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5 Things To Consider When Choosing a Doula

You’ve read all the books and you’ve talked to lots of people and you know you need a doula…


But how do you pick one?!


1. Ask about their credentials (and decide if it matters to you).

In general, there are three types of doulas.

A Doula can be anyone who has the knowledge and skills to assist birthing people and their families.

A Trained Doula is someone who has gone through a formal training or has “apprenticed” under someone to either deepen their knowledge and skills or learn them in the first place.

A Certified Doula is someone who has gone through a training and completed a certification process (requirements vary, but most often they include attending a certain number of births, reading lots of different material, earning positive reviews, and more).  

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I started working as a doula before attending a training or becoming certified and I feel confident in saying I don’t think any of my clients knew or cared that I wasn’t “certified.” There are plenty of wonderful doulas who aren’t. But if certification matters to you, ask about the doula’s credentials and do a bit of research on the organization.  

2. Ask friends, family, and providers for references.

It’s sometimes easy to find a doula you’ll click with if the people you click with recommend her. But maybe not! The birth experience you want may be different from your friend. Maybe her doula specialized in home births and you really will be more comfortable with a hospital birth. Ask around! And while you’re at it… ask about their birth stories too. Often the only birth stories you know are the ones you see on TV or movies and 98% of those are not real.


3. Ask about their availability and accessibility.

Your doula should not only be available around your due date, but you should also be able to get in touch with them. What is their policy about emails, calls, or texts? Does this doula prefer the same methods of communication you do? You should feel confident that when your baby decides they’re ready to be born, your doula will answer the call.

That being said… sometimes doulas are at births for days at a time. If you don’t receive a response to an emailed inquiry right away, give her time to eat, sleep, and get to a computer to respond.

4. Ask about their philosophy around pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and life.


We’re all human... and as much as your doula should be there to support you and your wishes, it’s normal and natural for each of our interactions to be clouded by our own biases and experiences. Other than your partner, your doula is your biggest support throughout pregnancy and birth so you should know where she’s coming from and be comfortable with that.  

5. Trust your gut.

In one interview, a dad-to-be asked why they should choose me and not another doula in our area. I told them it was entirely up to them because we have so many incredible doulas here that I knew they would be well supported with whoever they chose, but they should pick the person who feels right to them.

Pregnancy and birth are such an intimate times and the people you allow into that space should make you feel at ease. There isn’t a special training or magic potion for that… it’s just an innate connection and trusting your instinct when you’ve found it.

My wish for families is that they have a team that makes them feel like they could take over the world. And while I’d love to work with all parents, I’m also happy to refer them to other doulas if they feel like I’m not the right fit for them.  

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What Is A Doula?

A doula is someone who offers physical and emotional support to a pregnant/birthing person and their partner.

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That’s it!

Seems simple enough, right?

But what exactly does “physical and emotional support” mean and why in the world do you need it?

One of my favorite analogies is that giving birth without a doula is like climbing Mount Everest without a sherpa.

Sherpas are expert mountaineers. They know the terrain. They have special skills they have honed with experience. They are guides that help lead people through both expected and unexpected challenges.

So think of a doula as your birth sherpa! A doula knows the language and nuances of birth. They know the “terrain” or the places where you may choose to give birth. They help you navigate both expected and unexpected challenges during pregnancy and birth. They are your guide.

  • If you’re unsure what kind of birth experience you want, your doula is there to talk things out and help you create birth preferences that are right for you.

  • If you’re feeling nervous or impatient, your doula is there to reassure and guide you.

  • If your partner forgets all the things they learned in class, your doula is there to remind them how to help you.

  • Your doula knows physical, hands on, and breathing techniques to keep you comfortable and coping well during labor.

  • Your doula is there to support your decisions, even if it means straying from your original “plan.”

People often ask me if they should get a doula or a midwife and the answer is BOTH!

A doula is NOT medical personnel. Doulas don’t listen to your baby or check your dilation. They don’t catch your baby or check your blood pressure. We leave all that to the medical professionals. (Midwife or OB is another question for another day.)  

So go back to Everest for a moment. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, take all the classes, buy all the gear, but will you summit without the guide? Maybe. Maybe not. But would having a sherpa make the experience exponentially better knowing you were being led by someone knowledgeable who has your best interest at heart? Yeah, probably.

That, my friends, is birth with a doula.

Sure… you can absolutely birth without a doula. (No one stays pregnant for forever as much as it may seem like it in that 9th month, I know.) But a doula’s job is to help you and your partner feel supported, cared for, and heard, so you feel like you had your best birth.

Did you have a doula at your birth? What do you think a doula does?

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Eczema + Whole30 + Postpartum Depression

At some point during a prenatal or postpartum yoga class, I often take a moment to have moms consider the ways their babies have changed them from the inside out.

I always thought it was a sweet sentiment and there are so many ways our babies change us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But Little Sister changed me from the inside out a little more literally than the usual thoughts of my heart growing bigger and stretch marks… she gave me eczema!

What the what?!

Never in my life have I ever had any sort of eczema or skin sensitivity (other than my lifelong pasty ass fight with the sun).  Little Sister was born and lo and behold we both have eczema. (Not so fun fact: I actually thought I had mastitis because the first spot to develop eczema was the bottom side of my right breast and I was just waiting for the aches and fever to set in, but they never came.) Since then, hers has been controllable with OTC lotions and creams, but mine… mine has traveled, but never fully went away. My dermatologist prescribed a steroid. Nothing. Eczema specific lotions. Nope. My usual shampoo and conditioner? Total breakout.

I decided to do an elimination diet to figure out what was causing this. Pull out almost everything from my diet including the usual suspects (dairy, grains, sugar), but also some lesser known culprits (tomatoes, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, etc.).  

And then I was like, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right.”

So I decided to try Whole30 instead. I bought the book and the workbook a friend who’s in the middle of her first Whole30 swears by and I bought a shit ton of produce and ghee and totally forgot to buy more waffles for everyone else living in my house and then I was like, “Hahahahahahaha. Yeah right.”

Here’s the deal…

 I shared this picture with some caption about loving the cuddles, but really my face is cropped out because I was touched out, overwhelmed, and miserable.

I shared this picture with some caption about loving the cuddles, but really my face is cropped out because I was touched out, overwhelmed, and miserable.

I haven’t been shy about struggling with Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Anxiety after Little Sister was born.  (Though now that I’m seeing a little more clearly I think this may have even started while I was pregnant with her.)

For me, PPD/PPA probably didn’t look too bad from the outside.  I was back to work. I was exercising. I was making jokes. I was getting places on time. But everything was hard.

I kept telling myself it’ll get better after we move, after we finish painting, after we travel for weddings, after we’re sleeping. (We’re still not sleeping.) Eventually I realized it wasn’t getting better.  

I have an incredible therapist and she listened to me week after week just trying to gut through. Most of the time I was just OK. Sometimes I was a total mess. Rarely I was “good.” This went on for EIGHT. MONTHS. before I finally checked enough boxes where she recommended I talk to my OB.  

My boxes were:
“I want to want to eat well, but I don’t want to.”
“I know exercise makes me feel better, but I can’t bring myself to do it.”
“I went to class and I felt great while I was there, but by the time I got back home I was already stressed and miserable again.”
“Why bother.”
“I keep trying to do everything right and I keep failing at it.”
“I’m failing everyone.”   
“I’m angry all the time. I’m snapping at the kids for just being kids. It’s not fair to them, but I can’t help it.”

I do this for a living.  I study PPD.  I listen to podcasts and attend webinars by professionals.  I knew in my rational brain that I was not a bad mother or wife or friend, but fuck if it didn’t feel like it.  

At my next OB appointment I told the nurse I was struggling, but was hesitant to talk to my doctor about it because I still wasn’t sure how I felt about medication. She smiled and thanked me for bringing it up because at the very least my doctor and I could talk about it and reminded me that I wasn’t required to do anything I didn’t want to do.  

My doctor did end up writing me a prescription and I decided it was time to give it a try.

*** I would like to point out that the above interaction was the absolute appropriate response by all healthcare professionals involved. I’m so thankful and lucky to have a wonderful team. Please know this is not the case everywhere and read up on this post below. ***  

A week later I finally felt like me again. I wanted to get to my mat and practice. I was actually sleeping (well when the baby wasn’t waking me up). I still feel stressed sometimes.  Having two kids is HARD! I still feel like I’m failing them on occasion. (Is this a universal parent thing though? Are we all actually saving for their therapy and not college? Just me?) But I’m finally coping again.  

So back to Whole30.

Even after I started to feel like me again, I still couldn’t quite muster up the energy to give up the weekly trips to Chic-Fil-A (or thrice weekly? But seriously… how do they somehow convince me that this is OK? I would never go to McDonalds three times a week and be like “Eh this is fine.”), or meal prep, or grocery shop, or just cook in general.

I wanted to want to, but I didn’t want to.  

So going from not cooking and eating zero vegetables to an elimination diet or Whole30 would basically be like going from being sedentary to running an ultramarathon.  Just the idea of cutting foods like that made me eat even worse than I was already.  Like, Ben & Jerry’s, Funyuns, m&ms, Pringles, ALL the junk food in anticipation of not being able to eat them later.

 An Instagram Stories breakfast update.

An Instagram Stories breakfast update.

This is not how I do things. This is exactly what I’ve always coached against.

And to be completely clear, the ONLY reason for these “diets” was to figure out what the hell is happening with my skin. But as much as I want to know what’s happening… it’s just too much right now. And that’s OK.  

Like everything right now, I’m starting small. Eating more vegetables and less sugar. Consciously choosing when to snack and when to say no thank you.

I’m hoping that finally having the motivation to eat better will also make my workouts feel better, which helps me sleep better, maybe it will even help Little Sister since we’re still breastfeeding (often).

This isn’t an easy post to share.  It’s hard to publicly admit that you don’t have it all together… especially around motherhood when motherhood is your job. But I truly believe in sharing all variations of normal prenatal and postpartum.

It’s important to know you’re not alone. It’s important to know there’s help and resources out there. It’s important to know this does not make you a bad parent. It’s important to know you are so loved.   

Little Sister's Birth Story

(Most bloggers break up their birth stories into two or more posts, but I'm not most bloggers.  I barely blog at all.  So here is your warning that this is a long post.  Godspeed.)

Biology is amazing...

My last blog post was about how I was over being pregnant at 30 weeks.  “Over. It,” I said.

Nine months after her birth I’ll just have to take my word for it.  I don’t “remember” any of that pregnancy discomfort.  I’m nostalgic for baby kicks and my baby bump.  (We’re still not sleeping at night [or during the day… or at all] though so don’t expect Baby #3 anytime soon.)

Adjusting to life as a family of four took time.  Lots of time.  Still adjusting.  But that’s a post for another day.

Today I want to share Little Sister’s birth story.  (9 months late… sorry, second kid)

** Additional Note: This is a REAL birth story.  Like ALL the nitty gritty.  We’re gonna talk about poop and vaginas and all things TMI.  Read at your own risk ;) **    

Big sister was born at 39 weeks 2 days.  So when 39 and 2 came and went with Little Sister. I. Was. Done.  My belly was itchy, I got a Harry Potter-like stretch mark on the right side of my belly button, and the ability to sleep left me months earlier.

It wasn’t unusual to wake up at 4am, go downstairs to grab something to eat, and then watch TV until I could finally fall asleep again.  (Usually about a half hour to an hour before Big Sister woke up.)  And this day (39 and 3) was not any different… except I kept getting a shooting pain in my pubic bone every 15 minutes or so.  

I refused to believe it was labor because 1) I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be pregnant forever and she was never coming out and 2) it felt so different than the first time.  I started to nod off while watching Don John (I’m only admitting to that because one day I know I’ll forget and I want to remember the little things), but every 15-20 minutes I would wake up in pain for about 30ish seconds and then go back to sleep again.  

At one point I fell asleep for a full hour so when my husband came downstairs to make his breakfast and get ready to head to work I decided not to say anything.  I figured whatever it was had passed and it was time to go about our day.  I was definitely hiding contractions while helping everyone get ready, but if I could hide them then nothing was happening anytime soon, right?

My husband left for work and Big Sister and I ate breakfast and hung out downstairs, but I started to get really uncomfortable even though things were still erratic.  I sent a text to my doula to give her a heads up that it might be the day.

Then I sent a message to the friend we were supposed to meet up with later in the day to say I didn’t think we’d make it for our All Fired Up playdate.  (Pro tip: when you’re ready for baby to come, make plans!  They love to ruin plans.)

Around 8:30am, my husband jokingly said if the baby was going to come could she let it be known before his 9 o’clock meeting and since the contractions were actually bringing me to my knees and I was the only one home with a toddler I figured it was probably a good time to let him know what was up.  Things were still erratic though and I was afraid to call him home so soon.  He decided to come home, but while he was on his way I pooped aaaaannnd I didn’t have another contraction again until after he got home.  (Do you know how horrible this was going to be for me if he went back to work the next day and had to be like, “Nope.  No baby… just a poop.”?)

It was a cool and cloudy day, but the three of us bundled up for a walk to try to keep things moving.  A few contractions came and went, but nothing major and the walk was otherwise uneventful.  Big Sister did NOT want to come back inside, but I’m sure we bribed her with the promise of Frozen. (My husband later confessed that Love Is An Open Door was on repeat in his head during Little Sister's birth.)  

Contractions continued to be inconsistent for most of the morning (about 10-12 minutes apart with a few that were 7ish), but I managed to take a nap. (Early labor naps are beautiful.  If you can, I highly recommend getting the rest while you can.)  

Eventually things started to pick up.  Contractions were getting longer in length and I could tell she was moving down because I had to pee after every one, but they still didn’t feel like I remembered them feeling the first time.  Instead of feeling contractions in my belly I kept feeling them in my pubic bone and back.  We suspected she might be posterior so my doula recommended some position changes for me to encourage baby girl to make the turn.  (PSA: Get yourself a doula!)

About a half hour later I thought I moved her into a better position, but then things slowed down again.  (Labor is a marathon, folks.)  I ate a tunafish sandwich (wtf, why?!) and tried to nap again, but within the hour things picked up even more.  Though they were still irregular, some contractions were coming as soon as every 2 minutes and some as long as 12, I started to feel nauseated and was shaking a bit.  We called my wonderful, amazing sister-in-law who came to take Big Sister for some extra-special girl time.  I was frustrated, but still coping with contractions well enough that I figured I wasn’t dilated much.  I joked (kinda) that I was ready to just go to the hospital and get my epidural and watch Netflix for a while.         

After Big Sister left, I wanted to go upstairs to lie in bed and try the side-lying hip release. While I was in early labor with Big Sister a nurse used this move with me and after she did I went into full blown active labor within minutes.  I guess my babies just love that move because shortly after we did both sides I was full on shaking through contractions and they FINALLY became stronger and more regular. (Of course now I’m upstairs and have to get back downstairs in order to go anywhere.) I still didn’t feel like I was that far along, but my husband insisted it was time to call the hospital. (Smart man.)  I found the number to call and I think the conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m in labor.
Nurse: Yup. Sounds like you should come in.  We’ll get a room ready for you.
**Me In My Head: Oh whatever it's not even close to time** 

I sent a text to my doula to let her know we were heading in, but since I was still convinced that I was only 2cm the actual text said, “I’m a wimp and can’t hang at home anymore.”  (Timestamp 3:51pm.)   

So now things are happening, but -- like I said -- I’m upstairs.  Crap.  I have another contraction and my whole lower body is shaking (because shaking feels good during those contractions… just let them happen, mamas!) and my husband it running around trying to gather all our things to get ready to go.  I start to head downstairs, but then realize I didn’t take a picture the same way I did before we left for the hospital with Big Sister so of course I had to go back up the stairs, undress, and take the exact same picture that I took two years before  *eye roll* and THEN head back downstairs again. (I’m basically crawling downstairs through contractions btw… it’s all very glamorous at this point.)

I had another contraction right before getting into the car and then again about halfway there.  (We only lived 5 minutes door to door from St. Mary’s Hospital.)  Since a contraction had just passed, I convinced my husband to just park in the parking garage across the street from the hospital rather than using the valet.  (Again… I wasn’t even convinced I was supposed to be there yet.)  We parked and started walking and there are probably four contractions and six people asking if I need a wheelchair between the car and the elevator.  I stubbornly refused… still convinced I was only 2cm.  

We got up to Labor & Delivery and I sent my husband ahead to let them know we were here and I was coming. (Very slowly… shuffling down the hallway.  I stopped against the wall for a contraction and heard a mother groaning/yelling in the room next to me and I was like, “I hear ya girlfriend.  I hear ya.”  *Hunger Games sign*)

When I got to the nurses station I realized my nurse was one of my prenatal yoga students!  She was great about getting us checked in and respecting my birth preferences, which I had sent ahead of time.  (Text to doula to let her know we were in room 5… Timestamp 4:26pm)   

Generally speaking, the fewer internal checks providers perform the better.  It lowers the risk of infection and it can be incredibly uncomfortable.  But I wanted to know how long of a night this was going to be (since I was only 2cm) so I asked my nurse to check.  Aaaaannd I was 6cm and completely effaced.  Oh.  OK I got this.  

I love my husband.  He is an excellent partner in all things and has always made me feel supported in birth, but when my doula arrived I finally had someone who knew how to hands-on support me and make labor more manageable.  I swear the techniques she used made my contractions practically painless.  She encouraged and reminded me to keep drinking water and to empty my bladder.  And even though hands and knees had been the most comfortable position for me throughout the day, she had me try other ways to help bring baby down.  

Soon (much sooner than I even thought possible) I was starting to feel the urge to push.  Like... was freaking out a little bit because I thought this baby was going to try to come through only 6cm not the 10 its supposed to.  A nurse asked if my water broke and I said no. To which my doula was like, “Uhhhh not so sure about that.”  Sure enough there were fluids in the portable toilet I was laboring on (The thing is basically like a birth stool and can really help you relax your pelvic floor muscles the way you would while using the bathroom normally) though it was more of a trickle than the gush that happened with my first.  A contraction or two later and there was the gush I had been waiting for.  

The urge to bear down was unstoppable so it’s a good thing no one tried to tell me not to.  The nurses called Dr. Tate (the same doctor who attended Big Sister’s birth too) and we got to the beginning of the end.    

 Second Stage of Labor (aka Pushing) 

Second Stage of Labor (aka Pushing) 

With Big Sister it felt like the pushing stage went so quickly, but we really had no idea because we didn’t think to look.  This time my husband made sure to look at the clock. Twenty minutes (and several hemorrhoids jokes by me later) Little Sister made her way into the world just after 6:30 in the evening.  

My husband always felt weird about the idea of cutting the umbilical cord so after the delayed clamping I cut the cord (both births actually).  I’m not really sure why, but that sometimes feels even more empowering to me than the whole birthing an entire baby through my vagina part.  Like, I grew, nourished, and birthed you AND I cut the tie too!  

 Cutting Little Sister's umbilical cord myself! 

Cutting Little Sister's umbilical cord myself! 

* Cause I am a womaaann… W-O-M-A-N*

And then suddenly -- as quickly as there are a bunch of people in the room during delivery -- everyone leaves and you’re left alone for that magic hour to bond with your new person.  We sent some messages to let everyone know she arrived and we were doing well.  We wondered what Big Sister was up to and hoped she was OK.  We stared at the super blonde little one in front of us and wondered who she looked like and what she would be like.  

I’ve thought about her birth story a lot over the months, but never wrote it down.  In a way, it seemed uneventful.  Easy.  (Or as uneventful and easy as giving birth can be at least.)  Writing it down does make it feel magical again though.  Remembering what the body is capable of and the emotions that come with these stories.

 First cuddles with my sweet girl.

First cuddles with my sweet girl.

If you haven’t written your little one’s birth story down I encourage you to do it.  If not for yourself, for your little ones to read when they're bigger.  Or send it to me!  I LOVE birth stories!  Even if you didn’t have the most positive birth experience… sometimes writing can help you process and move past any negative feelings.

** P.S. If you’re pregnant and would like me to be a part of your birth story as a doula message me soon. My spring calendar is already filling up! **   

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A Week of Self-Care

I’m officially 30 weeks pregnant and OVER. IT.  And by "it" I mean everything

I spilled a bag of pastina on the kitchen floor the other day and cried about it. 

Like I said… Over. It.

So in an effort to save my sanity since I still have 10ish weeks to go before a different kind of craziness sets in, I decided to make this a week of self-care. 

Buh-Bye Facebook.

I removed Facebook from my phone because I’m – wait for it – OVER IT!  Too much anger, not enough pictures of delicious food, kittens, puppies, or baby cheeks.  I definitely have a problem and have still popped on from my laptop, but I stopped scrolling every 10 minutes (oh who am I kidding… every 2 minutes).     

Knitting.

To keep my paws off my phone and reloading Facebook, I started knitting again.  My good friend taught me how to knit back in high school and I’ve been an on-again off-again knitter ever since. 

I started this blanket right after Thanksgiving and finally got around to finishing it this week. 

Then I started this hoodie that probably won’t fit my kid’s big head, but it’s cute and I love it anyway.  (Good thing I’m having another girl… I’ll just subject her to my first sweater attempt.)  Knitting has been a great “moving meditation” since it forces me to be in the moment, paying full attention to my work instead of spacing out. 

Naps. 

My husband worked from home on Friday, which allowed me to take a little nap after teaching a 6am class.  And by a little nap I mean I passed out on the couch from 8:30am until 12:30pm.  I was sorry to miss a playdate with friends, but they get it.  So I slept.  Then I got another 30ish minutes on Saturday after my classes.  Since I don't sleep very well at night anymore now, naps are golden.   

Floating.

Do you know what this 30-week pregnant woman misses more than beer or sushi or cold deli meats combined?  Lying on her stomach!   Another sweet friend gifted me a float at Vitality Float Spa where I got to lounge in a large tub full of Epsom salt water.  It felt SO nice to roll “on” to my tummy for a while.  Add in some relaxing music and soft to no lighting and I’m hooked.   

Veggies.

Pregnancy and veggies haven’t really mixed well for me until recently.  I mostly wanted cheesy bread the whole time, but I’ve finally gotten my appetite for my “normal” foods back and it’s made a HUGE difference in how I feel… even if I do wash them down with a cookie or two. 

Lots of Yoga.

To be fair, I taught instead of took this week, but watching people smile as they leave a class feeling refreshed and reset helps ME feel refreshed.  So if you came to my prenatal class on Saturday, my first yoga class at Turn this morning, or my restore ride at BOHO this afternoon, please know that you helped to fill my cup this week. 

What do you do when you feel like you're losing your mind?  Do you have a self-care routine?  What does it look like?  

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28 Week Bump-Date

Pregnancy is a strange beast. In one moment I'm awestruck by the magnitude of what my body is doing.  How indescribable it is to have a tiny person rolling (punching, kicking) around and growing inside me.  On the other hand, my body doesn't feel like my own (it gets bigger every day), I miss hot yoga and sushi and those workouts that leave you drenched in sweat with your muscles shaking.  I miss sleeping on my stomach and just sleeping in general (hello, 3am potty breaks).

If you've ever had an injury that sidelined you for a few months I'm sure you know the feeling...

wanting to get back to your routine, but knowing that jumping in too soon will just hurt you more than it will help.  With my first pregnancy I didn't change much about my workout routine and was no worse for it, but this time my body said, "NO!" to certain things loud and clear early on.  And I know and respect my body enough to understand that no means no.  It definitely doesn't help that I get a 10 hour workout every day just running after a toddler.  No wonder I can't hang anymore.

So here we are in the third trimester with about 12 weeks left to go (more or less... hopefully just a little less).

28 weeks. I've heard a lot of, "But you're so big!" this week. Maybe (definitely) refrain from ever saying that to any woman ever again.  Please also excuse my dirty mirror. 

I hear third trimester and think, "Hey we're almost there!" and then I see 12 weeks and I think, "Woah that's a long time."

And tomorrow I may start wishing it would all slow down because I'm not so sure I'm ready to have two.  Hormones are crazy things, my friends.

How did you feel towards the end of your pregnancy?  Were you a magical glowing unicorn the whole time? Did you reach a point where you were just DONE with a capital D?  How did you get through to the end?  (Looking for suggestions that don't involve indulging in ice cream... I've got that one covered.)

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FEARLESS

I don't like setting New Year's Resolutions.  1) Because I don't like the idea of doing a 180 less than a week after holiday craziness and 2) I don't believe January 1 is the only day we can choose to make a change.  (In fact, I like to use my birthday as the day to set goals and intentions for the year, but more on that another day.) However, I DO like picking a word that I'd like to define the year to come.

In 2016 I chose "Grateful."  It helped to remember that was my word when days were long or challenges came up.  Very few things are all bad and attempting to find gratitude even in shitty situations (and especially when I didn't want to) was a learning and growing experience to be sure.

This year my word is...

While working with my coach (yes, even coaches have coaches), one of the first things we realized is how often I made excuses for things I wanted because I was afraid.  I was afraid it couldn't happen.  I was afraid it wouldn't work out.  I was afraid no one would like it.  I was afraid I'd be bad at it.

The "it" was different, but the excuse was the same.  And I like excuses as much as I like New Year's resolutions so here we are.

If I'm honest... choosing to live this year "fearlessly" scares the hell out of me.  (I know I know.) But to me FEARLESS doesn't necessarily mean "having no fear."  It's feeling that fear, acknowledging that fear, and then doing it anyway.

Change can be scary, but you know what's scarier?  Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving, and progressing.

-- Mandy Hale

So here's to the big, scary, exciting things to come in 2017!  Happy New Year!

 

 

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"Where Have You Been & What Are You Doing Now?"

Hi, friends! Long time no chat.

The last time I wrote I was about a month into my 200 hour yoga teacher training and I had every intention of keeping you updated on that journey, but as I dove deeper into that adventure two things became clear: 1) I was not willing to sacrifice anymore time with my family (and daughter who was too quickly for my liking about to turn one) and 2) it wasn't an experience that could easily be put into words or shared.

Many people say teacher training is life changing, but I would actually say it was life enhancing.  I went to training hoping to be able to teach a different kind of class and came out with so much more, including a better sense of who I am as a trainer and where I want to focus my time.

YTT Grad

Coming into the final stretch of yoga teacher training AND my daughter's first year at the same time made it perfectly clear what my next move would be... prenatal yoga teacher training.  So I signed up for an intensive two and a half week training in NYC where I commuted from NJ into the city.  Monday through Friday.  7am to 7pm.  I said it before and I'll say it again... the right trainings are life changing.  To be surrounded and supported by such strong and wonderful women while LEARNING about how strong and wonderful women are was magical.  Made all the more magical by actually being pregnant during the training.

That's right!  Seven to nine weeks pregnant, height of nausea, exhaustion, and all the other first trimester goodness right in the middle of 12 hour days.  (Shout out to all the working mamas who do that for nine months.  Hats off to you ladies!)

So for the last few months I've been home, working on my site behind the scenes, and getting ready to take on new clients all while growing a tiny human on the side.  (No biggie.)

Big Sister thinks Little Sister is in my belly button.

I'm now 21 weeks pregnant with Baby Girl Number 2 and I'd love to have you follow along on this pregnancy journey (and share your own stories with me as well!) and stay tuned for more healthy tips, tricks, meditations, and maybe even some recipes (though full disclosure the only thing I've wanted to eat for five months now are potatoes).

Go ahead and click around the updated website to see what else is new and consider signing up for the Happy Healthy Holidays challenge!  We started on Sunday, but it's never too late to join!

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Reevaluate. Reset. GO!

There's only one way to go.... forward.  Someone recently said to me, "I don't know how you do it all."  I told her I don't.

Why don't people believe me when I say this?  I like to think I'm pretty transparent about what a hot mess I can be. Just because I smile while I say it and laugh afterwards doesn't mean I'm joking!

The truth is for every one thing I get together, two others fall behind. At least that's how it's felt lately.

My workouts and self-care are on point? My house is embarrassingly messy and I haven't blogged in a month.

My house is clean and the laundry is done? I'm stressed beyond belief and skipping out on workouts to find the time.

It happens and it's OK. We can't be everything to everyone all the time. And if people on the internet make you feel less than because of this give them a #nottodaysatan (maybe my favorite hashtag ever) and get on with your life.

I had a birthday recently (Monday actually) and every year on my birthday I reevaluate or set goals for myself. What do I want to do? Who do I want to be? How can I be the best version of myself FOR myself and for the people around me?

I was planning on sharing my short list with you, but honestly it's just too scary for me right now. There are some big things on there this year (not necessarily life-changing big, but may be difficult for this one step forward, two steps back gal). They're so scary to me that it's taken me days to even write this post because this means it's time to get started.

So while I won't share my whole list with you, I will share one piece of it because it concerns you.

This year, I want to give my best to my readers, clients, and class participants. Don't get me wrong, you often get my all and even though I have the greatest job in the whole world... at the end of the day it's still a job. Some days (just like any other job) it's hard to remember just how good I've got it. But my goal this year is to always remember how sweet this life is. How glad I am to see each and every one of you sweating, smiling, maybe scowling, and getting healthier. I promise to do more than just show up and give you my all. I promise to give you my best.

All that being said, this lyric pops into my head whenever I start making grand plans and promises, "And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time."

So while I plan for those big goals, I'm just sending those tiny prayers to Father Time and getting ready for this year's ride. I hope you'll join me.

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"I Love Me" BINGO!

Just because Valentine's Day has come and gone doesn't mean we have to put the lovin' aside... especially the self-love. So what do you think?  Want to play some "I Love Me!" BINGO?

I Love Me BINGO!

Create/Recite an Empowering Mantra Daily “I am capable.” “I know who I am and I am enough.” “I choose to think thoughts that serve me well." “My body is my vehicle in life; I choose to fill it with goodness”

Whatever it is. Find something that fills you with peace, hope, and happiness and repeat it daily. Embrace it whenever it comes to mind or whenever you need it.

Eat Something That Makes You Feel Great. Sure that salad may not taste as good as that decadent chocolate soufflé that gave you a stomach ache for a day, but it will make you feel great from the inside out. Choose something that will fill your body with goodness.

Eat Something That Tastes Amazing. Go eat that amazing chocolate soufflé that gave you a stomach ache just because it tastes amazing. Or better yet… try these vegan dark chocolate truffles! (See! You don’t need anyone to buy you an overpriced box of chocolates shaped like a heart.)

Smile In The Mirror. And mean it.

Write Yourself a Love Letter. You are beautiful, and powerful, and capable, and you do amazing things every day. Don’t forget to tell yourself how great you are.

Do Something New and/or Challenging. If it doesn’t challenge us it doesn’t change us. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. A new recipe, a new workout routine, a new class. Because when you do conquer it, you’re going to feel unstoppable.

Do Something that Makes You Feel Invincible. We all have something that we know we’re good at. Go give yourself a little ego boost and rock it out.

Treat Yo’Self. Even if you just treat yourself to a new pair of cute sweatpants or a box of heart shaped chocolates or the newest Saturday night Hallmark channel movie. Give yourself permission to do something a little indulgent.

So let's finish the month of love with worthy love, the kind that builds us and those around us up... and what better place to start than within!

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