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Category archive for: Inspire

Sophia Experience Palm Springs


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This past week I attended a beautiful retreat in Palm Springs where six women  gathered together to celebrate one another.  To find tools we already had within to heal past wounds SLOWLY.  To release negative self-talk and to awaken our inner Sophia.  AND, we had a ton of good old fashion girl time!

The Sophia Experience Palm Springs was just what I needed!  I reached out to Morgan a few months ago asking if she’d consider a state side retreat.  Wishing I could join her in Italy on her abroad Sophia retreats, but knowing that just wasn’t in the cards for me…I selfishly suggested Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs (remember when Geoff and I went when we found out we were pregnant with Jack?  If not, here’s the blog post).

To my excitement, Morgan agreed that Korakia would be PERFECT!  And voila! Sophia Experience Palm Springs was in the books!  I was so thrilled to know that I was getting the chance to finally meet one of my teachers in person (I’d only known about her through her online yoga videos and her teachings on Facebook).  Also, the chance to have a couple nights away with girls…in Palm Springs…AT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL B&B?

I was over the moon!

Once the day arrived I was so giddy!  Geoff took me to PS for brunch then we headed back to Korakia.  It was so sweet to have him drop me off at the retreat.  We reminisced on our time there before a couple years ago, he took pictures of me finding my room (which happened to be next door to the one he and I stayed in before), opening up my gifts from Morgan.  He had me pose outside on the patio and under the bougainvillea surrounding the suit.

Then he left…and I was alone without my family

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IMG_6012For the first time since having our son, I felt deeply saddened to be away from home.  I knew I had some heavy work to do over the next couple days at the retreat.  Even being away from them an entire week while doing my Holy Yoga training wasn’t this hard.  I had this amazing suit all to myself but soon realized I was going to have a lot of time..with myself.  Not by myself…but WITH parts of me I love and parts of me I don’t.

I remember someone telling me that sometimes what we learn from God, one on one with Him, should stay with us.  It’s not meant to be shared with the rest of the world.  It’s intimate and personal between you and Him.  I feel that way about my experience in Palm Springs.  Of course I’ll share some bits and pieces…but not all of it because it’s meant to stay there.

We did some of the best yoga I’ve ever done!  Jumping, dancing, laughing crying, we road the entire wave of emotions on our mats.  And some of us practiced in our undies and lingerie!  So freeing!  I did NOT wear a bra most of the trip! We exhaled sighs and SMILED at every part of our bodies.  We learned about the chakras and how they manifest or correlate to other parts of the body.  We soaked in the pool, ate great food together, got dressed up together, and had some EPIC girl time!  We talked about SEX and FEMININE WHOLENESS!!!  And it felt SOOOOO GOOD to be open about everything.  

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We need to be free.

I learned just how closed off I am at allowing myself freedom.  I entered the retreat feeling so confident in myself, but quickly realized just how quick I am to hide my true self.  Like I’ve been walking around with this persona of a strong confident woman, but inside I still feel like the 7 year old girl who was awkward with a short boy’s hair cut, huge ears, and freckles. The new kid in school because she moved away from her family due to divorce, with a stepdad who didn’t want to notice her.  She was a shadow in her own home.   And the attention she received was a lot of bullying or being made fun for the way she looked and dressed at school.  She felt unseen and no one wanted to hear her.

Hard pill to swallow.

Coming face to face with that girl made me realize that I’m still her…and that I need to comfort her and show her how strong she is now.  That she is important and WORTHY of being seen and HEARD.  She is beautiful.  And SMART.

SIGH……

I’m sitting on my couch writing this a day before my 5 year open heart surgery anniversary and WHAT A RIDE I’ve been on since then.  So much self-discovery.  And I’m thankful.  The Sophia Experience really couldn’t have happened at a better time.  There is a theme to every form of self-care I’ve been a part of, whether through counseling with my therapist, seeing a psychic, working with my friend through Theta healing, my church, yoga and my artwork, and now this experience with Morgan and the rest of the Sophias there.

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I need to speak.  My block is my voice.  Allowing myself to truly be ME when I speak.  To own my words.  To not be afraid to be vulnerable and own up to not knowing what something means or sharing my point of view if it conflicts with someone else.  I’ve wanted to belong for so long that I’ve become a people pleaser and my voice got tangled up in it.  I also need to allow myself to listen to compliments.  To truths said over me…and own them as truths.  VERY, very hard, more so than speaking up for myself.

It’s a slow process, and that’ ok.  But in order for me to help others love themselves right where they are, I need to do the same.

I feel more FREEDOM already.

Mommy and Me: How it gave me confidence

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I will be the first to admit that I go insane if I’m stuck in the house for more than 12 hours.  So the early days with Jack were definitely some of the hardest days, simply because being home 24/7, with the exception of a walk outside here and there and maybe a quick drive thru through Starbucks, was just how it goes with a newborn.  Also, the struggle was VERY real with breast feeding so on top of “failing” at that and not being around others made postpartum depression a reality for this new mama.

Although I do pride myself in getting out as much as I could to have coffee dates with my girlfriends who were also stay at home moms, or Geoff and I would take Jack out with us for a quick lunch, I realized what I needed was to see other moms in action with their little people!

The thought of mommy and me classes made me self conscious.  By the time we were ready to go to them (around 2-3 months) I was already back and forth between breast milk and formula, feeding Jack with a bottle…so the thought of being judged or being asked why I give my son a bottle gave me anxiety.  However, I finally took the plunge and signed up for bootcamp classes taught by my friend Bobbi.  She assured me that other moms would be there with their kids and if Jack cried she’d be more than happy to help him, feed him, whatever I needed!

I also signed up for mommy and me yoga classes.  This was the one I was most intimidated by because I knew more moms would be breast feeding their little ones.  Plus, yoga is such a huge part of my life, I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t do some poses like I used to!  The first class I was assured that it was ok to breast feed my baby if I needed.  At first I took it personally that it was assumed I breastfeed…and feeling like a failure crept up…and once Jack got hungry and I had to whip out the bottle…no one cared!

These classes gave me so much more confidence in my ability as a mother.  For the first 2 months of Jack’s life I felt like the biggest failure.  But being around other moms, actually NOT feeling judged for the way I feed my kid, and supporting one another and even helping each other out when our babies are fussy and mama just needs a breather, helped my bond with Jack grow even stronger.  Plus, I’ve made some really wonderful friendships through bootcamp and mommy and me yoga.  If you’re a new mom, or even a seasoned one, and feel you’re lacking in your mothering, check and see if you are involved with other moms?  Are you getting out of the house?  Are you sharing your struggles and victories with your friends?  Once I started getting out every day (bootcamp was MWF and yoga was T/Th) I noticed such a drastic change in how I treated myself and how much more I loved my son!  Confidence as a mom can be hard to come by with all the rules and opinions that are thrown at us daily.  But when you get the opportunity to be immersed with other moms, seeing that they too have their struggles and “failures” it makes motherhood that much more beautiful :)

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My Favorite New Mom “Treat Yo Self” Musts

There were so many things I registered for Jack on my Babies R Us and Amazon baby registries…

But I didn’t think about what I would need!!  Being a new mom can be challenging, with sleep deprivation, figuring out what your little one wants, juggling cooking, laundry, errands, not getting upset with your husband, getting used to your new body, while having the chance to maybe brush your hair and, if you’re really lucky, brush your teeth that day!

Well, two months in to motherhood, I’ve realized that new moms, whether you are a REALLY new mom and had your first baby, or are a seasoned mom of one or more kiddos, I thoroughly believe that we need to treat ourselves from time to time.  Maybe that treat is to have an all day spa day, or just a quick drive to Starbucks and back, it’s good to get out of the rut of being in the house all day long in your smelly pajamas (bonus if you DON’T have spit up on them).  Here are some of my favorite ways to “Treat Yo Self” as a new mom or just as a woman!

All of these require you to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!

1. Manicure/Pedicure…or better yet, both!

Once a month I’ve been going to get my nails done.  I’m only doing manicures at the moment because of the cooler weather we’ve been having doesn’t really allow for open toes.  From all the dish washing I’ve been doing, my hands and nails have been super chapped and dry.  It’s so nice to get out for at least an hour and have someone take care of your hands.  Having well kept nails makes me feel like I at least have something together, right?  Plus, when I tickle Jack, I won’t scratch him.

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2. Starbucks drive thru

Now this can be done with or without children.  I mostly go through the drive thru when I have Jack with me to save the hustle of unloading the car seat.  If he’s not with me (which is rare) I’ll stop in a coffee shop to grab a coffee or chai tea latte.  Once you have your caffeine fix, start driving!  Drive any where!  I like to put on one of my favorite podcasts and drive for about 30 minutes.  Sometimes I’ll drive out to the next town over, Yucaipa, and go through the Starbucks drive thru there because 1. it takes time to get there, and 2. if Jack is with me, he’ll fall asleep on the way!  Win, win!  (unless he gets the “red light blues”…crying when the car stops).  Mindless driving or intentional driving while listening to music or a good podcast can do wonders on your spirit and mindset.  There is a pretty drive in Redlands on Sunset that I like to take at times, with it’s windy roads and pretty homes.  Just enough time to regroup, recenter, and relax a bit.

3. Go on a walk.

Sometimes I’ll just put Jack in his stroller or carrier and we walk.  About 2 miles is the norm.  Like 2. above, it gives me the opportunity to clear my head, while enjoying my son.  It also makes me feel good because I’m getting some fresh vitamin D as well as a nice little workout (mom butt is a real thing friends…).

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4. Schedule one hour of YOU TIME

This can be whatever you want!  When your baby daddy gets home, or whoever will be watching your little love for an hour, just throw on a hat and some lipstick!  If you’re wearing those black leggings you’ve been in for days in a row, don’t worry, just slip on a pair of boots or flats, a large sweater and you’re good to go!  Maybe you’ll window shop in downtown for an hour, sit in a coffee shop and scroll through your phone (looking at pictures of your kid, of course).  Spontaneously drop by a friend’s house to say hello, walk around Target and leave with items you don’t need but made you feel good purchasing. Go to a park and read a book, paint, listen to music, or just sit and listen to nature.  Just be with YOU.  Meditate.

 If you know you’ll have at least an hour to yourself, the possibilities are endless!

Hope these ideas are helpful!  If you have any I’d love for you to share them with me and others in the comments section!  Have a fabulous weekend everyone!  We are going to our friends’ Photography show Saturday night.  It will be Jack’s first art viewing (besides the art we have at home…he loves the black and white tree photographs we have…maybe a little Ansel Adams??)

Rise Festival

 

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Last weekend during our Vegas “Baby”moon Geoff and I drove about 40 miles outside of Vegas to the Mojave Desert for the Rise Festival.  I had learned about the festival through one of my favorite fashion and lifestyle bloggers.  She and her husband had gone while she was pregnant last year.  Well, this year I’m pregnant during the time the Mojave Rise Festival was scheduled, making it the perfect event to celebrate this new journey we are embarking on!

Throughout my entire pregnancy I have loved the absence of anxiety!  If you’ve been around for a while, and/or know me personally, you know that I suffer from anxiety.  For some reason pregnancy really blocked any feelings of anxiety that I’ve suffered through in the past.  Unfortunately, in this third trimester, the anxiety is back and even worse than before.  I’m sure it’s due to a mix of biological and emotional factors.  I’m not afraid of going into labor and giving birth (don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking forward to the pain!).  The anxiety is mostly about loss.  A handful of people that I’ve been close with or have known through others have passed away recently.  It’s as if I’m balancing between celebrating new life and mourning those who are gone.

Saturday morning during breakfast at our favorite restaurant in Vegas, I noticed my mother had called me and text me quite a bit.  At first I was going to wait to call her back after breakfast, because I knew in my gut what she was calling about and I didn’t want to have the conversation in public.  There ended up being a lengthy waiting period that allowed me to call her during breakfast.  She asked how my morning was and without answering her question I asked “Papa passed away, huh?”  My Papa Art (my mother’s father) had been shutting down since this July.  Loss.  I did feel a rush of relief when she told me “yes”.  Relief for my grandfather, for my mom and grandmother, and for our family as a whole.  I knew that night at Rise I wouldn’t only be focusing on releasing my fears and celebrating creating a family with my love, but I would be celebrating my papa as well.

 

We arrived to the festival a little later than planned.  It took over two hours to drive 40 miles (take note of this if you decide you want to go next year!).  Also, the lines for the food trucks were over an hour long and while Geoff was waiting to purchase our dinner, I was sitting in our little spot having the worst anxiety I’ve felt in a while.  I was so upset with myself because here we were, at this beautiful place that I had been looking forward to coming to for months, and I wasn’t spending it with my husband because the line for food was too long.  I kept having braxton hicks contractions which also added to my anxiety.  Would I go into labor in the middle of the desert?!  I decided while I was waiting for Geoff to return that I would start writing on my lantern.  I wrote down a list of things I wanted to release: anxiety, fear, self-doubt, expectations.  I also wrote down a list as replacements: faith, trust, confidence, acceptance.  Once Geoff returned he wrote on his lantern and then we both wrote on a lantern together about family, marriage, friendships, and even wrote notes to my papa and his late grandparents.

Releasing the lanterns was such a beautiful and freeing experience.  It was as if we were making our own stars in the sky with over 14,000 people out in the middle of the desert.  Once we’d release our lanterns, both of us looked up into the sky to watch them float away with the rest of them.  One thing to be aware of, however, are the run-away lanterns that knock into you!  We would be in the zone, admiring the view around us, and then we’d hear “watch out!” and a lantern would be coming right at us, or someone wouldn’t even warn us while a lantern was ready to fall on our belongings.  Looking back on the videos we took, I found them both breathtaking and humorous because of the balance between the lanterns that were in the sky and the ones that were coming right at us!

When we left the festival I felt a little disappointed, to be honest.  I wanted to feel like I had released what I wrote on my lantern.  The lantern Geoff and I released together felt really good because we were celebrating life and remembering our loved ones.  But my lantern, the one that was holding on to so much of the emotions and fears I’ve been battling with for years, just didn’t feel like anything was gone when it slipped through my fingers.  The anxiety I felt while waiting by myself, trying to watch the sky while also fearing that a lantern would fall on my head or burn Geoff, felt like the complete opposite of how I should have been feeling that night.

Although the drive back into Vegas wasn’t nearly as bad as the drive there, I realized that it’s all a process.  Releasing, letting go, can’t happen in one night.  It’s gradual.  Like weight loss.  The things we hold on to, that weigh us down…there aren’t quick fixes for them.  Sure, we can find an easy way out, like suppressing how we feel, or telling ourselves everything is okay.  But I was made more aware of the reality of time heals all wounds.  I know now that I was experiencing anxiety, fear, and disappointment after the festival because those were the very things I wrote on my lantern to release!!  I was meant to feel all of those yucky feelings because they are the very things that I am needing to let go of.  I had a vision in my mind of how the night would go and when it wasn’t living up to my expectations I freaked out!  Everything I wrote down I experienced all in one night.

And that night was perfect.  Looking back on the experience, I believe it was the best for me.  My truth did rise up.  Maybe not in the form of a lantern, but in my heart I know what my truth is, what I need to work on, and that I will be able to release and replace in time.
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What are some of the things you need to let go of?  Hoping you all have had a beautiful weekend and have an even better week ahead!

Three Year Heart Anniversary

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This year, as I celebrate my heart anniversary, or the anniversary of the day I had open heart surgery back on October 1, 2012, I am humbled.

When I was in the hospital, just nights before my surgery, I was alone in my room.  Everyone had left to grab a bite to eat for dinner while I slept and rested.  The surgeon who would be performing my surgery came in to discuss possible heart valve replacement options with me.  The words that came out of his mouth were some of the most devastating I’d heard.  Maybe, if you’re a surgeon, you’re taught to steer a little on the pessimistic side of things.

I was alone.  No family to bounce this new information off on, no one else was there to soak in the news I was receiving.

“It’s very likely you won’t be able to have children.”

Tears flooded my vision, and the idea of me not being able to have children, even though I wasn’t ready at the time to even think of starting a family, clouded my thoughts.  I have no memory of the rest of our conversation, only that he left me with his assistant because I was in hysterics.

Three years later, I’m carrying our baby boy in my HEALTHY body!  Sure, I haven’t been through labor and delivery yet, but my entire experience of being pregnant has been nothing but positive, even with the minor discomforts I’ve experienced.

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My heart can handle pregnancy.  My heart valves are strong!  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared when I found out I was pregnant.  It’s normal to be scared, I know that.  But my fears were fears of whether or not I’d be safe…would my heart be able to take on the most important job of my life?

And it has, with flying colors!  I’ve had only two cardiology check-ups while being pregnant and one echo.  My heart looks beautiful, healthy, and NORMAL.

I’m writing this post a couple days before I’ll be posting it on October 1st.  Today is the actual anniversary of the evening I was told it was very unlikely I would be able to have children.  To carry a baby inside.  That my heart might not be strong enough to handle the pressure.

At 31 weeks pregnant, with our little Jack, I’ve never felt stronger and more confident in trusting what my heart is capable of.

God never gives us more than we can handle.

And I’m thankful I’ve had three more years to experience the life He has for me.

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For more information about my experience, please check out my Open Heart Surgery Page.