My friend Christina

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I'd like to introduce you to my friend Christina.  We met six years ago at Sunnymont-Westside, the preschool I think you all should seriously consider for your children.  It changed my life in so many positive ways.  One of many is my dear group of friends, which includes Christina.  We hike together, swap kids, double-date, commiserate, encourage each other, and geek out on make-up together (more on that later). We both LOVE ice cream and we both are sensitive to caffeine. Our kids are close friends that drive us crazy with their shared Pokemon obsession.  Our husbands are drinking buddies.  It's all around good stuff.  

One thing I really love about Christina is she is the kind of person who promotes positivity and wants to raise up other women and girls.  She struggles when her daughter is mistreated by "queen bees" on the playground and does what she can to raise kids who are kind and thoughtful.  Her Facebook timeline is filled with memes that say things like "Raising my kids is the most exhausting thing I am grateful to do" and "If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you" and "Give more attention to what is right in your life than what is wrong" and "Beauty is not in the face, Beauty is a light in the heart." She is deeply appreciative of all that she has and writes heartfelt thank you notes. Completely devoted to her family, Christina works hard to be one of the best moms I know.

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So a few years ago when she decided to start her business as a Younique make-up presenter, of course I wanted to support her. I'm generally not the kind of person that likes the home marketing stuff, but since I'm a huge fan of Christina and I think make-up is fun, I gave her a chance.  Three years later, all of my MAC make-up has been completely replaced by Younique product and I love it!  As it turns out, MAC was irritating my eyes in a way that Younique does not and they still have all the bright, fun, crazy colors that I like. And since my whole career (my life!) is devoted to supporting moms, it feels pretty good that my make-up budget is allowing a hard-working mom to do work she loves while being available to her kids. As a company, Younique has a mission of supporting and empowering women. Their Younique Foundation provides healing opportunities for survivors of sexual abuse. That's a mission I can get behind. 

So back to that geeking out on make-up thing.  I love make-up because it suits my theatrical side.  It's a way to be a grown-up and get to play dress up anytime I want.  I do it differently almost everyday.  Christina gets so excited about what she does! I love when I get a moment and catch her Facebook Live tutorials. Her inner beauty shines when she is working on the outer beauty. She appreciates the selfies I send her on the days I love my look, treats me to her new tips and tricks, and gives me first dibs at the new releases. When I drop by her house, she often greets me with something like, "I've got to show you this new lipstick..." or "You're going to love the new mascara..."  (And she's right! Love me some Epic Mascara!) She did Jeannessa's make-up for prom and sometimes she practices on my face, which I think is so much fun.  It makes me feel like a teenager again! 

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If you want to check out Christina's fun tutorials, or try out the Younique line, find her at validatingbeauty.com.  Or send me a note and I'll add you to her fun Facebook group, where you can get all kinds of fun and practical make-up tips from a real person, rather than a beauty "expert" who has no idea of the demands of motherhood. (Five-minute face: yes, please.)

Being a mom is a challenge.  Being a mom in Silicon Valley adds an extra layer of challenge.  It brings me great joy to support the moms in my community, whether it's through our yoga practice, exchanging reassuring words with a mom on the street, or supporting a local mom-preneur. Please share your favorite mom-businesses in the comments below or just some positivity!  Let's be like Christina and spread the encouragement and good vibes around!

Looking for more movement in your modern Silicon Valley lifestyle? Find it at IKEA!

My students know that my philosophy of a comfortable, healthy pregnancy can be summed up in one word: movement.  And I strive to embody this simple concept myself.  My Fitbit confirms I walk a minimum of five miles daily and adds up my "active minutes." (Despite my aversion to the medical community over-quantifying things, I've become a little obsessed with counting each and every step. Thanks Fitbit!) However, movement is not the same as exercise and being "fit" does not necessarily mean our bodies are in optimal shape or pain-free.  In our sedentary culture, we think we can make up for sitting all day long by going out for a quick run or a bike ride or an evening walk.  Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. In the case of pregnancy, comfort is directly related to how much movement (not necessarily exercise) moms get.  I've witnessed this on the regular with my lovely students!

During the summer, it's pretty easy for me to get more movement in my life.  With kids out of school, we go outdoors together.  A lot. Walking to the park, the grocery store, urban and nature adventures, sports...I encourage climbing, playing, exploring and lead by example- it's easy because it's fun!  (Why should the kids be the only ones climbing trees!?)  As they go back to school, and I know cooler weather is on it's way (although it may not seem like it with the recent heat wave), I'm thinking about how to keep up the level of movement.  I figured it out yesterday at IKEA!

Kev and I have been on the hunt for a new couch and a few other things to spruce up the house, and with the kids first day of school, it seemed like a perfect time for him to take the day off and go with me to IKEA.  We have a tradition of getting up super early on the first day of school to get bagels at Izzy's on Cal Ave, and then there was the back-to-school parent reception, so we didn't take our usual morning walk. Nevertheless, by the time we picked them up from school, we had racked up more steps, more burnt calories, logged more mileage than an average day.  The movement itself was quite a bit more varied than our usual activity, too: operating those crazy carts with the wheels that turn all directions, lifting large heavy boxes, and a half hour plus of hoisting a boxed-up couch onto our roof rack and the task of two clueless people tying it down and praying it stayed for the ride home. (Somehow we are still married! And it did make it home...although IKEA may be out of rope now, lol.) At home, there was the unloading and starting the projects of rearranging the house. By the end of the day, I burnt about 500 more calories, had a total of 114 "active minutes" (Fitbit doesn't count active minutes until you have been stepping for at least 10 minutes, so I'm sure there were a ton more that were in shorter-increment spurts), and had over 14,000 steps compared to an average day- all with no "exercise"!

So of course, I'm not going to need a new couch for quite some time (although I'm going to need at least one or two more trips to IKEA before our project is done), and if you are expecting or have a new baby, I don't recommend hoisting a couch onto the roof of your car...but all of us can certainly hit IKEA on those days when the weather is bad.  Or better yet, perhaps I can offer to accompany my pregnant mamas when they need a new couch!  I'm only slightly joking. Try me. Then not only will I get the movement in, I'll rack up some karma points, too. You may have to get me a cinnamon bun in the checkout line, though. 

Izzy's everything bagels with jalapeno cream cheese and tomatoes. Yum!

Izzy's everything bagels with jalapeno cream cheese and tomatoes. Yum!

It's a miracle the couch made it home!

It's a miracle the couch made it home!

Out of stock, another trip is in my near future

Out of stock, another trip is in my near future

Mindfulness works for anything!

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If you come to class this week, you may catch me gingerly trying to protect my fresh tattoo from irritating bra straps.  After nearly ten years, I am finally in the process of getting the artwork on my back finished!  Started the project back in the mid-2000's and had to put on hold when my younger two made their way into my life. While I found birthing my little guys to be quite a bit harder that getting inked, that tattoo gun can get pretty intense, particularly on the spine where there are a ton of nerve endings.  No matter what the physical sensation, mindfulness is the answer!

As we got started, Sarah, the artist, offered me a squeezy stress ball to cope with the intensity. "I'll let you know if I need it," I responded. Deep breath in...and the work was underway.  Deep breath out.  I know I was making some pretty funny faces.  I probably looked like the bulldog with the kitten from Looney Tunes. But I found I didn't need the squeezy ball. On the contrary, I found myself focusing on my breath, and gently shaking my hands in an effort to release tension.  Some areas, particularly the sharp lines near my spine, were pretty damn intense.  Deep breath in...Grimace...Deep breath out...Wiggle fingers...Deep breath in...Repeat. Each time Sarah changed colors or tools, I got a little break to regroup, much like the break between contractions.  And again...Deep breath in...Release tension...Deep breath out.  

As I often say in class, "you can do anything for one minute." A minute of a challenging yoga pose, a minute of getting tattooed, a minute long contraction, a minute of undergoing an unexpected cesarean, or a minute of a toddler tantrum...just one minute and repeat.  Life is a series of minutes made up of all different kinds of sensation: emotional, physical, mental...pleasurable, painful, just plain something you're not used to...Letting go of the labels, the attachment to something being easy can shift the experience incredibly.  It's a very simple concept, but not always easy.  Like anything it takes practice.  Fortunately, every moment of life is an opportunity to practice being fully present, using the breath to embrace whatever the moment brings. I've been known to literally cry on the way to the dentist- after my son was born, and years of mindfulness practice, I got a root canal with no anxiety at all. The more you practice the easier it gets.  I've got a few more appointments before the art on my back is complete. In the meantime, I will embrace each moment, each breath as a gift...and be ready for the next round of art on my skin.

End-of-Summer Update (aka The Laughable Task of Trying to Balance Work and Kids)

As a working mom in Silicon Valley, it's a huge challenge to find the balance between work and family.  I love my work, but I see how quickly my kids are growing, and I'm okay sacrificing the "extra" work stuff to do fun stuff with the kids.  Hence the huge hiatus from this here blog. The highlights of our summer (in no particular order) include a road trip to Portland, viewing the eclipse, numerous hikes, lots of ice cream (my weakness!), a lot of walking, a trip to the beach, Sunnyvale's Great Waldo Search, dropping Kid #1 off at CalArts in SoCal for a month, the Library's summer reading program, more ice cream, and a visit to the Tech Museum of Innovation. Phew!  Maceo's favorite? "We went to Oregon....For a week." And Arya liked experiencing "the earthquake" and seeing how much she weighs on Mars and the Moon at the Tech.  I loved hanging out with them, but they also drive me a bit crazy! Fortunately I have my classes to keep me sane.  (Love that I have a career in which I show up stressed out and leave totally relaxed and grounded!) 

We've got just one week left of summer break (lots of play dates to catch up on now that their pals are back from summer adventures) and then it's back to school. And not just for the kids!  In October, I start Dharma Path Advanced Studies (DPAS) at the Samyama Yoga Center. Nearly every weekend from October until May, I will be engrossed in everything yoga! I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of anatomy, yoga philosophy, modifying postures to make yoga accessible for more people, and much more...Most of all, I look forward to sharing all of it with my wonderful students! The time switch of our Sunday class from 11:00am to 9:45am (starting September 10) will allow me to participate in DPAS with less of a need for subs. 

As the season changes from summer to fall, it's time to cozy up to the comfort of routine.  It's going to be a very full, demanding school year for all of us.  Nevertheless, with the kids back in school, I plan to get back to my blog, discussing topics of interest to expectant and new moms as well as inspiration from my studies. While I have yet to meet a mom who truly feels "balance" in her life, it's a step in the right direction to have a summer of memories with my children, then to send them back to school and dive back into the work that I love! 

What makes you feel successful at juggling your family and your work?  Post your thoughts and tips in the comments.  

Waiting for ice cream at Salt & Straw, Portland

Waiting for ice cream at Salt & Straw, Portland

Ice cream in Ashland

Ice cream in Ashland

Ice cream at Marianne's in Aptos

Ice cream at Marianne's in Aptos

And we had some donuts, too

And we had some donuts, too

Always running! Even on Mother's Day!

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Happy belated Mother's Day!  Being a mom in modern times means always being on the go, right?  So this Mother's Day, I started my day much like any other: running!  Though quite literally: the Jenny's Light annual 5/ 10k & Kids 1k Run through Vasona Park, along with my two Littles and mama-friends Michelle and Belinda (and their Littles, too).  Jenny's Light is an organization with a mission near and dear to my heart: "to improve and save lives by increasing awareness of all perinatal mood disorders including postpartum depression." This is the third time I have participated in their run.  (The first time I walked the course with baby Maceo in an Ergo- that may have been tougher than running!)

"The Flash" waiting for the race to start

"The Flash" waiting for the race to start

Running is not exactly my favorite thing, but I keep at it for my health (ok, I run so I can eat a little extra ice cream without it showing...too much).  And I do love the feeling of crossing the finish line.  But for those 20 to 30 minutes I'm actually running, I have to dig deep and use all of those mental endurance tricks I recommend for labor.  You can do anything for one minute...over and over and over.... Just get to that corner, just get one more block, just past that tree (much like taking labor one contraction at a time). Focus on the breath, feel the sensations in the body without judgment, resistance, or attachment to it being different.  Let go and accept all that is in this moment.  

Often times while I run, I reflect on how challenging labor is- and how easy I have it, comparatively speaking, running just a few miles.  Today I gave it my all for the moms who have endured the extreme challenges of postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis.  My pace was about half a minute per mile better than it has been lately and a 5k is a little further than I run on an average maintenance day.  (You real runners out there, don't laugh! Mad props to those of you who do 10ks, half and full marathons like it's no thing!) No matter how hard I worked to cross that finish line, it's nothing compared to the struggle that many face when they become mothers. I can't think of a more appropriate way to spend Mother's Day than to participate in a racing event that raises money and awareness to support new moms struggling with postpartum mood disorders.  Thank you to everyone at Jenny's Light for this wonderful event and all of the life-saving work you do!

The home stretch!

The home stretch!

So...it wouldn't be a complete blog post without the race results: Maceo left me in his dust, coming in third in his age division with a chip time of 23:57.  (Not a typo! That's a 7:43 minute per mile pace and he's only 8! I'm still in awe, myself!!!) His pace improved by a full minute per mile since the Santa Run in December (in which he still beat me by a long shot!) Arya ran her first race, running the entire Kids' 1K without stopping- a huge improvement from her usual half-a-block-without-stopping when we run our neighborhood together. Belinda's 3-year-old completed her first 1K, with only a little help from her mama.  Belinda and I came in together- she claims I set the pace, but the truth is that I was struggling to keep up with her the first half...and she gave birth just a few months ago. (What's my excuse!?) And Michelle crossed the finish line strong pushing her toddler in the jogging stroller, which adds a giant layer of challenge, if you didn't know.  All in all, it was a great turnout for all of us today.  The only "fail"?  We forgot a finish line group selfie.  Gives us something to aspire to next year!    

Please take a moment to check out Jenny's Light, and all of the resources they have to support new families. If you are struggling with motherhood, you are not alone and there is help!  Please reach out!