Happy holidays and recapping this past week

Can you believe it? Christmas is finally here! Well in a few days at least. But our kids are officially off for the holidays and Mike and I raced around all morning to get enough groceries to host twice and last us until Wednesday. We also got our last few gifts which means I get to hibernate in our home until heading out to our church’s Christmas eve service on Sunday. This is a good thing because we just got a dumping of snow here in southern Ontario.

Christmas

Above: present opening from Christmas-part 1, last weekend

I had a lot of plans for the past couple months and the lead-up to Christmas but then life happened. My November was full of unexpected stresses like a colonoscopy (which was clear… phew), and December has brought one illness after another into our home, keeping kids home almost daily.

I have three half-written seasonal blog posts that never made it to the finish line, and finally this past week I just had to throw in the towel. It took me until yesterday to get excited for Christmas, but as I raced around, (after sending our mostly healthy kids to school and daycare), and finding some absolutely perfect gifts for Mike and the kids, the excitement finally set in.

But as excited as I am for Christmas, I always love January, because not only does it bring my thirty-fifth birthday, but a fresh new beginning. I have big plans for Nesting Story and our family, including possibly adding another member to our family. No, I’m not pregnant. Any guesses?

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and that you are able to let go of perfection, carve out some time for yourself, and cherish the small joys in between the inevitable chaos. Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Oh and if you are behind on what’s been going on here, here are this past week’s YouTube videos for you to catch up on…

Don’t forget to subscribe to Nesting Story on YouTube so that you don’t miss a video!

Big Life Lessons I Learned From Doing Daily Videos

FamilyWell, it’s done, we did it, we’ve closed that chapter. I am talking about creating one video every day in the month of September.

There were days that I almost threw the towel in because I had to re-do an entire vlog when files were corrupt, or when the kids and I were sick. But that voice in my head was so strong, and my determination to see-through this challenge, (that was my idea), was so powerful, I just had to finish, and finish well.

This experience was life-changing. No, seriously, I am not just throwing around a term used too often. It literally changed my life.

Here are some lessons I learned while creating 30 personal videos in 30 days…

I am A LOT stronger than I thought. This lesson is something I had already learned once before, when I was pregnant with my twins. Deciding that I was going to take on such an enormous task that was mentally, physically and intellectually draining was one thing, but not giving up, or skipping a video, even when people who were cheering me on supported me to “take a break,” was the biggest test.

When I was pregnant with my twins, I never had the option to take my gigantic tummy off for a day to take a break. I was in it whether I liked it or not.

Doing daily videos for a month was my idea. No one was relying on me to produce them. There was no monetary pay-out at the end. It was just a personal goal that I took on and could have just as easily given up on.

I am not a 90% person. I had always been the person that would want something, but not even try because I would be scared that I wouldn’t be perfect at it, or complete it. But this time I started and ended something that was really, really hard, and that feels really good.

My marriage is pretty damn strong. It is no secret that in the past couple of years our marriage went to a very bad place, and with a lot of hard work from both of us, we have turned it around.

About a week, after starting filming, editing and uploading a video everyday, when the honeymoon phase was over, and Mike and I got into a fight.

Don’t get me wrong, he was my number one supporter, and partner in this project. I can’t even remember the details about why we were fighting, but we fought.

It was so bad that neither of us caved, and he decided to sleep on the couch downstairs that night. Ouch.

But the next morning we talked, worked it out and got passed it. From that point on we teamed up and I worked each evening as Mike picked up my slack around the house.

We found our joy in doing the videos again, and this test, in turn has made us an even stronger duo.

I found Nesting Story’s direction for the next chapter. Although I know for sure, (at least for right now), that three videos a week, instead of seven is a better fit for us, I have fallen in love with video all over again.

For a long time I was only telling our story through written word and photographs on the blog. But organically more and more has shifted to video. I love that we are able to share our story through video with the blog supporting it.

I have completely fallen in love with the YouTube community as well as the community of people I have reached on my other social media sites through video. I have created long-lasting friendships with other creators and have truly felt supported in this endeavour.

Thank you. All of you!

How precious time with my family is. Doing daily vlogs took me away from my family. We all survived, but it made me miss them in a way that I needed to experience.

For a long time I was living from nap time to nap time and conference to conference.  I had been so burnt out from having twins and being in the baby stage for so long that I was just going through the motions.

But working around the clock while watching the previous day unfold in front of me on my computer did something to my soul.

It made me want to participate in life with my husband and my kids again. It made me want to do things with them, like cook, venture out of the house, play and show more interest in what they were doing.

Because of this renewed love of family time, I have been actively taking some unnecessary irons out of the fire and creating time.

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In the end I always circle back to why I started sharing what started as my story, and became my family’s story… to connect. I was so lonely during my twin pregnancy and wanted to know that I wasn’t alone, and that maybe there was another mom out there like me.

I wanted to open up my experience of motherhood complete with triumphs and failures, but always problem solving along the way.

Whether I am sharing on video, the blog, or other websites like Baby Center, I will continue to be real, to inspire and to connect.

Here is the last of my September daily vlogs with something very special at the end…

(Video) Mom 2.0 2016 – While Mom’s Away, Dad And The 4 Kids Will Play

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016

Going to blogging conferences is so important for not only me, but my whole family. It gives me an opportunity to step away from parenting and my work, and gain some much needed perspective.

I always walk away with new insights as well as new opportunities. Although I miss my kids and my husband Mike, I head back into our home refreshed and ready to dive back into the trenches.

Mike also really enjoys the one-on-one time with the kids. Although it is a lot of work, he really loves the change of pace and is so encouraging for me to go.

This was my second year attending the Mom 2.0 Summit, while my husband stayed home with our four kids. This year took place at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel. There, I was inspired listening to and learning from other bloggers, vloggers, celebrities and influential women with powerful careers.

Although I was inspired the whole time and absolutely loved being with my tribe, my mind often wandered to my family, wondering what they were up to.

So Mike decided to set up a GoPro so that I could see what they were up to.

You will see in the video that Rita Wilson was one of the speakers and also surprised us by singing a song from her self titled album, which you can find on iTunes and Amazon. Also, we had a surprise guest MC the Iris awards. You will have to watch to find out who it was!

Thank you to Kia Motors America for helping us arrive in style. Also thank you to Carter’s for the generous and tasty dinner, with the breath-taking views at the beautiful Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and follow Nesting Story on Facebook!

Finding Inner Peace, Embracing The Mom Guilt And Simplifying My Future

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016

Blogging is an emotional job. My career is centered around me being vulnerable to the world on an regular basis. I measure the success of my career based on constant feedback from strangers on the internet and occasionally in person. Sometimes you know you are really hitting a nerve when you receive some controversial feedback. It’s part of the job.

I am an open book by nature, always willing to share. I have learned over time that I am a very strong person, and aside from the occasional comment that stings, I am able to let any negative energy that comes my way, bead off of me like droplets of rain.

I take in the positive energy and continue to pour it all out, in hopes that I can reach that mom that is struggling, and longing for a connection, so they feel a little less alone, and a little more normal.

Heading into my second Mom 2.0 Summit, I made the conscious decision to have a few small goals: make one perfectly fitting brand connection, meet a few of my heroes, and foster friendships while building others up. I completed my list. But the biggest goal was to walk in open. Open to feedback, open to learning and open to friendships, but especially, I would be open to being inspired and find my direction for the next phase of my career.

On day one I think I was so exhausted from travelling from Toronto to California that I was emotionally numb. I went through the motions and hopped into bed that evening ready to recharge and prepare myself to be inspired and take it all in.

That’s when it began. That morning sparked a theme that stood out to me for the next two days and ended in a (positive) emotional breakdown on the final day.

The first story that really impacted me was listening to Lauren Bayne, the founder of Offspring Advertising Agency interview Alli Webb, the founder of Drybar. The entire discussion was masterfully conducted by Lauren Bayne, including the surprise interview she had secretly recorded of Alli Webb’s boys discussing her success and how they view her. Yes, I was a blubbering mess.

Allí Webb - Drybar

But listening to Alli Webb describe her humble beginnings, how Drybar took off, and balancing a busy career and motherhood really impacted me. Her unapologetic success left me feeling so much more secure in the success that I have already experienced, and the path that lays ahead of me.

Later that day, I soaked up every word from a panel of powerhouse women comprised of Catherine Coleman, Christine Lu, Shannon Marby-Rotenburg, Yifat Oren and Jennifer PrinceGo ahead, click on those links, I dare you. Your mind may explode from how accomplished they are. Hint: one is an astronaut.

Inspiring women

Listening to these motivating women talk about how they both run their incredibly demanding, but rewarding careers while still being mothers, was so important for me to hear. Some days they find the balance and other days they want to cry. But it always takes a village, lists and support from their spouse, or close friends. They have messy closets that they can never find the time to clean, and they often struggle with re-entry when they arrive back home after work.

Each agrees that their career makes them feel happy and satisfied, and ultimately a happier mom. Everything they said resonated so much with me, and I walked away realizing I am doing a pretty damn good job of balancing my career and motherhood. Even if there are days that are a little rockier than others.

The truth is, the week leading up to leaving for California, I was struggling with a lot of guilt. I not only try to live a guilt-free motherhood, I preach it. I experienced so much mom-guilt when I had my first child and promised myself that I would let it go and be secure within my parenting experience.

But I was embarrassed, and frustrated with how much guilt I had been feeling. It finally dawned on me after listening to all of these other successful mothers. Maybe a bit of mom guilt isn’t such a bad thing.

I had lived in a state of survival for years. From the days that our son struggled with a language delay. To our second (surprise) baby, to the ultimate surprise… twins.

This constant scramble and barely keeping my head above water, left me at times, feeling robotic, always wanting to escape for a break. Yes I loved my children, and they have always been my world. But I was always craving me-time so badly, that whenever I was away from them, I was emotionless. I didn’t miss them.

Part of me was hiding this lack of emotion from everyone else. Was I a monster? No, I was a burnt out mother.

Now, having found our stride, being done having kids and finally moving out of survival mode has unlocked that part of my brain and my heart I was so carefully protecting.

So, this time when I went out the door, with my feelings of guilt fighting with my feelings of freedom, left me confused and uncertain.

It finally dawned on me that that feeling of guilt, was a good thing. I had re-emerged from the murky waters of survival mode, and could actually feel again. I was missing my children and longing for my husband while also enjoying the independence of travel and being with my tribe.

On the final day, many of the layers on the onion had been peeled back. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I was feeling many emotions, something that was fairly new to me.

I decided to walk into a panel about work/life balance, thinking it would be the perfect fit. This panel was moderated by Jessica Shyba and it included Ryan Hamilton, Christina Brown, Danielle Walker and Roo Ciambriello. Again, click links = mind blown.

IMG_2604

Then each, again described their triumphs and failures while trying to create some kind of balance in their parenting/career journey, all with incredible stories to tell.

But then they said a few things that hit home so hard, it was like a hot spear had been shot into my chest. “Look at everything you are working on. If there is something there that is not making you feel happy, then it’s not the right fit.” Also, “learn how to say no,” and “no,” can be a complete sentence. “Don’t apologize and never use the word just.”

Well, let me start by saying that the apologetic Canadian that I am really needed to hear that.

As the panel concluded, and they opened the room up for questions, I immediately shot my hand up. They asked me to head up to the front and hold the mic. Oh shit. Here we go.

I could feel my cheeks getting hot and my voice shake. Damn these new emotions.

I started by adding what I have learned the hard way. When success started to put my husband and I on separate pages, we started dating again. Going on a date every week has been huge for us and has created a safe-guard for our marriage.

Then, I launched into some more difficult areas of the business that I have sometimes found hard to navigate. Each of them were so kind and quick to give me practical advice that I really needed to hear.

I was told later, by one of that panelists, that I almost had all of them crying.

After this session finished, the tears came. By the time I got back to my room and watched the video my husband had sent me of my son getting his yellow belt in tae-kwon-do, I was sobbing. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld; “What is this salty discharge? Oh my God, I care.”

I finally regrouped, but it took so long that I missed the red carpet for the Iris awards, so this quick selfie in the elevator will have to do.

Mom 2.0 Iris awards bcbg

I left California changed. Okay with my parenting and career decisions, embracing my mom guilt and having a clear focus for my blogging future.

Sometimes you can be so in it, so in your bubble that you loose all perspective and become numb. It is so important to step away for a bit and soul search. Let your guard down and be ready to be inspired, motivated, encouraged and pushed… even if it causes you to shed a few tears.

Don’t forget to follow Nesting Story on Facebook so that you don’t miss a thing!

Why Juggling Being a SAHM And A WAHM Was Destroying My Love For Motherhood And Sabotaging My Business

Office - Nesting StoryThis morning my six-year-old son, Holden, was crawling around our kitchen, pretending to be a spy, in hopes that he could scare his father. This was going on as my five-year-old daughter, Beau, was trying to assert her independence (as she should) by carrying her full glass of orange juice from our kitchen island to the table, as I busied myself bringing our twin toddlers their breakfast.

Suddenly my son heard footsteps, as my husband approached the kitchen. Holden stood up and ran while looking back behind his shoulder, running right into Beau. Orange juice went everywhere and Beau was dripping head to toe.

I screamed “Holddddeeeeen!!!” Then two things followed that shouldn’t have.

First, both Holden and Beau started to panic, saying “sorry, sorry, sorry!” While they each had a look of sheer terror in their eyes. The next was something broke inside of me. I didn’t loose it, like my kids thought I would, and were far too used to. I didn’t cry either.

Remember when the “islands of personality” start to crumble in Pixar’s Inside Out? I felt like a part of me inside crumbled, and I thought to myself, “I can’t do this! I hate motherhood!”

For the last couple of weeks I have been struggling with increasing anxiety. A heaviness on my chest that I have not been able to shake. It may have started with a snarky comment I received from a mom on my You Tube channel…

I’m confused! :-/
You are a blogger, but do you get paid for that?
Your oldest goes to school, then Beau goes to daycare, and you most days have a nanny for the twins?
In this vlog, it’s spring break, so all of the kids go to a full day of daycare, while you go shopping, get ready, and have lunch with friends?
Do you ever just spend a day with your kids, playing, and hanging out!?
I’m a mom to 5 kids beautiful children(18,16,13,12, and 7)
and when they were younger, I was a single mother, who also started a blogging website and worked a full time job.Weekends were spent with my kids and I didn’t blog at all! Since I worked 60 hours a week, I didn’t get a lot of quality time with my kids, so the weekends were all about them!!!
I just don’t get why, if you’re a SAHM, why your children have a nanny and or go to daycare all of the time!? I understand we only see 10-20 minutes of your life, but it seems as though, you get rid of your kids as often as possible!

I rarely feel like I have to explain myself, or respond to mean comments. But this one shook me to the core. This mom had seen tiny snippets of my life in my “day in the life” videos I occasionally make. She didn’t have the whole story. Here was my response…

Hi there. Yes, I do get paid. I worked for a long time unpaid and now I am creating content for three websites. At this point it is a full-time paid job which has added a second income. For a long time I worked while my kids napped, or in the evenings and the other two were in school. In the summer (video 1 you are referring to) we had a part-time nanny for a couple of months, which didn’t work out. I worked for 3 months without childcare and now have our twins in daycare 9 AM – 12 PM each weekday, with occasional full days (depending on deadlines).
I most definitely spend a lot of each day and all day every weekend with my kids.
I rarely use my “work time” to go out with friends or run errands, but when I choose which day to film a day in the life, I will often pick a day with a lot of variety so that the video isn’t just me typing at my desk.
I did the SAHM thing when my first was born, for three years, and it wasn’t for me. It sent me into a depression. It truly is the hardest job, and I knew that I needed to find a balance that not only suited me, but my family too.
So, although I am at home all day, I am not a SAHM shipping my kids off. I am a hard working WAHM.

But this comment, my recent work-load and tomorrow’s launch of my new website and rebranding, has really had me thinking lately. What am I doing? I am now lucky enough to say that I, as a blogger, am bringing in enough paid work each month to work full-time. Yet, why am I paying for childcare and still trying to do so much of the SAHM thing during the day, while working my ass off again at my computer most nights?

WAHM

I am a people pleaser. Or maybe I can finally start saying, I am a former people pleaser. This is something that I have struggled with since childhood. Initially I was pegged as the peace-keeper, but as I grew, my wise mother started pointing out that I was people pleasing too much, and needed to stand up for myself more.

I have come a long way, but even now as a grown adult, I am finding myself people pleasing once again, especially while trying to carve out my path as a full-time working mom, who happens to have her office based out of her home. I am constantly allowing myself to get distracted with lengthly personal phone calls from family, and occasionally be persuaded to meet friends during work hours.

Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon cleaning out my car. The sun was shining, I saw the opportunity and I grabbed it. Last week I went grocery shopping twice, worked out and showered daily, and went shopping for my kids, all during work hours. I am pretty sure if I had a 9am – 5pm office job with a boss, I’d be fired by now.

But when my kids get home from school and daycare, I am stressed beyond belief and a short-tempered ogre, watching the clock, wondering how early is too early to get my kids to bed so I can get back to work?

What the hell am I doing?

After spending days being too distracted to enjoy or complete anything, because the running conversations and arguments in my head were just too loud, I asked myself, “what do you want?”

The truth is, I am completely jealous of the Sheryl Sandbergs and Marissa Mayers of this world. No one questions them about just spending a day playing with their kids. Okay, maybe we all questioned Marissa Mayers’ statement about “taking limited time away” and “working throughout” her twin pregnancy, for a minute. But we applaud them as hard-working women, who also happen to be mothers.

Why have I been creating this massive grey area when it came to me working?

What I really want is to create clear lines. I will be a mom certain hours of the day, and be 100% focused on work, for the other parts. I will stop muddying the waters.

Don’t get me wrong, I will still be the parent who adjusts their schedule when a child is home sick, or has a pressing appointment. That is, at least until I become Mike’s sugar mama.

This will take time to figure out what I let go of, because I know I can’t have it all, and how to adjust my schedule and create stronger boundaries. But at least I have a goal and know what I want.

So to all of the moms out there, who love their kids, but know they want that career, especially as an entrepreneur… it’s okay to stop people pleasing and put your foot down. It’s okay to completely switch hats instead of wearing two at once all of the time.

Let’s drop the guilt and carve out our own path.