So, this is what I look like now.

I have to preface this post with a couple of things:

1. Re-iterating, again, how incredibly blessed I feel to have had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. So please don’t misinterpret any of this as complaining. But after having a baby I now realize how much we DON’T say when it comes to the postpartum body. So this is my attempt at being honest.

2. Alek has never, and I mean NEVER made me feel less than beautiful. Every day. Every time he sees me, no matter the state I am in. I always feel loved. I always feel desired. He is an incredible partner. I don’t know how you do this with someone who makes you feel lesser. And if you happen to be with someone who ever makes you feel less than beautiful, DO NOT have a baby with that person. And if you see a pregnant or freshly postpartum lady around, give her a compliment. Trust me, it will be well-received.

Alright! Onward!

The questions I get asked about most from my girlfriends who have not had babies all have to do with the postpartum body: Did you get stretch marks? How much weight did you gain? Etc. etc. All of these are asked of me in low tones with pleading eyes. And there is nothing you can say to make these women feel less apprehensive.

Yes, I gained weight.
Yes, I greased the shit out of my belly with the best prayer creams money could buy from the moment I found out I was pregnant until the day I went in for an induction and yes, I got stretch marks.

[SIDEBAR: To my point above, when my stretch marks hit, I was, on a range of mildly disappointed to pretty upset, more on the upset side of the scale. And Alek found some meme or article or chain email or Facebook something something about an African tribe where women with stretch marks were the most desirable in the tribe because stretch marks were considered the ultimate sign of womanhood. And then he kissed my belly, told me he loved me, thanked me for carrying our baby and, well, the stretch marks haven’t really upset me as much since. See what I mean about the right partner?]

Here is the thing that I don’t feel like we women talk about: you will have a completely different body after you have a baby. I am surrounded by women who have BEAUTIFUL bodies AND also have kids. So I am in no way saying that you will have a “bad” body after a baby. But you will have a DIFFERENT body. And that is just a fact.

You will always feel tired. [I don’t know when this part ends. Maybe when they go to Kindergarten?]
Your hair will be different. [Nothing falls out your entire pregnancy and a few weeks postpartum and you’re standing in the shower holding a clump of hair in your hand that takes your breath away. I have more gray hair now than ever. Much of what laser hair removal did has now been undone. The list goes on…]
Your skin will be different.
Your belly will be different.
Your breasts will be gone, and they are never coming back.
Your lady business will be different. [TIP: Maybe wait until a few weeks after you’ve had that gorgeous baby before you get all curious and check out your lady business in a mirror…just saying…]
Your feet will be different. [And by different I mean bigger. And sure, you’ll squish those big bastards into your stilettos for in important presentation at work one day, but you’ll pay for it.]
You will be…softer. That is the only way I can describe it.
Your body will have done what it was made to do. And pretty much all of that “doing” is driven by hormones. Hormones that come into play when you get pregnant, when you enter new phases of pregnancy, when you go into labor, when your labor is over, when your milk comes in, while you’re breast feeding, when you STOP breastfeeding. [Are my hormones now back to where they were pre-pregnancy? Do they ever go back? Is this just the new normal? I really have no idea.]

We are culturally fixated on postpartum baby weight. How much weight did you gain? How quickly did you lose the weight? How much weight did Kim Kardashian gain? And OMG have you SEEN Kate Middleton? She looks AMAZING!

So let’s just get it out there about my weight gain – ~16 pounds. OF COURSE I ballooned up to ~50 pounds of weight gain by the time I gave birth, but after birth, losing water weight, breast feeding, some light walking around the neighborhood, not eating ice cream every single day, etc. etc. I really netted out at about ~16 extra pounds. And if I’m being honest I had about 25 pounds to lose BEFORE I even got pregnant so ~16 pounds in exchange for THIS:

SO not a big deal. And when you really start to think about what you GET for that weight gain – A F**KING BABY – any amount of pounds put on is SO not a big deal.

I have a friend who said to me “If you’re planning two kids back to back, you just need to know that you’re not going to feel like yourself for a long time.”

This is, BY FAR, the best piece of pregnancy wisdom that has been shared with me. Because the reality for me is that my postpartum body experience has not been about the weight or the hair loss or the big feet, it has been about finding myself again, and finding well-being for ME, not for the baby.

See, if you are planning a pregnancy, there is the lead up to the unprotected sex part. Where you start looking at yourself as a potential baby making machine. You take up a healthier lifestyle so that when you get pregnant, you’re in a good state. [Well, in my case, I probably needed to lose that 25 pounds, but I did lose all those prescription medications and soft cheeses and never missed a prenatal vitamin so…] This is when you start to distance yourself from, well, yourself. And the choices you make and the lifestyle you’re living become less about you.

When you get pregnant, every choice that you make when it comes to your health and well-being is about the well-being of your baby. And there’s also the part where you’re just trying to figure out what the hell is going on down there.

Then you have the baby and you’re STILL figuring out what the hell is going on down there. And that doesn’t really matter because you’re now smitten and fascinated by this whole entire person that just came into your life and making sure their needs are met.

Then you go back to work and there’s THAT.

And time with Alek.

And time with friends.

And time with family.

And grocery shopping.

And life.

And then suddenly it’s the holidays.

This year our Christmas Card photo was taken by Justin Hackworth, a photographer that is known for creating very real, very NOT-Photoshopped, #nofilter -type portraits. We have our shoot, and everything seems great. And we go back to look at the photos and when he shows them to us I am kind of in a state of shock, because I really felt like I was looking at a stranger. I kept thinking “So, this is what I look like now?” And I was forced, literally, to take a good look at myself.

And it was really, really hard to face how disconnected I felt from my own body.

But I had to face it, and then quickly choose one of these photos to mail to 175 of our closest family, friends and colleagues.

I’m not gonna lie, it took some time to love these photos. I am so so grateful to have them though. All extra-41-pounds-tired-wrinkled-bad-hair-no-boobs-soft-belly single one of them. Because FINALLY, after six months, I SAW MYSELF.

One of the many reasons I wanted to have a baby was to evolve who I was as a person. To challenge myself every single day with something I had never experienced before. It was just so unexpected that the first evolution was a physical one.

So as I go into this New Year, YES, I KNOW, I need to lose 40-ish pounds. Sheesh.

But more importantly, I want to focus on this when I look in the mirror:

Being grateful and MARVELING in the fact that this body [THIS BODY!] brought life to a new person.
A daughter.
My daughter.
My body [THIS BODY!] channeled a human being with a heart and a soul and a smile and a demeanor that totally and completely surprises and delights me every single day.

I am DIFFERENT.
I am NEW.
I am POWERFUL.

This is an EVOLUTION.
This is an OPPORTUNITY.
This is an AWAKENING.

I am becoming the person I was meant to be.

And this is what I look like now.

all photos by Justin Hackworth

Love and Dexter

Wow. All work and no play makes Natalie a dull blogger. I think I actually spent more time awake at the office in October and November than I did awake at home. (And I have the laundry pile to show for it.) But figuring out those numbers exactly sounds really boring, no?

One of the effects of being at the office so much and sleeping so little is that I’ve been super sick…twice. Sidenote: Please, for the love of all that his holy, work from home if you’re feeling sick!

So, today I’m sitting here on the couch, sick, and trying to catch up on my life. (Oh yeah, you know it, that laundry pile is still sitting here beside me.)

Anyhoo, my DVR is getting full and I have been saving an episode of this season of Dexter because I wanted to write about it. So, while there is much to blog about right now, I must talk about Dexter first to free up some space before Walking Dead, Archer and Justified come back from hiatus.

Now, if you don’t watch Dexter, you probably think it’s about a serial killer. If you do watch Dexter, you know that while yes, there are thrills and intrigue, the reason the show is so utterly brilliant is that it is really about about finding your humanity.

This season is about my favorite topic: Love. And this bit of dialogue between Dexter and the man who wants to kill him is just, well, it’s perfect.

Love and Dexter. Who knew?

Isaak: “That’s how love is. It’s a powerful weapon. It can work for us or against us can’t it?”

Dexter: “I don’t understand much about love.”

Isaak: “That’s because you’re a scientist. Love defies reason.”


Dexter: “Nothing defies reason.”

Isaak: “I suppose the heart knows something that we just don’t know.”

Dexter: “Maybe the heart is just wrong.”

Isaak: “Oh, I doubt that. Love can be inconvenient, perhaps inappropriate. It can be dangerous…make us do things we wouldn’t dream of doing. But wrong? That just depends on where we end up, doesn’t it?”

The Journey

Today I was invited to attend the 5th Annual Women Tech Awards luncheon, presented by the Women Tech Council. Whitney Johnson was the keynote speaker. I was not familiar with her work before this event, but her philosophies about dreaming BIG, daring BIG and doing BIG are right up my street. So, pretty much expect me to be spazzing out about her stuff like I do about Brene Brown.

Her  keynote address featured a quote from “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. What an absolutely lovely thought for today.

Let’s dream big.
Let’s dare big.
Let’s do big.
Let’s get out there and start disrupting, shall we?

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,

that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

— Mary Oliver

Thirty for Thirty

Today is Janaan’s big THREE OH.

OH as in OH YEAH!

I would never, ever go back to my twenties. Ever. And I totally started over in my thirties. My thirties have been incredibly transformative. They have been brutal and beautiful, awful and amazing.

I think what I’m trying to say is this: unlike me, Janaan did all the right things in her twenties. She can leave knowing that she extracted the very best out of the time. Combine all of those experiences with all of the confidence that comes from knowing yourself better than you ever have before and, well, let’s just say that the upcoming years are going to be her very best.

To Janaan: Thirty for Thirty

1. You are beautiful. Really and truly beautiful. Strangers stop you in the street to tell you that. Often.
2. You really are the taller, thinner, more svelte me. Sometimes I think because we look a lot alike we have the same body, but no. (Next time we take the same pair of skinny jeans into a dressing room, remind me of this, would you?)
3. From fashion to motherhood and everything in between, you are my maven and my muse.
4. You taught to appreciate a photo booth. Especially one that has old-school-why-does-the-sample-photo-have-a-girl-holding-a-Raggedy-Ann-doll black and white film in it.
5. You are smart. Like, graduate from both high school AND college a year early smart.
6. You have the most amazing discount shopping eagle eye. You can spot a gem on a rack of crap like no one I’ve ever known.
7. You are fun. And funny. Damn funny.
8. You walk fast. Seriously, it’s handy.
9. You have introduced me to countless awesome things and places. I love that you have your finger on the pulse and always have something that we need to ‘check out’. I can’t tell you how many times I get comments or compliments on something and I say “It’s really all Janaan/Janaan’s idea/Janaan found it/etc.etc.etc.”
10. You love In-N-Out burger as much as I do.
11. You know how to transform spaces. Your vision and eye made my house beautiful. I am happy every single time I walk in the door.
12. You know how to travel. You have led me to some of the most fun, most delicious places I’ve ever been.
13. You give thoughtful gifts.
14. Your mild case of road rage makes me laugh. Driving around on my wedding eve is still one of the funniest afternoons of my life. (Losers!)
15. You are the best person to go to a concert with. See #7 and #8 above.
16. You can dance.
17. You know how to throw a party.
18. You are my favorite person in the world to stay up late talking to.
19. You really and truly understand my skin. That may not sound like much, but it’s nice to have someone else out there that gets it.
20. You’re organized. You like lists. I like that.
21. You like to “woo” after exciting movie previews.
22. You are a great cook and an even better baker.
23. You know how to take beautiful pictures and you know the value of a pack of Polaroid film.
24. When you believe in something, you stick to your guns.
25. You have taught me how to live life more beautifully in big and small ways.
26. You are creative in a way that I will never be. And you share your creative talents freely. You have made me look good on countless occasions.
27. You are such a good friend. I love to see you with your friends because it makes me happy that there are women in the world that love each other and care for each other like you guys do. 
28. You are good at what you do and it shows in your long lasting professional relationships. When we’ve had the opportunity to work together it has always been great.
29.  I think of you as the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Kids love you. They always have. You know how to charm them. No one ever begged me to be their babysitter. I don’t think I can really express how I feel about you as a mother. You are a natural. You are completely the same and completely different. It’s something on the inside that I can’t quite put my finger on and it is beautiful. You inspire me. Also, I’m totally counting on your maven/muse/finding awesomeness everywhere/great friend/eagle-eye-bargain shopperness when I have kids.
30. You are my best friend. And I don’t mean that in a cheesy way. I mean it this way: You are the only person on the planet who could possibly know what I was talking about when I said “You know, that movie with thingie and guy, with the clothes that we like so much?”

Welcome to my decade sister.  I’ll try my best to keep up.

Sixty for Sixty

This weekend my Dad celebrated his 60th birthday. There is really no other way to put it than this: my Dad is awesome. And he always has been.

I’ve often heard girls say that they wanted to marry someone like their Dad. I’ve always thought that was kind of weird/creepy/indicative of some kind of daddy issue. My desire is this: to be as good a parent to my children as my Mom and Dad are to me. If I can do that, I will truly be successful.

Happy Birthday Dad. This list is just a sliver of the man and the parent that you are.

I hope I can live up.

Sixty for Sixty

1. My dad has never yelled at me, ever.
2. He only spanked me once that I can remember. I was 9 or 10 and I TOTALLY DESERVED IT.
3. He folds laundry and makes beds with military precision.
4. When he tucked us into bed at night, he would take the bedspread and fluff it up in the air to straighten it out and let it slowly float down and tickle our faces. He’d do it three or four times even though the first time would have done the trick. Sometimes I do this with Alek. I will do it with our babies.
5. He loves Veterans.
6. He taught me how important it is to vote.
7. He is willing to shop with us. He carries our bags and has been known to slip us $100 bills on more than one occasion when we’ve run out of money.
8. We have the same thumbs.
9. He is a big softie and isn’t afraid to cry. He’s also intimidating as hell. Not sure how he pulls that off, but it works.
10. When he gives me advice I really and truly listen to it because I know it comes from a place of love that I can’t really understand.
11. He took us on lots of family trips and he was the one that did all the driving.
12. He is insanely generous. You have to work really hard to pick up the check.
13. He always has a pocket knife and black chapstick on his person.
14. He loves to read.
15. He is passionate about politics and always willing to get into a political debate at the dinner table. As a general rule, we don’t have the same views, but I’ve learned from him to appreciate that we live in a country where we can all say what we think.
16. He taught me how to shoot a gun.
17. He has lots of hobbies and isn’t afraid to spend time doing what he enjoys.
18. He believes in quality over quantity.
19. I know that there is always a place for me at home. And when I called and told him I was getting divorced and I needed to crash there for a while, he said stay as long as you like.
20. He has always done my taxes for free. And he’s not one of those accountants that wants to figure out ways around paying taxes. He is straightforward and honest and runs his business with integrity.
21. He will bring us home random gifts. Like when I showed him this BMX bike that I wanted and it showed up in our garage after school one day. No big deal. Or like a couple of years ago when he was shopping with my Mom and bought all of us these really lovely dresses. Just because. (I still have that BMX bike by the way.)
22. He takes care of his Dad.
23. He always has great hair.
24. He is an awesome tipper.
25. He is an even more awesome Papa to my nieces and nephew.
26. He is always up on the latest technology and isn’t afraid to try out something new. In fact he just switched from a PC to Mac.
27. If he wants something and he has the money for it, he gets it.
28. He always bought us flowers on Mother’s day.
29. He loves America.
30. He is passionate about food – especially Utah tomatoes. He will even help my mom can them so that he can have the best salsa, ketchup and marinara sauce year round.
31. He taught me to love 60’s rock music. Especially Credence Clearwater Revival.
32. He taught me how to drive a stick shift.
33. He is tough as nails. He can do wonders with a butterfly bandage.
34. He loves animals.
35. He knows how to use tools to build things and fix things and hang things. (Yeah, we hang up a lot of crap.)
36. He is a snazzy dresser. Like dry cleaned jeans snazzy.
37. He is spiritual.
38. He makes the best breakfasts. In fact, he has ruined me on breakfast cereal (wheat hearts, oatmeal, etc.) because his is ALWAYS perfectly cooked and never, ever has lumps. No one, nowhere else can do it like he does.
39. He used to do our hair before school and knew how to use a curling iron. He’d pull our pig tails so tight they would slant your eyes.
40. He is Mr. Action. If you have an idea, thought, plan, whatever, he is ON IT. I never would have met Karen without him. One of his clients recommended her and 10 minutes later I had an appointment.
41. Even though we are grown up and moved away, he is still our Dad and takes care of us in whatever way we need at this point in our lives.
42. He has always accepted my lifestyle choices even if he doesn’t agree with them.
43. He loves to have fun and creates opportunities for us to have fun as a family.
44. He hates boats, snorkeling, and the tea-cups at Disneyland as much as I do.
45. He is a cowboy.
46. He is always willing to help us out with whatever project we’ve cooked up and are a little bit over our heads with.
47. He’s sensitive to people’s feelings. He bought me this sad, perfect, beautiful chalk drawing when I got divorced. It was in the car with him when he picked up my Mom and I from the airport and it remains one of the most thoughtful and lovely gifts I’ve ever received.
48. He loves a clean car.
49. He has always been active and fit.
50. He charms all of our friends. They adore him.
51. He is always willing to learn new things.
52. He has never said I’m too old to do anything. And he will train for something until the Dr. tells him that he can’t do it.
53. He loves my Mom.
54. He is warm and affectionate.
55. He has always made us feel special and loved.
56. He supports whatever it is we want to do.
57. He supports our spouses.
58. He’s not someone that is “set in his ways”.
59. Disappointing him or letting him down is still one of my greatest fears.
60. He gave me (and is still giving me) a beautiful life.

No Regrets

A few months ago Alek and I were driving home. I don’t remember where from, but I do remember that we were at 3300 South and I-15 when he suddenly turned to me and said, “I want you to know something: if for some reason I die tomorrow…or sometime soon…I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I am exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to be doing.”

It was so out of the blue and so not sad at all. It was lovely. I always want our relationship to feel that way. Everything in its right place.

So last week when I came across this article from The Guardian, it gave me pause. I totally made Alek read it while we were at dinner on Saturday so that we could talk about it. People probably thought we were one of THOSE couples, you know, the ones that are all awkward at restaurants, not talking to each other and looking at their phones. But I really wanted to make sure that we still felt the same way about dying, and, more importantly to check-in on where we were at, months after our conversation. If we had somehow veered off the “no regrets” path, we would start finding a way back.

I’m definitely going to work on working less…wait…you know what I mean.  

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Sixteen

Today would have been my sixteenth wedding anniversary with My X. We divorced four years ago, almost to the day. We were what the therapists would call enmeshed and co-dependent. We were what I would call a cliche: married too young and too fast, because that’s what we were supposed to do.

I remember thinking on our first wedding anniversary “I’m going to give it one more year.” And on our second anniversary, “I’m going to give it one more year.” And suddenly a decade had gone by, and I had become comfortably numb.

Months after our divorce, during what would end up being our last conversation, My X said, “The part of me that’s mad is still mad. And the part of me that’s sad is still sad. But deep down, I know that we never should have been married in the first place.”

Divorce is an ugly and awful journey that eventually leads to BEAUTY and HAPPINESS and LIFE and LOVE at the end of it. But I’d say, even now, that the part of me that’s mad is still a little bit mad, and the part of me that’s sad is still a little bit sad. And deep down, I know for sure that we never should have been married in the first place.

He did always have a brilliant way of boiling things down to their essence.

People ask me a lot if I ever miss him. And the short answer is yes, I do miss him sometimes.

My X was one of the funniest, wittiest people I’ve ever met. And most of the time when I miss him, it’s because of an inside joke that only he would understand. Like when Walgreen’s launches a new Wal-brand generic medication. Or when my family starts a new “kick.” 

He taught me to love dogs, to appreciate beautiful cars and to always buy great seats at a concert. He taught me that a well done steak and a perfectly cooked steak were not mutually exclusive. He introduced me to the incredible beauty of southern Utah, the cult of Steve Jobs, and independent films. He taught me about critical thought and asking the next question. We left our religion together.

To My X: I really and truly mean it when I say that I am sorry for my half of it. And I really and truly mean it when I say that I hope that you are happy.

To the girl in this picture: So far in my life, you are my greatest loss. I’m sorry it took me so long to find you, to let you be yourself, and to love you. And I do love you.

And I know it took a long time, but we’re at the right place now. And it’s better than I ever even imagined.

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

I love The Oprah. This is no secret. (It’s been over a year and I still can’t bring myself to delete the last episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show off of our DVR.) Anyhoo, Oprah is back with a new series on OWN called Oprah’s Next Chapter. It’s classic awesome Oprah going to interesting places, talking to interesting people, all the while seeking learning and personal growth.

This week I watched her interview with Gloria Steinem. Here’s the thing, whenever I’m asked if I’m a feminist I usually say: “Oh yeah, but not like a Gloria Steinem militant feminist or anything like that.”

And as I was watching this interview I realized that I’ve kind of been an asshole about Gloria Steinem. I owe a lot to her. And by a lot, I mean, my very happiness. I think that a student that Oprah and Ms. Steinem were talking to at Barnard College said it best:

“People always ask ‘Can you have it all?’ meaning marriage, children, career. And I think the question we need to ask ourselves is ‘Do we have the power to do the things that will make us happy?'”

And that’s when it hit me, what Gloria Steinem has fought so hard for: CHOICE. Because before she came along, women had a hell of a lot less choices. The choice to marry or not to marry or to divorce, the choice of if and when to have children, the choice to work or stay at home, the choice to pursue a career in any industry, the choice to pursue as much of an education as we desire…the list goes on and on.

The sad thing is that women are still so incredibly critical of each others choices, instead of supporting each other and most importantly being GRATEFUL that we all have choices in the first place. 

So thank you Gloria Steinem and thank you Margaret Sanger and thank you to every other woman who has paved the way to my happiness. I am truly in debt to you for the choices that I have. And I will no longer disrespect Gloria Steinem by saying that I’m not like her. I will instead try to be mindful that whenever I make a choice, big or small, I stay grateful that I have the power to choose to do the things that make me truly happy.

“The whole idea is not to figure out what what you should do that will matter, but to make each thing you do reflect the values you want, because we don’t know what’s going to matter in the future. The things I remember that changed my life are really very small. Everything you do is important. And I’ve never forgotten that.” 
— Gloria Steinem

Today

Today was a lovely, lovely day. Today I had the opportunity to be inspired, to be challenged, to learn something new, to stretch and to scare myself a little. Today it hit me will full force how many incredible people I have in my life.

Today I sat in the warm spring sunshine and sipped a glass (or maybe it was two-ish…beside the point, really) of wine and enjoyed a long and winding conversation with my very best friends. Today I wore red lipstick and chevron stripes and that made me happy. Today I walked my dog and sneaked a kiss from my husband.

Today I knew everything was in its right place.

Today I felt incredibly happy. And incredibly grateful.

Powerful You

photo of bad-ass Chelsea courtesy of Absolute MMA

I’ve talked about my insanely cool friend Chelsea. She is brilliant, thoughtful, loving, hilarious, articulate, and passionate and every time I see her she blows open my mind. Every.time.

She is finishing up her Bachelor’s Degree at the U of U with a double major in political science and gender studies and her intention is to pursue a PhD in gender studies and create curriculum for grade schools designed to prevent violence against women. Did I mention she just earned her blue belt in Behring Jiu Jitsu?

Yeah. Mind blowing.

Janaan asked Chelsea for recommendations on a book about being a more powerful woman. Chelsea being Chelsea went to great lengths to recommend the right book – talking to all of her professors and mentors and getting their opinions on what would hit the mark. Then, she had to find a used copy of the book because it’s out of print. Then, she wrapped up the book in a cute bag and wrote Janaan a note on a cute card and blew our minds again:

Ultimately I really just wanted to give you this to tell you, from one woman to another, that I don’t think there is a book in the world that can make you more powerful than you already are. Everyone has something to say about how to be a powerful, perfect, classic mother, woman, wife and daughter. All of the books I have read seem to tell me one thing: don’t be a powerful woman, be a powerful YOU. Do what makes you happy. Fulfill all of your expectations and others will always perceive you as powerful.
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