How to Write 30 Children’s Stories in 30 Days

#ChiBoWriMo 30 Writing Prompts for Children’s Books. Read on for thirty writing prompts to keep you motivated. 

I’ve fallen off the wagon.

This last year has felt out of sorts.

In the last two months, we have…

…said goodbye to our dog of fifteen years

…our 3.5 yr old daughter left the daycare she had been at since she was four months old and started at a new preschool

…we sold our house

…we bought a new house and did a large remodel in thirty days

…then we moved and went right into having house guests visit

All that to say, I need some routine in my life. Especially in my writing.

My birthday was this week and I’d like to start the year off right.

I want to help you gain a feeling of accomplishment too.  So whether you have thought it would be fun to write your own children’s book, or you just need a new goal to flex your creative muscle, I’ve got something for you!

Come November, you often hear the writing community discussing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Their goal is to finish a 50k word manuscript in the month of November.

It’s a great goal, but it doesn’t translate to those of us that want to write children’s books.

So in an effort to get motivated and try something new, I’m challenging myself to write 30 children’s books in 30 days. One book a day in the month of November,

Sure, these will not all be gems. I know that. But the goal is all about creating routine and space for creativity to come out.

Want to write 30 stories too??? I’m starting #ChiBoWriMo (Children’s Book Writing Month), and you can join me!

(yes I totally just made up #ChiBoWriMo)

Read on for thirty writing prompts to keep you motivated.  Then use #ChiBoWriMo online if you want to share your progress for accountability.

#ChiBoWriMo: 30 Writing Prompts for Children’s Books

  1. Write a story about a pet
  2. Write a short, silly rhyme for 1-3 yr olds (think Sandra Boynton)
  3. Write a story about a bubble bath gone wrong
  4. Write a story where they live in a strange location (spaceship, treehouse, etc)
  5. Write a story about how to promote kindness in the world
  6. Write a story about ice cream
  7. Write a story about kids that sell something
  8. Write a story about a free day with no routine
  9. Write a story about a unique animal
  10. Write a story explaining how you would make new friends if you moved to a new place
  11. Write a story about a grumpy object
  12. Write a story about a hair cut
  13. Write a story about something strange happening at the library
  14. Write a story that has a game element to it
  15. Write a story about an animal that is part of the circus
  16. Write a story about a secret door
  17. Write a story that pulls from a fond childhood memory
  18. Write a story on a hot topic for kids (use google to research)
  19. Write a story that has a character with a growth mindset
  20. Write a poem
  21. Write a story about a food eating contest
  22. Write a story about a shocking gift from a crazy aunt
  23. Write a story about the profession you wanted as a kid
  24. Write a story that revolves around one emotion
  25. Write a story about a child that woke up and was all of a sudden an adult
  26. Write a story about a never-ending supply of something totally normal (floss, paper plates, shoes, etc)
  27. Write a story about your car breaking down and having to ride your bike everywhere
  28. Write a story about waiting in line for a very long time (think about everything you might observe)
  29. Write a story about never growing up
  30. Write a story about something random you find in a junk drawer

 

Happy Writing!

Now I’m off to do ALL the Halloween things.  Thankfully I finally had kids so that I don’t have to be the creepy adult trick or treater in the neighborhood – anymore-:)

 

 

 

 

 

Quit All 2019 Resolutions Today

Resolutions are for quitters. One slip-up and you feel like all is lost. You’re a failure. You didn’t try hard enough. Game over.

I am a goal setter. Are you?

I’m currently mapping out 2019. My list is long and spans many facets of life (business, marital, social, physical, spiritual, financial, family, hobbies…), but the one thing you won’t find on my list?

Resolutions.

Resolutions are for quitters. One slip-up and you feel like all is lost. You’re a failure. You didn’t try hard enough. Game over.

That kind of self-talk flat out stinks. It’s not motivating. Goals, on the other hand, help you frame everything with a growth mindset. “Today (fill in the blank) happened. What can I learn from that to take the next step toward the goal I set for myself to achieve in 2019?”

I literally just finished four miles on our treadmill, then picked up my phone and started typing this post. Probably not a huge surprise for those that know me, but two of my goals this year are:

1, Set a new PR for a half marathon. (Benchmark: Surf City 2017 1:50:14//8:25 pace)

2. Write daily. It could be in my journal, working on book four (another children’s book), or the next blog post – it all counts to me – I just want to make writing a part of my daily rhythm.

If you want to use the same goal tracker I’ve been using for years – here is the monthly and quarterly template view:

2019 goal box monthly

2019 goal box quarterly view

No matter which way you chose to attack 2019 – be courageous. Set big goals and set out an action plan for each.

Yes. You have to write it down.

More specifically you have to write down the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) action steps that will point you in the direction of your goal, and let you know if you actually got there!

Once you’ve decided on a goal and written down your S.MA.R.T. steps, share it with someone. A boss, a spouse, a friend, Instagram. Me. It doesn’t matter who, but it does matter that YOU DO.

This year I started by writing down every goal I could possibly hope to achieve in each category.  Then I spent the next week just letting them swirl around my head to see if…

…anything else came to mind…

…then really consider which one was most critical in each category.

Not which was the easiest to achieve, but what would truly take that area of life to the next level.

Next week I’ll be putting them in to my template so that I can track them weekly (honestly, sometimes weekly becomes monthly, but do what you need to do to keep yourself accountable).

Don’t be afraid to let this goal-setting process take a week or two.  Remember, you are planning out the next year.  That’s pretty major.

You’re pretty major.

GO GET THIS YEAR!

I’d love to hear which goal you are most excited to work on in 2019.  Drop it in the comments below.

File Dec 10, 8 46 26 AM
Happy New Year from the Coys! Cracking up because the little ones eyes are saying, “Help me!”;)  

 

 

Because You Are Superwoman; Chapter One Freebie!

An empowering experience that likely strays far from everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about birth. Start reading now!

My newest book release, Because YOU Are Superwoman, was a labor of love.

After nine months of research, collaboration, story compiling, cover design, editing, formatting, etc. launch day is finally here.

The book has over twenty positive birth stories, paired with six evidence-based steps for a Minimal Intervention (M.I.) Birth, to provide you with the confidence and skills you need to go after the birth experience that you desire. An empowering experience that likely strays far from everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about birth.

You can check it out on Amazon Now.

Or Start Reading Chapter One Below…

Chapter One: Claiming Your Superpower

My husband likes to refer to me as “Superwoman.”

Of course, no spouse constantly feels this way about their other half. I am highly aware that I have plenty of shortcom‐ ings. But when the subject of birth comes up, he likes to remind me how amazing it was to witness his wife being so incredibly strong and capable as we welcomed our daughters into the world.

It was two intervention-free hospital births in the last two years that earned me that designation. But painting myself as a strong, brave heroine isn’t the full picture. I am also the preschool wimp who got one ear pierced and then jumped into the store’s window display to hide because I was so filled with fear just anticipating the pain of the second poke. I actually refused to get the other ear pierced until the fourth grade.

Don’t worry, my mom did take out the lone earring to spare me from looking like a tiny pirate. No one wants their little girl to have to explain that she is a big wimp every time someone notices her pirate ear. Thanks, Mom.

So obviously, anticipating the pain of childbirth for over thirty years had me terrified. I assumed that when the day came my water would break somewhere wildly embarrassing. Then, with water dripping between my legs, I’d rush right to the hospital in a panic, screaming for the epidural the moment they sat me in a wheel chair. Then I’d lay on my back with my legs spread eagle, cursing my husband’s name for DOING THIS TO ME! The doctor would rush in just in time to catch my camera-ready newborn baby, and the nightmare would be over!

natural positve minimal intervention birth book amazon

Honestly, that was one of the only common birth examples I had ever been exposed to. On the very rare occasion that someone brought up a story involving a woman going au natural or desiring minimal medical interventions, it was surrounded by snide comments, alluding to the notion that the woman and her birth were a bit…crazy, granola, hippy, old-fashioned, uneducated, unplanned or reckless in the face of modern medicine.

My own sister-in-law had two home births after a tough hospital birth, so you would think I would have some other reference point. But she also now lives on a mountain in rural Argentina, so she is obviously a unique breed. It was difficult for me to relate to her and her “natural ways” when I finally found myself in need of childbirth advice. In fact, since we were really nothing alike, I assumed birthing without intervention wasn’t for me.

 

Me (Probably a Lot Like You)

I’ve spent years learning from higher instruction, earning degrees in business and education. I’ve worked in profes‐ sional environments for a decade and a half. I have a fairly progressive husband who willingly jumps in to help maintain the details of managing our household. Our finances are in order (meaning, I at least track my spending enough to know that I have burned through way too much of my daughter’s college education money at coffee shops as I pen this book). I’ve created a modest, yet comfortable, Pinterest-worthy home for my sensible family of four and our rescue companion, an elderly red dog that looks more like a dingo.

Alright, enough with the gold stars. We’re all bored.

But all that said, it is not unfathomable that I resist my intervention-free births being categorized as crazy, granola, hippy, old-fashioned, uneducated, unplanned, or reckless.

And I’m not the only one.

 

The New Examples of Birth

In this book you’ll read over twenty stories of amazing women who had positive birth experiences, all requiring very minimal intervention from modern medicine. These women have conquered their own self-doubt. They have stared down the deepest parts of childbirth, and now, you get to be a fly on the wall as you transport yourself into their stories and see how they found their own strength to kick childbirth squarely between the eyes.

The women in this book, myself included, are strong, educated, modern mamas who wanted more options to achieve a positive and healthy birth experience for them and their babies. Just like you, we had questions. We wanted to understand the “why” of our care. We wanted the evidence, and then we wanted to feel supported to make decisions with our family’s interests in mind. We did not want to make our birth decisions out of fear. When we looked at how modern medicine had overstepped its boundaries, we insisted on something better.

Just because birth interventions are so common that they are now considered normal, we knew that didn’t actually mean they were necessary or beneficial for us. They were not accepted as our standard for care.

Alternatively, we all knew how fortunate we were to have modern medicine as our back-up in case we were truly part of the small minority that should require intervention.

 

Some Alarming Intervention Data

According to the National Listening to Mothers Survey (2013), which interviewed over two thousand women who had birthed in the prior year, interventions in labor were closely linked to increased, unplanned cesareans. Specifically, the study noted women who received an induction or epidural were more likely to have an unplanned c-section. The most common forms of induction they referenced were the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin), breaking a woman’s waters, inserting a finger into the cervix and “sweeping” or “stripping” the membranes, or a prostaglandin gel, pouch, or tablet placed near the cervix. Often times, women receive an induction concoction that includes two or more of these methods.

The idea that one intervention increases the likelihood of others, is often referred to as the “cascade of intervention.” Once interventions are introduced, the unplanned cesarean rate increases. Among first-time mothers who had term births and experienced labor, those who had both labor induction and an epidural were six times more likely to have a c-section (31%) than those who had neither intervention (5%). Get out your highlighter and make sure that last sentence is glowing.

Additionally, there are plenty of other routine birth practices that have become par for the course but show little benefit to a laboring woman: restricting food intake, using bladder catheters, restricted movement while attached to intravenous fluids, time constraints, continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and lying flat on our backs to push.

 

Reserving Interventions for Plan B

Please understand, I am not here to tell you that medical interventions are the devil. I am not on some witch hunt, crusading for women to deny all assistance during birth. I would like to assume these interventions were created with good intentions in mind. The problem lies in the fact that most interventions have become synonymous with childbirth in this country. And many have become widely used out of convenience, instead of necessity. Interventions have become the Plan A; the starting point for birth. As women, we have stopped asking “Why?” and started accepting that this is just what birth looks like in this country.

Unfortunately, this passive acceptance has come at a cost.

Medical practitioners perform cesareans at approximately 32% of U.S. births. That is almost one in three births that end with major surgery. Ultimately, cesareans have become the most commonly performed surgery in this country. It feels like that should be a red flag, birth in this country is in a bit of a crisis.

In fact, our cesarean rate is more than double what the World Health Organization recommends to reach the most favorable outcomes in decreasing the maternal and infant mortality rate. Staci Berrey, a doula for almost a decade, and owner of Labor of Love Birth Services in Orange County, CA, explained, “Medical intervention is not the enemy; it is the overuse of it for reasons that show little benefit to the laboring mother that we should take issue with.”

Interventions save mothers and their babies every day, but we should question whose best interest is being put first when an intervention is the starting point for birth in modern medi‐ cine. If we prepare a woman’s mind and body, make her feel safe and supported, and then get out of her way, the body is amazing and actually knows how to birth with very little assistance or intervention. If we were able to save costs on unnecessary interventions upfront, that would leave more money available for a woman’s follow-up care after delivery. One way to do this could be reducing the cesarean rate, since c-sections are fifty percent more costly to providers than vaginal births.

It should be noted that the United States has the highest maternal death rate among developed nations. Over sixty percent of maternal deaths are preventable with regular monitoring of the mother. After giving birth twice, I fully believe that waiting four to six weeks for a woman’s first postpartum check-up is far too long, especially since in the same time frame it is common to have three or more appoint‐ ments centered around your newborn.

A Mental Shift

When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I spent the first thirty-two weeks under the care of a traditional OB- GYN, who I actually really liked. But once I started to learn that my birth choices were greater than…

  • A tree-hugging, drug-free, painful birth or medical interventions as soon as I reached the hospital?
  • A home birth with no aide or a hospital birth where someone else made choices for me based on dated practices?
  • How soon did I want to be induced or would I rather just schedule a c-section?
  • An epidural or pure hell?

I started picturing the possibility of a minimal intervention, positive birth experience, based on the principles and prac‐ tices of believing in what my body was made to do (while not being embarrassed to admit I was totally open to evidence-based medical interventions that became necessary).

With this mental shift, I knew I needed to switch to be under the care of a woman who was experienced in advocating for using only those interventions that were in a woman’s, and her baby’s, best interest. Someone who routinely saw the miracle that our bodies are capable of with very little aide. Someone who truly believed that most medical interventions did not need to be common practice and would best be saved for Plan B, after first supporting me with less invasive techniques.

I knew that for me to fully trust someone during a time when I could feel scared and vulnerable, it would be critical to have someone in charge of the show who knew what was “normal” during a birth where medical intervention was an option, but a road taken only after a number of other more natural methods were exhausted.

Because You are Superwoman back

The Birth Dialogue

If we want to change birth in this country, we need to change the dialogue surrounding it. Birth doesn’t have to be trauma‐ tizing. Each woman sharing her story in this book truly believes that. We want to empower you with confidence in your mind and body. We want to give you the courage to seek a positive birth experience beyond the horror stories that society has routinely exposed us to. This means educating yourself with new perspectives of birth and seeking out care providers who specifically align with your goals. Our child‐ birth beliefs have such a profound impact on the care choices we make, on the way we labor, on our outcomes, and ulti‐ mately how we feel about our experience.

My Great Aunt Pat shared her positive, intervention-free, hospital birth story with me long before I was pregnant. She didn’t tell me it was orgasmic. She didn’t say it was easy. She didn’t say it was painless. But she did say it was totally, one hundred percent worth it. In fact, she chose to birth the same way two more times. At the end of her story, she turned to me with delight in her voice and said, “You could totally do it, too!”

Her words spoke power into me. She believed in me before I had even considered believing in myself. Because the confi‐ dence was coming from a strong woman who had fully expe‐ rienced birth and spoke positively about it, I trusted it.

But I was still nervous. How could she believe I could do something so unfathomable? Births like that are for superheroes. They are rare unicorns. They are for totally- committed natural mamas. They are for people so much stronger than me. But words are powerful, and the notion stuck with me.

A few years later, I found myself pregnant, and I recalled her confidence in me. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but little by little, I started to put aside what I thought I knew about birth. By reading the mind-blowing stories of women who didn’t curse birth, but instead believed in their bodies and took charge of their care, I started letting go of the notion that childbirth was just some tragic event that women had to endure. Instead, I started getting excited about the life transforming power women can experience through childbirth.

By harnessing the confidence and techniques I learned from other remarkable women who had succeeded in the type of birth experience I wanted, I was able to create my own posi‐ tive examples of birth as I welcomed my daughters into the world. The same six techniques I used (laid out in detail in chapter three) can be replicated by anyone who wants their own minimal intervention birth. The journey began when someone opened my mind to the possibility of a positive birth experience and then instilled confidence in me with their positive words. From there, the responsibility fell on me to be an active participant in my care choices.

I want to pay it forward. I want to provide that same confidence to you. I believe in you. I believe in your body. I believe it is okay for you to stand up and ask questions. I believe you deserve a positive birth experience. You are an incredible, educated, strong, modern woman with a body that is capable of giving birth. Each of the women in this book believe in you. You are not too weak, too old, too broken, or too scared to just roll over and let birth happen to you. You have superwoman inside you.

It’s time you believe it.

Get Chapter Two Now.


 

If you enjoyed this preview, consider writing a review on Amazon to help spread the word!  You can add a review here.   here.

With Love – J.K. Coy

 

One More thing…

Share your positive birth posts with these tags to join the conversation and possibly be featured on my author pages: #MIBirth #BecauseYouAreSuperwoman @StoriesbyJKCoy

 

ALL the Birth (Book) Details – Slighty Less Graphic than My Birth Video

Can you imagine being pregnant and having the “due date” continuously pushed back, week after week?

At some point you might just think you are going to stay pregnant forever.

Many times I felt that way during the writing of the latest book.  Things took far longer than I expected to come together.  It literally ended up taking nine months from the time I put a call out that I was looking for positive, minimal intervention birth stories to then compile, write, edit, format, and publish this baby.  And like an anxious mama-to-be, I was losing my patience with the process toward the end.

Even the name took longer than expected to choose. But a title, is pretty important.  It will be around for a while.  I wanted a strong title, yet one that wasn’t too “birthy.”  So like most of us do when we are expecting, I made lists and ran them by friends (and fans) to gauge their reaction.

But ultimatly the decision was mine.  This book was my baby.  The final title is one I feel honors the women that shared their positive birth stories in the book. And it also encourages any woman, that decides to one day give birth, to believe in her body:

Because YOU Are Superwoman:  How to Harness Your Superpower and Create a Positive Birth Experiance with Minimal Medical intervention 

Things are finally coming together.  This baby is fully baked and ready to make an appearance.

Speaking of appearances, let me share the first official cover photo!

natural positve minimal intervention birth book amazon

The cover clearly lets readers know that the topic is “birth,” but hopefully the strong, modern, and bold look and feel alludes to the tone of this birth book.

I also threw in some humor and overly personal details, just to keep it light;)  Think of the book You are a Bad*ss and then add the words, At Giving Birth.

Here is the working book description:

***

Do you want a positive birth experience, but haven’t heard of any?
Do you think a more natural birth experience sounds ideal, but don’t know how to go about having one?
Have you ever wondered if other strong, educated women choose to birth with minimal medical intervention?
Fortunately, these are not your typical birth stories. 
These are the remarkable stories of modern-day superheroes. A bunch of bad*ss super women, just like you. They are bold, educated, strong, and they decided to do things differently. Ultimately, they chose to make their belief in their body Plan A, while reserving the marvel of medical interventions for Plan B.
Over twenty birth stories, paired with six evidence-based steps for a Minimal Intervention (M.I.) Birth, will provide you with the confidence and skills you need to go after the birth experience that you desire. An empowering experience that likely strays far from everything you’ve been conditioned to believe about birth.
Stop simply hoping for a positive, minimal intervention birth. This book contains the specific birth plan for you, and it’s easier than you think.

***

Cursing, pooping, grunting, naked, raw, real and candid birth stories told by strong, intelligent mamas.  Above all their stories will encourage fellow women that they too have everything they need to birth their baby with minimal intervention.

So here is the exciting part. Unlike childbirth where you never know the exact birthdate, this book is going to be available on Amazon on Nov. 11th, 2018!  That’s just two weeks away, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for you to read it!  If it lives up to the expectations of those of us that collaborated on it, this book is going to change the way women, and practitioners, think about birth.

If you’d like to get an advanced copy of Because YOU Are Superwoman in exchange for an honest review on Facebook or Amazon, join the launch team! Contact me here and include the words Launch Team in the heading – I’ll follow-up with details next week.  To join the team and get your free advanced copy, I need to hear from you by Monday, Nov. 5th.

Ready to get your hands on something now?  For a limited time, if you buy either of my children’s books on Amazon, you get the e-book FREE and you can start reading ASAP!

And if you are still questioning, does she really have a graphic birth video? The answer is yes.

And no.

It’s not a flattering angle, and I don’t plan to share it;)

How Hard is it to Make Your Own Baby Food? Spoiler, it’s Not!

Do you have fifteen minutes one time a week? I understand that as a busy parent you probably paused to honestly consider your answer.

But seriously, it takes me fifteen minutes to make a week’s worth of baby food.

Let me share some recipe ideas and tips to get you started on the right foot – all have been tested by a busy family of four, in a household with two under two.

Baby Liv is eight months now, but her adventures in food started at about four and a half months. I know at some point in her life she will eat whip cream on pop-tarts (a high school favorite of mine) or chocolate frosted donuts, but right now it is up to me to make sure she gets some good stuff to help her body and brain grow and thrive.

Your baby’s primary calorie and nutritional needs should still be met by breast milk or formula, so think of baby food as a supplemental learning experience for your little one.

I enjoy making baby food so I can control what is in it. Plus, we decided to skip the baby cereal and puffs since they don’t provide much nutritional value. Thankfully it seriously takes less than fifteen minutes to make a week’s worth of food – don’t get too hung up on the ingredient quantities, just scoop it in extra containers for the freezer!

*FYI the first two months we tested foods one by one for a few days to check for allergies, but since around six months we have been having fun with some yummy combinations*

Below are six quick ideas for a more interesting meal.

Make a batch and store a few days worth in the fridge, and any extra can go in the freezer in 1-2oz. containers.

– deli rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast, chicken or veggie stock, steamed sweet potato or squash, and unsweetened apple sauce – mix in blender

– unsweetened apple sauce, chia seeds, almond milk, and cinnamon – stir to combine

– cooked ground turkey, fresh pitted cherries, splash of breast milk or almond milk – mix in blender

– rinse a sweet potato, wrap it in a paper towel and steam it in the microwave on the potato setting. Then scoop out the insides and add a little cinnamon. Add breast milk or coconut milk to thin if needed.

– cooked black beans, peeled and pitted peach, vitamin D drops, mix in blender

– cooked garbanzo beans, blueberries, spinach, full fat Greek yogurt – mix in blender

Tips that have helped me make baby food prep easier:

– make baby food in bulk and store in 1-2oz. Containers. I use the XO ones!

– add vitamin D drops to your baby food containers so you don’t have to remember to get it out daily

– the baby food lasts in the fridge for at least three days, or if you make bulk you can freeze it and take one out to thaw in the fridge overnight. When ready to use, heat in microwave for 18 seconds

– no prep foods if you need something on the go: mashed banana, unsweetened apple sauce, mashed avocado

– serve purées right out of the fridge (cold) if your little one is teething

– steam fresh veggies make baby food prep so easy. Steam the veggie in the microwave then purée it in the blender. You can always throw in some spices or other foods on the back end for variety

– if you need more recipe ideas the book Sage Spoonfuls has been a great guide for feeding both my girls so that I know what is appropriate at each stage

– they sell reusable pouches if you want something less messy for mealtime. Just put your purées inside (in all fairness, I love this idea, but haven’t used mine yet)

As they get older, you can purée the food less to provide some food interest with texture.

Now that Liv is eight months and has two teeth, I try to give her at least one thing on her tray that she can feed herself (like steamed veggies, cheese, apples or bananas – in tiny pieces). Half usually ends up on her or the floor, but it keeps her and our dog VERY happy!

Can’t wait to hear your creative baby food ideas and tips!

*Always reach out to a Doctor with questions or concerns

A Toddler Mom’s Staycation

Happiness hides in everyday moments.  Go looking for it.

Sometimes ten free minutes can feel like gold to a busy parent.  

Take a minute to join me on a mental Staycation…

2018-05-03 13.29.31

***

I dance outside to seize a very rare moment in a young mother’s day where both her daughters are off in the loving care of a grandma-like figure, leaving me a few glorious minutes sneaked in between tasks on my monotonous to-do list.

The sun is so bright that I have to squint as I release my thoughts on the pages of a composition notebook in a quick, messy scribble that no one else will be able to read. I feel the instinct to capture them on paper before they float away like bubbles. Sunglasses would be ideal, except all four pairs are sitting on a wooden shelf just inside the sliding door, snickering at me for forgetting to grab one, yet again. But I am on a mental vacation, and I am unwilling to get up until I begin to sweat through my clothes.

My annoyance slips away, as the sound of our bulky air conditioner soothes me like shushing to a baby, as it sprints to run down the heat of the afternoon canyon sun. A welcomed breeze whispers through and helps my body pause momentarily from melting like a creamsicle.

I find myself enjoying the smell of bonfires tickling my nostrils as it brings back vivid childhood memories of Michigan summers; until I remember it is actually the heartbreaking scent of thousands of acres of trees blazing in the Holy Canyon fire.

Laying on a beige, outdoor L-shaped sectional, I get distracted when I look up and suddenly notice how confined I am by neighboring fences, squeezing me from all sides. Yet, I am oddly comforted knowing this little slice of the world is my families, and I get to watch my young daughters laugh and learn through play in this outdoor classroom made of skinned knees and chalk masterpieces.

The heat starts to get to me. I swallow and notice the dry flavor of black coffee lingering in my mouth. Licking the fuzz off my teeth, I imagine hydrating myself with an overpriced flute of anything sparkling. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs hearing a bell, I begin to salivate. Tonight is Mom’s Night Out with some old friends; our gathering is only six months overdue.

2018-03-22 15.53.43-2

Before I can feel good about heading out and leaving my family to fen for themselves, I feel an internal tug to finish my to-do list. I pick myself up off the warm couch, feeling completely restored from just a few minutes of silence and sunshine. I have renewed energy to tackle the pile of laundry that is staring me down. I will win. This Mom is putting on studded black heels tonight because I am tired of seeing them slowly wither in the back corner of my closet.

***

My staycation write-up was actually part of a writing exercise I took part in last week.  The assignment was to use all five sense to describe a vacation spot you traveled to this summer.  Because I have been busy starting a new job, getting my six month old in daycare, and juggling book releases, mental staycations are where it is at these days!

Coincidentally, this week my husband and I finally scheduled our ten year wedding anniversary trip to Palm Springs in October.  I am giddy.  I can hardly believe that an Adults-Only vacation is happening!

But if an adults only resort getaway isn’t realistic for you right now, take a minute to really explore the environment you are in – drink in the sights, smells, tastes, feelings, and sounds around you. It might just take something that normally blends in to a weekday afternoon, and reframe it.  For me it was ten minutes outside in my own backyard.

Happiness hides in everyday moments.  Go looking for it.

cover 2 new
Next Book Release Coming Soon!

A Mother’s Happy Place

When my first daughter was born I noticed it.  And when my second daughter was born, it was confirmed.  I am kind of a sh*ty mom if I don’t get personal space and time to blow off steam. 

Even if you’ve been religiously following along here over the last eight months , it is very possible you have no clue I am a runner. I stopped running in the third trimester of pregnancy, and my baby beluga is already five months old.

It actually feels a bit silly to describe myself as a runner.  I feel like an imposter, like someone living in the past.

It reminds me of when my Dad tells me that he ran three miles in under twenty minutes; he has a big grin on his face and looks like he feels very proud of himself:)  Mind you, that run happened literally thirty five years ago.  I have never seen him run one mile.  But when he tells his story, it’s like it happened yesterday.

It feels more honest to say I was a runner.

I mean technically I do still run (about eight slow miles a week).  But these days, my “runs” have morphed into something I barely would have laced up my running shoes for less than three years ago.

I’ve run 5k’s to 50k’s and everything in between.  And I’m one of those weirdos that actually really enjoys it.

But running, like all things after children, changed.

Before children, I used to run to stay healthy, and push myself to improve by setting new speed or distance goals.  I would use my runs to blow off minor frustrations so I was a better human.  And I loved the way it made me feel like I was doing something good for myself.  I also loved how it took very little gear and prep, and didn’t require anyone else but myself.

Running was my athletic equivalent of a soulmate.  It was so reliable and so simple.  I was never remarkably fast, but it was my happy place.

And, every once in awhile I would find the perfect human to join me.  Which, by the way, is harder than some might imagine.  You need someone of similar speed, similar distance goals, not flaky, not turned off by a 6am start time, not afraid of using the bathroom outdoors, and loves embracing in a sweaty goodbye hug.  When you find that person, the natural conversation makes the miles just slip by.  It’s golden…but I digress.

There is very little that is simple about running five months postpartum.  My legs feel heavy because I don’t run as often as I used to, and I’m still carrying a few extra pounds.  I barely believe that the mile splits belong to me.  My trusty old running partners now have young kids with unreliable sleep schedules.  My husband and I have to draw straws to decide who gets to leave the house while the kids sleep.  And I have no choice but to pump or breastfeed before a morning jog, because there is no comfort in running with full boobs.  It would be so much easier to quit for awhile.  But I can’t.  I mean I could.  It would make things more simple.  But really I can’t.

When my first daughter was born I noticed it.  And when my second daughter was born, it was confirmed.  I am kind of a sh*ty mom if I don’t get personal space and time to blow off steam.  Running just happens to be my thing, but the therapy it brings could be found in many other endorphine building activities.

Running is my me time.  There are no kids crying and clinging to my legs.  It makes me feel like a person with an identity that extends beyond Mom.  There is so much clarity and free space to think, I feel like I could solve all the world’s biggest problems.

It is so much deeper than the limited thinking I do when toddlers and babies are around.

  • Pondering if I have enough time to head to the grocery store before, or after, naptime.
  • Contemplating if I really need to take my baby to the doctor for the cough that has lasted over a week.
  • Lost down a rabbit hole for the hundredth time trying to figure out how to block the mindless videos of Blippi and Ryan’s Toy Reviews that keep popping up on Youtube Kids when I told my daughter she could watch Sesame Street.

The mental free space running provides me allows for thinking that reminds me that I am a person outside my children.  Thinking about what I want to do with my future.  Thinking about how the final chapter in my next book should flow.  Thinking about my husband and family members individual needs.  Thinking about how I feel.  Thinking about how I can make the world a better place to be.

I care about my kids 100%, but I care about a lot of other things too.  I notice that I have lots of big plans for myself when I take the time to pause (or in my case run) and point myself in the right direction.

After thirty five years I know myself.  I’m not pretty when I don’t get that time.  I suffer, my husband suffers, my kids suffers.

Running very well may not be your thang.  I won’t hold it against you.  But every parent needs their personal space, a healthy habit, and some mental time for thinking about things other than their all consuming beautiful monsters.

No matter how much free thinking space we have at home, one of our sweet bebes manages to figuratively climb right up and snuggle in.  When we are near them they manage to fill every nook, in our minds, just like they manage to do with the tiniest spot next to us on the couch.  Sometimes you just need to temporarily run away.

While my run time  and distance goals are nothing to brag about these days, at least I’m not writing from a jail cell.  I feel like a new  pair of running shoes is a small price to pay for a mother’s sanity.

My time and distance goals are currently about climbing out of the fitness hole that swallows many of us up postpartum.  Today I’m pressing on through the hard and ugly runs (10:30 mile pace, four miles) knowing that soon enough I’ll work on getting back to setting some PR’s (8:10 mile pace, half marathon here I come).

In the meantime I’ll think of running as a free therapy session.

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  • Runners, what are your personal qualifications for a solid running partner?
  • Those that hate running, what activity do you use as your own “therapy” to make you a happier, healthy person?