We've Come a Long Way, Baby

It’s true what they say. All of it. “Time goes by so fast. They grow up so quickly. The stages are all difficult in their own way”. None of that “advice” helped me as I struggled to pull myself into motherhood. And even since, at almost 5 years as a mother – I needed to learn these lessons on my own. I needed to be in the stage, struggle, and move through it – for me, these were not magical phrases that somehow made it all easier. I held my breath and nodded politely through gritted teeth when they were passed down to me.

And now here I am. With an almost 5 year-old, a preschool graduate. Repeating all of the above “advice” out loud, but only to my people, the ones who would never say I told you so. My sweet baby has been going to the same “school” since he was 5 months old. How cool is that? His daycare years turned right into his preschool days and he did life surrounded by teachers that changed his diaper when he was a baby and helped him to potty train as a toddler.

He made it. We made it. Through the first illnesses when we had to rush to pick him up, to the first stitches as an early walker, right on to the “oh my god is my child an a**hole” overreaction when we found out he hit a classmate. There have been countless days in this 5 years when I have asked him if he grew up at school today – singing the ABCs, counting in Spanish, writing his name, and showing off his newly learned yoga poses. Recently his response to that question has been “Yes, mom, that’s what big kids do” or “Yes, mom, because I’m going to kindergarten next year.”

(I’m not crying, you’re crying)

I’m tempted to stay stuck in the past – wishing I was home just a liiiiiitle bit more, wanting to make sure he knows I’m sorry that I yelled, or wondering why I never pulled my shit together to keep a daily journal for him. That's not helpful – for him or for my anxiety. He reminds me that we can always try again.

In almost one month I will be in Uganda – a dream trip that I have had in my heart for years. It will be the longest I have ever been away from him and I’m terrified. My mind wants to spend the days creating worst case scenarios and making up intricate stories about how he will forget about me and not love me quite as much when I return. Logically, I understand how ridiculous this sounds and I have been on high alert about it all to avoid passing down my anxiety to him. As if somehow my invisible thoughts will escape my brain and drift into his little body.

Sometimes when I give him an extra treat or we stay up a little late he will say, “mommy, do I get this because you love me so much?” The question pierces my heart – “no baby, I always love you so much, no matter what.” We are working on reminding him that he is always an amazing little boy, not “good” or “bad” – and that sometimes he just makes bad choices. I want him to know unconditional love – deep in his bones. I want him to feel it.

So, while traveling across the globe without him will be painful and scary – I think it will be good for both of us – we are starting new chapters. I will honor his wild curiosity, respect his independence, and watch him grow his own way. And I hope he sees a mother who has a heart and passion to teach and serve others, chase her dreams, and continue to choose courage over comfort. Besides, “Courage is a heart word. Be brave. Love hard.” – Brené Brown. I don’t think he is the only one graduating, moving on to new lessons in a new school – I think mothers graduate too. While our diplomas aren’t physical, they surely leave marks on our hearts. Like the little pink heart emoji with yellow stars on it – we learn through each stage and celebrate it as we watch our little ones grow.


Life Coaching // Tidying Up for Your Inner World

A lot of people ask me what it means to be a Life Coach; what does a life coach actually coach? Life? Kind of.

First, I never set out with the intention to “coach people’s lives.” As a new mom still dealing with some post partum issues I was working with a great therapist and talking about how I still loved teaching, but I had a feeling that there was “something more” that I wanted to do in my lfe.

And that feeling – that burning desire, the voice in my head that would say “what would it look like to do ____”, and that yearning for more connection – specifically with women to be open and honest about the things in life that get in our way – that feeling is one of the many topics that I work with my clients on.

I started to understand what my passions were – an interest in the research of Dr. Brené Brown, facilitating conversations that matter, connecting with others, and the desire to serve. That sounds a lot like teaching, right? Definitely. The missing piece for me was doing all of these things with women in a place where they could speak safely and openly about vulnerability and the parts of their lives that felt tucked away.

In my experience; we tend to focus on things in our lives that are “wrong”, or that we want to improve. That means two things 1) we are spending very little time focusing on what is “right” in our lives, and 2) if there isn’t a fire to put out in a certain life area then it tends to be set aside – which looks like being stagnant, monotonous, generally unfulfilling, or what many of my clients describe as “going through the motions”.

I was feeling stagnant – I had a new baby and I felt like I had gifts that weren’t being used. My life wasn’t bad, but it didn’t “spark joy”. I entered my life-coaching program with the intention of being able to apply to be a Daring Way Facilitator (trained in the research and curriculum of Dr. Brené Brown) once I was certified. In that yearlong program I learned a whole lot about myself – sometimes you have to take everything out, examine it, let some things go, and reorganize in order for life to feel full.

Sound familiar? Marie Kondo has been transforming our lives with her Netflix hit “Tidying Up”. She says that by looking at our space and keeping only things that “spark joy” we can lives full of more joy and prosperity. We must visualize our ideal life and then take inspired action to get there. In our house my husband has been using “Kondo’ing” as a verb “I just Kondo’ed the shit out of that closet.” And it’s dramatically improved the way we feel at home.

Her KonMari Method says that we commit to tidying, tidy by category, thank and discard items, and keep and tidy only the things that “spark joy”. Life Coaching is like the KonMari method for your mental and emotional space. We must visualize our ideal lives, and take inspired action to create them. Coaching brings clarity, organization, simplicity, and joy into areas outside of our physical space – our relationships, career, parenthood, spirituality, hobbies, health and wellness.

As a life coach I help my clients (whom tend to be women) examine what vulnerability means – this looks like having the courage to sift through their lives. How fulfilling is their work? What is the most difficult part of motherhood? What is stopping them from making a change in how they communicate, or not communicate? How do they keep ending up feeling like they are “running on empty? Why is it so hard to say “no?” Why are they so hard on themselves?

I won’t create the agenda or goals; coaching is unlike consulting or mentoring in that way. Unlike therapy we won’t spend a lot of time in the past, perhaps only to let go of some things that are no longer of service or satisfaction. We won’t look at things as “issues” or “problems”, in our work together we will consider them opportunities.

As a coach my job is to ask the tough questions, recognize the patterns, identify the energy, track the goals, celebrate the wins, clear the blocks, keep accountability, and help my clients live a Wholehearted life.

Finally, coaching is not about giving clients the answers. I believe that we already have them; they may just be hiding underneath a pile of limiting beliefs, in between some assumptions, or behind an inner critic. Besides – I can’t tell you what “sparks joy” for you; only you can do that.

Picture // Erik Brolin  Inspired by // Ingrid Fetell Lee  “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It”  +  “Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness”

Picture // Erik Brolin

Inspired by // Ingrid Fetell Lee “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It” + “Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness”

Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/ingrid_fetell_le...

On Faith + Gratitude

I need permission. Permission to celebrate this day. Permission to get weepy and emotional. Permission to look back in wonder at how the most difficult two weeks of our lives unfolded. Permission to admit that I didn’t think we would make it through that time.

3 years ago today, when you were just 2 months, 3 weeks, and 6 days old we brought you to Children’s Hospital for what we believed would be a surgery to remove neuroblastoma. Cancer. There was a mass inside of you, in your tiny chest.

It has taken me 3 years to fully process the experience, to understand how it made me feel as a mother, and to be able to grasp the small miracles that happened along the way and learn from them.

If we’re being honest, I didn’t do a great job as your mom those two weeks. I was stuck in a depression deeper than I ever thought possible and could barely take care of myself. I simply could not wrap my head around the fact that after I was torn apart and put back together again, twice, you would be taken apart too. Hope came and went. Some days I believed that everything would be OK, and other days I was convinced you would die. There wasn’t a day in those two weeks that I did not cry, and I would lie in bed each night and ask your dad “what if” questions.  I was not calm, I did not process my emotions, and my “motherly instincts” hadn’t kicked in yet.

But I prayed. A lot. I told God that I wouldn’t only pray during hard times anymore, if please just this one time, everything could be OK.  I realize the two gifts that this experience gave to us were a new understanding of gratitude and faith.

Grandma and I waited with you for your X-ray results to come back. You were asleep in your car seat when the door to the waiting room opened. It had taken way too long, and we had already started to get anxious. When the door opened and there were 6 people entering the room, my stomach dropped. They found a mass. It was in your chest, near your lungs, but also near your spine. I felt like time stopped and I dropped to my knees and broke down.

Grandma tried to stay calm, but we both cried so hard that we shook. I remember her telling me that I was your mom, and that I was going to have to make big decisions. I realize now that I have had quite a bit of shame about not staying optimistic, patient, and calm.

You endured a lot of tests within a short period of time. As a tiny human, there wasn’t much more that you wanted to do other than eat and sleep, and many of those tests interrupted both. We spent hours in various rooms at the hospital and many of those times you weren’t allowed to have any food. Nurses would come in and help Grandma and I do the “rock ‘n sway”.

Your first test was an MRI and you had to be given anesthesia. When you came out two nurses had to stand over your crib for almost 2 hours. They just watched you, and so did we. It was after this test that the doctors used terms like “mass”, “tumor”, “biopsy”, “cancer”, and “oncology”. Within a couple of days we had a team of doctors to meet with who would make a plan for your surgery as well as your “treatment”.

When we brought you in for a Cat Scan there was a lovely nurse who made it her life (OK, maybe day) goal to help get you to sleep so that you didn’t need to go under again. We put you in a special board and she found us a dark room and Grandma rocked and shushed for so long that you finally fell asleep. The nurse put a huge blanket over you and carried you to the machine. You slept through the entire test This made her (and our) day.

After that big win, Grandma and I decided we could stop for a beer to celebrate. On that drive, I accidentally bumped the car in front of us at a stop light (OK, full disclosure: Grandma told me to look at a picture of you that she took). We got out and the driver immediately saw the Children’s Hospital stickers on our shirts. He asked if we were coming from the hospital. Tears streamed from my eyes as I explained that you had neuroblastoma, and that you’d be operated on soon. His name was Charlie, and he used to work at the hospital with your surgeon! He spent 10 minutes talking to us about how wonderful your doctors were, and how he had great faith in Children’s Hospital.

There was that word. Faith. I had struggled with it for years. I had faith, but in what? In God, in a God that I struggled to define. This experience helped me understand what faith meant to me; and that it was born from gratitude.

Six days before your surgery I reached out to the priest that married us. Through pouring tears I told him that I felt like my world was collapsing around me, that I wanted his help in supported your dad, and that I needed to find my faith. I look back at the message I sent him and can still feel my eyes burning and shoulders heaving as I typed it. Within 4 minutes of sending the message Father Whitney called me. He asked if I was home and what our address was. He said he would come over that evening and pray with us. We called Grandma and Grandpa Lundquist and your aunts, uncles, and cousins to come over that evening and pray with us. I didn't really know what this would mean, or how to do it, but I knew I needed it.

That night, in the most perfect way, you were baptized in our living room. You were surrounded by family, and had hundreds of people praying for you and sending you loving energy. For the first time in days, I felt good. I felt hope. I felt like somehow, I had the strength to be a (good enough) mother. And I felt like I had found some faith.

“Faith is a place of mystery, where we can find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” –Brené Brown

In between all of your tests and your surgery, Grandma suggested we start a gratitude list. We furiously scribbled big things, little things, and everything in between down to be grateful for. I carried this crumbled paper with me everyday. I credit this experience to helping me understand that gratitude is a practice- with action steps- and not just an attitude. 

A list of everyday Gratitudes that we carried with us

A list of everyday Gratitudes that we carried with us

Each day our eyes and ears were open to all of the little things that could be right with the world. The nurse who brought us graham crackers, my brand new Peps friends who started us a meal train, the fact that you pooped, the women we met whose daughter’s cancer treatment was cut in half because she was doing so well. We scribbled all of it down. And when our minds went haywire, we took out the sheet and took turns reading all of the things out loud.

“There is no joy without gratitude.” –Brené Brown

Your surgery was supposed to take 4-7 hours. The recovery would be at least a week in the hospital, followed by whatever other treatments you would need. One day just before your surgery, when it was particularly hard to calm you, I stepped outside of our hospital room and fell apart. I was sure that I didn't have what it took to go through whatever was ahead of us. The nurse who helped us earlier hugged me for a long time.  She told me that it was very likely that I had a long road ahead of me, and that I needed to be there for you. I had everything I needed to be a good mother, I just had to get past the fear.

We were in a tiny glass room waiting for the nurses to bring you back into surgey. That morning friends and family texted and sent messages, wishing you well, praying and sending hope. Charlie, the man whose car I hit, sent me a text to tell us that he was praying for you, and that he had faith. We all took turns rocking you. We tried to smile through tears. When the nurse finally came to take you back I can remember handing you over to him. You looked so tiny in his arms, and he walked away for what felt like forever.

Just short of two hours into surgery we got paged. The nurse at the nurse’s station told us that surgery was over. I was hysterical and kept shouting that it was supposed to take much longer. The nurse dialed into the operating room and handed me the phone. The operating room nurse said, “Miss Jankus, surgery went well. There was no need for a bone marrow biopsy.” I knew immediately that this meant that you did not have cancer. I didn't know how, or why, or what it meant, but I felt relieved and could hear the nurse smile through the phone.

The doctor came into the tiny room we waited in and had images of what was called a pulmonary sequestration. You tried to grow a third lung, and that mass showed up on your X-ray. He was elated; we sat in that room and cried tears of joy. The surgeons were able to remove this lobe of lung tissue with no issues and said that you can grow into a perfectly healthy boy.

This is a picture of the extra lobe that was removed from your chest. The doctor noted that it was "a healthy piece of tissue."

This is a picture of the extra lobe that was removed from your chest. The doctor noted that it was "a healthy piece of tissue."

We will practice gratitude together every day. We will remind each other of the big things and the little things that we have to be grateful for. We will share this gratitude with others, because I think I’ve learned that gratitude is contagious. October 30 is a special day, a day to recognize and remember your strength and our blessings.

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.” –Brené Brown


Why I'm Giving The Word Hustle the Middle Finger

At the end of a week from hell and hormonal spiral I came to the conclusion that I am not, in fact, doing very well at practicing what I preach. It surfaced a couple of months ago that I did much better at putting others before myself, and for some reason the research surrounding the notion that being an “obliger” is a thing, made me think: “other people do this too, so it must be ok.”

It is not OK. And you know what else is not acceptable? Telling myself that if I keep hustling, I will have it “all”. What does “all of it” even look like? The more I research finding balance, particularly for mothers and/or working women, the more I realize that balance is a myth.

Your balance does not look like my balance: your child weight might be more than mine (perhaps you have 3 children instead of 1), my work weight might be heavier than yours (I am a teacher so I do much of my work at home instead of shutting down at the office), etc. I was one-size fits all balance searching; and that just isn’t out there. So, while “tips and tricks for a more balanced life” is still a headline that has me click faster than I can think; I am practicing tweaking said tips and tricks to suit my own life and values.

I love teaching, and I have taught 4, even 5 college courses per quarter before. And I was busy, but nothing a Sunday at my favorite Seattle coffee shop power grading couldn’t fix. I am still adjusting to motherhood in some sense. And because my son is 2 ½, I don’t give myself that grace, I often feel as if I should have it all down and know our routine.

Reflecting on that through some journaling exercises helped me to understand just how silly that is. Each season is a new phase, for him developmentally, for us as a family, and of course, for our schedules. What works for us this week might look very different for the next. 

His naps are getting shorter, and potty training is a full-time gig some days. I said yes to 4 classes this quarter, and a schedule that keeps me away for more hours than I’m used to. And it just dawned on me that my month long lingering cold, the restless sleep, the “am I doing ___ good enough” mental loop are all symptoms. And I decided it was time to pay attention.

In her book, Present over Perfect Shauna Niequist writes, “You can’t have yes without no. Another way to say it: if you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without realizing it. In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments.”

Can I get an Amen?

I got caught up on the hustle loop. And you know what, that word, hustle, is really starting to piss me off. How about we all chill out, stop hustling, maybe even avoid it at all costs? What would it feel like to be on a path to being present in each of our daily tasks instead of trying to set a multitasking record? Our US American culture pushes the value of hustling down our throats so often that we are socialized to believe that if we have any down time we must be lazy.

I am so excited to be a new life coach, creating content and doing workshops, so in addition to momming and wifing and teaching; I started going too fast. Like when you look up a sprint workout on Pinterest and blindly set the speed to 10 before you even know if you’re capable of running that fast?  I thought that because other people could be running at that pace; I should try it too. (I cannot run at a 10. I blame it on my 5” 1’ 1/2 ness, but maybe my body isn’t meant to go that fast.) Either way, it’s cool.

In all of my doing, I started leaving out the elements of life that I was using to reset myself: the meditation, mindfulness reading and meal prepping. The moments of quietly reading a book and being totally aware of what I was reading. The opportunity to spend an entire day on the weekend chasing my son around the house and staying in pajamas.

These elements also happened to be the ones that I worked with clients to illuminate in their own lives, funny isn’t it, it’s like I slipped into thinking that because I talked about these things they would just make their way into my daily life. Nope. You actually have to do them. Mindfully and with intention.

Here’s to shaking off the hustle. What do you need to take off your plate to feel more grounded?




Labor, Delivery + the Birth of Intuition

This is my account of my bru-tiful (brutal + beautiful) adventure. My birth story includes loss, of roles and temporarily of faith, but it also includes the birth of a whole new woman in ways well beyond motherhood.

Around 2:30 am during my first day of labor, I was still awake, hopping on the exercise ball every 9 or so minutes. It had been about 8 ½ hours. The contractions had started lasting longer and becoming more intense. I couldn’t bounce them out anymore and I called my mom in tears.

We drove to the hospital and got rejected 3 times. The first, on Saturday, was when my water broke. Or so I thought. Turns out I just peed all over everything. They gave me a shot and told me nice things about going home and “getting some rest”. There may have been a few hours of mild relief. As in, I wasn’t crying.

Something wasn’t right. I felt it in my gut.

By Sunday my husband brought a folding chair into our shower. I was only comfortable underneath the pounding, hot water. Mostly standing and rocking. And crying. And screaming into the walls every 4 or 5 minutes when the contractions came. I didn't eat or sleep. I didn't think much, either. There was an intense pain that swallowed my entire being.

As I think back on the experience, I fight with disappointment and anger, mostly towards myself. I knew by the second time we went to the hospital that something was not right. I knew. Not because I read a blog post about it, or went to a class for it. I knew because I felt it in my gut. And I should have listened to that intuition and spoke up about her power and wisdom.

Instead I was sent home. My water hadn’t broke and I was not dilated. At all. So I labored. For  over 4 days.

The drive to the hospital on Tuesday was brutal. I clenched the door handle in the car with my eyes closed, groaning and screaming like a wild beast every 2 minutes. My husband drove with determination and care, and a deep knowing not to speak to me.

The nurse was kind and rubbed my naked back as I stood in the tiny hospital shower, asking me questions for check-in in between my contractions. “It’s Ok, sweetie”, “take your time”, “make sure you breathe”. This was my birth story, and I was already disappointed by it. 

Looking back, I realize that I had lost my breath through the whole experience.

Brene Brown’s fifth guidepost for Whole-Hearted Living is “Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty”. She says,

Intuition is not a single way of knowing - it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith and reason.

I fought with my longing for a natural birth. The doctors told me that I needed an epidural, that I wouldn't have the strength to delivery my baby after laboring for four days. I felt like something was stolen from me, that I had somehow already failed as a mother with my son still inside of me. My connection with myself had somehow been severed.

A new nurse came in and I asked if it was normal to feel sick from the epidural. She assured me that side effects varied and that my convulsion-esque shaking was nothing to be worried about. I told her that my throat was really sore, it was hard to breathe, and my body was achey like the flu.

I knew something wasn’t right. I felt it.

I had developed a virus called “chorio”, most likely from prolonged labor. My heart rate was rising quickly, and so was Micah’s. New groups of people were moving in and out of the room and before we knew it, we were being prepped for surgery.

The first part of the C-Section felt quick, getting Micah out went well. The doctor apologized for the wait in stitching me up and said that my intestines weren’t cooperating. “They keep popping back out”. Little did I know this was only the beginning of the long road to recovery for me.

I got to hold my sweet baby boy for a few minutes before the nurses came in to check me after the surgery. 

The nurse put pressure on my pelvic area and I screamed in pain as blood started shooting out of me. Within seconds Micah was taken from my arms, a hospital alarm was going off and I was being rushed down the hallway by nurses.

I remember looking at the nurse as she ran next to my bed. She held my hand and wiped the tears from my eyes. I only had one question, “Am I going to die?” She stroked my hair out of my face and never answered me. 

When I woke up the doctor explained that I had hemorrhaged. I had lost a lot of blood and would need a blood transfusion. My iron was dangerously low and they were starting intravenous supplementation. I had a long road ahead of me. A road to personal recovery that would be made more winding and bumpy because I was also responsible for my tiny human. 

How could motherhood already feel so impossible, when I had only held my son for mere minutes?

At my two week check up I limped into the examine room, showing the doctor my swollen, red incision that was burning hot to the touch and oozing. It was infected. I would have to be reopened. Immediately. My brain could not process what was happening quickly enough, I felt completely out of control of my body. And disconnected. How could this body, that grew a beautiful baby boy be so damaged now?

The first month of motherhood is an absolute blur to me. Most days I was too sick and weak to care for my baby. My mom and husband opened my incision twice a day for 3 weeks, packing and unpacking it with bandages. I journeyed back and forth to the hospital every other day, first to have my incision examined, then to receive a round of intravenous iron.  Each time my wound was reopened I lost a part of myself. I didn't have the strength to nourish myself.

My spirit was deeply wounded, as a woman and a mother.

My intuition was trying to speak to me and I pushed her away. I did that frequently during my first year of motherhood. Micah is 2 1/2 now. I am at a place of peace as I reflect on how each part of my journey into motherhood has been a gift and a lesson. 

I worked hard these 2 1/2 years, tapping into what my intuition feels like, what her voice sounds like and how she breathes. I go back into the memories, the ones that sometimes still bring me to my knees, and examine how I was able to grow from the first month. To look at how strong I was, and how capable my body is.

It is still tender to place my hand on my incision, I still feel sensations of stretching and burning within me. Most days, tears well in my eyes when I examine the scar in the mirror. The tears have morphed from tears of fear and disgust to those of gratitude, for the voice I found and the love I am able to receive.

“And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.” Marianne Williamson

What is your story? Is it a birth story, a story of loss and grief, does your story jump rope with depression and anxiety? Share it. Use your story to empower your sisters. To be heard. To listen to your intuition. To write your own ending. 

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for making sense of the world... Our deepest source of wisdom lives inside our stories. Brene Brown


What Feeling Squishy on My Birthday Taught Me + Lessons on Habits & Feelings

This isn’t just another “New Year, New Me” post. It’s not another weight loss journey. And it’s not about learning to love myself.

Well, actually, that last one. It’s all about that. And it’s hard.

I was enjoying a new coffee shop on my birthday, surrounded by my favorite books and journals. Alone. And so happy for the solitude. Every few minutes I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, trying to adjust the waistband on my pants to somehow shrink the soft and squishy belly that is oozing out.

“Stop it, Mandy; your weight does not define who you are.” “Be gentle with yourself; it’s been a busy few months.”

I pull down my over-sized sweater to ensure that there is no spillage visible. I’ve always liked oversized, boho style clothes. The flowy nature, sheer comfort of being able to breathe freely and the layers. All the layers. 

I got called out a few weeks ago though. By my parents. “Mandy, there you go, wearing all of those giant clothes again, covering yourself up.” I defended my wardrobe through warm tears that poured down my round cheeks.

I’ve reflected a lot lately. I’ve learned new meditation techniques. I am studying self-compassion. I’ve earned my Life Coach certification. I am doing the work.

So why the hell do I still find it impossible to be deeply happy with myself?

This is not about accepting myself. This is about the realization that I am numbing. I am numbing with food (cheese, please), but mostly alcohol. Am I an alcoholic? No, but that’s another post. As a wife, the mom of a 2 ½ year old boy, a full-time college instructor, and a brand new entrepreneur; I’m busy.

Brene Brown says, “Shame enters for those of us who experience anxiety because not only are we feeling fearful, out of control, and incapable of managing our increasingly demanding lives, but eventually our anxiety is compounded and made unbearable by our belief that if we were just smarter, stronger, or better, we’d be able to handle everything. Numbing here becomes a way to take the edge off of both instability and inadequacy."

Ding, ding, ding. Lightbulb moment. As a teacher, I love those.

What do I do when I feel overwhelmed?

I sit on the couch each night after a long day and drink a couple glasses of wine and snack on all the things. For the last 6 months that has become my “down” time. Lovely, right? Drinking calories and eating even when I’m not hungry as I stare at the TV for 2 hours. But I deserve it, I tell myself.

In this couple of days of reflection, the reality is that I am disappointed with myself. The good news is that I have a toolbox full of tools to help me shift that perspective.

A bit of self-compassion here {Mandy, this is all so hard and a lot of it is new} and some reframing there {Mandy, it is clear that you are not happy about the habits you have created, what do you want to do to change them?}

Habits are hard. I have a lot of habits in my life that I am happy about, and now I see that I have some negative ones that have taken control. Gretchin Rubin wrote a whole book about them. It was not surprising that my result from taking her Habits Quiz, was that I am considered an Obliger.

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. In other words, they work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down.

Obligers may find it difficult to form a habit, because often we undertake habits for our own benefit, and Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves.

For Obligers, the
 key to forming habits is to create external accountability.

 And there you have it. I have no problem letting myself down.

Do I readily let my son or husband down, Hell NO! My clients or new business endeavors? Over my dead body. My students? NEVER! But myself? Yep, I just put myself right on the back burner. Oy.

So, I have resorted to “taking the edge off” by being sedentary, drinking a couple of glasses of wine, eating cheese and staring at the television. I do a ton of other really great things during the day! But these numbing habits have stolen my mojo.

I’m excited for this journey. Another growth opportunity. I don’t like feeling squishy, I enjoy feeling strong and athletic. And because I am becoming fluent in The Desire Map as a facilitator, it means I have been practicing a lot on my own.

If a feeling is much stronger than a thought, and I have negative thoughts AND feelings about myself, well then it’s time to shake things up!

Danielle Laporte says, “You’re not chasing the goal itself- you’re chasing the feelings that you hope attaining those goals will give you.”

When I jam on my Core Desired Feelings in the Body & Wellness section of my life, I want to feel:

strong, badass, fast, fortified, toned, fierce, unshakable, lean, flexible, athletic, nourished, alive, boundless, confident, energized, fresh, revitalized, holistic and feminine.

So, what am I doing about it? Lots of things. Signed up with a badass personal trainer {Shout Out to the magical Hilary Paris in West Seattle}, started eating chicken + bone broth (after being a vegetarian for 12 years), began the Whole 30 program, and committed to 30 minutes of meditation each day. 

Basically, I am learning how to listen to my body.

How do you want to feel? In your relationships? In your career? In your body? In your spiritual life?

What REALLY makes you feel lit up, and how often to you feel that way in your daily life?

If you yearn to find your Core Desired Feelings, let's chat! 

Comment below on how you want to feel. May you feel those feelings often in 2017.







Fall Into Yourself

Happy fall. Here in Seattle, the rain is coming. The dense, vast clouds are coming, the ones that sometimes feel as if they might suffocate you with their heaviness and gray. But the fall is a season of change and shedding what does not serve us. Regrowth.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sweet coolness in the salty air; the Halloween décor is out and there are already articles about how to host the perfect Thanksgiving meal. It feels difficult to enjoy the misty, cleansing rain when there is so much to prepare for. The changing of the season tends to bring on stress and a pressure to hustle.

What would happen if you took time to wade into the season, practicing a mindful way to enjoy the changing of the colors?

Here are three ways to emerge this {FALL}

1. Practice Gratitude Early.

Who says being thankful can only take place in November? How about reaping the benefits of a daily gratitude practice early this year and getting really clear on WHY you are grateful for what is in your life. Taking some time to uncover why you are grateful will set you up to enjoy all of the benefits that gratitude has to offer. An article in Forbes says the gratitude improves health and relationships.

So you are grateful for your loving family, or cozy home, but WHY? How do those things make you feel inside?

After you start to explore WHY you are grateful you can learn to identify how to gain more of those feelings in your life. I am immensely grateful for the first day of a new quarter with my students; the energy and anticipation for what they will learn in a class is palpable. I am grateful for this because it makes me feel: confident {I LOVE teaching}.

2. Master Self-Compassion.

As the season for giving fast approaches, ask yourself when the last time you gave yourself some love was. We give and love others best when our own cup is full. Unfortunately, we spend a lot of time and wasted energy beating ourselves up, telling ourselves that we are not worthy in some way. This takes a toll on us and those limiting beliefs hold us back from our potentials as mothers, partners and friends, the beliefs essentially draining us little by little. 

How can you be more kind to yourself each day?

In her book,  Kristin Neff writes, “you have to care about yourself before you can really care about other people. If you are continually judging and criticizing yourself while trying to be kind to others, you are drawing artificial boundaries and distinctions that only lead to feelings of separation and isolation.”

Essentially, being tough on ourselves closes our heart and sets us up for being inauthentic.  Yuck, definitely not the type of re-growth I’m into.

 3. Learn About Consciousness.

Meditation and conciousness aren’t just hip buzzwords anymore.

Scientific research is backing up the benefits that we gain individually and collectively when we learn how to tune in. We don’t need to spend hours on the hilltop to gain insight on how to be present. We just need to spend a little more time listening to how we {talk} to ourselves.

Guru Jagat, a Kundalini yoga instructor, says that it’s as easy as paying attention to what we are telling ourselves.

What is your first thought every morning? Is it positive or negative? Do you amp yourself up for the day, or armor up to slug through it?

Jagat says that we should be paying attention to the sounds that we are habitually creating nonverbally {inner thoughts} and replace them with a higher vibrational frequency {something positive}. In order to do this we can think about or write our own affirmations {I am abundant} or use a guided practice to help us stay positive.

This fall take time to emerge, to manifest, to shed what no longer serves you.

How will you fall into yourself this season?

Pain As Promise

When I pass the medical bandages as I am casually strolling through the aisles at Target I still get a twinge where my c-section incision is. In a split second I can remember my mom and husband pulling open my incision, just two weeks after having my son, and stuffing the bandages in or tugging them out. This went on for over 3 weeks, twice a day, in hopes that my infection would heal. And it did. Eventually. But my mind and spirit took a bit more time.

Chasing pain, digging it up and examining it is new to me. But over the last year that process has revolutionized the way that I identify and express myself. In a podcast with Glennon Melton Doyle the topic of pain was front and center, and it left an impact on me. You see, my pain is just like your pain, and sometimes when we share our pain we can learn that pain doesn’t have to intimidate us, it might even bring us closer together.

As an instructor who teaches Intercultural Communication, the concepts of norms and values come up on a daily basis in my life. As an American woman, the concepts of exposing vulnerabilities and valuing pain do not. Glennon uses the metaphor of a hot potato when she discusses pain, she says, “we live in a culture that treats pain like a hot potato, the second we get it we try to get rid of it.”

I listened to that statement and I sat with it. I got uncomfortable, defensive and then I owned it. Yep, I hot potato the shit out of my pain. And it does me no good.

One of my pains actually showed me a way to my new career as a coach, but it took a year for me to even recognize that. After a 4 day labor that busted my dreams of a natural birth with the invasion of a C-section I was already off to a rocky start to motherhood. Flash forward to an infection, hemorrhage, blood transfusion, intravenous iron, and a re-opening of my incision two weeks post-op due to another infection; I was sure that I was cursed. And I was in denial of all of the pain that came along with that, and tried like hell to run from it.

Glennon said, “pain demands to be felt, you can choose not to feel it, but somebody else will.”

And that’s exactly what happened. I felt so scared of admitting that on top of all that had happened, postpartum depression was added to the list.  And I hot potato’ed it. Mostly on to my husband, who was caring and supportive and took care of all the things. But that made me even angrier. I was doing everything I could to push him farther away, so I could sit in the hurt that I obviously deserved (or so I thought at the time). I snapped at him, I blamed him and I blamed myself. I ran away from the way I was feeling and when I wasn’t trying to give it away I was busy stuffing it underneath something.

I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just get at least one thing right in motherhood.

Our culture has taught us to treat pain like a sign of failure and a taboo topic. As a new mother I thought that I was supposed to transform into supermom as soon as I held my new baby in my arms. I would know how to do and be all the things, to him and to those around me, holding my new identity high like a trophy. When this didn’t happen for me I immediately thought there was something wrong with me, and gave myself an F in all things motherhood.

Glennon said, “the only things that grow us are love and pain.” In the year after my son was born I examined what made me feel most fulfilled, the answers circled back to connection and honesty. This is where I lived and thrived.

Throughout the year of my coaching certification I was able to understand that we are never alone in our pain, and that exploring it leads to healing and lessons. It was through the exploration of those experiences that I learned that sharing this story was not a sign of failure or weakness, but a testament to how strong and badass women are, myself included. I stepped into the things that were hard for me and changed my mindset to consider the ways in which they helped me grow, as a woman, a mother and a wife.

“This is the heavy stuff that we were meant to help each other carry.”

I ask you to consider this:

What if pain is like the fertilizer to love? What if it helps to grow and feed the seeds that are in each and every one of us? What if, instead of running away from pain or hiding from it, we were able to learn and flourish from it? And what would happen if we did it together?






Complimentary coaching session

Dearest mamas, 

As mama to a 19-month-old son and a life coach, I am passionate about empowering fellow mothers to gain clarity in their lives and ignite a vision for who they want to be.
To learn more about the challenges that mothers face as they navigate their lives and other roles—and ultimately serve them!—I am seeking mothers (or mothers to be) to show me a behind-the-scenes look at their lives through an interview. Your input will help inform future coaching programs, workshops, and marketing for mothers in need of support.

The details

  • Participate in a 30 to 45 minute phone interview. In this call we will explore the energy that you are bringing to the different roles in your life and how you can use your energy to live as your ideal self.
  • In exchange for your time, I would love to offer you a complimentary 45-minute exploration coaching session with me to help ignite your vision for a specific area of your life.  

I will keep your involvement in the project (and any information you share with me) anonymous unless you give me permission to share. 

Get involved!

Interested? Fill out this form on my contact page to schedule your interview and complementary coaching session. 

Cheers, Mandy


About my practice

I help mothers like you realize your full potential, raise your energy, and live a life that glows in abundance. I do this through one-on-one and group coaching that empowers and inspires passion and creativity, finding your light and passion, nourishing your spirit, and elevating your life. In my practice, I use a heart-centered approach focused on connection and inner exploration.
I am currently pursuing my coaching certification as a Certified Professional Master Coach by the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF). A teacher and a student at heart, I am also a Communications instructor at Bellevue College, specializing in Human Communication. My B.A. and M.A. are from Purdue University Calumet, where I majored in General Communication, with a focus on Women’s Studies.

I am exhilarated by the stories of mothers who seek coherence in their own intentions. A leading light that will hold space for the courage to be vulnerable while designing a new blueprint for life, for relationships, to help your spirit glow. I am an Illumination Coach; ready to guide you to grow, be it in your career, within yourself, or in a relationship. I want to help you find the courage to examine your whole life and live it to it’s fullest potential. With a nourished spirit.