONE of it mattered!

Anyway, So Anna was walking home and she saw this cute little house and there was a porch swing, and wind chimes and flowers and a garden. And she had this moment of clarity that no matter what happened, it didn’t matter. She wanted that. The simple little house and just to be happy. And what does she have now? Exactly that. A cute little house with an awesome garden and wonderful family. And in the end that’s what really truly matters.

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It’s a novel concept right?

To paraphrase one of the motherhood books I’ve read recently – our culture puts much more value on achievement rather than care. I still fall into that trap sometimes. I get frustrated that I’m not able to do more in one given day. I crank out blog posts during nap times. I sneak away and leave Clare with Chris to go work on my childbirth educator certification at the library. I’m working on a few other side projects, and Monica invited me to join her in taking this awesome happiness MOOC course through Berkeley that starts tomorrow. (More on that later!) Not to mention the other everyday stuff of keeping my house relatively clean, feeding myself, trying to fit in exercize. Oh yeah, and teaching 10 piano students a week. And of course trying to do that all perfectly.

And yet, I feel like it’s never enough.

I’m not teaching enough, doing enough, being enough, achieving enough. And it’s silly really because agonizing checking off a to do list that no one cares about but me is almost as silly as worrying about a B in a college class. What really matters is just being happy and the time I am able to spend nurturing relationships. And I am so grateful for that time. I value the time that I am able to mother and care and be. I am slowly trying to allow myself to disengage from the achievement self I used to so completely identify with. And sometimes I totally fail at it. I am stuck in my head and worried about all the things I “should” be doing or the achievement-based things I want to accomplish. Goals while being a mom of a young baby have become more like “loose guidelines that I eventually will do…maybe” It needs to be a reframing of what is enough, or at least enough for now. Enough for today. I have to remind myself that in the blink of an eye Clare will be in school and I sincerely doubt I’ll say “I wish I had done that load of laundry” or “launched that project sooner.” I recently saw this quote and I love it. I need to remember it.

 

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Around one month

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6 1/2 months

Too fast.

Reverb14: August – Transition

I’ve been listening to Sarah Bagley’s podcast recently. I love her concept of “giving up perfectionism to live a B+ life” and she mentioned the Reverb project and how they do a blogging prompt every day in December. They also are doing monthly prompts. And I decided to join in. August’s prompt was about transition.

What came to mind for me besides the fact that we are transitioning to Fall – Apple Hill is OPEN – YAY! – is the idea of how our lives have transitioned over the years so far as technology is concerned. I’m reading this book about mindful parenting and this book about honing your creativity and both are making me really rethink a lot of forms of technology and overstimulation. There is so much good in a lot of the technology we have accumulated over the years. I have found so much new mom support and friends through various Facebook groups this last 6 months. I’ve forged connections that never would have been possible without social media. One of my cousins lives in Las Vegas and I haven’t seen her in years, but thanks to social media I feel caught up on her life, whereas without it, we likely wouldn’t have heard from each other. I can also defend the merits of unplugging until I’m blue in the face. I hate that we are all surgically attached to our smartphones and computers. I have countless conversations with Chris, my family and even friends about paying more attention to each other than our devices. But what I worry about even more is the world Clare will grow up in.

 

And it’s not just a technology thing, it’s the fact that kids (and parents too for that matter) no longer just “hang out.” Kids are SO crammed with extra curricular activities that they barely have time to breathe sometimes. When I was a kid we would spend so much time just outside. Just being. Riding bikes, playing on the “dirt jumps” across the street from our house. We would wander around Glenshire, sometimes running into deer, or walk the mile it was to the general store for a 25 cent piece of candy. Many times we would just lay out on the deck or the docks looking at stars for HOURS, talking, laughing, just being. We would stay up all night playing trivial pursuit, not texting or updating social media. Most people I grew up with didn’t have cell phones until they were at least 16. And I feel like we were able to form and maintain some of the bonds that we did because of that lack of technology. (Perhaps part of that was growing up in a tiny town, also.) But I really hope that we can find a way for Clare to enjoy that kind of childhood amidst the bombarding overstimulation that our current society has transitioned into.