Plans Have Changed 

I had big plans today. I booked a babysitter for three hours and was going to meet a good friend for lunch in the west village. We were going to have delicious fish tacos and guacamole. I was going to wear “normal” clothes- jeans and a nice-ish shirt. I was going to put on some make up and maybe do my hair. I was going to be “put together” today.

I’m not.

Instead I am frazzled and tired. I’m wearing my most comfortable maternity sweats and an old sweatshirt, my hair in a messy bun. There’s no make up on my face. I look how I feel- exhausted. 

My sweet Emily has a cold and was up every half hour until 1am last night. She’s been coughing and I want to bring her to the doctor to have it checked out. This is the first time she’s gotten sick. I canceled my sitter and lunch to take care of my girl. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here. 

Before becoming a mom I had a vision of the kind of mom I would be. I wouldn’t cancel on people and become “flakey.” I would look and feel “put-together”. I would take time for myself often. 

How easy it is to think these things before having a baby. And how easy it is to realize I could never have known what kind of mom I’d be until I became one. And how easy it is to know with all my being that my daughter will always come first. Always.

Self-care is a buzz word lately and I agree it’s so important. But when you’re a parent it’s not always going to happen even if you make your best effort to carve out the time. My baby comes first before my ability to be “put-together”.

She’s napping now and I’m laying in bed. It would be great to also sleep a bit, but despite my exhaustion my brain won’t shut off. Instead I write here and think about how lucky I am to have such a beautiful daughter. 

I’ll have plenty of lunches out when she’s grown. This time now is fleeting and I know I’ll look back at these precious days when my baby was small and times were simpler. I’ll say, “I’m so glad I stayed home with her that day.”

Taking the leap.. and falling

A few months back I wrote a post about a transformative experience I had attending a ballet class again for the first time in many years. I talked about how good it felt to be back at the barre and to be jumping and dancing again. I shared how freeing it felt to be there just to BE there. All of that is still true. There is more to it now though. The truth? I have not been back since I wrote that post.

I can give you a million excuses why I haven’t been back, but if I’m honest I haven’t been back because it feels like TOO MUCH. Becoming a new mom has been so fulfilling and amazing. It has also been super overwhelming and exhausting. When I do have some free time to myself I don’t necessarily want to dance. Sometimes I just want to nap. Or write. Or watch mindless TV. Sometimes I’ll do some yoga at home. Occasionally I’ll attend a yoga class. A lot of times I’ll just chill out on the couch with Romeo. All of these usually feel like better options than mustering up the energy to go to a ballet class again.

Sometimes I feel crappy for not being motivated to “do more” in my (limited) free time. Then I try to remind myself that I am doing my best and that’s all I can do. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

For what it’s worth, when I’m feeling inspired I do dance in my living room!  I dance to a good song while holding Emily. Or I do some ballet moves with her watching and clapping. She is the best audience I’ve ever had.

Maybe that is good enough for now?

 

 

 

 

I Get It Now

My grandma used to always look at me, smile and laugh, grab my face with both hands and kiss my cheek. She would have these moments when she was suddenly SO proud. She did this with her daughters and grandchildren too. I remember thinking it was sweet but not quite understanding why she loved me so much.

Now every single day I look at Emmy, smile and laugh, grab her face with both hands and kiss her cheek. When I look at her the love I have is so consuming that I just have to. I get it now, grandma, I get it.

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Attention Attention!

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I love this quote! It makes me think about attention spans. For years I taught babies and children and always thought younger children had shorter attention spans. While this was true in a structured setting (when I was leading a game or activity) I am now finding it’s not always the case. When Emily, my seven month old, is content and I watch her play and explore at her own pace it’s amazing!

She will play with wooden shapes for twenty minutes. She will hold each one, put each in her mouth, dump them all over the floor, and twist the shapes from side to side in her hands. My favorite is when she talks to the shapes! “Lalalala grrrr nanana!” Sometimes she also plays with her drum. She turns it over and looks inside the hollow bottom. She bites the sides of the drum and sometime bangs on it.

Obviously this kind of play doesn’t happen all the time. There are plenty of times when she just wants to be held or read to. I love observing her when she gets into her own groove like this though. It’s like I see her inner fire ignited like this quote says.

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In the groove

Vinyasa Yoga Sequence with Baby (VIDEO)

I was supposed to teach a yoga class this coming Saturday, but unfortunately it got postponed. I’m thankful for the opportunity still because it got me moving and sequencing and planning classes again. Emily joined me yesterday as I practiced.

I tried something new with this video and featured a few moments in real time with real sound when I thought Emily was particularly adorable! I hope you enjoy.

Spreading Authenticity 

For so long I just wanted to spread positivity. I consciously didn’t share anything negative through social media or in my day to day interactions with others. I thought “this isn’t what I want to focus on.” Then something started to stir inside of me. It just didn’t feel quite right to always ignore the negative.

I realized that maybe by sharing only the positive, I wasn’t inspiring people as I had hoped. Although some people may feel inspired, perhaps in only sharing the positive I was also depicting a false image. By only sharing a small portion of my life I’m not showing the whole picture.  In my experience, when it appears someone has it all together and has it all figured out, it makes me feel like crap!

Now that’s not to say I want to share everything in my life because many experiences are private and sacred. Or just too personal. However, there are many things that I go through that I am comfortable sharing and may inspire others even if they aren’t the most “positive”.

I am very skeptical when a person appears happy all the time because we human beings are far more complex and beautiful than that. We are all a mix of love and fear and beauty and pain and happiness and sadness and anger and joy- an amalgamation of ALL of it. No one is happy and fulfilled 24/7 unless perhaps they are a robot. Or a cartoon character. 

I post positive things because that’s what I want to spread BUT I don’t want to pretend like my life is all sunshine and laughter all the time. Despite my multitude of facial expressions I am no cartoon character.

So it dawned on me. It isn’t necessarily positivity I want to spread, it’s AUTHENTICITY. Being authentic means being truly you. Letting your inner music play. Letting your true light shine. Whatever metaphor works for you!

I believe inside all of us, at our core, is a unique life force waiting to be expressed. Just look at newborn babies. They are infinite potential. YOU were that small once. YOU have that potential still, even if it’s buried underneath a lot of life experience now.

We are all born with an essence and that essence is beautiful no matter what form it takes. The more authentic each of us is, just maybe the more we can inspire others to do the same. If we each let our inner music play, and if each of our songs is unique, together we can create the most beautiful symphony.  

So in the spirit of authenticity how am I really?

Right now in my life- I love being a mom. I am also deeply grieving my grandmother. I am confused about the next steps in my career and wondering how to balance that with being a mom. I am very confident in motherhood and in my creative voice. I am also very insecure in motherhood and my creative voice!

I am so happy to have my husband and baby and dog and the life we have here in NYC. I love our home and our neighborhood and couldn’t think of a better place to raise Emily. Sometimes though I feel isolated from my family and friends outside of the city. 
Today I feel great. Some days I feel sad and I’m not sure why. Today I can write. Other days I have nothing to say.

Are any of these feelings special to me? No. I’m sure many people out there are feeling a lot of the same things.

So anyway, that’s where I’m at and that’s all I want to say. I hope you all have a wonderfully authentic day!

Love,

Jessica 

The Light in the Dark

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My sister in law took this photo on 8.17.16 at my Nanna’s wake. My daughter and niece were communicating in their own way and it made me feel blissful. As soon as I saw this image what struck me was the amount of happiness I saw while also feeling the heaviness and sadness from losing my Nanna- someone I secretly hoped would live forever.

Life is never black and white. Within our hardest moments there is always beauty if we look deep enough. Beside my grief for my Nanna there sits a deep deep love for my daughter and niece. My sister in law captured it. I know Nanna was there in this moment watching and feeling love for all of us.

Gentle Yoga (VIDEO)

A few weeks ago I said I would be posting a new video every Monday. In theory it sounded like such a good idea! Life happened though, and the video goal didn’t happen. I do love making videos so will be posting them whenever inspiration (and the time to make them!) hits.

Here’s one I made yesterday. Emily has started to move and crawl so I know the time of having her lay stationary next to me while I practice is fleeting. I was glad to capture a laid back practice with my baby doing happy baby pose!

 

A Baby Blessing

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a Baby Blessing for Emily at our new home. It was the most special and beautiful day. You may be wondering what a Baby Blessing is exactly. Well, we are not religious people so a baptism did not make sense for our family. We are spiritual and raising Emily with a belief in a higher power is important to us. We also believe family is the most important part of her life. So we decided to set aside a day to honor our daughter and celebrate her life amongst the company of her closest family.

We had buffet style food and drinks and everyone hung out for a while. Then we had a little ceremony. I had been nervous about this part of the day wondering how it would all come together, but it worked out perfectly! Everyone naturally gathered in a circle at this point. Emily had fallen asleep in her carrier so while she wasn’t awake for it, she was there!

First, I thanked everyone for being there. I was very emotional having lost my grandmother earlier that same week. The cycle of life was all too evident in that moment. I also talked about Emily’s name. We chose “Emily” because we thought it was the most beautiful name- it sounds like a song. And “Rae” has an extra special significance. We originally chose the name to honor my grandfather Renato who went by “Ray”. We knew it was the absolute right choice when we realized each letter of the name “Rae” was the first initial of each of my grandparents. R for Renato, A for Angiola, and E for Elise. I know all over them are watching over her.

Next my mom, Emily’s Mema, read a prayer she wrote. Mema is a talented author and has written many beautiful prayers. I hadn’t read her special prayer for Emily prior to the day img_3005so it was a wonderful moment to hear it for the first time. Mema printed out a copy for everyone and rolled them up into scrolls so we could follow along. It was a priceless moment! She also framed the prayer and it now sits in Emily’s room where we can read it all the time.

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The ceremony ended with Emily’s Aunt Jamie reading “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan. I had searched for a while to find the perfect words for this event, and thought that this song said it all. Aunt Jamie has been instrumental in Emily’s life. She was there for me throughout my pregnancy and any time I have needed her advice as a new mom. She did a beautiful job with the reading and I think we were all teary eyed!

The last thing we did was take group picture with the whole family, our village. I will treasure this photo forever!our-village

One other detail I want to mention is the little wish box I had out (photo below). I asked everyone to write a special wish for Emily to read one day. I think the words she received will mean so much to her when she is older.

And that was that! From there we all enjoyed some cake and hung out for a while. I will never forget that day and am so happy we pulled it together after a very difficult week mourning my grandmother. My sweet Emily Rae has officially been welcomed into the world by her incredible family.

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Emily’s Wish Box & A Book by Aunt Jamie
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Emily & her mom (me!) and dad
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Emily’s Birth Announcement
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Made by her Uncle Tim, the lyrics to “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” by Paul Simon
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Dessert!
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One of many photos we had out that day

The 10,000 Things You Need to Pack for a Trip with Baby

I am amazed by the amount of brain power, time and energy involved in packing for a weekend away with a baby! No longer can I just throw a few things in a suitcase and go. Oh no, now I must plan out each day and how each day may go meticulously. And even then, with all that effort, I’m bound to forget something!
This is a summary of what happens in my mind the days leading up to a weekend away.
“Okay so she needs…Clothes, PJs, sleep sacks, pack n play, sheets for pack n play, sound machine, monitor, diapers, wipes, toys, more diapers. Also bathing suits, swim diapers, a sun hat, pacifiers, food for breakfast lunch and dinner. Baby sun tan lotion. Baby spoons, bowls and cups. Baby carrier, travel high chair, breast pump and accessories and bottles. Stuff to clean breast pump, accessories and bottles. Baby travel bath, shampoo and soap. Baby comb and lotion. It may get chilly at night so some sweaters too. Hmm..Am I forgetting anything? Probably.”
Phew! Well so far so good. We made it out to Connecticut for labor weekend and it’s all been worth it. Even though my back is killing me from sitting in the back seat of our car between Emily and my 80 pound dog Romeo, I’m so glad we are here!
I think I sense an SUV in our near future. 

Arrived and relaxing