I Am Braids and Brass

My truth:
I am a mom of two! One beautiful 2 year old and one hilariously happy 9 month old.
I workout 30 minutes a day MAYBE 45 depending on my kids moods.
I eat mostly clean and swing in and out of being a total zealot and not caring.
I have gone from results focused, to healthy living focused, back to results focused and am finding my way back into a happy heart focus.
I’ve gained a booty in two months, muscles I’ve never seen on my arms before and quads that are noticeable. I search for more but am pulling back that search for being happy and content while still striving for those goals and not getting lazy in my eating habits.
That is my balance.
I am imperfect and insecure but at the same time strong, mindful and powerful.
I don’t have a lot of money.
I shop sales racks, I buy groceries based on sales and I use coupons.
I shop at thrift stores partly because it’s cheaper and partly because I love finding unique clothes no one else is wearing right now.
I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt in my entire life and I’ve only been lifting weights for two months while expecting the results of someone who’s been doing it two years.
None of my pants fit.
Sometimes I yell at my children when I don’t mean to.
Sometimes I’m the most loving calm mother ever.
I drink Shakeology every day and another protein from a local store that isn’t related to beachbody at all.
I love home workouts, I love going to gyms, I love hot yoga and all things outdoors.
I love getting my nails done when I can afford it, but stick to French tips or clear because I hate nail polish; having my hair the perfect colour is always a must.
I love lipstick, I hate mascara.
I love getting dirty playing outside with my kids, I hate getting my hair wet when I go swimming.
I do not fit in a box.
Accepting that is my transformation.

It started with a dumbbell.
I am Braids and Brass.

On Celebrating Failure

The year of discipline continues 📖 
Since the start of my journey, I have been trying to find my way back into the word of God. In all truth I was mad at Him for a long time for all the hell we went through and I had a hard time reconnecting. 
But I know my Jesus, and despite the struggles and hard times He is with us, and I knew I had to come back to him. 
Fitness saved my life, and God gave me fitness. I used to feel guilty for being able to dedicate myself to a workout daily but not to reading my Bible and now I don’t because I understand something, that fitness was the only way BACK to Him. It’s the only way to clear my head of the frustrations, of the fog that was post partum depression, of the anxiety … it’s what gave my mind rest. 
Sometimes I cried when I finished workouts in the beginning. Sometimes I still do, because it’s through movement I find peace, I find God there. 
Fast forward to today. Today has been a long long time in the making, and it’s only through trying and failing daily for a year that I sit here successful today, and by trying I mean thinking about doing it and not doing it. That’s it. I made no big efforts except the intention in my heart to succeed, knowing full well my standing with God was not dependent on my Bible reading, but my growth is. 
I look at this the same way it takes some people to start clean eating or to start exercising, because I don’t LIKE reading my Bible. Not yet. Because there’s no emotional joy attached to it. It feels like a chore and so that is how I am approaching it. 
Instead of sitting down trying to have these all powerful moments every day I’ve simplified the process for myself. I wanted to start January 1st but I didn’t and that’s ok, I started today. I will simply read the Bible on a schedule for the simple sake of finishing it in one year (which fully reminds me of the days in Jakarta that we spent reading the Bible non stop for THREE DAYS over the city we were ministering to. Powerful stuff.) 
And for some reason, today was the day. 

It’s the slight edge. It’s the compound effect of positive steps forward every single day, so whatever you’re trying to accomplish I encourage you to fail gloriously every single day and rejoice in your failure because it will lead to your success. 
Never feel bad for your journey. It is yours and yours alone, and if you need someone to celebrate failure with, look me up. I’m really good at failing forward. 

On “Those” Days; An Open Thank you to my Husband and Mother

Today has been one of those days one of those weeks months years.

Ok, but today it all boiled down to a nightmare of a day.

I truly want to be one of those moms who writes about nothing but the rainbows her child poops and all the glorious joys of motherhood. And I will. One day. I do know those joys, I have those joys, I live for those joys … but to be honest, if I talk to you and you speak of nothing but all the happy times and how amazing everything is 24/7, I don’t relate to you. And sometimes I hope you’re a liar, because if you’re not, what the heck am I doing wrong? Is my parenting bad? Are my sons endless tantrums and lack of sleep my fault, thus causing the misery we find ourselves drenched in from time to time and if I could just … teach him better, none of this would be happening?

Probably not true. But my thought process none the less.

In any case, if you’re like me and my husband, you’ve had … well let’s politely call them shitty days. Yes, I know. I’m a Christian, and I swore. No, it doesn’t make me cool. No, it doesn’t make me evil. I’m very sad, very vulnerable and very tired today. And sometimes, it’s the only word I can find. So shitty it shall be.

Today started out like any other day…6:00AM wake up on the nose, child in the fridge screaming for strawberries and the tantrum over food begins. No, you can’t eat 12 plums and 38 strawberries for breakfast. Here’s your eggs. Well you said you wanted eggs. No you can’t have oatmeal. Because you asked for eggs and I made eggs. I don’t live to make you food. Yes, you can have a plum when your eggs are finished. Because if I give you the plum all you’ll eat is the plum until your stomach thinks your full and you never eat sustainable food. Sustainable. Sus-tain-a-ble. It keeps you full. No, you can’t have more strawberries. When you’re done screaming and kicking on the floor, come find me. I’ll be eating your eggs.

Usually my patience is pretty far reaching. I am able to take deep breaths and relax, remind myself this is a stage and that one day he won’t throw himself on the floor every single morning the minute he wakes up, and he will have slept through the night.

Today was a different day.

I managed to get in a team call this morning while he screamed and ran around peeing on things because he’s kind of over being told he has to pee and is rebelling, and I managed to do quite a bit of tidying around his tantrums. We also sat together and drummed, and played hide and seek around his fort, and read books inside of it. He then napped for 1/5 hours and woke up foul, as usual. And today I couldn’t handle it.

I don’t know why my son doesn’t sleep well, and I don’t know why he wakes up angry. But it frustrates the hell out of me, because I want to fix it. I want to see him happy and thriving, and to see him so upset all the time honestly just breaks mommas heart. He cries intermittently and hard for a long time after waking up. We’re talking a couple of hours until he’s righted himself, and I’m at the point where I’m falling asleep while he’s screaming because I’m so bloody tired of it all. My body is exhausted and my mind is weary.

And then in walks my husband, and in walks my mother.

My mom came to help me clean today … and all I could do was sit there. And cry. And then leave to nap. And then wake up and stare into space. And watch her clean.

She cleaned my floors, my banisters, my kitchen and every inch she moved along, she scrubbed away a bit of the clutter frustrating my heart.

My husband was in there with her, helping, putting in an effort … while I sat here. Immobilized by exhaustion? Yes … depression? Maybe … in any case, I am not alone in these struggles and there he is. Doing things I cannot do. Cleaning dishes. Making dinner.

My family has surrounded me and it took me a good couple of hours to get up off the couch, and pitch in.

And to top it all off? I can’t show my gratitude…I can’t seem to be very warm and inviting and kind. I can however be critical, condescending and lack the ability to extend anyone else the grace to not be perfect.

So because I can’t seem to find my voice when anyone is present to say thank you, here I am. Saying thank you.

Lucas, you have strength I cannot comprehend. No, you don’t have to be pregnant. No, you don’t know how tired or emotional I am. But what you do know is that you were once married to a vibrant, joyful woman who didn’t condescend, criticize and fall apart. I promise you, even though I keep losing that woman, she is here, and I will keep doing everything I can to find her, to be her. You have put up with just as much sleep loss and frustration and joy and pain as I have, and yet you come home and you take care of this family. I promise I will show you all the kindness I have, even if it’s not much I will muster it up and give it all to you. You have provided for me, for Asher in ways you’ll never understand. Food, finances, it all pales in comparison to the peace you’ve given me to know I am married to a warrior. A fighter. A man who is so capable of loving even when love is not being shown. Sometimes I get angry around you simply as a reaction to your love, because it’s too much for me to handle your gentleness that I react negatively…like being in the presence of God’s overwhelming love that if we don’t feel worthy we run from. I’m 5. No big deal. Just know that I see you, for every little amazing thing you do, even though I don’t seem capable of voicing it. I’m learning. Pray for me and work with me; I know God will use you to be the hand that pulls me up. Thank you for every day, for every hug, for every kiss, for every time we forget to make eye contact throughout the day and then you touch my shoulder to remind me that you’re there. Thank you to the ends of the earth, which I will crawl to to find a way to show you my love.

Mom, I don’t know how you’ve put up with me all these years. To no end do I wish I could actually be as kind as you deserve, when I am this down and out. And just like Lucas, what kills me the most is your endless ability to pour out love on me when I’m like this. To not ask for anything in return. To just be willing to do whatever you can to help me and my family, even if you never get a thank you. I wish I could open my heart when it’s this hard, but I haven’t been able to, and you deserve every ounce of gratitude I can muster. For loving my son to the ends of the earth, to taking him when I’m working, to always be there to help me, to always bend your plans to help mould them around mine and A’s sporadic naps…you’ve never asked for anything, and I’ve never been able to give much, but my love and respect and deeply rooted desire to be like you, you have. Thank you for choosing to love me even on the hard days.

I 100% believe this will pass. I know that this is 95% sleep loss and 35 weeks pregnant. But it’s hard to see past that, especially when I had such a good handle on it just a few short weeks ago.

But I’m here, putting the few things in front of me that I know how to do.

One of those being my complete and utter commitment to sharing my journey with you. Because while it is scary to some to be “so open” it’s actually very therapeutic for me. I’m a verbal processor but I also believe that God will use my struggles, and reach out and touch someone with them.

Maybe to help you feel like you’re not alone.

Mom’s, it’s a tough gig.

And sometimes, we aren’t the nicest to those who are nicest to us, and I know you’re like me and find it devastating to know we’ve hurt someone whom we love so dearly.

If you’re in the same boat, I’m praying for you. The trenches are deep, but the hands reaching in are strong and sturdy.

Grab hold of one and don’t let go.

Commit with me to taking the time every single day to doing something that utterly feeds your soul.

Spend time with God, knit, rest your face in the sun, walk alone outside, exercise, eat well and as you walk alone let the wind caress your skin and fall in love with life every single day.

It won’t be like this forever.

Just promise me you will take the steps to walk forward every single day.

More than a fitness coach, I walk hand in hand with women struggling with things I too struggle with.

A tribe of strong women is forming around me, and together we climb ahead.

I have an incredible support at home, and there are those of you who are single parents or struggling the same but have no family to help …

I can’t say I’ll come be the things for you that my family is for me, but I can walk with you. I can climb with you.

We are strongest when we hold each other up.

On Making Me Happy

“It’s just not making me happy anymore”

Have you ever said this about a job? I have. In fact I am saying it; and I’ve felt in a very stuck place for the last while. 

Returning to work with post partum depression left me feeling like I hated my job (as a hairstylist) and this left a deeply conflicted feeling in my heart. I love doing hair, I love the art I create, but then I had my son, and that art failed to satisfy me. My career … the work I had literally poured myself into that satisfied my soul for so long, left me feeling drained and unhappy every single day.  

I began to question it every day leading up to work; does this make me happy? I had shining moments that I really loved doing hair; these make me giddy and that feeling carries me for a while, but then it fades, and I’m left wondering where it went and how come it leaves, and how do I get it back? 

I started this coaching business, and I felt fire and passion as I had for the hair world, and wondered if this was my new adventure … yet I still felt conflicted, unable to decide in my heart…am I done? I can’t be; I can’t imagine my life not doing hair and I think of all the people that tell me how amazing I am, and how much they love having me as their stylist…

Conflict. Major conflict. 

Feelings of thinks like I no longer posess a talent. 

Feeling low.

Yet, feeling something…

So what is this?

Well firstly, I think it’s natural. I think it’s the ok that God put a passion in me to be home with my son, and for my passion for hair to take a backseat. My family should be more important to me than my job.

But that doesn’t mean I have to leave. 

That doesn’t mean it’s not “making me happy…”

In our society, if it doesn’t make you happy then quit and keep quitting until you find this magic happiness. 

If your marriage sucks, quit, find a new one. If your job sucks, quit. Find a new one. If your house sucks, sell it. Buy a new one. If your life sucks, move. Build a new one.

Sounds fun and fancy, but it’s not reality.

Because happiness doesn’t come from things.

Happiness comes from me.

I make me happy. I lean into God for my joy. I choose to be grateful. I choose to let emotions rule me, or to rule my emotions. I choose to find joy in the hard times. I choose to allow happiness in, despite my circumstances.

I realized I am so, so incredibly blessed and ungrateful.

I am blessed to have passion for so many things, and for hands that are gifted in them. A mother, a coach, a stylist. All these things I have a love for, and it’s a copout to leave one simply because it’s not doing what I want it to do for me anymore.

It’s childish.

Leaving now would be like stomping my feet in a candy store because I couldn’t get what I wanted. The reality is, I have a choice. I can keep being unhappy where I am, or I can change my mindset. I can choose to find joy and life in my job again.

I can choose to push through these emotional days and see that overall, my job is really really great, and it pays me well, and that I get to afford a lifestyle for my family that otherwise we wouldn’t have.

Lows come, but they also go. Same as highs. They go as well.

If you want to quit somethings right now, don’t. If you’ve lost your motivation, put on your big girl panties and get back to work, and choose life. Choose commitment. Choose to be happy, and to be grateful. Look for the positive.

Realize that the problem might actually be coming from within and that getting up and leaving will only satisfy you for a short time, and then you’re left with unhappiness. Again.

Don’t mope around like I have, waiting for whatever it is in your life to make you happy. Make yourself happy by choosing to move forward.

Choose to cook whole, healthy foods today. 

Choose to workout. 

Choose to get outside, even for 5 minutes. 

Choose to do look on the bright side and be your own inspiration. Dig deep and get to it. 

For me, it’s choosing joy at work. It’s choosing to take my vitamins and drink my shake. It’s choosing to workout. 

EVEN WHEN I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. 

Because feelings are fleeting and they change with the wind.

Stay the course. Find your courage. Find your muchness. And get to work. Get busy. 

And if in the end it means you leave your job, let it be 

  because you are happy, and you have so much happiness that you need another place to let it grow.

For me, I found that joy again in coaching.

I find that joy in sharing words of encouragement to my team, to my challengers and to my coaches.

This is what fuels me and gives me life at the salon again.

The problem wasn’t my job.

The problem was me.

Happiness doesn’t live in place or thing.

It lives in you.

A Fitness Fraud

I wish you could see not just the physical transformation of the girl in this picture, but the mental.
IMG_6147
On the left, I had just finished a year abroad with the most amazing missions organization YWAM. My life was turned right side up, and I was transformed.
But do you know what I look back on and remember? Pretending to be more than I was.
I liked to run, I liked to eat healthy … but it was an ACT. It was so I could pretend I loved myself, and pretend that I was doing all I could do to love myself in the best way possible.
I used to talk ENDLESSLY about eating well and working out, and not actually LIVING that lifestyle, and I walked around with tremendous internal conflict and guilt.
Why did I feel the need to lie? Because I wanted it, and I didn’t know how to do it, and I didn’t have the discipline either. So I pretended.
I pretended to be happy, I pretended when I said “God loves me this way, so I love me this way”
The truth was, I didn’t love me this way. And I can tell you, I never ONCE felt fat.
I never EVER recall feeling too big. Not loving my body externally.
What I do recall was knowing I was capable of more, and not doing it.
Unfulfilled potential is like a heavy rock that sits inside you and does nothing. But the thing is, the longer you carry it, the heavier it feels until one day it’s almost unbearable.
We all have a calling on our lives to find the treasure God has buried inside, and it’s our JOY to find it, and to have joy in it.
Yes, my legs are smaller. Yes, my arms are smaller. Yes, my face is less round, but if you could only see my heart.
It’s gotten so big ❤
The photo on the right was taken before I had my son, and once I had him, I lost that girl, again. 4 months ago, I would have told you she’s gone, and I don’t know where to find her.
But I found her, once again.
We are capable of more than what we give ourselves credit for; we can accomplish everything we ever dreamed of accomplishing. God has given us all the tools. But will we pick them up? Will we learn how to use them? Will we improve our skills until they become like a limb, that we control without any effort?
I now have the tools, and it’s more than fitness. It’s more than a shake; it’s a community, it’s a way of life. It’s fulfilling the desires of my heart that have been placed there for a purpose.
And now I’m using that joy and spreading it around. Let me know if you want some.
You are capable.
You are worthy.