Sunday, January 15, 2017

Thrive


"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
-- Maya Angelou

“I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”
-- Joanna Gaines


I'm consciously not trying to add anything to my plate this year. I feel like I'm in a good spot, a really good spot. My goal is to dig in and thrive. Thrive at home, thrive at work, thrive as Alex. Thriving right where I am, right now.

In working through my PowerSheets, I uncovered 7 goals for the year. For the sake of accountability, I wanted to share them. In no particular order, here we go:

CULTIVATE A LIFE-GIVING HOME
Why: After finding our new home last year, it's really been at the forefront of my thoughts that this is where Declan will grow up. It's so important to me that this house be full of love, family, and friends. Full of life. A safe place for all of us to put down roots and spread our wings. 

Starting Steps: De-cluttering! I love to hush the house after the holidays. For January, I want to get at least three bags full for donation or trash. Simplify, simplify, simplify! While I don't think I'll ever be a minimalist, I can definitely appreciate paring down and focusing only on what matters and brings us joy.


HONOR MY BODY
Why: After being pregnant and having a baby, my body went through quite the transformation. My stomach stretched, my boobs sold themselves to my pump, my hair fell out, and 5 (or less!) hours of sleep became standard. All totally normal but hard to transition to after I had gotten into a good rhythm with my health. When I had Declan, I gave myself a year of grace to not worry about getting my body back. Because let's be serious, that's never going to happen. I have a completely new body, one that made a baby, and evicted him after a grueling 30 hour labor. I'm continuing my quest to give myself grace to respect that a miracle happened here and to honor that. So, this is less about getting back to the old me, and instead being the best me that I can and honoring my body.

This goal originally was START WEIGHT TRAINING but I realized that it's more than that. So I'm changing it, two weeks into the new year. And I love that I'm okay with that. Honoring my body means taking care of it with good food and exercise, as well as checking in on my mental health throughout the year, especially during stressful times.

Starting Steps: I launched into a January Whole30. I'm on day 8 since I waited until after our company party to start. I'm also going to one group exercise class each week. I'm also planning to start lifting weights at home once a week. Little by little it all adds up!


GROW A GARDEN
Why: This is something I've been wanting to do for the last couple years, but never had the space to do it. But now we do, and so my big project of the year is going to be grow a garden. My grandparents had a large garden at the lake and I loved going out there to pick our salad for supper. Growing our own garden gets us outside after work, an activity to do with my boys, and incentive to keep eating healthy. Win win. Plus, growing something and digging in the dirt is just so therapeutic. It will be good for my soul.

Starting Steps: Right now we're in planning mode! At the end of the summer we picked out a spot and need to just finalize the size and shape. I've ordered a few seed catalogs to get inspiration. The first one arrived this week!


DATE MY HUSBAND
Why: Why not?! Seriously though, I love that man more than ever. Finding alone time, however can be a bit tricky with a new babe. We are committed to building a strong marriage and partnership, so we are committing to go on a monthly date without Declan. But since we love that boy, we're also want to make family adventures a priority with at least one adventure a month.

Starting Steps: Scheduling a date for this month. We love trying new restaurants and have a few on our list to get to. But since variety is the spice of life, I'm always looking for fun date ideas!


READ AND WRITE MORE
Why: These things give me joy and moments to pause and reflect.

Starting Steps: Turn on my Kindle. I have loads of good books on my reading list so I just got to find time. One way I'm doing this is having a social media free weekend. Instead of scrolling Instagram, I'm reading. I've already finished one book and am on to the second!


AMPLIFY THE CGL
Why: More than ever, we need to empower women and girls. The Center for Girls' Leadership does just that and I couldn't be more proud of all that we've accomplished over the last five years. But now is the time to amplify our efforts. We can't give up now.

Starting Steps: Our third annual Girls In STEM event is in February (tell a friend!) and we're working on a new curriculum to launch our mentoring program late this year. If you felt that 2016 ended with a kick in the pants to take action, there are plenty of ways to get involved.


CHOOSE FAITH OVER FEAR
Why: Because I believe. I believe in good people. I believe in doing the right thing. I believe in giving back. I believe in my faith.

Starting Steps: I'm praying daily. And reading something from the She Reads Truth app each week to keep me focused on my faith.


Are you still reading?! So there are my current goals for the year. All focused on thriving in the present. I'll do a refresh in a couple months and will keep you posted on any progress. 

Now, I'd love to hear from you. What are your goals for the year? How can I encourage you in cultivating what matters? Remember, progress not perfection!

xoxo,
Alex

P.S. Any fun date ideas for us?




Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hello 2017!


Hello 2017! And a big hello to all of you! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season! Thanksgiving to New Year's is my favorite stretch of the year and I just feel so lucky this year to share so many moments with the ones we love. It was the perfect way to end our incredible 2016.

A new year always brings new possibilities. Last year, I was about 7-months pregnant with Declan at this time so I consciously didn't make any new year's resolution other than to be courageous for what was to come. I gave myself a year of grace as I discovered how to be a mama. Grace in trying to do too much. Grace in learning to love my new body. Grace in working through a new relationship dynamic as parents with K. Grace in leaning back into my professional life when my maternity leave ended.

I can't say I succeeded in all these areas. It definitely a year of stretching and growing for me. And a year of absolute pure joy.

This year, I'm focusing on cultivating what matters most. I'm using PowerSheets to uncover my goals this year and I can say, I'm LOVING the process. The PowerSheets are all sold out this year but you can still follow the goal-setting process here.

One of my goals is to write more. I feel like I say this all the time but this year, I'm going to really try and have at least one new post each week. My posts range from recipes, home improvement, musings on motherhood, and of course, reading recommendations. A little of this. A little of that. All things I love. But if there is something you'd like to see here, let me know in the comments below.

I'll share the rest of my goals here soon. I'm really excited about them this year!

A couple fun things - I'm giving this space a little refresh. Every couple years, I'm looking for a new look. So here we are, a lot simpler and cleaner look.

There's also a new tab up above - recommendations. In this spot, you'll have links to our favorite books and my current reading list and essential products I love. I also removed the ads from the sidebar. I want to make sure if there is an affiliate link on the blog, it's something I am confident in recommending. So if you are looking for a good book to read or some of Declan's favorites, check it out!

So, I'll leave you with some words I've been soaking up:

Here's to listening
to ourselves
To compassion, kindness, and 
vulnerability
To being present to the parts 
of ourselves that are asking 
for the attention they need in
order to heal
And to feeding the pain 
with what it is that already 
resides in each one of us:
Love.
Compassion.
Courage + Bravery.
To leaning in and to sharing it.
All.
Over and over again.
And to come out softer the
other side.

-Vienna Pharaon

Happy New Year!

xoxo,
Alex

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Musings on Motherhood: First Sick Day

Note: I wrote this back in June after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. I'm not sure why I never hit publish but am doing so now. As the Christmas season begins, I am purposefully surrounding myself with love and showering my family and friends with love. Love bigger. Love brighter. Merry Christmas, y'all.

It took only nine days of daycare for the germ warfare to take our little one down. He's been battling a tiny cold but last night it reared it's ugly head of snot and congestion. When he woke up with a fever this morning, I knew we were staying home.

And honestly, just like I didn't feel any guilt in sending him to school so I could go back to work, I don't feel any guilt missing work to stay home with him. Especially after the events of this weekend.

I woke up on Sunday and all I wanted to do was sit and hold my little one. Knowing there are 49 mamas out there that will never get to love on their children again breaks my heart. I cried reading the text messages one son sent his mom. I cried thinking of how happy and grateful I am that it wasn't us.

We live in a messed up world. Which I feel way more acutely now that I am a mom. I could go on and on and try to find the right words but this mama said it perfectly:

My home is filled with immense love. And yet, all the time, I scroll through my newsfeed and find heartache, pain and horror of this world that should never be. I’m left with the eternal question – what can I do? What can I do?

For a split second I feel hopeless, as though the situation is too large for me. Then I sit with the question, and I’m quiet with myself, the answer is always the same. Always, always, it comes back to love. Love bigger. Love brighter.

Show these tiny people, our children, that they are, in fact, correct and right and wise to love without hesitation. Children don’t look at others with judgment to decide who deserves their love and who doesn’t. No. Children see people, all people, for the light and the love that they are—they readily accept them. Children are taught, by something outside them, that some people are worthy of love, while others aren’t. They innately know how to love. We need to remember how to return to that place.

When I am so sad about the events in our world that I feel sick, I know its time to fight back with radiance, light, and joy. I will not allow hatred and fear seep into the walls of my family. I will not. 
Here is where the silly, the fun, the healing of any kind comes into play. For us, it is often the kitchen dance party—an important part of my family’s healing. These dances may or may not include a glass of wine, but most definitely include some sort of fun music, horrible dance moves that my children think are AWESOME, and lots of laughter and forgetting the weight of the world. 
Here’s the thing I’ve learned—as our kids grow, they are learning that the world is full of heaviness. More and more they will discover the serious, forgetting the innate joy they have claimed since birth. But I want them to know how to return to the only thing that truly matters: love. Pure and simple.

I want them to know how to heal their own hearts, and in doing so, I want them to know they are also healing their world. That their fun and laughter and joy and love matters.
I can’t change other people’s hate. But I can respond by pouring more love into my home. 
Our world out there is scary. Quite incredibly scary. If I could keep my babies safe from it forever, I would do whatever that thing would be. I would wrap them in any sort of bubble wrap that would do the trick. But I can’t. Bubble wrap won’t work. So my number one priority becomes teaching my children to never let go of that love in their hearts. To have the tools to open their hearts to boundless joy, to relentless love. It’s the best gift I can give them.
Dance in the kitchen and hold your people close. Love bigger. Love brighter.

xoxo,
Alex 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Easy Entertaining // Fig & Pancetta Crostini


Holy moly. Maureen made the most incredible appetizer and I just have to share. Plus it's super simple and I'm all about that for easy entertaining!


Fig and Pancetta Crostini

Baguette (sliced)
Goat Cheese
Fig Jam
Pancetta
Arugula
Balsamic Glaze

Chop the pancetta into small pieces and saute in a pan on the stove. You want it a little crispy but not too much. Turn on your oven broiler. Place the slices of baguette on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toast for a few minutes in the oven until golden. Spread goat cheese on each slice. Add a dollop of fig jam. Top with pancetta and arugula leaves. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Devour.


Definitely making this during the holiday season!

xoxo,
Alex

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