January Reflections

Happy February!

Was it just me or did January and this week in general drag on F-O-R-E-V-E-R? The combination of jury duty and a stressful work month really did me in but, my focus on health and wellness really helped balance the stress of the month. Instead of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, I was able to end the month feeling really good and inspired for the next eleven months.

In order to help keep myself accountable of the goals I made for the year, I want to take time to REFLECT at the close of each month. Historically, I’ve had a hard time keeping track of goals or resolutions because often I would chose them at the beginning of the year, share them and then rarely think about them again. In fact, the only times I’ve found success working towards goals is when I carve out time to reflect. So, earlier this week, I shared my reflections on Instagram, 29 days into the year.  Here, my friends, is where I stand so far.

1) Disconnect more – I’ve done a great job of showing and giving my friends, family and colleagues the attention they deserve by being fully engaged and saying goodbye to multitasking or using my phone while I’m with them.  Sometimes, during the work day especially, it can prove difficult to focus on one task and not give into the temptation to multi-task, but I am getting better. In my parent life, I’d give myself a B in regards to how much time I give her my dedicated attention without my phone as I find myself so tempted to capture every giggle, laugh and roll.

2) Run a 5k, 10k & half – I’m signed up for a New York Road Runners (NYRR) 4 mile race in Prospect Park a month from now and this has helped keep me motivated to run two times per week! The runs haven’t been long, and in fact I had to listen to the Nike+ Run Club’s coached workout, Don’t Wanna Run Run during last Sunday’s run. As I’m slowly building up my endurance and cardio strength, I am finally craving runs and, in fact, woke up at 5:15 this morning to meet some local Brooklyn moms for a run. I’d call that progress versus where I was at the beginning of January! 

3)Survive a 90 min or double Flywheel Sports class on our Flywheel Fly Anywhere bike –  Since we now have a spin bike in our bedroom, it is hard to make excuses. While I owe you guys a full review, I’m still working my way through the various classes that are offered. I’ve found myself squeezing in the 20-minute classes frequently and pushing myself during the four song classes. On average, I’ve been riding three times a week and, as of this week, finally feel as if I’m starting to make improvements. Spinning and cycling do not come easy to me but, yesterday I did a 20 minute class that I took at the beginning of the month and saw a clear improvement in my stats and how I felt at the end of the workout!

4) Continue reading each night – I’ve been reading a lot of magazines recently and have kept up my goal of reading for at least 10 minutes and I’ve even added mediation using Headspace. Tonight, I’m looking forward to continuing Little Fires Everywhere.  

5) Practice yoga once a month – I took two wonderful hot power yoga classes this month at Heatwise and Body Alive. This was probably the easiest goal to achieve as the long hours at a desk combined with holding Katie each night had me craving deep hip and back stretches as well as chest openers. 

6) Blog two times a week – This has been harder than expected and I’ve been lucky to blog once a week BUT I’ve built engagement on Instagram! This was the goal that frustrated me the most this month because I have so many topics on my iPhone list AND I get constant requests from you all. I want to share my breast feeding journey, Katie’s monthly updates, how we found our nanny, our evening routine, my adjustment to life as a working mom and more but, I find that posts like those take a lot longer. My idea, in order to make them more manageable, is to attempt to tackle two per month. This month’s goal is Katie’s monthly update and my breastfeeding journey. 

7) Invest in my relationship with Bo – We enjoyed our monthly date night on Saturday at a Dumonet, new French restaurant in the neighborhood thanks to our amazing babysitter & friend Heather. As luck would have it, thanks to family visiting and schedules, we have date nights the next two Saturdays!

As I approach February, I feel great about saying goodbye to the month and keeping my focus as I head into February. The only thing I’m adding is stepping on the scale once a week to begin driving progress and accountability towards making a few healthy eating changes. I know the scale is just a number, but the once a week accountability has always been helpful for me and I’d like to feel a bit stronger and more confident in time for our summer beach trip!


Share Button

A Simplifed Life – Tips for Creating a Decluttered, Meanginful Home

Earlier this month, while sitting in the court house on my first day of jury duty, I started reading Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life. My friend Evann gave the book to me as a birthday gift while promising me that I would find myself highlighting, underlining and marking the pages as I read it.  Before receiving the book, I didn’t know anything about Emily Ley or her very succesful planners and website. In fact, I was in shock when I discovered that her planners typically sell out just days after being stocked online and that this year’s Simplified Planner isn’t available but there are waiting lists for next years – ALREADY! This, as well as promise, convinced me to read the book versus place it in my bedside table basket of “to read” books.

Unsure what to expect, I opened the book and within minutes, found myself writing notes in the margins and brainstorming how I could apply her techniques to our life.  As she described the feeling of overwhelm, chaos, and the stress and weight a cluttered, unorganized home can add to your life I felt as if she was looking inside our home.  I wanted to make the “physical and mental space for what matters.” I also appreciated that her concepts, recommendations and ideas for the most part, weren’t radical, expensive to apply or extreme. In fact, many of them are quite simple and can be applied to anyone’s life regardless of where you live or what your life is like. In fact, I laughed and shared with Bo the part of the book where she reminded readers that there is such a thing as over organizing and it isn’t necessary to run to The Container Store before starting the project as that often leads to more STUFF.

Before I share some pictures and tips with you all, let me share a bit about me and why this book was such a breakthrough.

Those closest to me know that while I often look organized from the outside, on the inside my life tends to be anything but that. My closets and drawers are always what I call “organized chaos” in that I can find things but if anyone is helping to put clothes away they are scared at what they see and give up before trying. This mess and chaos would often spill into our home and shared spaces such as diaper bags, drawers and closets. On the other hand, Bo’s closets and personal spaces such as his brief case and bedside table, are spotless and organized even during the craziest weeks. While this lifestyle may have worked for me before having a child, now it was driving me insane. Recently, I found myself venting to Bo that I couldn’t handle the mess anymore and needed a change, especially since we have a third person in our life these days. 


Reading this book, which I devoured in just two days, gave me the inspiration and confidence that even the most unorganized person could work to create a simplified life for myself and our family. The book is divided into ten key areas spanning topics like meal planning, personal fashion, parenting and home organization. Even the chapters where I didn’t think we needed much guidance, like personal finances, included at least a few golden nuggets that we could apply to our life. But, the chapters that inspired me the most were home organization and style. With this motivation, I engaged Bo on some of her simplest concepts and dedicated four full days to the process – three Saturdays and a Sunday.   Now, keep in mind, that it took us four full days because we conquered multiple areas – master bedroom, nursery, guest bedroom, pantry, and three closets. There were moments when it was overwhelming but, in the end, we have loved the results and have been able to keep and even improve upon the progress we made.


A Simplified Space & Simplified Style – Creating a Decluttered, Meangingful Home and Wardrobe/Beauty Routine

When given the opportunity to think about our home and jot down the areas of my life that felt “less than simple” I quickly identified my wardrobe, our linen/bathroom closet, and our guest room closet.  Bo agreed and added our two downstairs closets to his list of things that add stress to our life. Once we identified the areas we wanted to tackle we began what Emily calls the ruthless clean-out. The ruthless clean-out allows you the opportunity to see what you have, identify all the things you don’t need and create a home where you aren’t digging through duplicates, clutter and chaos just to find a pair of jeans, gloves, or a spare toothbrush.

My tip:  I would recommend doing this one space or room at a time versus the approach we took which very quickly led to chaos and the feeling of overwhelm.  

Here are just a few of her tips for the process:

  • Start with the area of your home that provides the most stress
  • Choose a space where you can put all the things you’re getting rid of that is OUTSIDE of the space you are working. We chose to use our upstairs balcony/hallway space to store the garbage bags, donation bags and things that needed to be put somewhere else.
  • Completely take out all the contents of the space. Yes, I took EVERY single item of clothing out of my closet before starting so I had a blank slate.
  • Do not fear or feel the need to fill the space.
  • Get rid of trash, duplicates, extras, unnecessary items, outgrown items, broken items, or things that you keep because you “may use one day.”  
  • Keep your favorites, necessary items, best items and treasured, sentimental items.
  • Try every item of clothing on and ensure it fits, is good quality and is one of your favorites. If it doesn’t meet this criteria donate it.
  • Ensure that you check expiration dates for beauty and medical items. You can find easy to reference guidelines online or in her book AND keep in mind that natural products tend to have a shorter shelf life.
  • Store travel size items in your travel bag so they are always ready for business trips or vacations.
  • Store like items together and have a clear place for everything. We found this to be very helpful for items that we found housed throughout our house like umbrellas, lint rollers, screw drivers, batteries, etc. We often forgot we had one or couldn’t find it and bought more. We now have FIVE packs of AAA batteries and FOUR small umbrellas. 
  • Immediately take your donations to Goodwill, Salvation Army or other local spot and throw the trash away as soon as possible. If you’re local, I’ve found that most of the Green Markets in NYC have a clothing donation area where you can easily take bags of clothing and get tax receipts.

My tips:

  • Since we hope to have a second child at some point, we put all of Katie’s outgrown items in vacuum bags and have them stored either in large wicker bins above our closet. My maternity and nursing clothes are also in these bins. The toys, gadgets or gizmos that she has outgrown but loved are taken apart and stored under our bed or loaned out to friends with the understanding that we will want them back when their children are done enjoying them. The only area where we kept duplicates were things that we use frequently such as toiletries, favorite kitchen ingredients, or cleaning items. 
  • I moved all of our treasured and sentimental baby items related to Katie into a closet drawer so they are organized and protected until I have time to put them into a baby book or other keepsake place. 
  • Certain items like business clothing, suits and formal dresses I donated to Dress for Success and Operation Prom instead of taking to the clothing donation area at our farmers market. There were certain clothing items and running gear that were either expensive or quite new that I sold via Instagram Stories. Otherwise, I donated things instead of taking the time to sell on Poshmark or other platforms as I found that idea to be overwhelming and not worth it. But, lots of friends LOVE using ThredUp, Poshmark or other sites. 
  • Once we organized our sheets and towels I did a few large loads of wash to deep clean these items so they felt fresh and new going into our closet.
  • Since our sheets were driving me insane, I asked for help via Instagram and discovered that the EASIEST way to keep sheets organized is to fold them and put inside the pillowcase! SO easy!

She also provides tips and tricks for keepingyour place simplified and maintained AFTER the initial process. Below are the ones that we’ve built into our life this month and have found very helpful.

  • Walk through the house with a basket at the end of the day and gather the clutter. Don’t just move it to another room but take five minutes to sort it and put it away or throw it out.
  • Empty trash cans and wipe down the surfaces once the kitchen is “closed.” I’ve also added a quick mop and vacuum of the downstairs in order to ensure our space is clean for Katie’s continued crawling practice. 
  • Do one load of laundry per day and do your best to complete the entire process – wash, dry, fold and put away. The smaller loads are far more manageable for us and have allowed us to stay on top of the laundry versus having piles of clean clothes taking over our sofa.

By the time we were done we donated twelve large bags of clothing, gave away three bags of duplicate home, baby and toiletry items that we don’t use or need leveraging the local moms group, and threw away lots of trash. We found three gift cards, one Christmas card from last year WITH a gift inside, and have found living in our house SO much easier since we can find everything and easily see what we have and don’t have.

Share Button

Eight Changes I’ve Made to Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Last week I shared with a number of you that I was having a rough time sleeping. It took hours instead of minutes to fall asleep, I wasn’t sleeping soundly and my mind was racing throughout the night.

There is no way that I can balance the challenges of managing my many roles – mom, wife, team leader, friend, daughter, sister and blogger without getting sleep. Especially now that Katie is sleeping through the night and doesn’t need me for those midnight cuddles and feeding sessions. I swear there were special endorphins that powered me through those months of sleep deprivation.

After three nights of bad sleep and venting to friends on Instagram, I took your advice and made some changes that have miraculously led to four straight nights of solid sleep. In fact, I’ve slept more than nine hours each night since making these changes! While none of these are necessarily revolutionary ideas, I wanted to share them here as reminders and support for anyone else who may be struggling to get quality sleep.

  • Decrease caffeine and increase water. This one was a bit of a no-brainer but still one that I’m having to remind myself to do each day. Instead of drinking multiple cups of coffee per day, I’m down to 1.5 – 2 cups in the morning and then I sip on water or decaf tea during the day. As the stress of jury duty and work were mounting, I found myself reaching for that late afternoon coffee which was certainly not helping my sleep.
  • Take a shower or bath.  Most days, I shower in the morning but, I’ve found that after stressful days it is very helpful to take a shower or bath. Even if the shower is a quick one, I find that the steam and water helps calm my mind and relax my body. I’m not doing this every night but I definitely enjoyed one this evening after an extra-long work day.
  • Aromatherapy. As part of my evening ritual, I am lighting a calming candle, massaging my hands and feet with hydrating lotion and spraying this lavender and chamomile infused spray on our pillow and sheets.
  • Dress for the temperature. I realized that while my flannel pajamas were cozy, they were making me sweat since our temperatures have recently increased in New York and are no longer dipping down in the single digits. These soft pajamas are just the right weight for the transitional weather we are having and feel like silk against my skin even though they are a modal blend. I just ordered a second pair since I’ve been wearing them non-stop the past few days. As an FYI, they run large so I actually ordered a medium which is smaller than my normal pajama size.
  • Sip tea. Who knows whether it is a placebo, calming ritual or the ingredients actually work but I’ve reintroduced Lipton’s Bedtime Bliss into my routine the past few nights and am really enjoying it. Tonight, I’m sipping it while I type this post but this weekend I brought it upstairs and sipped it while reading.
  • Turn on Night Shift  I have scheduled my phone to shift the colors of my phone display, using the Night Shift mode each night from sunset to sunrise to ensure that when I’m using my phone before bedtime, it isn’t getting in the way of my sleep. If you’re wondering how the phone screen can get in the way of your sleep, here are a few tidbits I found online regarding the impact phone screens can have on our brain and sleep.

    Almost all gadgets with a display give off blue light, and while it’s perfectly healthy to absorb as much as you like during the day, it’s not something you want to take in at night. Using phones and tablets close to bedtime can make falling and staying asleep more difficult.

    That’s because blue light tricks our circadian rhythm, or natural body clock, into thinking that it’s daytime. It also boosts attention and reaction times, and interferes with our bodies’ production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, making it difficult to nod off.

    It’s not just your sleep that suffers, either; multiple studies have linked exposure to blue light and disrupted circadian rhythms to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. Harvard researchers were able to increase blood sugar levels and lower the level of leptin, a hormone that causes people to feel full after a meal, in 10 people simply by changing their circadian rhythms.

  • Read. I’ve made it a goal to read at least five pages every night before going to bed.  I love reading but sometimes tend to get intimidated and even stressed out by the number of books on my bedside table or “To Read” list. By carving out this nightly time, I’m making more progress in my books and often find myself reading for 20-30 minutes instead of five.
  • Meditate When I’ve finished reading and am ready to go to sleep, I open the Headspace app and enjoy 3 minutes of guided meditation. As I type that, it seems ridiculous to see that I only meditate three minutes but as a new mediator, I made it my goal to do 3 minutes for 10 consistent days before increasing the time. It’s amazing what listening to the narrators soothing voice can do in such a short period of time. As I assess my body and relax my limbs, jaw and focus on the sounds around me I can feel the stress leave my body.  The app is free to use thus far and I have been recommending it to anyone who will listen. Never meditated? Don’t get the hype? Download the app and try it for yourself!

Your Turn – What are your tricks for improving sleep? 

Photo credit Michelle Rose Photography

Share Button