You have to get up pretty early

You have to get up pretty early: the sun coming up at 7am as I'm headed home | Living Consciously Blog
The sun coming up at 7am as I’m heading home.

How is the part time job going, Jenny? (I teach Lagree Fitness at a local studio – it’s a form of Pilates on the Megaformer)

Welllll, let me tell you.

For the past 2 years, I have been teaching a class or two on the weekend and 2-3 morning classes during the week. It works great for me, because on the weekend the kids get some alone time with Daddy and I get some adult interaction doing something that I love! The mornings have also been nice because the kids are still asleep, and just getting up as I arrive home. Some days Daddy gets them completely ready and even takes them to preschool. You can read more about my philosophy of working out in the morning in my post about working out as a SAHM.

And for the last 2 years, morning classes have been verrry slim.

As in, 1-2 people in a class with a 10 person capacity.

And more than 50% of the time: no one.

No one was dedicated enough to their fitness routine to get up at 6am to work out.

We changed the time to 7am.

Still no one.

We have changed days all over the place: every day of the week, Tuesday/Thursdays, MWF.

Nope.

It is totally understandable that the studio finally actually cancelled morning classes altogether this week. And that, therefore, I’m not really technically “working part time” anymore. Because is working 1 hour a week even enough to call part time? Probably not.

So many times on this blog, I take the middle road. I respect all peoples’ choices even if they are different from my own. But I have had enough of the following constantly recurring conversation and I am taking a stand.

Here goes:

Stranger/casual acquaintance/current studio client: “Wow, your arms are amazing. I wish I was that strong. I would give anything to look like that. What kind of workout do you do?”

Me: “[insert explanation of Lagree fitness], I teach morning classes twice a week at 6am [or 7am]”

Stranger/acquaintance/client: “OMG I could never do that! 7am! That is waaaay too early, haha, you must be joking!”

Often there is a pause where they are waiting for me to tell them some other way of getting in shape. I have nothing else to say because, um, I just said it. Get up & DO SOMETHING.

Does no one else see the problem here?!

Intrusively remarking stranger, if you were truly interested in a radical change in your muscle mass and strength, as you say that you are, why do you put restrictions on yourself? If I told you, “Just buy this pill, drink this powder, say this magical incantation under a full moon”, would you do it? Trust me, some people would. But if I am telling you to just get up an hour earlier a few times a week? SURELY NOT, YOU MUST BE JOKING. THERE MUST BE ANOTHER WAY.

Obviously, this is a very specific type of person I am talking about here. There are plenty of us who get up at 5am or 6am to get some fitness in at the beginning of our day. There are others of us who get up that early to read, meditate, or (let’s be honest) are woken at that hour or earlier by a small human. Many other Lagree studios are completely sold out at 6am and 7am. Yoga studios often have maxed out classes at that time too (I know, because I go sometimes).

I AM talking to the people who say that getting up at 5am is impossible.

I AM talking to the people who want to see results without any sacrifice.

I AM talking to the people who aren’t willing to take the risk and therefore, unfortunately, will never see the gain.

I am sad for you. It’s just one little “no” the night before.
No, I won’t watch one more show.
No, I won’t get started on Pinterest or Facebook right now.
No, I won’t pick up that magazine.

So that you can say “yes”.
Yes, I will go prepare a healthy morning snack now.
Yes, I will set out my workout clothes.
Yes, I will register for that class.
Yes, I will go to bed now, even though it is early.

Yes, I will see a change in my energy level, strength, and stamina.

Because, you will.

#shifthappens and what happened there

 

#shifthappens ShiftCon social media conference

As I mentioned before, I spent the last weekend in Los Angeles, California with an amazing group of women (and I heard there were some men attendees, but I never directly spoke to any except Gary Hirshberg). We all have different areas of focus; real food, organic, living waste-free, toxicant avoidance, pesticide reform, fitness, wellness, or nutrition. But what we had in common is the desire to shift the paradigm in this country. You can see our social media conversations by searching the #shifthappens hashtag on your favorite social media platform (we’re everywhere!).

I learned from the speakers, discussions, and side conversations this weekend that what we need to do is ask for what we want. It’s that simple. It’s so simple that you can do it too!

We are all in different places on our journeys to live more consciously. When we learn that the things we eat, what we put on our skin, what we buy for our children contain toxins that are making us sick, we can choose to be more and more afraid, to withdraw further into fear and paranoia… OR… Or we can vote with our wallet and seek out alternatives. We can choose not to participate in this cycle of cheap chemicals.

But it doesn’t even have to be as difficult as changing brands: we shouldn’t have to stop going to Starbucks. Instead, we need to be asking Starbucks to change(I did this weekend and I got some Twitter flack for it, as did several others involved in the Starbucks #organicmilknext campaign). I heard over and over from people like Robyn O’Brien and Vani Hari that when enough consumers ask a company to make a change, they respond. Chipolte did. Kraft didSubway did. Disney did.

You might notice those are not small companies, but they changed their ingredients. Why? Not because of regulation or legislation — but due to consumer demand. Of course, we will still work on the legislative front. Right now there are GMO labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon. If you are in those states, please vote for labeling!

I, however, am not in a state that is ever likely to vote to label GMO’s. So all I can do is vote with my dollars and ask for change. I’m hoping to document a little more of both sides of my ongoing journey for conscientious change in the next few months, so stick with me!

I’d like to close this post with the trailer for a movie that ShiftCon founder has been working on. I will keep you posted on places you can see this film when it begins showing!

“A New Resistance” Teaser Trailer from Unacceptable Levels on Vimeo.

#ShiftHappens: Going to ShiftCon 2014 this week!

ShiftCon Media Conference 2014 #ShiftHappens

I am beyond excited to be traveling to LA at the end of this week to finally meet so many of my green/holistic/real food blogger friends in real life at the first annual ShiftCon Media conference!! Here’s a quick summary of what the conference is about:

ShiftCon was born out of the idea that together we can create a profound impact on the world around us. We can literally shift how we eat, raise our families and our impact on the environment. That shift has begun, and now it’s time to come together and leverage our collective influence to accelerate that shift. ShiftCon was created to give wellness and eco-friendly bloggers a place to network, share ideas, learn from experts, empower one another and organize their efforts into activism. This is a one-of-a-kind conference bringing together some amazing people with amazing talents and passions. Shift happens, be part of it.

It’s like Leah read my mind when she organized this conference! The agenda pretty much encompasses everything involved in my blogging journey to live consciously. THIS is why I blog, because we have to shift the paradigm. And better yet, at the conference the food will all be organic, GMO-free, and as conscientious as possible. I’ve been speaking to several other attendees and we are pretty sure we can continue to eat grain-free, dairy-free and sugar-free even while at the conference! You know that I have loved my annual giant blogging conference, but there is NO WAY I could have maintained that kind of food purity at that event since I am currently on my liver detox.

At other blogging conferences, I’ve spent half my time in the Expo hall talking to vendors about why they weren’t more environmentally responsible, why they used toxic chemicals, and whether their products contained GMO’s. It will be totally amazing to go to an Expo hall and not be on the defensive!

You can follow me on my journey! I will be live-tweeting from as many of the sessions as I can (follow me on Twitter) and documenting all my amazing blogger friends meetups on Instagram. During the month of October, my Instagram yoga challenge will be #LetsGetFlexy, so be sure to look for yoga poses at the conference — maybe I’ll even incorporate some yogi friends (acro, anyone?)!

There will be some “controversial” speakers like the internet-viral blogger Vani, aka Food Babe. You have to follow me to hear what she says to a group of similarly-minded bloggers!

Feel free to tweet me, leave comments on my Facebook Page, or comment on my Instagram photos with things you’d like me to find out or ask the collective green/holistic/real food bloggers that I know and those that I meet!

DIY Clay Diffuser Necklaces

Last night I had a get-together at my house with a bunch of fun ladies to make DIY clay diffuser necklaces for our essential oils! This is one of the easiest crafts, ever — and you know that I am NOT a very DIY-type person. Also not a jewelry person. But ever since I made my first diffuser necklaces a few months ago, I have rarely taken them off. Here are the original two:
Heart Clay Diffuser Necklace | Conscientious Confusion

OM Clay Diffuser Necklace | Conscientious Confusion

The heart is actually my daughter’s two fingerprints, inspiration taken from this post. The lower one is the Sanskrit “OM”. The string used on these and the ones we made at the party last night are hemp.

Everyone making clay diffuser necklaces! | Conscientious Confusion
Everyone making clay diffuser necklaces!

For anyone who might be interested in making these easy diffuser necklaces themselves, here’s how I did it.

First, I bought some very basic oven-back clay (affiliate link) at the craft store.

Sculpey Clay

 

A word about the clay: you can get a little more “natural” by purchasing the standard reddish-orange colored oven-bake clay, but if you want to make it “pretty”, you’ll have to go with the dyed stuff. Painting the clay after baking will not work with essential oils. I am not too concerned about the dye used in the clay, since the dye is sealed in when the clay is baked.  As mentioned, I have worn my necklaces nearly nonstop for about 2 months now and so far there has been no color transfer of the dyed clay, despite the pendant being covered in oils multiple times every day. For me, the toxicity level here seems very low. Please feel free to make your own call on that. I love that the colored clays also come in metallic finishes. I think those were some of my favorite finished pieces!

Next: Getting creative

This is where Pinterest came in, for me, because I am NOT a creative person. I spent a little time over the course of a few weeks creating a Clay Diffuser Necklace Inspiration Pinterest board.

Follow Jenny’s board Clay Diffuser Necklace inspiration on Pinterest.

We kept my iPad open on the table and passed it around to look at pictures and get ideas.

One of the best ideas was pressing old jewelry and interesting buttons into the clay! If you are worried about the jewelry sticking to the clay and distorting the shape, sprinkle some baby powder onto the jewelry and/or the clay itself. Several people sprinkled the clay with baby powder directly and it did not change the color of the clay.

Don’t forget to punch a hole somewhere for the string!

Finally, bake the clay in the oven. I did remove the buttons from several of the pendants so they wouldn’t melt, then we glued them back on after baking. If you are wondering whether you can bake sequins safely, the answer to that is: YES.

I wish I had remembered to take a picture of EVERY necklace, but these are some of our faves that I did remember to take pictures of:

DIY clay diffuser necklace for essential oils | Conscientious Confusion

DIY clay diffuser necklace for essential oils | Conscientious Confusion

DIY clay diffuser necklace for essential oils | Conscientious Confusion

DIY clay diffuser necklace for essential oils | Conscientious Confusion

DIY clay diffuser necklace for essential oils | Conscientious Confusion

How to use the necklace: you probably want to wait until the clay is completely cooled before adding the first oil. Just drop your favorite oil (or the one you need the most right now!) onto the surface of the clay and rub it in a little. The first few times you put oil onto your necklace, it will mostly sit on top. The more you use the necklace, the faster it absorbs oil and the longer the scent of the oil will last. I do recommend keeping the necklace away from direct contact with clothing fabric for a little while after adding the oil, to make sure it doesn’t transfer to clothing. I usually shorten my necklaces manually by tying the hemp string at different lengths depending on the neckline of my top.

Now you can enjoy your essential oils anywhere!

IG post: Showing skin

I’m experimenting with something for the next week or so. I notice that I haven’t been posting to my blog as often as I should, but  I post what amounts to mini blog posts on Instagram regularly. I can’t seem to find a way to automate the transfer of those posts into WordPress, but for now I’d like to try simultaneously posting the more thoughtful posts here.

~~~

Original IG post text:

Side Plank #independencearmy – sorry for the amount of skin in this pic, didn’t have clients for my 6am so I did some flow of my own at home & these were the clothes I had on, couldn’t grab more without waking the rest of the family. Great way to start the day!

Adding:

First, let me say that I got nothing but positive encouragement from my followers on Instagram. Which is why I love IG, it’s such a positive place. Some of these friends I only know from Instagram! It’s like Twitter used to be.*sadface* My followers on IG are a) largely fitness buffs like myself, primarily interested in the poses and photography rather than oogling, and b) female. I have very few male followers and only allow those whom I trust to be professional.

But let me back up and provide context, in case you have been living in a hole each Spring when the blog posts about modesty re-circulate. The most popular post this year was this post from a woman asking other women to help her protect her marriage by not posting pictures of themselves baring skin.

I saw a lot of criticism of that post regarding the writer’s marriage, and I am going to completely disregard that as none of our business. I understand her intent, and as a highly conscientious person I seriously consider her legitimate feelings.

Once we know that someone is offended or bothered by something, we are responsible for what we do with that knowledge. To act upon our knowledge or ignore it is a choice.

Here is an example of what I mean.

At the beginning of this swimming season, I owned one swimsuit. A two-piece with full coverage of top and bottom that I wore before kids and through 2 pregnancies. I was planning on wearing it for another year when I participated in a discussion with very close friends about their comfort levels wearing bikinis at our neighborhood pool, some in regards to appropriate modesty front of the husbands. Because this is our first year to join the neighborhood pool and be around my friends’ husbands at a pool, I was not sure what to do. I had just purchased a second swimsuit so that I would be able to cycle between the two if one was in the wash. They were both two pieces! Both full coverage of chest and rear end, but definitely two pieces. Were they modest enough?

I choose to care about my friends’ comfort levels, so once they have shared their concerns, I am responsible for my choices in light of this knowledge.

What I am not responsible for is interpreting the reactions of those who have not shared their concerns with me.

Another example: My favorite tongue-in-cheek response to the modesty post this year was  this one: When Suits Become a Stumbling Block. The intent of that parody was to point out that it is nearly impossible for the person wearing the clothing to pinpoint whether certain clothing or behaviors would make someone else “think inappropriate thoughts”. And how ridiculous it would be to ask everyone else to stop doing anything that makes them attractive in any way.

While I am happy to honor the concerns of my friends who tell me what makes them uncomfortable, I am not responsible for determining all the nuances of every individual’s comfort level, as the satirical post illustrates.

So this is what I did: I went out and bought swim shorts for one suit and a tankini top for the other. It was the cheapest thing to do, and I hope it increased the modesty of them both. I did this because I love and respect my friends who were not OK with their husbands seeing women in a standard bikini. I still wear the non-tankini and non-shorts pieces in my backyard with the kids and my husband.

In light of such responsibility, which has it’s limitations within the knowledge we possess, one more thing I want to address about that modesty post (and comments that I occasionally get from other women/clients): it’s not ok to say that you would dress more scantily if only you looked a certain way.

I want to paste some excerpts of the comments I got on my IG post:

Don’t apologize! If I had your body I would walk around in my swimsuit. Everywhere.

Gorgeous bod!! If I looked like that, I would wear that little all of the time!!

I’d grocery shop in that if I looked like you!

If you re-read the modesty post, you will also find this line in her post:

If I was skinny with rock-hard abs and legs from here to Mexico, I’d want to take lots of pictures of myself. Mostly naked. I would want to post them with a nice filter on Instagram, and share them with whoever might see.

Here’s the catch, lady: you just told everyone else they shouldn’t. Which means you don’t get to, either

You couldn’t because of people like you, posting blog posts telling people who look a certain way that they aren’t allowed to wear certain things. Putting conscientious people like me, who genuinely respect your feelings and want to do the right thing, in a very odd place when it comes to clothing.

Which begs the question: are you asking other women to cover up out of genuine concern for modesty, or out of your own body image insecurity? I’m completely respectful of other women’s legitimate requests for modesty. I can and will dress according to specific requests, if needed. But I am not responsible for protecting you from your view of yourself, which is an impossible target for me to hit. I can’t see inside your brain.

My sweet Instagram followers are not judgemental or even critical. What makes me sad is that, at the core, the phrase, “If I looked like that…” expresses dissatisfaction with the speakers’ body. I get this from my clients a lot and I want you all to know that your bodies are strong and capable. We also know that the images we see in the media are not real. I want you to stop comparing yourselves and enjoy your physical bodies!

The reality is, there are some people like the modesty post blogger who are judging someone who is fit even more harshly than they would judge someone who is less fit. The same woman who applauded this awesome lady for wearing a two piece swimsuit might write that blog post asking that we not post pictures of ourselves at the pool because we’re not overweight.

As a conscientious fit person, I’m always open to constructive feedback. And I’m sure that I have body issues of my own. But please do not confuse insecurity with impropriety. Most of all, let’s examine our motives and stop the comparisons.

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.

Get started with clean eating: Superwoman Detox Giveaway!

I get a lot of questions about how to get started eating more “cleanly”. Personally, I abide by the 80/20 rule of eating clean 80% of the time and eating not as cleanly 20% of the time or less. I don’t go overboard or eat junk during that 20%, but sometimes when I got to restaurants, for example, I don’t know exactly what oils they used to cook their food and I can’t guarantee that the produce is organic or non-GMO. I let those instances fall under the 20% of less-than-clean-eating.

However, if you are new to clean eating, you might only be eating cleanly 20% of the time and are looking for a way to get that percentage higher without your head exploding from too much information and without agonizing over what to buy at the grocery store. I have a solution for you! And you’ll be helping a friend of mine expand her health-focused and woman-owned small business at the same time.

I’m so excited to be teaming up with Kristen over at MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life and some of my favorite bloggers to give YOU the chance to reclaim your inner Superwoman (or man) and WIN a coveted spot in The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women (a $347 value!) – (affiliate link)! Read all about it here.

20140613-193016-70216683.jpg

This is NOT your average detox. The Superwoman Slim Down is a fully-supported “done-for you” 21 day 100% REAL FOOD, hunger-free program led by experienced registered nurse, certified health and wellness coach, and certified specialist in fitness nutrition, Kristen Boucher! She will teach you step-by-step how to feel better than you ever imagined in your own skin, while eating delicious, nutrient-dense, metabolism-boosting foods and (finally) making your health a priority!

Superwoman Whats Included

Included in the program:

  • Three recorded training calls with Kristen to listen to at your convenience delivered over three weeks so that you are updated each week with what to do next  ($300 value)

  • Sample Menu Plans complete with 3 meals per day & list of snacks that you can eat to keep the hunger at bay ($100 value)

  • Preparation Checklist with a list of suggested items to have in your fridge, pantry, and home to follow the plan ($100 value)

  • Recipes For Radiance Cookbook which includes over 75 delicious, whole food recipes outlined in the Menu Plan ($50 value)

  • Detailed Detox Guidebook with all the info and resources you’ll need and then some ($100 value)

  • Workbook and personal assessment guide that will serve to show you how far you’ve come once you complete the program and help you to play detective to learn if you have any food allergies or sensitivities ($50 value)

  • Cooking and Food Preparation Tips and Tools Guide ($10 value)

  • Toxin Reduction Tips and Tools Guide ($10 value)

  • Meal Planning and Shopping List Fun Sheets ($10 value)

  • A 4-Week Detox Calendar laying out every step of the program, what to, and when to do it ($10 value)

  • Email support during the cleanse ($100 value)

  • Lifetime access to all materials, including updates for future programs ($100 value)

  • Bonus #1: Private Facebook community available to you 24/7 that is moderated by Kristen to ask questions (and get answers), share your insights, challenges, and experiences, and make a few new friends along the way ($100 value)
  • Bonus #2: Exclusive 3-video “Yoga Detox” series created exclusively for the Superwoman Slim Down by Be Yoga ($100 value)

 

Check out what these former Superwomen have to say about it here.

You can purchase this program at any time using this link (affiliate link, which I’ll be placing in the right sidebar), or you can enter to win it for FREE below!

Giveaway Details

One winner will receive FREE ACCESS to The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women (a $347 value) (affiliate link).

How to enter the giveaway:

1. Sign up for the MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life email newsletter.
2. Like MIX | wellness solutions for balanced life on Facebook.
3. Use Rafflecopter (below) to log your entries and unlock bonus entries.

***Be sure to visit all the blogs responsible for this giveaway to unlock more chances to win!***

The Crunchy Moose
Good Girl Gone Green
Kula Mama
Overthrow Martha
Life Sanity
Loula Natural
Homegrown & Healthy
Refocus On Being
Happy Healthnut
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The Fine Print

The giveaway ends at midnight ET, June 30, 2014. I will announce the lucky winner on July 1, 2014. Once contacted, the lucky winner will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name and email address. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to everyone except where prohibited by law.

Book review: Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

NOTE: I was given an advance copy of the book Hannah, Delivered (affiliate link) in exchange for my honest opinion. Review and opinions below are my own.

"There's three things to learn about labor. It's work. It hurts a lot. And you can do it." - Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

When I got an email from a publisher with the subject line “Midwife Fiction”, you know that I was in! I am a bit of a natural birth junkie. I just love to hear how women learn to trust their bodies and how they discover their strength through childbirth. I actually visited my midwife just last week for my annual checkup and fell in love again with the entire practice. The old Victorian house, the cloth robe and cover, the corner of the exam room filled with toys for the kids, the comfy chairs I sat in while we chatted, with the sunlight streaming in the huge windows…So far removed from what I’ve heard about OB/GYN offices. I just love sharing the stories of my first natural birth and my second natural birth.

The mind-body connection espoused by midwifery is not so far removed from what we practice in yoga. The book that I was given a chance to read definitely delivered (if you will excuse the pun) on that reality. The book is called Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew (affiliate link) and it is about a young woman on her journey to become a midwife. She has built a safe, secure life for herself working in an administrative position at a hospital and one evening is called to assist in a birth. She accidentally ends up catching the baby and BAM! catches the midwifery bug. She will have to leave everything she knows: her job, her relationship, her state, and her security to train as a midwife, only to return to practice in a town where midwifery is only barely legal. Is that how this really happens? BAM!, just like that? To a woman who has never been a mother herself? I am not sure. I didn’t know much about birth, myself, until I read the book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy (affiliate link) almost 10 years ago. Shortly after, I also read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (affiliate link). To say those two books shook up my idea of what my body was capable of and how our society has treated women would be an understatement. Some of these same injustices, mistrust, and misinformation are touched on in Hannah, Delivered. It is plausible that activism is a response to correct a wrong. But more importantly, Hannah’s journey to midwifery is a journey that has a goal of creating what is right: assisting women in the positive aspects of birth and allowing them to be free. The book is about how Hannah delivers herself from her old ideas of what she “should” be or isn’t, and allows herself to be born into what she is meant to be. She struggles with her place in the world as well as her own spirituality and the spirituality of her parents. It’s definitely not a Christian book, as the main character remains agnostic throughout the book. But I did not feel uncomfortable with it as a Christian, either. The Christ-followers in the book were presented in a positive and loving way.

The characters in the book were believable and I found myself caring what happened to them. There was enough of a twist for me to wonder what was going to happen, but enough of a reassurance that I didn’t feel the need to skip to the end to keep from getting anxious (not that I ever do that…) . I also found the end satisfying, unlike some of our recent Book Club books. I would happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction, whether or not you are a natural birth junkie.

Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

So if you’re getting ready to build your summer book list, add Hannah, Delivered — and let me know what you think!

My Self-Care List: suggestions needed

Drinking coffee & reading

This week, I was very inspired by this post by Green Moms Collective about self-care for moms. In the post, the writer encouraged us (even if we aren’t moms!) to make a list of things that make us feel renewed and happy, and even to write down how much time each of these activities take so that we can intentionally build them into our days. While this might sound unnecessarily detailed to some people, this approach sounds perfect for me! I loooove to multitask and I constantly have a list in my head and on my iPhone of various tasks that I mentally (and physically) arrange and re-arrange according to the length of time I have available and the length of time the task requires. So I thought I’d make a quick list of things I love to do and the amount of time I could allocate for them. Hopefully this will keep me accountable for actually taking breaks during the holiday season.

  • Read: magazine (like Green Child Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, or Shape) – 30 min
  • Read: book club book – 30 min
  • Read: other peoples’ blogs – 5-30 min
  • Read: bible/bible study – 30 min
  • Take a detox bath with epsom salt/baking soda – 20 min
  • Deep breathing – 1 min to 5 min
  • Take a nap – 25 min
  • Do a yoga vinyasa – 5-10 min
  • Entire yoga workout (Ashtanga series, from online instructor, or ad lib) – 20-45 min
  • Watch a TV something – 30 min
  • Drinking tea – 5 min
  • Eating something chocolate – 2 min

Well, that’s all that I could come up with off the top of my head, and I am realizing that unfortunately most of my “happy” things require at least 20-30 minutes. Which might explain why I never seem to have time to do what I enjoy. Who has 20-30 extra minutes?! Not me!

Now accepting ideas: things to add fun to the day that take less than 5 minutes?

Contentment vs Lack of Ambition

We’re reading Sheryl Sandberg’s inspiring book Lean In for book club this month. I know, I’m late to the party since I’ve actually already heard her speak at BlogHer 2013 in July. But I wanted to wait to read the whole book until I had the opportunity to discuss it with some really smart and thoughtful ladies in my neighborhood while drinking wine. I have found this book to be extremely balanced, and not at all about how we all need to be CEO’s or how women need to kick men’s butts in the workplace.

I particularly loved how she highlights that not all of us who are not CEO’s or even full time employees at the moment have made that choice due to lack of ambition. Sometimes it is because the way we are living our life right now is just right for us at this moment. This is a yoga principle as well — being content with where you are right now and accepting both your limitations and your current accomplishments.

"Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire." - Sheryl Sandberg