Lost and Found

Just a note: I’m going to talk about my journey during the early days of motherhood and the struggles I had. If you find reading on that subject difficult or uncomfortable please feel free to close this window in your browser. I promise I’ll write more about crystals soon.

I often describe the time after I had my first son, when I became a mother, as the hardest time of my life. Crossing the threshold of pregnant woman to mother was something that nobody can prepare you for. I imagine that it’s the same for every woman who has ever carried a baby, or adopted a baby, or has been pregnant, or lost a pregnancy. Once you cross that threshold, there’s no going back. You simply aren’t the same woman that you were before, in small ways and in big ways, you know things and feel things and have unlocked a part of yourself that you can’t put back. I felt as if one night I went to sleep as one person and woke up as an entirely different person. I couldn’t even recognize myself in the mirror.

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

I wasn’t prepared for that. 

I was the first of the “kids” in my family to have a baby. I have a group of cousins who I grew up with and am close to, I’m the oldest of the bunch. I was the first for, well, everything. From bringing a boyfriend home for Christmas, to moving away to a new city after college, to getting married, getting a puppy and then - having a baby. I asked my aunt, one of my dearest friends, if she thought I would be a good mom. “Of course you will”, she said plainly, “you’re good at everything you put your mind to”. 

At the time, I’ll admit, I thought she was right. I was good at everything I put my mind to. I got the roles I wanted on stage, I got the job I wanted in Chicago, and had the wedding of my dreams and a honeymoon filled with adventure. I was good at the things I put my mind to. In hindsight, I wish I put my mind to more things, but that’s a different blog post.

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Then I had my son. After 30 hours of labor, I sat, terrified and in love with this new human. I expected to blossom into this whole new person, a loving miracle of a human who effortlessly took care of this baby. I did not. I struggled with everything. I felt lost in a sea of worries and uncertainty. The months ticked by and the feelings I had of being an impostor only intensified.

 

Quickly after I had my son, two of my friends had their first babies. I remember going to visit them in the hospital and when I walked in the room they were glowing. They looked so natural, so happy, so immediately at home in their motherhood - and I sobbed the entire way home. It only confirmed my suspicion, that I was not a natural mother. That there has been a terrible mistake. I was missing a piece of the puzzle and now my poor son is going to have to grow up with this frazzled, overwhelmed shell of a mother who can’t seem to do anything right.

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

(Note: Of course, that’s total bullshit. The phrase “natural mother” is bullshit.) 

If I could go back in time just once it would be to comfort that version of myself. I would let her cry in my arms and say, “You are enough”. 

My problem was that I had lost myself. When you cross the threshold into mother an entirely new identity is thrust upon you. Lose the weight. Breastfeed. Keep working. Stay home. Music class. Swim class. Sacrifice. Don’t ask for help. Cook. Clean. Sacrifice more. 

I couldn’t check any of the boxes, I felt like it was all-consuming and a struggle, I was trying to live up to an ideal that I had created in my mind and failing at every turn. I had unknowingly set myself up for failure by creating a report card that was impossible for me to pass.  

When you stripped away my job, my body, my old hobbies - I didn’t know who I was. The version of “mom” I was trying to be was making me miserable. Like, cry-every-day-what-is-wrong-with-me miserable. 

I had to start from scratch with myself and my expectations. I started noticing what made me feel happy, and what made me feel miserable - and started doing more of the happy things.

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

 

I know this sounds elementary but please believe me that it’s a big deal. I felt like I was building myself from the ground up. Waking up at night and pumping to increase my supply made me miserable, so I stopped. Going for a walk by myself made me happy, so I went for a small one every day. Trying crash diet after crash diet and drinking protein shakes made me miserable, so I stopped. Meditating made me feel awesome, so I did more. Watching TV made me feel like crap, so I stopped. Reading self-development and poetry and collecting crystals made happy, so I did more.  

I let go of the expectations I had for myself as a mother and tried to enjoy the small moments and, eventually, I found myself again. I swear too much and feed my toddler too many fruit snacks, but I dropped the guilt and try to do better everyday. I’ve gained 20 pounds since my wedding day and I’m just tired of beating myself up about it, so I don’t. I have fewer friends, but I surround myself with the most extraordinary and supportive ones in the world.

I wish it didn’t take the birth of my son as the catalyst to burn it all down and start from scratch, because I do feel like I missed a lot of time in those early days when all I did was worry and cry. But I can say now that I’m a happy, messy, mom-in-progress. Being mindful, looking inward, and focusing on my truest self has - to be dramatic - saved my life, and at the very least saved my happiness. And with this platform I only hope that it can inspire you to take inventory and find what makes you truly come alive. It’s not the ideal that society or your ego has for you, but the whispers of your heart.

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Welcome to Younicorn Food: Crystals to Feed Your Spirit

Sweet Younicorn! It’s been a whirlwind the last couple weeks, and spring is finally starting to make it’s way to the dreary Midwest. It’s hard to understate what a difference the sun makes in our days here.

March is always such a challenging month. Itching to get outside, so eager for the flowers to bloom - but just, not quite there. Even when the sun shines, the cold is bitter. Especially with two young kids, it’s a test of patience.

Mindful parenting takes lots of patience, crystals are a helpful tool.

 Let’s talk about the sparkling, shining, giant crystal in the room, shall we? I’ve made quite the transition on this site from selling toast art to blogging about mindfulness and self care to now providing curated crystals. I feel very “at home” with this transition and it makes me at once excited, nervous, but mostly thrilled. Crystals have been an important tool for meditation as well as a lifelong fascination of mine and I can’t wait to share what I’ve uncovered with you.  

If you read my blog or followed me on social media in the beginning of my business journey you will recall that I sold boxes of natural food coloring and sprinkles to make toast art - hence the name of my site, Younicorn Food. I came up with the idea for the toast art boxes after a very, very long day while I was drinking wine in the shower (as one does). It was what Elizabeth Gilbert would call “an alive idea”. I got a chill from my head to my feet and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Fast forward months later, I took some photography courses, refreshed my business acumen, and got to work. I realize now, in this new year, that it was all an elaborate stepping stone to get me where I am today.


crystals for meditation, healing, and mindfulness.

Writing to you about alignment, mindfulness, and creating your own joy - and curating crystals to offer as a tool to get you there. 

Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with crystals. I used to go to gem and mineral shows with my dad where we would easily spend hours scouring the different stones and talking with the vendors. I was transported back to that place in my childhood last month when my dad and I went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest of it’s kind in the world. We saw tiny stones worth literal hundreds of thousands of dollars and others that you had to dig through muddy wheelbarrows and clean with your bare hands. It was a truly wonderful experience, one of those trips where you start planning your next visit even before you leave. 

Eckhart Tolle describes nature as “an entry point” into stillness. It’s a portal to another realm. A realm that is alive in it’s stillness.

Wilderness, oceans, mountains, forests, crystals…they have all been here long before we have. They have seen it all and know it all. The silent wisdom, the patience, and the beauty of nature is a mirror for the strength and spirit that lies within all of us.


Ocean Jasper to help you connect with nature and yourself

The unrelenting power of the ocean waves and the fragility of a flower in bloom - it’s all part of us.

My husband and I have been lucky enough to take a few vacations together before we had our boys - and always we gravitated toward the mountains, toward the trees. We were engaged at the base of a waterfall in Yosemite National Park, we took our honeymoon for two glorious weeks in New Zealand exploring rainforests, glaciers, and mountains. And finally, we took a trip to Big Sur while I was seven months pregnant, staying in a 500 square foot cottage in the middle of a quiet Redwood preserve. When I sit and reflect on my relationship with nature, it’s astonishing that I didn’t realize just how big of a part it plays in my story. 

And now, with these crystals in my home I feel the next chapter coming into focus, and the role nature plays in that. The time, the patience, the earth, and the heat that it takes for these crystals to form into their perfect selves is an invaluable addition to my home and my life. Something I hope I can bring into the lives and homes of a lot of people. Crystals helped me find my way back to myself after I had my first son and lost my way.

Crystals taught me to look inward, that all of the answers are inside me, that my true voice is whispering.  

Crystals are forgiving. They sat for thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even a million years to form into the stone that sits in your meditation corner or on your nightstand - surely, you can spare a few minutes a day to tap into it’s wisdom. If you’re not ready, it’s okay, they can wait. After all, they have waited all this time. They have seen all that has come before us, they have felt all of the growth and turmoil and beauty that’s made it’s mark on this Earth we all share.



Pink amethyst to calm, soothe, and melt away anxieties

They have secrets. The good news is, they can’t wait to share, all you have to do it listen. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, I would love to know what you think! The crystals offered on my site were hand picking and curated by me at the Tucson Gem and Mineral show this year, and I’m so proud to be able to provide them.

Five Fab Boss Babes to Fill Your Earbuds
Photo by: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo by: Chelise Renee Photography

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying by motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It makes sense, right? The attitudes and behaviors of the people we surround ourselves with directly impact the attitudes and behaviors we adopt ourselves. They can either motivate us or hold us back. They can fill our cups with positivity or make us look at life half-empty. It’s undeniably important to curate who these people are in our lives.  

I count myself among the tremendously lucky in this department. My friends in this chapter of my life are the best of the best. Smart, successful, gorgeous, and funny. Everything I could aspire to be. They propel me forward and give me seemingly endless grace when I stumble. Truly, they inspire me to be a better person. 

The tricky thing is that I can’t be constantly surrounded by them because, well, life is busy. It’s not like my college days when I lived within 20 feet of all my best friends. Now we get together when we can round up babysitters and find clean underwear. Sometimes even my husband and I are ships passing in the night. My sister and I can barely find time to split a bottle of wine and have a chat even though we live only a couple miles apart. Making time for the important people is VITAL but it’s not always possible, especially during a Michigan winter when literally the entire state is shut down.

 

Enter my podcast ladies to the rescue!

I have these FIVE truly inspiring boss babes in my earbuds constantly.

We underestimate the importance of what we CONSUME as an influence on our lives. Especially since sometimes we spend more time with people on TV, on a podcast, or in an audiobook than we do with the real physical people who surround us. Choosing the right content matters. And for me, these women push me to be a better entrepreneur, friend, mom, and human.

 

Lauryn Evarts Bosstick. Image from her website.

Lauryn Evarts Bosstick. Image from her website.

The Boss Babe: Lauryn Evarts Bosstick    

The Podcast: The Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast

What’s to Love:

Lauryn Evarts is totally 100% unapologetically herself and shares very candidly about, basically, her entire life. From boob jobs to skincare to diet and mental health, she is FULL of great tips. She gets specific about everything and I buy stuff she recommends all the freaking time because she really is an expert curator. Her skincare advice has legitimately changed my life. She really pushes you to be the best version of yourself and to not be ashamed to take REALLY good care of yourself. She’s like the coolest girl in your high school - except she is super nice and down to Earth and wants to be friends. She does this podcast with her husband and their relationship is very sweet and inspiring as well. She’s a gem.

Jenna Kutcher. Image from her website.

Jenna Kutcher. Image from her website.

The Boss Babe: Jenna Kutcher

The Podcast: The Goal Digger Podcast

What’s to Love:

Jenna is the millionaire next door! No really, she’s a Midwestern gal who works really hard and became mega, uber, ultra successful. What I love is that she’s multi-passionate (it gives me hope because IT AIN’T EASY to be one) and honest about her successes and failures. She’s very real, very midwestern, and very body positive. Her podcasts are so informative that I keep a notebook handy and sometimes can’t believe it’s really free business content. She also does personal episodes and shares a lot about her private struggles, her husband, and her Hawaiian vacation homes (UGHHHHH) . She can sound scripted sometimes and is very polished, but it’s great and motivating content.

 

The Boss Babe: Cathy Heller

The Podcast: Don’t Keep Your Day Job

What’s to Love:

Literally turn on this podcast if you need somebody to tell you that you’re an amazing, walking miracle who is here to shine their light on the world - because guaranteed Cathy will tell you in the first five minutes. Her podcast has really evolved but centers on encouraging creatives and entrepreneurs to share their gifts with the world. Her interviews are always with super inspiring people with massive success stories and it always leaves you feeling uplifted. She is very candid about her mental health struggles and her turbulent childhood, and also her career struggles before she made it HUGE writing songs for TV ads (think Apple, Walmart, McDonalds etc.). It’s the most cheesy of these podcasts, but sometimes you need somebody to tell you you’re doing a great job and that you’re made of stardust. Which you totally are, by the way.  

Cathy Heller. Image from her website.

Cathy Heller. Image from her website.

 

The Boss Babes: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

The Podcast: My Favorite Murder

What’s to Love: TWO BABES IN ONE SHOW!

This podcast creates a feeling of actual community and belonging. It’s much less scripted, full of swearing, and packed with inside jokes for it’s listeners. I’m a huge fan of true crime (and fictional Law & Order style crime, lets be real) and devoured a hundred episodes of this podcast when I was up with my newborn at night. I never looked back. Karen and Georgia are very open and honest about their mental health struggles and the importance of seeking therapy. And although they are very humble and unassuming about their success - they are massively successful boss ladies in their own right. As of April last year, the podcast had 19 million MONTHLY DOWNLOADS. Yes, it’s a podcast about murder. It’s also two women working through their fears and insecurities while helping other women do the same. It’s empowering to hear and an addicting listen.

Karen Kilgariff (Left) and Georgia Hardstark (right). Photo from ET online.

Karen Kilgariff (Left) and Georgia Hardstark (right). Photo from ET online.

 

Honorable Mentions:

While these are not podcasts I do listen to Rachel Hollis’s “Girl Wash Your Face” and both of Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass” books all the time. Constantly. If I had those books in my 20’s I would be President of the World right now, they make me feel like I can move mountains.

Alright Younicorn, now it’s your turn - who is in your earbuds? I’m always looking for somebody new in my rotation. There is nothing like a new, awesome podcast to invigorate your day and add a little spark. It’s like finding a hidden gem!

How To Write The Perfect Love Letter (To Yourself) This Valentines Day
Write a love letter to yourself as the ultimate expression of self-care and self-love this valentines day

Valentines Day hasn’t imprinted itself in my memories like so many other holidays. I don’t feel a strong connection to the candy hearts or cheesy cards (although I do LOVE a good pun). My husband and I started a tradition when we first began dating that we would always make a fancy dinner and stay-in for the holiday. Now that we have two kids running circles around us all day, that fancy dinner morphed into a slightly-upgraded version of a normal dinner, and while it’s nice, it’s nothing spectacular.

Don’t get me wrong I adore my husband (hellooooo have you seen his pictures on here?), it’s just that we celebrate our anniversary on March 1st so Valentines Day just falls at a weird time and doesn’t connect us. Today I was trying to think of what the holiday REALLY means to me and all the different layers of love that I have in my life. Love for my husband. Love for my kids. Love for my life and all the blessings that go along with it. And finally, love for myself.

 I’ve always had a hard time with self-love. It seems as though my entire life I’ve been striving to leave myself behind and transform into a thinner, smarter, more successful version of myself. Up until this past year I’m not sure that I’ve ever really, properly, given myself the kind of self-care that I’ve always deserved. I’m making up for a lot of lost time, years of abusing myself for not being good enough. 

That’s when I decided to write myself a love letter for Valentines Day. If you’re feeling out of sorts, unappreciated, not your best self right now - I want you to write one too. You deserve to be absolutely showered in kind words, you magical babe, you.

Let’s aim for 750 words. It takes more effort than you would think but it’s completely do-able. Seven hundred and fifty words is three pages or so hand-written, and you deserve three pages of nice things. I also think you should check out https://750words.com/ if you’re trying to build a writing habit. It takes the ideas found in “The Artists Way” and makes it digital. Three pages also provides a nice framework to focus on three areas of ourselves and our lives that we can totally gush about.

Whether you are alone this Valentines Day or partnered, write a love letter to yourself as a mindfulness practice.

 Page 1: Our Physical Body

Go from head to toe and talk about all of your favorite physical characteristics as they are right now. In this present moment. Not what you hope they will be or what you’re molding them in to - but right now. This is a gratitude practice, so consider your body and what it has done for you and THANK YOUR BODY for carrying you through this life. Even though sometimes you give it too much wine and not enough exercise and definitely not enough sunscreen it still shows up for you everyday and makes your life possible. If you have had children, thank your body. If you ran a 5K, thank your body. If you like the dance or swim or walk in the woods THANK YOUR BODY and all of it’s imperfections for making that possible.

This Valentines Day, try writing yourself a love letter as an act of self-care.

 Page 2: Our Achievements

It’s easy to get stuck in the mental carousal of feeling like you’re not enough. It can feel like we’re surrounded by people doing more, making more, and making it look easy. You’ve done some amazing things in your life that you’re discounting, I promise. When I was fresh out of college I took a job in Chicago and moved there by myself - it wasn’t until this exercise that I really, truly, congratulated myself on how brave and incredible that was. You’ve made it this far which means that you are totally nailing this living-on-the-planet thing we’re all trying to do together. Go ahead and brag, you deserve it, babe.

 

Page 3: Our Soul

Every preference, every thing that brings you joy, is a little mini love letter to yourself. Whatever brings you into alignment is what makes you special and that deserves to be celebrated. We are all living on a rock hurling through time and space together in this moment and YOU, my dear Younicorn, are here for a reason. Write about your preferences and why you are grateful for them and all the joy they bring. Write about what makes your heart sing and how completely in love with yourself you are in those moments. Write about a time that you felt totally happy and at peace. For me, I’ll never forget drinking an Americano and watching the sunrise on our honeymoon in Queenstown, NZ. That moment is etched on my heart. Write about all of the things etched on your own heart, babe.

You deserve a love letter full of wonderful things and kind words.

 When your letter is finished print it out or tear it our of your journal and put it in an envelope like the love letter that it is. Give it a smooch. Spray it with some perfume. Address it with care. I’m going to keep it in my nightstand and save it for when I really need to see those words. When I stumble, or scream at my kids and then immediately cry out of guilt, or haven’t had a shower in a week.

In a world where comparison is constant and women are expected to do it all, have it all, and BE it all - let this letter be a reminder that you are perfect in this moment. You are incredible. You are enough. You are love.

 

Happy Valentines Day, my sweet friend.  

4 Steps to a Better Night Sleep

We all know that sleep is important. Like, scream-it-from-the-rooftops-critical. A non-negotiable component of self-care. You can’t turn on a wellness podcast without hearing the latest interview with Arianna Huffington talking about getting your 8 hours like your life depends on it. According to her latest book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, “We are in a sleep deprivation crisis”. 

You can watch her TED talk here, the clip is only 4:10 and it’s worth your time. She’s fab. 

4 Ways to a Better Night Sleep. A guide to mindfully falling asleep with intention.

Yet I don’t know a single person who gets 7-8 hours of sleep every night, or even most nights. I certainly don’t. My friends certainly don’t. Maybe my dog does? 

It’s a big ask. It’s almost impossible to expect people, most who have demanding jobs or young children or a side hustle they can only work on in the wee hours. When I started focusing on improving my sleep habits it became clear pretty quickly that the quantity of the sleep couldn’t be improved upon at this stage of my life. 

So I upgraded the quality of my sleep instead. And let me tell you, Younicorn, this has been a complete life-changer (do I say that a lot? It’s true! I promise!). 

Allow me to brag here for a moment: When my head hits the pillow I’m out cold in 5 minutes. I don’t toss and turn, I don’t wake up feeling like garbage, and my dreams are more vivid. Unless my kids wake me up, which lets be honest happens pretty frequently, I sleep straight through the night. I should note that I didn’t have any sleep disorders prior to this - but I got the standard, crappy 6 hours of tossing and turning. It used to take more forever to fall asleep, and I did deal with racing thoughts and occasional insomnia which has completely disappeared.  

Here are my four tried (and tried and tried!) and true tips for better sleep and a happier tomorrow. You may not be able to get 8 hours everyday, but you can make your hours count!

 

1) No screens, please 

I know you’re thinking, DUH. But then why are you still using screens at night? YES, YOU. According to the National Sleep Foundation 90% of us are using screens within an hour before bed. Why? Because they are addicting! It’s fun to scroll Insta and dream of your next Bali vacation! PINTEREST!

4 Ways to Better Sleep. Phones emit blue light which suppresses our natural melatonin release.

Honestly, if you are having a restless night and having trouble falling asleep but you ALSO look at screens an hour before bed - mystery solved! The artificial blue light that all of those screens emit suppresses the melatonin that is released in our brains to tell us to hit the sack. It messes with our circadian rhythm and leads to chronic sleep deprivation. Not awesome news, I know. I love Pinterest too, you guys! 

Take baby steps if you must, but you need to set an electronics curfew for yourself. Instead try reading a book, made of real paper! Or use a Kindle Paperwhite - not the Kindle Fire - my husband and I each have one on our nightstands and it’s adorable.




2) Use your sense of smell 

Engage your body to physically relax by using a lavender scented ANYTHING. You can use a diffuser, you can light a candle, a lavender body lotion could even do the trick! Or use my preferred method: A room mist. This is the exact mist that I use, I found it at a drugstore right around the corner.

As you can see, its super budget-friendly with great reviews and gets the job done. Don’t skimp on the spray, friends! I spray my pillow and the sheets and the space around the bed - that little bottle lasts forever so don’t be shy! If you’re willing to spend a little bit more there are some GORGEOUS $20-30 options out there. And I guarantee a quick google search will yield you a multitude of DIY options.

Use lavender to help you intentionally set a routine for a better night sleep.

3) Listen Up to Wind Down 

Listen to something boring or soothing or a guided meditation of some sort. Anything that works for you! You might have to try a few different apps, songs or audiobooks before you figure out what helps you fall asleep most peacefully. But when you do - you will have the final piece of the sleeping puzzle!  

I personally endorse, and wholeheartedly adore the Sleep With Me Podcast. This guy, Scooter, must have some frequency in his voice that immediately induces sleep because it’s amazing. He’s funny and charming and I literally never make it past the introduction before I’m out like a light. It is a little weird at first, but I BEG you to give it a few nights before you decide because I can’t imagine there is a better (free!) avenue. I’ve also heard good things about the Calm app, but I haven’t personally used it. 


4)  Routine Routine Routine 

We are the sum of our habits and routines. Reading this post isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t implement these steps and make them a habit. When I wash my face and spray my pillow with lavender, my body is already getting into sleep mode. YEAH BABY! SLEEP IS HAPPENING, TEAM. By the time I read a few pages of my book and turn on Sleep With Me Podcast I’m 85% there.  

Even if you can’t get ton’s of sleep every night - make the sleep you CAN get better quality. You will wake up feeling better, function more effectively throughout the day, and have less anxiety at night. These benefits are nothing to snore about (sorry). 

Dear Younicorns! Have you tried any of these tips? Am I the only one who listens to Scooter? Do you use a FANCY pillow spray? I’m dying to know, so give me the details!

Getting Over Your Fear: A How To Guide

I’m a hobby jumper. I can recall countless hobbies and classes and activities that I’ve tried over the years. Aggressive inline skating. Pottery. Pole Dancing class. Hot yoga. Community Theater. Singing at church. Zumba classes. Becoming a Zumba instructor. Kickboxing. Rock collecting. Becoming a court transcriptionist.  

It’s a trait I’ve inherited from my dad who is also a hobby jumper. He has pickled various vegetables. Grew mushrooms in our basement. Bought an enormous and impressive telescope that we had on our deck for about 5 minutes before presumably my mom begged him to return it. Fishing. Hunting. Collecting all manner of coins and rocks.  

I used to think it was all just a big waste of money and time. Maybe you’re thinking that too. When I started this website I imagined the groans of my friends and family as I started yet another venture that I would abandon. I don’t blame them because I berated myself constantly for all the time and energy that I’ve wasted on hobbies that never stuck. Expensive helmets unopened, courses and certifications that sat unused. 

Getting over fear. Mindfulness. Motivation. Happiness. How to get over fear. How to be happier.

But I’ve changed my tune.  

Now I’m feeling grateful for my curiosity, my seemingly unending quest for expansion. It’s taken me to places and given me gifts that bury themselves inside me whether I realized it at the time or not. There are definitive benefits to trying a new hobby. Here are just a few:

 

Trying new things helps you stop worrying about what other people think

Getting over your fear with motivation, mindfulness, how to be happier and change your energy. Self love, self exploration, self care.

I’m pretty fearless at this point in my life. I’ve bombed auditions and tanked on stage and have thoroughly been embarrassed and discouraged throughout my creative journey. I’ve forgotten lines. I’ve created pottery so awful and hideous that I had to pretend I wanted to make an EGG instead of a VASE when the teacher was concerned about my monstrosity. I’ve said “oh shit” into the microphone at church.

I’ve accidentally set my own pants on fire in the home of somebody I truly respect and admire musically. Yup go ahead and read that again.. On fire. If you want the whole story you’re going to have to buy me a drink first.  

And that, friends, is a great gift. The best gift. I can get myself up and dust myself off, I can laugh, and I can understand that I’m not everybody’s cup of (baroness grey) tea. The more you make yourself uncomfortable the easier it becomes to deal with discomfort. The more you face your fear the more you see that fear ain’t so scary. That maybe it actually looks like change.

 

Trying new things clears out stagnant energy.

Think about it like opening the windows in your house to air it out. Breath some new life into yourself. Get out of your old patterns. Take baby steps if you need to, but do take steps. If you have ever said, “oh I’ve always wanted to try that!” or “I’ve always wanted to go there!” then take a step to make that happen. Sticking with your old patterns and routines that aren’t working for you makes your soul stanky.

 

Trying new things makes you more interesting.

Have you ever been talking with someone and they mention a hobby or class or something they do that totally takes you off guard? I love that. It adds a whole new side of them that you never imagined before. You compete in archery? You’re in a synchronized swimming club? You took up playing the violin at 80? THAT IS SO COOL TELL ME MORE. A little side benefit of trying new things is that it gives you something to chat about and being around new people adds little fun freckles to your personality. 

Getting over fear. Conversation starter. Mindfulness. Motivation. How to get over fear. How to be happier. Joyful. Self care and creative living.

Okay so now your convinced that trying that thing you’ve always wanted to try is in your best interest but how do you make it happen? How do you get over that fear in the beginning? The truth is you don’t. You have to take it with you. Just pack it some goldfish crackers and tell it to pipe down if it gets too rowdy. 

Here are a few tried and true tricks to get fear to take a nap in the backseat while you do your thing: 

Pay for it.

Sure there is a lot of free stuff you can do, especially since most places will offer your first class or session for free - but sometimes you have to put your money where your fear is and open up that wallet. I’m more likely not to bail on something that I’ve invested my money into. That being said, I do not suggest buying packages or bundles when you’re not sure if you’re going to enjoy it. Remember the point is just to try something new, not torture yourself by dragging yourself to horseback riding lessons that you didn’t know you would hate because you bought a package of 10.

 

Go alone.

This is going against your instinct, right? You want to bring along your bestie to help buffer the discomfort, I get it, but I think that’s a bad idea so bear with me. If you go alone, sure you’re feeling maximum discomfort and anxiety, BUT you also don’t have any witnesses besides the strangers who are also doing the poetry slam or aerial yoga with you. You can feel free to mess up or get creative or have a blast without having to glance at your friend all the time to see how they are doing/feeling/judging you.

 

What’s the worst that could happen?

No really, ask yourself. Then answer yourself and follow up. A little something like this, let’s say I’m nervous to go try a sound bowl meditation at the yoga studio down the street: 

What’s the worst that could happen?

I could be terrible at it. I could be wearing the wrong clothes. I could be so relaxed that I fart during the meditation. 

So what? What’s the worst that could happen?

They could kick me out! 

So what,? What’s the worst that could happen?

They kick me out and I demand my money back and then I go home and watch Brooklyn 99 and eat chocolate covered almonds. 

END SCENE. 
See, it’s not so bad, just follow the thread…usually the worst that could happen is not only unlikely but also not a big deal. You’re mind is just freaked out by the unknown.

I hope this challenges you to expand yourself and try that thing you’ve always been wanting to try. The restaurant. The class. The workout. The language you’ve always wanted to learn. I know it’s lame when people say this, but really, everyday that you wake up is the best day of your life because it’s the one you’ve got right now - so add a little spice to it. 

How to get over your fear and find happiness. Motivation, mindfulness, intuition, power of now, self love, self care, how to guide.

Leave me a comment and commit to trying something! I really did go to a sound bowl meditation workshop last weekend that was pretty crazy, and I’m signed up for an oracle card reading workshop next month - which should be a real trip.

5 Ways to Alignment in 5 Minutes or Less

Hello my dear Younicorns! I’m so glad you’re here, and super excited to talk with you about a topic that’s made a huge impact on my life: Getting in alignment. 

I did write a little about this on the Younicorn Food Facebook page and on the Instagram feed, but it’s one of those things that I could go on and on about - so let’s chat! If you’ve dabbled at all in the self-development or mindfulness community I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about having “alignment time” or being in or out of alignment in one way or another. What they’re talking about specifically is being aligned with your higher and truer self. It’s the first step to using your Intuition, practicing mindfulness, and creating white space for something great to happen.

(You can go back to my post on the ego here where I very lightly touch on the subject of our duality but basically, there are two of us going on in our noggins at the same time. One is the ego - the voice in your head. One is your true self - the voice in your heart. Or stomach, some people say they feel their higher self in their gut and that you’re either a gut person or a heart person. If that’s true, then I am most definitively a heart person.) 

Photo by: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo by: Chelise Renee Photography

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what the benefits are of being in this state of alignment and I can only speak from what I’ve experienced, of course, but honestly it’s pretty much the same as everything that I’ve read about it and heard about it from other people’s experiences. Everything sort of seems easier, it all flows. There seems to be less resistance as I’m going through my day, and my mind is a whole lot quieter. And when my mind is quieter and I’m free to enjoy the moment is when the real magic happens. That’s basically my goal throughout the entire day…how can I quiet this voice in my head and be in the moment? The idea is that if you are truly taking a moment and doing something that you and your higher self both agree is awesome - that you get a little power boost! Sort of like the wind is at your back. Your in a lazy river flowing downstream. Things seem easier and more peaceful than they otherwise would.  

I don’t want to make it seem easy, because it’s not exactly. Life happens. Especially when you’re a parent and your entire day hinges on whether or not you can get the toddler to nap so you can have a cup of coffee - finding alignment is not easy. It’s not easy in the winter when the sun is a stranger and everything seems cold and damp and unending. It’s not easy when your kids are screaming or you have that terrible cough that’s been going around or you’ve had a rough month financially. It’s certainly not easy. 

But it’s do-able. And worth it. And like anything, especially anything with a spiritual component it takes practice and patience. But I have good news! You can do it! Here are my 5 ways to alignment in 5 minutes or less. Give one or all of them a try if they catch your eye, or maybe it will spark an idea for something you can do for yourself. We are all unique individuals with unique preferences, that’s why Lady Gaga was born to perform music and William Turner was born to paint and my husband was born to write code. Alignment is going to look different for everybody, but we have to start somewhere.

 

#1) Turn off the news and put on some music.

I got totally turned on to bossanova songs from reading something on The Skinny Confidential. Oh my gosh if you haven’t experienced Lauryn Evarts she is a trip and also sometimes I think we’re best friends and get sad when I remember that….she doesn’t know me. Here is her playlist which is great and a mix of bossanova and other good stuff. But if I’m being honest usually I just say “Alexa, play Bossanova” and she just picks something random for me. I feel like I’m in the lobby of a fancy hotel but it’s really just my dirty kitchen! Listening to music instead of listening to the news has been a life changer by itself, but to get alignment out of music, don’t just have it on in the background but really close your eyes and listen. And dance, of course.

Alignment. Mindfulness. Meditation. Present.

 

#2) Get a special drink.

I definitely do this everyday. Usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It varies on the type of drink but it’s always something “special” aka not cold coffee. I have been making a lot of tea lattes lately (tutorial anyone?), coffee mixed with cocoa (ohhhhhh fancy much?) or mini Costco kombuchas mixed with sparkling water. Similarly with the music, sit down and sip your drink. Notice how great it tastes, how warming it is, how relaxed you feel. I will also buy myself a Starbucks from time to time and this works for me as well.

Alignment. Be Present. Present moment. Meditation. Mindfulness. Manifest.

 

#3) Diffuse Citrus

My friend got me a diffuser for Christmas and I have been using it in the mornings with a few drops of grapefruit oil and holy cow, it’s awesome. The grapefruit really is uplifting and refreshing, good vibes all around. This is the diffuser I was gifted and this is the oil I bought myself, I use 2-3 drops. Love them both. Put on your music and spend a few minutes breathing in this stuff and it’s fool-proof alignment. 


Alignment. Be Present. Present moment. Meditation. Mindfulness. Manifest.

 

#4) Light a candle

I read somewhere recently, honestly it was probably some sort of motivational quote from instagram, but that you should never light a candle without setting an intention for it. I love that. How do you want to feel after you light this candle? Just something to think about. Want to feel less stressed? Want to clear the air? Change the energy? Use a match. Light a candle that you’re crazy about. And maybe sip your fancy hot cocoa coffee with it (wink wink).


Alignment. Be Present. Present moment. Meditation. Mindfulness. Manifesting.

 

#5) Call a friend and listen.

Call a friend. Call your mom. Call your sister. With your voice. Really the point of this exercise in alignment is to take yourself out of your own head by listening to somebody else, and really listen. This is hard for me, I’m a talker, and I feel like my brain is always running on a treadmill when I’m trying to listen - but it’s something that I’m working on. It’s also hard with little kids underfoot because it’s always chaos up in my house. But it feels good to listen and REALLY listen to somebody, and really, how often does someone just call you up and say “Hey I was just wanting to know how you’re doing, tell me everything!” It feels good on both ends. When you get off the phone just soak in that energy for a minute, it feels good to connect.


Alignment. Be Present. Present moment. Meditation. Mindfulness. Manifesting.

 

Those are my 5 tips at the present! And if something does the trick one day and it doesn’t the next that’s totally fine. Just honor yourself. I went through a phase around Thanksgiving when I was listening to Miles Davis and cooking and it was making me SUPER happy, but now when I put on jazz it feels too chaotic, so I stopped. The point is to do something for yourself, in the moment, and to stay put in that moment for a minute.

 

Let me know what you think! Also some big change are coming to the site so stay tuned. I hope you like the new logo, it’s more “Younicorn” don’t you think? Also if you’re reading the blog please sign up for the email list at the top of the page - I don’t want you to miss any of the magic happening here.

2018: In Conclusion, Thank You.
Journal. Intentions. Meditation. Intuition. Creative Living.

At the end of the year, every year, I always have this desperate feeling of THANK GOD THE YEAR IS OVER, YUCK. I always feel a little gross after the holidays (thank you, Christmas cookies) and overwhelmed by all the people that I’ve seen (hello, four hundred holiday parties) and ready to hit the reset button. I love new beginnings. I love writing down my goals and intentions and resolutions and a fresh start. It should also be said that like 99% of us I never stick to those intention, but I’m a dreamer so I do enjoy setting them with all of my heart.

Lately I’ve been feeling like It’s equally important to take stock in the year that was, to give it a little respect and a little introspective sendoff before I start buying all the goal-setting journals I can get my hot little hands on.

It’s easy to want to wash the year away, looking forward to the unknown and the possibilities that lie ahead is so much fun! But take a moment and reflect on your year, the good and the bad. What was 2018 trying to teach you? What did 2018 give you? What was 2018 preparing you for? Think of the people around you and what they accomplished this year and feel their joy for them, feel their pain in the losses they experienced. I had three friends buy beautiful homes, two had babies, I was a Godmother! Friends got married on a vineyard! We’ve lost loved ones, pets, some friends have become strangers and strangers became friends. The sweet and the bitter. The dark and the light. We need it all to move forward and grow.

 

So thank you, 2018. For all of it.

 

I feel like I really stepped into my parenting this year. It’s not getting easier as the boys get older, but I’m learning to appreciate the season and the phase they are in. They are both sleeping better and I got more rest than I’ve gotten in 4 years, I gave myself permission to go to bed at 8:30 if I felt like it, and I did - a lot. My baby is on his way to becoming a toddler and soon enough my kitchen counter won’t be covered with bottles and pacifiers and bottles of infant Motrin. My toddler started preschool and is potty trained and I’m so very proud of him every day. He’s so funny, so moody, so ME. Thank you, 2018, for teaching me to enjoy the moment I’m in with them. Even if they are both having simultaneous temper tantrums and covered in boogers.

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

Photo: Chelise Renee Photography

I started a business! I started a blog! I went from having the idea to sell toast art boxes in March (while drinking wine in the shower after a particularly long day, tyvm) to following through and actually doing it. I never finish anything. It’s a trademark of mine, really, to have a million ideas and never follow through. I’m so proud of my website and so thrilled about how much I enjoy writing. And while I’m taking us in another direction in 2019, I really am grateful that I followed through and followed my heart in 2018.   

I read a million books! Okay not a million but definitely more books than I’ve read in the last ten years combined. A couple of my dearest girlfriends and I started a book club and every month we go Downtown to a nice dinner and chat about our book (for 2.5 seconds before we start chatting about other stuff but you know how it goes). I love reading! Who knew! I have three books on my nightstand right now and an audiobook all cued up for my next book club adventure and it’s really been a delight that I didn’t see coming.

I made a million mistakes. I struggled with my body and my eating habits a lot this year. I wasted a lot of money on a gym that I knew wasn’t a great fit, and eventually gave up. I’m trying to find my groove with health, with movement, with food - so I’m going to make that a focus of 2019 and learn from my missteps. I grieved old losses, and tried to make peace with them, some successfully and some not. I didn’t spend as much time in nature as I would like, but I did spend a lot more time trying to find silence in my mind and connect to that.

I saw somebody on Instagram say that 2018 was their chrysalis year, and I believe that to be true for me too. I spent my time growing, maturing, trying my best to evolve, learning and observing. Now is the time to spread my wings and put it into practice. Now is my time to create, unleash my magic, step into my truth. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for myself this year, for all of us. As you reflect on the year that passed and envision the year to come, I want you to know that your eyes on this page mean the world to me, and that you are seen.

See 2019 me above. 

The Ego Has Landed

The concept of the ego has been one of the hardest for me to grasp on this sort of introspective and spiritual journey I’ve been on this past year. The very concept of “mindfulness” and “creative living”, which are terms that I throw around and hashtag all the time, are really centered on the idea that we are of two minds - the ego and the, well, the not ego. The higher self. Your inner voice. Your intuition. That’s the voice that we should try to listen to more often and it’s so incredibly hard because the ego is the one that’s been screaming at you your entire life, the one in your head that you think is YOU but it’s not you.

It’s the one that worries about what other people think. The voice that tells you how bad you look when you catch yourself in the reflection of a random door or car mirror. The voice that tells you how you will never be enough, or that you’re not special, that keeps you up at night with your thoughts racing. That’s the ego. It’s bitchy and critical and probably telling you right now that this blog post is stupid woo-woo bullshit. The ego operates from a place of scarcity and fear, and I think that it’s the whole reason that we as humans have made it this far. The ego protects us, it worries about us getting kicked out of the tribe, it’s really just trying it’s best to keep us alive.

Meditation, creative living, intentionality (okay my computer is telling me that’s not a word but I’m keeping it) are all different ways of quieting the ego voice so that you can hear the inner voice. Apparently that voice has all the goods if you can get still enough to listen. I’ve been doing a lot of work on my ego and trying to catch myself when I start getting caught in a negative thought loop. This really ties in with one of my very first blog posts on deliberately changing your thinking and watching your reality follow suit. I would definitely go back and read that for a real life example of how our thoughts can create our feelings which shape our reality. It totally does! Read it. I’ll wait.

 Okay now is where we get to the part where I totally had it out with my ego on Christmas Eve-Eve. I was cantoring (a fancy word for leading the congregation musically, singing the psalm, mass pieces, etc) mass on Christmas Eve, with our church band, and had a ton of music to go over. I was singing for 25 minutes straight before before mass and then basically through the entire service however long that would be. So on the 23rd of December I met at the church with my music director and the “girl” who was going to be “helping out with harmony”. I had never met her, but was assured that she was great at harmonizing and sang at the Christmas Eve mass every year so she was familiar with the music. I pictured her as my little backup singer hanging back with the band, cute!

The reality was that I was splitting the music with her. Sharing the music. MY MUSIC. But I thought I was singing ALL the music! It’s not fair! I worked hard on the music! Then came the worst part.

She was good. She was really good. She was….

 

Better. Than. Me.

 

She was a lot better than me. She’s a high school choir teacher and can read music and is genuinely talented. She also went to the same college I did and completed the music program that I totally quit and still, sometimes, regret having done so. And she is 10 years younger than me.

 

I was furious.

 

I felt small and terrible and was so completely flustered that I rehearsed worse than I would have otherwise. The whole time I was thinking - Who does she think she is? God I am a terrible singer. This music is terrible. Who picked this music? ALSO WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?

 

I mumbled some form of “nice to meet you” and “see ya tomorrow” and left pissed off. In the car on the way home I immediately, as one does, called my sister to bitch and complain about the young talented girl stealing my spotlight. Afterwards, I didn’t feel any better, so I started to call my mom to do the same. I needed a fresh audience for my complaining! Then I would feel vindicated! Agree with me, world, for I have been wronged!!

 

Then suddenly it hit me that me ego was running the show and I was right on cue. Next I’ll call my mom to complain, and before the intermission I’ll complain to my husband about how the music director bamboozled me into singing with her, then for my grand finale I’ll worry about trying to look better than her at church tomorrow and secretly hope she bombs her stunning rendition of “Mary Did You Know?” 

But I didn’t do that. I didn’t call my mom. I had a good laugh at myself in the car (helloooooo I might be a crazy person tbh) and calmed down my ego to check in with my inner voice. Why was I upset about having to give up my music? Why was I feeling so threatened and insecure? I’m volunteering at church, to sing Christmas carols, and getting angry about it? Something is wrong with this picture.

 

What gives?

 

It didn’t take long for me to find the answer.

 Since I left my job I’ve been using cantoring to fill that void of self worth. I’ve taken on a lot more singing gigs lately (most of which I don’t get paid for, although some I do). I get dressed up and go to church and sing my heart out in front of tons of people, then I collect compliments and feel good about myself. I am good at singing. It feels good to know that. It feels good to have people come up afterwards and thank me or tell me I have a beautiful voice.  

She, this (truly very sweet) girl, was trying to take that away from me (that’s the ego talking). My bubble where I feel important and proud and accomplished was being threatened. My ego was going crazy. 

Once I acknowledged this then I could deal with it. I had let cantoring fill a void that it shouldn’t have, and now dealing with self-worth and it’s relationship to work or my lack of working, in my case, is something I need to explore.  

We sang together the next day and it was awesome. I felt great and strong and had the best time. After mass I hugged her and said “I had the most beautiful time singing with you, thank you so much”, and I really meant every word. Because it had nothing to do with her, she was just a sweet, talented girl who likes to come home for Christmas and sing at her old church. My ego was twisting me into being a victim and trying to ruin my night. Instead I felt beautiful and musical and very humbled, and I’ll take that any day of the week - especially on Christmas.


The Spirit of Christmas

The last thing attorney Kate Jordan wants to do is travel to Vermont during Christmas to oversee the sale of a gorgeous, yet undeniably chilling, estate. But what is it about this house that has everybody at unease? OH THAT’S RIGHT IT’S HAUNTED BY A SUPER HOT CHRISTMAS GHOST WITH A PERFECT BEARD NAMED DANIEL. He was murdered on Christmas Eve, and you can bet your last candy cane that Kate and Daniel solve the mystery of his murder together and fall in love in the process.

The-Spirit-of-Christmas-movie.jpg

 

I have watched this movie. The Spirit Of Christmas.

 

More than once.

 

This year.

 

Because I love it. I love those Hallmark-esque Romantic Christmas Themed movies. I love how all of the women have perfect blowouts and like 15 gorgeous wool coats. I love how they all involve a trip to New England. I love how people are always falling in love with ghosts or angels or time travelers. They. Are. Terrible. And. I. Love. Them.  

Put a pin in this because were going to come back to the sexy ghost. 

The-Spirit-of-Christmas-shirtless.jpg

Ahem.

 

I was having a conversation last night about holiday stress, and it just seems that no matter what you do to avoid your personal holiday triggers you simply can’t tip-toe around them. It’s in the energy. This year I made a deal with myself that I was going to have a completely flowing and lovely holiday full of ease and low cortisol levels. And yet, just yesterday I called my mom in a panic begging for some help with the kids so that I could take boxes downstairs and finish cookies for my swap and start wrapping presents and check all of my tracking numbers to be sure everything is arriving before Christmas and go to the Post Office and make a menu for Christmas Eve dinner so I can get groceries. 

Shit. I’ve done it again. 

Like I said, it’s hard to avoid. It all kind of snowballs for me about a week before Christmas. It’s like I’m looking at the calendar for the first time - what’s that, you say? Christmas in ONE WEEK? But despite the inevitable stress of the holiday I am feeling much happier than I have during past holiday whirlwinds.  

That’s because I have intentionally dropped the ball on several classic Christmas activities that I just wasn’t feelin’. I didn’t just drop the ball, I dropped the ball and then I kicked it into the ocean and watched the ball drift into the sunset. I punted that thing into oblivion. 

I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. I didn’t decorate the mantle. I didn’t take the kids to see Santa. I didn’t take the kids to the zoo light festival. I didn’t make cute ornaments with their hand-prints. I don’t feel one speck of guilt.

 

Because I’m honoring my preferences and it feels gooooooood.

 This is where I’m going back to The Spirit of Christmas and the hot ghost with the beard and suspenders, because I’m embracing all of the things and activities that bring me the most joy. I’m watching tons of Hallmark movies (more than once). I have baked TEN DOZEN COOKIES SO FAR. I started drinking Golden Mylk. I’m shopping my little heart out for my loved ones. I decorated cookies with my kids. Loads and loads of Christmas music and Polar Express. I’m singing carols on Christmas Eve at church. 

All of the above are things that feel good in this moment, in this season of my life. Drinking boatloads of coffee and zoning out while rolling dough makes me feel peaceful and full. Addressing Christmas cards and dragging out all of my decorations just feel stressful to me, so I’m not doing it. And I feel lighter and happier for it, I think my family does too. A lot of people, myself included, lose track of what they truly enjoy in their heart of hearts because we’re too busy doing crap to make other people happy. We think we’re being selfish. We’re TOLD we’re being selfish. This is true for all of us but especially for women and especially for mother’s of young children. My conditioning tells me that I should be cutting back on the Christmas cookies and taking my kids to the fancy mall to visit Santa. My heart is telling me to stay away from the mall and eat more cookies.

 

I’m listening to my heart.

 

Now here is your weekly dose of woo-woo from me. When we ignore our preferences and do crap that frankly we don’t care about that doesn’t serve us, we starve our connection to our intuition. The feeling in our gut or in our heart that says “this is good for me - do more” or “this is bad for me - do less” becomes quieter and quieter until you lose yourself in pleasing other people completely. That’s not a fun place to be, trust me. I still struggle with it all the time. But more and more often I’m simply doing things that make me feel good and letting go of the stuff that doesn’t work right now, and that inner voice that I lost so long ago is becoming a little louder everyday.

  

Let me know what you think and I’ll be back with a Christmas Day post next week! Tell me what are you doing this holiday season that lights you up like a Christmas Tree?