Last Monday, Hudson and I attempted to make homemade noodles. Like a lot of things in my life, I had a picture of what the outcome would look like. In my head, it looked almost identical to the perfect noodles pictured in Joanna Gaines’ cookbook. Let’s just say they looked nothing like the picture. While her’s actually looked like noodles you would have bought from the store; mine looked strange and unnameable. I couldn’t even will myself to post a picture of the outcome because they looked so strange. Something clearly went awry. This was not the outcome I was expecting.
All week I have been thinking about this soup. I have been thinking about if my mindset was merely outcome driven, I would have been pretty disappointed. And here’s the thing, I usually am outcome driven. I am all about a clear measurable. My heart rests a bit easier when I can see a spreadsheet of all the things I did accomplish in a day. That is one of the reasons I love training for a marathon. I love the outcome of high mileage. Even if I produce nothing else the rest of the day, it feels good to know that I ran 20 miles. That is an outcome I can be proud of. But here’s the thing, what about the seasons where you are not training for anything? What about the seasons that do not have a clear goal or some outcome that can be measured? What is the indicator of success?
Those noodles the other night were not my definition of success. However, Lance did snap a few quick photos of Hudson and I making those noodles. And when I look at those photos, I see success. I see happy faces and floured noses. I see time well spent in the kitchen.
There are a handful of lessons this season of quarantine is teaching me. One is this: the process is always sweeter than the outcome. In times where we do not have races, or stages, or arenas to display our outcomes, the process becomes essential. We must lean in and embrace the sweet process of things and not be quite as concerned with the outcome.
For me, personally embracing the process looks a bit like this:
Getting out to run with zero expectations on mileage and pace.
Making noodles for the sake of spending quality time with my son with zero expectations that it will look like Joanna’s.
Writing words for the sake of creativity and the fact that I am a better person when I am creating + vulnerable.
Sending bold emails. There are lots of no’s, but I am embracing this process of putting myself out there.
Trying new activities with Hudson and being absolutely okay when they do not look like Pinterest.
Taking photos and capturing moments that are not perfect.
Journaling. This is one of the best ways I can look back on the process of my life + see the Lord’s kindness.
Prayer. This outcome-oriented girl needs a lot of help from the Lord to see new vision and embrace the process of things more.
Process over outcome. It is freeing. It allows room for grace. It allows you to sit down at the dinner table still smiling as you eat noodles that look nothing like Joanna’s. It allows you to create, run, write, love, and step out in boldness because it is not about the outcome. It is something more. Something greater. It is about who you are becoming in the process.
One thing I love about this little blog of mine is that it holds all the important moments and thoughts of my heart. It is so fun to go back, even a year ago and see what was going on in my head.
Last year for my birthday, I wrote a reflective letter to my 15-year old self. I just went back and read it and I was moved by these words I already had forgotten a year later. You can go back and read it here.
25 felt like a big one to me and 26 just does not seem to have the same ring, but upon deeper reflection, I can see the great significance in 26. Turning 26, in a lot of ways actually marks the official beginning of the 2nd quarter of my life (God willing, I live close to 100). Quarter 1 is done and lived. 26 brings on a whole new quarter and I am giddy to see what lies ahead.
Quarter 1: Learning Everything
The first quarter of my life was all about learning. Literally learning how to walk and how to talk. Learning about God and who I really am in Him. Truth is, this is one of those lessons that I know will follow me with each season of my life, but quarter one established truth about who I really am. I am not just a runner or a teacher or a mother; I am a Daughter of Christ. I look forward to see how this foundational truth will continue to develop in my heart in the years to come.
The first 25 years of my life have been so good. From following my dreams to run at the D1 level in college to finding my husband to getting the opportunity to teach for a couple years to becoming a mother. There have been so many firsts and major milestones, but if I am honest (which I love to be as honest as I can on here), I have found them to be a great challenge, especially recently.
Quarter 2: Fighting Comparison
Contrary to some, I am finding the mid-twenties to be hard. This could be just because I am in a different season full of diapers and chasing trash trucks. I am finding this mid-twenty season to be a time of uncertainty and comparison. This is largely why I have greatly reduced my time on social media. My heart simply cannot handle it. I have been in a battle of comparison as I look around at all my peers seemingly doing really big things. Becoming lawyers and doctors and traveling the world.
I don’t want this to come across as complaining because I am full of gratitude for the life I have. I literally would not change it for the world, but these feelings have reminded me that even when you have all that you could ever want, comparison will steal your joy every single time.
As I enter quarter 2 of my life, I am fighting this comparison syndrome hard with strict boundaries around social media. I have limited myself to only 10 minutes per day with Sunday completely off. This reminds me of the 30 minute TV limit I had as a kid, but if there is one thing I have learned, it is that limits are needed in whatever stage of life you are in.
2020: The Year of Care
As I am greatly reducing time spent on screens (except for writing on here to you), my hope is that I can better care for my soul. I have been meaning to create a whole post dedicated to my intentions for 2020. Since this post is rather reflective, I thought I would share it here. 2020 is the year of care. Not self-care, which of course is part of it, but an overall better care for all things. Yes, I want to take better care of my body: a more consistent skin care routine (hello, eye cream), more baths, more books, more solo coffee dates. I also want to take way better care of everything the Lord has entrusted me with: the grass, the car, our home, my marriage, my sweet boy, and my soul.
As I enter this new quarter of my life and this new decade, I can sense how this intention is seeping through my ordinary days. I water the grass on our side yard every morning like it my full-time job. I take pride in ensuring each inch is evenly soaked and nourished. The miles I run are fueled with more care and gratitude and not out of obligation, but because I want to keep up with a skill I know the Lord has hand-picked for me.
I am more present.
I am reading more and clicking that Instagram icon way, way less. Part of better caring for my people, is ensuring that I am actually present before them. I have a new rule of simply not checking social media when Hudson is up. I was finding myself dug into my phone and missing the amazing little boy before me. When I am stressed or tired or anxious, my go-to is absolutely to tune out and scroll. This does me no good and I am finally realizing I need some really clear boundaries.
Make Yourself Lunch
A new thing I am doing is nothing revolutionary, but it really has been a game changer. I am taking the time to make myself lunch. It is sad to admit, but when it comes to lunch time, I always make Hudson a balanced and colorful plate, while I pick at cold leftovers or eat some scraps from Hudson’s lunch. Then, I wonder why at the end of the day I feel so cranky and drained. Especially as mileage is beginning to increase for Boston, taking the care and time to properly fuel my body is a necessity.
For me, this has looked like taking out a pan, heating up oil and garlic, and sautéing veggies and putting them on hot mashed potatoes I made the night before. It also has looked like making a whole packaged salad and putting shredded turkey on it, and slicing avocados on-top of it. I think how we make ourselves lunch is actually quite significant. It shows our priorities, how we view our bodies. It is easy to just eat the scraps of our kid’s lunches or forget lunch all together, but I have learned recently how it makes me feel to eat a full and hot lunch that was carefully constructed. This whole lunch thing is changing things for me.
I have no idea what quarter 2 of my life will hold for me, but my hope is that it can be marked with me taking better care of all the beautiful things and people the Lord has placed before me. I hope it is marked with more hot lunches at the table, more runs, more time doing things with my hands (knitting, gardening, scrapbooking), more time with my eyes wide open and present to my people, my family.
10 Simple Things to Fight Burn Out
If you too have recently been feeling burnt out, uninspired, and uncertain, here is a list of a few things I have been doing that might just help you too. They all are simple and obvious, but sometimes it takes actually reading something to make it happen.
1. Wake up + grab journal + Bible
I used to wake up and go on my phone and scroll. That is the worse way to wake up to the day. Get a routine that allows you to start your day with pen and paper. Again, like the lunch making, this one is a game changer.
2. Water Something
Go out and water the grass in your yard or water plants in your home. It sounds crazy, but I have so much peace as I start my day with watering the grass. I love the sound of the water, I love the smell of water-seaped soil, I love feeling like this small action is actually allowing for growth to occur.
3. Take a Bath
Let’s really quick talk about the Sunday Bath. I don’t know about you, but taking a bath feels like a real luxury. It is so much easier to take a quick shower. I am finding the only way I actually slow down and enjoy a bath is if it is part of a weekly rhythm.
Thus, the Sunday bath was born. It works well because Sunday is the one day I do not sweat in the morning, so it just makes sense to have a bath Sunday evening on our Sabbath. Find a time to make it a consistent part of your routine. Get some epsom salt (this is the lavender one I use) or use your son’s bubble bath and take a bath. I will literally spend 40-45 minutes taking a bath. This is one of my favorite times to get some reading in! Quick showers are so overrated, I am all about the slow and meticulous process of making a good bath.
Take the time to crack eggs or heat up garlic or toss a great big salad just for you. You deserve more than cold leftovers and goldfish.
6. Stay off Social Media
It is possible. Try it for a day. See how you feel.
7. Do Something Fun
Go to the park, bring sand toys down to the beach, go out to ice cream on a Wednesday night. I am such a routine person that sometimes I forget to schedule in fun, random, spontaneous things. I always feel better when we just do something fun.
8. Read a Book in the Middle of the Day
You might be saying, if only I had time for that. Well, I bet you check social media at least 10-minutes during your day, replace that wasted time with slowing down and giving your brain and body some refreshment. It does not take many words to put me in a better mindset. I just finished Here Now by Kate Merrick and it is so, so good. It has a lot of similar themes to what I have been writing in this post.
9. Create Something
Do something with your hands. It could be as simple as writing a letter to a friend, planting a flower, whipping up some oatmeal chocolate cookies. I am always amazed how I feel so much better when I tangibly make something with my hands. With the day-to-day demands of being a mom, sometimes a day goes by and I feel like I have no idea what I even did. You too? Mothering can sometimes feel intangible. We don’t yet see the fruits of our labor. Sometimes, seeing that flower we planted or smelling the cookies in the oven can help.
Plan a playdate, text a friend to get coffee, set up a phone call. We are made for connection. When I start to not feel great, a sure sign is that I am pulling away and isolating. Get together with your people. Gather. Open up your home even when it’s a mess. Connect.
I am alone. I can literally hear the waves crashing from my little hacienda my husband so kindly rented and gifted me for my Christmas gift this year. In this place of solitude, you would think I would be rejoicing. You would think I would not have a care in the world and would just be drinking wine and ordering take out and watching all the romantic comedies I could squeeze in. But here’s the thing: I already miss my family. I feel homesick. And if I am honest, I feel really anxious about being in a new little city all by myself.
Isn’t it funny how the thing we keep saying we need and want is not actually what we need and want?
Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be alone with the Lord. I 100% understand the privilege in being able to have the resources and life situation that allows me to run away for a little on my own. I am grateful and I do not take this time away lightly at all. In an effort to really use the time well, I even created an hour-by-hour itinerary.
I understand the sacredness in time to be alone with the Lord, and I don’t want to waste a second of it, but again, if I am honest, I let about 45-minutes slip away. I felt nervous, a little scared, and quite frankly, like a fish out of water who has become so accustomed to depending on her family and the safety of her routine and familiar city that she has lived almost 26 years in.
Yet, those 45-minutes have come and gone, and I can feel my heart beginning to settle. And oh, did I mention I can hear the waves crashing from my window?
Reminiscing of New York City Days
The funny thing in all this is that 7 years ago, I would have been in my element. 7 years ago, I did most things on my own. I would go to cafés and work for hours on end all by myself. I would go to sushi and sit at the bar and just eat and watch the sushi chefs chop and roll with such precision.
When I was 20-years old and was living in NYC for the summer, I spent a lot of time alone. I ran late at night (okay, like 8pm) in Central Park without a fear. Most meals, I ate alone. I rode the subway back and forth with a confidence I didn’t even know I had.
My mind goes back to New York because I can remember how I responded to the type of freedom I had back then. Now, as I have a small taste of that freedom, I can’t help but crave the limitations and the noise and the mess of my actual life. When you’re in the chaos of early motherhood, it is easy to reminisce about those New York City days. Of late night runs, of solo meals, of endless quiet time.
My Life Right Here, Right Now Is Better
Trust me, it is easy to drift off to this place, but again, here’s the thing, I have been given this lovely day retreat where there is endless quiet time and I can actually have a peaceful restaurant experience and there is no one constantly tugging at my legs, saying “more, more, mommy”. It is just me. The crashing waves. A beautiful little hacienda. And these words. Yet, my heart is already missing my crazy little boy and my handsome husband that loves me so well.
Oh my life is so full and beautiful. It is messy, loud, dusty, busy, chaotic, but it is beautiful.
Part of the reason, I am on this retreat is because Lance knows my heart so well and I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve. Since the summer, my soul has been struggling. I have been weary and tired and drained. I have felt unimportant and small. My joy has been low. I have snapped at Hudson, at Lance. I have not been my best self. This time away came out of a clear need and the kindness of my husband. Thanks, Lance!
5 Things My Time Away Taught Me
My soul needed this solo retreat. It reminded me of a few things I have forgotten. It also taught me some new lessons. Whether you yourself are planning a solo retreat or you are in the grind of ordinary life, these takeaways are things that I hope can help you wherever you are.
1. Time Away is Essential
Whatever our job is, whether we are stay-at-home moms or working moms or work-at-home moms or married without kids, we need time away. This does not make you a bad mom or a selfish wife, it simply makes you human.
It is not always going to look like staying in a hacienda on the ocean by myself, but this time away reminded me that I need to intentionally schedule time away. This time away could be for just an hour, but I need to do this on a regular basis. It can’t be an hour away of running errands or even of working out. It needs to be time away intentionally with the Lord. In quiet, in peace.
I realized that I often deem my down time when I escape to Costco by myself or I attend that evening workout class. Contrary to some, Costco and core class are not life-giving to me. They are good and necessary, but when I am talking about time away, I mean time to really hear the Lord. It is going to be different for every person, but for me I am finding it involves sitting down in a new setting, reading a good book and writing down prayers.
2. Embrace the Uncomfortable
This part was most surprising to me. I was caught off guard when the initial hours of my retreat felt uncomfortable and fearful. Like with anything that is outside of your norm, it is likely that initially it will feel weird. The new job, the new marriage, the new baby, the new home, the new city. Maybe it is just me, but it takes me a while to warm-up to things I am not used to.
This time away was no different. It felt weird and uncomfortable and I immediately called Lance the moment I entered the doors of the hacienda. I was very, very close to calling off the whole thing and having him and Hudson crash the retreat. That felt right and familiar and comfortable. And here’s the thing, if I did give in to those feelings, I would have missed out on a really lovely time alone. It would have been great to have them with me, but it would not have been the same.
Instead of giving in to the uncomfortable, I chose to embrace it. And I am so glad I did. I heard God clearly for the first time in a while. I read more than I have in months. For the first time in a long time, I was not worried about someone else. I had no time constraints: I went on an evening run and I literally just stopped in the middle, went down to a little cove, sat on a rock and watched the sun go down.
I must admit it felt good to just be. To not worry about getting back at a certain time and starting dinner right at 4pm. This time alone was needed. It allowed me to process and write things down that have been stirring in my heart. For all those reasons, I am glad I sat in the uncomfortable; I am glad I did not give in to my longings to call off the whole solo aspect and make it just a family thing.
3. Life with Your People is Always Better
With all that said about how lovely it was to be alone, my biggest takeaway from my solo retreat was how life is so much better with my people. It is messier and way louder, and quite frankly, all my sins are much more apparent, but it is my life, my family, and I love it with my whole heart.
When you are in it, it is easy to daydream to retreats like the one I just had. It is easy to long for hours spent in a café, sipping a latte and reading. It is easy to wish for just one quiet meal that does not result in food flying everywhere. And it is easy to desire freedom to run and write and watch P.S. I Love You whenever you would like. It sure is easy, but I am here to tell you that right when I got this freedom, it was not quite as amazing as I pictured. Within the first couple hours I was already missing my family.
Sure, I got a lot of reading in, wrote down some interesting thoughts, enjoyed a glass of wine as I voraciously flipped the pages, fell asleep to those lovely crashing waves; yet it still does not come close to my actual life. Life with your people is always better!
4. Some Things are Better Left Unplanned
It should be no surprise that I created an hour-by-hour schedule for my retreat. This is just how my mind operates. I want to know the plan, even if it is just me and the intention is to relax and get some writing in. In a lot of ways I am glad I created a schedule, it allowed me to find a really great lunch spot that I likely would not have gone to if I did not plan ahead. It also allowed me to really use the time wisely.
With my schedule, I got a lot out of my 24 hours away. I made it to a hatha yoga class at 7:30 am, got my eyebrows threaded (which always seems so hard to find the time to do in my ordinary days), listened to so many good podcasts (my favorite one I listened to was about reading the Bible chronologically), had an amazing lunch at Ellie’s Table (if you’re in San Juan Capistrano area, you should go), wrote about my feelings, ran at sunset, ate dinner with my book as company at Pierside, wrote a letter to my husband, talked a whole lot to God, started P.S. I Love You on Netflix and fell asleep to those crashing waves.
The schedule helped me really use the time wisely, but all those things I listed, only some of them were on the schedule. Pierside I just wandered into after my run without taking a shower. Weirdly, I scheduled a shower after my run and before dinner, which is so not me, so I just went to dinner with running shoes on and book in hand. The prayer walk on the beach I had scheduled for 1 pm, never happened because I lingered at Ellie’s Table much longer than expected. But, prayer was scattered all throughout my time it just did not look as neat as a “prayer walk on beach.” Point in all this, is that spending time away intentionally is super important, but be okay with having some gaps and unknowns in your schedule.
5. Things Might Feel the Same
When you do intentional things like this, it is easy to have this hope and even expectation that when you return, things will feel different. That upon returning, you suddenly will be that patient mom, extra loving wife, and all-together better human being that is much more holy than before she took a solo retreat. And here’s the thing, I felt the same. I quickly became anxious again as all my responsibilities quickly hit me with one step back into our home. I lost my patience soon after as I said “no” a million times and had to clean throw up off the floor. But this all goes back to #3. Life is easier when you are away, you are likely going to be appear to be a much more loving and patient person than you actually are, but life is always better with your people.
This retreat did not instantly change me, but God absolutely used the time. Through the podcasts I listened to, the words I read, the words I wrote, the miles I ran, the prayers, the yoga teacher, the lady that threaded my eyebrows, and those crashing waves, God reminded me of his nearness, he reminded me of how loved I really am, and he reminded me of the great gift and privilege it is to have the beautiful life the Lord has entrusted me with. So while I still struggle with a lot of the same things I did pre-retreat, my vision does feel clearer, my heart feels lighter, and I feel so much gratitude.
I am not exactly sure why, but I love these in-between days after Christmas and before the New Year. In some ways it feels kind of awkward. One big celebration is over, but another one is just a week away, so you don’t really know if you should get back to your normal routine or just wait a few more days. I love these in-between days partially for these last few savoring days of waiting to fully get into the swing of things. This week is feeling slow and simple and I am quite frankly, loving every second.
The days before Christmas, even with my intentionality of staying more present and focused, still felt like a scramble this year. I think this is part of the reason why these slower days after Christmas feel so good and are so necessary.
Recently, I have been writing a lot about routines. But today, I want to write about living in a space where those routines are let go of almost entirely. Routines are necessary, but I am learning this week, that a non-routine week or so is also very necessary.
This past month I have really been struggling with low energy, low motivation, low everything. I finally in the past day have felt better, a bit more alive and have a bit more energy to give. This largely is from these past few days where I have fully let go of my normal routine.
Since Christmas, I have woken up when I woke up. I have only gone on runs when I have really felt like it, which has been only a couple times. I have finally finished my book I started in the fall. I have done a whole lot of sitting on the couch with no agenda. I have spent time just sitting there and watching Hudson play and my goodness, it has refreshed me. This might sound crazy to you, but I simply do not do things like that. I have a lot of goals and hopes for 2020, but probably on the top of my list is to have more moments like this; more moments of just sitting and noticing the beautiful, little things of my life.
These past few days, we have gone on lots of walks. We have picked up doughnuts because it felt like a good idea. We picked up take out food on our way home from one of these walks (this might sound normal, but we rarely do things like this). We did not have much on our agenda. I made minestrone soup that filled 2 large containers and this has been the main food in our refrigerator (I have eaten minestrone soup for lunch three days in a row).
We also put away most of the Christmas decorations and took out our very dry tree. This may sound weird, but I LOVE putting away all the Christmas things. I love Christmas, but I think all the stuff and the decor and needles scattered on our floor start to really weigh on me by the end of the month. I felt lighter almost instantly after everything was put away. Our house looked so simple and clean and blank. I loved it. My eyes felt like they could rest.
This may sound all very strange, but these in-between Christmas and New Year’s days have convinced me the power/importance/necessity of living outside of your routine. Of turning off that 5:30 am alarm and just waking up when you wake up. Of only working out if you really sense that is what your body needs. Of sitting on the couch. Of minestrone soup that lasts for days. Of doughnuts. Of take-out food. Of leisurely walks.
These in-between days have been life-giving. I have gotten more clarity and peace and joy in these days of no routine. In fact it has been these few non-routine days that are making me want to be back in my normal routine of waking up early and running consistently and actually taking Hudson out to do something. I am almost ready to get back into the swing of things, but I am still savoring these final 2 days of 2019 to not fully be in it yet.
I plan on using these last couple days to be a bit more structured, I am actually up early this morning writing and have a run over 6 miles at 8 am. So clearly some of the strucuture is back, but besides time to write and run, the plan in these next two days is to still keep things quiet and simple and reflective.
In these final days of 2019 (when this publishes it will already be 2020), it is hard to not reflect back on the year as a whole. It makes it especially helpful if you had something written out at that start of the year. This is a tangible way to help you reflect on how the year actually went. If you don’t do this already, I highly recommend that you take some time TODAY, and jot down some hopes, some prayers, some goals for 2020. You can read my thoughts at the start of 2019 here.
I must warn you that if you take the time to write down your heart for the year to come, you might read it at the end of year with some disappointments. If you are ambitious at all, it is quite likely that some of your goals for the year did not happen. When I read back on my post from January 2019, I feel a tinge of disappointment when I look at my specific goals. I laid out 5 specific goals:
Get Up Early
Invest in Friendships
Take Sabbath More Seriously
And here’s the thing. I feel like I did #1 and #5 very well. #2-#4 I definitely did, but maybe not as consistently as I would have liked. Especially #3. Anytime you use the word daily in your goal, you are making it really difficult to follow through. No, I did not write every single day, nor did I read every single day, but as a whole my year was absolutely marked with more consistent disciplines of rising early, writing, reading, gathering, and resting. And for that I feel like I lived my year well.
Word for the Year
I love to choose a word for the year. I get it, it is cliche, but there is something really powerful about not just choosing a word but actively and intentionally coming back to it as the months go on. For that word to be on the forefront of your mind, heart, and prayers. It gets tricky and disappointing when we focus on the minute details of our goals, but it becomes much more encouraging when we focus on the heart and intention of our year as a whole.
2019 was the year of open for us.
When I reflect back on 2019, I see how my heart has opened up this year and for that I am really thankful.
The thing with your word being open, is that you might end the year feeling a bit drained and exhausted. I know that is how I currently feel. This year, I said yes much more than I said no.
I am thankful for this openness. I am thankful for this season to say yes more than I said no. I am thankful for how much we got to travel and do this year. So different from last year with a newborn. And I am mostly thankful for the way the Lord has helped me to better see who He is shaping me to be this year.
The thing with 2019 was that there was no big ah-ha moment. There was no big day of delivering a baby or getting married or starting a new job. However, 2019 held a lot of small choices, small decisions, ultimately of saying yes. I will join that. I will do that. I will help out with that. There were lot of miles done in secret. Lots of early mornings of pouring out my heart onto a blog that only a few very kind people read. Lots of talking with God and quite a lot of waiting. These types of years can be hard but they also can be wonderful. It is a time of preparing and pruning and getting ready for what is to come.
2019, you were good, solid, consistent. Lord, you were faithful. You protected, blessed, provided, answered prayers. And I firmly believe that you will continue to reveal your faithfulness in this new year.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year’s Day! I so appreciate all of you that keep coming back here to This Mama Needs Grace. I look forward to everything that is in store for this little blog of mine in the year and hopefully years to come!
Happy Birthday to us! It has officially been one year since our very first post on This Mama Needs Grace. On October 19th, 2018, I wrote our very first blog post: “This Mama Needs…”. Go back and check it out. Or not, because let’s be honest, it is not the best, but the messaging is solid. And it still is very much the driving force behind this blog:
“My prayer is through this blog of grappling through my own ever-present need for Jesus’ abundant grace, that you too can remember that even when it feels like you have nothing together, that God loves you with a crazy love and He showers you with grace in all of your imperfections.”
A year later, and this is still my prayer.
TMNG (this mama needs grace) initially was born because I was drowning. I was drowning in my tears, drowning in unreasonable pressures I had set around motherhood, drowning in feeling like I was simply not enough. The transition from working to fully staying at home was a much more difficult than I would have imagined. Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a mom. I have dreamed about snack making, playdates, arts and crafts. But then reality hit, and the vision I had of being a stay at home mom was not quite as peachy.
I quickly realized I needed an outlet. I needed a place to spill my guts. A place to be fully honest about some of my raw and difficult days as a new mama. I needed a place to write and remember who I am. I am not just a mom, a wife, a runner. No, I am much more than that…I am His beloved daughter. I needed to remember this.
Year 1 Reflection
To be honest, I did not have a ton of goals when TMNG began. I really just needed a creative project that was for myself. A year ago, I was not in the healthiest place because I was fully consumed in being a “perfect” mom. I barely took time to go on a run or to yoga and I had nothing that made me want to get up early in the morning. My days were consumed with nursing, cleaning, and making dinner. Those things just were not filling me up. I desperately needed a reason to get out of the house to pursue something I was passionate about. I needed a fill-up and in many ways TMNG was that place for me.
So while this began as very much a personal thing, below is a quick look at what has happened in a year.
Year 1 Stats
70 posts published
98,621 words written
264 post likes
I am not a numbers girl. I am all about the words, but I also think it is important to occasionally check in with the number side of things. Those stats in some ways impress me. I am shocked I have written those many words in a year of very much working on this thing part-time. I am also shocked I have actually stayed with it and have been for the most part pretty consistent. This I am proud of!
In terms of comments and followers, well, we are small, but after a year of writing, creating, posting, and dreaming; I firmly believe this is just the beginning. TMNG might be small right now, but I have this beautiful vision of what it can become so I will not stop. I feel God in this, so I will keep writing. When He tells me to stop, I will, but now is not the time.
A Year of Growth
Within this year, I have written on all types of things. From losing my grandmother to returning to running to mom routines to traveling to lessons in motherhood. TMNG has been a place for me to ramble about the current state of my heart. It really has come to hold a lot of the hard things that have happened this year (saying good-bye to my grandma and dealing with anxiety as a new mother) to a lot of the really exciting moments (running a sub-3 marathon, celebrating 4 years of marriage, celebrating Hudson’s first birthday). TMNG is more than just another mom blog. It is the home place of all my crazy ideas and emotions wandering in my head and heart. It is my open-diary for myself; my open-letter to you.
This past year, TMNG has been a bit all over the place, trying to really figure out who we are. We took on different subjects, styles, and formats. From super short posts to extremely long 2,500 word posts; from no pictures to pictures embedded everywhere. We have had a lot of different looks and held all types of content: lists, tips, reflections, letters. Through this year, we have grown a lot and it feels like we are finally beginning to understand our voice and purpose.
After a year of figuring out exactly who we are, we think we know. Kind of. TMNG is changing and evolving. TMNG is still going to be the home base for my emotions and ideas to wander freely, we are just taming it up a bit.
For year 2, TMNG will become your destination spot for all things…ROUTINES. Yes. Routines, schedules, healthy habits. And not just any routines. Simple ones. Not overwhelming or more complicated than your life before routines. Simple and accessible ones you can start adding to your life TODAY. The focus will be on routines revolved around the morning, quick cleaning, fitness, devotional time, meal prep, and toddlers (because that is currently where we are at over here at the Capel home).
These routines are specifically curated for not just anyone, but for the busy mama on-the-go.
Busy mama, we see you, and this one’s for you.
Starting next week, join us every Thursday for new content that will be geared towards providing you with specific ideas and tips on how to make different aspects of your life into a routine. We will be talking about ALL sorts of things (working out, marriage, cleaning, dinner time), but it will all be through the lens of how to make that thing into a routine. A pattern. A thing you don’t even think about, you just do it.
We Love Routines, You Too?
If you can’t tell, we are big fans of routines, and believe routines are the key to happier, healthier, and more productive mamas. Mom life, especially new mom life is EXHAUSTING. Without systems in place, it is easy to feel like you are drowning in all the responsibilities on your plate. The thing we love about routines is that it not only is something that allows for you to be more productive, it ultimately frees up chunks of time for you to do the things that fill you up. It allows for you to start taking the time to go to that Tuesday workout class every week, or consistently work on that side hustle you have been dreaming up for years. It allows you to finally step into your calling and ultimately, to find CONFIDENCE in your new life as a mama.
Not to mention, routines benefit not just us as mamas, it benefits the entire family, specifically the little humans we are raising. Check out this really interesting article that presents research that draws a link between family routines with children that are more socially and emotionally healthy. Once you start diving into the research and numbers, routines become more than a nice option for those people that are well-organized and enjoy planning. No, routines, are necessary for all of us! And as the article points out so well, routines do not mean your days are always super strict and rigid. There is flexibility, which we talk about in future posts.
So are you in, mama? Click the button below to instantly join our community, get email reminders when a new post drops, and as a special gift to say thanks, we will send you one of our fav weekly checklists to make sure you are getting all the important things DONE! See you next week!
After especially busy seasons, slow weekends are best friends. This past weekend was similarly sweet and mellow like the past weekend I wrote about. I want to put this into words so I don’t forget. I am feeling just so thankful right now. Life feels simple and peaceful and quiet, and I know this won’t last forever, but I am really loving this particular season of life.
Hudson is at a stage that I am absolutely adoring. If you have read even just a handful of my past posts, you should have the idea that the newborn stage was a struggle to say the least for me. I feel much more comfortable in this stage of making snacks, taking him to mommy and me classes, and chasing him about the house. I was unprepared for the very early stages. Not to say that that time is not precious and sweet and special, but I am really loving this toddler season.
The Leather Sandal Incident
Just yesterday, Hudson came up to me holding a pair of sandals he has yet to wear. These sandals gathered dust because I assumed they were still too big for his little feet. Yesterday, he decided he was ready for them. He showed me them and tapped his foot with them. Such a simple thing, but this moment struck me. I thought it was one of the most darling things. He has desires and grand ideas, like wearing his cool leather sandals in the house just because. I love watching his brain churn. I love watching his little quirks develop. And I love the fact that he can communicate with me.
Along with the sandal tapping, Hudson has been signing “please,” “more,” and “all done.” I can now tell him, “say please” or “how do we ask for something we want?”. Hudson greets me with a smile and a hand over his chest. This melts my heart in a certain type of way. I love that he can ask politely for things without even a word. I love that he can tell us when he is all done and ready to get out of his high chair. This early stage of communication is a lot of fun and I eagerly await for the words to begin to flow. So far the vocabulary looks something like this: “mom,” (which is always said in association with something he wants) “dada,” (which is usually said when he is happy and having fun) “ba” = ball, “na”=Nala, our dog.
Journal to Find Beauty in the Ordinary
I have become obsessed with a journaling concept I recently heard about on Emily P. Freeman’s podcast “The Next Right Thing.” I am linking to that particular episode here. She talks about how when she is feeling overwhelmed with the demands of everyday life, she grounds herself by writing down lists called “These Are The Days Of.” Under this title she lists the things that are currently happening in her life. This is such a simple, little exercise, but I think it is genius. It is genius in the sense that it gives us space to actually name what is going on in our life.
It is amazing how the most beautiful, yet ordinary things of our days so easily slip by us if we don’t take the time to intentionally jot it down. This scares me! I don’t want to forget the beautifully ordinary elements of my days. This is why writing is such an important part of my days. It is why I journal in the mornings and persist in keeping up this little blog. Your perspective, your story, the ordinary elements of your day are sacred. They are strung together by the greatest storyteller of all time, the Lord, and He wants us to share it. He wants us to tell about the seemingly ordinary, yet holy, beautiful, and sacred aspects of our days. So, I am sharing. I am logging them down for you to read because I believe it is important, no matter how small.
These Are The Days Of…
Chasing Hudson as he runs toward the ocean, completely fearless
Baby friends and mom friends
Homestate lunch dates with daddy
Cinnamon rolls on Sundays
Planting plumeria in a blue planter
Water diapers and sprinklers in the backyard
Watching the grass grow, literally
Trying new things
Finding confidence in motherhood
Fighting hard against comparison, daily
Wondering if Hudson will be the crazy, misbehaved one in school
Also wondering, if he will be drafted to the MLB before college; he has an arm!
The park, again
Capturing milestones with signs
Registering for The Boston Marathon!
Checking out 11 library books
Poetic, right? I love this exercise because it gets me to literally just list out what is going on in my life. When I read that list back, I am amazed by the beauty in it. This is just our life right now. This is literally what is going on. And if I am honest, most days, I don’t stop to let the beauty of it all sink in. Instead I spend a lot of time wondering if I am doing enough, as I mindlessly clean the baseboards and compare my mom life to the lives of the busy, important friends I see all around me. I need to stop. I need to make my “These Are The Days Of…” list. I need to give space to the abundant blessings in my life, even though there are days where I feel pretty small and unimportant.
Your Story Matters- Own It!
This post is a little all over the place, but this is just what is on my heart, currently. I hope you can find encouragement in it. I hope you can remember that your ordinary days of the park, library, and sprinklers in the backyard matter. It is easy to get lost in the stacks of laundry, sticky floors, and that feeling that you are always at a park. It is easy to forget these ordinary days of correcting, feeding, cleaning, creating, and loving are in fact poetry. If you are overwhelmed and exhausted, do me a favor. Take 5 minutes. Write down the ordinary elements of yours days. Then, read it slowly and thoughtfully back to yourself. Let it set in. Let the ordinary moments hold space in your heart and let gratitude take over.
Each of our lists are likely going to vary quite a bit, but this variance does not change our status as moms or wives or sisters. The Lord has a unique list and story mapped out for us, it might not look like the mom who is seemingly doing it all, but it is ours. Let’s own it, more.
All day I have been planning on sitting down to get some writing in. It is now nearly 9 pm and these are the first words I am creating all day, minus the numerous text messages I sent out. The thing is I could of easily squeezed in an hour of solid writing, but instead I dilly-dallied, I mindlessly scrolled and consumed social media, and I watched unnecessary drama on the Bachelorette. The task of writing has been in the back of my head all day, but I seemed to put everything ahead of it. The 9 miles, the loads and loads of laundry, the dirty dishes, the grocery list, the dinner, the banana bread, the party planning. I think what I really needed today was to write. I needed quiet. I needed time alone, time to string words together. I needed the steady rhythm of finger tips tapping away. I needed to sort things in my head through. I needed reflection and revision. This is what I needed. But instead, I avoided it. I clicked on Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Netflix. Anything, but write. I did not feel like it today. I did not want to write another post that only my husband, mother, and a few kind people will read. I did not want to write today, but here I am, at 8:50 pm, writing. And with each passing word, I feel better. That is what I want to talk about today. How do we do the things that are good for us, even on the days or weeks or years when we simply don’t feel like it? That is a loaded question. And to be honest, I don’t really have an answer, but I have a few thoughts.
Right now you could probably name a handful of things you don’t feel like doing. I sure can. Going on a run. Making the bed. Folding all those loads of laundry I previously mentioned. Emptying the dishwasher. Waking up early. Eating healthy. Being kind. Reading a book. Writing. And the list could go on. Those last three might be the most surprising, but if I’m being honest, right now, kindness does not feel natural to me, nor does reading or writing. Here’s the thing, if I lived my days off of my current feelings, not much would get accomplished. I would eat a lot of sugar, watch Grey’s Anatomy, and be alone in my room. That’s the truth. Clearly, my feelings can’t be trusted. Watching endless hours of hospital drama and consuming lots and lots of sugar is not a recipe to a fulfilled life. This is why I have such a problem with the phrase “follow your heart.” Follow my heart? Really? My heart can’t be trusted. It’s broken, sinful, selfish. My heart will lead me astray. Every. Single. Time. Sure, it might feel right in the moment, but long term, the feelings of my heart won’t satisfy. Only Jesus will. I need to follow Him, not my heart. And the thing with Jesus is that He is in the business of people and serving. So following Him, naturally revolves around these two things. For an introvert, this is not always easy. Following Jesus is not always the easy thing to do, it actually rarely is, but it is always the right thing. My heart can’t be trusted, but He certainly can.
So, returning back to that question. How do we do the good things, the things our soul longs for, even when that is not our natural inclination? I think the first part to answering this question, is learning how to differentiate between what our human heart longs for and the calling of Jesus in our lives. This is a good time to mention that I do believe that these two things can and should line up at times. This is the mark of a mature faith that is immersed in the Word. However, I am coming more from a post-vacation mindset. We just got back from a trip to NYC. We had the best time, but I fell completely out of normal rhythms. We squeezed a ton into our few days into the city. We even made a relatively detailed itinerary to ensure we got all the things we wanted to eat, see, and do in. We had full, fun days. We stuffed our faces with lobster rolls and cookies the size of our faces. We rode the subway back and forth, all over the city. We ran along the Hudson River, did loops in Central Park, and walked all over. My Fitbit has never hit such high numbers. We did all the things, but there was a sacrifice. My quiet, morning devotional time. That vanished. We forgot to include that in the itinerary. And if I’m honest, it put me into a bit of a slump. I forget how important some of my daily patterns I place into my life are. I need time alone with God. I need to be in the Word daily. My heart gets weird without this. I become lazy. I desire tv over discipline. Especially as I recover from this post-vacation hangover, my daily patterns and routines become even more important. I need to get back into these rhythms. I need to wake up early, even though I definitely do not feel like it. I need to open my Bible, not Instagram. I need to write, even when the words seems to not be there. I need to run hard, even when I want to just stay in a comfortable pace. And most importantly I need to love. I need to love and serve the people in my life, even though what my heart really desires is to retreat and be alone. There are seasons where everything I listed above comes so much more naturally. I leap out of bed. I enthusiastically open my Bible. The words come easily. The miles do too. And kindness is my attitude of choice. However, again, if I’m honest, there are more days where this is not the case. This is where patterns of discipline become so important. I write a lot about routines and daily rhythms, and the reason is because they keep me on track. They help me to do the good things I need in my life, even when I don’t feel like it.
I know I began by saying I didn’t fully have an answer to the question, but I think this is my answer. Establish daily, weekly, monthly, yearly patterns in your life and stick with them. Do them with a no matter what-ness attitude. The thing that I love about routine is that it takes away some of the thinking and decision making. This could be why I thrived in high school. A lot of my days were determined by a pre-existing bell schedule. The bells have faded away. Now, it is up to me to create the bells, the rhythms, the patterns. All this to say, vacation and stepping away from normal life is a good thing, but if you’re anything like me, it can be harmful to step away from the patterns that keep you grounded and rooted. So, when you don’t feel like doing all the things, check the patterns in your life, check what is taking up your minutes, check what it is you are consuming. Are you taking in Truth or bad television drama? It may seem like a small choice, but it is these little choices that make all the difference. It could be that you need to make just a few small adjustments to get back on track. Or, it could be that you just need to do the thing even when every fiber of your body and mind is fighting against it. This morning, I had a long tempo run I was supposed to do. I have done this tempo run for the past three Wednesday’s, except I missed it this past Wednesday due to travel. This small break in routine, made me really not want to run it today. And along with that deep, internal feeling of dreading something, there were things that happened along the way that made me want to choose the easy thing: skip the tempo. I was very close to choosing this option, but something kept tugging me along. And I did it. I did it even though I lost a contact in one of my eyes, the route I normally do was completely closed off, and my breathing was much harder than normal. And here’s the thing: my pace was slower than previous weeks, my focus was slightly fuzzy (probably due to the fact I had clear vision in only one eye), and I wanted to just stop basically every mile. But, I did it. To me, this tempo was my best so far in training. Again, it was not the fastest one. I actually felt the worst on this one, but I pushed through. I did not let go of my no matter attitude. Outwardly, not the best performance, but inwardly, it required way more focus and discipline than the days where the miles and pace were effortless. The thing I kept thinking about when I was running this morning was about how a lot of people can do the things when it comes easily, but what really allows you to stand out from the crowds is when you do it on the days where every part of you is fighting against it. This is where true character is built.
So, if you’re with me, and don’t feel like doing all the things, especially the things you technically don’t need to do, you should. Run when it’s the last thing you want to. Write even when the words flow as slow as molasses. Just start, and you will find your rhythm, it might just take until mile 9 or the 1,000th word.
Obviously, I know this. There is no way I can do it all, let alone do it all well. However, I live and plan out my days acting otherwise. I think part of the issue is the fact that my main job is being a mom. Since I don’t have a typical 9-5 job, I tell myself the lie that I should be doing more. The problem here is this logic is ignoring the fact that being a stay-at-home is an all-consuming, 24-7 job. If I was still working, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t feel the same type of guilt when I run out of time to go to the grocery store or fall behind on 1st birthday party planning. Actually, I probably still would, and I’m sure working moms can attest to this as well. The point here, is no matter what type of job or lifestyle we live, none of us can do it all and mom guilt is a real thing. Just because I’m a stay-at-home mom does not mean I have the time to have every cabinet in my home perfectly organized or be able to make everything homemade. The truth is, my floors never even look that clean and it almost is always a scramble getting a relatively good tasting meal on the table. I can’t do it all.
Back to my previous point, about guilt and staying at home. I think since I am not physically bringing in a pay check to help support our family, I feel a tremendous amount of pressure (solely created by me) to hold my end of the stick by ensuring the house is kept orderly, healthy meals are on the table, and parties look like Pinterest. Not to mention that Hudson is well-fed, clean, and happy, which let me tell you, just that is a full time job. And that is the problem. Just doing that sometimes doesn’t feel like enough, so I tack on all the other things. Train for a marathon. Be involved in MOMS Club. Teach bible study lessons. Create fun experiences for Hudson. Plan playdates. Organize all the cabinets and closets and drawers. Substitute teach. Write a blog. Create a podcast. Go to yoga. Wake up early. Budget. Buy all the gifts. Plan and host events. And the list could go on. I don’t want this to sound like I’m complaining because I really am not, I feel so thankful to be in the place to do those things, but what I am saying is that it can quickly feel overwhelming, even if my main job title is “mom.” I can’t do it all.
I tell myself I can do it all because I see through the windows of social media what other moms are doing. But here’s the thing, I am just looking through a window, I don’t get the chance to see the things that she has chosen to let go of or say no to. This is huge. This is what I need to constantly remind myself. No one can do it all. I see the perfectly made lunch, but I don’t see the mess in the kitchen. I see the miles and miles of training she logged, but I don’t see the nanny. I see the beautifully laid out blog, full of amazing content, but I don’t see the strained relationships. We are just seeing windows. Remember this. We can’t do it all.
This is a lesson I am currently learning. If I’m honest, even typing this up I feel a bit phony, as Holden Caulfield would say. I am still figuring this lesson out. I say I can’t do it all, but I still convince myself I can run 50 plus miles a week, write 2 blog posts a week, record a new podcast every week, keep the house clean, plan Hudson’s birthday party, and most importantly be the most present and loving wife and mother I can be. This last one is the most important to me, but sadly my days do not always reflect this priority. That needs to change. And it will. Words and miles will always be there for me to come back to, but this time with my husband and sweet little boy, that I can’t get back. So I will keep typing it until it sets in. I can’t do it all.
Last week, I reflected back 10 years, today I look forward 10 years and write down some dreams and thoughts to my future self. Here it is:
Dear 35-Year-Old Self,
I am writing this with no idea where you will be at 35 or what you will be like, but I have some hopes and dreams for you that I would like to outline for you. Knowing you, I have a feeling when you read this in 10 years, you might feel a little disappointed if you are not where I imagine you being. That is perfectly okay. You might not be where I imagined, but really all I can hope for is that you are following the will of God. That is all that really matters.
Currently I am in a place of uncertainty. A place of transition and new territory. I am just beginning to figure out this new role as mom. At 35, I have no idea how many children we may have or even what location we will be at, but I hope in 10 years to be more confident as a mom. I question myself daily. I question if I am doing enough for Hudson. Every day I am faced with the doubt that I am not a good enough mother. I am pretty certain that I will still have these doubts in 10 years, they may be even more significant with the passing of time, but I do hope you have greater confidence in your ability to mother well. Not only as mother, but I hope your confidence has increased in all areas of your life. Ultimately I hope you stand on even firmer confidence in Christ, and through this, you may live a life that is bolder and more certain.
Along with confidence, I hope you are not as serious. I hope in 10 years, you have become more fun and less stressed. I know in these next few years, life is likely going to get more complicated and more full, but my prayer is that I can increase in maturity to handle it all better than my early twenties. I hope you can better handle when things fall apart. I hope there are less anxious tears and more belly laughs. I hope that you can shake things off quicker and with greater ease. I hope you can be less frantic and concerned about the things that really do not matter. Again, I know you and I know that you are likely going to still have these same anxious and stressed out tendencies that I am currently dealing with, but along with all the other hopes I outlined, I ultimately hope you can learn to lean less on yourself and more on the Lord.
Not only do I hope you are more confident and less anxious, I hope you have become better. I hope you are better in all senses. I hope you are a better wife. I hope you love Lance better and are less selfish. I hope you are a better mother. I hope you are more patient with Hudson and any future children you may have. I hope you have become a better sister, daughter, friend, church member, neighbor, woman, and most importantly a better follower of Christ. This is starting to feel overwhelming, but really all I am hoping for is that by 35 your heart is bigger and fuller and more willing to love the people in your life better. I know you still have a long way to go, but I really hope you can read this and know that you are absolutely more intentional with the relationships in your life.
At 25, I write this with great optimism. I really cannot wait to meet you at 35 and see the life that you are living. I can’t wait to see the growth you have made and I really can’t wait to see Hudson as a 10-year-old. While I write this with hopeful optimism, I am almost certain that you probably have experienced lost somewhere along these 10 years. You probably have had some darker seasons. You may have even gotten a little lost along the way. I am sure there have been some really hard tears you have cried and some really beautiful laughs. I write this knowing that there are going to be some difficulties these next 10 years that will likely test me and make me feel uncomfortable. Whatever has happened, I hope you can look back and through both the pain and the joy, see the hand of God over it all.
This mama needs chocolate cake and blueberries. I am writing this on Sunday afternoon, and right before I sat down to begin writing, I cut myself a generous slice of vegan chocolate cake. While I normally would not indulge in chocolate cake anytime before 6pm, I figured it is still my birthday weekend so chocolate cake at 3pm is allowed. To give a little insight as to how my brain works, I chose to top it with a handful of blueberries to balance it out. Now, blueberries are a perfect topping to cake, but I am more interested in exploring why I tossed those blueberries on. I honestly did not even feel like eating blueberries. I really just wanted my leftover vegan cake, but internally that felt too indulgent. This is a small and silly example, but in a similar vein to my post last week on rest, I too often find myself adding something to what alone is perfectly good and acceptable. Why is it so hard to just eat the cake?
Reflecting on this further, maybe adding the blueberries is a good thing. There is something incredibly valuable in balance. It probably would not be the best to eat cake alone every afternoon, but cake with some antioxidant-filled blueberries every once and a while is a good thing. I need to start living my days more from this cake and blueberry mindset. By this I mean that I need to incorporate more balance. My Mondays and Sundays are in stark contrast. For me, Mondays are cleaning days. I spend basically the entire day cleaning. Sundays are resting days. Especially recently, I have tried to be much more intentional on the ways we spend our Sundays. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with having days dedicated to specific things, there needs to be balance. On Mondays, I usually end the day so burnt out because I spent the majority of my time cleaning. Continuing with my metaphor, Mondays are all about the blueberries, but even Mondays need a sliver of cake. Sundays are all about the cake. No laundry. Crockpot dinners. No agenda. However, a day full of cake is not good for us either. We need protein. We need vitamins. We need color. As I am currently learning, Sundays also need blueberries. It can’t just be cake. Balance is needed on a daily basis, but that balance is going to look different with each day. Certain days, work will outweigh play and rest; others the rest will be the focus. I think we can get into ruts when we forget the importance of balancing our days out. We forget to add the blueberries to the cake.
Will the Sabbath be ruined if we sweep the floors? Will the Monday cleaning day be ruined if I take a nap? I have a habit of functioning in a black and white mindset that does not leave room for in-betweens. It is either all or nothing. I am learning this is not a healthy way to live. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with occasionally having a big slice of cake on its own, I hope to better strive at creating my days with greater balance that makes room for both the cake parts of life and also the blueberries elements because the truth is- they both are sweet on their own and even sweeter together.