Reclaiming this space and the journey

Photo cred: Alex Krivec

Maybe it is being in my thirties or having two kids instead of one or the postpartum anxiety, but I’ve reached this feeling of having stalled out. That feeling where you’ve accomplished all of the really cool things in your life. That new experiences are a thing of the past. That you are to old to try something different, challenge yourself, and face down insecurities.

It is way to early in life for that!

So I am embarking on a journey to fully embrace what I started this blog for, hopefully gain a little of my swagger back (who am I kidding I never had swagger, I’d twist my ankle), and find not only peace but growth in this new season of life.

When I started the blog I was transitioning into motherhood and out of what I thought was going to be a long term career in travel. I started this blog as a way to stay accountable to my goal of keeping my eyes open to the world and  embracing exploration. We spend so much time online and shuffling from place to place we miss the adventure that lives in each day. I started this blog to eat, travel, and meet amazing people and build my own adventure.

I want to continue to grow, learn, and challenge myself. I want to finish life saying I really lived it and provide lots of amazing memories for my children. I want to try new things – things that scare me, that make me anxious, that force me to face down insecurities and unrealistic fears of failure.

I want to meet new people – yes me, a hardcore introvert with anxiety (legit I take meds for that) want to meet people. I want to connect with people following their passions and writing their own story of life. I want to be inspired by their creativity, joy, and ability to face down their own fears.

And of course I want to eat and travel to experience new flavors, see new places, and meet new people.

So, I’m reclaiming that challenge and I’m sharing the journey as a way to stay accountable, provide a journal for my kids to look back on, and, hopefully, inspire some of you to do take on a new challenge, explore a new place, or meet some new people.

Here we go!


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Lemon Muffins and Postpartum

What do lemon muffins have to do with postpartum? In this case a whole lot. Just like writing these words has everything to do with the journey forward.

You see, after finding out we were expecting our second child we knew we would be done building our family. My last pregnancy. An opportunity to enjoy the experience.

I also knew post-baby life would be different than the first go around, but I had no idea just how different. After the birth of our first child it wasn’t all rainbows and flowers, but it was nothing like the past several months.

The constant gnawing anxiety with no apparent source. Doubt and self-defeating thoughts that cloud the brain. Fake smiles and disinterest in everything that once fueled my life. At first, I chalked it up to having a second preemie and the stress of being in the NICU. Then it was the lack of sleep and returning to work full time. The constant juggling of home, work, an active five-year-old, and a not so active infant.

Taking a deep breath before going into work. Another as I arrived home. One as the rest of the family pulls into the garage . . . and on and on throughout everything that was small and mundane.

However, after months of reassuring myself that it would all pass I realized I couldn’t live like this anymore – and I don’t have to! Asking for help is never easy, but some things you just can’t do alone. So I’ve asked for help, I’m taking steps, and I’m speaking about it because I know I am not alone.

Lemon muffins

And these lemon muffins (and these words) are part of the first step to bringing a little sunshine into my life. Even though right now I must force myself to bake and write – two things that always just came naturally – I believe that with work and professional help I will get back to the lighthearted mom I know I am.

Were these muffins the answer? No, but they were a small step in the right direction. An opportunity to get back to a beloved activity and even better was seeing the smiles on my little ones faces when they got to have them for breakfast. So, for now we will enjoy our little clouds of lemony sunshine and hold each other tight.

I hope you enjoy these lemon muffins with your family and friends and find the sunshine you need in your life.

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Little one, love your body. It is the only one you get.

For years I pinched every part of my body that I could get even a pea size grasp on. Was there extra weight on my hips, my thighs, or the back of my arms? I obsessed over every bite that went into my mouth and constantly thought about the food that I wanted so bad, but refused to consume. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child at the age of twenty-eight, I was just beginning to really get comfortable with my body and food of all kinds. Fills the hole inside me

As my body went through the myriad of changes that occur when you are pregnant there was one thought that kept me on track – I will not let my eating disorder affect my child. As a recovering anorexic and exercise addict I feared that I would unconsciously pass on some of these unhealthy habits. Four years later and expecting my second child I think we have done a pretty good job of teaching our daughter healthy habits and acceptance.

So, when I recently found my four-year-old daughter sitting in the middle of her bedroom floor with her shirt lifted and pinching her belly, I had to take a step back and breath before approaching the situation. After asking her why she was doing it I was sickened to hear that she was copying an image she saw on a billboard we had passed on the way home from the grocery store.

I instantly knew what billboard she was talking about — an ad for CoolSculpting body shaping that I had often found myself evaluating. A woman shown bare skinned from the rib cage down pinching at a slight bulge on her waist. A woman who honestly looks like she is at a healthy weight and had to really work to grab that little flap of mostly skin.

DSC_2115But, how to get a four-year-old to understand we don’t judge our bodies in that way and certainly not by comparing it to other people? Would you pinch a friend like that? No, well we shouldn’t treat our own bodies that way either. Think of your body as your closest friend, someone you care about and want to keep around for a very long time.

I may not be able to change the way brands present their messages and get people to pick apart each little part of their body, but I can help my daughter accept every muscle, bump, and curve of her own and love everything that her amazing little body is capable of.

I can praise her for her accomplishments and not what she looks like. When I see an example of a body positive woman in an ad I can be sure to point it out to her. And most of all, I can love my own body and let her see that acceptance and appreciation on a daily basis as I look in the mirror, as I enjoy my workout because it makes me feel strong, and as I hold my head high and work towards the things that are important to me on a creative, professional, and personal level. I can let her know that her body will change throughout her life, but it will always be hers and what she does with it is much more important than how it compares to the artificial image on a roadside billboard.

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The Second Pregnancy Truth: Special in unexpected ways

pregnancyWhoever said the second pregnancy is easier than the first is a liar. Or they blissfully forgot the reality of having a toddler, expecting a baby, and still living daily life.

You know what to expect

At least this time around you know what to expect. Or so I thought. Really it is more like thinking you are headed back to Rome, IL, but accidently booking a trip to Rome, Italy. You got on the plane thinking you had this all figured out, but once your feet hit the ground you know you are in for a whole new journey.

Yes, I’ve had a baby before, but this time it is completely different. The body changes, stressors, and emotions don’t match up to the first experience. You never really know what to expect in pregnancy.

With the first pregnancy, working full time was no big deal. As I maneuvered career and expecting (or as much as you can expect the biggest disruption to occur in your life) I thought, “I got this”. Work during the day, relax a little at night, and spend weekends blissfully getting the nursery ready.

This go around I feel like something has to give and if I “lean in” any farther I will land flat on my face. Being pregnant the second time means working full-time while juggling things such as drop-offs and pick-ups at daycare, evening activities for a rambunctious toddler, and prepping the house for a second child.

Getting real

Like everyone else I have days where I stop and think, “I can’t do this. What was I thinking!” But, then I stop and I remember the many friends who can’t have a first, let alone a second child. I think about my niece and nephew and how they look at each other and can understand each other in a way no one else can. I think about my own siblings and how we share memories that only growing up in the same house can provide. Or how we can look at each other and instantly know what the other is thinking.

Moments like these remind you of the important things in life.

Moments like these remind you of the important things in life.

I think of the way my daughter quietly asks to touch the baby and gently places her hands on my growing belly. Or how she talks about all of the things she is going to give to her baby brother.

Maybe the bigger truth isn’t that the second one is easier – it is just different. Different like everything else in life is distinguished from the first time we did this. Different just like each child will be different and take their own journey.


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CoffeeBars: A cup of coffee in every bar

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Who hasn’t rolled out of bed on a busy day only to realize you don’t have time for breakfast or coffee? That is exactly what inspired two Northeastern University students to create a caffeinated bar to kick them into gear for an 8am class.

Three years later and their creation is keeping more than college students awake for the important stuff in life. As soon as I came across it CoffeeBars on Undiscovered Kitchen’s online artisan food shop I knew I needed to give them a try. A mother working full time with more than a few extracurricular activities – I can use a little more caffeine, especially when that inevitable afternoon slouch occurs.

And best of all they are made of all natural ingredients. Oats, nuts, dates, organic coconut, vegan chocolate chips, and fair trade coffee – 100% organic, vegan, and gluten-free. New Grounds Food is certainly well on its way to making products that “keep you healthy and energized for all of life’s adventures”.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

The bars come in three different flavors: Caramel Macchiato, Coconut Mocha, and Mocha Latte. So far we have re-energized with the Caramel Macchiato and the Coconut Mocha and enjoyed both equally. We’ll keep you posted on the Mocha Latte, but you should definitely give them a try for yourself. coffee bar

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Getting intentional about Being Me (Food Life Project Day 7)

When I first found out I was pregnant in my late 20s I feared that I would no longer be able to focus on myself and continue to figure out who I am. Like most people, I had spent my college years and early twenties just doing whatever came along, experimenting with clothes and life choices, and trying to figure out what my “life plan” was. I don’t know that I ever figured it out, but having a baby may have actually helped me figure out who I was.

If you think this is going the way of “I love being a mom and I realized that being a mother is the one thing in life I am meant to do”, you will be disappointed. I love being a mom, but it is definitely not everything that I am.

Becoming a mother forced me to get intentional. I lack time, extra money, often energy, and did I mention time!


When it comes to using my clothes to express myself I can’t just buy both the preppy and the sporty look and hope that I’ll wear them both. I can’t get all of the season’s hottest trends every few months and simply donate what I don’t use. Instead, I get focused and figure out what type of clothing makes me feel good and spend my money on great quality base pieces.

I recommend having a few special touches on hand and pick up little accessories if you feel you need to match that season’s color or style trend. Don’t buy it just because it is on sale (as I’ve been known to do).

Check out this recent post from Lindsey at Pinch of Yum for ideas on tracking your wardrobe to know what you have and build a closet full of great base pieces.


The time of lazy weekends and free evenings are gone, but my hobbies are not. Have a free hour? Instead of spending it on Facebook, be intentional about doing what you love.

For me, that is writing and trying to get my blog on track (you know, follow the professional advice I give all of my clients) or reading. So I always have a pen and small notebook with me. I also use my Evernote app to keep track of ideas, but we all know getting on the phone can lead to a black hole of laziness. So, I avoid the temptation and go old school most of the time.


Working out has been a part of my life for years, but motherhood meant I had to be flexible both physically and mentally. I had to be willing to adjust my workout schedule and intensity based on what the other demands on my time and body are.

However, it is still at the top of my list every day. If that means getting up earlier to fit in a good run before the little one is up than that is what is planned for. I’ve also found that our little one is at the age where she has started doing what we do so I work out in front of her sometimes in the evenings. She has started doing “yoga” with me and loves to jump around.

The days of two-hour unscheduled runs might be gone, but I’m still fitting it all in and have a new cheerleader on my team.

Motherhood can leave you feeling exhausted, distant from the person you use to be, and definitely frazzled, but with a little focus it could be the thing that makes you realize what is important to your being and let go of the rest.


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2016 kick-off and Food Life Project launch

2015 flew by, but it was one helluva year!

joy jar A few years ago I started keeping a JOY JAR so I could always remember the wonderful things that happen, even when life gets hectic. 2015 was a banner year:

  • Several career opportunities that kept everyone excited about what they are doing.
  • The first momma & daughter day consisting of Olivia’s first live play, pizza, a bookstore stop and lots of shopping. Many more days like this to come 🙂
  • Our little girl upgraded to a big girl bed . . . where did the time go!
  • Olivia’s 3rd birthday party was amazing with a bouncy house, delicious cake, and lots of family and friends.
  • The inaugural Sister’s Weekend took place in Chicago and our minds started dreaming of all the possibilities for years to come.
  • We explored the US a little with a trip to South Dakota – saw the “rock men”, LOTS of buffalo, and enjoyed our first family camping trip. Of course, having a potty training toddler only made it that much more interesting.
  • Went Skydiving!!!! Another thing knocked off the bucket list and possibly added to the hobby list.

Of course, the biggest event of 2015 took place in the last week. Our new niece, Naomi, joined the family!

2015 is going to be a tough year to top, but I think we can do it. To kick it off I’ve set a 365 project for myself — The Food Life Project — write daily and take at least one photo. The MBA journey will be coming to an end and new doors will be opening so it is time to get focused and live with intention. Make every second count. Tackle the projects I’ve been putting off these last two years. Explore the world and live inspired.


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Weekly randomness: Caribou nightmares, mother’s day countdown, and Chicago

Have you tried the new Microsoft age guessing site? I did. The results did NOT make my week. I took it as a sign that maybe I need to get more sleep and slow down a bit. If you want to give it a go and let me know how you measured up, I’d be happy to hear I’m not alone in either taking bad pictures or looking more mature than I am 🙂 coffee cup

As a possible sign that the lack of quality sleep is behind is my age discrepancy could be the fact that I had a nightmare about a trip to Caribou Coffee. That is right, I am dreaming about going to coffee shops. And the worst part is what made it a nightmare was the fact that someone threw away my perks card and I got anxious that I would lose all my rewards I’ve built up. I blame it on grad school, long work days, and a toddler that refuses to sleep in on the one day of the week I have the opportunity to. Don’t worry though, my perks card is safely in my wallet – PHEW!

Mother's loveThankfully, this week is the one time I think I will actually get to sleep in on Sunday. It is Mother’s Day after all. Hopefully you have something special planned for your mom or any other special caregiver in your life. If you still need an idea of a sweet gift to send check out this cute site, Make Mother’s Day Count, which figures how many Mother’s Days you probably have with your mother and then lets you put together a special montage of memories with your mom.

Besides the expectation surrounding a full day spent with my two favorite people I’ve been geeking out about an upcoming trip. I am two weeks away from the first of what will hopefully become an annual sisters getaway. We are headed to Chicago and I’ve finally started checking out dining and shopping options. I came across a list of bars to try and local shops to head to. I can’t wait for a little girls time, sleeping in, lots of fun and plenty of shopping.

What kept you busy (or awake) this week?

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Motherhood may have saved my life

This past week I had the opportunity to be interviewed by an author who is writing a book on recovery from eating disorders. In my work I’m usually the one doing the interviewing so I was a little nervous, but also very excited. I know I’ve said before that I have come a long way in the past couple of years, but this was a big reminder of that.

Fills the hole inside meOnly three short years ago I was still living a semi-conscious life. I had graduated college in 2007 weighing less than 100 pounds, constantly dizzy, suffering heart palpitations, and feeling hopeless. All of this from something that many people thought I controlled – how much I was eating. How I got to that point is a whole other story. Three years ago I had improved from this low point in my life, but I still had anxiety attacks eating around others, considered a mini tootsie roll a splurge, and didn’t believe that I could do all the things I saw others accomplishing. It was experiences like these that bind all of the people the author was speaking to.

What she was really interested in were the moments that brought each of us out of this abyss and back to life. When she was asking me questions I realized most of my answers were things that I hadn’t thought about in the past year or more. One thing that she asked me really got me thinking hard about the journey I have taken on the road to recovery – when did you realize you truly wanted to recover?

When I was going through the process it was a constant struggle and battle between what I had known for so long, and letting go of that safety net to live life the way I knew it could be lived. I would half-heartedly agree to seek treatment just long enough to get family off my back; then revert to living life full of anxiety and constant counting.

So what did make me truly want to recover? I found out I was pregnant. For once, there was no denying that my choices were directly affecting someone else. My unborn child had no way to make health and food choices for herself. My choice was her choice. That is when my choice changed. That is when I realized the safety net that was actually dragging me down wasn’t going to work anymore. It isn’t an understatement to say becoming a mother saved my life.

I never really thought I wanted to be a mother . . . as the oldest of four siblings I sort of felt I had already had children. However, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Having Olivia has helped make me the person I always wanted to be. But the most important thing about that is I know I changed myself; I don’t rely on Olivia for all of my strength. I always wanted to be the hopeful, energetic, and life loving person that I feel I am today. Now I can say I am who I am for me. And my family and friends enjoy me much more for being that person. Olivia

I am thankful that Olivia came into our lives and I’m thankful I can be a part of her life in a positive way. We can share treats and meals together. I can teach her about cooking and old family recipes. We can travel the world and taste each place with a smile on our face and nothing but love in our souls.

I hope one day Olivia will understand how important she is to my life and I pray that she never has to face the battle that I went through to get to today. And I hope to one day show her my story as part of a project that encourages others to fight their way to recovery; to show her even when it is tough you can make it through and sharing your story can make a difference.

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Remember to breath

This past week I officially added another role to my playbill – MBA student. Education has always been a passion for me and getting an advanced degree is a major life goal. So I finally jumped in the deep end and applied to a part time program.

I never expected to get accepted on a Wednesday, register on Friday, and head to orientation on Saturday. Two weeks removed from that emotional blitz and attending my first face to face class brought many doubts about handling it all and more than a few nervous butterflies.

Yet here I am still ready to take it on while still being a great mom, a good friend and wife, a productive employee, and a sane woman. So I’ve asked around to others who’ve made it happen and brought the curtain down to a standing ovation.

We are all hard at work :)

We are all hard at work 🙂

Here is what my research sample had to say:

1. Reset expectations or better yet enter into it with only the expectation of enjoyment. As they told me you will miss assignments, not get straight As, have dishes piled in the sink, and occasionally wear dirty clothes, but you will be showing up smiling and that is all that matters.

2. Turn over control. Just a few years ago my husband was toiling away over the books to get his MBA and I held down the fort. I did almost everything and did my best to keep things running. It is okay to turn over the controls and switch roles. It might even be good for our relationship as long as I remember it might not get done “my way”, but it will get done.

3. Take time for me. Sleep, pamper myself, and take mental time. This is the only way to stay sane and if I am completely burnt out by the end of the program it won’t do me any good to have my MBA.

4. Enjoy the time you have. Time with friends and family will be hard to come by so when those moments sneak in be sure you are fully present. Do something special, listen, and laugh.

5. Breath. Always important to remember 🙂

So taking those tips I am ready to face this journey and keep moving like I love to do. I know many of you mommas out there are working on degrees or other activities on top of your job and motherhood so I hope you can keep all of these ideas in mind and if you have any tidbits of your own please share them. If we support each other we can all make it through sane and better for the experience.

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