Teaching sense of self to your kids and 5 ways you can lead by example

Tuesday, February 13

Tonight I was laying in bed with Isla, winding down before putting her to sleep, and I asked her what her favorite part of herself was. She was quiet while she thought about it for a minute, and then she said, "I love my mama." At first I thought maybe she didn't understand the question, but then I suddenly remembered one of the most crucial things I've ever learned about child development, and how before the age of 6, kids don't cognitively differentiate having separate identities from their parents. It's wild, but that's how their brains are wired. They are mirrors. My happiness is her happiness. My sadness is her sadness. And to her, her love for herself IS her love for me.

It was the smallest, most profound reminder of exactly how important this time of my children's lives are. Not only for them, but for me ... BECAUSE of them. The foundation on which they will build the remainder of their adolescence and subsequently, their entire adulthood, is being created right now, in these six years. And we, their parents, are the people they are basing that sense of self and personal identity on. 

So that's fine.

When you think about it like THAT, it feels like an impossibly high-pressure situation. But ultimately the key to raising these babies into healthy, happy, emotionally-confident adults is simple. If you give yourself permission to be you and love you and take the time to know you, it gives your children permission to be themselves, and love themselves, and take the time to know themselves. 
Which is of course, what we all want for them. So we have to want it for us too.

The execution of that, can feel a little less simple.
But as you may have noticed throughout this last year, I've made my own self development a higher priority than I ever have in my life, and it's changing. everything.

So here are 5 ways that I'm making sense-of-self a priority in my life and by default, showing my children how to do the same.

01. Read, write, pray, and meditate

 The entire point of making daily, dedicated time for doing each of these things every day is to honor the part of you that needs to express and the part of you that needs to listen. It's the clearing and refreshing of your mind that is just as vital as taking a shower, but is typically given significantly lower priority. I had a girlfriend text me the other day about doing these things, and she basically said, "OK. So the routine that you're doing is great, but literally WHEN. And like, HOW." And I feel that. Because truly it feels like I'm burning the candle at both ends most of the time, and there's never enough of me to go around. But generally, my approach to making this time for myself is simple: my routine is also a part of my children't routine. Meaning, it's set up as an expectation in their daily lives, and so are the rules around it (which is essentially just one rule: Mom gets some quiet time too. And that's why I birthed two of you and also bought 1 million toys for you to play with). I know everybody's household and the needs of that household are set up so differently. And I know I'm in an age-phase right now that I can have this luxury, cause this probably wouldn't have totally worked even a year ago. And it may phase out for a while if we have another baby. But times and seasons, you know. And right now I'm taking full advantage. 

02. Exercise

Here's the thing about exercise. There's nothing I could tell you here that you don't already know. We all know. We all know all the things. And we know that exercise is one of the biggest parts of getting to know yourself and loving yourself. But the profound thing I've noticed about the difference between when I've worked out alone and when I've worked out with my children around me (which is usually the only way I can get it in), is how they intrinsically know the real reason behind why I'm doing what I'm doing. Because when they mimic me, the focus for them is never on transformation. It's not on before and after. It's not on what they are not. It's about what they are. It's about what they CAN do, and being super pumped about that, and actually quite impressed with themselves. It's about joy. It's about finding ability in your own body. It's about showing yourself your own strength. And knowing that trying, and not QUITE making it, is not disappointing or discouraging, it's literally whatever. Who cares. Try again. Look, I've almost got it.
And that, in and of itself, is enough reason for me to make the time for it. So that the REAL reason, is always fresh in the forefront of my mind and especially theirs.

03. Redefine your emotions

I know that's a little ambiguous, but here's what I mean. Basically our society is set up with this emotional culture (based, by default, on parenting culture) that praises and rewards some emotions and shames and punishes other emotions. This entire concept was brought (devastatingly) to my attention one day when Isla was in the middle of a full-blown melt down. She was overly-tired and I had poured her milk in the wrong cup. This escalated into this moment in which, through her sobs, she started saying, "but I'm bad! I'm bad!" I rushed to question her on why she would say such a thing and reassure her that she was absolutely never, ever bad. She argued back with me, by saying that she was bad because she was crying and she was angry at me. 

I swear it was like getting punched in the stomach. 

Suddenly all these memories rushed into my brain. All the times that I had told her what a good girl she was for doing something that was scary and being so brave for not crying. All the times that I told her what a good girl she was for being so happy and sweet and kind. All the times I told her about her goodness and based that goodness on a very small range of emotions. I continuously complimented her on her pleasantness. And the thing is, I'd thought I was actually doing a decent job with this stuff. I've always made a point to listen to her anger and help her work through it. I've always mirrored and empathized with whatever sadness or frustration she felt. But up until that point, I'd also never associated "good" with those things either. I'd never emphasized how awesome it is to have a good cry. I'd never applauded her well-expressed anger. And so subconsciously, she had associated them as "not good."

How I looked at everything changed in that instant. And I realized it had to start with me. The perspective that I had unintentionally passed onto Isla, had been the exact perspective I'd had on myself. I was struck with the memory of feeling so guilty about the sadness I'd experienced in my motherhood for the entirety of a year. I felt guilty because I viewed that sadness as a representation of my personal worth and worthiness. Not being wholly and totally fulfilled in your motherhood especially was not ok and allowed. And therefore I was not ok and not allowed. 

I imagined the generosity of feeling that I wanted to bestow on my babies. Each emotion that I wanted them to know was good and allowed and a necessary part of being human. And the grace that I wanted to give them so they could give it to themselves. I started by attempting to honor myself in the same way. Because unfortunately or fortunately that's how it works. We cannot give others what we don't have ourselves.

We have to begin to understand on a conscious and subconscious level that no emotions are bad or good. They are just emotions. Some feel better than others. But there is no level of worth associated with any of them. We are not defined or measured by them. And if we aren't, our children won't be either. 

04. Give yourself permission to explore and experiment and refuse the mom-guilt

This one is simple. When you look at your child, you can easily see the multi-dimensional, dynamic, talented, wondrous human that they are. You can see how many different directions their life could go. You can see them light up with their various passions and opinions and interests. Observing those things gives you LIFE. And that's because it IS life. And it is crucial for them to witness it in you, because you are the foundation that they are building their sense of self on. Teach your child to honor their multi-faceted nature, by exploring yours. Teach your child to respect their individuality by respecting your own. Teach them that they are important by showing them that you are important. Teach them to create big things for themselves by creating big things for yourself. This is the most life-sustaining, life-perpetuating work you can do. And guilt does not and cannot live in that place. 

05. Listen to yourself

Rest when you need to rest. Eat when you need to eat. Pee when you need to pee haha. This one may seem glaringly obvious, but the more observant and conscious I've been of my daily patterns, the more I've realized how many terrible habits I've developed that have prevented me from honoring myself and receiving the things my body told me I need in that moment. And if we can't listen to the powerful, basic instincts of our human bodies, how in the world are we going to be able to listen to the still, inner whisperings of our intuition. Stop pushing. Start listening. Start becoming the bestower and receiver of care and love from yourself and for yourself and then watch your intuition and sense of self blossom.

All clothing worn in the post are from Old Navy in collaboration with their #HiFive initiative.


Monday, January 15

The other day I was doing a mental exercise that entailed trying to keep a visualization in my mind for one pure minute. Pure, meaning that during that minute, I would be so focused and so immersed in that good thing, that I would only feel the light of it, with no doubts bubbling up, no inner voices contributing opposition, no feelings of undeserving, just pure, focused, visualization. 
I couldn't do it.
I tried doing it in 17 second increments and had a hard time with that too.
In fact, I could only make it to about 10 before the limiting thoughts would sneak in without invitation. 

"Yeah right, that's not going to happen. Not to you."

As I practiced, it continually felt like I was ramming up against walls of subconscious unbelief in myself. I tried to give myself grace. My brain was not used to exercising this part of itself, after all. I was flexing a new muscle; reversing years of thought patterns. But I couldn't help but feel frustrated about continually feeling unworthy of the thing I was trying to visualize. We see our adult selves and interpret our adult reality through the set of lenses we were given as children. And those lenses presented themselves as STOP signs in my mind, popping up, and halting this new belief in its tracks.

"Yeah right, that's not going to happen. Not to you."

Then a few days later, quite synchronistically, I was pointed in the direction of what pretty much felt like a conduit of light straight from the heavens above. Through a beautiful, and thoughtfully written instagram post about embracing our ability to receive, I was given my answer. The one word that would be my guide in breaking down those childhood beliefs. In clearing and strengthening my mind. In writing a new rulebook.

Receive, receive, receive.

It sounded so easy and so so hard.

That afternoon I left my house for a massage appointment. This massage had been given to me as a birthday gift over a year ago, and I had waited for the impending expiration date to force my hand into booking it. And then I went ahead and rescheduled it once more just for good measure. Pushing it off, pushing it away, not creating an opening for its goodness. The metaphor was not lost on me.

When I got there, I comfortably situated myself on the massage table, closed my eyes and promised myself that I would stay present. And I did. Until I didn't. I thought about the errands I needed to run afterwards. I thought about my job. I analyzed things that I had said. I remembered a birthday party that was the next day. And then out of nowhere it struck me again.


Receive, receive, receive. 

And I was brought back to my body. I attempted to open. I allowed my calf muscles to receive. The arch of my foot to receive. The knots in my shoulders to receive. My palms to receive. The base of my spine to receive. I was THERE for it. And my gratitude for that moment quadrupled instantaneously. 

I went home and wrote this down:


I am receiving. I am opening my mind and my heart to receiving inspiration, love and personal power.
I am receiving the abundance that I am already surrounded with.
I am receiving the assistance and care that is sent to me through outside sources. 
I am receiving care and love from myself and for myself.
I am receiving inspiration from my personal connection with God.
I am receiving pleasure and power in my body.
I am receiving all the love and adoration from my husband.
I am receiving wealth and prosperity and freedom.
I am receiving the abundance that is meant for me with ease and effortlessness, happiness and gratitude.

That night I came across a teaser preview for this new movie that's coming out. This preview shows imagery of a modern-day, overworked, sleep-deprived mother who has two kids and a newborn, and knows that sometimes you need to serve frozen pizza for dinner. But this is not the point. At the end of the preview, her doorbell rings, and with circles under her eyes, she is met by a kind and warm woman who says this: "Hi. I'm Tully. I'm here to take care of you."

And this may sound strange that I'm bringing this up, but it struck me so forcefully. And in a way that has nothing to do with the actual movie. 

I thought, wouldn't it be the nicest thing in the entire world to hear those words?? 
Not, "What do you need help with?" 
Not, "I'm here to help." 
But, "Hi. I'm here to take care of you."

I decided right then that I was going to hear that phrase in my life, and I was going to hear it every single day. I decided that I was going to experience love and gratitude and friendship in this way. And that I would start by receiving it from myself, for myself. 

I practiced with my body first. That night, before getting in the shower, I mentally created this intention: "I am here to take care of you, and I am here to receive."

I washed my arms and hands with gratitude for lifting and writing and touching and being my connection to the world. I washed my abdomen with gratitude for expanding and retracting twice over while carrying my children. I washed my legs and feet with gratitude for carrying me and grounding me and allowing me to walk and run and play. I washed my hair with gratitude for being a growing, living, means of expression. 

The next morning I woke up early. Too early. Isla was coughing and needed some medicine. As I laid back down and tried to sleep, a flood of thoughts came to my brain. I tried to shove them away, but they kept pouring in, waking me up even further. Then I stopped myself. I stopped trying to shove away what I didn't want, and began to receive what I did want. Receive sleep, receive rest, receive my ability to renew. I fell back asleep with little resistance.

Several hours later, I practiced with my workout. "I am here to take care of you, and I am here to receive." The intention flowed through every lift, every pull, every last set and rep. I felt strong and grateful. Then I went into the kitchen. "I am here to take care of you, and I am here to receive." I cut the vegetables without feeling like it was inconvenient or a waste of my limited morning time. I made the tea. I cracked the eggs. And then sat at my plate, and received. 

As I continued with the rest of my routine, and began to prepare for my morning visualization practice, I suddenly realized that I had, in one night and one morning, set in motion a new reality and state of being, an extremely high-frequency of gratitude, and created for myself a seat at the table of abundance, where I do, despite what I have believed about myself previously, belong. In that seat, I can and I am. 

I began to practice the visualization again, but this time with RECEIVE as an ever-present intention. Seventeen seconds passed. Thirty-four. Fifty-one. Sixty-eight. And I opened my eyes with shock. I had been strong enough. My mind had not wavered. And I had believed, for one pure minute, that I am worthy of receiving. 

It's a good start. 

Isla and I got dressed: a week of outfits

Monday, December 18

As it goes when one is three years old, Isla is very adamant about her own independence lately. For example, the other day I buckled the top straps of her carseat, before I knew how important it was for her to do it herself, and she instantly proclaimed that we were "not best friends anymore" and we were also "not sticking together." For context, when Isla is in the very loving, cuddly mood that she's in most of the time, she'll sit on my lap, rub her hands on my face and kiss my cheeks while saying that "we stick together." So proclaiming that the opposite is true, is the most fitting way her little self can think of to express frustration when I do something she doesn't like. When she tells me that we're not sticking together, it's serious.

We've been potty training for a bit now, and with her spirit of independence, it has honestly been the easiest thing ever. Anything that makes her feel more grown up, more like her brother, more like the miniature adult that she is, sign her up. Training pants that she can put on and pull up herself? Yes please. More on that in a minute.

There have been many times however, when it's been less than easy. While getting this new 3 year-old dressed, I've had to go back to her drawers because she doesn't like a particular shirt I've picked out. Or she's been on a purple shoe kick and I just don't even know why I bothered to buy her brown boots. She knows what she wants and she knows what she likes, and I love that about her, but most of the time we're running out the door with negative 5 minutes to spare and there is no time for her to not be into that blue shirt with buttons. So I came up with a solution. One afternoon, we went upstairs and went through her entire wardrobe. I pulled each item out and she gave it a yes or a no. And now, we have a medium sized pile of Isla approved clothes and getting dressed is a total. game changing. breeze. This has also resulted in going many places in her Frozen princess dress just because it brings her joy.

In honor of our newfound ease of putting clothes on our body, here is a breakdown of a week of our outfits, Monday through Friday.

- M  O  N  D  A  Y -
On her: Target shoes, thrifted skirt, Target top

This outfit was brought to you by velvet. When Isla sees velvet, feels velvet, wears velvet, she gasps audibly and congratulates herself on her great taste, so she was clearly born just in time for its resurgence. I, on the other hand, am just generally more of a cotton person.

- T  U  E  S  D  A  Y -
 On her: Target shoes, Old Navy skirt (old), H&M tee (old), thrifted jeans vest
On me: Keds sneakers (similar), Levi jeans, boutique tee, Zara blazer

I did actually slip some leggings on her before walking out the door, but she wasn't into them in this particular moment. The shirt she's wearing is Everett's old one and it delights her that she's big enough to share that kind of thing with him now. Give her all the hand-me-downs. Also just a side note, this blazer is the best thing to ever happen to my wardrobe. It has shoulder pads. 

- W  E  D  N  E  S  D  A  Y -
 On her: Target shoes, Target Frozen princess dress (old), Old Navy sweater (old)
On me: Swedish Hasbeens clogs, ASOS jeans (old), Zara tee (old), Target sweater

If you can even see the blur that is Isla, this is the infamous Frozen princess dress that she enjoys wearing to the grocery store and also church if we would let her. As you can see, it's a versatile piece and pairs well with purple velvet shoes and a cozy sweater. And if you are wondering, yes these sleeves I'm wearing get in everything, and I do not recommend any version of chick-fil-a dipping sauce while wearing it. 

- T  H  U  R  S  D  A  Y -
 On her: Converse sneakers, Old Navy jeans (old), Old Navy dress (old), Target jacket, Target hat

This jacket that Isla is wearing is quite possibly one of our favorite finds ever ever ever. It's soft and fluffy and reminds Isla of her beloved velvet and I wish there was one in my size. Why Target, why is there not one in my size. These crushed velvet boots I'm wearing make up for it a little though. When worn, we kind of just take turns complimenting each other on our respective fuzziness.

- C  A  S  U  A  L     F  R  I  D  A  Y -
 On her: tee from a boutique in Montana

Casual Friday is where we tend to thrive during the week. We really find our stride in pantslessness. We also tend to honor the spirit of Casual Fridays on more than just Friday. With Isla's recent potty training, she's pretty much content to not be dressed all the time. And I'm like, same girl. Same.
Like I mentioned earlier, potty training has pretty much been a freakin breeze with her. Most of the time she's wearing underwear but I LOVE having the option of training pants, especially when we're on a particularly long road trip or when I know we're going to be heading somewhere a bathroom is not super accessible on a moment's notice. We've been using Seventh Generation cleaning products for years and years and Seventh Generation's diapers since her birth. We're just generally big fans of the brand. Both their training pants and overnight diapers never leak, never give her sensitive skin a rash since they're all hypoallergenic, fragrance and chlorine free, and bonus, they're actually cute with their forest-loving animal prints. 
And thus concludes this week of outfits and independence. 
Remind me to tell you the story of when she refused to get on an airplane because she didn't get to hand the attendant her boarding pass by herself. 
Three is fun.

This post has been in partnerships with Seventh Generation, a brand that we love and use in our home every dang day. 

In which I recap my mind-blowing trip to California with Biossance

Friday, November 3

So this last week, I got really lucky. Somehow I got to go on the most luxurious trip with a skincare brand that I've been using and loving for years. And after meeting the women behind the brand, I'm even more in love with them now. Biossance has been a crucial part of my daily korean-style skin care regimen that I posted about earlier this year -- they provide truly skin changing products, so it was honestly like winning a lottery ticket for them to ask me to come to their headquarters to learn about the science, and observe the behind-the-scenes of a line I've been a fan of since I started paying attention to my skin.

Come with me on a journey of luxury, good skin, and badass female chemists.
(no I didn't climb on the roof of the hotel, but I also didn't get a chance to take any photos during the daytime, so here's one from Simone Anne)

When I got to San Francisco, I checked into the Claremont Hotel, which is a very beautiful, very old hotel in Berkeley. I got in a bit earlier than everyone else, so I started googling how far the hotel was from some of the food recommendations that you guys provided on insta (the Cheese Board was amazing btw). Turns out, when you google the Claremont location, you get several results about how it's haunted. Not the entire hotel, just the fourth floor, with several stories being reported in various rooms on the fourth floor and in the hallways. I was in room 429. This was thrilling for me as you can imagine. Typically I am a major chicken with these kinds of things, but in the moment that I was debating about whether or not to switch rooms, I got a knock on the door and these lovely flowers were delivered. I took it as a sign of good faith from the universe and decided not to be THAT person at the concierge desk. And it was a lovely stay. The only weird thing that happened was a door that slammed very loudly in the hallway at 2:30am and then right afterward the music I'd fallen asleep to started skipping. But no children yelling mama, no imprints on my bed, and no footsteps in the hallway. So I win.  

The next morning, in the land of the living, we headed off to visit the Biossance Headquarters. Before taking a tour of the facility, we donned our very own customized lab coats and safety goggles, and I instantly wondered why I decided not to pursue a PhD in chemistry.

Here's the cool thing about Biossance, and just one of the reasons I love supporting them. Biossance's parent company is Amyris, which is the biotech company who is responsible for the development of an anti-malarial drug. Before its development, the treatment for malaria was extremely time consuming and extremely expensive, so ever since harnessing the microbial engineering it took to develop this drug, they've literally saved millions of lives by making treatment extremely accessible.

This sustainable, reduced environmental-impact, biotechnical mindset is the same mindset that went into producing Squalane, which is the foundational ingredient in Biossance's skincare. (More about Squalane in a second, but your body naturally produces it in large quantities when you're younger, and you need to replace it in your skin as you age) I sat at the dinner table with Amyris's CEO and listened to how they discovered that Squalane could be 100% plant derived instead of the old way of harvesting it from shark liver. The trick is sugarcane. All of their beautiful packaging is also made of sugarcane, which is great because it's one of the most environmentally clean and sustainable plants for product creation. Sugarcane is like grass. You cut it down and it just grows right back, unlike the trees that are used to create most packaging.

We were given a tour of the facility by one of the 20 female chemists who are behind the development of the products, and then tested them straight out of the beaker. Their team is small, but their passion is great, and their standards are high. It really made me want to come home and re-evaluate every product that I'm using on the largest organ of my body. Here's the scary thing. In Europe, there are over 1300 banned ingredients that are not allowed to be used in beauty products. In the U.S.? There are only 11. 
And up until a little while ago, I wasn't even thinking twice about it. 
At Biossance, they've personally blacklisted over 2,000 potentially harmful ingredients for their products. They truly care and are so passionate about creating products that will be both safe for your body and also give you the results you want to see. 

Here we are with our personalized essential oil + squalane blends. #legit
Before dinner that night, we headed over to the SF Sephora, where they gave us Biossance facials. Which by the way, if you live near a Sephora, I would highly recommend trying the product this way.


The next day, we loaded up in a literal party bus and headed off to Half Moon Bay. But first, we stopped at one of the local pumpkin patches. This was slightly entertaining for me to watch a bunch of city girls go gaga over a pumpkin patch (for some of them, it was their first!) while I'm over here with no less than 5 within walking distance of my house. Didn't stop me from taking 200 pictures though. When in Rome.
 Shoes: Madewell, Jeans: ASOS, Sweater: Madewell, Jacket: H&M (old, sadly), Earrings: ASOS (old), Sunglasses: Amazon, Bag: Sole Society

THEN we got to the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay.
No offense to the ghosts of the Claremont, but they picked the wrong hotel to haunt.

This is where I'll be in the afterlife if you need me.

P.S. This Squalane Probiotic Gel is a new product that I was introduced to on this trip, and after using it, I literally saw results the next morning. One of my biggest complaints is uneven redness in my skin tone and this gel reduces that shockingly fast. Definitely adding it to my routine.

While we were there, we we got makeovers from green-beauty celebrity make-up artist Katey Denno, who's gotten to touch the faces of Gwyneth Paltrow, Amber Heard, Natasha Lyonne, Felicity Jones, and now me. My face wast humbled.

It was validating to learn that she does base just like I do - with a few drops of Biossance Rose Oil mixed into my BB cream and the Peptide Eye Gel mixed in with under-eye concealer. My only goal is glow. I want the orbiting satellites to look down on earth and be like, woah, check out the glow on that one. I don't think it's too much to ask.

Now here's some photos of me by the fireplace contemplating the benefits of Squalane. 
Speaking of Squalane, let me tell you about why you need it in your life, and why I've been using it daily for a couple years. 

Squalane is a molecule that is naturally already found in us, and it's a big contributor to why our skin looks so supple and pretty when we're younger - that's when we're producing a lot of it. Then something really depressing happens when you enter your 30's, and your squalane production drastically drops off, by like half. This continues for the remainder of your life. Welcome to aging. 

So that's what Biossance pioneered: a plant-based solution to replacing the squalane that your body decreases in over time. It's your body's moisturizer in its purest form. And it's in every one of their products. 

What I've been thrilled with is getting to share their products with you guys in the past and then getting to hear how much you love them. Yes, this is a brand partnership, but I GENUINELY love this company, and recommend them to friends/family offline too. Do your skin a favor and try a free sample of the pure Squalane oil and Vitamin C Rose oil HERE.

Thank you so much to Biossance for an amazing week, and for the good you're doing for our faces and for the world. 
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