Birth Story | Hudson Elle

{our last night as a family of three}

Our evening began with a cute dinner date, our phones put away and focusing on each other. We laughed at clips of a show playing off in a corner and Paityn trying to eat her meal. The sweet simple love for each other was palpable. I wore my orange maternity dress, and for that hour I wasn’t uncomfortable or even necessarily feeling pregnant. The past few nights of exhausting contractions felt years away as the rain felt softly outside. It had been so important to me that Landon and I be emotionally close and in sync the night that I go in labor. At the time it had felt like just the break from pregnancy exhaustion that I needed, but it turned out to be the start of our birth story.Hudson2

We ran to the car through the rain with only one girl to buckle into her car seat for our last time. Once  inside I pulled out my phone to check what I’d missed. The decision about a blogger opportunity that I’d been refreshing my email over all week came through, and it was positive. Excitedly I read Landon the details as we drove home. It felt like just the sweet gesture that I needed to get through a few more days of pregnancy. That if I went to sleep that night and woke up on the due date still pregnant that it’d be ok.

Luckily, my body had other ideas. So as we cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie, and I tried to focus despite my excitement over the collaboration, my body began to really prepare to bring this little girl into the world. I didn’t begin to notice the consistency of contractions till I was set up to fall asleep on the couch for another night (our bed having become too miserable to sleep on) and I found myself leaning over the arm of the couch playing on my phone through waves of back labor. I knew things could carry on for a while, and that the odds of it phasing out eventually were good. I acknowledged that the next day could be a long and tiring one, and tried to not stress over that fact.

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{the real deal contractions}

Eventually I wanted to be near Landon so I crawled into bed next to him and started timing the contractions, not wanting to wake him up knowing that he had a long day of work tomorrow without the option to take a nap like I would. Around 2am I gently woke him up, letting him know they were 5 minutes apart, lasting around a minute, and that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen from there. We stayed in bed and talked till it was too uncomfortable to lay down through each one.

I killed time doing my hair and packing a few things in our hospital bag before getting into the shower finding so much relief feeling the water hit my contracting torso. And then a contraction came that scared me. There I was, not even sure if I was going to ‘go into labor’ that night, and I was experiencing a contraction that stopped me in my tracks. Everything around me disappeared as I attempted to calmly breathe through it. I got out of that safe haven of comforting water to talk to Landon — it was time to assume this was the real deal. As he woke Paityn and got ready to take her to my aunt’s the doubt stayed in the back of my mind. “If I could barely make it through that contraction in the shower how was I ever going to do this?”

Taking one contraction at a time, standing still and finding one spot on our floor to focus I got through each one while worrying about cleaning our house for our doula Gloria who was now on her way down from Salt Lake. I encouraged Landon to grab some food for himself quickly on the way home from dropping off Paityn, knowing it could be a long journey for both of us till the little one arrived. When he got home though I was too nervous to continue laboring at home. You always hear how much faster the second baby comes, and that knowledge was making me tense as I could feel the energy in my body changing — the rushes becoming stronger and closer together. I had Landon call Gloria and see what she thought about meeting at the hospital. Originally the idea of laboring as much at home as possible had sounded so lovely, but just a few hours in I was ready to be checked in. I’m so grateful for her response: “I want you to be wherever you’ll feel safe.” You guys she was the best. And it just got better from there.

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{checked into the hospital}

The worst contractions of Hudson’s birth were by far the 5 or 6 that I had in the waiting room while they checked us in. Totally our fault for not pre-registering. And thankfully they were fine having Landon answer all the questions and provide our information. Taking each one at a time I stared at a spot on the wall or floor, feeling thankful that we were at least at the hospital knowing that these contractions weren’t going to phase out like the previous three nights that week. As they wrapped up the paperwork and I watched the nurse come around to let us in, tears fell that I didn’t try to stop. It felt so good to let some of those fearful emotions go with each tear — the fear of not having help from my doula in time, the fear of having the birth go too quickly leaving me feeling out of control, the fear of not being able to do this; I was doing this.

Gloria, our doula, arrived just minutes after I was pulled into the side room with two nurses to be checked for progress. “Kyra, you’re doing awesome!” she greeted me with the warmest smile, and I believed her.  I was doing awesome. Within minutes I was walking down to the room where we’d stay for the birth and recovery process. I was dilated to a 7 and most definitely, in labor. In the comfort of my own v-neck tee, boy shorts and socks I labored with the help of Gloria and Landon, bringing little Hudson closer and closer to greeting the world.

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Going into, or rather anticipating a natural birth, I knew that positive words really resonated me. So that’s what I expected Gloria’s role to be — to help remind me of my goals, to let me know that I WAS doing this and doing it well when I thought I wasn’t or couldn’t any more. I had no idea just how much I would physically rely on her. My need for her help was as primal as it gets — I could not have gotten through each of those contractions from a 7 to a 10 without her. It was a powerful but simple need. So I sat on the edge of the bed, closing my eyes and going inward as each rush began — Gloria pushing firmly on my knees and Landon pushing on my lower back. I breathed, then later moaned through each one. When I had things under control my breathing was steady and my voice was low. If one intimidated or scared me there was an audible change in my voice, hearing it rise in pitch. She was right there giving me a breath or sound to imitate — a yoga “ohm” for example, and we would go back and forth, me trying to relax and coax my voice and fears down to her deepness till we were in sync and the contraction had ended.

All the while Landon was there, and his physical proximity was one of the most spiritual changes between my two birth’s. For this birth I was able to take the lead, showing what I needed, and he was able to support me. With Paityn he was just as involved, helping hold up my legs that had no control or feeling due to the epidural and helping coach me through pushing her into the world. This time everything felt simpler in the most beautiful way. His head resting against my upper back as he applied pressure to my lower back is a feeling I hope I can always recall. And if not I wish I could bottle that emotion up, because I fell in love with him so many times over in those moments, but didn’t realize it till a few days later.

{pushing}

Still in my t-shirt bra and socks, just how I wanted, I began to feel the involuntary need to push at some point after 6am, after checking into the hospital a bit before 4am. Within minutes, after being cleared to follow the lead from my body (and after my water accidentally breaking all over my doula) I started the second phase of labor. Similar to the contractions before, once each was over it was over I was able to open my eyes and take in my surroundings. Working with my body I pushed with each rush, resting in between. But at some point early on with pushing I realized how fearful I’d become again. As I rested between two more contractions I layed back on the pillows that were propping me up and thought back to Paityn’s birth when it came down to buckling down and pushing that little girl into the world or being wheeled off for a C-section. I told myself that I needed to find that place again. With the next contraction I grabbed my legs after being scared to do so before, and lowered my chin.

A few minutes before 7am, the energy in the room became chaotic. My eyes still closed through each contraction, focusing inward and willing the child into the world, the music disappeared and more staff came into the room. Landon’s face who had been right next to mine, cheek to cheek through the pushing was now facing me telling me that I needed to do this. That Hudson was stuck and that we needed to get her out. The midwife (who was unfortunately the one that I hadn’t met yet, my appointment with her being scheduled for later that day) who had been there out of necessity up to that point in my mind became just who I needed. With eyes open now I made fearful but unwavering eye contact, doing everything that I could to lean into the contractions and push the little girl out while she helped assist with turning her shoulders. And then in the most satisfying moment ever she was out at 7:01am. Our little Utah baby.

It got a little dramatic after that, but I’m writing this story so I’d like to rewrite it a little. Because as disappointing as it was how chaotic it got as our request for delayed cord clamping was denied (as well as getting to do skin to skin right after) and my midwife rushing the placenta being expelled, the room eventually cleared till it was just Landon, Gloria and I and this little babe and all of her dark hair. All 10lbs 9oz.

IMG_1143I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to revel in that glorious post baby moment when all is right in the world and pain isn’t even close to a word in your dictionary. I wish they would’ve calmed down a bit, and not rushed the Pitocin into my IV lock and began the pressure to make a decision about taking other drugs to combat the possibility of hemorrhaging due to having a large baby. I wish I wish I wish. But it’s ok. She is here, and this is my birth story, it’s not going anywhere. I did it. We did it. She’s here.


I had gone into this birth wanting it to be a spiritual experience, and as we left the hospital as a family of four I left with the reminder that spiritual doesn’t mean that it has to be overwhelming or full of tears. That things of a spiritual nature can instead often be simple and peaceful — everything resonating with what you believe in.

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Along with that reminder, I left having been taught about trust on levels that I didn’t expect — learning to trust myself, my instincts, my body; and learning to lean and trust others.

Making 2014 Count | Year End Review

2013 was an extremely difficult year for me. I did the best I could to stay present through the good and the bad, but without goals to shoot for and guide me through the year it ended up being so much less of a year than it could have been. I can’t tell you what a night and day difference 2014 has been. I followed the lead of Kelli Murray and others with choosing a word to focus on and to make 2014 count. I chose growth, feeling the need to push myself and knowing that “doing less” definitely wasn’t what I needed this year. (But it may be what you needed.)

With the help of this list of goals I truly believe I was able to accomplish things I wouldn’t have otherwise accomplished. Resisting tanning beds completely for example was huge for me, and something that I hadn’t done for an entire consecutive year since before freshman year of High School. In 2012 and 2013 combined I honestly believe I read 2 books total. In two years. Because of my specific goal of a book a month, I read over 20 this year. And it felt so good.

Here is a quick recap of how I did with focusing on my goals and the idea of growth the past 364 days:

My personal 2014 goals
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Be more comfortable + independent with driving
Become more athletic: lifting, running and yoga
Have a gym membership/setup all year
Be knowledgable of the week’s current events and news
Purchase art supplies, sketch in the afternoon
Purchase an instrument I can love + and progress with: piano or flute?
Read a new book a month
Resist tanning beds completely
Work on Spanish speaking desires again

Cook dinner for us daily
Try a new recipe a week
Have electronic-free time with Paityn daily / Love her more
Keep a daily schedule
++No soda for the rest of the year
Prepare emotionally + physically to have another little one (:

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Create a desk workspace

Invest in an iMac and/or DSLR camera
Learn beginner Photoshop techniques and/or InDesign
Revisit NASM CPT, become certified by December
Publish 52 blogposts a year
Register personal URL + blog email

Come to know and love Christ more deeply
Finished the Book of Mormon a 2nd time
Read the New Testament
VT 100% for the next two years

And the few shared goals Landon and I accomplished ||

Get Kyra caught up with Outdoor Gear
Move into a cute new place for Landon’s new job
Start career in the outdoor industry
Earn credit scores of 740+ : the excellent range 
Never have more than $150 on a credit card (had this for a few weeks!)
Shred credit cards (and then we brought them back out again for school)

I learned that my personal goals meant more to me, than our shared goals meant to us. So we’ll have to reanalyze our shared goals and decide what we want to do for those in 2015. Part of the problem for a handful of them was that we didn’t expect to move suddenly to Utah to be students again. So the reality of our goal of saving $5,000 for a house for example, turned into going $5,000 in debt to help Landon pursue higher education.

Another problem with some of our goals was that they were too concrete: “ready + pray 365 together” “ready and study 52 talks” with the idea that they would magically become daily and weekly things. When they didn’t, we pushed the goal out of our minds instead of rethinking the goal in monthly increments with a fresh start every first of the month.

So learn from us! And be kind to yourself with your goals. Maybe 2014 didn’t go how you thought it would, but that’s ok. Take some time this week to consider why you didn’t accomplish certain goals, and then join in with me with setting a long list for 2015!landonkyra27



“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential.” M. Russell Ballard 

photos from our Growing Love Series, taken by Andrew Faulkner

Making 2014 Count: November Update

November is officially over, but oh it was a good one for our family. We saw our first snowfall then proceeded to play in the snow every Sunday since, Landon was an awesome sport with celebrating my birthday all week long and for Thanksgiving break we got to head out to Nevada to spend a few days with his family. This was also the month that I finally really started to feel like myself again with this pregnancy, which made focusing on goals for the year so much easier. Here’s how things went this month:

Invest in a DSLR camera

Towards the end of the month I finally decided on a Canon Rebel SL1 and I couldn’t be more excited to have it. I made the decision for this camera for a few reasons —

  • I have an unexplained positive bias for Canon, so I didn’t fight it.
  • The price was right. Once we have life figured out and finances in order I’d love to grab a full frame camera, but for now I can start from the beginning of learning photography and my way around a DSLR.
  • It just felt right in my hands. And I did try to fight that for awhile, thinking a T3i, T4i or T5i was the more acceptable way to go. But after looking at stats between the SL1 and her older sisters (cousins?) I realized I wouldn’t be missing out on anything by going with the smaller body.
  • Bonus that I love already but didn’t expect to : a touchscreen LCD on the back.

The plan from here is to grab a lens and get to work with practicing! After reading what other photographers prefer with lens I found the idea of sticking with prime, or fixed focal length, lenses resonating with me the most. The 50mm f/1.8 is the most painless to pick up and comes with raving reviews, despite it’s low cost. Here’s a post from a Beautiful Mess + one from Jasmine Star, about prime lenses if you wanted to read a little more.

Moving forward and looking into 2015 once I get settled in with this new camera and lens I’d love to look into taking an Ecourse or live class here in Utah about photography. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

DSLR Photography Class

Read a New Book a Month

After my frustrating experience earlier this fall with picking up books with content I didn’t want to invest time on reading I needed something light and fun to read. Though some might disagree with me on the adjectives of “light” and “fun to read” when it comes to this book, Me Before You was exactly that for me. It wasn’t moving, life changing, or even terribly though provoking. But I needed that.

Me Before You is a younger read, I’d put it in a 25 years or under audience category. It’s focused around topics that can be a trigger for some like degenerative disease and the right to death with dignity laws. Because I haven no personal experience with either I was able to curl up with a comfy blanket, relax and casually read. You might not feel the same, so I wanted to included that warning to help save you some time. Landon, for example, just couldn’t stand me sharing anything about the book. It literally made him feel sick.

Finish the Book of Mormon [a 2nd time]

This has become an especially meaningful goal as the end of the year has drawn close. The Book of Mormon is a key part of my faith and yet before this year I had only read it once cover to cover. I believe that spiritual strength and peace comes from reading scripture. So for 11 months I’ve marked in yellow every time the Father, Son or Holy Ghost has been mentioned, marked anything that could apply to my life in red, and marked notes in the margins and on Post-It notes.

I had hoped that I’d have time to read the New Testament this year as well, but I just took too long getting through some of the longer parts in the Book of Mormon, so I’ll be saving that for next year to make that a more meaningful study as well.

Become More Athletic: Lifting, Running and Yoga

When a friend is there for you for different seasons of your life, that friendship is strengthened like no other. Going through this second pregnancy with focusing on staying active has helped to make exercise feel like a constant in my life that I can always rely on. This month has taken a little adjusting for figuring out how to fit in me lifting, along with Landon running up in the mountains before or after he gets home from work (we share a car) but it has been so worth it when we make it work.

Because this pregnancy has been complication free as well I’m able to keep up with everything I was doing before I was pregnant, and trying to increase the weight on my lifts as often as possible. The only change I’ve had to make thus far is switching from the flat bench to the incline for bench pressing, and that’s just to play it safe.

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Publish 52 Blog Posts a Year

And that’s how November went as I tried to focus on my 2014 goals. I’m excited to have 30 more days in December to finish the year off and then to write a whole new long list of things to focus on in 2015!

Making 2014 Count: October Update

Happy Halloween! After a workout this morning I’ve had a relaxing Friday afternoon which has been perfect to think over how this month has gone and how I feel about the progress I’ve made with my yearly goals.

When some of my favorite blogging women from Kelli Murray to Jessica Garvin came together at the start of the year and asked their readers to choose a word to live by in 2014, I knew exactly what I needed: growth. I was happy with how my life was going, but I needed more. I had untapped energy and wanted to stretch, to be stretched and to thrive.f632aba606c08e6b2ee291b19b8edef2

This month more than ever, I feel that my efforts have been successful and that this has been such a good thing for me. I can’t imagine this year or a future year without specific goals aimed at achieving a larger idea. My marriage has been strengthened, my inner confidence has grown tenfold, things that used to occupy by time (beauty youtube videos, say what?) have been replaced by things that make my life feel meaningful.

Here are a few of my success from this month:

Being More Independent + Confident with Driving

The day that we drove to our new condo to move in, I followed behind Landon in the car with Paityn in the back seat. The sun was shining, a good song was on, and I felt like I was home for the first time in a few years. It felt good to be behind the wheel and feeling like I was somehow a more truer version of myself now that we were back in Utah.

Since then I’ve made more of an effort to offer to drive when Landon and I are together, and to be more confident offering to to go pick something up by myself. I’m known for saying how much I’d rather walk or ride a bike somewhere than drive, but I get that driving has its perks. So I keep working to be more confident behind the wheel, even on the freeway home from Salt Lake, by myself. Which was a complete success, by the way.

Read a New Book a Month

Last month I attempted to read three different books, and wasn’t able to finish a single one of them. I had found myself back in a rut of somehow choosing books about abuse or similar issues, and that wasn’t something I wanted to invest my time in. So heartbroken I closed each book, one by one, before getting to turn the final page. Which is so unsatisfying. Being in an already transitionary phase of life, I had a few days there where I wondered if I just needed to take this as a sign and move on away from my blog and even from these goals.

Looking back, it was a ridiculous thought, but I took a break from doing an August update and it was just what I needed. Now I can admit, what was I thinking when I choose books based off of the cover alone? A quick scan on Amazon reviews for books in the future probably wouldn’t hurt.

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I’ve found myself absolutely loving and excited about the three books that I mentioned in my 16 Week Update: Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May and Hypnobirth: The Mongan Method. I’ll post my full thoughts of the three and my hopes and goals for my second experience with birth once I’ve finished all three.

Become More Athletic: Lifting, Running and Yoga

I may not be at my lowest body fat percentage or level of fitness for the year, but any workout that I make the time for while pregnant feels like it counts for so much more. First trimester nausea did something magical for me: no longer am I (nearly as) concerned about my growing and changing body and suddenly I’m excited to just not be sick all the time and to have energy again.

Landon and I have kept up on our rock climbing double dates with Josh and Chelsea and they’ve quickly become my favorite. I’m not quite sure how long the harness will work with my growing belly, but I’m soaking up all the climbs we can get! I try to make time for yoga and a lifting sesh or two a few times a week and can’t wait to start running with Landon in the evenings again once his knee heals.

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Every workout that I get to do now has a greater purpose than before. It benefits the growing little one that I’m sharing my body with, it helps keep pregnancy complications and aches and pains at bay, and prepares me to have the birth experience that I want.

Invest in a DSLR camera

I have been researching and asking around about DSLR cameras the past few months and am eager to have one show up at my doorstop so that I can get started with learning my away around one! I have fallen in love with the idea of prime lenses. I have Photoshop + Photoshop actions just begging to be put to use. And I have goals and a vision of what I want my blog and social media photos to look like, and the iPhone just isn’t quite cutting it. Fingers crossed for some amazing Black Friday deals and an exciting update next month! Canon Rebel, I’ve got my eye on you.

Growth With the Blog

This goal had begun at the beginning as simply registering my URL from heykyra.wordpress.com to kyrafaulkner.com. From there, and after getting to attend the Outdoor Retailer Show I realized that I had larger goals for this space. From time to time, and when I felt like it could be successful, I contacted brands that I was passionate about and felt that we could collaborate. Those relationships have been such a source of confidence and growth for me. So towards the end of this month I sat down with a notebook and brainstormed a few new brands that I’d love to work with moving forward and how each collaboration could be successful. I may not hear back from everyone, but I really think there’s power in putting yourself out there and in being a bit more brave than you were before.

Publish 52 Blogposts a Year

Which puts me at a total of 94 posts for the year so far once this goes live! Hiatus during the first trimester and everything.

I hope your October felt like it was a major success + that tonight involves a steady supply of sugar! Feel free to check out my past updates from the year HERE. And let me know what goals you’re currently working on or crossing off your list as complete!



Making 2014 Count | August Update

I’m excited to document the significance of August for our family as we are striving to focus on growth as much as possible. This was a big month of accomplishing goals that I honestly didn’t know if they were going to happen this year. Here are a few goals we focused on or got to cross off from our list of goals for the year:

Move Into a Cute New Place 

I have had the moving bug since the year began, at least. But knowing it’d be insane to move just for moving’s sake in the same city we stayed put and waited for the right time. Which turned out to be mid August, where Landon’s new job ended up being a full-time student again. We love our new place — a condo that we’re renting, the area, and all of the fun things we’ve done since being back in Utah already. This world is a big place, so I know we’re not all supposed to feel like the same place is what we consider home. But for me, Utah has my heart. And feels a bit like heaven.

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Start Career in the Outdoor Industry (Landon)

For the past two years I’ve been married to a handsome man who works as a Social Worker with foster children and their parents. This handsome man of mine has a heart of gold but he just was not thriving in that career. What was supposed to be a year off from school before returning to focus on additional schooling in the psychology field turned into an extra year after that while he tried to discover what would be the best fit for him. Teton Sports2

I cannot emphasize enough how amazing it is to be the wife now of a man who is happy with where his career is going. This transition back to student life has come with a significant pay cut, partially due to the cut in hours to make everything fit, but we’re investing in our future at this point. And that feels so much better than having extra money in our bank account.

Love Paityn More

My relationship with my sweet toddler feels like it’s gotten just the fresh start that I needed. While the 9-5pm life had its perks, like seeing Landon more often and regularly, it made me fall into a routine that just wasn’t completely working. With a new schedule, a new place and fresh mountain air we are just thriving.

It also helps immensely that our ability to communicate and understand each other has just skyrocketed, and that feels amazing.IMG_2110

Revisit Becoming NASM CPT Certified

Since returning to Utah the land of Universities I have felt eager to return to school. But before I jump into paying tuition it only made sense to revisit the option that I had already paid for — my personal training program. Where I’ve gotten into trouble in the past is remembering that there are multiple paths that can come from being a certified trainer and that I can make the route that I’m passionate about work.

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The problem is that I have almost over a year to complete the course still, which isn’t helpful. But I hope that as I begin to dive into the textbook this time that I can start to make sense of it all, at to be certified by this December.

Publish 52 blog posts a year

PS, I’m killing it with the no diet coke goal this month.

Making 2014 Count | July Update

I can’t believe that when we wake up tomorrow it’ll be August! Here in Northern California it looks like that still means 106 outside, but still you guys, August.

I don’t know about you but I didn’t feel lit on fire about my 2014 goals this month. July is just such a sleepy, odd-numbered, middle of the year month, and I just don’t thrive in the month of July. It was a great month! But I wasn’t thriving. I got to spend a week with my family, up my workout routine, go on adventures with Landon, and a few other successes so we’re totally doing an update still.

I also wanted to take a second to share that this month is taking an interesting and special turn where it comes to our future. Landon has been all in with one path for his future career and hustling til something came together. We had complete faith that something would happen. Every disappointment was followed with a “that’s ok! we’ve got this! all learning opportunities! we’ll get the next one.”

And then early this week, Landon felt led to change his approach, and quickly. I won’t say too much more because there are a lot of details to figure our in the next few weeks but once we can share we will! But please send good vibes our way, we need the extra help. Change is good! But also a bit nerve-wracking.

On Being More Knowledgeable of Current Events

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When I came up with my goals in January I felt disappointed that I was so out of touch with current events, topics and news. In school I had a professor who felt strongly that we needed to be interesting individuals, and that included opening the newspaper in the morning and having things of worth to discuss.

Earlier this summer I had a friend post on Facebook that he had a pageant participant who needed a little brushing up on her current affairs knowledge. When a few friends suggested she signed up for the Skimm, I decided to hop on board too. Though it helps takes the stressful edge off that the traditional news has it’s a bit too cavalier for me. An example headline reads “What to Say When Picking Your Next Vacation” and the next 8 sentences will explain why North Korea is still out of the running. Let me know if there’s a similar app or site that you use and love.

On Reading a Book a Month

This month I stepped away from the book section at target and joined the social media book club on Instagram with reading: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It was this quote that convinced me to join in with reading instantly:

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough — that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing. I was afraid to walk on stage and show the audience my kitchen-table self — these people were too important, too successful, too famous. My kitchen-table self is too messy, to imperfect, too unpredictable.

Here’s the crux of the struggle: I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable.”

IMG_1485Brene Brown, with a PhD in Social Work took a research route after earning her doctorate. She draws on extensive (12+ years) research on shame, worthiness, courage, vulnerability and the path to wholehearted living. I can’t praise this book enough. I feel recharged in my belief of being vulnerable, reminded of what vulnerability is not, enlightened on types of armor or masks that we put on, and determined to be shame resilient.

To bring this home, here are common replies from participants when asked what vulnerability is to them: sharing an unpopular opinion, standing up for myself, asking for help, saying no, starting my own business, helping my 37-year-old wife with stage 4 cancer make decisions about her will, initiating sex with my spouse, hearing how much my son wants to make first chair in orchestra and encouraging him while knowing that it’s probably not going to happen, calling a friend whose child just died, signing up my mom for hospice care, the first date after my discover, saying “I love you”  first and not knowing if I’m going to be loved back, and getting pregnant after three miscarriages.

Vulnerability is so much more that owning and sharing our stories, it’s a key part of healthy living. She shares, “Do these sound like weakness? “Does showing up to be with someone in deep struggle sound like weakness? Is accepting accountability weak? Is stepping up to the plate after striking out a sign of weakness? NO. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.

So seriously, go get this book. I promise you won’t regret it.

On Eliminating All Forms of Debt

I’m excited to share that we attacked our debt in a big way this month. Between the two of us Landon and I have 3 bank credit cards that serve different purposes, and two of them had accumulated balances that were really causing us stress. We’ve been on a rollercoaster with those cards and had all three at $0.00 before we left for Alaska last summer, and then they went right back up, one tiny purchase at a time. So we have all three of those cards once again at $0.00 which just feels good. We have less that $1000 left of personal consumer debt left to pay off + less that $5000 on our car.

I’m hesitant to share this, because things may quickly change. I am very anti debt at this point, and even feel strongly about this when it comes to homes. But like I mentioned before we’re feeling led to look at another option for our future, and it’ll include debt. And that scares the heck out of me. But I’m relying on faith with this one and excited to live a life free of the burden of carrying around credit card debt.

On Sending Birthday Cards

Do phone calls + blog shout-outs count? No, no they do not. But it was my sweet sister Kelsey’s birthday yesterday and it was fun to talk to her for a few minutes last night. Kyndra’s birthday is in 5 days, I’ll see if I can get it together for hers ;)

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On Publishing 52 blog posts a year

This month was more of a month of introspection than anything, which was reflected in what I was posting. Here are my posts from the month of July:

I have jitters in my stomach just thinking about what next month’s update could possible say + where we could possibly be. But we’re going to take this journey one day at a time and see where it leads us. As my mom says after a lot of our phone calls, “never a dull moment!”

 

Making 2014 Count | June Update

I can’t believe in just a few days 2014 will be more than halfway over. June is one of my favorite months and it sure didn’t let me down this go round. I started the month focused on my blog, on ideas, getting our Growing Love Series set up, and just enjoying each day. Then about halfway through the month I realized I needed to get going on my goals. When I look at my list for the year, this month was the first time I really felt like I could do it all. What started as a beautiful list of things that in an ideal world would all get done, I felt that if I could only stick to a fraction I’d be happy. Then getting our iMac happened last month, Photoshop was added this month, and other exciting successes all surrounding the idea of fostering growth in my life.

Have a gym membership all year
The other night, laying in bed with Landon, I asked what are a few things he thought we were taking for granted? One of the things I listed was the free 6 month membership to my gym that was won earlier this spring by my sweet cousin in law. This has been such a nice break from having to budget that in, and of having half of a year taken care of.

Become more athletic: lifting, running and yoga
I’ve set fitness goals each week as a way to stay accountable. Most weeks I shoot for four 60 minute days at the gym + 2 yoga classes a week. That would be my ideal week and when my soul is the happiest. I want to work on setting myself up for success with these weekly goals by starting things off earlier in the week with a Monday or Tuesday session. Normally I start with Wednesday, which doesn’t leave much room for error.

Other ways that I thought of when setting this goal was to think like an athlete in terms of nutrition and supplementation. So slow and steadily I’ve tried to read and learn more this year of what my body needs. I can now gladly shrug off all the radio nutrition advice, listen to your diet philosophies without getting confused, and have a game plan for moving forward. I ordered Cellucor Protein to switch things up this month as well as trying out BCAAs for the first time — for mornings when I lift fasted.

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The third thing I’ve focused on with this goal is to do my best to not join in on conversations complaining about my physique. I have felt such a feeling of lightness from finding personal solutions and being able to help others where possible. Feel free to join in, stop the body bashing and love what you’re working with more.

Read a Book a Month

This month I read + fell in love with The Opposite of Loneliness, essays and stories by Marina Keegan. Marina graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 2012 and died in a car crash five days later at age 22. The book starts with a beautifully + personality fill introduction from her professor Anne Fadiman. I couldn’t get over the clearly apparent and amazing relationship between professor and student, and I found myself wishing someone knew me the way she knew Marina. Included were lists of Personal Pitfalls Marina wanted to work on with her writing, (“Too much polysyndeton. Watch it!”) memories and notes for future writers.

“Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful.”

What follows were essays in the most final version that they could find. Split up into fiction and nonfiction, I couldn’t get over her ability to write. If you find yourself with a few minutes in Barnes and Noble I’d suggest sitting down and reading any of the short stories, but “Why We Care About Whales” especially.

Prepare emotionally + physically to have another little one 
+ Give Up Diet Coke

Not to go on and on about The Opposite of Loneliness, but, just a bit more. In her essay, “Against the Grain” Marina shared her experience growing up with celiac disease and a mother who was vigilant about staying clear of the tiniest crumb as “failure to follow a gluten-free diet grossly increases one’s chance of developing thyroid cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.”

Sometime during her Junior Year of college, while searching for types of vodka that were gluten-free she instead found a study on pregnancy and the gluten-free diet. She read how gluten, even the tiniest presence, can affect an unborn celiac’s child and its ability to absorb enough nutrients. She says she read the article twice and turned down her iTunes, struck with the absolute conviction that someday when pregnant she’d be insanely careful.

I was then hit with the realization that I can do better. Some things may be easier to say at 21 while searching for a type of drink you can grab on your way out with friends, but no part of me doubts her conviction and that it was exactly what she was going to do. So in that moment I realized I needed to step it up, being in a position of preparing for a second little one. I dumped out the C4 preworkout that felt so important to try at the time and committed to cut the caffeine once and for all.

Later that night, still a little disappointed that I can’t get it together, I realized part of the problem. We live in a soda obsessed world. Rarely can I go somewhere without seeing Diet Coke somewhere. I decided, as I was falling asleep, that I’d open a restaurant called “Just Water.” Where the food would be so good we wouldn’t need soda running through our veins to love the food.

Learn beginner Photoshop techniques and/or InDesign

This is one the goals I’m the most excited about. When I set this goal in January I wanted to have higher quality photos with a specific look to them, but had no idea when we’d come up with $2000 to purchase the software. Then, remembering that my mother in law, an interior designer, was loving using the entire suite of Adobe products for $50 a month, I started to investigate what my options were.

In doing so, I found something else that was the missing piece for my story with starting with Photoshop: Photoshop Actions. “An action is a shortcut in editing your images. Each action has a different look, and after you press “play,” it will apply the look to your image. Once you’ve run the action, you can still make tweaks to the edits and create your own look from there, or you can simply save and be done!”

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So for $10 a month I now have access to Photoshop + Lightroom, and stepped into Photoshop Actions from a Beautiful Mess [just one option out of many] with their Mini Collection. I love them! Their Mini Collection comes with a $10 coupon to apply to any of their other sets, which I plan to use on their Signature Collection next.

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I mentioned photos were my love language, yes? ;)

Publish 52 blogposts a year

This month was a great month for this site. I was able to do a lot of behind the scenes work, from taking an online class with Alt Summit about working with brands, to putting the advice to good use, to creating lists of ideas and suggestions and hanging them above our workspace. Here are a few posts that happened this month:

Not mentioned or pictured above, but should be mentioned for this month: a new routine of running with Landon in the evenings, almost finishing Alma in my second time through the Book of Mormon, frustrations with debt but optimism of eliminating it all by the year’s end,  moving forward with talk of climbing Mt. Shasta together, and starting to sketch in the afternoons.

Making 2014 Count | May Update

Happy last day of May! Landon is currently climbing Mt. Shasta; he texted an hour ago that they were at 12,700 feet and that it was turning into a beautiful morning. Hows that for 8am on a Saturday! His passion for the outdoors and for adventure just makes my heart giddy. It continues to give me the confidence to go for my goals full speed ahead.

Register personal URL + blog email
Let’s start here! My site is officially kyrafaulkner.com with my contact email now being  hello@kyrafaulkner.com, and that makes my heart oh so happy.

For the past few months I became caught up on the idea that my blog needed a creative name with trendy keywords. After asking family members again and again for their opinion of what to call this blog I realized it was just like when the guy in high school asked me to be his girlfriend and I kept asking my friends what they thought. The fact that I had to ask what other people thought taught me it wasn’t what I wanted. I’ve tried to apply that rule ever since, I think of that cute guy and think “nope! Kyra go for what you heart wants.” I look forward to years of blogging without the regret of being talked into a URL I didn’t actually want.

Create a desk workspace
This also feels so good. For months I’ve been pinning workspace ideas, dreaming of having a desk setup. And then, it suddenly all started coming together once we got the iMac last month. So to IKEA we went at the beginning of this month for the desk that was finally in stock again, and five guys to celebrate. Moving forward I’d love to find clear acrylic containers for business cards + notecards, a candle or two, and the perfect prints to hang on the wall.
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Prepare emotionally + physically to have another little one
This goal meant a few different things when I set it in January. It meant, “baby number two, you’re on my mind and I’m excited to prepare to have you in our lives.” It meant seeing where I was at emotionally before planning for a pregnancy again. Was there anything that I needed to do first? It stood for the prayers that I knew would have to happen, but wasn’t ready say yet. But then God worked gently in our hearts the past two months and now this goal feels so personal and real. Now this goal stands for the little details, the chats with my midwife, and the returned focus on folic acid. My heart is bursting just writing about this all again.

Enter the temple once a month together
Check! It was beautiful, and amazing, and special. It was also our first experience with a babysitter! After going to lunch with a few friends earlier that afternoon, they encouraged me to make date nights with just Landon a thing, just as we make adventures with Paityn happen. Another goal for another month!

Publish 52 blogposts a year

This is the part where I look over what I’ve posted recently and I realize, this wasn’t such a bad month after all! :

Finished the Book of Mormon a 2nd time
I just finished Alma 44 this morning, and if I keep this up I should be able to read the New Testament this year as well no problem. Days that I start my morning are the best + go a million times better.

Become more athletic: lifting, running and yoga
I joined a running challenge this month with the beautiful Yessy Barclay @yessybuttons. The challenge was to run 100 miles in 30 days, and though I wanted to run 26 miles straight after our road trip to Utah, the fact that I hadn’t run 100 miles total the past year should’ve been a clue as to how it would go. I ended up logging 16 walks [with Paityn] + runs, but for a total of 22.3 miles. Nice to know what my base mileage is and how to step it up! That said, I’ve kept up with lifting and it’s still definitely my favorite.
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And with that, I’ll end this update there. May really was a rough month but this post was a nice way to wrap up the month and to remember that it also had significant and fun moments too! I’m looking forward to turning the calendar tomorrow to June; we have some exciting things planned!


 

Making 2014 Count | April Update

With photos of Justin Timberlake flooding my twitter + instagram feed, I’ve been notified that it’s gonna be May. Which means it’s time to check in with how I did with making progress on my every growing list of goals for the year!

Create a Wordspace // Invest In An iMac
When I created my list of goals at the beginning of the year, I added buying an iMac to the list with the intention behind it of being even more dedicated to this space. I wanted a fresh start with a computer, free to fill it up with thousands more photos, and to have the available space to get into Photoshop, InDesign and other programs. I set the goal to be honest with what my heart desired, not knowing if this one would happen.

And then last night we got to take an iMac home with us! Sadly it came at the loss of our trusty laptop and made me hashtag pictures #thisiswhywecanthavenicethings, but luckily the computer coverage on our renter’s insurance through USAA is amazing, and it covered water damage inflicted by babies. Such a relief. The desk I love, and styled here, is sold out again at our IKEA, but I can’t wait to pick it up once it’s back in stock and begin to create a beautiful workspace.
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Be A Better Driver
These posts are about honesty, right? You adore my ability to admit I’m a terrible driver, yes? Two things learned this month : when pulling up behind a car at a stoplight you should be able to see their rear tires and I need to speed the hell up when merging onto a freeway. No near accidents happened, just a stressed out husband in the passenger seat.

Becoming More Athletic

photo 3I added a fourth element to my trifecta: swimming. We have access to a glorious heated indoor pool and hadn’t used it once til last month. Then we’ve gone back, back and back again. I’ve never been a swimmer, but oh am I making progress! I’m feeling that the boost in lung capacity/strength alone will be beneficial.

In other news, we were presented an opportunity to consider running a 10K in the Bahamas as part of a charity even in the month of October! Not knowing how it’d work out for many reasons, but also not wanting my lack of ability to run 6 miles to be the culprit in the end, I’ve been adding in lunchtime runs to my normal lifting routine.

Giving Up Diet Coke

This has been a huge success so far! I’m finding that the hardest part was to once and for all make up my mind to not drink it for the rest of the year. For the most part, from there on out, it hasn’t been a struggle. When we were in San Francisco getting pizza I would’ve loved to grab a diet for our cute date. The second and only other time it felt tempting to give in was a random night in with Landon watching a movie + fresh popped popcorn. Thank goodness for this blog keeping me accountable though, otherwise I probably would’ve gone to get one then.

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Reading a Book A Month
So, I read five books this month. The Book Thief // Girl’s In White Dresses // The Round House // The Peacegiver // Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

If you’re interested in a quick summary of each, I made a separate blog post for that this month HERE

Put Together a Charitable Event i.e.: a Race
Landon’s experience with raising $5,000 with his Climb For Change earlier in February propelled us right to thinking, “what’s next?” once he finished. After some brainstorming sessions, we decided to have him pitch the idea to his boss of putting on a 5K for the Foster Children Agency he works for. When we lived in SLC Landon had thrown around the idea of putting on a race there, but it always seemed so far-fetched of an idea. I love the confidence booster we’ve found from our success together and on personal levels. Landon was given the green light to go for it, so we’ll be googling and scheming the next little bit to see what it takes to put on a 5K this summer!

With that I think I’ll end things here. This has been a full + productive month. I’ve been fortunate to begin working with two companies on my blog, which feels so amazing. They are two that I love personally, and I think you will too. Most of all, I don’t think I would’ve found the courage to pitch ideas to them, without having made these goals and stuck to them. So with that let me know how you’re doing with making this year count or what you want to focus on next month!


 

So long, Diet Coke!

it’s been real.

At the start of the year Landon and I came up with a decent size list of goals to focus on this year as individuals and as a couple. I’ve blogged about my progress each month, but there’s been one goal that I didn’t add to the list in January that’s been tugging at my heart. I needed to stop drinking diet coke.
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I tried to satisfy those gut feelings by setting smaller goals —  saying “oh, I’ll have one on Wednesdays”, the worst day of the week, or “I’ll see how long I can go without.” Turns out without a larger goal to shoot for, the answer was 12 days.

This sounds like I’m admitting to be an alcoholic, it’s only diet coke, right? But for whatever reason, for me, it’s not just diet coke.

As someone who is sensitive to caffeine I can’t drink it past early afternoon, otherwise I’ll be up at midnight unable to fall asleep, jittery, googling if caffeine can cause insomnia. That specific night, which I ended up being up til past 2am trying to pass out, I read a list of side effect from caffeine and was surprised to see depression on the list. After a few walks around the house, bites of peanut butter, and counting to a million, I finally fell asleep. But the past few months since, I started to piece together that the days I drank diet coke were different than the days that I didn’t.

As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, black or green tea, or anything harder, perhaps it’s obvious that I’m this sensitive. My body isn’t used to even the small amounts of caffeine. Having no plans to start drinking coffee or green tea however, I needed to get to the bottom of how I was feeling and what changes to make to feel like my best self.

I have no idea whether its the caffeine, the artificial sweeteners in that glorious bubbly bottle as this article looked at, or another component, but on days that I drink diet coke I am gloomy by early evening. If Landon goes cycling after he gets home from work, leaving me with Paityn a bit longer than normal, I just can’t cope with her toddler ways like normal. I can count on a hand the number of times that I’ve felt angry with her — they were on days that I had that bubbly brown beverage running through me.

Again this sounds like a Christian version of confessions of an alcoholic, does it not?. But I have to look at the big picture. Option 1: I continue drinking diet coke, and deal with the side effects of restlessness at night, feelings of depression that I never have otherwise and feelings of struggling to be a patient mom or Option 2: I just don’t drink diet coke.IMG_6472

Wanting to pay more attention to these little feelings, knowing that in time they add to mean more in the end, I’m stopping. As of yesterday, I will be soda free for the rest of year! Yes this means you too, baja blast. I’ll be testing out more natural options, anything from this organic juice to learning to love Vita Coco for the taste, not just the packaging.

The hardest part for me will be my emotional attachment to having something to drink on date/cute nights with Landon or when we’re out to eat. Let it be known that I in no way expect this to help me drop even a pound. I saw nothing but positive side effect from diet soda physically. But my emotional health is just as important to me, so I’m saying “so long, diet coke! it’s been real.”

I set a large goal, because that’s what I need. When I set those smaller goals, my heart wasn’t committed, and I was right back at it within no time. This is official, I’ve blogged about it + had bleach tray impressions done yesterday as part of the goal. Because if whiter teeth + a bright mental health are on one side, why would I choose diet coke?


 

Making 2014 Count | March Update!

With another month checked off, I wanted to check in and share how things went in March with sticking with my goals and focusing on the idea of growth. Spring has made is way to Northern California, and I am loving it! Though we didn’t expect to still live here, this season makes me think of last year and my time as a brand new mom and all those days that I spent with Paityn here at the house, with the windows open.

It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come as a little family in the past year. In addition to relationship growth, I had the chance to look back over goals + notes I wrote last fall and winter. It feels so good to be able to visualize the place that I was in last fall and winter and to recognize where I am now. I posted recently that we’re doing better than we think, with an athletic focus, but wanted to expand that to all areas of life.

I look forward to the next few season changes where I’ll get to check in and share how I’m doing even better with making the most of each day, and I know each month will get me there.

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Eliminating Any + All  Debt |

We had a breakthrough this month that I’m excited to share. You may remember that last month we cut out 2/3 of the debt on our credit cards. With that last 1/3 to attack, I watched the amount slowly increase again for things that felt necessary, at the time. Wanting to make this time different than before, I realized we needed to do something that we hadn’t done before.

So we cut up our credit cards*

This took a bit of an adjustment the first few days, but it felt refreshing to know that even if we ran out of money, that was the worst that would happen. Because to me at this point, debt is worse than being broke. Another goal that we have for 2014 is to get to a point where we have $0 on all credit cards again, and to build up a savings for our first home. With credit cards literally cut into tiny little bits, it will be difficult to not be successful with these two goals. * We are keeping all the accounts open, to help with our third goal, of getting both credit scores to the excellent range

On Creating 52 Blogposts This Year |

I haven’t addressed this goal yet so I wanted to include it this month. I chose 52 as a numerical goal to shoot for, but the focus behind this goal is blogging consistency. I made somewhat of change when I transferred from Blogspot to WordPress, of going from a primarily pregnancy + mom blog to more of a lifestyle blog. Things that you can count on seeing consistently here are too many pictures of Paityn, my love for Landon, adventures in California and the West Coast, progress with athletic + personal goals, and things I’m loving at the moment.

So far I’ve published 27 posts for the year! I’ve found that most of all blogging begets blogging, and taking lots of pictures always helps. It also doesn’t hurt that I finally love the layout of my site, which makes me excited to add new posts often. Looking forward I’d like to eliminate the .wordpress from my URL, create a custom header, and dial in on the design of the overall look a bit more.

On Reading a Book a Month |

I finally realize what type of books I love, and then I go and mess it all up. While Landon + Andrew were out there climbing two peaks in two days last month I made friends with a stranger in the Target book isle, who gave me a few book recommendations. She was a retired social worker living in the Bay area so she first suggested Orphan Train, explaining that it was right up her alley. The cover didn’t sell me, but I took her up on her IMG_4188next suggestion, based on the emotion in her voice alone, Calling Me Home.

The book is an exploration of the relationship between an eighty-nine-year-old woman Isabelle McAllister and her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. Simultaneously, as Dorrie spends significant time with Miss Isabelle, we get to observe the senior of the two relive a tender and beautiful relationship some 79 years ago. It explores race, relationships, and friendship. Though not my typical book, I shut it at the end was a renewed love for love.

The second book I picked up that day was Tell the Wolves I’m Home, after seeing it pop up on Instagram and blogs the past few months. Unfortunately it was 1. slow and 2. took a weird young girl in love with her uncle who has AIDS which he got from his lover who tries to befriend the young girl twist, and I just didn’t know if I wanted to finish that journey with them.

Continue reading “Making 2014 Count | March Update!”

You’re Doing Better Than You Think

Earlier this week Landon and I headed to the local track with the goal of seeing if I could run 3 miles. I checked my Nike Running app before starting and realized I hadn’t hit the pavement or turf since before Thanksgiving. The last time I had come close to 3 miles was September 28 last year, and based off of the emoji I chose that day, it was a miserable 32 minutes and 28 seconds.

So there I was ready to bust out 3 miles with no real evidence to back up that I could do it. I popped in my headphones, turned on my gym playlist and ran 4 laps, a mile, easy. This in of itself was fantastic. As I continued, lap after lap, waving to my sweet daughter who was running around with Landon at the same spot each time I felt overwhelmed with joy. Halfway through I slowed down to swoop in to raise her up in the air and give her a big hug. I had Landon snap a few pictures, took out my headphones and kept going music free.

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I started to pay attention to the other women on the track. I watched their bodies, their posture, their speed, their determination and their frustration. I passed a new mom with a young infant in a stroller, two women, and a few others there by their selves. Never before had I been the most “athletic” on a track. I’m always the one panting, dying, and all together struggling the most.

That’s when I realized, aside from that one lap, this was easy. For once running 3 miles was nothing. I was barely breaking a sweat. This realization made my heart go out to these other women, I wanted to tell them all “Just keep going! Keep this up, I promise it gets better.”

Yesterday I had a session with a trainer as a part of a package I recently won back at my old gym. [6 months free, heck yes!] Things started off great. It felt good to be accountable to someone and to share how determined and focused I’d been the past year. But by the end, as we were wrapping up the analysis he pointed out weaknesses that I hadn’t known I’d had. My balance, stability and flexibility were lacking, and some of the exercises we did together were new and difficult.

On one hand I felt proud — of the 30 push ups I did, not on my knees, and my body composition numbers. ButIMG_5085 on the other hand, my confidence and pride had been hurt. I was just 3 weeks into my new workout program and this new knowledge threw me off. I wanted to go back in and show him how great I was with weights, to show him how much progress I’ve made.

With a good nights rest, and fresh perspective as I write this post, I too need to listen to my own advice. “Just keep going. Keep this up, I promise it gets better.” I don’t need to let this new knowledge that I can’t stand up from sitting with one leg elevated rock my boat. I can be grateful for it, work to incorporate more stretching and different exercises into my day, and move forward.

I fear all too often our determination and motivation can be shattered in as little as a day. I wanted to share my experience to remind you that you are doing better than you think you are. Whatever it is that you’re going for, don’t give up. Keep pounding the pavement, polyurethane sports turf, or sandy beach. Put in the time, and don’t hesitate to pat yourself on the back as you move along. You’re doing better than you think.

Making 2014 Count | February Update

I love February’s — they’re the first even numbered month of each year, host my second favorite holiday, and ends what I consider the holiday season of Halloween through Valentine’s day, which means Springtime can begin. If autumn is the year’s last loveliest smile, then I think February is when it returns.

This month was good to us. Here’s a look at February from the perspective of focusing on growth + making this year more meaningful.

On Reading a Book a Month |

This goal has surprised me the most so far. It’s like my soul was in a two year drought and now never wants to leave a source of water. I haven’t felt consumed by a need to read nonstop by any means, but once I finish a book, I feel ready for a new one, the next minute.

This month I picked up and finished Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, by Mindy Kaling and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Both won’t be making any of my favorite books list but they were good. Mindy’s was funny, simple, and lots of short unconnected topics that related to her life. I wish it would’ve read more like a funny chronology of her life. And Mr. Penumbra’s was like the Davinci Code for techies. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I fell for the fun cover in a little bookstore on a rainy day in Nevada City.

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Cooking More |
The first and only meal I’d ever made as a married women was pizza back in Chico, almost two years ago. And then this Monday, cue dramatic drum roll, I made chicken, quinoa + artichokes. Artichokes! I mean really. Does life get better? No, no it does not. I’m tapping into a little sense of accomplishment and ability to create things that has been also been dormant.

On Eliminating All Debt |

Oh my gosh. This has been so important to Landon and I, and at times it felt like we’d never be able to make a dent in what we’d accrued. The few weeks before we left for Alaska last June we had all three credit cards at $0.00, which felt amazing. And then the night before, the National Academy of Sports Medicine had that amazing deal on their Personal Training certification that we jumped on. And just like that we had $1500 of debt again. And when life got difficult this summer and fall, finances were not a priority or even on our radar. So slowly, one sweet treat after another, it crept up.

I am happy to report that this month we were able to cut out two-thirds of our debt! There is such a freedom that comes when you shed the weight of debt. We were fortunate to have never paid more than $3 max on interest at any given time. It’s just no fun to pay current paychecks on past purchases, that you’ve already enjoyed. I am excited to hit our goal for 2014 of eliminating all credit card debt, never having more than $150 on the cards again, and to get going on having $5K saved by December.

Finding Ways to Do More Yoga |

I really made an effort to do yoga more this month overall. First, I went with my mother-in-law to a class early Saturday morning at the beginning of February. The instructor, though new to teaching, already makes my tops five favorite instructors of all time list. Next I attended a candlelight, evening, hot yoga class, which was just as lovely as it sounds. Dimmed lights and hot yoga are a match made in heaven in my book.
“Oh I’m sweating? Couldn’t even tell.” The class had all of my favorite criteria — lavender scented incense, use of Sanskrit, focused on the breath, gentle feedback given, adjustments [so so helpful] and overall nice vibes.

Later on this month I experienced the opposite with a new to me instructor. We all want different things out of our yoga experience, so I’m not going to say she was a bad instructor, she was just the opposite of what I liked about yoga.

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Overall my heart has never been happier than to be back in a yoga studio. The studio is new, and opened by a woman who doesn’t instruct, but loves yoga and wanted to see it more readily available. Such a nice example; we can provide services even when we’re not the expert yet.

Being More Athletic |

I have made a real effort to think about eating like an athlete. See what I did there? No seriously, I feel amazing. I am officially on a streak of twelve days without Diet Coke! Back to being on team water. I haven’t noticed a physical difference, if anything I’ve gained a pound or two because of it. But emotionally I can definitely tell the difference. It feels nice to know what harms my body and to know when to walk away.

I also had a great month lifting weights most mornings, and received nice feedback with working my back. I’ve sat down at the lat pulldown machine a day a week for the past year and have always wondered if I was doing it completely right. I’d try to focus/engage my back as a whole for each set, do 3 sets then move on. A trainer helped walk me through engaging the lats and not relying on the arms and oof — I can feel the difference. So good.

I’m making a few changes in my training routine for March and couldn’t be more excited. Can’t wait to report on how things go!

Loving Paityn More |

This month has been so good I could probably go on for awhile more, but I’ll end with this goal. Landon and I devoted an entire weeks worth of goals for Paityn mid February, which helped focus my priorities a lot that week and moving forward. We had written down little reminders — brushing her teeth twice a day, baths every other day, time with her with our phones down, etc.

I wish I could pinpoint what I need to do to get to the point that I’d like to be as a stay at home mom with Paityn. The only way I can describe it for now it there’s an emotional distance between us that I’d like to break down. It’s obviously on my end, since she’s such a little babe, but I couldn’t tell you why it’s there. Is it because of selfishness and my desire to do what I want during the day? Do I just need more time? Will we be better buddies once she’s talking and a little older? Or are we doing just fine, I just need to cut myself a little slack?

IMG_4122I honestly don’t know, but trust that I’ll figure it out. Here’s where I’m at though — I see mom’s out and about, and how they interact with their little one. I can compare and see, yes, I love Pait just as much as the next mom. But when the other moms go home and spend all day with their babe, I don’t know what normal is. Can you picture this divide?

So this is where I’m at. Trying to picture what life with Paityn is like at our ideal state, and then working to get there. I feel like I’ve definitely made progress with doing the little things to help her, and that helps increase my capacity to love her.

Alright, so that’s been my month of February! Our goals for the year are hung, and we’re making steady progress!

Getting Fresh In the Kitchen | pt 1

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I am beyond optimistic about my abilities in the kitchen.

While some women feel overwhelmed and guilty when they go on Pinterest, I on the other hand have no doubt I’m able to do it, make it and have it all. Optimism runs through me. But when it comes down to it, despite all my best efforts, I have cooking anxiety.

For part 1 of my Fresh Kitchen series, I’m going back to the bare bones of clean eating. Where I’ve gone wrong in my optimistic/gung-ho pinterest approach is, well, just that. I’m sure all those pictures I pin are straightforward enough, but I need to lay a solid foundation first.

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The Very Beginning

— Clean out the fridge. Use things up, toss what needs to be tossed, scrub it clean for good measure. You’ll feel better already.
— Do a main grocery shopping trip once a week. This + having a good shopping list written out while shopping are the two keys to success over at our home. When we only grab groceries for two days out, or rush off to the store without a plan, you can bet we’ll be eating out a lot more than normal.
— Log nutrition on MyFitnessPal and start to notice trends with your daily ratio of carbs: fats: protein + other nutrition percentages. I won’t try to analyze the data too much. I’ll save that for a little down the road when I’m ready to really tweak our diet for optimum vascularity. Because I’m all about that.

Things to Master

— Commit to saying adios to caffeine [bye diet coke] + dairy
— Eat multiple dinners in a row at home, prepared by me
— Learn my way around the chicken breast. This article on thekitchn.com/ looks like a good place to start, but I’d nix the butter.
+ Perfect the art of homemade pancakes; ideally protein pancakes

Weekly Shopping List
— based off of what Landon and I enjoy eating, + few ideas from this article on bodybuilding.com

Oatmeal, Ezekiel Bread, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Wheat Wraps                                                                                       Almonds/Nuts, Egg Whites,Black beans
Fruits | Usually — Fiji apples, bananas + two other in season options
Vegetables | Usually — broccoli, spinach, green/red peppers, avocado, tomato, seasonal squash, kale.
Chicken Breast
Popcorn kernels,  Olive Oil Spray, Sea Salt, Pepper
+ Fitness Related Nutrition | Multivitamin, Biotin, Creatine, Protein Powder, Almond Milk, Peanut Butter

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And that’s it for pt 1! This may be basic for you, so check back once I catch up to you! But I’m not moving to part 2 til I’ve mastered serving juicy chicken breasts every time. These are necessary skills in life guys. I’m planning on keeping it super simple — chicken breast served with veggies + quinoa for dinner. I’ll report back in a week!

Moving forward I’ll be focusing on toddler nutrition, playing around with flavors, options for when you’re entertaining/ have guests over, and putting all those green juice recipes online to the test!

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Making 2014 Count | January Update

The end of January is near, and with Paityn’s 1st birthday happening this weekend I wanted to check in with my progress towards making 2014 count now before I get distracted with chocolate cake in her hair pictures.

This month has been nothing short of amazing. We got back from Salt Lake City two days ago, and are seeing good things continue to happen. As of today for example, Landon and Andrew hit 80% on their donations goal for their Climb For Change. I feel lucky to have someone so unjaded by life, in my life. I can see the passion he has for what he’s doing, and it makes me want to find that for myself.

Not feeling any pressure to tackle all of my ideas for this year at once, I went with whatever felt natural to start. I will say I wanted to watch the State of the Union Address tonight, instead of Parks and Rec, for points towards my idea of feeling more up to date on current news, but Paityn and Landon held the majority on that vote. Maybe I’ll watch part of it tomorrow, and Sean and Catherine’s Bachelor Wedding, if someone’s finally uploaded it.

Reading the Scriptures 365 |

I haven’t missed a day yet, which is huge for me. Granted the whole week in Utah it was all Landon and I could do to read a verse most nights before passing out, but I definitely count those little verses. Right on track for reading 365 this year.

Feeling/Being More Athletic |

After a few months away from the gym this fall, I was able to get back into lifting weights this month. I felt stupid walking Imageinto a new gym, at the beginning of the new year — feeling like they were all thinking the same thing: “here comes another New Years resolutioner.” I fought the urge to defend myself and explain that I’d been lifting weights all year and that I’d only taken 2 months off, and nicely signed all the paperwork.

By 7am that next morning, headphones in, I regretted even the few days I’d put off going to sign up. I learned a lot those couple months off of working out daily: that my new smaller weight had everything to do with my diet and not working out (seriously?) but that it had everything to do with feeling balanced during the day.

Having fully weaned from breastfeeding in early December, I jumped into feeling and being more athletic with a new tub of protein powder, creatine + glutamine. And man does it feel good to be back.

Reading a Book a Month |

Check! I am right on track to finish the last few pages of I Am Malala before the month’s end. Which my Grandma is also reading, I saw her copy with a bookmark in next to her chair when we visited, which took me back for a second. Which just goes to show that if you’re not reading it right now, you should be. It’s a little slower than my December reads, but I’ve learned more about Pakistan, the Taliban and the Swat Valley than I ever would have normally. Also, I have a renewed conviction to never take education and school for granted– especially the education I already have while longing for more.

On Cooking More |

Does acorn squash for our road trip count..?

On Being a Better Driver |

If you could have only heard my zen breathing, two hands on the wheel, as I passed by each big rig during my turn of driving out to Salt Lake. So embarrassing. But this year is about growth, and I got a little better with each one I passed. So, there is that.

In all seriousness, I’m working on offering to drive more when Landon and I go out, and love it. I blame all those years in high school of being driven around by friends and boyfriends without realizing it, for my sub-par driving skills.

and lastly for this month, Finding ways to grow with Art, Music and Spanish speaking abilities this year |

I haven’t quite figured out how to channel any of these interests into progress yet, but Landon’s dad texted me about a link a patient of his told him about — a free site to help learn Spanish. So, I should probably check that out.

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How’re you doing with your goals + vision for this year? Any tips or tricks that are working for you this month?

xx