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Rachel's Happy Plan

Anyone else around here feeling the winter blues? Feeling stressed or like you're working so hard and "nothing is happening"? This winter I have been dealing with a lot of that, and while it's tough to be candid about it sometimes I think it's good to be honest. Recently I was also told by my doctor after extensive blood work that I have a sluggish thyroid, low vitamin D levels, low iron, and too much stress. It was a reality check to hear from my doctor that if I didn't manage my stress level on a daily basis, no nutrition based solutions would help my tiredness and anxiety. The current Rx is a blend of micronutrients, rest, and things that make me happy. 

I've been doing my best to "activate my parasympathetic" as she calls it. :) To me this means boundaries with work, time to laugh with Rowan hands free, dates with my handsome husband, deep breaths and flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. :) It will be a process to figure out my balance between working hard (because I love it so much), and taking breaks to breathe and unplug a bit. Here are some things I've been doing so far, if you're interested! I think that no matter your situation, we all need to spend more time focusing on self care. Self care is not selfish, as so many of my closest tell me. :) You can follow along on Instagram at #rachelshappyplan to see the things I'm (trying) to do each day. 

1. Rising early. I purchased the e-book, Early to Rise to help me with this goal! I think a major roadblock I was having was feeling pressure to exercise first thing in the morning, when I really do much better exercising in the afternoon. I've been rising around 6:30 (a far cry from 8:30) and giving Rowan his morning bottle, then heading back to bed with my coffee and a book. No work, just play. 

2. Letting go of goals. It's hard for me to do, as you know I'm a big goal setter. Recently I let go of my goal to run a half marathon in June, and just let others fall away. It's okay to let go of goals when they no longer serve you. 

3. Expressing Gratitude. As part of my rising early habit, I fill out my gratitude journal! I use an app (The 5 Minute Journal). It's a transformative practice to write out what you're grateful for and what will make this day go well before anything is in my way. Before bed, I write what good things happened with a photo. It's great for a visual person like me. 

4. Powering down. I am slowly reading Hands Free Mama and experiencing the power of being more unplugged when playing with Rowan, cooking, or working. Less scrolling on my phone and more stacking blocks with my little one. Less Netflix, more talks with my husband. Sign me up.

5. Exercising only for fun. Part of the reason I gave up my goal to run a half marathon in June was because I was feeling so much pressure to run long distances that I wouldn't exercise at all! How silly is that. On Saturday we went on a family fun run and I've been enjoying daily yoga. 

6. Asking for help. SO hard for me. But when I know there are things that I have to do and I'm just straight up overwhelmed, I'm getting better at asking for help. On Saturday I had a trillion meetings and I asked my friend to watch Rowan for a few hours, she happily did, just like I would have! My in-laws are always willing to help if we ask and know we wouldn't take advantage of that. Rowan's starting daycare and it was uncomfortable for me to admit to Isaiah that it was something I needed.

7. Planning a vacation. I won't be able to do this all the time, but right now we are excited about our trip out East! Isaiah and I are planning surprise activities for our mini trip to Boston. 

8. Not pushing my limits. Giving clients realistic deadlines is helpful in so many ways. I would stay up all night designing floor plans and reorganizing spreadsheets, but I don't have to. They don't expect that and it's not a balanced way to work. 

9. Prioritizing and writing it down. Most nights I tend my to-do list by migrating unfinished tasks to the next day and prioritizing. I sleep better knowing exactly what I have to do the next day. 

10. Spending time with friends. Simple and easy, yet so easy not to do. Yesterday I called up my best mama friends for a spur of the minute brunch and they said YES! I was so pumped. We're all so busy that it's easy to forget how nice it is to have some girl time. Grateful. 

Maintaining happiness is a work in progress but it's the most rewarding work. Guess what? Since I've set more boundaries and let go a bit, my business hasn't started to fail, I haven't gained 10 pounds, I'm not spending thousands of dollars. I've noticed in a short time my clients starting to respect me even more, my family rising to the occasion, my spirit more open and generous, and my metabolism getting back to normal. I've been working on a routine that works instead of holding myself to old expectations of "perfect".

It's Sunday night and I've organized my week in my planner, drafted 40 e-mails, written out my to-do list, and blogged this post. It took me about an hour (or the time we would've spent watching Netflix and eating gelato a month ago). When I reflect on the harder weeks, they were the weeks that I wasted time feeling overwhelmed instead of doing something proactive. 

Hope you all have the happiest week ever! Fill it with things you love, and nothing else. 


Just Saying Hi

I've missed writing in this space. The past few months have been dull but busy at the same time. Working tirelessly at providing an amazing client experience for all my brides for this summer and trying to be the best mama I can be. Today is Rowan's first day of daycare (insert simultaneous sobs and sighs of relief). He's just going to be going one day a week. I know so many other parent's put their babies in daycare and swear it's the best thing they've ever done, but I'm still nervous! Thankfully Rowan is such an independent and happy little guy. I'm sure he's going to have so much fun. :) I'm also grateful for an extra day a week to bring laser sharp focus to my work. One of my goals this year was to work smarter, not harder. 

I've realized that the first, obvious step (that I've heard too many times before), is to separate work & home life. One challenging thing will be that Rowan isn't going to go to daycare the same day each week. We'll see how it goes! I'm currently reading Hands Free Mama and my work (rather than social media, tv, or my to-do list) was keeping me from enjoying so many precious moments with Rowan. I don't want to live in this daze of working and parenting. I want to do both well. Is that possible? Would love any advice you have on this balance! I loved listening to Jess Lively's little video on this topic. She always knows what's on my mind, I swear! 

 

 

Tangible Love

My sweet friend Laken, who just happens to be my soul sister, runs an amazing blog. You've probably heard me sing her praises before. She is kind, smart, and one of the biggest dreamers & doers I've ever met. She has been working on a series on Tangible Love- which I adore, and asked me to be a part of it! Since habit has been on my mind lately, I wrote a little bit more about how Isaiah and I love each other, tangibly, every day. Here's a little excerpt... 

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Oh, if I could only count the ways my husband shows me love. I like to say that Isaiah and I were love at first kiss. As crazy as that sounds, I knew the moment he kissed me on our first “date” that we would be husband and wife. Almost five years later, two cross-country moves, career changes, a wedding and a baby, I still think about our first kiss and it gives me butterflies... For the rest of the post, hop on over to Laken's blog

The Power of Habit, Part 3: Defining Habits for Entrepreneurial Success

Last week was so much fun for me, I've been discovering more and more how passionate I am about personal and business development. On Monday, I talked about defining your personal philosophy, Tuesday I jumped the gun and wrote a lengthy post on my daily habits and how I track those. Today I wanted to go a little deeper into the reasons behind those habits, and what you can do as a creative entrepreneur to push yourself out of "survival mode" and into success. I'm going to approach this topic from my own perspective: a 25 year old wife, mom, wedding planner, coffee drinker. 

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Be consistent. The most basic contribution you can make to your life, and business, is consistency. Show up everyday and DO the hard work, plain and simple. I'm definitely not saying that I am 100% on target with this goal (far from it, actually), but I strive to stick to the schedule I've created for myself and my family. While I was pregnant, I was really concerned about how to do this, and for a long time, just didn't. But even over the past month and a half of working towards a streamlined family schedule has transformed my business. 

Practice integrity. One chapter of The Slight Edge that really rocked me was the part about Slight Edge Integrity. It's doing the small habits, that nobody would care if you skipped just this once, when you are the only one in the room. "Serving as your own boss, day in and day out, takes an uncommon degree of Slight Edge Integrity, and frankly, many business owners just don't have it. They become intoxicated by the freedom of being their own boss and fail to maintain the structure it takes to become successful". Yes. Consistency & integrity go hand in hand. I've found this to be 100% spot on. You have to show and and do the work, day after day. 

Write out a to do list every morning. For me, I practice this habit under my "simplified" habit on Lift, I write out my little to-do list in my Simplified Planner. This has everything to do with what Olson calls The Power of Completion. "Each and every incomplete thing in your life or work exerts a draining force on you, sucking the energy of accomplishment and success out of you as surely as a vampire stealing your blood. Every incomplete promise, commitment, or agreement saps your strength because it blocks your momentum and chokes off your ability to move forward, progress, or improve. Incomplete things keep calling you hack to the past to take care of them." Who else feels like this? For me, the only way to zap this feeling is to just take ACTION. I start with writing a to-do list in my planner every morning. The next day, I "migrate" things not yet done to my current list. 

Use social media with a positive attitude and tone. Olson cited a study in The Slight Edge that displayed the correlation of positive language, higher happiness, and reduced risk of heart attacks. The words that were most charted as positive? "morning, fabulous, helpful, share, running, forward, great, interesting, lunch, discussion, seems". Isn't that interested? Example tweet: (What a fabulous morning reading TSE- so helpful and shared such interesting, forward thinking content. Discussion over lunch, anyone? #running) Okay so that's kind of a joke, but you can see the point. Positive language increases your happiness. People gravitate towards happy people. And happy people just don't shoot their husbands. One spot that it's so easy to be positive is online, especially through social media. I aim to use Instagram, Facebook and this blog as a platform to share uplifting and interesting content, express gratitude, document life & work, and support others. What's your social media philosophy? As business owners, social media is a part of the gig. Why not infuse every area of your life with goodness?

Take care of your basic needs. As a new mom and business owner, if I don't eat well, sleep enough, and exercise, I am a mess. Don't know where to start? I suggest talking to Laken for a personalized approach, or here, for a life changing program. Honestly, just do it. When your energy is higher, you are more productive and positive. It's as simple as that. As habits, these can range from exercising for 30 minutes to cooking everyday, to just 10 pushups. Make small steps for your health, you are worth it. 

Find an accountability partner. This can be another small business owner, friend, family member, I don't care (just not a pet). Connect with someone who sees the best parts of you and wants to make those even better. You'll need someone to check in with, to text and say "I'm sooo tired I don't want to go to the gym! :(" and they will say, "I'll come with you!" or... "But you LOVE the gym!! :)" Support is key, in life, and in business. If nothing else, join Lift and you'll be joined by a fun group of like-minded humans who enjoy habit forming and personal development. Check in daily. 

Alright, how are you feeling? What steps are you going to take today to be in charge of your business and life? Show up, everyday and take action. Think positive, take care of your physical self. Do the things that are hard when nobody is watching, and when it's hard (and it will be), call a friend that will get you back on track. 



The Power of Habit, Part 2: Defining & Tracking Habits for Success

On Monday, I started talking about the powerful transformation that can happen when you commit to a particular habit. The first step is defining your personal philosophy or mantra- the feeling and motivation behind your small daily actions. Personally, I've always craved routine and habit. Growing up, I was committed to my dance schedule and practiced several times a week. Although we had tons of fun, I didn't always want to go to class. At the end of the season, we started winning. A lot. It was a direct result of the hours we had committed to our art. You might have experienced this with saving money, practicing an instrument, or committing to your career. The beauty of the slight edge is that time is on your side if you use it wisely. 

Nothing to do with this post, but isn't is beautiful? From Here. 

Nothing to do with this post, but isn't is beautiful? From Here. 

The next logical step after you create your personal philosophy is to actually cultivate the habits that matter. Olson recommends starting to implement positive habits in seven areas: health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career, and your positive impact on the world. Since I had already been using Lift, I had some habits in place already but decided to build on them after finishing The Slight Edge. I also went through my Year Designer to identify any goals that could benefit from daily action and added those. 

I use the Lift App to track my daily habits. It's a brilliantly designed app that is simple, clean, and effective. You could also just write your habits as a checklist, journal daily, or have an accountability partner. With Lift, you can have "friends" to support and encourage your goals. Isaiah and I both use it and daily ask each other how we're doing. 

Currently, I have 16 habits that serve me and my family. They are all extremely simple. Easy to do, and easy not to do. I know that doing these small daily disciplines is what will help push me out of survival mode and into success. My habits below are listed in order of my day, how I would typically structure my day. 

  • WAKE: rise at 7am, before Rowan and Isaiah. 
  • SIP: drink a glass of h20 first thing upon rising, bonus points for adding lemon & sea salt
  • BRUSH: brush and floss, morning and night 
  • SIMPLIFY: start my work day by sitting down at my office desk, opening my Simplified Planner to look over my schedule for the day and write a to-do list. 
  • BREATHE For me, this can mean either a guided meditation, a pause for a few deep breaths or anything in between. The focus is on centering myself and focusing on the present moment. 
  • CLEAR: Getting my inbox to zero by offering responses that are quick, marking longer replies as to-do, and categorizing e-mails from clients that don't need a response. 
  • THANK: At this point in my day (around 10 or 11), I like to send an e-mail with a thanks, make a phone call, or just express gratitude.
  • COOK: one of my goals this year is to cook something every day. Doesn't matter which meal, but I've been cooking around dinner. 
  • MINT: we use mint for our budgeting and personal finance. I've found that it's easiest to keep up with categorizing spending if I login to the account everyday on my phone or iPad. 
  • PLAY: Now before all of you who aren't parents jump on my case, read this article. It's a goal of mine to spend an hour a day playing and reading with Rowan. No phone, TV, or secondary activities. I'll talk more about this when I go over my daily schedule next month. 
  • TIDY: if our kitchen is 100% clean at least once a day, it's always manageable. I also like to do a quick clean of my office and living room daily. 
  • SWEAT: this habit is strictly for vigorous exercise like running, a For the Glow workout at home, or Pilates. 
  • TRACK: I've been tracking my daily intake and exercise with My Fitness Pal since before Christmas. It's so easy for me to justify just one more glass of wine, so this app helps keep my portions in check. At the end of the day I check this habit if I've accurately logged my intake.
  • KISS This habit helps me to remember to pay attention to my marriage, think about what Isaiah needs, and how to nurture our relationship. Kissing always helps. :) 
  • STRETCH: we have been doing a 15 minute relaxation yoga and found that our sleep is more restful and muscles more loose (surprise, surprise!)
  • READ: any book, at least 5 minutes. It's not much but I've already finished three books this year. Blogs and magazines don't count. 

Easy to do, easier not to do. You don't need 16 habits to start, or any magic number. Identify your goals and the habits will almost jump out at you! Habit creates momentum, remember that time is on your side even when your habits feel draining or mundane. Since I've been tracking my habits, I've quickly noticed the ones that are the hardest for me (waking up at 7? seems impossible). Plus, I try to remember this and that helps. ;) 

I hope this mini series is helping you think about the seemingly insignificant actions that make up your day to day life. On Friday I will be posting the final segment on this series on the power of habit, this time from the perspective of an entrepreneur and work at home mama. Make your day count! 

The Power of Habit, Part 1: Creating your Personal Philosophy

Over the past year my husband and I have both been interested in the power of habits. For health, taking care of our home, making it through the day to day monotony of a "day job", eating well, you name it. We both have read the blog Zen Habits for a while now. I find Leo's posts so inspiring and motivating. Last year I started using the Lift App and went back and forth determining which habits I wanted to track and stick with. One of my strengths is being a "strategist". I love tracking, seeing progress, and being efficient with my time and energy. Sometimes I think I could create my whole day out of small habits. 

Last week I read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, which I can't recommend highly enough. Goal setting, dreaming big, and personal development are some of my biggest passions (hence this blog), so I've been working my way through some of Jess Lively's book suggestions for the top 10 resolutions. The Slight Edge focuses on daily practices that, compounded over time, will drive you directly to your own definition of success. Olson says that "People who live with huge, vivid, clearly articulated dreams are pulled along toward those dreams with such force they come practically unstoppable". The author brings up the incredible point that you don't have to be a genius to be happy, successful, healthy, or anything. All you have to do is be consistent about the things you already know how to do. 

The first step, according to Olson, is to create your personal philosophy. I had been thinking about this for a while now, even before I read the slight edge. Thanks to my inspiring words board, I had a good place to start. Have you ever thought about your personal philosophy or mantra? Olson says, "by your philosophy, all I mean is changing the way you think about simple everyday things. Once you do, then you will take the steps you need to take, to lead you to the how-to's you need". He says it's the attitude behind your habits that have the power to create lasting change. Sounds easy enough! 

Some quotes, philosophies, if you will, I've been thinking about are... "She designed a life she loved", "Do what matters, forget the rest", and, "How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life", among others. As I continued reading through the philosophy chapter, a few sentences jumped out at me immediately. "Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. There is a natural progression to everything in life: plant, cultivate, harvest."  Once I read those few lines, my personal philosophy was self evident. 

"If it matters to you, cultivate it"

Cultivate has many definitions, one that says, "to foster the growth of, to raise or grow something under conditions you can control". This is a philosophy that can stay in the back of my mind when laziness or fatigue set in. When I don't feel like waking up at 7, even though I know it''ll start my day off right. I can think of this philosophy when I'm watching TV instead of playing with Rowan, even know I know I value quality time with him. When I'm tempted to order a pizza instead of cook, start my workday late, let too many days slide without flossing. These things are important to me! They are so easy do do, but just as easy not to do. On Wednesday I'll be back with a post on my 16 daily habits for success & how I track them. On Friday I plan to post about how you can incorporate simple daily disciplines to drive your success as a creative entrepreneur. Have you read The Slight Edge? Are you intrigued? 

Coffee Talk... How to Relieve Anxiety on Vacation.

Hi everyone! I hope you've had the best start to 2014. Rowan and I jetted off to Mexico for a few weeks to soak up the sun and spend some time with my in-laws. It was definitely a refreshing start to the new year! However, I sometimes felt this sense of urgency to get home, and start working on my goals for the year. My anxiety sky-rocketed around day 3. For a couple days I couldn't shake the feeling that I had things to do! Workouts, bills to be paid, e-mails to be written, calls to be returned, dishes to do, laundry to fold, you name it. After that I realized how lame that was and started to just enjoy myself. 

Blurry iPhone pic, real vaca recap soon! 

Blurry iPhone pic, real vaca recap soon! 

I've seen other bloggers have a coffee talk section of their blog, and truthfully I just love the idea of coming to this place and writing about whatever is on my mind. Besides, anyone who knows me knows that the instant someone suggests a coffee date at Morsels I am already there. After I was stressed and anxious on vacation, trying to "just relax" doesn't quite work for me. I like scheduled relaxation, things to do. Naturally, I set some goals for myself.

What could I do  our of my normal sphere to continue working on my goals and also just enjoy my time away?

1. I stopped working, completely. I was scared this would backlash but honestly not one of my amazing clients wrote to me while I was away. They knew I was on vacation and wanted me to enjoy it. How lucky am I? Best clients ever.

2. I continued cooking, eating clean, and logging what I ate into My Fitness Pal. This didn't feel like work to me, I love numbers, tracking, and seeing progress over time.

3. I went on four runs to the beach! This was lovely. It was cloudy and rainy a few days but there is nothing like running outside. I felt strong and my head clear. 

4. I read two books. Keep in mind, my goal for the year was to read one single book. I'm on a roll now! While in Mexico I read 7 and Women, Food & God. Highly recommend both! Even with internet access I chose to read instead. 

5. I stayed off of social media. Of course I had to post some cute #rowaninmexico photos on Instagram, but I didn't spend time scrolling through the endless pit of social media. 

This might seem like simple stuff to some of you who are good at relaxing, but I'm so glad we stayed for a few weeks! It took me a few days to get the hang of it. Now that I'm home and rediscovering my rhythm, I'm starting to incorporate more of these relaxing and anxiety lifting techniques into my life at home. Even though I'm working, I am sticking to my schedule (which includes adequate rest), eating well, exercising, reading, and laying low on social media. 

Do you ever suffer from anxiety or nervousness? Even on vacation? I would love to hear from you in the comments below! 

xo 

Letter to my Future Self: 2014 Inspiration & Goals

Dear Rachel, 

 

Welcome! It's January 1st, 2015. Can you believe what a crazy beautiful year it was? Rowan is a year and a half old now, he's running all over the place, keeping you so busy. He is so smart, curious and playful. You were able to balance working from home with caring for Rowan, and felt balanced by using your time wisely and sticking to your family schedule. Aren't you glad you created that last year? 

2014 Inspiration. Sources on Pinterest (click through).

2014 Inspiration. Sources on Pinterest (click through).

Balance and streamlining home & work was extremely important this year. I used my Simplified Planner daily to prioritize for the day and plan for the future. I am using tools that are at my disposal to track, record, and form habits for the things that are important- of note: I use Lift, My Fitness Pal & Runkeeper daily. As a result, I have stayed on track with my habits and goals. On Sundays, I prepped smartly for the week by cleaning the house, grocery shopping & meal planning. We went to church as a family most weeks and feel even more deeply connected to our community at Watershed. 

We took two amazing trips this year! In January, Rowan and I visited Grammy Di Di & Grandpa G in Mexico and had the sweetest time! I recharged, spent time in the son, and relaxed for a whole 12 days. When I returned from the trip I was rejuvenated and excited to work smartly for my brides. I jumped right into our family schedule and felt productive and energized as a result. That feeling stayed throughout the year. In May we visited our family in Connecticut for 10 days! It was wonderful to spend time with family, and Isaiah and I even got away for a night or two to celebrate our wedding anniversary early. 

Every morning, Isaiah and I wake up at 7 am. He cleans the kitchen & preps breakfast while I go to the gym on weekdays. The first half of the year was spent training for the half marathon I completed in June and finishing the Postnatal Project. I love going to the gym in the morning! When the YMCA opened and Isaiah switched to the day shift, I got a new membership. We all leave the house at the same time- Ro & I drop Isaiah at work and go to the Y where he has childcare provided.

We eat at least 1 meal together, as a family, at home, every day. I usually cook dinner for us while Isaiah plays with Rowan. I am very focused on clean eating and feeding our family nutritious and yummy food. For other meals, I try to follow Jen's Superfood Diet because it leaves me feeling energized and fueled. For breakfast we usually have a smoothie or eggs & veggies. Lunch is leftovers, salad, or a wrap, and dinner is our time to experiment or eat lean and green. I was so happy in November when I reached my "happy weight"! Consistency with healthy food, exercise (especially running), and daily tracking was beneficial and left me feeling empowered. I never felt like slave to food, overly hungry, or like I had to exercise. 

Sincerely, Ginger is growing and changing to even more strongly align with my core. I feel like I am serving the clients who I can help the most, my brides are my friends! I love the work I do daily, feel appreciated, respected, and paid appropriately. I executed 10 amazing celebrations of love, and am currently working on 8-10 more for 2015! I put together 4 editorial shoots with different wedding professionals, resulting in quality relationships, elevation in each of our craft, and recognition within the industry. I also wrote my business plan with the hard numbers and had a meeting with my mentors to review it. I hired a bookkeeper who is the best. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to run a successful, purpose driven business from home. Entirely blessed. 

When the wedding season was really busy, I felt calm and peaceful. Thanks to a supportive husband, my in-laws, two fabulous interns, and a full time nanny for Rowan, I was ahead of the game all season! Our house stayed manageably clean, I continued to eat real food, exercise, and had plenty of quality time with Rowan. Isaiah and I maintained our monthly dates, and I surprised him with something awesome for his 30th birthday! We celebrated birthdays in style this year. :)   I also was better about sending Thank You notes... embarrassingly, I finally got the hang of this. 

I worked smarter at managing our household. We have peace of mind and transparency with our finances, with a huge thanks to Mint! We worked at eliminating the remaining portion of our debt, and also started to save more money. We purchased a second car when the time was right, and are so glad we waited for the right opportunity. I streamlined as much as I could and continually cleared the clutter. We simplified majorly at home. I cut distractions like crazy. I use social media more purposefully and blog often. I have fresh flowers in the house every day. Yep, every single day. 

Above all, I showed Isaiah how much I love him, and I put family first. Together we lead a household with a foundation of love. Our marriage serves to show our son what's really important, because we focus on living out those intentions daily. We supported each others goals wholeheartedly and went after what we wanted fiercely. We are learning to dream even bigger.


Happy New Year's Eve, friends! Can you believe another year has passed (well, almost)? Tomorrow I will be posting my January goals, and the review of last year's letter. xo

2013 in Review

Oh, my! If I had to describe 2013 in words, in a blog post, I just couldn't. Thankfully, there are photos! Probably too many of them, but I am so grateful for each and every one. 

In January, my main focus was work and pregnancy. Actually, that was the theme of the first few months of the year! Isaiah was working late evenings (usually until 11pm or later) and we only had one car. This meant that I spent a lot of time at home alone after work, or dropping him off and picking him up! I started going to pre-natal yoga on Monday nights which was relaxing. I took plenty of naps. We had just found out the gender of our babe, so I also spent lots of  time day dreaming about our little man! I started blogging more regularly, and worked hard at building my business and preparing for Amy & Jon's wedding day

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February was a lot of the same! Continued to drink too much coffee for a pregnant lady, dredging through the snow to a job I didn't love (at all), but saw the value in. My in-laws were in Mexico, so we were missing them. Overall it was a lonely month to be honest! I slept a lot. But we did work on my office, go out for Valentine's Day, and I spent time working on my floral design

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In March and April, I was SO pregnant! At least it felt that way. :) I took a childbirth education class and devoted a lot of time to preparing for motherhood. I enjoyed a few baby showers and visits from family! It was quiet... I knew that the next few months would be bringing radical change so I did my best to slow down and live in the moment. Nesting kicked in majorly- I was an organizing and list making machine! I loved feeling Rowan kick and move. We took baths a lot. 

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May was a month devoted to Amy & Jon's Wedding, my last month of work at the bank (!!!), and just living with that huge belly! I remember being so stressed about my pregnancy during this month. I tend to focus my energy on things I can't control (working on it) so this doesn't even surprise me. Rowan was always happy and healthy throughout my whole pregnancy and for that I am so grateful! This month, my in-laws visited and we finished my office and had a huge cooking weekend to freeze meals for after baby. It was the best. 

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After Amy's incredibly fun and beautiful wedding, I found out that my dear friend Nicole was getting married... in JULY, and she wanted my help. Well, being the way I am- I said why not! Her and Tyler came up north over Memorial day to essentially plan their whole wedding. We walked, I prayed that  labor would start early, and was counting down my last minutes of work at the bank.

Eventually, I was done with work! It was two weeks of impatiently waiting, but when Rowan arrived a week late, it was worth every single second. His birth was incredible and without a doubt the most amazing moment of my life. You can read more about Rowan's birth here

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Isaiah and I celebrated our wedding anniversary! It was our first time leaving Rowan and I was anxious, but entirely glad that my in-laws were the ones to babysit. We tried to ground ourselves a bit, it was hard to believe everything that was actually happening! We ate, drank, and even went on the ferris wheel. :) 

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In July, Rowan's newborn photos came back and I was obsessed! I think they are everywhere on the internet now. I don't care. We went on lots of walks downtown, met up with friends, and enjoyed summer in Northern Michigan! We worked at our community farm, too. It was fun to take Rowan to the beach for the first time at Good Harbor Bay! 

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Before I knew it, It was the end of the month and time for Nicole's wedding. Rowan and I packed up and headed down to Flushing, Michigan where we spent days arranging flowers and coordinating the whole weekend. 

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and it was perfect. 

After the wedding, we spent lots of time enjoying summer. We started hiking, I got some alone time (aka drinking coffee and browsing Pinterest at Oryana), and took too many (but still not enough) photos of Rowan. We met up with Krista and Elizabeth a lot and walked downtown. It was the best ever to have friends with babies! We went to our local Breastfeeding group on Mondays, too. It was so much fun when Madison and Gwendolyn were born! 

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In August, Isaiah turned 29 and the next day we took off for a week long trip to Minnesota. We spent precious time with my family, especially visiting with my Grandpa at the lake. Ro got to meet some new faces and it was the perfect week for us all to just relax. We ate burritos, shopped, swam in the lake and looked at old photos.

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We took Rowan to his first baseball game with my parents! I nursed at Target field and ate too much ice cream. :) 

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After that trip, I got very tired and anxious. I was worried about finding a part time job, probably not sleeping enough, and missing Isaiah since he worked so much. As you can see- I was very tired. But I still made time for this photoshoot, played with flowers, went to church, and ate brunch with my family on Sundays. It was a trying few weeks but when answers came and prayers were answered... even more amazing things started to happen. 

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My Northern Michigan Styled shoot was featured over here, and I officially launched my website! I got back into blogging and started working harder for my brides. In one month, I booked six incredible weddings and feel so blessed to be a "Work at home mom". It's been challenging to find a balance, but is something I'm working on every day. 

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Through the fall we continued to get produce from our magic CSA box that we pick up every Monday. We had fun cooking and trying our best to eat all the tomatoes! We transitioned Rowan into his crib and I started exercising more regularly. 

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Rowan loves the Moby wrap and his stroller. His favorite thing was meeting up with Madi & Gwen to go for walks and coffee! I started the Postnatal Project with For the Glow and worked out daily and started up my green smoothies. Rowan was still nursing strong and learning new things every day!

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In November, I turned 25, visited my family in Minnesota again and hosted Thanksgiving. It was a really busy month but full of love and the things that matter. Rowan and I flew solo (he was great), we shopped at Trader Joes, visited with my extended family, ate at Panera with my mom and sis, and just hung out. It was nice to have a week with my parents! 

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When we got home, Isaiah and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. Rowan started eating simple puree and enjoyed an apple, parsnip and pumpkin smoothie for Thanksgiving! My mother in law and I had fun decorating for Thanksgiving and setting the table. 

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And before we knew it, it was Christmas. Last night and this morning have made my heart so full. Just the three of us this year, cooking coq au vin, watching Home Alone and playing with Rowan's new toys. If I could sum up the year in just one word- it has been a year of faith. Faith in God, in the future, each other, and ourselves. We have gone through seasons of life that we just didn't know how in the world it would be okay, or work out. Somehow, under God's overflowing grace, we are happy and blessed beyond measure. I can't wait to see what 2014 holds! On new year's eve, I will be posting the next letter to my future self. I get goosebumps just thinking about it! Merry Christmas, all! Hugs from us! 

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On Rest & Balance

This morning I was drinking my coffee, sitting in my office, surrounded by papers, binders, boxes and bins. Everything from my photoshoot this week was not unpacked (there were literally dead flowers everywhere). I was so overwhelmed looking around me and seeing this huge MESS. What's more important though, is the mess that's dwelling in me lately. In the busyness of this season, I need to give myself more time and space to simply rest

Thanks to the Return to Rest Retreat for the photo! 

Thanks to the Return to Rest Retreat for the photo! 

In the wedding industry, it's easy to work overtime without realizing it, to work straight through meals, to text your clients while watching movies with your spouse, to let work spill over into your life. I love what I do. It's true! When I get a call from one of my brides at 8pm, I always pick up! My brides quickly turn into friends, and it's important to me to be there for them. But I know how important it is for me to have some balance in my life. I need to recharge, pray, reflect, set goals. That's a big reason why I love blogging so much! 

But somewhere between my calling as a wedding planner, a wife, a mom, and whatever else my role might be for the day- I loose a deeper connection with myself and with God. I love the mission behind the Return to Rest Retreat, have you heard of it? My goodness, if I could even begin to tell you all the ways my heart needs rest. How amazing that they are offering this retreat to wedding professionals? 

My purpose in sharing this today is to make a commitment to resting more often. To working hard to achieve balance between work, play, and rest. Even without this awesome retreat weekend, I'm planning to do just that this week. As I mentioned before, I'm currently working with Laken, doing one on one work with her. One piece of homework she gave me was to take a nap. Can I get an AMEN? :) 

December... goals and other happenings.

You may have seen this post on Instagram the other night. How is is even possible that it's already December 8th? Complete madness I tell you. Rowan's 6 month birthday is on the 14th, Christmas is coming, vacations, birthdays... so much to celebrate. Before I know it it will be wedding season again. I've been challenging myself this month to think strategically about how I spend my time. What are my goals, what do I need to do (or not do) in order to knock 'em outta the park? 

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November was a fabulously FULL month. I celebrated my 25th birthday, visited family and friends in Minnesota, hosted Thanksgiving, and continued working hard for my 2014 brides. In fact, I've only blogged once since I posted my goals for November... woops! I'm not going to go through the rundown and check the things I did and pout about the things I didn't do. I decided a few days into the month that I was not going to post a public "31 days of gratitude", for a number of reasons. I'm planning to blog a little bit more about that later this month, actually I'm pretty excited about it. 

In December, all I want is to see the big picture more clearly, and work harder to translate that vision into my day to day life. My priorities this month are to spend more time with Isaiah and Rowan, recharge and set goals for 2014, streamline my client binders and workflow, not overbook myself, and take a nap (just one...). I'm also working with my girl Laken on taking steps to love my postpartum body more. Can I just say for a minute how amazing that girl is? Spend .2 seconds on her blog and you will also have a mega girl crush. 

Just because it isn't "wedding season" doesn't mean that we haven't been busting out amazingly beautiful work! Just this week, my styled shoot from August (which I will be doing a full blog post about this week), was posted on Wedding Chicks! My first styled shoot ever was published on a major wedding blog. All I can say is that I am so proud of my sweet friends Bevin, Holly, Terry, Allida, and so many other amazing friends who helped me put together this little labor of love. Check it out, will you? :) 

On Wednesday I spent the whole day marching through the snow and making beautiful things happen with Cory at Snow Moon Ranch. You guys, I cannot wait for the scans to come back from this shoot! Definitely my most involved editorial ever. So many amazing Northern Michigan vendors came together and made it happen (and by make it happen... I mean pulling my car out of the snow). More to come on this in January! 

Bevin Deak of Eliza Jean Photography

Bevin Deak of Eliza Jean Photography

And as if that weren't enough, my amazing friend Shelby and her sweet little girl came up north to spend a couple days with me and Rowan, and dream up some details for our collaborative shoot this winter. See what I mean about winter not being a slow time? :) 

I am entirely aware of what a word dump this post was, but I just have to much more to share! Check back this month for lots of posts about 2013. (Realizing just now how many posts I promised within the last 10 minutes). 

xoxo

Let's Celebrate!

Twenty-five years ago, my mom and dad went out for spicy Mexican food, and only hours later she went into labor (which I now have a true understanding of), and I was born. Today, November 20th, on my birthday, I feel different than I have other years. I'm a mom myself now, and as most new mama's will tell you, I have so much more appreciation for my own parents. I'm so grateful for this gift of life, motherhood, love. I'm endlessly thankful for my family (both old and new), and I have such a clear sense of purpose and excitement moving into the next twenty-five years.

Thanks for the photo, SMP! Just add candles, perfect birthday cake? :)

Thanks for the photo, SMP! Just add candles, perfect birthday cake? :)

Today I'm celebrating another year of working towards a better me. It was yet another beautiful year of ups and downs and countless moments of self-discovery. Last year on my birthday, I was around 8 weeks pregnant, and I spent the majority of last year enjoying that journey. For the past 5 months, motherhood has enveloped my life the the most joyful and overwhelming way. Last year I was able to serve brides and their families and share my gifts. I learned more about my family history. I designed more flowers and took better care of my body. My husband and I dreamed bigger than we ever have in our relationship, and are learning how to love each other more purposefully every day. I've learned more about how I want to structure my time, and therefore, my life. We traveled and visited with our families more. The message that love does has been sinking further into my heart. (Thanks, Bob!) I know now that love does things, that action is important, that I don't want to be a person that just says this or that, I want to show people how deeply they are loved with my actions. 

I'm declaring my 25th year to be the most intentional, action filled, love driven year yet. More celebrating, more making what matters happen. More time with Rowan, less time in front of the TV. More traveling and hugging my family. More yoga and green smoothies. More coffee with friends, stronger relationships. More kissing. More books, more restful Sundays. I want to squeeze more life into my 168 hours. (Have you read this book? Do it.) So today I'm celebrating that. Next month, I'll be sharing the my next letter to my future self, and I can't wait. When I read last year's letter, I just about burst into happy tears. God is GOOD. Isn't is amazing what love can do? Celebrate with me, will you? 

Life is too short!

It's been a year since Making Things Happen Chicago, and I've been revisiting some of my notes from the day. At that point, I was 6 weeks pregnant, scared out of my mind, discouraged about my business, wanting to badly to leave my job at the bank, and still in the very early stages of figuring out how to be a good wife. I'm not saying I've figured everything out, but I wanted to share this list with you.  

 

LIFE is too short not to... 

Tell my family & friends that I love them, visit my family on a whim, hug and kiss my husband just because, take care of my body, be an amazing wedding planner, do what matters with my time, take risks, eat well, smile and laugh everyday. 

 I absolutely love where my head was that day. I love where my heart was! This year, I'm keeping the same goals. Life is too short! But I'm going to add a big one... spend as much time with my sweet little Rowan as possible. To give him love and grace in every moment.  

Photo by Bevin Deak of  Eliza Jean Photography

Photo by Bevin Deak of Eliza Jean Photography

 Life is TOO SHORT to.... 

Be afraid, spend money recklessly, play small, hate my body, compare myself to others, sleep all day (had to laugh at that one...), lie to myself .

 Can I get a heck yea? I ended the session with... "My life is too short not to live the exact life I want for me and my family. It's too short not to do all the things we want to do." 2014 is going to be a great year. 

Sweet Sunday

I think I'm going to make Sunday night blogging a tradition. Last night my little family had the whole day off together (a Saturday!!) and it was so lovely. We didn't do much, took a family nap, watched movies, ordered in Chinese, just plain hung out. I didn't check my e-mail, fold any laundry or even get dressed. Well I changed from jammies into glorified yoga pants (thanks Lululemon for making me feel like a real human even though I have no clothes). The point is, it's was so relaxing. These are my people. My husband and my little Rowan, my club. 

My hubs is really learning my love language! :) 

My hubs is really learning my love language! :) 

This morning at church our pastor spoke about acceptance, and being a part of the "group". I don't want to completely butcher the beauty of his message, but it boils down to this. God wants us to succeed. He is on our team, rooting for us and encouraging us. You cannot be "weeded out" or left behind, you will always be a member of Jesus' club. 

I wish I would've taken notes this morning, because it resonated so deeply for me. It was such a simple message but one I really needed to hear. I struggle with always feeling like an outsider even when I'm doing everything I need to do to be an insider. But the truth is, I am on the inside. When I'm making what matters most happen, when I'm dreaming my biggest dreams, when I am focused and intentional about fulfilling my calling, I am in the "club" in the most perfect sense of the word. God wants to see my success and he will bring the right community into my life and fill that missing piece. 

Tonight I am pursuing that mission with my whole heart. I Face-timed with my grandpa, I bought a plane ticket home to Minnesota to visit my family, I arranged some gorgeous farm fresh blooms, I took Rowan on a drive around Old Mission Peninsula, I prayed for God to pierce my heart and help me realize what matters most. I hoped and prayed that He would be on my team this week. What did you do today to make your Sunday sweet? I would love to pray for you this week. 

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month & Why My Favorite Color is PINK

Big dreams are scary. When I was first starting to plan weddings, I had no idea how much my life would change. I didn't know how motivated I would be come to make what matters happen. I named my business Sincerely, Ginger after my grandmother, Ginger Brauer. You can read more about my philosophy on weddings and how she changed everything for me here

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I want to give back in a big way. Ginger was a big supporter of the Race for the Cure in Brainerd, Minnesota. So much so that they named an award after her, the Ginger Brauer Award. Here's a little bit about it... "The Susan G. Komen Brainerd Lakes Race for the Cure established the annual Breast Cancer Support Award in 2000.  The first winner, Ginger Brauer, lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001 and the award was subsequently named in her honor.  Ginger Brauer exemplified the selfless giving of time and energy in support of local breast cancer activities and was an active member of the Race for the Cure committee from its inception." Wow. How amazing is that? Talk about making what matters happen.

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 I remember the day she won that award. I was in sixth grade. We all had matching hats on that said "Team Ginger" and we walked the 5k along with survivors, their families, and community members who wanted to support the cause. I have a vivid memory of my grandma holding my hands and dancing with me to Aretha Franklin's "I Will Survive" after she was announced Volunteer of the Year that summer. It was hot, and she was so happy, and I remember people crying. I didn't know exactly what was happening, but I remember thinking that maybe she wouldn't always be a survivor. I remember hating breast cancer. 

I was thirteen years old when my Grandma Ginger lost her battle. Everyone told me repeatedly how I was too young to lose a grandma... I agreed. I was a child, mourning her death and also trying to help my three younger siblings understand. I didn't cry at her funeral, not because I wasn't sad but I was just so shocked. I have memories of crying hysterically after the funeral next to the pond in front of my Grandpa's house. I thought about my mom, and how sad she was. I prayed that my own mother would live forever.  

I know I'm not the only one with a story about breast cancer. I'm sure most of you reading this post have a story of your own about a loved one, or someone you knew. This month, in honor of my Grandma Ginger, her life and legacy, I am pledging to donate $1 for every person that shares the following image on Instagram or Facebook. I plan to raise $1000 to donate to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Brainerd this summer, under my family's team, Team Ginger! I also hope to be present to race this year! 

If you would like to make a separate donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, you can do so here. For more information on early detection (for us younger gals) check out this amazing organization, Bright Pink. And be sure to check out my friend Nicole's new business, Thistle and Bur! Thank you so much for creating this beautiful image to spread awareness.

I can't wait to see you guys sharing your stories this month. Hop on over to Instagram to see the post and start spreading awareness!  

#MogersdoMN: Our First Family Vacation

In August we were lucky enough to spend a week visiting my family in Minnesota, where I spent my childhood. As unbelievable as it is, we hadn't visited since we moved to Michigan, almost two years! We booked these plane tickets while I was still pregnant. Rowan was only 7 weeks old and took is first plane ride (like a champ) and traveled all over the state. I was a little anxious about what traveling would do to our routine but honestly he did great! 

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The highlight of the trip was hands down my grandpa meeting Row for the first time. This photo was taken right as we got out of the car... I'm so glad Isaiah captured this moment! Speaking of my grandpa, we just learned that his cancer has returned and that he will need to go through another year of Chemotherapy. We are so devastated but trying to stay positive. For anyone that's gone through chemo or lost a loved one to this horrible disease, I am so sorry. We appreciate all the prayers and energy you have to give. 

Our trip was a whirlwind... but it was also relaxing. We spent a few days visiting my grandpa and Karen. We fished, cooked together, went swimming, and drank wine and talked over dinner for hours. It was intimate and meaningful. Since we have such limited time together each year, I cherish each hour.  

We also stayed with my parents and siblings for several days! One of the most unexpected, but a favorite part of the trip were the hours I spent looking through an old box of photos and letters that my great grandma passed on to my mom. I plan to write a whole post on that soon. Such incredible little treasures!  

We celebrated my brother's high school graduation, went to a Twin's game, ate delicious food, Rowan met a friend his own age for once, we shopped at the Mall of America, and Isaiah final got to experience Bravo Burritos. 

I'll keep it short, but I am so thankful for this trip. I can't wait for our next visit!  

Rowan's Birth Story

So in love with this perfect little baby boy.

So in love with this perfect little baby boy.

Hi, friends! In honor of Rowan's 1 month birthday, I wanted to share his birth story with you all. If you had been following along during my pregnancy, you might remember that I had some pretty specific ideas about how the day he was born would go. The first thing I'll say is that it was nothing like I imagined. His birth was perfect. I didn't have the "perfect" natural birth I had been planning for, but it exceeded my expectations in every way. Fair warning: this is not the sugar coated version so proceed with that in mind! 

On Friday, June 14th I woke up around 8:30 with no contractions. Nothing happening. I had my membrane stripped on Wednesday and was really hoping that would set off my labor but it didn't look like this was going to be the day. I had an induction scheduled for the next Monday as I was already a week overdue at this point. I went back to bed, frustrated and discouraged. About an hour later I woke up with three very intense contractions. Thinking that they would probably fade, I went to get a glass of water and swirl on my labor ball. 

During the next contraction, the pain was so intense that I believed I had become incontinent. I was thinking, "am I in labor? did I just pee? what is happening?!". Looking back, it's so obvious I was in labor. Silly me. I had Isaiah time the contractions just to make sure they were coming closer together. I had 3 or 4 within 10 minutes. It was time! 

We packed up the car, all while I paced around the house trying to make it to the car between contractions. We drove the 20 minutes to Munson Medical Center on bumpy roads. It was a sunny and gorgeous summer day. It was Isaiah's grandpa's birthday. I thought about what was happening... it was time to meet our son! Even through the intense pain I was so excited. The car ride was excruciating. We got up to the Women's Clinic for me to be checked. I was already dilated to 5 cm and my water came gushing as she checked me. (I warned you about the real details). They wheeled me to the maternity area and got me immediately into a room. I was super happy my favorite nurse was there to help. 

Even before this point I had decided that I didn't want to deal with the pain of contractions. I opted to get the epidural, which was a huge change of heart. Isaiah was a great supporter, saying, "I'm just reminding you that you really didn't want the epidural. Of course it's up to you!". There was no hesitation, I asked the nurse almost immediately once we were in the room. My contractions were coming closer together, starting low in my abdomen and radiating to the top of my uterus. The nurses had to make sure I was hydrated and monitor baby's heart rate for 20 minutes before they could order the epidural. It felt like an eternity with blood pressure cuffs, needles, two monitors, no underwear, an ugly hospital gown.. I remember thinking "Okay, just get the medicine and you'll be able to catch your breath and adjust everything." With every contraction I leaned forward and let my belly hang low between my legs. I could feel my cervix opening up. It was time to meet our baby.

Around noon the anesthesiologist came to the room. Nobody let us see an needles (not that we asked). It took her about a half an hour to do what she had to do. It was painful dealing with the needle on top of the contractions but I felt very calm inside. I knew that the pain would dissipate soon and our son would be born. I remember thinking, this is the way he should come. I don't want to be in pain. I could do it, I just don't want to have to. I want to be calm and peaceful today. As soon as the epidural set in I couldn't even feel my contractions, what a relief. I even fell asleep for about 20 minutes.  

It was around 1 in the afternoon when the midwife checked me. I was making steady progress. It took another 2 and a half hours for my to finish dilating. That time went by so quickly. Isaiah and I talked about how crazy it all was. I was glad that he was there to support me in that way. It was just right. When I was fully dilated I still didn't feel the "urge to push". The doctor also told me that he was lying posterior and we needed to flip him. I went on my hands and knees but that didn't work. They dialed back my epidural by half so I could feel more sensation.  

Eventually I was able to feel pressure in my bottom, and a true urge to push. Ladies, it really does feel like you have to poop. So I just went with it and figured that the poop has to come out before the baby so I better just get on with it. It's not as bad as you think. I was pushing on my left side. The nurse coached me through pushing but only when I felt the urge. Apparently I was a really good pusher. :) 

His heart rate started dropping significantly while I was pushing so we decided it would be best for me to push with every other contraction. They gave me an oxygen mask to wear during recovery and they needed to monitor him internally. This didn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. Because my pain medication was dialed back to much, I could definitely feel what was going on. It wasn't too painful, more like an intense workout. I gripped my right knee and used my left to hold the mask. It was intense. I felt powerful. Isaiah was right there cheering me on. My number one guy. 

When the doctor came back to check on me, she declared that she would be staying. She couldn't believe how much progress I had made! It had been about 2 hours. I remember her asking me if I wanted to keep my socks. Ha! I said, "I don't know, okay, sure" . That's when I knew for sure that he was close. I pushed and pushed, through the ring of fire until his body was born. (A truly unique sensation). In what seemed like a millisecond he was on my chest. He let out the sweetest little cry and Isaiah and I were overcome with emotion. There is nothing like meeting your baby for the first time. He looked into my eyes and I lost it. He was perfect. I held his hands and rubbed his back and marveled at just how amazing he was. His hair, his fingers and toes. Our baby was here. Little Rowan, you are perfection. 

Just after he was born. I can't believe how much he's changed!

Just after he was born. I can't believe how much he's changed!

So that is the somewhat abbreviated version of Rowan's birth. If you have questions about what happens next, or anything about my experience I would be happy to share!  

Love,

Rowan's Mama

Life with a baby.... Hello!

Hello friends! Greetings from babyland. As I type this, Rowan is sound asleep next to me, as sweet as ever. I cannot believe that tomorrow he will be 4 weeks old! It's amazing how fast they grow. Today I wanted to pop and and let you all know how things are going. The short answer is that everything is going great. He is a doll. Nursing is going well, he sleeps in 4-5 hour blocks overnight and the rest of the time he's just stealing our hearts with his vibrant little personality. He loves taking walks and seeing new things, he gets bored easily so I try to do lots of activity with him while he's up. I love being Rowan's mom. 

 

The first month was madness. We had lots of family and friends visiting who wanted to meet Rowan which was so much fun. It was also exhausting. I gave birth on Friday evening, and literally on Sunday night we went out to dinner for Father's Day with our families. Madness, I tell you, madness. Looking back, I can't honestly believe that even happened. Rowan loves being out and about. He sleeps through long dinners out and really loves his stroller. We take a walk almost everyday. That also helped with my healing in the first couple weeks postpartum.  

From our newborn shoot with  Sweet Pea Photography

From our newborn shoot with Sweet Pea Photography

Isaiah is totally a natural at this fatherhood thing, which I knew he would be but it's a lot of fun to watch. He's been awesome at waking up to feed him at 4 am, changing diapers like crazy and never complaining when I say "Honey, will you bring me my (phone, water, boppy, etc)". I hope he knows how much I appreciate him right now. I've been pretty worn out and needing lots of rest to heal.

Yesterday I went to the gym for the first time since I was 12 weeks pregnant. It was a serious wake up call. Time to get in shape! Thanks to my postpartum meal plan, we've been eating healthy and clean but there are definitely more things I could be doing to get back to a comfortable fitness level. Planning to cut back on ice cream (and sugar in general...), and push through this period of time where I can't run more than 5 minutes at a time. 

July 1st has passed, which means that we are more than halfway through 2013. WHAT. I re-read my letter just now. Somethings are going super well but I can see myself slipping on some of the goals I had set out for this year. We all know that action is the best way to fight that sluggish, depressed feeling so I'm going to reevaluate my priorities and get some stuff done this week. Making things happen, right? 

Obviously I didn't get to posting our love story in June, so maybe next year? Who knows. I might save it for a winter project. I'm writing our birth story after this so that will be up shortly.  

I don't know all of you who read my little blog, but I would love to. Thank  you so much for sharing this space with me. Please always feel free to e-mail and say hello! 

Best,  

Rachel  

A little love note to 20-something girls in the USA.

I hope this never happens to you, but I wanted to talk a little bit about passive bullying tonight. It's happened to me before and I'm sure it'll happen to me again. It's like on Mean Girls when Regina tells Cady that she likes her bracelet. She's acting nice but you know she's out to get you. Or maybe you don't know at the time but when you look back on it you see the way you were bullied behind your back. I've never been pushed or gotten in a "girl fight". I've always been a sensitive person and very in tune to how other people perceive me. So while others might not notice the fake smiles, I always know when you don't actually intend to ever get coffee with me. And it hurts my feelings. Sometimes it's a bigger thing, or even smaller. Like today... something little happened and I felt bullied, like a victim. I get anxiety when people don't like me, so a small thing can escalate quickly in my mind and I try hard to figure out what I did wrong and probably assume wrongly most of the time.  So as I was thinking about this situation and trying to diagnose what I did wrong in this particular situation, this is the conclusion I came to about why we (professional, married women in our twenties) don't like each other and act like bullies sometimes.

We are all part of a culture of "sameness", we like organic food, instagramming peonies and going on coffee dates with our friends. We gravitate towards the same trends and designers and way of life. We love Kate Spade, having our hair professionally blow-dried and when our husbands do nice things for us. We are girls in our twenties who really do have our sh*t together. We all know that "comparison is the thief of joy" and have pinned the saying to the appropriate board on Pinterest, but we don't live that way. Especially me. Especially today when something completely stupid happened and I looked at myself and asked "what is wrong with me?".

The answer (as scary as it is to admit), is that nothing is wrong with me. I'm figuring myself out, just like we all are. I'm figuring out what it means to be a part of a culture where everyone is the same, or at least that's the way it appears. I'm figuring out how to love the things I love and still do my own thing. Because the things I love are trendy, and everyone else loves them too. It's a paradox because we all like the same things and we all want to be unique so in our quest for uniqueness we all look like clones of one another and start to resent each other. It's a little pathetic and it makes me feel like a copycat for genuinely loving the things I love, and it makes me feel like a mean girl. Does that make any sense to anyone out there? Grool. (I hope you get the reference).

 

I couldn't get to the bottom of where this came from, but I saw the image on Pinterest. If anyone knows the source, please let me know! 

I couldn't get to the bottom of where this came from, but I saw the image on Pinterest. If anyone knows the source, please let me know! 

But the truth is, I'm not a mean girl and either are you. I won't apologize and either should you. I won't back down from what I love. It's true that I love shellac manicures, peachy pinks, white furniture, my iPhone, Starbucks, flowers and dates with my husband. I love inspiring quotes, reading blogs, going on vacation and having my breakfast in bed. I value my college education, upper-middle class upbringing, and precious time with my family. I dream of luxurious European vacations, a golden-doodle puppy and picture perfect Christmas mornings. Do you? Probably. Because those things are awesome and fun. And I am so glad we have those things (and hopefully more) in common. I'm excited when I make friends who are into similar things. It fires me up to collaborate on projects with other creative professionals and support each others' dreams. I get pumped with I make friends with someone who also loves designing flowers, is entering motherhood or pursuing entrepreneurship. So instead of feeling threatened when I find out how similar I am to someone, I'm going to get psyched and be her friend, and learn as much about what makes her unique as I can so I can support her dreams. I'm going to let more people in, and I'm not going to take it personally when others don't do the same. And I promise to let more of me shine, even the geeky and embarrassing parts. (I love the BeeGees and I usually head straight for the hotel pool on vacation, plus I still love the Disney Channel... so whatevs). 
 

Thanks for reading this scrambled little love letter. I hope we can still be friends. I am going to tell more of my story soon, starting first with our love story, which I actually can't wait to share. 

xoxo,

Rachel

 

p.s. I'm a little hormonal as my due date is tomorrow, so just take everything I say with a grain (or 2) of salt.  :)

Two More Days & a Big Handful of Change.

Two more days. Well two and a half. Two and a half more days until Friday afternoon, May 31st, the day that marks a serious change in my day to day life. This baby boy is coming, my career is shifting gears dramatically, 3 months of uninterrupted family snuggle time, summer weather, family vacation... I simply cannot wait. My last day of work is on Friday, in two and a half days. I've been counting down the minutes for months and I can't believe it's finally here.

It's been a struggle maintaining composure these past few weeks. First of all I'm extremely pregnant and that comes with it's own set of physical limitations and annoyances. But psychologically it's been hard to stay on the bus and get through these last couple weeks of work. My concentration is dwindling, I'm at my wits end emotionally and to be honest I just want to be alone or with my husband almost 100% of the time. I've been in and out of early labor, with contractions speeding up and slowing down in direct relation to my stress level. Too many ups and downs. But the end is in sight and soon I will get to hold my baby boy. 

How fun are these colors for spring? I feel an inspiration board coming on. :)

How fun are these colors for spring? I feel an inspiration board coming on. :)

This weekend was really nice. Isaiah and I had some friends up from Ann Arbor and his brother visited too, a funky mix but we all had so much fun. I'm helping design and plan the wedding for a couple of my favorite people (Nicole & Tyler). Their wedding is going to be so amazing you guys. Nicole and I met in college when she moved in across the hall from me and the rest is history. We bonded over boys and our connection to the Midwest. That summer after I met my now-husband, I visited her in Michigan and she was the first person to meet Isaiah (she drove me to his parents house). We both graduated from Seattle Pacific University a year a part, and are both now living in Michigan. She is marrying the most wonderful guy, Tyler. Seriously, this couple is the cutest. They got engaged last month and are getting married in July. Yea you read that right, less than 3 months to plan and design a wedding for some of my favorite people and also I need to birth a child within that time frame... But I will say that it's entirely worth it and such a blessing to be a part of their journey to marriage. 

Okay, that was clearly a tangent but very applicable to where I was headed next! For three days this weekend when we had visitors I hardly thought about being pregnant. I know! At 39 weeks, I honestly went hours not even thinking about the baby or his movements. Once I realized that he was going without any attention I felt awful, like I was ignoring him or something. But later on I felt happy and refreshed. For a couple days I didn't have people constantly commenting on my physical state, asking me how I am feeling, saying "Oh my GOSH are you ready to pop or what!?". It was a good break and probably what I needed to make it through this week. 

So yea, I am ready. Ready for this stage of life to be over so I can fully embrace what's coming. I'm ready to design better weddings for my clients. To infuse more of my heart into the things I do every day. I'm ready to meet my baby boy, to see Isaiah become a father, to hug my parents, to have time alone with my new little family. I'm ready to stop working at a bank. I'm ready to start designing more amazing floral arrangements and I'm ready to make the right things happen. Two days. Two days. Two and a half days. On Saturday I'm going to enjoy my celebratory spa day and then it's time to induce labor like crazy! Bring on the spicy food and bumpy railroad tracks. Little baby Moger, I am so ready to be your mama it's insane.

I have quite the line-up of posts scheduled for June. I'll be sharing our love story in honor of our first wedding anniversary on June 30th, plus some good baby stuff coming your way. 

Love,

Rachel