Following Your Passion – Meet Maria

I am so excited to join Nesting Story as a contributing blogger. Drawing from my experience as a scientist, skincare formulator, entrepreneur, garden grower, mother, wife and overall beauty enthusiast, I will be writing about all things beauty, nature and balance. I wanted to introduce myself and tell you a bit about how I came to the place that I am in my life.

Picture this: you’re 12 years old and you get an assignment at school. The teacher offers you two scenarios- You can only pick one and explain why you picked that one. You have to pick between an activity after school: dance vs violin lessons. You can only pick one, the one you want to do the most. Well this was me at 12 years old and you know what I said? I wanted to do both! Yes, I could take violin lessons and dance because I loved both things equally. I remember my teacher coming back to me and telling me that wasn’t the assignment. He wanted me to just pick one side. I still remember that lesson so clearly. It’s one or the other, but, “why can’t I have both?” I thought. I’ve been that person since I could remember, always seeking a balance between two sides.

As a child, I moved quite a bit – different schools, different cities, and different countries. At 12 years old, we settled in Canada. The theme of adapting, changing, and balancing became more and more important to me as I grew up. Without balance and perspective, things can feel really difficult and unfair. Everything in life has a ying and a yang, an up and down, a dark and light. We are either in the beginnings, the middle or the end of our own life chapters. To me, balance comes from understanding where you are in life and making the most out of that place and time. It’s perspective.

Throughout school, my love had always been the sciences. I loved learning everything about the mechanisms that govern our being, whether it’s how brain cells work together or how two simple molecules interact to create a compound that we cannot live without. So naturally, my career centered towards research – neuroscience research to be exact. I studied the effects of hormones on the brain. I loved it – the unknowns, the troubleshooting, and finding an answer to a long-awaited question!

As I became a mother and my focused changed, I started to dream about creating something bigger, more personal, for me and my family, while at the same time spending more time doing the other things I loved, like being outside and growing a garden.

This is when my passion for science and nature started merging.

It all came together when we moved to a small farm outside of the city. Life was busy; but at the same time, things slowed down. The nature around us was so calming. I was inspired. I wanted to start a garden and create something beautiful – but I didn’t know what that was just yet.

My skincare routine was always something I looked forward to and a ritual I’ve had since I was in my teens. In fact, I find everything to do with beauty so relaxing – whether its applying a face mask, playing with makeup or doing my hair. There’s a power in beauty, a feeling it ignites, a confidence – not just from feeling beautiful, but from knowing how to care for yourself in a way that is personal to you.

This was it! I could combine my love for science and nature and create beautiful skincare products – products that would help other women fall in love with that self care time too. So I did. I grew flowers, learned how to extract their beneficial compounds, how to blend them with clinical ingredients, and eventually, how to created effective skincare formulas.

I took a chance and started a skincare brand, and I haven’t looked back since!

Blending my love of nature and science to create beautiful products is now my passion. It allows me to be creative, spontaneous, and dream big, while also requiring me to be organized and realistic. It’s the best of both worlds. I love creating something beautiful that helps others find a moment of balance and beauty in their lives.

I look forward to sharing my love for all things beauty with you.

‘This is Me’ – Meet Akira

I love introductions! I’m Akira 

Being able to do your own introduction is the most beautiful way to remind yourself how remarkable you truly are. To dive into what makes you, you and having the power to choose the way the world sees you in a time of fast facts and curated experiences is so refreshing to be able to just say: This is me. 

So to say this opportunity came at the perfect time for me would be a huge understatement. I just celebrated my 37th birthday and it feels like one of those years where I am craving change and I felt instant pressure, but that good pressure, like the diamond making kind. 

So here goes, hi it’s me – Akira. I am thrilled to be a part of an experience here at ‘Nesting Story’ where “real” and “honest” are not used as buzzworthy terms but rather to signify embodied experiences that bring about connection and growth. I am really looking forward to sharing my experiences with you; as a mother, a woman, a black woman, an entrepreneur and a Pediatric Sleep Specialist.  

I specialize in child sleep. How did that happen you wonder? It was one of those negative turn positive stories that I can’t wait to dive into with you very very soon. But the coles notes are that I became a mom and sleep was non-existent. Not for me, not for my baby and it fundamentally changed who I was at the time for the worst. So long story short I learned everything I possibly could about childhood sleep and hired a sleep consultant to help me navigate improving my child’s sleep and it worked! Like really worked and I felt like myself again. At that moment I decided that advocating for parents’ sleep was going to be how I contributed to my community and I never looked back. 

What is special about me and my work (I told you this was my time to shine) is that my mission is not only to get you the sleep solutions you deserve in a way that aligns with your parenting style but to empower a generation of parents who don’t worry about doing the “wrong thing” with sleep. My dream is to see parents who don’t buy into guilt about prioritizing their own sleep needs and their child’s emotional needs.

I have completed extensive sleep education, received credentials from the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting, a global leader in pediatric sleep and parenting education and have helped hundreds of families improve their sleep and in turn their parenting experience. 

And when I am not helping families sleep well I am spending time facing the sun and taking walks by the river near my home in Caledonia, Ontario, catching up with friends, and loving on my husband of 10 years and our 3 beautiful daughters aged 6, 4 and 2. 

As my children age I am finding my way back to the things that fulfill me the most outside of family life and career. Do I know what those things are yet? No, not exactly but I’m working on it! Maybe we can see how that unfolds together. 

Thank you for reading my thoughts. If you are struggling with your child’s sleep please visit me at www.thesleepgoodco.com for support. 

Friendship on this side can be really lonely.

I think like most of us I’ve come out of the pandemic kind of used to all of that isolation and I now have a lower tolerance for being over scheduled and too social. I really like to be home in my bubble and in my routine.

Here I am in my late thirties and although I’ve never had a really big friend circle, I’m finding that there’s been a shift for me lately. A lot in my life has changed which has inevitably impacted my friendships and shifted some dynamics.

But something great has happened too. I have made a lot of new friends lately… through work, and my kids’ schools and in my neighbourhood. I think that has been important to branch out and have some new “fresh” friends that only know me as Joanna now, not Joanna before.

During the summer I would get together with my new friends and although I would have an amazing time and feel truly connected, a loneliness would sometimes creep in.

It took me a bit to pinpoint what that was and then it hit me… it’s the four kids, solo mom and entrepreneur thing. I don’t know anyone who is living life like I am. Being a solo parent in a sea of coupled up parents can feel a little isolating.

I know I am not single, I do have a partner Ben. But we live in our own houses and go through life day-to-day separate from each other.

Every chore, grocery shop, grass cutting, kid emotional cup-filling and being the referee is on me.

It took for me to acknowledge that this is my (our) choice. I know I love being solo right now with my kids and to blend both families wouldn’t be the answer at the moment.

So taking some time to acknowledge what that lonely feeling was, be okay with it and prepare myself for conversations of husbands cooking meals and the stories of shared life experiences will inevitably happen and to be happy for them and okay with my friends not one hundred percent getting what life is like on this side of things.

So then I was thinking… I bet this is a similar feeling that women who have lost a child or have miscarried feel. Mothers who have lost a spouse or partner. This feeling a little like you are a square peg fitting into a round hole navigating conversations full of unintentional minefields.

Since that epiphany I have really been able to work through those lonely feelings and truly enjoy my friends in this phase of life.

And the friends that truly seem to accept me and see me as a strong determined woman and mom and never make me feel bad for having extra limitations are those relationships that I am happy nourish to pour from my very limited cup of energy into which in tern fills my cup back up where I can go back into my little bubble happy and so much less alone knowing I have my own little village there for me.

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Instagram and YouTube!

Where have I been?

Oh, hello there. Long time no see.

I honestly have been thinking about this blog post for months. Over-thinking if I am being entirely honest. So I am just going to write. No really big announcement or anything, well other than the fact that I launched my super awesome company The Water Cooler and it is doing so well. But more on that later.

Nesting Story was so much of my world for so long. Then my world turned upside down… big change with our family, a move, a pandemic.

A friend put it like this which feels kind of perfect… life is kind of like a purse full of a lot of shit. Every once in a while that purse needs to be dumped out and you only put back in what you really want or need.

The thing was, I didn’t know where to put Nesting Story. It felt so tied to my old life and I am not the same person anymore. So I just stopped.

I have gone through so many emotions when it comes to creating content, everything from I am going full-tilt to I’m completely walking away from it.

And then I landed here. Somewhere in the middle. I don’t want Nesting Story to disappear, but I also need to make sure that I am showing up on my terms, completely who I am and when I want.

I am not sure exactly what that means yet, but I do know that my end goal has changed…. I am not creating content to lure brands to sponsor me, (not that it was the only reason I made content before, but it was how I financed Nesting Story), but now I can show up as a way to genuinely share while I build my new life and my business.

Of course, a lot of rules still apply, like keeping parts of my life private. I need this space to go back to why it began… talking to you, mostly moms and sharing what I like, what I’ve learned and how I am growing.

So, with that part out of the way, let’s talk about my new biz!

The Water Cooler is an idea I have had for many years, and for a long time I dabbled in the space, coaching businesses, branding and so on. But now I have finally taken the leap and built out a full-blown company along with Ben, who is our behind the scenes Pres.

I should also mention we have an absolutely kick-ass team of women who are quite frankly all unicorns. I am so lucky to have them.

What do we do?

We build brands. Our specialty is defining a brand’s aesthetic, whether it’s logos, colours or overall personality and vibe, we even create websites from scratch. We also manage brands’ social media for them and we help develop businesses… everything from just an idea to a brand that’s been around for a while but needs a total refresh.

And we love every minute of it.

The long-term plan is to also have a super stylish physical space for co-working and events and rentals like a boardroom or podcast room. Don’t worry, I will for sure be taking you on that journey.

Anyways, I think that’s it for now. I’ll be back. I just needed to get all of this off of my chest first.

Let’s not be strangers, okay? xo

My Beach House Bedroom Reveal

Well I didn’t realize that I would be doing a bedroom makeover again so soon, but here were are and it is all very exciting.

A few months ago I decided to move my kids and I to a different house in a different city, which is near a beach. We love it here and although the house is smaller, it fits our family perfectly.

I however have gone from a massive primary bedroom, (actually it was more like a wing in our house complete with a huge bedroom, two enormous walk in closets, a giant bathroom and a big workout room), to a small bedroom with a small closet and a bathroom I share with my girls.

Although I’ve had moments where I’ve missed having more of my own space, I have done exactly what I wanted to do to my bedroom and made it my own.

Before I moved I created a Beach House Pinterest board with all of the ideas I had to transform my house. I knew that my small bedroom would be a challenge, but I had a clear vision in mind. I wanted it to feel airy, with a beach house inspired feel mixed with a minimalist bohemian vibe with a nod to mid-century modern.

I ended up getting a lot of new pieces for my bedroom which is exciting because that means you can shop them, (I’ve linked everything below), but in case you wanted to know more about the bedding or some of the other items, head to my previous bedroom reveal blog post Master Bedroom Final Reveal.

One of the things I downsized from was a king to a queen size bed. I was really excited about this change. I have found that over the past year with Ben I am such a cuddler and a queen is perfect for that!

There was also no way a king was going to fit in my new bedroom. I also knew I wanted an upholstered headboard so that I could work in bed on my laptop leaning against it. It couldn’t break the bank, because I also had to get a new mattress, (I opted for an Endy mattress, which yes I love and would recommend). Lastly, I wanted the wood tone and lines to have a mid-century modern vibe.

When I came across the Murol Bed from Structube for only $549 CAN (before taxes), I was thrilled. I chose to go with the dark grey upholstery and let me tell you… this bed is comfy, beautiful and incredibly built. I’m totally in love.

I’ve always loved mid century modern design. I think I fell in love with it back when I was in the Interior Design program at Sheridan College. Maybe that was around the same time that Mad Men started. I would never want to do a full room mid century modern, but I think a sprinkling looks beautiful.

I had my eye on a couple other nightstands that were out of stock, but I eventually fell in love with these Williams Two Drawer Nightstands I found on Wayfair.

I’ve only ever owned houses that have broadloom carpet so having hardwood in my new home is not only a new concept, but with four kids and a dog, also very exciting. My room needed a rug and although I love the look of jute rugs, or braided wool rugs, each don’t wear great and are tricky to vacuum. I opted for this beautiful Geometric Handmade Flatweave Cotton Area rug from Wayfair because it had the same feel of a jute or wool rug but is way easier to take care of.

I was in love with the ceiling light I had installed in the office of my old house which had a very beachy feel, plus it was very budget friendly so I bought the same Rattan Ceiling Lamp from Bouclair for my bedroom.

I learned years ago that I prefer a bedside table lamp that you can direct the light over a typical table lamp with a shade. I knew I wanted light coloured task lamps and found these Wood and Metal Desk Lamps at Bouclair which were absolutely perfect!

Something I knew I wanted for my bedroom was a round mirror. It’s nice to break up all of the sharp corners in a space with a softer shape. This pretty round 31.5″ diameter Round Gold Frame Mirror is also from… you guessed it, Bouclair.