Stay Curious.
Dig Deeper.
Nurture What Matters.
Be BoldHeart.
Enjoy Your Life.

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The BoldHeartMama desires to enjoy living out the choices that she’s made for herself and for her family. She is a relentless learner: curious, inquisitive, and open to the possibilities of her life and of the human condition. She understands that there isn't one right way—she asks questions that dig deeper to make sense of it all and to find her own path.

She pays attention to and nurtures whatever it is she really cares about, letting go of the rest (for now) knowing she can't do and be everything all at once. She embraces her imperfections in favor of "good enough"—her imperfect self, her imperfect home, her imperfect mothering, her imperfect desires—and she never stops evolving as a woman and mother. She is a BoldHeart, authentic and true to herself.

The BoldHeartMama knows there is only this one life and she's all in. She is present and engaged and making things happen. Her intuition is her guide. She seeks to be inspired and relies on her creativity and her resourcefulness to solve the big and little challenges that she and her family face together as they navigate their relationships and their world.

The BoldHeartMama is willing to take calculated risks to make her biggest dreams come true. She is living out her BoldHeart in the moment, making small moves and taking little steps that add up, and she's cultivating a good life for herself and her family in the process. Read More!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Small Comforts Little Luxuries: Fall 2015

Hi Friends! Tuesday is the official start of Winter so I'm sneaking in Fall's Small Comforts and Little Luxuries post just under the wire.

These posts are about the little things that don't cost a lot (though they can feel like a splurge) but add value to your days because they appeal to your senses and bring delight. As you seek out facets of life to enhance your own comfort, pleasure, and joy, you can consider purchases like these an extension of the ways in which you nurture yourself as part of your self-care routine.

Taproot Magazine

Taproot is the relevant, inspiring, and folksy companion for every season. It's ad-free, which is refreshing, full of beautiful illustrations and images, filled with words that stick with you and crafts, recipes, and ideas that will spark your imagination for intentional living.

This issue's theme is Shelter and includes articles from living tiny (houses!) and unconventional, to nature teepees, screen printing, CSAs and root cellaring, comforting casseroles, and up-cycled hats for the entire family. So many good reads to be had in here!

Taproot is also hosting a very cool pop up Holiday Shop with gift ideas for everyone on your list, maybe even a few goodies you'd like for yourself!

Individual Issue $9
Yearly Subscription $27

Glow Sugar Scrub 

The star of this sugar-based body scrub is citrus and lemongrass essential oils, which will perk up any dark morning (I promise!), while evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and sunflower oils keep you hydrated in these moisture-zapping colder months. The kids think I smell like gummy worms after I shower, which I'll take as a compliment. Smooth, moisturized skin definitely feels like a little luxury this time of year.

Price: $38

Lustro Face Oil

As an oily/combo skin mama I wasn't so sure about the idea of applying oil directly to my face, even if they are essential oils. It just didn't sound like a good idea. Still, I needed to know so I decided to give it a try and guess what? It's kind of amazing. I can use a few drops of this instead of my usual moisturizer—though you can mix it with your moisturizer if preferred—and my skin stayed hydrated, and glow-y all day. (Pregnancy cannot have all the credit.) Even at days end my skin remained less oily than usual, and happily no breakouts. I love the morning ritual of applying this serum to my face because it smells so darn good. I've tried both the Jasmine (Face oil 2 for dry skin), and Calendula (Face oil 1 for sensitive skin) which smells like roses to me though the description states "leafy and herbal."

Price: $64

If you're curious to try out these products (or others!) stay tuned for a post-Holiday Beauty Counter Giveaway!

StephLovesBen Garlands

I really like garlands. A lot. I have many different ones I've made or purchased over the years and I rotate them seasonally. This year I added a glitzy, glam-like, festive garland of bright triangles to hang over the archway in our living room. StephLovesBen's Etsy shop is closed until the New Year but you can check out her instagram StephLovesBen to take a peak at the many pretty things she usually has for sale.

12 foot garland $32

Belvoir Fruit Farms

Delicious, seasonally inspired non-alcoholic cordials and presses to be shared with family and friends! Originating from the UK, the Belvoir winter line is currently offered at Terrain. We enjoyed the Apple, Plum and Cinnamon Cordial (similar to a light mulled cider) as well as the Mulled Winter Punch (a warmly spiced blend of elderberry, blackcurrent, and orange juices) warmed stovetop. The kids loved both, though I think the mulled winter punch was our favorite. Cordials can be mixed with wine or booze if you're feeling particularly festive!

View the entire Belvoir Fruit Farms line here.

$15/ bottle
Edit: It looks like Terrain is out of stock of the mulled winter punch.

Winter Sweet Gum Springs Apothecary Herbal CSA

Ever curious to learn more about plant-based medicines I eagerly emailed Lindsey, the owner of Sweet Gum Springs Apothecary, when I heard about her Mississippi-based Winter Herbal CSA. She said she had one spot left so I joined-in in the middle to catch the remaining months of December, January, February, and March.

Lindsey is a community herbalist and uses her extensive knowledge of plant-based herbal preparations to carry on the tradition of herbal medicine for health and wellbeing. The ingredients she incorporates into her products are either grown in her own garden or sourced and foraged locally.

My first box included Winter Warmth Tea Blend, Hibiscus Fire Cider, Happy Lips Lemon Balm, and The Balm: first aid salve. I also added a small bottle of the Elder-Sumac Elixir. The winter sickies have entered our house so this was timely, and I enjoyed reading the accompanying newsletter that highlights the protective purpose and healing benefits of naturally occurring plant phytochemicals and how that translates to our human systems.

Learn more about the Winter and Spring CSAs here, and check out the entire line of products, which can be purchased individually. Edit: Info is now available for joining the Spring CSA!

PS. She's currently offering a holiday free shipping special for all orders over $40.

Full CSA plus shipping $250

Sign up for the BoldHeartMama Newsletter to get the Latest and Greatest in Intentional Living

Happy Sunday! 

The Winter edition of the BoldHeartMama newsletter will be going live soon. If you haven't already you can sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox. 

The current issue will include a Winter What's in Season Virginia printable, intentional living prompts for nurturing self and looking toward the New Year, a sneak peak of the next BoldHeartMama interview, and a recipe for Mulled Cranberry Punch! 

The Fall 2015 edition included posts like these:
Intentional Living Prompts to Find your Peace
and more!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Seasonal Color Analysis: I Got Draped!

Personal Color Analysis begins with the idea that by categorizing the dominant characteristics of your hair, skin, and eyes as Dark or Light, Soft or Clear, and Warm or Cool, you can identify your specific Season, and thereby your best colors. For example, someone with Dark, Soft, and Warm characteristics would be a Deep Autumn. (For your reference, in color analysis Dark is interchangeable with Deep, and Soft is interchangeable with Muted. I use both terms in this post.)

Seasonal Color Analysis Groups

Seasonal Color Analysis categorizes everyone into four distinct seasons while Tonal Color Analysis takes it one step further with the understanding that while everyone will fall into one of the main seasons, most everyone can also wear some colors outside their designated season. A tonal draping will capture a palette that is even more specific and individualized to you, with a unique color swatch booklet to take home at the end of the process. 

Inspired by last years exploration into seasonal living, I was curious to learn more about my seasonal color palette. Based on two simple online quiz tools from Into Mind and The Chic Fashionista, and a lipstick draping, I thought I might be a Deep Autumn. However, the more I learned about the nuance of color analysis the less sure I felt. When I had just about driven myself crazy with wonder, I decided to go for it and indulge myself with an official color draping.

Late last Winter I met with Joanne, an image consultant and tonal color analysis specialist from Younique Image Consulting

The Draping

I arrived without makeup and jewelry and we introduced ourselves. She sat me down in a chair in front of a big picture-window filled with indirect sunlight.

Her first impression was that I am a Deep: dark hair and dark eyes, and then she dug right into the analysis.

Joanne first assessed whether I was warm or cool, this is referred to as Hue or undertone: definitely warm…but also a little cool. My eyes are a medium color with a dark brown—almost black—ring, with a chocolate brown center and flecks of amber. My freckles are taupe, not red, which also gives my coloring a more muted look and lends me to cool. 

Then she assessed color Value, or how saturated I can wear color in general. 

Next Joanne used hand towel-sized swatches of fabric in every color to assess how each reacted with my natural coloring. She worked quickly, selecting swatches and draping each fabric across my neckline to compare how the colors interacted with my face. In groupings of a few at a time she layered the colors and then un-layered the colors. Some really stood out to her as being lovely, those she identified as my signature colors. The rest of the swatches got separated by process of elimination into Yes and No piles.

Some of the questions she asked: Does the color wash me out? Does it create shadows? Does my face take on the color—too yellow, too blue? Do the shadows around my mouth and nose fade away or appear to darken? Does my complexion even out or look gray or splotchy? With her guidance and a lot of observation throughout the process I did start to see the changes, especially in the most obviously good for me colors. 

After all the color families had been explored we moved on to neutrals. As it turns out I can wear black, brown, off-white, and even the occasional true white. 

My Season

The final verdict? I’m a Deep Autumn after all! Dark, warm, and muted—on account of my eyes and freckles. 

Joanne said I have an unusually wide selection of colors that work well for me, which was exciting. 

In these pictures I'm comparing the generic Deep Autumn swatch book that I purchased from True Color online to some of the color swatches that Joanne identified as working well for me. Joanne's analysis reflected the Deep Autumn palette really accurately, but she found that two spokes of the fan were not for me at all: some pastels and blues (bottom right). Likewise, I get to claim some of Winter's jewel tones that are otherwise not included in the Deep Autumn palette.

To the draping I also brought my makeup tote and some items of clothing from my closet that I felt worked well for me, as well as some that I was pretty sure did not. She spent a few minutes to confirm my hunches and also answer some of my questions about the makeup colors that I regularly use.

After our visit Joanne carefully assembled my personal color swatchbook, which arrived in the mail a couple weeks later. My swatchbook included additional guidance for how best to wear my colors, with designated signature and lipstick colors as well as suggestions for color coordinating.

Truth be told, Fall is my favorite season of the year, and I LOVE the spectrum of colors in the Dark Autumn palette.

So what did I do next?

I went through my entire closet and all of my cosmetics and nail polish. I tossed out the stuff that wasn't in my palette. Then I went shopping to pick out a new lunch box (top right) and a backpack in my signature colors. I also bought some new lipsticks to bring a pop of color to my everyday style.

I still take my fan with me everywhere I go (almost a year later!), and my understanding of how to apply color continues to deepen and improve.

Not in my palette: the bottom row of nail polish and the clothing items shown in bottom right. 

6 Ways Color Draping Changed My Life for the Better:

  1. I have since fallen in love with color and all the possibilities it offers. Color really brightens my day: I feel younger, fresher, more vibrant, and more creative when I'm wearing my best colors. 
  2. A new appreciation for the subtlety of color adds yet another layer of self awareness and understanding—I always categorized my hair and eyes as dark brown, but I can be more descriptive now: warm chestnut hair with highlights of gold and red; bright brown eyes with flecks of amber. I know now how to use color to best complement my features. 
  3. I have a new perspective when shopping. From season to season, you'll notice that use of color in retail fluctuates tremendously and is widespread across brands; Spring might bring bright neons and Summer might be muted earth tones. These trends are largely influenced by color forecasters who decide years in advance what will be desired by consumers. What a weird concept to just wear whatever colors are fashionable in the moment, instead of what really flatters! I've also found it's a real bummer when this seasons chosen colors aren't in my palette. 
  4. I'm not afraid of color because I know what works for me now, and I have confidence to choose and wear color with intention. 
  5. Knowing what colors work best for me simplifies my wardrobe and my life because I can shop efficiently (looking first at color, and then at cut and style) and choose outfit pairings with ease, as everything in my closet makes me feel good and all the pieces coordinate with each other. 
  6. I prefer gold jewelry now to silver, though I can wear both.

A few tips:

  • Don't wear any makeup or jewelry to your draping.
  • Late Winter/early Spring is a good time to get draped, because skin color tends to be in its most natural state after the sun-starved winter months.
  • Bring some of your clothes and makeup to your draping if you have specific questions or would like some additional guidance.
  • Know that a good summer tan or a new hair color may shift your palette into a different season.
  • A good rule of thumb is to get draped every ten years, or after menopause: aging of your skin and hair can change your season.

Would you get draped? Do you think this is fun or superfluous?

Monday, December 7, 2015

The BoldHeartMama Anchors: Nurtured, making space for self care

Every day the BoldHeart Mama has an opportunity to reconnect with her authentic and true self—in all her varied roles—through the five BoldHeartMama Anchors: Peaceful (Part 1 & Part 2), Connected, Nurtured, Purposeful, and Inspired. Nature is a core element in the BoldHeart Life.

The BoldHeartMama Anchors are a set of core desires that when met help the BoldHeartMama to feel satisfied and whole.

This is one in a series of posts expanding on the BoldHeartMama Anchors.

When Roscoe was 2 years old and Merritt was 7 months we moved from Northern Virginia to Richmond, and I quit my career to launch a birth services concept called MamaBorn. That year I also re-entered individual therapy to retrospectively dig into and unwind my story of Merritt's early birth and subsequent postpartum, and all the cumulative thoughts I was feeling at the time about my first years of mothering and the ways in which I was found and lost in my experience.

Motherhood had come on fast and furious—in less than two years I had carried and birthed two little boys. I was a new mama and had been pregnant or nursing (or both) for over three years. I was mothering night and day and with the career shift I also had a new business to get off the ground which translated to full time working hours, mostly accrued in the evenings and on the weekends: teaching birth classes, meeting with clients, networking, volunteering in my community, and being available on-call to attend client births several times a month. I felt a deep sense of purpose within my family and in my work but I was struggling to find a balancing point for myself.

That schedule I kept for several years was hard on my body and my energy—I was tired. Pushing through, making things happen, and overriding my own needs in order to meet the demands of my kids and my work had become a reflexive second nature: preparing healthful food for them, and then eating on the fly whatever was within arms reach when it was my turn; nursing day and night to my own deprivation of sleep; caring for little ones all day and then rushing out of the house at night to teach or attend an overnight birth. I still carried baby weight from my pregnancy with Merritt, and I was hard on myself. I had lost touch with what it really felt like to be hungry, to know what it felt like to be rested. I had stopped listening to my body when, ironically, my passion work in birth was grounded in that very concept. Listen to your body. Trust your body. Love your body.

With the start of therapy I commenced a Year of Self-Love in pursuit of learning to nurture and love myself with the same intention and passion that I nurtured my most important relationships.

Whenever my therapy sessions veered off into a monologue of exhaustion or frustration or anxiety my therapist would bring me back to self-care. "What are you doing now for self-care?" It took me a long time to understand what she meant by this term "self care" and how that concept translated to my every day reality.

As I wrote last year in a work/life balance interview series: "I thought for a long time that self care meant going to the dentist, getting my haircut—stuff I needed to do to take care of myself, right? I have since reframed self care as an opportunity to refuel, it's the stuff in life that brings joy and pleasure."

With time came greater understanding and I did eventually articulate a definition of what it means to feel nurtured in my life. I wrote it out in detail and posted it up in our dining room so I could reflect on it daily:

I go to bed at 10 and get eight hours of minimally interrupted sleep a night. I exercise most days. I listen to my body’s signals for hunger and fullness, and eat mindfully allowing food to serve as fuel and pleasure. I make time for monthly dates with Andy and friends. I have reliable bouts of solitude built into every week. I have time to read and write and be in nature, and pursue little projects like knitting or cooking classes and other learning opportunities. I treat myself to haircuts, pedicures, makeup and self-care products that make me feel good. I have polished, well maintained, and comfortable clothes, pajamas, and undergarments. I maintain my health with regular preventive care, therapy, medical, and dental care as needed.

Almost two years ago I transitioned again—from working mama to stay at home mama—to pursue my writing and my mentorship of Roscoe in our homeschool. Those decisions were inspired and anchored by my self care practices, which continued to develop as the boys grew older and more independent, and as I continued to cultivate them with my intentional attention. With time and practice I was able to integrate balance, a sweet spot where I could care well for myself and rightly care well for my kids and my family.

I would have loved for time to have stood still in that capsule of equilibrium but the space I had created for my whole self eventually made room for our consideration to add another little person to our family.

Now almost 14 weeks pregnant, taking care of myself over the last few months has been more an act of survival than pleasure as I've whittled down my needs to the bare minimum of sleep, healthful food at the ready, and daily exercise, while offering myself compassion to let otherwise important things fall to the wayside without guilt: two months ago I forgot an important anniversary of a friend; I haven't hit publish on this blog in weeks; I have declined making commitments because my stamina has been so low and I've prioritized the evenings for sleep and exercise. I know I can't hermit myself away forever, but this is a temporary state that demands a more acute listening to my body and heart with a responsive disposition.

I've homed in on comfort and taking it easy, which means cozy socks and pajamas, and new undies that fit right, and embracing maternity jeans at ten weeks. It's being mindful of my SPD and opting for a long walk at the river instead of grinding out another road run. But movement is also a hobby and passion of mine so taking good care of my whole self also means running when it feels good to run.

What is Self Care?

Mothering is all consuming, and it takes everything you’ve got (plus some!). Putting Self first can be a boggling concept, especially in the early years of parenting because you are needed. so. very. much. The idea of taking time out or away may feel nearly impossible. You may not even WANT to take time out or time away—I know I didn't—but there will come a time when you will be ready.

Self care begins with the attitude that nurturing your core being is not an act of selfishness, and with the belief that your attention inward will grow infinitely outward to everyone's benefit. This is a gift only we can give ourselves: to self actualize our needs and wants with the intention to fill ourselves up.  You may likely find that it also brings your best self into the light for the ones we love most. It can be as much for them as it is for us.

These practices don't need to cost a lot, or require a big time investment. While I find time alone to be one of the best forms of self care it is not a prerequisite that you separate from your children if that's an unwanted or difficult option. Greater mindfulness, rest, a break in the form of a cup of tea overlooking a serene backyard, escaping into the next chapter of a good book, cooking adventures in the kitchen, or treating yourself to little things that bring comfort and luxury to everyday can all be done with little ones underfoot or in short bursts throughout the day.

My idea of self care may not be yours. Just because your girlfriend gets a pedicure every two weeks doesn't mean that you will feel nurtured doing the same. This is about feeding the parts of yourself that call to you, whether it be for adventure, solitude, discovery, or companionship. There are many facets that make up a good life, and as many ways to nurture yourself.

Your self care practice should be about spending time engaged with your life in ways that bring pleasure and joy, peace, relaxation, connection, inspiration. Activities that refuel and energize your spirit in order to proactively tackle and navigate your responsibilities with calm and intention. Truly nurturing activities are those you choose for yourself not because you should, or because you feel guilty if you don't, but because they move you closer to knowing your whole self.

Getting Started:

Know what you want: It will be different for every mama, but you first must know what you need and want for yourself before you can begin to pursue it. Identify the activities that fuel you, make a list! Try out different things and see how they make you feel. In time you will find your sweet spot.

Not sure what kinds of activities will serve you best? Ask yourself a few questions:

  • When I think of the word nurtured, what comes to my mind? What would it mean to feel nurtured and well-cared for in my life? What would that look like? Be very specific.
  • What can I add, delete, or change about the way I do things to bring life to what I have described above?
  • I am at my best when I am...
  • Today I want to feel...
  • Right now I need/want...
  • What would make me feel good right now?
  • If I had 1 hour/6 hours/24 hours to myself how would I choose to spend that time?

Let it be known: Communicate your desires to everyone around you—your partner especially—and enlist your support system to help you make it happen. Discuss ways you might shift your routines to accommodate these new ways of thinking and being and doing, you may be surprised to find that your partner isn't getting enough self care either. Use that opportunity to negotiate new routines in both your favor. Maybe there are parts of your day, or aspects of your responsibilities, that you can outsource in order to gain more time to meet your own needs: babysitters, cleaning help, meal and grocery delivery services. Make a compelling case for how self care will benefit the family dynamic. And if you (or your partner) aren't so sure yet, just give it a try: take some time for yourself and see how you feel afterward. See what you bring back to your kids and your partner and the ways in which your investment ripples out to touch everyone. 

Schedule it: Pencil it in, protect your time. Set boundaries, and practice saying no to others so you can say yes to yourself.
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