Wednesday, January 31

Turning 27 ♡ + 10 steps towards personal growth

     Well hey guys! At the beginning of this month was my 27th birthday and the start of a new mindset search and season for me. I think most people have the same sort of feelings on their birthday as they do on New Years (thinking back on the last year and all of their hopes and goals for the year to come, etc), but with my birthday being so soon afterwards I've always just felt the overload of both milestones all at once- which actually I've really loved in the past, but this year I really needed to take my time and work slowly through all my hopes and plans and ideas and expectations.
     My biggest goals for age 26 and 2017 was to simply be more present, to slow down, to let myself breath, so an easy breezy January (especially with a baby coming soon and when the rest of the world is sharing crazy lists of goals and resolutions) was just what I needed.

Obviously, because I'm about 65 weeks pregnant nowadays, I want to clarify that these photos were taken for a styled shoot by the lovely and incredibly talented XAN CRAVEN before I knew I was expecting:) See more of her work on her WEBSITEINSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK. ♡

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     This year's birthday was another quiet family day, except my gang and I hopped into the van after breakfast and drove for a little while to meet up with some of my distant family. After the kids were down to sleep at my brother's house that night, I had the first little bit of quiet time to think and reflect.
     Richard had brought me some doughnuts that I'd been really excited about (Krispy Kremes!), and then he'd gone on a walk with one of my nephews, so I was alone in the basement in a silent house as I realized the last minutes of my birthday were ticking by.
     I laughed a bit at how pathetic I might look, sitting on my own in the dark at a table with my box of birthday doughnuts, but it was nice really.haha I closed my eyes for a few minutes to better picture moments from the last year that had really shaped where I am now.
     I thought about the times I felt SO proud to be a mother and then the moments that I felt like I was failing my family in every day. I saw moments of such intense heartache that I couldn't stand or breath, and then moments of such sweet joy that I'd never expected to feel again. I saw family trips and ocean waves, piles of raked leaves and late night pizza parties. I could see berry smoothies and card games, dancing in the kitchen, and that positive pregnancy test:)
     Being the pregnant emotional mess that I am I couldn't help but cry big tears of gratitude for how much happiness my little family has felt even after experiencing the worst tragedy we could imagine. Anything and everything rough and rocky or scary we gone through since then is so pale in comparison. Richard and I and the kids, we've all learned and grown so much in the last year, and it makes me so excited about what the rest of 2018 will bring. These kids especially are just so strong and resilient and mature, and they have so much purpose when they wake up every day, excited to begin again, it's really inspiring.

     I took out my phone and started taking notes (an almost daily habit I have in the evenings to help me clear my thoughts before bed). That night I started a list of little manifestations, I guess? Steps that I wanted to make towards becoming a better. But for myself, for the New Year, for being 27, for all of it. Not big expectations, just little mindsets shifts that I wanted to nurture. Weaknesses that I wanted to make stronger. So here are an even ten things that I wrote down (because I'm OCD like that) in case they make you think of something that you may want to adapt or tweak in your own life:

10 steps towards personal growth

  1. Design the life you love. Take control and really focus on the most beautiful life you can imagine for yourself and your family. Keep your eyes on what you want to manifest and let the laws of attraction come into play.
  2. Learn to meditate daily, morning and night. This will help you to live with intention and purpose by taking the time to focus your thoughts and emotions on what is really, truly important. Start each morning with clear goals, and then wrap up the day with gratitude and knowledge that you did your best, and you're exactly where you're supposed to be.
  3. Rethink your tribe. Bring only people into your life who reflect who you want to become and who help bring out only the best in you. Gently release those that hold you back or drag you down.
  4. Open up your mind. Spend more time alone without any distractions for your mind or body, and push yourself to be more receptive to the present moments. Spend less time talking and more time listening and reading and learning. 
  5. Stop and forgive yourself. There is absolutely no benefit from letting the past weigh you down. Your old mistakes took a part in where you are now, and have helped mold you into someone who can now have empathy and compassion for others who are or have walked a similar road. Look at each painful memory or moment as just another milestone that you've overcome, proving to yourself just how much you can handle, and then let it go.
  6. Look deep inside. Write down any personal habits that you know aren't healthy for one reason or another, and then change them! Get rid of them, sell them, break them, stop them. There are things in your life that just aren't working and aren't helping you be your best self, so stop them. Today.
  7. STOP COMPARING. Looking at others and mildly ascertaining thair behavior or actions in your own mind (for better or for worse) may help you improve yourself, but using the successes of others to beat yourself down will do nothing but hurt your spirit and dull your own shine. You cannot and do not want to be that other person. You are you, so why not focus on being the best version of yourself?
  8. Never let anyone else define you. Not a close personal friend, not a distant relative, and certainly, absolutely not a stranger on the internet. No one but you can live your life and can understand your mind and your position except yourself. Bullies don't stop with high school, and the world will never stop trying to put you into a box. The more you blossom, the harder they will try. Don't ever let that happen. Realize that their actions towards you are nothing but reflections of how they feel about themselves, and then move on.
  9. Use daily affirmations. Write some down on your own or look up ideas if need be, but reciting positive affirmations to yourself daily, out loud, will reprogram your brain away from unhealthy beliefs and negative thoughts that can fill you up and take over your mind. 
  10. Take care of yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty glass. If you want to be available to uplift others and support others, you have to have enough strength to hold yourself up first. Take time daily to do something that is healthy for your physical and your mental well-being, and you'll see the positive changes reflected in your ability to do more good for others.

     Alrighty, I could keep going now that I'm on a role but I'm going to stop there:) Thanks so much for reading if you've gotten this far, and I would love to hear any affirmations or motivational thoughts or words or ideas that you're focusing on this month or this year, so please share! Also, I'd love to know if any of these ideas stand out to you in some way?

     P.S. I'm sitting here with a little bowl of chips and salsa and man my fingers really love typing, and the clicking of the keyboard really sounds so great this late at night.haha 

Be back soon!

Monday, January 1

Welcoming 2018

     The best news for some reason was hearing that the new year was going to start on a Monday. hahaha I can't think of a more refreshing way to start anew than the beginning of a clean new (even) year, on a Monday morning, with snow on the ground and fireworks in the sky, and a dorky hat on my

     Dreaming of the not-too-distant future after the holidays and everything that our family would or could be doing in the new year has helped pull me out of many emotional pits during the last few months. We really did have a sweet and quiet Thanksgiving and Christmas together, and counting our blessings and listing hopes and future plans has been so inspiring and motivating.

     We pulled down the majority of the Christmas decor with the kids on New Years Eve, I gave everyone haircuts while Richard cooked up some grilled cheese, and we wrote up little goal lists with the kids for the next couple of months.

     THIS is the most wonderful time of the year to me:) I might do a little recap of our 2017 since some of you have asked, but overall looking back I feel like we lived each season of the year to the fullest but still at a simple and fun pace.

     It's been good 2017, but I'm so glad to keep moving forward:)

Sunday, December 24

All is calm, All is Bright

Happy Christmas Eve to you and yours!

When Claire reached out to us with an idea for capturing our family life around the holidays, we were so excited to work with her! Christmas has meant so much more to the kids this year than ever before with them growing up so fast, and these moments she's put together with my favorite people will always be so priceless to have in this way. We may make a new holiday tradition out of it:)

Thank you again Claire!
You can find more of her awesome work over at WWW.IMAGECLAIRITY.COM

And to the rest of you, have a beautiful day tomorrow, and I'll see you again in the new year!!


Thursday, December 7

Putting ourselves first when we need it most


     Hey there fam. Before I get into it I just want to clarify that these photos were taken by my dear friend Xan way before I started showing, but in thinking about what I wanted to touch on tonight they seemed appropriate to use anyways:)

     I wrote a post on instagram about how whenever I feel extra stressed or anxious or overwhelmed how I go into 'hermit mode' and just hide out until it passes, and of course (as with most things I mention struggling with) there were tons of you that said you do the same thing when those feelings hit you. Not a big surprise there:) This last week was one of those times. Everything I'm behind on and dealing with started to pile up in my brain and started a spiral of my not being able to keep up, not being equipt to handle the house and the kids and work and laundry and bills etc while making a baby and working carefully with all the emotions of the holidays. Now that I'm on my way back out a bit I just wanted to talk about how I try to handle those tough days a bit better. :)

     Self-care and self-love are things that I've only really discovered existed this last year, let alone started to try to learn or practice, and the couple of times I've talked about them here there are always so many of you that express similar feelings of having never really thought about those as important things. It's been hard to write posts on this topic though, because I feel like I have SO much to say and so many ideas to share that I get overwhelmed with it all and just decide not to write anything if I can't make it perfect. You guys do that too right? haha

     Anyways, here are a few simple ways to practice self-care on those days when you need it most:

This is the time to do something for yourself that helps you put yourself first. The default is to always put our needs and desires last, but not when we're struggling. Whatever it might be, pick something that you've been putting off that is just for your benefit. Personally I really love a quiet errand run (yes I'm a mom.haha) or the classic bath in a dim bathroom can really do the trick. Just something that reminds you to take a few deep breaths and relax.

It might sound crazy cliche, but really sitting back and going over all the ways that your life really is beautiful will do wonders for your attitude. Think about all the ways your life could be so much worse, and reminding yourself of the positive things. Having a long-term perspective helps you focus on what really matters in the grand scheme of things instead of everything that feels so wrong or messed up or overwhelming right at this moment.

Oftentimes we take on many issues and problems that aren't responsibility, and it becomes way too much. So many of us are 'fixers' and we want to help others or solve issues that aren't really ours to solve, and the added stress and pressure we put on ourselves is just not necessary. It's important to look at what really is weighing us down and decide to put ourselves first. We need to be better at saying no, and we need to be better at setting boundaries and sticking to them.

Oftentimes when we feel stressed out the first instinct is to feel guilty for not being grateful for what we do have, and yes while it's a good mindset focus on the good and to stay out of those pits of overwhelm, those feelings are perfectly natural and normal. Don't let yourself feel worse about everything by telling yourself that you shouldn't feel that way, just tell yourself that you're in a tunnel not a hole, and that if you take it one step at a time that you'll see the opening at the other end soon.

     Well like I said I have tons more that I want to keep going on about, but I really need to work harder at just sharing some thoughts and wrapping it up before I write a whole novel.haha In closing though I'd really love for you to share if you've been working on self-care or self-love more lately, and if you've found any specific things that really help you take a step back and breath:)