Relax, and enjoy the ride.

Nobody else is feeling any stress or anxiety right now, right? 🥴 Yikes! Between Covid, the election, and everything else life brings us on a regular basis, this can feel a little overwhelming! Stress is no joke. Trust me. I know! I have gotten so stressed/depressed/anxious in my life at times that I would be physically ill for weeks, and I wouldn’t be able to handle everyday activities, let alone function properly in a traditional job setting. I really do get it. I’ve been there. But not anymore. Sure, I still get upset sometimes, feel out of whack, and find myself heading in an unhealthy direction, but the difference is that now I recognize it and know how to help stop it. I also know what brings me joy and refuels my tanks (check out the last post for more on our tanks).

I can hear some of you right now going, oh, she’s going to tell us to get on a prescription medicine, or start using marijuana or CBD… I don’t actually use any of these options for myself, but if they work for you, great! If not, great! That’s one way I’ve eliminated a lot of unnecessary stresses in my life. I really try not to pass judgment on anyone else for anything they do. They make their own choices and will have to deal with their own consequences… just like all of my consequences come from what choices I make, and how I choose to react to my life. Try it. You do you. Let everyone else do what’s right for them. It’s such a simple, yet underused concept, especially in times like these.

So what do I do when I need to destress and refuel?

GET OUTSIDE!

Seriously, don’t overthink it. Just open your door and go outside. Breath in some fresh air, get some sunshine, and watch nature happening around you. It’s incredibly healing, it’s free, and it’s just outside your door no matter where you live. Just do it. Even for 5 minutes!

GET MOVING!

Exercise doesn’t have to include a gym, equipment, a workout buddy, a personal trainer, a subscription, or fancy athletic gear. When you open the door to breathe in that fresh air, take it a few steps (see what I did there?) further, and walk around the block. Feeling good? Awesome. Walk further! Going for a simple walk outside is incredible for our bodies, minds, and spirits. Check out the 99Walks app for more inspiration and encouragement on this!

DECLUTTER SOMETHING!

I know you knew this was coming. It’s what I’m super passionate about these days… get rid of clutter in your home, on your calendar, your to-do list, in your car… surround yourself with only the things you absolutely love and actually use! It is so amazingly freeing to have a space that calms you lights you up. Imagine walking into your tidied room full of all the fantastic stuff you love (and that’s it)! Try it. Do the timer trick… set a timer for 20 minutes and declutter the space that gives you the most stress/anxiety in your daily routine. Whatever that is for you. Do it.

BE NICE!

Yes. That’s it. Be nice! Do something thoughtful for someone else. Make someone a packed lunch (hello, farmers)! Send a card. Perhaps try gifting someone something you’re decluttering. I’ve had a lot of fun with that recently. If I see something that I don’t need or use any longer but it reminds me of someone, I give it to them. I did sell and donate a lot of boxes of stuff in the beginning, but now I am down to smaller spaces and fewer items. It makes it easier to find a meaningful way to regift my things to someone who will appreciate them.

RELAX!

This means something different to everyone, but I’ll share my favorite ways to relax. My husband takes over baby duty for a bit so I get some uninterrupted alone time. I draw a bath, sometimes with Epsom salts and essential oils, sometimes with bubbles… whatever feels right at that moment. I light candles and turn a salt lamp on. I sip on a glass of wine (or hot tea, but it’s usually a nice, dry red). And then the rest depends on my state of mind.

If I am feeling really overwhelmed and need a brain break, I’ll dive into a novel I can get lost in – usually crime fiction, psychological thrillers, and the occasional flowery romance for me. Other times I’ll pop in my AirPods and watch a show or movie I can also get lost in – Hallmark Christmas movies are winning this category at the moment. And sometimes I feel instantly inspired with my alone time, and I will watch a training or read a blog, catch up on emails, or even write a blog post. I’m currently sipping on my $3 Aldi Malbec, sharing my thoughts with you as they come to me, while soaking away the day in my kid’s orange-scented bubble bath! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Whatever works!

Then after I’m done (my bath times range from 20 minutes to over an hour… I just soak until I feel renewed – I don’t set a time restraint on this), I will get dressed in comfy pjs, throw on a robe and slippers, and usually I continue with a book or movie in bed. Sometimes I’ll indulge myself in a yummy foot lotion, or luxurious body butter, and sometimes I get my hubby to help with this part! He gives an excellent foot rub and back massage. I am very lucky that this can be part of my relaxing routine!

Do what works for you.

I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to destress and unwind to hopefully inspire you. But here’s the thing. You need to do what’s best for you! Maybe your distressing and relaxing go-tos look nothing like this, and that is fine! But make sure you do them. Put your sanity (and the sanity of all of those around you) first. Unapologetically. Be kind to yourself. Take the time to make sure you’re getting what you need. And just try your best to relax. Yes, even today.

Letting Go

We talk a lot about letting go of things. Excess clothing, duplicate kitchen utensils, unused hobby supplies… but there are so many other things we let go of in the process of finding simplicity in our lives. I read about this in several IG accounts I follow and bloggers I look up to. Some examples include letting go of what others think of you, letting go of the pressures of keeping up with our neighbors, letting go of having a busy schedule, and there are so many more valuable takeaways.

But the biggest thing I’m learning to let go of is control and perfectionism. Thinking I can and should take care of everything perfectly. Feeling the pressure to not only meet expectations but exceed them… but who am I trying to convince? Who really gives a hoot what I’m up to? I suppose my immediate family benefits from me meeting certain expectations of keeping the house running, but otherwise, does anyone really care how well I do anything? I mean, sure. I have people in my corner, rooting for me to succeed, as I know you do (even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes). But ultimately, people are waking up and thinking about their to-do list. Not mine. And not yours. And they are just as insecure about their abilities to meet their expectations of themselves as I am mine.

So where did I get this idea that I had to perform a certain way? I know even as a very young child my teachers told my parents they were concerned about how much pressure I felt to get straight As. Apparently I’d get very upset with myself if I got even a B+, but it didn’t come from my parents. I was doing that to myself. And I think on some level I’ve been way too hard on myself my whole life. No one else is really to blame for how we treat ourselves, are they? So it’s time to take action and be our biggest cheerleaders! Let’s let go of all the pressures to have the perfect home and the perfect family and the perfect social media presence. Trust me. No one is perfect, even if they show you they are on Facebook. In fact, they probably feel worse about themselves than I do on a bad day if they are trying so hard to convince everyone online that they’re perfect.

You may have seen on social media that we had my two year old‘s milestone photo shoot this week. I mean, I know I’m not the only one that goes completely batty for family picture days! It’s like even if we are somewhat put-together on a normal basis, for some reason on picture days suddenly we have no clean laundry, someone is having a meltdown, and the whole process is chaotic and definitely not what we want to remember when we look at pictures we paid to have someone take for us. Time to let all of those pressures go! This time I forgot the only prop I wanted to bring, we got dressed in unplanned outfits right before we left, and it was fine!

📷: Alyssa June Photography

We had a birthday party for the little guy with close family this weekend, too. And this was the most relaxed, simple, enjoyable party we’ve had! Luckily since I’ve been decluttering so much, it doesn’t take too much effort to make the house look nice. And instead of a complicated menu, we did a nacho bar, cheese machine and all. We even portioned out all the toppings to be less germy. This way people could grab food whenever they wanted, instead of waiting for everyone to arrive, or feeling bad for eating without people. We let the little guy kind of run the show, playing and interacting with his grandparents, opening presents, feeding him when he calmed down enough to notice the food. Going with the flow was so much more fun for me, and I’m sure less intense for everyone else, too. Next time we host something we’re keeping the cheese machine and doing this again… or maybe a potato bar? Repeat what works and lose what doesn’t! Just because you’ve done something a certain way forever doesn’t mean you can’t try something else this time. I’m going to especially work on this as the holidays draw near, and I encourage you to do the same. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. Let go of trying to be perfect. Let go of trying to control everything and everyone. Let go, and let things happen organically. It’s been a tough road for me, but every time I really do let go, it’s been so worth it.

Trying out his new blanket and pillow from Grandma Becky! Birthday parties are exhausting.

Are your tanks full?

I had no idea what I was going to share with you today. Honestly, I have so much bouncing around in my head, and some of it is far from positive and productive. The last thing I want to do is share a post that takes away from your happiness or inspiration, so I thought about skipping it today. I thought, you know what? I don’t have to be perfect, I can skip a post, I can choose to sit here and stress out and fume over frustrations I have very little control over… and I could have. You may not have even noticed if I didn’t post this week, anyway! But instead, I got my booty off the couch, bundled up my little buddy, laced up my running shoes, and got outside and went for a jog. WHAT? Who am I?!

But that’s not even the best part. I decided to check out a new podcast from the walking group I’m in, and guess what it was about… filling up our tanks. Filling up our mental, emotional, and physical tanks. It was a cute, light-hearted, 30-minute reminder to keep all of those areas in our lives in check… and guess what? I listened as I did my hardest jog/walk intervals yet. And then I went back to the couch and sulked… NO! Of course I didn’t. I decided to keep walking! I added another .8 miles to the walk, and only turned back because the little dude was obviously over it and ready for lunch at that point. Then I sulked. NOT EVEN CLOSE! I ate a healthy lunch, drank a bunch of water, and asked my husband to put the baby down for his nap for me so that I could have an uninterrupted workout – I’m doing Beachbody’s MM100. I’m on workout 62/100 and I am determined to finish by Thanksgiving, along with finishing my Couch to 5K training, so that I can run the Turkey Trot with my husband. A goal we have had in the past but have not yet done together.

Then, I lit a lovely fall-scented candle, one with a picture of my grandmother holding my little guy, got out the vacuum, snapped on the wand – I swear I have only used it a few times this way, whoops! – and I vacuumed every nook and cranny in our living room and dining room, and even got under the couch cushions! Then I made up a lovely fresh-scented mop bucket and scrubbed the crap out of that entire area. I followed up with lighting some palo santo, leaving it to finish clearing the air for me as I now sit here with a lovely cup of Passion, Love and Joy tea, and write this message to you.

So why did I share a play by play of the last four hours of my day? Because a month ago I never would have gone out for a run when I’m having a rough day. I would not have prioritized fresh air, healthy food, an uplifting podcast. I wouldn’t have decided to fuel my body with more working out, or freshen up my home (and clear my mind) with a deep cleaning. It probably would have looked a lot more like this: venting to anyone who will listen, blasting some angry music (Anyone know ICP? That used to be my go-to.), eating something horrible for me, lying down because I just don’t have the energy to “life” today… but I didn’t do any of that, because I’ve been keeping my tanks full! YOU GUYS! I have found WONDERFUL resources to help inspire, motivate, and encourage me, and I’m going to share some of them with you now. I know what works for me won’t necessarily work for you, but give it a try! Find a new way to fill up your tanks. Surround yourselves with people who lift you up! Distance yourself from drama… sometimes you just need a minute (or 4 hours) to yourself, and that is OK!

Life Happens

You guys, a year ago yesterday my grandmother died. Three days before that, on my son’s 1st birthday photo shoot day, my husband and I found out we were pregnant with Prudence. We lost her 5 months ago today. If you check out my IG/FB you will see that we did a lovely walk in honor of her and all babies waiting for us in heaven on October 15th for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It was very nice, and I plan to do that again. Anniversaries of sad memories can rock us. Arguments with friends or family can send us to the wine rack (just me?). But maybe not every time. Maybe instead we can arm ourselves with healthy choices when life comes at us harder than we think we can handle, and maybe we come out even stronger and better than where we started.

Resources that are helping me…

The YouVersion Bible App has a permanent spot on my home screen. Read, watch, listen, and share… all for free.

My 99Walks goal is what got me outside today, and where I found the inspirational podcast. You set a walking goal, and get a bracelet with the positive focus at the end of every month you meet your goal… this month is Find the Beauty. Lovely, right? I just started it, but I love everything about this so far!

My Closet Outfit Planner and the Color Analysis test: Yes, this has actually helped me SO MUCH lately! I found Shari on IG while searching for ways to minimize my closet, and not only found simple and fun ways to do that, but I also found a community of supportive, positive, creative, and fun Christian women! I know, right? I love my new sisterhood. You can connect with my two new favorite resources and join in the community, too!


Other Ways to Fill Your Tanks

  • Learn a new language – I’m learning sign language along with my little dude using a baby sign app.
  • Take a bath or long hot shower – sometimes I do both in a day if I need to reset. I highly recommend adding a beautiful candle votive and bath salts like this pumpkin spice one (?!) or maybe you prefer a bath bomb.
  • Call a friend – a real friend. One who will encourage you, not dwell and sulk with you or tell you what you want to hear.
  • Have a cup of tea – I am loving having a fun variety of teas at home right now. I’m considering getting this beautiful tea display holder.
  • Do nothing. Yep. That’s it. Sometimes we need to slow down and do nothing.

Don’t bury your treasures.

Remember I told you that I’ve been having my husband bring me up one box at a time from the basement to declutter? Well, there are a couple of reasons for that, one being simply so that I don’t get distracted or overwhelmed by the project at large. But the other reason, is that he doesn’t think twice about what box to grab. And that is exactly how I ended up getting sucked into a time warp today. I’ll be honest with you, I set my timer for 20 minutes, fully expecting to get through this box just fine, thinking it was full of lots of “treasures” from my youth that I had no need for now. Boy was I mistaken. I had apparently been pretty good at paring down my belongings when this memory box was created. I moved to San Diego in 2009, and I was able to store all of my prized possessions in this tub, which was at my mom’s for a very long time. It’s been in my basement for a couple of years, but I hadn’t gotten into it until today. So, here I am 11 years later, going through memories from junior high through my twenties. I threw away things no longer relevant: old business cards, invitations to weddings and pictures of friends with their now divorced spouses, old phone chargers, and a few random receipts and badly developed pictures. But for the most part, I was sifting through years of memories… many of which I had completely forgotten.

In the last hour or so, I’ve experienced about every emotion possible. Sadness as I came across pictures of friends and family members no longer living. Embarrassment from some poor life choices caught on film. Joy as I recalled some amazing adventures and friendships over the years in all different parts of the country. Bewilderment at memories I have zero recollection of: how did I completely forget that I went to homecoming with my high school crush? I seriously do not remember that. So weird. Did we skip the dance? Feel free to weigh in if you remember my homecomings. Not even sure when this one would have been, probably sophomore or junior year? No clue, but there are pictures, and apparently I was there with the quarterback. Concert tickets to John Mayer in 2008… was I actually there? Did you go with me? So strange how our memories work, isn’t it? Why did I keep those and none of the other several dozens of concert ticket stubs I tossed over the years? I have tons of pictures of people that look vaguely familiar, but I don’t know their names or have any idea as to why they’re captured on camera and saved with the rest…

I read cards and letters from friends I no longer speak with that said they’d always be there for me. I found notes from my mom encouraging me when I was obviously going through rough times. I even found a card and letter from my dad that I didn’t know I had from 1996, and I feel so thankful to have that memento that I will forever cherish (he has been gone since 2003).

I put almost all of it back in that box. At some point I will digitize things, make photo albums, or arrange them in photo boxes. But for now, I will keep this box in a closet I can easily access whenever I want to take a trip down memory lane. I did keep out a few old pictures of my dad and grandparents that I will frame now, along with some special keepsakes. Evidently I didn’t want to waste the Christmas cards I bought at the time, so just wait! You might get a Pooh card this year if you’re on my card list… I’ll even use a forever stamp I found in a box in my basement yesterday!

Wow. That took a LOT out of me. And to that I will say… don’t box up your memories and forget about them for a decade or more. Keep them where you can be reminded of loved ones and times gone by. Treasure your treasures. Don’t bury them.

Simple is so much easier.

I just got back from my six day trip to San Diego, and wanted to share something I took away from this experience. Packing simply and traveling lightly is AMAZING! Wearing things that interchange easily is key! Most of us already know this, and probably put it into practice some of the time. The difference for me this time? The entire process was simple. Incredibly so. Packing? Done in a few minutes… I grabbed three bottoms, a few tops/layering pieces, a workout outfit, a lounge outfit/pjs, sneakers and flip flops, undergarments, my swimsuit, a tiny makeup bag, a few jewelry pieces that worked with everything … I mean, I seriously fit all of my clothes and shoes into this weekender bag. I had a backpack with the rest – snacks, electronics, chargers, etc. I used my friend’s bath stuff – seriously why did I used to think I needed to bring so much stuff? Simple is so much easier!

For perspective, I have several of these bags in various sizes, a matching set, and I used to bring an entire bag at least this size full of hair, makeup, and bath and body supplies. Then I’d have a full suitcase of clothes (always pushing the weight limit), and typically another bag of shoes, and an overflowing purse. Traveling was way harder than it needed to be! And so was packing, maintaining it all, and repacking.

This time it was light, easy, and so freeing! I even left some items I decided I didn’t need to bring home: a couple of pieces of makeup I thought my friend would use more than me, a book I keep intending to read but don’t, a bottle of nail polish I used while there and have a duplicate of at home, and I finished up my sample toothpaste and deodorant, and disposed of my travel toothbrush, as well. What? I came home with LESS than I left with. Who am I?

I think the reason I’m noticing the difference and appreciating it so much this time, is that now, FINALLY, I am feeling free from my things. So much so that even traveling has been positively affected. My brain wasn’t as muddled up with everything I needed to tend to or remember, and my ability to see things differently was apparent with less decision fatigue. I even helped my friend declutter and reorganize her small kitchen while visiting, which was way easier than doing my own, by the way. Grab a friend if you’re feeling stuck! They aren’t attached to your things.

All of this to say, even if you’ve been decluttering forever – it’s been a few years for us, with the majority of change within the last year, and just now I’m able to breathe more easily and notice the extra space. Now I grab only what I need at the grocery store, and put it away with ease. Everything has a boundary (don’t get more than fits in your drawer!) and a purpose. No, I’m not “done”… I still have a few “decluttering projects”, as I call them, on my list. But I’m nearly there. And I promise you, all of the hard work and tough decisions are so worth it! Stay the course. Keep decluttering. Quit buying things you don’t need. Only keep and use what you love. Try out a capsule wardrobe. The extra space in your home, on your calendar, in your closet, and in your mind, is so absolutely worth it all.

Also, a gentle reminder… life is happening right now. All we have are these small moments that add up to be our life. Enjoy it. Right now. Do things each day that bring you joy. Don’t push through like you’re sprinting blindly to the finish line, checking off a list as you go… take your time (or go ahead and speed up when you need to), but don’t forget to pay attention and enjoy your life as you’re living it.

Fall Closet Clean-out!

I’ve cleaned out my closet dozens of times. I’ve sworn each time it would be my last. I’ve done it all different ways… Hello, Mari Kondo! Does this spark joy? Way too many pieces did, in fact spark joy. I’ve also attempted to go through my closet based on how often I’d worn something. Was it gifted and never worn, etc.? But the deal is, no matter how I did it, the process of cleaning out my closet was stressful and tedious. I usually do it quarterly, so I’m not even going through all of my clothes at once. Just one season at a time, and it’s still WAY too much! Ask my mom, my husband, and a few special friends who have helped me on this minimalist mission to pare down my closet. I’m sure they’ll agree that it was nuts how many clothes (and shoes, and bags, and hair products, and makeup items… ) I had to go through. That should have told me something quite a while ago, but alas. Here I am finally figuring it out after all this time.

My starting point this season.

The Process

I cleaned out my closet over the last couple of weeks – this time I did it in small bursts. Hello, moms! I know you get this. We do things when we can. Right? I also got completely caught up on laundry, so I had a true measure of what I had to go through. So what was different this time? Well, I happened upon a Fall Refresh challenge by Fashion Meets Faith, Shari Braedel, and I latched onto her concepts, and here we are!

Shari started us out by giving us small tasks a day – go through your makeup, go through your underwear drawer, get 27 matching hangers, try on all your jeans and set aside your two favorites, etc. I followed along each day, getting excited because these were things I could actually do without getting overwhelmed! And then on the last day she released her CLOSET OUTFIT PLANNER! Holy moly, this is what I’ve been looking for… tell me what colors work best for me, how to put outfits together with the best on trend colors and styles this season… Yes, please!!!! And then, it’s so simple to know what to get rid of once I put it all together. I’m sold, and I am excited to share it with you!

Closet Outfit Planner, Fall 2020

Here’s what my “final” 27 hangers for this season looks like! I say “final” loosely because I am leaving things flexible. For example, there’s an empty hanger for a pair of navy joggers I plan to get soon. And apparently in fashion there are only two seasons, and Fall/Winter are together as one. Who knew? You probably did, but I certainly did not! So I’ve added in my suggested trend color (pumpkin) and some animal print for Fall, and I plan to swap some of those pieces in December. You might already know that I love a good Christmas sweater, Mrs. Claus dress, and basically any other festive items of clothing. Stay tuned, I’m sure I’ll end up sharing some of those outfits on social media! But the cool part about this capsule wardrobe is now that I have my basics and neutrals pretty much dialed in, these transitions will be pretty simple!

27 Hangers – Fall 2020

The Plan

Did I get rid of everything else in this season that I own? Good question. No, but I did get rid of quite a bit. I think the reason it’s easier for me to get rid of some more clothing now than in the past, is that I’m adamant about not staying in my current size. In my last post I talked about my health journey, if you’d like to know more about that. So anything I am not using in this capsule that I don’t love or plan to use through winter/early spring in my current size is gone. When I go through my clothes for our next clothing swap, I plan to bring anything that’s gotten too big or that I can’t size down with as I go.

Also, I have been thinking about the containers on The Home Edit. They put everything in containers as they organize it, and they said it’s to give you boundaries. If you have a particular bin for snacks, for example, you don’t buy more than that which will fit into that bin. I think this is why the idea of 27 hangers is so great. We know that if we pick the right pieces (use the guide, she tells you how to do it!), we don’t need more than that! We can make so many outfits by mixing and matching our items, that there’s no need to expand beyond the boundary we have set for ourselves for each season’s capsule!

Here’s my plan to keep it under control now and forevermore! I plan to keep a capsule for each season (using the closet planner), and to use a beautiful antique trunk that I was given recently – passed down from family – to store the rest! No more pulling out and sorting several stored bins of clothing for me. I will neatly store my out of season wardrobe, and any accent pieces not in use but still relevant, in my trunk! If it doesn’t fit, it goes! This of course excludes lounge wear, undergarments (I include layering tanks in this category), workout clothes, pajamas, etc. All of these items are kept in drawers, separate from my capsule items.

I hope this helps motivate and inspire you to clean out your closet! I’d love to hear how it goes for you, and also what color code you are. I’m a Soft Sister, and navy is my new black. What about you? Drop a comment below, or share on social media and tag me @livelikeadaylily so I can see your fall closet!

It’s now or never.

Have you ever seen the movie “Brittany Runs a Marathon”? I just watched it for the first time a few weeks ago. I bawled like a baby. Why? Because I have gone through so much of what Brittany did in that story, and when she crosses that finish line, I was so proud of her! I wish I could be that proud of myself.

A couple of weeks after watching that movie, I had a follow up doctor’s appointment for my blood pressure (I had preeclampsia with this pregnancy). All my labs were good and my BP was fairly regulated, but then my doctor brought up my weight. She said I either needed to lose weight myself by our next appointment (in 5-6 weeks), or we need to talk meds or bariatric surgery. In the movie, this is Brittany’s eye-opening moment, too. Her doctor tells her she has to lose weight or she’s facing serious health issues (she has to lose about 50 lbs, I have to lose at least twice that).

I talked to my mom and my husband when I got home, told them what had gone down, and said that I refused to take medicine or get surgery for my weight. So I would need help and support to do this through nutrition and exercise. No more ordering pizza for every family gathering, more healthy options for quick and easy meals at home, etc. I am surprisingly active for a morbidly obese person, believe it or not. I have stayed consistent with doing an intense workout at least 4 times a week, maybe more, for a few months now. But my doctor said that it’s time to dial in the nutrition to see the scale go down. Track the calories. Ugh. Track the calories?! I didn’t want to do it. This triggers so many warnings for me in my head! Don’t do it! You’ll get obsessed! You won’t be healthy!

Eating Disorders

I’ve had eating disorders for as long as I can remember. Overeating to the point of feeling sick and still going, under-eating to the point of constant dizziness, throwing up what I ate so I didn’t absorb the calories, and I ate those little red pills you used to be able to get at gas stations like they were Tic Tacs. I’ve gone on crash diets, fasted, juiced, counted points, counted carbs, ate nothing but cabbage soup, ate only prepackaged meal replacements, protein shakes, skinny shakes… you name it. I’ve tried it. I can lose weight. I’ve done it countless times. I was even a health coach for a certain meal replacement company after losing over a hundred pounds. But doing it in a healthy way AND keeping it off? That’s where you lose me.

Becoming a Runner

In the movie, Brittany is a party girl, she is chubby, and she has crappy friends. Been there! Boy I have I ever. But now I don’t have that excuse. I am in a healthy marriage, I have fantastic friends, and a supportive and loving family. The only person not caring about me and my health is me. So, now what? Well, Brittany decides to try to run. She can barely get down the block that first day. But she ends up going running with her annoying neighbor (Moneybags Martha), meets another newbie runner, and creates her support system. She works out regularly, eats healthy, and ditches her crappy friend and nights at the club for more sleep and better habits. Then she signs up for a marathon! I’ve always wanted to be a runner. I envy those that just throw on their shoes, step outside, and take off on a run. No equipment required. No gym membership needed. No one to rely on but yourself. No schedule necessary. I want that for myself. I always have. I just haven’t stuck with it. I’ve always been a horrible runner, even in sports in high school I was the last one in on the one mile run.

I don’t have a running club in my area that I’m aware of, but I do have running shoes. And a running app. And two feet. And a push to get started. So, on Monday, I became a runner. I mean, it’s way more of an awkward shuffle at this point, but I did it. I’m shooting to jog a 5k on Thanksgiving, and my Couch to 5k running app will have me finishing my training at the perfect time for that. So, it was a no brainer. I’ve added that into my routine. I’ve done this multiple times before, but I’ve never finished it. This time I will. It’s now or never.

Body Image

I used to hate myself. Mostly because of my body. I never believed anyone would ever want me or love me because I was big. In high school I never dated anyone. In fact the guys all thought it was hilarious to call me “Ish”, because apparently I looked like the big dude on Kingpin. Talk about squashing an already teetering self-esteem. My other name was Jolly Green Giant. High school sucked. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized people would either like me for who I was, or they wouldn’t. And it shouldn’t go beyond that. My personality, my quirks, my experiences, my doubts, my dreams, my education, my talents, AND my body make up who I am. I’m one package of all of these things, and if you don’t like the whole package, well, then you don’t get to be in my circle. I still struggled with that for many years. Finding myself in toxic relationships where I was never good enough, thin enough, successful enough, etc. But now, I am not thrilled that I’m as large as I am, but I don’t hate myself or my body. I don’t think I’m hideous to look at. I am strong, and I have birthed two beautiful babies. And my body is about so much more than my size.

Losing weight now isn’t about changing what I look like, or making myself more attractive for someone else. It’s about being healthy. For me. For my husband. And for my kids. I want to be active and fun, adventurous, and joyful, and live for a long time loving on my family. It’s now or never. And I am choosing now.

It’s been four months…

On the 19th of every month I plan to share our story of Prudence. Today, September 19th, marks four months since Prudence’s day of life.

It’s been four months since I was induced unexpectedly and had Prudence a month and a few days early. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and other days I still can’t believe we have already met her and that she’s gone. Funny how grief makes time do weird things, isn’t it?

I have been trying to figure out what to say today, what part of our story to share, and how I was going to do it. And I couldn’t figure it out. So here I am, typing away as I drink my morning coffee, not knowing where this post is going to go.

Let’s start from the beginning. That is one thing that I think ended up being a blessing for us. We were able to sort of grieve throughout the entire pregnancy, because we found out at about 10 weeks that we weren’t likely to have a healthy baby. When I went to the doctor and expressed my concerns I talk about below, we ended up getting an ultrasound that led to us getting an immediate referral to Iowa City, putting us in the right hands to deal with whatever was coming at us in the best possible way. I am sincerely grateful for our Midwife and the nurses that day, who not only handled me with care, but let me go, so that I could get the help I needed elsewhere.

Here’s what I wrote in March on my Caringbridge site, about when we first discovered something was wrong in our pregnancy.

I knew I wanted a safe place to share our journey with you, but I haven’t really known where to start. I was looking over these sonagram pictures today, and decided I would start on this day. The day we found out something wasn’t quite right.

We found out we were pregnant on October 15th, the day of Jude’s one year photo shoot, and 3 days before my grandma passed away. We didn’t share with anyone for a while, deciding rather to keep this good news to ourselves, and share once some of the grieving with family over grandma had subsided a bit. As far as we knew, we were pregnant with a healthy baby, I was healthy, and this was a joyous announcement that we couldn’t wait to share with family and friends! 

From the very beginning of this pregnancy, things were different for me than how I had felt during my pregnancy with Jude. I was always sick to my stomach, and I just didn’t want to get out as much – we thought maybe we were having a girl! Even though I was often feeling sick, I was working out a lot, and feeling pretty proud of myself for doing so… until I started bleeding. I was terrified. I called my doctor’s office more than once and they kept assuring me it was normal, but it didn’t seem normal to me. I quit my intense workouts, and the bleeding stopped. That was the week of Thanksgiving. We ended up announcing our pregnancy as planned when we visited family, even though at that point I was afraid something was wrong. 

When we went to our next doctor’s appointment, we were scared and just wanted to hear the baby’s heartbeat. They couldn’t find it with the fetal monitor, which they said was normal due to the tilt in my cervix, so they did an internal ultrasound. We saw the baby, and we were so excited to hear her strong heartbeat, see her cute little wave for the camera, and be assured she was safe and sound. That is, until the midwife came in to talk about the ultrasound. And that is when our whole world shifted. 

Our midwife said that they noticed a growth, called a cystic hygroma, which typically means there’s something wrong with the baby. She ordered a blood panel for genetic testing, and referred us to Iowa City. The nurse had tears in her eyes and both her and the midwife hugged me. At that point I knew something was terribly wrong.

Today

So where am I at today? Well, I am doing my best. “Doing my best” is the most authentic, meaningful way to express myself without having to go into a lot of detail when I’m either unable or unwilling to share. And it’s true. In our home we have pictures from the hospital of Prudence, one with each of us, some on the mantle and on the bureau. We were gifted some beautiful pieces that we display lovingly that remind us of Prudence: canvas prints of a couple of photos, framed song lyrics to Dear Prudence, a wind chime, several angels, a hand-painted watercolor, and more. Those things are spread around our home and yard as beautiful reminders of our time with our little girl.

I visit her grave often. She doesn’t have a marker yet, but she will have a lovely one right under my dad’s at some point. I actually just put this hanging basket of mums out there this week. I don’t know how long they will last, but it makes me feel good to switch out the flowers occasionally. I think it sends a message (maybe just to me) that I’m still caring for her or attending to her, in some strange way. I find myself driving past often, even if I don’t stop. Probably my mother’s instinct coming through, I suppose. She’s buried with my dad, and near several other family members, so I feel some comfort in that. I hope to be buried near her someday. That’s something I hadn’t really thought of much before, but now I am sure of my desire to have a plot near my baby.

Feeling Those Fall Vibes

It’s that time of year again and many of us are running to get a pumpkin spice latte, buying mums, making our homes feel cozy, and switching out our wardrobes from summer dresses to sweaters and scarves. I love this season change so much, particularly in the Midwest. It is such a beautiful and cozy time! I’m all about cuddling up under blankets, watching sappy Hallmark movies, sipping wine, and enjoying our fireplace to the fullest. But in order to achieve all of this coziness, I have some serious work to do! Let’s break it down…

Home Declutter

The last thing I want to do when I’m in my sweats, under a blanket with a glass of yummy wine, binging sappy movies (or Cobra Kai or The Home Edit), is look at a bunch of clutter sitting around. I don’t know about you, but I have a very hard time relaxing and enjoying my home when it’s messy and especially when I have piles of “projects” or chores calling me off the couch.

You may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram or facebook, that I’ve been in a huge decluttering mode for a while… actually it’s been a few years in the making according to my fb memories! Well most recently I tackled my basement, and by tackled I mean I got some of it done and then I had my husband bring up a bunch of boxes. Those boxes have been sitting on kitchen counters, in my foyer, and on my back porch. You guys, it was a LOT of clutter and it was extremely stressful and overwhelming, but I knew it would force me to actually go through it and get it done. Yesterday was the day! I was motivated by the idea of being able to decorate with my favorite fall stuff, making my home super cozy and comfy, and being able to actually sit back, relax and enjoy it! I set my timer for 30 minutes (I think I hit reset 3 or 4 times), and put on an oldie but a goodie, The Sweet Home Alabama Soundtrack, (I may have listened to it more than once)! But that’s the point. I made myself focus for 30 minutes, but my husband was on baby duty, I was suddenly in the mode, and I just kept going until I got it done! Hallelujah! I might have been motivated by the fact that I got a decent burn pile out of it, and I love watching fire, and also the cleansing affect it has when you’re clearing out clutter! Of course I sat with a glass of wine while I watched. Talk about relaxing! I highly encourage you to set a timer, put on a favorite playlist, and knock out those projects or cluttered areas you’ve been putting off. It will be so worth it when you light that Simmering Cider candle and sit back and relax with a cup of hot cider (or wine 🤷‍♀️).

Home Decor

I recently listened to a podcast that changed my life! Ok, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I think most of them change my life. That’s the beauty of finding ones that speak to us and give value and meaning to our day! One of my favorites is Minimal-ish by Desirae Endres, and she recently hosted The Nester, Myquillyn Smith, author of Welcome Home. In this episode, she specifically talked about how to make our homes cozy and festive without letting go of our simplicity and decluttered goals. I love her suggestion of using all 5 of your senses to decorate. Think about the things you want to see, smell, feel, hear and taste this season! I naturally do most of these things, baking pumpkin or apple recipes, getting a new candle, and setting out way too many fake gourds. But this year I am working towards using less visual clutter, only putting out decorations that I really love and spark joy for me, and filling in with the rest of the senses! I swapped out our throws for heavier, neutral colored ones, I’ve baked an apple crumble, I’ve been listening to slower, softer music, and I swapped out my diffuser blends with some fun autumn recipes. I love this concept, as it not only aligns with having a simple space, but it is an all-encompassing way to enjoy each new season!

Closet Cleanout

I’ve also talked about this process on IG and fb, so feel free to check out posts you may have missed for before and after pictures. But holy cow I know I’m not the only one who gets overwhelmed with seasonal wardrobe switches! I mean, I’ve donated or sold soooo many clothes over the past few years, and I still get stressed about it! There are many, many ways to clean out your closet. Many different views on how you should minimize and organize your clothes. I’ve tried several ways, and I’m going to share a few of my favorites with you now!

  • Courtney Carver’s Project 333 approach is to only have 33 items in your closet (including shoes and accessories) at a time for 3 months. She gives suggestions and examples, but it’s not an exact science, and she encourages you to make it work for you.
  • Marie Kondo says to go through all of your clothes at once, regardless of season, and keep only what sparks joy.
  • Melanie Kruger, The Confident Closet, is a fun and creative influencer who helps you find your style and encourages you to show up for yourself each day. She’s sweet and sassy, and super into bold lips and fun accessories.
  • Shari Braendel, Fashion Meets Faith, has a color coding system, where you find what colors work best and get rid of the rest! She also does a 27 Hangers program, and specializes in fashion help for Christian women “over a certain age”.

I’ve done all of these (except the 27 Hangers – I’m actually getting a training on that today). What I’ve found is that I want someone to tell me exactly what to do, and then I will break the rules that enable me to make it my own. Marie Kondo’s method stressed me out to no end. How the heck was I supposed to know what to keep? Does this black tee spark joy? I have no idea. I did find it super helpful as an initial tool to weed out a ton of clothes I didn’t really care about.

I really liked the idea of Project 333, and it did indeed simplify my life by streamlining my closet, but I wanted more specific details on what to have. Also, I wanted more accessories and ways to add a little more flair to my look than this specific number allowed for me. Which is one of the things I enjoyed most about learning from Melanie Kluger’s The Confident Closet. She encourages you to always add an accessory. Like, when you think you’re ready to go, add something such as a bold lipstick, a fun piece of jewelry, jacket or whatever. This pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me having a lot of fun wearing different hats and sunglasses and such, and I got a lot of compliments and people saying “that’s so you”. Who knew! I usually wear lounge clothes these days. Stay-at-home toddler mom = wearing pajamas/lounge clothes until I have to go somewhere most days!

What I’m obsessed with right now? Shari Braendel’s Fall Refresh! Today is the last day, so I’m still learning and am in the middle of my closet overhaul, but I’m having so much fun! I’ll be honest, I’m one of very few ladies that are not “of a certain age” in this group, and if that doesn’t work for you, Melanie is your gal! But I’m having a blast and learning so much, and am getting a lot of great feedback! I’m a “Soft” according to her color test, which I have known for a while now, and have used it to do a huge closet sweep at one point. But now I’m diving into it deeper, learning about how to capitalize on my best colors in my closet and makeup drawer, adding in some fun trends, and letting go of more things that just don’t work for me as well. It’s such a cool way to clean out my closet and switch it over to a fresh fall wardrobe! I’ll post some pictures on IG and fb, so be sure to catch me there as I go through this process if you want updates. I am in a specific support group for this challenge, so maybe that’s another reason I’m enjoying this so much, but I love having the specific instructions. Like, don’t wear this. Wear that instead. Except for the “softs don’t wear black” one. I still have a hard time with that!


I hope some of these ideas and resources help you find new and fun ways to get ready for fall! If you have fun ideas for transitioning seasons in your home and closet, please comment or message me on social media! I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s Talk Underwear!

Let’s be honest about something really quickly… most of us wear underwear, and some of us wear bras. How many of us have actually found ones that they love wearing every day? It seems like just when I find something that works, my body changes (hello, moms, I know you can relate!), and then BOOM, they are the worst. I recently went on a personal mission to revamp my underwear drawer, and here’s how it went!

My requirements:

  • Must be comfortable. Duh! Why do we often make this a last priority for bras and underwear?
  • Must fit properly. No constant pulling up or down, no fidgeting with straps, no pinching, no jabbing, no gaps, no pain.
  • Must make me feel good. Yes, even comfortable underwear that fits us properly can be sexy and fun!
  • Must be ethically made. This is a new thing for me in my closet, which I will share more about in a later post.
  • Must be versatile. I need to be able to wear it under all of my clothes. This seems obvious, but looking back at past undergarment purchases, I definitely didn’t have this part figured out!

I started my search by looking at ethical underwear brands using the app Good On You – “Our recognised and trusted ethical rating system, advice and information are a part of this global mission, leading the way towards a more sustainable and fair fashion industry.”

I was able to browse which brands carried plus size clothing, browse by category, and also add filters to meet my needs. I found two brands that sounded good to me, and I liked their products for different reasons! Here’s how it went.

Thunderpants

I started with Thunderpants! They’re fun, size-inclusive, and had amazing reviews!

Click on the picture to check out their collections!

I got the Women’s Original Plain Vanilla undies and the matching bralette. Ladies, they really are as wonderful as the reviews say they are! The underwear is different than anything I’ve ever tried. It’s basically like granny panties meets fashionable, cute undies that you can feel good in! They stay put, no tugging or pulling at all. And the organic cotton is thick and stretchy, so it kind of holds me in, while at the same time not pinching or making me uncomfortable at all. They recommend us extra voluptuous ladies get this style to prevent rolling down, which apparently can be an issue with the hipster. No rolling down at all with the original for me, so I’m sticking to these! If you are sized for the hipster and try them out, let me know what you think. I also plan to try the shorts and camis at some point! I’ll update you when I do.

The bralette is ridiculously comfy, and surprisingly supportive! I was shocked, thinking it would be more of a casual option for me similar to a comfy sports bra. But it’s so not that! I’ve worn it under many shirts and dresses and it’s fantastic! The *only* thing that didn’t work for me for this one is that I often need a thinner strap… and that’s where Pansy comes in.

Pansy

I decided to try Pansy, because they had multiple style options for bras, and pretty colors!

Click on the picture to check out their collections!

I decided to get the black ones for these since I already got white, and I chose the Full Bra and the High Rise undies. Honestly I won’t spend much time on the underwear. I am keeping them, and I’ll continue wearing them because they’re not cheap! But they just didn’t fit me nearly as well as the Thunderpants and they seem to be quite a bit more fragile. I just don’t see them lasting as long. They also aren’t as stretchy, so although I got the appropriate size, they pinch my inner leg and just don’t stay put like the Thunderpants do! You might love them, though. Everyone has a different size and shape, so maybe these are just not made for mine.

I chose the full bra because it was recommended as the best one for my size, and also because the others were noted as more delicate. I am cool with delicate laundry care if it’s spelled out for me, but I’m hard on clothes. I just am. Plus I have a toddler who is constantly pulling on me and spilling things on me. Delicate just seemed to be a bad idea. The Full Bra is super comfy! It gives me a little lift, the straps are ridiculously soft elastic, and they *stay in place*! This is a huge problem for me with “regular” bras because I had a shoulder injury and my shoulders aren’t even, yes, they slip off even when I adjust the straps! I like how it has a lot less fabric than the Thunderpants bralette, so I can easily wear it with many types of dresses and tanks and shirts. I do think that even though this isn’t their most delicate option, that it still seems a lot thinner and more delicate and I wonder if it will last as long as my Thunderpants bralette. I’ll keep you posted!

Final Thoughts

In my search for the perfect items for my underwear drawer, I kept asking myself (and my husband, mom, and a few close friends), how many should I have? Literally tell me how many bras and pairs of underwear to put in my drawer. Nobody would answer, because of course everyone has different needs, different clothing styles, and different lifestyles! So here’s what I came up with after a *lot* of thinking and talking about underwear over the last month or so.

I need 7 different bras. Yep. Even as someone striving for simplicity in my life and in my closet, I do think I need 7. I have so many different types of shirts and dresses that I enjoy wearing, some light and some dark, and I would love to have a comfy, flattering bra for all of it! I am thinking I probably need 10 pairs of underwear – I’m still undecided on this, but it makes sense to me at the moment! Here’s the breakdown.

  • 1 Sports Bra – Undecided, but maybe Pansy
  • 2 Cross Bras (Black & White) – Pansy
  • 2 Full Bras (Black & White) – Pansy
  • 2 Bralettes (Black & White) – Thunderpants
  • 4 Women’s Original Thunderpants (Vanilla)
  • 4 Women’s Original Thunderpants (Black)
  • 2 Pairs of obnoxious, fun underwear

I currently have *close enough* options for all of these with the addition of my two recent purchases, and as my bras and undies from random other places (Torrid, Maurices, Motherhood Maternity, Amazon, etc.) need replaced, I plan to swap them out with the ones listed above. I need to remember, and perhaps you need this reminder, that as we strive to find more ethically made options, or even if we’re just working on decluttering our belongings and finding what works best for us, the simplest, cheapest, and most ethical way to do this, is to use what we already have!