The Pain of Perfection

3 minute read, Blog, Healthy Habits

My mother calls it “the curse.” It’s the multi-generational, subconscious, uncontrollable need for tidiness and order. Our house growing up was spotless, beautiful, and orderly. Everything had a place, every routine was down pat. It was a really un-stressful way to grow up. Honestly, I think it shaped some of my best qualities. There was no uncertainty, just calm routine.

*Mom is #goals

Because what happens when it goes beyond tidiness and maintaining a calm routine? What happens when perfection is chased in bodies, careers, social situations, parenting and self images? Left unchecked, it can bring us to our knees. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Perfection is painful. It’s painful because we’re judging something (our situation, our experiences, our relationships, our body). When we judge, we label, and when we deem something as “bad,” we tend to wish it was otherwise. We are rejecting what is, and what cannot be any other way (at that moment).

We think things are out of order, our children can’t be controlled, we need to lose 10 pounds. We clean and clean, we obsess over calories, we make everything just so, because then FINALLY we can be in control of the “bad things” and other people will see that our lives are “good.” We’re so embarrassed when we fall short. What will people think!

But what if the ticket out of the destructive spiral of perfection is not to make everything perfect? What if the ticket out is this: Radical acceptance + Gratitude + Don’t care.

Things simply cannot be different in this very moment. They’re not good. They’re not bad. They just are. It’s scientific fact.

Labels tend to cloud our judgement. They elicit emotional responses. The dishes should be done, the kids should behave like I want them to, I should be a size 2, I should hostess like a magazine, I should climb the corporate ladder, I shouldn’t be angry. Should, should, SHOULD.

No.

Let’s use “I should be a size 2” as an example. I, personally, am NOT a size 2. Not even close.

Acceptance: My body size is what it is today. It cannot change at this very moment. I care deeply about my health and do what I can to make good decisions.

Gratitude: But damn am I grateful for what this body can DO. It’s climbed mountains, it’s created humans, it’s capable of things I couldn’t even imagine.

Don’t care: There will always be someone thinner AND bigger than me. I give caring about my body size a big, fat, MEH. But for real, people who judge other people for the size of their body are jerks. If you’re judging someone for their body, it says a lot more about you than it does about them. We’re all out here doing our best. Also #yolo.

One more example: “The dishes should be done.”

Acceptance: They are not done. There are 3 options. Do them myself, bribe someone else to do them, or ignore them for now. I can either change it, or not.

Gratitude: Having dishes in the sink means we have food on the table. It means the people I love were here.

Don’t care: Is anyone in danger because the dishes aren’t done? Probably not. Also, people who judge other people for having dishes in the sink are hypocrites and jerks. We’re all just out here doing our best. Plus, they’ll get done eventually.

We can focus on our health, and on creating a sense of calm in our households. We can aspire to do well at work. But join me in trying to remember to check our stress levels when it comes to all the “shoulds.”

What is, is perfect. And you are enough.

Your Thighs are Seriously Just Fine #newyearnewyou

3 minute read, Blog, Healthy Habits

We’re getting to that time of the year where those shiny New Years Resolutions are starting to feel like a BIT of an uphill battle.

Or at least it is for me.

But I’ve tried to make some changes this year. Particularly in the way I’m thinking about myself and the reasons I want to make said resolutions in the first place…And I wanted to share, just in case it helps you too.

The problem

I believe that in order to accomplish some of our most earnest self-improvement goals, it’s not enough to rely on willpower alone. Maybe you want to lose weight? Me too. Willpower is fine until you’re screaming “FREEEEEDOM” a la Braveheart, clutching a bottle of Pinot in one hand and a bag of Oreos in the other.

Deprivation doesn’t work long term. We’re not wired for it.

The Fix

The trick, in my experience, is to flip the conversation in your head. To go from self-punishment and deprivation to self-love, positive goal setting and abundance.

Seek to ADD to your life, not to lose something. Rather than cutting out all sugar for the rest of time, add vegetables to every meal and 30 minutes of moving-your-body to every day. NOT because you hate your thighs, but because vegetables clean your blood/curb your appetite and exercise floods your brain with endorphins. Yay! Losing dessert is sad, but ADDING more vegetables is doable. And eat the dessert. #yolo

This can work for non-health related goals too. Is your goal to spend less money? De-clutter? Do less of something? Ask yourself, why. I’m guessing your ultimate goal is something like freedom from stress, more resources for other things, more space, more time. The tactics themselves (less money, less stuff) feel like deprivation. But the GOAL is abundance. Keep THAT in mind while you’re tossing out that sweater you haven’t worn since ’03, and I bet it’ll be easier to bid it farewell for good.

I feel like we should make these healthy, positive changes so that we have more energy & resources for LIVING. Not to punish ourselves for being “screwed up” and different than the “ideal.” I mean, whose ideal is that anyway?

I get it though. I’m tired too.

That’s why it’s kind of a waste of our precious time and energy to worry about an arbitrary “ideal.” I don’t think we’d be so concerned with our dress size if someone hadn’t told us we ought to be. And then on top of judging ourselves, we’re also worrying about whether other people are judging us for not stacking up. We all likely have enough to worry about without adding THAT.

Not Convinced?

Here’s a helpful perspective I heard recently: You are basically THE rarest and most magical being alive.

Did things just get weird?

Ok. Put a more logical way…Your personal combination of DNA and experiences has literally NEVER been seen before (in the past) and will NEVER be seen again (in the future). You are actually, scientifically, objectively, unique.

So why waste another minute HATING the things that make you, YOU? You are not broken. You’re good different, and your thighs are seriously just fine the way they are.

Why feel like you’re on the outside looking in? You ARE in, just by existing. Self improvement is awesome. Doing it because we feel like we are somehow “wrong” is not awesome. It’s unsustainable.

You’re a magical, statistical impossibility and it’s time to start acting like one.

How to Make Mornings Suck Less #morningroutine

Blog, Healthy Habits, Parenting

As soon as I said “morning routine” you heard your alarm clock in your head didn’t you? And did you cringe? I cringed.

The Sitch

I used to be really good at getting up with just enough time to take a quick shower and skate out the door to get to work at a decent time. That was when I was young and wild and free. After having kids, I realized that ish doesn’t fly anymore. I tried. I really did. But I ended up less “skating” into work (effortlessly grabbing a yogurt on my way in and gracefully grabbing the door for the person behind me in my cute heels), and more like belly flopping across the finish line (or starting line, really, in this case) with a mashed banana “kiss” on my leg.

I realized I needed more margin in the morning. With the additional responsibility of getting a kid ready too, my brain was a frazzled mess as I hit the ground running, and I carried that energy around all day. I was still good at my job, but I was anxiety-ridden and TIRED.

The Fix

I decided to start small. Margin-lite, if you will.

You know what’s coming, right? I’m a millennial mom. Put the pieces together, guys…

The answer was obviously yoga. 😉

And as basic as it may sound, it has helped IMMENSELY. I’ve been doing 10-15 minutes of yoga after I shower every single weekday morning for the last 4 years. NO JOKE.

As a starting point it’s extremely doable. My advice? 10-15 minutes of light & gentle physical activity. Don’t want to do it? It’s already DONE. Get the blood flowing. Turn your head upside down and stretch your muscles. Especially if you’re going to be sitting in front of a computer all day, give yourself this one warm-up so you don’t shrivel into a hunched-over, sad worker bee.

Tara Stiles has great short yoga videos on YouTube. This one is my go-to.

**The links here were not sponsored in any way, they’re just tools I use personally and I thought they might be useful for you too!!

Next, and more recently, I’ve added something else that has completely helped in a more subtle way…

Journaling.

There’s a concept known as “morning pages,” which I found out about after starting The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I would highly recommend the book for anyone looking to tap into their innate creativity (which, regardless of occupation, EVERYONE could use!).

So I adopted the habit. Every morning I write whatever pops into my head for about 15 minutes while I sip my coffee (after yoga).

I’ve been doing this for about 4 months now, and I’ve realized that my mind is a repetitive, boring place. BUT! Because it’s so repetitive, I’ve also come to recognize what actually matters to me and it’s become slightly easier to prioritize and dream about things I could do to align myself with the high priorities. Travel is one theme for me. Relationships/friendships are another. Photography and creativity come up a lot too. I use it to identify gratitude I have for my existing situation as well, because #abundance.

It’s also great to just get the various nonsense out of your head and onto paper. #housekeeping

We’re up to a 30 minute buffer between you and the rat race for those of you counting. I’d recommend setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier and doing it before everyone else gets up. It’s just straight up easier than having someone yell, “CRISS CROSS APPLESAUCE” when you sit on your yoga mat and try to focus on your breathing.

Bonus tip: If you’re feeling extra saucy you could throw on a Ted Talk while you’re getting your clothes / hair / face game on. Ted Talks rule.

So now we’ve reached the point in my morning where the kids get up and start demanding more syrup for their waffles / refusing to put on socks / torturing each other. Which I have no advice for. Send help.

At least I’ve had a few minutes to get my zen on, which makes it a whole lot less stressful to skate everybody’s asses out the door to catch the bus.

Minimize to Maximize #Simplicity

Blog, Healthy Habits

“Have stories to tell, not stuff to show” – Unknown

So I heard an awesome podcast the other day, featuring the founder of The Last Bookstore in LA, Josh Spencer. First of all, his story is amazing and if you get a chance, listen to the podcast “Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller” Season 2; Episode 59. In it, Spencer says something really profound about embracing the “plot twists” in your life’s story, and that he didn’t personally want his story to be a boring, sad one after being paralyzed at a young age. He went on to found an unbelievably successful bookstore/record store/art gallery that has become an icon in the LA area (with people even getting married there!).

In (probably not obviously) related news, I’m also following a lot of curiosity in the area of minimalism lately. I’m SO intrigued by the idea of capsule wardrobes, ruthless editing of the crap we allow in our house, owning less and DOING more. Breaking the anchors that keep us strung out. Working to feel freedom and enjoy the doing-part of life. I’m fascinated by the possibility of feeling lighter, less burdened by organizing and consuming.

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We have so much crap. Toys, clothes, bins, boxes, papers, oh my! Our basement turns into a dumping ground for the crap we don’t want to look at it; but it’s there, looming, waiting for me to come down there to grab a roll of wrapping paper for a gift or an extra roll of paper towels. I want it gone. I want simplicity and I want clean.

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The funny thing is, simplicity isn’t simple. Far from it. Simplicity takes work in this culture. Striving for simplicity forces you to understand the difference between what you need vs. what you want. It forces you to prioritize. Simplicity requires you to be an unwavering gatekeeper of what you allow in your home and life. It requires us to second guess the consumerism that is thrown at us literally 24/7. I have this romantic aspiration to have 1 of everything we need. But not just any one. The BEST one. The most unique, beautiful, one. I want handcrafted quality. I want ridiculously functional. And when that ONE gets worn out, we will thank it for its service, get rid of it and get a new one. But also, as you can tell in these pictures, a $1 net goes a long way too.

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The dichotomy we have to address here, while we’re talking about getting rid of stuff, is the simplicity/abundance phenomenon. Just like simplicity isn’t simple, abundance does not equal more crap. The feeling of abundance comes from stripping away the distractions and noise. It comes from being able to crawl out from under the pile of stuff keeping you pinned to the ground and realize that the universe provides everything we need. It comes from taking a moment to realize just how freaking lucky you truly are to have woken up today with breath in your lungs and the opportunity to make this day HAPPEN. There is progress to be made, you can be healthier if you choose. You can create or nurture the relationships in your life if you choose. You can pick up a hobby, hone a skill, do something crazy, do nothing at all.

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Abundance is realizing the truth that there is enough to go around. Simplicity is a tool available to get there. Oppression happens when we focus on scarcity and fear.

Which brings me back to the beginning. What kind of life are we simply accepting  underneath all this stuff? What kind of interesting stories are waiting for us on the other side? What could we do with all that time spent organizing, thinking about stuff, trying to buy happiness? We could go DO! Have adventures, explore, create life stories. Personally, I want to travel and spend time learning photography and taking beautiful pictures. I want to have a home base where we can spend time in comfort with family and friends (and I don’t want to have to break my jolly mood by shoving away all the crap before they come over). I want to spend as much time that is logistically possible getting to know the little humans we are raising. I want to take care of this body as best I can in order to fully participate in life. I want to wander in the woods and look around with wonder.

And funnily enough, most of those things, aren’t things.

Forest Bathing

3 minute read, Blog, Healthy Habits, Nature

“The Earth has music for those who listen” – Shakespeare

St. Mary’s Glacier

Oh man, Colorado! We went early for a wedding and forest-bathed our asses off (it’s hard not to, really) for 4 days. It was one of the most rejuvenating trips I’ve taken in a while and I know I need to incorporate more of that in my everyday life. And oh! The pictures!! Snapped a super-wide angle lens on my trusty little Canon Rebel and away we went.

Loveland Pass

Forest Bathing is a Japanese concept from the 80’s. It’s more or less taking a mindful stroll through the woods and soaking in all that nature-y goodness. Or as I helpfully described to a friend who brought up this concept on this trip…”Oh! I think it has to do with some sort of compound the trees secrete.” Uh, yeah. Something like that.

Reservoir Trail Indian Peaks Wilderness

Anyway, the benefits have been proven again and again. Being in nature reduces anxiety, calms the mind and generally makes you feel like less of a hamster on a wheel. Also, that “secretion?” Apparently that’s phytoncides and it turns out, I pretty much nailed it. They’re released into the air by trees and when inhaled, are thought to reduce stress hormones and increase white blood cell function. I mean…hell yeah?

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Loveland Pass

The other forest bath ingredient, present in ESPECIALLY high quantities in mountains (and beaches, waterfalls and thunderstorms), are negative ions. These little puppies “create positive vibes” as WebMD puts it.

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Copper Mountain Alpine Coaster

So yeah…that, combined with the ~1,260ft of elevation we hiked over the course of 2 days, plus picking excellent traveling companions and approaching every day with the spirit of adventure, meant we came home from Colorado feeling pretty damn refreshed.

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Lake Dillon