❤️ On The Inside ❤️

“Call your mother and tell her you love her… After all, you are the only one who knows what her heart sounds like on the inside.” – Unknown, borrowed from Lorna Jane

It’s Mother’s Day! I personally love love love this day, since the only reason it exists is to celebrate the most important woman in anyone’s life – their mama. I could gush on and on and on about how much I owe my mom, for all the times she fed me her famous teriyaki flank steak, rushed me to the emergency room (more than once) for horrifying accidents, brought me one of my favorite teddy bears back from her longest trip, cried when we finally found the perfect wedding dress, or dropped everything and took care of me for an entire week after my eye surgery. Oh yeah, or that she is always there and the first person I call anytime anything happens to me, whether I got a new job or degree or fiancé… or there’s a giant bug in the house and Bill’s not home. She listens when I need her to. She offers the best advice: “Here’s what you do. You pour yourself a glass of wine and contemplate the state of your affairs.” She is my biggest fan, whether on the soccer field or the stage or even this silly blog.

I could tell you all of that, but instead, I’ll just tell her this:

Mama, I love you so much. You mean the world to me. I don’t know who or what or where I would be without you. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart – and the inside of yours.

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So while today is about celebrating my mama, I also know quite a few other incredible mamas who deserve shout-outs today! Here is my list of inspiring moms who I admire, cherish, and celebrate on a day like today.

First, my fabulous beyond belief grandmother Mary-Ellen Martin, with her amazing sense of humor, her wealth of stories, and her passion for life!

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Nanny, my paternal grandmother, who taught me what it means to truly enjoy family through home-cooked meals, piano lessons, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, evening card games, the Price is Right, and being the best babysitter EVER!

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Sue, my sent-from-heaven step-mom with her contagious laugh, her gourmet food, her light spirit, her designer jeans, and a bigger heart than any woman I have ever met… How is it that someone you’ve just met can instantly feel like family? It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since she danced her way into our lives!

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If there is one bet I will always make, it’s that I am the luckiest girl with the best mother-in-law. Nancy Halter has welcomed me in to her, her son’ life, and her one-of-a-kind family with the most open arms. Without her kind words, warm heart, and Minnesota recipes, my life would be a lot less cozy.

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My sister Jessica, who stole my heart from the beginning. I want to bake with her, run with her, watch zombie movies with her, drink wine with her, and laugh with her every single day of my life. Not to mention she’s responsible for bringing my nephew Tyler into this world… A huge piece of my heart lives in San Diego on a permanent basis.20140511-081311.jpg

And where would I be without JJ, my matron-of-honor? As one of the bravest, smartest, and – let’s face it – hottest women I know, it has been such an honor to have her by my side on big days and small days, wedding days and every days. I am so grateful for her friendship, her openness, her advice, and her love, and for one of the most amazing experiences in my life holding Audrey less than 24 hours after her birth. And if anyone doubts JJ for a second, you better believe that while I was holding that brand new baby, she said, “It really wasn’t that bad! Let’s do it again!” when I asked her about childbirth. She is one bad-ass woman.

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These women are my biggest sources of inspiration, today and every day. They remind me what is really important, they teach me the true meaning of love, they hold me up when I can’t do it on my own, and they brighten my existence. Seeing the lives these women lead inspires me in every way, and they make it hard to wait until I can join their ranks. Until then though, I will reap their rewards and share in their joy, one little one at a time.

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Don’t we look good together? Audrey, you slay me.

xo

 

The Flowers At Your Feet

All we have is this moment.

That is what I keep telling myself these days. Bill and I are staring down the barrels of two vastly different paths, and each requires some major life changes in the form of a hard, massive, aneurysm-inducing decision. With every day that passes, we are feeling our fingers squeezing slightly harder on the trigger, knowing we are speeding toward something world-altering. All we can do is attempt to prepare for the unknown, but really, how do you prepare for uncertainty? How do you prepare when you don’t know what, exactly, it is you are preparing for?

Well, let me tell you, this girl can prepare. And prepare. And PREPARE.

And beyond the practical tasks and to-dos that we generally associate with this type of precautionary activity, I have found through trial and error that some of my favorite ways to quote-unquote “prepare” for major changes include things like:

  • Worrying.
  • Being concerned.
  • Stressing out.
  • Imagining worst possible outcomes.
  • Throwing myself down on the couch/bed/ground like a small child.
  • Engaging in an overall sense of extreme panic.
  • And so on.

When I’ve done a sufficient amount of all THAT, I go straight into doing every possible thing I can think of to avoid imminent failure and head in the basic direction of certifiable insanity. I become manic, even. I begin tackling anything and everything that will give me any sense of control, and I tackle them to the nines. The obsessive, compulsive, Type A nines.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately.

Yeah. I don’t like it. While all of that general hysteria has been my default reaction – my coping BFF, if you will – in the past, I have found myself with a new fight on my plate. I’ve been working hard at gathering a new arsenal to carry me through life, consisting of patience, love, joy, and above all, mindfulness. Being in the present. Concerning myself with the immediate. Realizing, as Eckhart Tolle himself would say, the power of NOW.

These major decisions, these defining moments, these life-altering times… They are going to change a lot of things for us. And if you know us personally, they could potentially change our relationship with you in a heart-wrenching way. They are simultaneously exciting and terrifying, two qualities that I find very distracting. In fact, it’s been hard not to constantly dwell on the sacrifices that may be made in the very near future of things we love, cherish, and have worked incredibly hard for. It’s also nearly impossible to get off this goddamn emotional roller coaster of up and down, up and down, wired and exhausted, energized and petrified. I’m getting tired just WRITING about it.

So I’m going to stop writing about it and start writing about something else, like the realization I have had in the last few months that if I keep letting my mind dictate my minutes instead of my heart, I’m going to miss out on the very things I’m so nervous about losing. If I let fear and anxiety run the show, I simply cannot enjoy the wonderful world around me. The changes are coming, yes. But they have not happened yet. The future doesn’t exist. I can’t see how things are going to play out, and there is nothing to be done about it right this moment, so worrying and panicking and imagining and throwing myself on the floor in exasperation are merely wasted energy. I should be savoring the way my world is now, so that when the time comes I do not regret an instant of how I have lived and loved and cherished. So that is my new plan: to live, to love, to cherish… right now. This is harder than it seems, but well worth the effort.

Because lately I’ve found that if you look too far ahead, you miss the flowers at your feet.

The Flowers At Your Feet

I apologize for the vague details. Rest assured, darling, that all will be revealed soon.

xo

There’s Something About Inner Peace

Bill said something about a week ago that really stuck with me.

We were in the car about 6 hours into a 7-hour drive, heading home to my family’s house for the holidays. He was driving, and we were tired. We were both in our go-to traveling clothes – his idea of comfort being unshaven and wearing warm-ups and a sweatshirt and no shoes, mine a faded plaid flannel shirt and stretchy skinny jeans and boots. My initially straight-up posture had evolved into the slouched posture of a slob with my butt almost off the seat and one knee up on the door. The dog had been climbing all over us in the cramped space, and we were covered with her obnoxious and persistent black fur. The sun was just about to go down to the left, and for some reason Bill kept looking over at me from the driver’s seat.

“What?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

“You… you just look like a wife.”

Huh? “What does that mean?”

He thought about it a second. “It means you look happy, and like yourself, and like you’re not out trying to chase boys or impress anyone. You look beautiful.”

I looked down through my aviators at the made-for-comfort-not-for-impressing-boys outfit I was sporting, surprised. First that he thought I looked even remotely attractive, but then because he was right. I haven’t consciously felt fully like myself in a long time, maybe ever. There was always some motivation to be on my toes, someone to impress, or a reason to worry or feel insecure. But here I was, with the person I would most want to impress on the entire planet, and he was appreciating me as I am right now, this second. And it wasn’t the outfit, or the makeup, or the clever quip, or the funny story, or the playing hard-to-get, or even the smart anecdote that shows off an ability to converse intelligently about anything you might throw at a person. It was the rare moment of peace I didn’t know I was feeling on the inside, and Bill saw it from all the way over on the other side of the car.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that exchange in the last 8 days. How strange it was that even though I was the one experiencing the moment, it took Bill bringing it to my attention for me to truly see it. It’s sad that a feeling of calm and contentedness with ourselves is such a foreign feeling. What is it that makes us worry and stress and keep up with the Jones’, when what we really want is already there within us everywhere we go? All that other stuff that we continuously inject into our lives is actually just getting more in the way as it builds and builds, not helping us reach our happiness. So just for this second, no matter how fleeting it is – and it is fleeting – I’m going to vow revel in that feeling. And the next time it happens. And the next and the next. Maybe then it will become a more frequent realization, and ultimately, a habit.

For now, I’ll just have to use that memory from last week and let it soak in as much as I can. That memory of when my husband glanced over at me and told me I looked like a wife, and for the rest of the drive, I couldn’t help but look over at him, with our little monster of a dog on his lap, and think of how grateful I am for what I had.

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That memory of when he looked like a husband, and the dog looked like a dog, and I felt like me.

2014 Inspirations: I Might Implode

With the end of the year fast approaching, I’m finding a familiar feeling creeping back in. Now, I’ve been known to frequent bouts of inspiration over the tiniest and most mundane of daily occurrences. (Just ask Bill how I feel about Thursdays.) However, the prospects of a brand new year always seem to elevate that to an unbearable excitement that must either be released immediately in a frenzy of creativity and fevered passion… or the alternative – namely, imminent implosion.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like imploding.

That leaves me with a problem. How do I completely reorganize the house/workout like a maniac/dominate my finances/cook gourmet meals daily/redecorate/overhaul my life/Pinterest the shit out of everything RIGHT NOW IMMEDIATELY?!?!

You might tell me I can’t, but I won’t hear it. Save your breath, you downer.

So what is inspiring me this second? (I better not take too long to write this or the list will fall off the bottom of your screen and into your lap.)

1. Queen Bey, Mrs. Carter, Beyoncé Knowles Herself

Can we just talk about this woman for a second? She is just beyond. JUST. BEYOND. Dropping a completely new art form with her visual album with absolutely zero promotion ahead of time, only for it to be one of the most stunning works to ever have existed. It’s such a beautiful portrait of feminism, love, art, and life. And then this shows up on my newsfeed.

I am floored by this woman. And Taylon.

2. The December Issue of Glamour Magazine

This issue is my favorite every year, as it includes the Glamour Women of the Year Awards. This year, they had the honorees and the presenters write down their life mottos, so here’s a little sneak peek of the compilation, which can be found at http://www.glamour.com/inspired/blogs/the-conversation/2013/11/women-of-the-year-life-mottos.html.

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I especially like Seth Meyers’ little gem in there. How’s that for inspiration?

3. The Likes of Women Bloggers

There is a new club on the internet, consisting of family women who have taken their previously unrecognized talents of beautifying their domestic worlds and just living, and creating their own careers by writing, photographing, and inspiring us about it all. And when I say all, I mean ALL. There is some backlash that these women are furthering the anxiety and need for perfection in our already susceptible female population, and that is true in some cases, speaking from experience. But following the lives of these women has given me, a newlywed domestic disaster, a sense of camaraderie and that ever-elusive permission to be myself. For instance, my personal home-life idol, Jordan Reid of Ramshackle Glam, who readily owns up to “the occasional mini-disasters that come along with… the idea that true personal style is all about constant experimentation”. Then there is Jen of IHeart Organizing, a mother of three boys who constantly dominates the chaos that is life at home with affordable and innovative solutions that put Martha Stewart to shame. And, of course, Sherry and John (okay, okay, I threw a husband in there because husbands are great too) of Young House Love, who turned their love of both home renovation and the documentation of it into a full-fledged online following. All of these women are extraordinary for the very reason that they are ordinary. Yes, they are beautiful and talented, but they are also smart and hilarious and educated and RELATABLE. They have children and families – do not miss the inspiring story of how John and Sherry’s daughter Clara came into the world here: http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/04/claras-birth-story/ – and they have made their own careers out of celebrating much scrutinized path of mother and homemaker. But the best part is that they see your ideals and raise you REALITY, thereby making it okay to mess up, to take risks, and hell, to be a hot mess if you so please, damnit.

4. The Lorna Jane Philosophy

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That’s me, loving life and LJ.

I used to describe this activewear company as the Australian Lululemon, but now that they are here in California(!), I don’t have to! The philosophy behind this company, started by Lorna Jane Clarkson, is all about active living. Their logo is three symbols next to each other, and they stand for Move. Nourish. Believe. I let Lorna explain in her own words:

Active Living

Not only is the message behind LJ incredible, but their marketing and their blog MoveNourishBelieve are amazingly motivating. I am so inspired by this company and their founder Lorna Jane Clarkson, and my life, my happiness, and my health are benefitting. This New Year, go ahead and start with their Self-Love Contract, and just be better for it already, okay?

Self-Love Contract

5. And lastly, THIS.

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And maybe tomorrow too.

(Image found via Pinterest via iheartinpiration.com)

Happy New Year! You can find me loving like Beyoncé; dominating like the Glamour Women of the Year; celebrating like Jordan, Jen and Sherry; and living my most active life. Wanna join? ❤

It’s Wednesday and It’s 3:30 P.M.

A while ago – on a particularly rough Wednesday, mind you – I stumbled upon an article written for the Telegraph entitled:

Women Look Their Oldest at 3.30pm Every Wednesday

As you can imagine, this was by far the most encouraging thing I have heard in awhile. After reading the article, it makes sense that this would be the particular time when all of the negative factors would come crashing into each other, creating the perfect cocktail for a complete and utter train wreck on your face. Wednesday is when work stress is at it’s peak, what with all the things you need to get done by Friday afternoon facing off with that well-intentioned-but-never-ending to-do list we all made on Monday. Add to that the natural afternoon slump we all feel in the middle of the afternoon, with lunch safely and snugly in our bellies. Then factor in that the effects of booze take a few days to show up on your skin, and we may or may not have thrown a few back over the weekend. (But with the work week we all had last week, who wouldn’t?!) Top it all off with the finding that women logged the least amount of sleep on Monday, which you guessed it, can take a few days to surface, and you’ve got a lot of fabulous women transforming into the zombies from World War Z faster that it takes you to undress Brad Pitt with your eyes in the first scene of the same movie.

Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

Or not.

So dragging you down in the dirt and rubbing your face in a big pile of insecurity is not my intention. Instead, I want to give you reminder to take care of yourself at the lowest point of the week. You are incredible, and you are working hard. In the hopes that you’ll remember what makes it all worth it, here is a gift from me to you in the form of a gentle nudge to remember the reasons why we do what we do, courtesy of one of my favorite songs by Brandon & Leah.

Happy Wednesday!

P.S. I think you look beautiful.