Motherhood… not for the weak hearted.

Mom guilt.

✖️

It’s inevitable. Motherhood often feels like a game of guilt management. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming and debilitating. Sometimes just a low simmer, but in some capacity, it’s always there… and there is never any shortage of fuel to feed the beast that leaves us with the general feeling of incompetency. Top it off with our carefully curated social media world, which not only affects our sense of success and magnifies our shortcomings, but also furnishes our children with an unprecedented brand of expectations, and BOOM – *cue the crippling anxiety*. 👋🏼

Being a mother is as hard as it is beautiful.

Sleep training, cry-it-out or coddle?

Breastfeed or *heaven forbid* the ‘F word’ formula?

Screen time at a restaurant to keep the kid from screaming bloody murder?

Looking at your phone while your child plays on the playground? (Cut it out with the Judgey McJudgerson looks over there, Karen.)

McDonald’s for the second day in a row?

… Around every corner, we will be faced with some sort of scrutiny or judgement. Someone who puts that false sense of doubt in our minds that we are doing it ALL wrong

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The majority of us are doing our best. And, that’s all our little ones need. Happy moms. Loving moms. Not always the Pinterest mom, the dedicated room mom (stop it, Donna. Just stop), or the perfect mom who has all her shit together all the time complete with matching monogram ascots (Spoiler alert: they don’t.)

Motherhood is not for the weak.

It’s watching their chubby little legs run fast down the sidewalk and seeing that they’re going to trip but not being able to get there fast enough.

It’s holding them and carrying them upstairs and then suddenly realizing that your arms can hardly sustain their weight anymore.

It’s dropping them off at school and watching them walk into the building and holding your breath — literally, holding your breath — watching them wave at you while they stumble along carrying a backpack that’s bigger than them until you see some kid say hello to them, and they don’t look back.

Currently for this mama, it’s days that consist of multiple tantrums, lots of sass, and the occasional target run when she manages to throw anything and everything she can get her hands on. BUT, I know her determination and that strong and stubborn will will truly take the world by storm one day.

It’s the promise of them finding their own way — the dream of them becoming who they already are — that isn’t for the faint of heart in the here and now.

I don’t think any of us realize how all-consuming this job is. I think it’s time we talk candidly about what the ‘books’ didn’t tell us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. So often these days we see this highlight reel on social media constantly on repeat as we scroll through Instagram depicting happy, well behaved, perfect children who eat their vegetables, never talk back, and don’t know the word ‘NO’. Hell, I’m guilty! That’s what the platform of social media has evolved into. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE seeing AND sharing those beautiful and perfect moments.

Is it everyday reality? Um, no.

Am I saying the everyday reality is unbearable and I want out? Not for a single second. EVER.

Maybe it comes down to the 2019 cliche notion of us comparing our bloopers to some stranger online’s highlight reel. Yeah… 2019 is making it unbelievably easy to compare every step of our journey to another’s. There is no RIGHT way to parent. YES, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I devoured any and all baby books preparing me for giving birth, parenting, and all the other sources that provide a false illusion that we actually know what the hell we’re doing. Hell, that’s enough to send you into a whirlwind of overwhelming WORRY & comparison!

Bottom line – there is no right or wrong way. You could have a PhD in psychology and still make a multitude of mistakes in raising your children.

At the end of the day, when this little sassafras looks over at me with that little mischievous grin & runs at me full force with a big hug and sloppy kiss… I see a happy kid. Fed, clothed, and above all, loved to the ends of the earth. She’s blissfully unaware of the weight on my shoulders that I carry everyday just trying to keep up. And she doesn’t need to. That’s the magic of childhood, and something I never want to take away from her.

Our job as mothers is to provide shoulders for our children to stand on and pray that they grow wings to outsoar us. The best gift is to watch them fly and hope they look back long enough to appreciate who and where they came from.

Mom guilt is a bitch. And, today… I’m telling it to eff off. I think there should be solidarity in the club for every parent who is trying to do the right thing and operating from a place of love, shouldn’t there? We’re all in this together, no matter the age or the stage. So… today, I’m tuning out that snarky inner-critic self talk. Today, I’m reminding myself to bask in those rare, ‘super mom, I totally have my shit together’ days, and just keep rolling with the punches, learning, loving, grinning and bearing those (‘That’s it, I’m changing my name and moving to Mexico) kinda days until I get it right – which I’m pretty certain, as a mom, I will never fully get there.

…and that’s okay. Maybe that’s just the universes driving force that propels us every morning to try harder, do better, and love bigger.

Also, wine. Wine helps, too.

Cheers, mamas! XO

Your Late 20’s: The Middle School of Life

Growing pains, without the braces.

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

– Office Space

It’s official. In the blink of an eye, I have approached my late 20’s. I can’t help but reflect on the past decade of discovery, transitions, decisions, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way (mostly the hard way).

Our generation does come with it’s own unique set of difficulties and challenges which require a fresh and innovative approach if they are to be overcome. Now, there are a million and one articles out there that will tell you how important it is to travel and see the world, to knuckle down on your dreams, and enjoy your youth before committing to a marriage or career that may not leave you fulfilled or happy, so, as much as I agree with all of that, I won’t bother you with it again.

Yes, everyone has their own journey, their own struggles, dreams, accomplishments, regrets, lessons learned, etc. However, this is my blog…

SO, here are a few of my personal meandering thoughts that I’ve come to consider enormously important to my own happiness and well being, and maybe, just maybe, might be imperative to yours as well.

1. Make more time for meaningful relationships. Be intentional with who you spend your time and energy on. Surround yourself with the people cheering you on, who fuel your passion, and inspire you to do and be better.

2. Learn to cook 1 meal. ONE. (Y’all, that’s a huge one for me… and one I’m certain I’ll put off until the eve of my 30th birthday.) Whatever. We can just skip that one. Carry on.

3. Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone, out of your shell and into the world. Safety nets are comforting, but will rarely get you where you want to be.

4. Get comfortable with saying no. Don’t want to go to that party? Stay home. Don’t want to leave your bed or put pants on that particular day? Say ‘screw the pants and bail’. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation. Give yourself permission to rest without feeling guilty about it. BUT, don’t get too comfortable. Balance is key.

5. Dance for no reason (when did we stop doing that?!). My 3 year old reminds me of this on a daily basis. They don’t care who’s watching, who’s judging, or even if there’s music.

6. Run a marathon. KIDDING. Just making sure you were still paying attention. However, if you’re into that kinda thing – you do you, boo.

6. Be more mindful of what and where you’re spending money. Shop small. Support a friend, a small family business, a local mom & pop shop. When you support a small business, you’re supporting someone’s dream.

7. Don’t feel rushed to have it all “figured out” (whatever that means). Keep it simple. One foot in front of the other. I’ve met many 20 somethin’s who have a set game plan in place (you GO, GLEN CO CO!), and I have met plenty of 40 & 50+ yr. olds still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It’s not a race.

8. Get to know your parents. Ask questions. I guarantee you, you’ll eventually want to. Do it while you have the chance. They’re growing older, too… and maybe they really did know what they were talking about when they warned you about that ‘bad boy’ back in high school.

9. Go to the movies alone. You don’t have to share your popcorn and you don’t have unnecessary commentary in your ear while you’re trying to pay attention to Ryan Gosling’s abs.

10. If anyone makes you feel self-conscious for posting selfies, keep taking more selfies because you won’t look this good in your 60’s. (Unless you’re Christie Brinkley… in which case, maybe slow down on the selfie game).

11. Leave any relationship, friendship, job, or situation that’s no longer serving you. The time fillers, the coffee dates that leave you feeling drained and uninspired. Drop it, boo. Time is precious. Just ask any mom.

12. Quit chasing after the people who have left you, cut you off or abandoned you. Start cherishing the ones who have stayed through it all. The only people you owe your loyalty to are the ones who have never made you questions theirs. You never have to chase what wants to stay. You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

13. Make amends. Friends, family, yourself. Let it go. Maybe not for their peace, but for yours. The more we declutter the weight of the past, the more room we create for the good stuff. And it’s all about the good stuff, right?

14. Focus more on being ‘happy’ rather than being ‘right’. Put that pride aside, hold on to your own truths, and let that be enough. I promise you’ll sleep better.

15. Learn to rest, not to quit. It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t stay there. Nothing is permanent. Keep going.

16. Stop handing out 3rd and 4th chances. Don’t waste your time on those who have showed you their true colors. Believe them when they show you, and move on. It’s not selfish, it’s self respect.

17. Chalk up all your struggles, disappointments, failures, and short comings as stepping stones to who you’re becoming. These set backs are not because you’re doing something wrong, it means you’re doing something right. It makes your sweet days of success that much sweeter knowing you fought to get where you’re at, and you didn’t give up.

18. Stop complaining. Count your blessings. The more goodness you acknowledge in your life, the more goodness the universe will throw your way. Remind yourself that someone out there would kill for what you have.

19. Drop the baggage. The grudges, the guilt, the mistakes. Remember what it taught you, but also remember the airline ‘excess baggage’ fee is not cheap. You’d be surprised at how liberating it can be to travel with just a carry on. 😉

20. Go after what you really want. Don’t wait for the right time. There isn’t one. There are 7 days in a week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them. The Universe is never going to put it’s hand on your shoulder and say, “Today is a good day to start.”

21. Be uninhibited with your life, but especially with your emotions. Start your search for whatever you’ve been looking for and do not settle until you know you’ve found it.

22. Fall back in love with your life by falling in love with yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Forgive your own mistakes, try to love all your wounds, stop blaming yourself for the things that didn’t work out, and learn to accept all your flaws. The love that you give to yourself is worth more than any love you could ever receive from other people.

23. Lastly, know when to unplug. Know when to put the phone down, stop reading nonsense advice from some hippie stranger on the internet, pour yourself a damn strong drink, and continue on being the badass you truly are.

“Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. Even while you wait for certain things to fall into place, may you never forget you are still free to thrive in this space; making the most of little things, making room for brand new things, fully living with all you have, even in your in betweens.”

-Morgan Harper Nichols

There you have it, folks.

Top Favorite Editing Apps for Instagram 2018

There it goes again.

Blogger envy.

It happens to all of us. You’re reading a post on someone’s blog – the content is good, but the images are what first grabbed your attention. You love the blogger’s sense of design and you can’t figure out why your images don’t look anything like that. And you’re not alone – content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without images.

But, which editing tool is right for you?

So, here’s a little round up of my favorite photo editing apps. Whether it’s your IG feed, stories, collages, or any special design you can think of!

Photo editing:

I get a TON of messages about what I use to edit photos. Well, first of all I can’t really pinpoint one single app. I really enjoy editing photos (I know – it doesn’t sound thrilling, but hand me a glass of Pinot, my headphones, and an SD card full of unedited photos, and I’m one very happy girl!) I love making them my own so sometimes I even mess around with a few different apps to achieve that perfect look!

Good news is that I do it all from my phone so it’s super easy and anyone who’s staring down at their screen right now can do it!

Lightroom

I always start with Lightroom. I personally think it’s the best for the basics – exposure, brightness, vibrance, sharpening, etc. But it’s also great for the little details, luminance, lens corrections, and retouching. So much goodness you’ll have to check it out for yourself. I recommend tinkering with the app as much as you can to find what you like and create your own unique look.

Also, it allows you 1TB of cloud storage so you can access your photos from anywhere and you can save your editing presets and batch edit. It’s a simple way to apply the same settings from one photo to all the images from a session that are taken in the same location with similar lighting. Once you batch edit, you can still go into each image and make any final adjustments. It saves a ton of time and also keeps your photos and feed consistent!

A Color Story

A Color Story is one of my favorite apps for filters with over 100 fresh and colorful filters. Usually, I’ll edit on Lightroom and if it still needs a little something, I’ll add a filter and usually adjust it just slightly so it adds the perfect bright & airy look I’m trying to achieve. I use this app more for enhancing the bright whites, rich color, and REALLY making your image pop!

PicTapGo

PicTapGo is by far the easiest and quickest photo editing app to use. It features over 70 different photo effects that you can apply and adjust individually. You can also mix and match to create your own filter ‘recipes’. The app also takes note of what you use most often. You can save your favorite combos or it will automatically bump your fave filters up to the top, making them easier to access.

The editing options are somewhat limited beyond filters. So, if you’re not looking for an extremely comprehensive photo app, PicTapGo is very easy to use and creates beautiful, unique images.

So, now that we’ve covered editing your content…

I also get a lot of messages about my Instagram stories. Whether it’s graphics & design, collages, adding text to those perfect ‘pintresty’ looking photos.

Design, Text, & Layout

Word Swag

Hands down, WORDSWAG is totally my JAM. (An example above just creating a simple ‘before & after’.) It’s like a graphic designer in your pocket. You can create beautifully custom text layouts that would normally take minutes – or even hours – with just a tap.

Use Word Swag to:

1. Make your own stylish quotes

2. Make unique graphics for Instagram stories, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

3. Make graphics for your blog

4. Create announcements & flyers

5. Caption your photos

For instance, I use this app the most for creating stories & graphics for my Rodan + Fields business and it never fails that I get a ton of DM’s asking me how I made them or if they can use them themselves. (Of course they can – but I personally love making them my own!) Plus, what might look like you spent hours on was simply done in a couple of minutes!

Mixgram

Mixgram is my favorite go to for collages – so many layout options and you can easily format them to fit any platform whether it’s Instagram square, IG stories, Facebook header… you name it. For some of my content, I’ll even create a collage or layout on Mixgram and then upload it to WordSwag to add text or captions. It’s perfect for creating content that really grabs people’s attention! Also, look up ‘WordSwag backgrounds’ on Pinterest and you’ll find a ton there as well as the free ones that are already available through the app. Here’s a couple of examples from my IG stories. So simple and a great way to display your content!

So, there you have it…

I hope this answered some of your questions. Have fun, get creative, and enjoy the process!

XO jaclyn

A Letter to My Daughter on Her 2nd Birthday

My Sweet Milana,

TWO is quickly approaching. Sunday to be exact.

Each age, stage, and phase has brought us so much joy, a whole lotta laughter, definitely a few tears, sleep deprived stress, inevitable self doubt, and our fair share of challenges…. and a crazy kind of LOVE I didn’t even know existed in my wildest dreams. I wouldn’t trade one second of it.

Sure, your first birthday was filled with a lot of emotions, but it was mainly all happiness – I mean you not only turned one, but your dad and I survived our first year as parents.

But, two… two feels different.

Of course, in the moment – at the end of a VERY long day, I do a little victory dance. We survived another day. In the grand scheme of it all though – the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the long days that seem so long & so grueling that feel like an eternity… they’re not.

Do you want to know a secret? Even on the days when you’re most exhausting, an unruly toddler, when I feel as if I don’t have anything more to give, and I can’t wait until it’s time for you to go to bed – I miss you as soon as I put you down. Funny how that works, huh? You are my great love. My greatest source of chaos, and my greatest source of peace – one of the many conundrums I’ve come to accept as a parent. I can’t resist your smile and your laugh – even your silly fake crocodile tears!

Of course, even pre-child Jaclyn knew that time is fleeting and we’re not allotted as much as we’d like, but there’s something about watching you from the very beginning…. a tiny human who I felt move inside of me & witnessed growing from a little apricot, to the size of a pineapple – every week in my belly. “Babe, did you know all her organs are fully developed already?!”, I remember running in so excited to tell your dad. Reading about and feeling your growth with every passing week was magical. And, now growing leaps and bounds, learning, exploring… before my very eyes, everyday.

Suddenly, I’ve blinked (I should really quit doing that), and you’re a little girl – with enough SASS to run the world, SO much personality, a newfound sense of independence, my main source of entertainment & my biggest source of pure happiness. I could not be more proud of you – and at the same time with each new word and skill, I can’t help but also feel a twinge of sadness. (Comes with the territory, I suppose?)

I need a little longer. I need more time. I need more time to soak in all the goodness, even at times when the ‘goodness’ is grueling. What a wonderfully exhausting stage it’s been. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, for I know it won’t last and before I know it you will be three.

… and then we will experience a whole new phase of life. Together.

But, for now, I’ll enjoy you being not-yet-two. I’ll take the extra cuddles you’ve showered upon me this week, because in these moments it’s as if time is frozen when it’s most perfect.

I know one day down the road, you might be calling mom & dad up and thanking us for all the things we sacrificed and all the love we’ve given (I know I sure have – more times since you were born than possibly in my whole life!) BUT, I’ll tell ya right now… thank YOU. Thank you for teaching me patience. Thank you for reminding me to slow down and enjoy the little things… nature, rocks, sticks, flowers. Thank you for allowing me to see the beauty in this world that is too often chaotic, cruel, corrupt, and unfair. Thank you for showing me what life is and should be about. The little things. Perhaps, I had forgotten along the way. Thank you for being my sweet daily reminder.

Tomorrow we celebrate you. But, today… today, mama is a little blue – so, bear with me. I’m mourning the end of an era, but also embracing all the new and exciting things to come (doing my best, at least). I don’t want to miss a single second. I love you and cherish our sweet bond like no other.

You light up your Mommy & Daddy’s world like you wouldn’t believe.

You are forever my sunshine, little one.

Love,

Mommy