The Happiness List.

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I have been slowly working my way through Mo Gawdat’s book Solve for Happy. One of the things he says that has helped him to be happy, even in times of immense loss, is a happiness list. His list is forever growing. When I started my list last week, it had things like coffee, the post run high, my kids’ smiles. There’s one BIG thing though. There’s an experience (or 2 actually) that so fully flood my body with contentment when I think about it. It has happened twice to me but in two very different ways– The moment when I finally met my babies. With Leif, the labor was painful and long. The labor itself was not peaceful but powerful, painful, and exhausting. The emotions that reached every corner of my body when I pushed him out were absolute Heaven.

Rein, was different. My labor was peaceful, even zenful. I enjoyed the waves of contractions that rang in my hips. I enjoyed working through each one. Then, as we know, the birth took a quick turn (literally, he turned transverse) and I ended up with a traumatic cesarean. I can still hear my own voice sometimes, the screaming– “Why isn’t he crying?!?!?!?!” Yesterday, while running, I remembered this. I felt my heart racing and tears pooling in my eyes. And then I said to myself, “He’s alive. It’s okay. He’s okay.” When they placed him on my chest, the experience was much different. It was relief. It was “Oh My God, we’re both still alive…” It was “Welcome home, how was a I complete without you?”

When the world feels really dark, this is where I go. I go to those first moments of holding Leif and Rein. Their wrinkly bodies on my bare chest. My lips, between joyful cries, telling them how much I love them and kissing their heads over and over while midwives and doctors sew me back together (I needed to be sewn up after both births–just different places).

This is the feeling I pray ushers me into the afterlife when my time on earth is done. This is the sacred space where I will always feel at home.


The In Between Moments

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Motherhood is nothing like I expected it to be.  Its dirty, exhausting, and sometimes maddening.  Its the baby eating the dog food and the dog eating the baby’s poop.  Its a toddler tantrum in the middle of a parking lot.  Its eating your dinner on the toilet because you just need a few moments alone. It’s the baby trying to bite your nipple off and refusing to sleep unless your bodies are touching.  Its dog hair fluffs flying across the living room, even though you literally just mopped.  Its always having food on your shirt from the kids.  Its someone using your leg as a snot wiper.

But in between these moments, there are moments of pure gold.  Its the baby sleeping soundly while and you’re 4 year old joining you for yoga.  Its a kiss on the lips from a little boy who thinks you’re the best.  Its those kicking legs and joyful grunts your baby makes when you return to him.  Its all of these things and more.

It will probably take years off my life in stress but add even more back in love.

Sigh, Motherhood.


Turmeric Almond Pulp Crackers/Flat Bread

Easy Peasy.  You need a food processor and some parent paper to make this operation run smoothly.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup wet almond pulp (after making almond milk…mine is a bit sweet because I use dates in my almond milk)
  • 1/3 coconut oil
  • 3 TBSP ground flaxseed soaked in 1/4 cup water for about 10 minutes (chia will also work)
  • a few dashes of sea salt
  • a few dashes of turmeric powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process in food processor and then smooth onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Depending on your desired thickness, this will be different for everyone.  Places in oven for 15-20 minutes.  Checking every 5 minutes after the 10 minute mark.  You can make these softer like flat bread or crispier if you’d like more of a a cracker!

We use ours for PB sandwiches, hummus, crumbled on salad, topped with krout… the possibilities are endless.


May, Lovely May.

And now it is May. Rein is 10 months.  How did that happen?  Leif is a little man, and its wonderful and heartbreaking and wonderful again.  He makes me laugh every day… He also makes me crazy at moments.

I have some big dreams for May and for the summer.  I want change the way we do finances.  I want to be smarter about where I invest my resources– time, money, energy.  I want to spend more intentional time with my kids, my family, and my friends.  I want to grow my business in a way that is both serves the women I work with but also honors the place I’m at in this motherhood gig.

So, this month, I’ll be processing some of these things out loud (via the internet).  I hope it encourages, inspires, and maybe’s opens new areas of your heart.

Let’s start here.  These are some things I’m doing to reduce our food bill, but still eat like a freakin’ vegan boss.

I started volunteering in at Wildhare Organic Farm in March.  In exchange, I go home with local organic produce and a bunch of cardboard each week (for my garden, you know). I also get the privilege of spending Tuesday mornings with Katie, one of the owners, who is beyond lovely.  She’s genuine, understanding, and a bad ass farmer and business owner.  I have also met other volunteers and employees that have done nothing but add to my life.  My dad and sister-in-law have mostly been helping with the childcare to allow me to do this but starting this month, I’ve worked out a trade with a woman who will watch the boys for me in exchange for coaching! It feels like a good fit.

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Why Hello Fresh Organic Greens… how wonderful you’ll be in my smoothies and salads.

I’m grocery shopping less and using CASH.  I’ve tried the cash method before and always failed but I’m committing to paying for groceries and little things like coffee or outings with cash.  I’ll reserve my credit card for things like gas and any online purchases.  By online, I’m talking about ordering things like diapers and bulk gluten free oats because it saves me money (and time)…also, I’m able to get a lot of things I would typically get at Target on Amazon Prime…and I save myself like a billion dollars by not going to Target.  You know what I’m talking about, ladies.

I’m not buying extras like $4 bottles of kombucha.  I plan to start making my own or finding a trade with someone who home-brews.  I also haven’t been spending money on wine. Sad, but true.  I am trying to reserve alcohol for when we have special outings or for Sundays at my parents house (Thanks Mom and Dad for hooking that up).

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Sunday Night Dinners are the best.

I’m mixing my protein powders.  I usually use a more expensive VegaSport protein after my hard workouts.  It’s formulated to help with muscle recovery and I really notice a difference but I am choosing to not use a full scoop and I’m supplementing with their less expensive product from Costco.

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I’m also eating my smoothie out of repurposed peanut butter jars these days..

I’m learning to “get buy”.  Its Saturday and I don’t restock the kitchen until Tuesday usually… so I say, “Okay, we’re having dinner at my parents tomorrow night, so we just need food for Monday…What do we have?  We have onions, grains, beans, and purple cabbage… I can make a meal with that.  We are out of bananas but I can survive one day without bananas in my smoothie.  I’m picking up 30 pounds of them from the farm on Tuesday!”   It forces me to get a little more creative with our food and use what we’ve got instead of making a special trip to the store.

 

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I downloaded the ibotta App.  I haven’t used it yet but look forward to trying to get some rebates with it!  Have you used it?

My garden!  While I’ve only been able to harvest rhubarb and herbs so far this spring, I have kale, cabbage, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, and squash in the ground with several trays of starts slowly growing on the deck.  This will provide for a lower food bill this summer!

Waste not want not– I’m making sure to use the almond pulp from our almond milk to make crackers each week.  This makes for awesome PB sandwiches for the boys (and me).

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What do you do to lower your food bill while eating as healthy as possible?


Cucumber-Pear-Avo Delight

So, I’m ready for spring.  Like ready, now.  Today was gorgeously sunny and warm and it made me itchy for flowers and shedding of our winter skins (8 million layers of clothing we wear for the rain and cold).  As I look forward to spring, I’m also planning out my Spring Clean meal plan and other programing.  I will be heading into spring with a focus on whole raw foods.  The plan will include some cooked foods but as the temps warm up, our bodies begin to crave cooler foods.

Here is a little sneak peak of what’s to come:

Cucumber-Pear-Avo Delight (serves 1-2)

img_6817Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ripe avocado
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 pear
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 2 large handfuls mixed baby greens
  • 3 cloves raw garlic
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper to taste

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender.  Top with spices and a few sprigs of cilantro.  Serve at room temp.

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PTSD, PPD and Finding the Helpers.

That’s a lot of Ps.  The last 12 months have been trying to say the least.  When I found myself laying in the OR last June, watching as they sliced me open and pulled me apart, digging through my body in a struggle to get Rein out, I was already in crisis.  I was coping with an emotional trauma that had began to unfold a month prior (although it was already present in my body for years).  Those first 60 seconds of Rein’s life when I thought he was dead or dying, became so tightly interwoven with the existing trauma that I couldn’t separate them for months.  I’d close my eyes at night and see myself being stabbed in the gut, blood spilling, me screaming as my children watched.  It. Was. Horrifying.

In the months that followed, I began to heal little pieces of myself but I was trapped in cycles of anger, sadness, terror. As the election of our new president grew closer, it got much worse.  The way he spoke about women and their bodies, the abusive behavior he exemplified put a fire in my gut that begged to breathe flames.  When I’d see people defending or supporting him, the image of the knife tearing into me resurfaced.  His misogyny excused as “locker room talk” left me feeling worthless– their support of him felt like a big ol’ “Fuck you, this is the way it has always been and this is the way it will always be.  Boys will be boys.  Men will be men. Now act like a lady and stop your crying…”

During this time, I went crying to my midwife– “I NEED something.  I need something to help me feel better.”  The running, self-care, and high quality nutrition were not cutting it.  I did not like the person I was becoming in my home.  I did not like the way I was losing my patience so easily with Leif.  After trying a few different medications, I discovered that the side effects were too much and opted for herbal remedies and loads and loads of self care and running.

Running is where the magic happens for me.  It’s the part of my day that feels most in control.  Its the time when my brain and my spirit are able to process pieces of the trauma.  Recently, on an early morning run, I recalled the nurse who was with me during my labor.  Her name was Sara.  She was gentle, compassionate, and encouraging.  When we discovered Rein had turned transverse, she was the one that prepped me for the OR.  Her shift was over but she accompanied me to the OR. As the anesthesiologistinserted the needle into my spine, I wrapped my arms around her and she pressed her forehead into mine as tears streaked my face.  My body was shaking.  I was cold. I was terrified.  She told me I was doing amazing and to keep my mind in the secret place I had entered during my labor.  As she left and my mom and Josh entered, she said, “I’m sure we’ll meet again…”

My brain jumped to when it was over.  Rein had been placed on me and he searched for my breast.  He nursed and I sighed heavy with relief that we were both alive.  As they prepared to move us into the recovery room, the anesthesiologist leaned down and told me everything was okay– Rein’s lack of breath for that first minute was not uncommon in a c-section and that it wouldn’t cause him any problems.  In the flurry of chaos, no one had told me it was okay.

Helpers.  There are so many helpers amongst the chaos.

Our nation is in chaos right now.  Every day, we are barraged with a new national crisis.  Our humanity is under attack.  The darkness wants to wear us down.  It wants us to become so overwhelmed that we sink into a hole and allow it to consume us.  But we won’t. I won’t.  This world is filled with helpers, with people who will stand by you.  They’ll hold you, a stranger, in your frightened vulnerability and they’ll tell you you’re worthy, you’re strong.  They’ll whisper in your ear, “Everything is okay.”  They’ll advocate for you.   They’ll fight for you and with you.  They’ll even put their body on the line to protect you.

This battle is not yet over– for my own trauma or the trauma our nation is enduring. As we process and battle together, lets keep looking for the helpers.

XO,

Melissa


Self Doubt Gremlins and Living your Truth

Remember that summer I had an emergency cesarean and our car needed a crap ton of work done on it?  Yeah, that was expensive.  With some rather hefty bills to be paid, I did some serious reflecting on the budget.  I looked over credit card bills and our checking account to look for expenses that could be cut.  One expense that continued to nag at me was my Beachbody OnDemand account along with my coaching fee.  Neither are hefty but both add up. I had the OnDemand because we don’t have a TV or DVD player and the CD drive on my computer does not work.  I checked Amazon and discovered that an external CD drive is like $20 so I called and canceled OnDemand.  I then reflected on my coaching fee and if it was really something I wanted to continue doing. It did not take too much soul searching to realize that, indeed, it was time to part ways with Beachboy– at least as a distributor.  I met some really wonderful women as a coach and I learned a lot.  I helped a handful of women get back on track with exercise and nutrition and I used the workouts as a tool for my 6-month program clients.  Ultimately though, I felt like I had to justify (to myself and to others) why I was selling these products and that doesn’t feel good.

Here are the reasons I decided it was time to part ways:

  1. Branding:  I’ve never liked the flashiness of the brand.  While all the workout programs I have tried are great, it feels…um…beachbody-y.  The focus feels really cosmetic.  I know this is not the mindset of many of the women I’ve met through the company but that just how the company comes off to me.  Sweet Beets mission is WHOLEHEARTED wellness.
  2. Shakeology:  I tried to love Shakeology and the Vegan Chocolate was pretty tasty but there are only two vegan flavors and I’m not into strawberry protein powder…nor am I going to attempt to sell the non-vegan options to friends because…well… I think whey is harmful for our bodies, the environment, and not kind to animals (not your mom, not your milk).  I think there are superior products out there for less money–my favorite being Vega.  Vega is certified non-gmo, 100 percent plant based, contains less sugar and has pretty much the same nutrition profile as the vegan Shakeology (which is not certified non-gmo).  I feel good about supporting a company that is committed to environmental (even their packaging!), animal, and personal health.  AND…Brendan Brazier, the founder, is a vegan endurance athlete.  Being that Vega is all vegan and non-gmo, there are so many different options at different price points. I like that I can mix it up (ha–pun intended) with my morning smoothie routine.
  3. I’m not a sales person and  I’m shitty at selling things I don’t believe in 100%:  The fact is, while I know that Beachbody has helped a ton of people get fit, it’s not the right fit for me so I suck at selling it.  I think I spent more on samples to give to people than I ever made from actual sales. I have spent a lot of time, money, and passionate energy studying wellness and plant based nutrition.  I’ve coached my own body through some pretty major athlete endeavors, injuries, illness, and even healed myself from depression, anxiety, IBS, and disordered eating.  I have the education and experience to design my own programs and, dammit, that’s what I’m doing. I want to invest my time in programs believe in 100%.

The moment I said this out loud (well, actually in a message to a friend), the universe cracked open and women began signing up for my programs (several women who I had approached about Beachbody but weren’t interested) and seeing incredible results within the first few days! One even signed up for two months of my meal planning after just a few days on my Fall Detox plan because she was so stoked.

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Detoxing’ Right: Day 1 Left: Day 5

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My Liquid Feast Day

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Like ice cream but you feel Amazing After

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Buddha Bowls Be Like…

So here I am, believing in myself.  As more women approach me about my programs and the little self-doubt-gremlin says, “what are you doing? Who do you think you are?” I take a deep breath and tell that Gremlin “I’m that lady who knows how to use plants to heal the body, lose excess fat, increase energy, prevent disease, and slow the mother effing aging process while  That’s who I am, little Self-Doubt-Gremlin…who do you think YOU are?”