Bookshelf: Currently Reading

I love a good book, especially the hard bound, paper and ink type. There's something about the tangible pages, the time and work it took to create the content and compile it all in one place. While I love a good story or memoir, lately my reading choices have mostly been books on personal growth, relationships, leadership and motherhood. We are all trying to keep all the plates spinning with careers, families, relationships, health and all the extras that sometimes it can seem like too much. Reading is my escape and my sanity all at once. I'm super excited to start Oola for Women: How to Balance the 7 Key Areas of Life to Have Less Stress, More Purpose, and Reveal the Greatness within You (ummm who can't use that?!!) and review it for you guys soon! Until then, here are some current favorites on my bookshelf:


+ All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth: I'm a total Edie fan girl and I love that we both have a healthcare background (she was a family practice physician!) and love oils. Her story is a beautiful one that you will love to read. History, family, tragedy and redemption.

+ Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist: If you follow along on Instagram you know I love me some Shauna. Her books are so honest and relatable, and it is just so refreshing. She says, "I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything."

+ Soup by Jon Gordon: This book is so insightful and critical for any type of team relationship - your family, marriage, church, business, small group. Who is stirring the pot matters ;) It is an easy read and is applicable to so many areas of our lives! Same another favorite by this author, The Energy Bus, these tools are applicable for every area and relationship. Think of it as a "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in a relatable, story format. 

What are you currently reading? Any good favorites for a beach trip?

Enough

It was 5am on a Tuesday morning and I had gotten up before everyone else to read and reflect, then get some work done. I turned on Ellie Holcomb's 'Red Sea Road' and heard this song. The tears just started flowing. I felt the Lord pouring out Truth over me and telling me to let go of the lies....

I heard this quote recently: "The story that you aren't telling anyone could be the story that is running your life." So in the spirit of understanding and hopefully encouraging other mamas, wives and women, here is my untold story. A possible alternative title to this post could read "Perfectionism, Vulnerability + Gospel Truth"....

 
 

It all started with the word 'enough'. Not too long ago I realized how much I use that word to describe my day...my actions, my work, my efforts, my parenting, my responsibilities. There is a constant inner dialogue running in the background that surfaces mostly in the quiet hours of the morning or just before sleep. Did I spend enough time with Elliot? Did I do enough rounds in that workout? Did I workout hard enough? Did I read enough books at bedtime? Did we spend enough time outside today? Did I show enough patience, love and grace to my family? Did I send enough emails and messages to connect with my team? Will my efforts be enough to move us closer to our dream, to the vision we have for our family? Did I love my family enough today? I mean I did lose my patience a few times... Did I serve my husband enough? I hate that I was short with him on the phone.... Somedays this exhausting list seems endless. 

What was/is driving me to that place? Comparison? Maybe. Perfectionism? Probably. The desire to have it ALL? Absolutely. I want a clean, organized and stylish home, a wildly successful career, a deep intimate relationship with my husband, healthy, happy, emotionally stable children, amazing physical health, strength and flexibility, delicious organic home-cooked meals and most of all a close, intimate relationship with my Creator. And all of those things are good, right things to want and to pursue, but when perfectionism and drive take over, the pursuit of it ALL creates a constant stream of 'Am I Enough' in my mind.

 
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  my whole heart, my life's calling all right here in this picture...

my whole heart, my life's calling all right here in this picture...

I want to know that if I do abc that it will absolutely result in xyz. If I follow this plan, the things I want will happen. If I love and serve my family, our marriage will be strong and vibrant and my children will grow up to live Christ-centered lives. If I work hard, our dreams will come true. If I take care of my body it will be strong, healthy and see me through many many years. All these things I want are good, righteous things to want, but it's the inner drive to be perfect that causes problems. But perfect isn't possible. The beauty and pain of this life is that there are no guarantees on this Earth. The only place where I can truly find my hope is in Christ.

To be examined and aware of your every flaw and sin, then be told you are the exact opposite of how you see yourself—that you’re actually the beloved and beautiful handiwork of a master—is a truth that can sometimes be harder to live with than the lie of shame.
Because of Jesus’ atonement for our sin, this is who we now are: holy, blameless, without stain or wrinkle.  - via She Reads Truth

I believe that I strive for perfectionism because I want to truly love and to be loved. I desperately want to serve my family well, to walk out this calling that the Lord has placed on my life, to show people His amazing mercy and grace in the way that I live out my life. I want to cultivate an environment of love, light and warmth for my family. I want to love and serve my community, show gospel-rooted hospitality, lift up and encourage other women. I believe that the Lord places us in family units (including close friends that are like family!) as a parallel to the unity that we have as a body of believers and to the perfect unity we will experience in Eternity. So my desire to truly love and be loved is pure and righteous and rooted in biblical truth. However, my twisting of this desire into a pursuit of perfectionism is a slippery slope into sin. And the lies of the enemy run deep....

 
 

But.....
What if I saw me, the way that You see me?
What if I believed it was true?
What if I traded, this shame and self-hatred?
For a chance at believing You

You knit me together in my mother's womb
And you say that I've never been hidden from you
And you say that I'm wonderfully, wonderfully made

You're eyes, they have seen me before I was born
And you know all the good things that you made me for
And I'm wonderfully, wonderfully made
 - 'Wonderfully Made' by Ellie Holcomb

The beauty of the gospel is God's amazing ability to change our hearts, transform our minds and redirect us back to the path of freedom that He provides. I feel that I finally understand my drive to be perfect, to have it all in a pretty little package. And for that understanding the Lord is leading me to a place of freedom. He is showing me how to see myself in His eyes, to see myself through the lens of the cross and to let go of my question of 'Am I Enough?'

This is a day by day, moment by moment walk. Quiet moments in the early morning with the Lord, prayers for peace and rest, reminders of His grace and sufficiency, affirmations of His goodness, and grace for myself are the keys to my freedom from the lies. I am also using the tools the Lord has given me of emotionally supportive essential oils to help my mind and heart break free of the lies. These scents act like a trigger for my brain to remember and tap into to good, the positive, the Truth. To choose those thoughts and feelings instead of the negative, the lies of not being enough. 

Oils are the perfect compliment to this process for me, and I love how the grand design allows our bodies to use plants so easily to connect us back to ourselves, creation and our Creator. (Our sense of smell connects directly to the part of our brains that process and stores memories and emotions.) In the mornings I inhale the Humility blend and apply it to the center of my chest, just above the heart. I breathe deeply and repeat to myself 'I am enough. God's grace covers me.' I have also been using White Angelica to help connect to my whole story (the good and the bad) and to truly understanding the way I was made and how I was made to love on this Earth. I apply White Angelica behind my ears. I also diffuse it with lavender in the evening before bed to help process the underlying untold story, the lies that creep in so easily.

Praise the Lord for freedom from the lies. For when my heart rests in the presence of the Lord, I am enough. I am enough, because I am His. I am enough, because He is enough. And you are enough, because He is enough for you.

Swim Style: The Mama Edition

Ahhh swimsuit shopping... every woman's favorite thing, right? (Insert monkey covering eyes emoji). Anyone else struggling to find a cute but practical suit that fits well, hides problem areas and highlights the things you love? Just me? I will say though that purchasing a bikini in January to wear in March is definitely great motivation to keep up with my daily workouts.

I had a long list of requirements for my suit. I wanted something flirty but somewhat modest, practical for beaching it with a toddler (read... it stays put), high quality that would withstand years of use, and versatile enough to wear on outdoor adventures. I searched high and low, ordered and returned countless suits until I found one that I love.. actually two! I ended up with a high-waisted halter bikini and a modest top that will function well over the next few years. Since I'm on the shorter side, many of the one pieces just didn't fit my torso, so I settled on mixing and matching two pice options. This will also be good going forward if I need maternity or nursing-friendly tops or bottoms. In hopes that my search will simplify the process for you, here are some of my favorites!

+ Hands down my favorite one-piece wasThe Vanessa by Raising Wild in Coral. SO sad it is out of stock and also love the onyx.
+ I fell for the sweet scallops on this Vanilla Beach coral top (which is much brighter and livlier in person!) and the floral print high waisted bottoms. This set was definitely a keeper! I also love the halter one piece option
+ The Weekender Crop by Albion Fit made the cut. I love the tie back on this one! It would be cute paired with these high waist bottoms from J. Crew, and I plan to wear it with some black bottom from J. Crew that I already have.
+ I love flounce detail and deep coral color of the The Dahlia by Albion Fit, but the torso was too long for my petite frame.
+ The South Beach Pastel Tie Plunge by Asos is simple and chic, plus it's a great pastel color.
+ I love the muted florals of The Asterid High-Waisted Bikini from Anthropologie - also great for a smaller bust!

Ok, your turn. Any favorite brands that I missed? 

Valentine's Favorites

Happy (almost) Valentine's Day! Admittedly we are not huge celebrators over here, but I do love all the pretty things and fun recipes floating around this time of year. We actually have some fun things happening including a Galentines event, family breakfast with heart shaped pancakes, a no-plans Saturday (my fave!) and homemade cookie making. Anyone else love intentionally NOT making plans on a weekend? I feel like we just need the reset sometimes, you know? Pajamas, coffee on the porch, good food, my people. Bliss.

A few other things:
+ Scented valentines because Orange oil is just so happy. (PS, we attached tiny puzzles instead of candy to ours. Other ideas: bubbles, a little toy car, organic applesauce pouch, small pack of crayons, clay, paint brushes, or other art supply. You can make your Valentines cards fit the theme too! "You're my main squeeze" for the pouch, "I like the way you roll" for the car, " etc.
+ Massage oils, perfume rollers, bath salts for my ladies
+ Oily infused cocktails (and mocktails!) for Galentines
+ Paw Patrol shaped pancakes using Elliot's Valentine from his Mimi (similar set here)
+ Paleo strawberry donuts just because (love having treats that don't derail our clean eating)
+ Trying a new cookie recipe on Tuesday so we can surprise daddy after work! If it's a bust, these are our backup plan.
+ Celebrating on Tuesday with some fun balloons and a couple new books. (PS you can preorder my sweet friend Jodi's book now!!!! Go go go!!)
+ Checking out some Pinterest DIYs for making Valentines for our family! 

I'm really excited about our Galentines night at my house tonight! Our theme is 'You should go and love yourself' ;) and we are making relaxing massage oils (oh la la!!) and face rollers with amazing skin supportive oils because we all want to look like J. Lo when we're fifty.  If you're local, come on over!! If not, we're loving you from afar. And if you're interested in joining in the fun, I'll gift you $25 back towards your premium kit today only! 

St. Augustine, Florida

One of the things on our list this summer was a beach trip. It's been four years since we took a family vacation... and four years ago it was just me and the husband. We've been on camping trips and adventures, I've taken a girl's trip to the beach with my mom, sis and her kids, and we went on a family beach trip when E was a few months old, but we haven't taken a trip just us three since before Elliot was born. It was important to us to spend a few days together just us three, enjoying the sand and sun together. So we searched and searched until we found a place in our price range, and you guys it was the perfect place! 

We found the place on VRBO, which we love. It was on the south side of St. Augustine, which was great since it was mostly homes and smaller condos. Our place was on the ground floor with a pool just steps away and the boardwalk just past that! It was the perfect set up for us. We loved the king sized bed (family slumber parties!) and watching cable (ummm Fixer Upper marathon anyone?) during our down time. We spent all our time between the condo, pool and beach, so having a nice, comfortable place was important. Elliot had so much fun playing in the waves, digging in the sand and chasing the birds. Naturally, he loved the pool and wanted to spend most of his time there, ha! 

I was a little bummed that we didn't get to explore the old downtown area, but we will make it back with some family next time so we can sneak away! 

Nutrition Tips 05: A Day in the Life of Food

Since we talked about nutrition quite a bit in the last post, I thought it would be fun to have a peek into my daily life with the new nutrition plan. Honestly, these new guidelines are a lot like the way that I used to eat, just with a focus on getting enough protein, healthy fats, and calories. I've heard countless trainers, dietitians and physicians talk about how women aren't eating the right things and simply aren't eating enough. When we don't have enough calories and good fats (think avocado, coconut oil, cold pressed olive oil), our bodies can't make hormones, which can cause abdominal weight gain, mood instability, and inability to loose those excess pounds. Yikes. (Find more about that stuff here and here. These are two of my favorite references sites, so poke around if you want to learn more!)

One thing that has really upped our vegetable game and given us some variety is joining a CSA! It's fun to get new things every week and super cost-effective since we get a large box of organic produce for $35! This summer's crop has us eating lots of greens and summer salads! 

For me, a nutrition plan HAS to be simple and sustainable, otherwise it's just another source of stress in my life. Luckily, I find this pretty simple for the most part, so hoping to make it easy for you too! Here are a few guidelines that I follow to make sure that I'm getting all the things my body needs:

+ Eat four times a day: for me this looks like three dedicated, balanced meals a day with a protein smoothie in the afternoons (ideally after a work out of some sort!).

+ Eat within one hour of waking: this one is tough for me since I often don't want anything to eat in the mornings, but I'm working on it! If I know I have a super early morning, I'll make a batch of overnight oats with a little protein powder thrown in. 

+ Have a plan: If I have even a loose idea of what I'll be eating for lunch, I am much more successful with actually eating. Since I've been primarily working from home (more on that in the next post!), it's become very easy for me to just skip lunch. Which is quite possible the worst thing I could do! Snacking on carrots and hummus does NOT count as a lunch, so if I know that I'' be eating a salad or leftovers that day, I more apt to actually do it. 

+ Prep (a little) on the weekends: Now that I'm at home during the week I don't prep as much as I used to, but even making a batch of chicken salad and chopping up fresh veggies for egg scrambles and salads makes cooking during the week so much easier! Plus, it makes me feel like less effort is involved ;) (because, life with a toddler!).

Okay, so here's a typical day for me!

6:30 am: wake up, drink some water (sometimes with lemon oil for liver support), have a small mug of warm homemade chicken broth (see the benefits of bone broth here), then a cup of black coffee. Drink a total of 8 ounces of water during this time.

7:30 or 8:00 am: two egg scramble with backyard squash or zucchini cooked in coconut oil + 1/2 of an Aidells chicken sausage + a piece of gluten-free toast with grass-fed butter and low-sugar organic jam OR a handful of organic blueberries. *Working on getting this meal in within an hour of waking! This is the tough part for me! Also working on making sure it is high-protein per my doctor's recommendations to reduce fatigue. 

12:00 pm: mixed greens salad + chicken salad with 1-2T olive oil and balsamic as dressing + a few carrots & hummus OR leftovers from the previous night's dinner (vegetable & beef spaghetti + zoodles) 

2:00 pm: post-workout protein smoothie with 1/2 frozen organic banana + a large handful organic spinach + 2T organic coconut oil + a little almond butter (about 1T?) + Califia unsweetened almond milk + 1 drop of peppermint oil + 1 scoop grass-fed protein powder. I just started a new adrenal-friendly workout program with a friend, more on that soon! 

6:30 pm: bunless burgers (grass-fed beef) with homemade pickles, Primal Kitchen mayo and ginger chili sauce + sweet potato wedges + homemade coleslaw OR roasted chicken with potatoes & carrots + a spinach salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing OR smoked chicken + roasted asparagus & okra + tomatoes & cucumbers mixed with olive oil, balsamic + a drop of dill oil + a tiny bit of black rice. More meal ideas coming soon! 

 

So there you go! I'll be sharing some more tips and tricks and favorite recipes along the way as we navigate through this. I hope that some of these help you with your nutrition plan as well! When all else fails, focus on quality protein (grass-fed, pastured), healthy fats (avocado, cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil), and as much organic as possible. Be well friends! 

 

Hello Again (Part 1)

Things have obviously been really quiet over here for a while, and I've been trying to decide what and how to share about these past few months. I've been dealing with some weird health stuff, and we made a pretty life-altering decision, one that I am extremely happy with, but more on that in part two of this post. 

Let's start with health... For over a year I'd been dealing with bouts of dizziness and lightheadedness that were becoming increasingly frequent. I became concerned about passing out while holding my kid or driving the car. I tried a few different things to combat it, and they helped marginally, but I felt like I was shooting arrows into a hay bale (or whatever the saying is!) So after dealing with the symptoms for close to a year, I finally made an appointment with a holistic and functional medicine practice in the Atlanta area. Best decision I've made! I had a three hour initial appointment where they really listened to what was going on. Preliminary results came back as adrenal fatigue and low progesterone induced by too much stress, not enough sleep and less than ideal nutrition. I already knew a lot of what they told me about food, but having someone start testing for the causes and really listen to my concern was such an encouraging experience. Here are some of the changes I've made since that appointment:

+ ZERO dairy: I would occasionally have some grass-fed dairy, but with my congestion adding to the dizziness, it just isn't worth it. I've recently discovered the Califia almond milk, which is really the best stuff around second to making your own! I've been snacking on it with Einkorn granola - all the heart eyes! 


+ Eating more protein + healthy fats: a minimum of 60g of protein and 2T coconut oil a day. I gotta say, the protein recommendation is tough. I eat a TON of vegetables, but when we wrote out a days worth of food that I was currently eating, even I could see that it just wasn't enough. That's actually a HUGE problem for most women. We don't eat enough. I'm not going to get on that soapbox, but trust. Eating more calories has definitely made me feel better - my mood, energy levels, patience, sleep. 


+ Supplements: methylated B vitamin, probiotic, Vitamin D three times a week, mega antioxidants, and a supplement containing ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. I also made some magnesium oil to use before bed and will have a simple DIY coming soon! 

They also tested hormone levels and had me do a take-home cortisol saliva test, so I should get the results from that at my next visit next week. So far I am feeling a little better, but still dizzy at times. I need to focus on nutrition a lot more and make sure I eat enough (read: don't skip lunch) every day, so we are doing a whole30 this month! You can follow along for some meal ideas over on Instagram plus chime in on 'Toddler Eats Tuesdays' for tips and recipes to help get your little ones to eat whole foods! 

And thanks for hanging with me. It's good to start talking again. xo

Our Little Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mostly because it is the perfect excuse to be off of work and hang out with family and friends. We spent the day at my parents' house, and it was such a great time. The boys played outside in the gorgeous sunshine, we ate amazing food (my mom is such a great cook!) and had plenty of leftovers, and we were able to just be together. The fellowship was just so wonderful. I love stopping and listening to my people, hearing about the ins and outs of their life, knowing what makes them tick. We are so richly blessed! 

A few pictures from the day.... 

 This kid is SO fun right now. I say it at every stage, but my favorite stage of childhood is now ;)

This kid is SO fun right now. I say it at every stage, but my favorite stage of childhood is now ;)

 This picture of E with his older cousin melts my heart! He adores the 'big boys', and they love him right back. He is also enamored with my sweet niece and loves to play with her!

This picture of E with his older cousin melts my heart! He adores the 'big boys', and they love him right back. He is also enamored with my sweet niece and loves to play with her!

 I snagged a jar of my mom's homemade pickles, so so good! 

I snagged a jar of my mom's homemade pickles, so so good! 

Life Lately + A YouTube Channel

Ahhhh Saturday! We are spending the weekend working around our house, making merry and doing a little bathroom renovation. The shower is framed with a lovely 6-foot wall built, and today it will be covered in subway tile! Our next goal is to pick out a paint color for the walls and start production on the barnwood vanity.

 Currently loving: these cozy Minnetonka boots (similar  here  and  here ), plaid scarves, and peppermint bulletproof lattes in a mason jar.

Currently loving: these cozy Minnetonka boots (similar here and here), plaid scarves, and peppermint bulletproof lattes in a mason jar.

We are also spending some time adding some holiday cheer to the house as we prepare for a fun gathering for my oils team this week. I can't wait to see all the happy, smiling faces, make roller bottles (LOVE these colorful ones! So great for gift giving and parties!) and munch on my new favorite pumpkin bread. I am beyond thankful for Golden Drop Society, and I truly enjoy sharing that love! 

In other news, I started a YouTube channel and would love for you to follow along! I'll be sharing whole foods meal ideas, tips for using oils in your everyday life, tricks for adding movement to your day, and insights on being a child of God, wife, mama, full-time pharmacist and full-time entrepreneur. ;) I truly want to create a space here and through videos to help inspire other women, wives, and mama realize that you can make your life whatever you want. No matter your age, income, debt level, education, you have the power to change your life and make it anything you choose. #truth

I also recently created a Winter Wellness e-magazing that I'm sending new members. Would love to send one your way! Happy Saturday friends!


Thanksgiving Thoughts

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just two days away. This fall as simply flown by, and I am really looking forward to some time with my people. There are countless things in my life for which I am grateful, and I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy holiday! 

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A few of my favorite things, Thanksgiving edition:

+ This table. Foraged branches + berries? Enough said. 

+ We stopped using scented candles a long time ago and rely on our essential oils for making our home smell nice. Also love these smudge sticks via Gardenista. You can even put a few drops of oils on pinecones or other kindling for a fragrant + uplifting fire.

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+ A great roundup of paleo and whole foods recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner. Specifically, this sweet potato casserole

+ Pumpkin pie is my favorite holiday indulgence, but the traditional recipe leaves me feeling less than stellar. I am making this maple-walnut pumpkin pie for the first time this year, and it sounds so amazing!