People don’t change.

The last decade of my life has been consumed by self help books. Somewhere along the way, I developed this idea that I needed to be fixed, improved upon, or changed. That there was a better version of me just one revelation away.  And perhaps with the right combination of thoughts, practices, and force, I could become her. I had an idea of who I would become after ‘doing some work’ on myself. That I would have a before and after story (plus photo) to share with everyone. Well, lets just say those 10 years were draining and at the end of it all, I’m still doing the same shit I was at the start.

Today for some reason, I started to think about who I was as a kid. And, wait for it….. I was exactly as I am right now. Well, maybe a little more joyful and a little less weathered (aka bitter). I have always tried to make humor out of life situations to help make things easier for others (and myself). I have always been blunt and to the point. I question everything. I have been extremely interested in how people think. I can’t lie. I have a strong moral compass. I take people at their word (this has been called “gullible” and “can’t take a joke”). I like to share stories to help others feel relatable. I think fart humor is funny. I hate horror movies. I can’t stand animal cruelty, human too. I want to help sad people feel happier. I am stubborn and obsessive. I am extremely focused and determined when I set my mind to something. I am all or nothing, and commit fully. I go full steam ahead on the things I am passionate about and enjoy.  I enjoy creating something born from an idea – mind to matter. I like to work with my hands. I love to solve problems. I love naps. I love snacks. I love to laugh.

What I realized is that these are my attributes. This is the fabric of who I am. It is unshakable and important. Because when it comes to the work that is true to my heart and what I am here to do – it’s necessary.  This is my toolbox to do my job. I can’t change it, because it’s too valuable.

I spent a decade trying to change those things because they were not appealing to some. Some people didn’t like some of my God given traits. I was also given a strong empathetic bone. I care very deeply about other people, and want everyone to be happy.  I took it on as my job to help others be at peace and find joy in life. But when I was the source of their unhappiness (or at least I was told that “blank” bothered them about me, etc.), I did everything I could to change that. To appease. To bring peace, at the cost of my making. Not everyone likes a blunt answer. Not everyone likes poop jokes. What happened was I lost sight of my design and tried changing for everyone around me.

It took me a loooonnnggg time to ‘come back to self.’  It took depression cycles, prayer, and questioning why I am here. It took searching for that small voice within me, that actually has been pretty damn loud and in my face. The most ironic thing about it is that while I was searching so hard for myself – or this ‘best’ version of me – I was here all along. All I needed to do be okay with my making.

Finally seeing who I am (and always have been), I started to look at who I am as a mother. I am a pretty damn good mom. What I realized is that I am not a good mom, I am just myself as a mom. I have always been nurturing and caring of others. I have always been invested and attentive in others mental and emotional well being. I am a ‘good’ mother because I am simply in a role that fits me.  Just as I was a good hairstylist and business owner, the roles fit my personality.

“Through out life, we simply take on new roles, and we ‘succeed’ at the ones we were made for.”

Tweet that shit. You’re welcome.

People don’t change. I have not changed. I am the same little passionate girl who won’t give up talking about something I want or something I want to do, until it’s done. Persistent AF. I am still the same girl who falls for “gullible is written on the celling,’ because dammit I take people at their word!

I have noticed that with each season of life I amadjusted. Becoming a mother, I have adjusted, to say the least. Kids are basically a giant windfall of change. My adjustment post children was not easy – I love to fight the current. So I floundered around for awhile until I eventually let life take me and teach me. Right now, this season has adjusted my priorities (less is more) and my pace (slow and steady wins the race marathon).  I have adapted to a slower ‘smolder’ pace when it comes to my plans and dreams for my life. This causes less ‘burn out’ too, which is helpful! (I have literally only 1-2 hours per day to commit to things outside of kids.) I also have simplified and prioritized; my home, my plans, and my projects. I reduced my focus down to 4 things that take up my energy. I think of my energy as a stove top with 4 burners. I have enough fire to keep 4 things simmering warm. My four are; my kids, my spouse, my writing, and my artwork.

I have also decided to have faith in God’s plan for my life. I’m kind of starting to see that my children really are unique and have their own quirks. Just as I did, from the beginning. I see some personality similarities to my self and my husband because that would make sense. That would make sense that God put these children with us.  We can relate and support someone who thinks similar to ourselves. And we have an understanding of what it’s like to be in their shoes, and perhaps know how to nurture them. I have faith that all of my attributes are what they need from a mother. I have faith that my kids also are made in a likeness that supports who I am (a nap lover!).

I have always felt very passionate about people being supported in who they are. I plan to do so with my children.  To help them focus on what they are good at. Teach them how important their attributes are to this world and what that are here to do. With hopes that they love and accept their making, despite what ‘some people’ may say. Because like every parent hopes for their kids, to save them from the hurts we have endured. My hurt was self hatred, and I pray they never have to endure that pain. And I pray that you don’t either.

xoxo Chelsea

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I can’t afford it. 

I found myself yawning while reading my toddler stories before afternoon nap. This is not uncommon. Even after getting 8 hours of sleep, I’m tired. Both of my kids sleep through the night. My eldest sleeps from 6pm-5:30/6am. My baby sleeps from 7/8pm-6am. I get good sleep. Yet, I’m always hustling off to nap and bed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, putting off self care and my creative projects to yet another day in the future.

I can’t afford to be lethargic by noon. I can’t afford to be wiped out physically and emotionally. I can’t afford to go to bed 5 minutes after my baby. I can’t afford to be moody.  I just can’t afford it anymore.

​As you can see my boys are full of energy, and I need a full tank to keep up!

I want to be a kind, present, and patient mother, so I can’t afford to eat garbage. When I eat sugar, I’m reactive. I rollercoaster all day long and need sleep whenever I can get it. I’m like a child throwing tantrums when things don’t work out the way I need it to. I want to create my art. I can’t do that when I’m continually playing catch up on sleep to help balance me out. I want to play and chase my kids and feel good in my body.  I can’t do that when I feel tired and fat without the time to exercise. My time now is too valueable. How I eat and how I live must support the dreams I have for myself and my life.

I need to do better, for the love of myself and my life. I can’t afford not to do better anymore. If I want to have the life I dream of, I can’t afford to stay the same. 

My kids have forced me to prioritize. My schedule has forced me into choice. Before kids, I had a million hours and unlimited time. I could nap, drink, binge, get some work done and do it all over again. Sure, I was still loosing my shit on the regular, but I had time to do it. I don’t have time to do that anymore.

I currently have about 2-2.5 hours of my day to dedicate to self care and self expression. I can’t afford to be sleeping at that time. When I say self care that includes everything. From waxing, washing, work outs, journaling, meditation, organizing, and cleaning. Self expression includes blogging, artwork, home projects, new business ventures, dreams for myself, or even watching Netflix. Basically those two hours a day are the only kid free time I have. And lately, nothing is getting done. I have time, but not the energy to use it. It’s not a time problem, it’s an energy problem.

After another day of eating whatever for convince and feeling like crap by noon, yawning and needing a nap, I finally had to re-evaluate. How am I going to spend my days? Since I can’t control my “free time” can I at least make the most of it? That’s when I realized, eating for convience is making everything inconvenient. I continually feel stuck, angry, and bitter because I have no time for myself. Because the choices I’ve been making are wiping me out, and I just can’t afford to make the same choices anymore.

I need the energy to do my artwork over naptime. I need focus to be patient with my toddler. I need to feel light in my body so I can go for a run when my kids go to bed. I can’t afford to sleep off food hang overs anymore. I can’t afford to ride an emotional reaction roller coaster with sugar anymore.

I just can’t afford it. 

I write this on the last day I need to nap at noon. The last day I made choices that have kept me feeling pigeon held in my own life. For tomorrow I will make choices to allow for more in my life.

Finally, I don’t care to “have it all” in the kitchen, so I can afford to have it all in my life.

God is showing me the need to prioritize what I want. I can have it all in life, by making choices to promote what I really desire. Time to write, time to paint, time to run, time to play, time spent being present and kind, and time spent being nurturing to my kids. It just may mean that change needs to happen, so I can afford to do more and be more.

I didn’t want to change. I’ve been fighting dietary changes for over a decade. I’ve danced with change, but never took her home. I’ve been totally aware of how eating clean makes me feel a million times better. It just took me this long to see what the full value of eating differently is.

It’s not just about weight loss or looking good. I could never change for those reasons, because it always felt like it was for someone else. I rebel against direction and being told what to do. I can’t change because I “should,” or society says so, or acceptance from others.  For me, I needed to see the value that this change would bring my life, beyond appearance. Finally seeing that eating differently would give me a balanced mentality, sustainabile energy, and better use of my free time- I was sold.

When we see the value of a change for ourselves and our lives, then we will change without resistance, and move forward in joy.

I needed to become stuck and frustrated in my life. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to see the value in making changes in my diet to support my desires. I want more energy. I want more time. I became so frustrated, I would do whatever it took to have it. That meant change. Not the changes I wanted to make, but the changes I have to make, for my desired life.

I have a choice. To continue living the way I have been, or change. I choose change. And for the first time, I want to change! Making these changes in my lifestyle and diet no longer feel inconvenient to me. I can finally see how making these new choices is giving me what I really want and need right now. It’s actually making my life more convenient. While some of my new lifestyle choices may be inconvenient for others, it’s the best thing in the world for myself and my life. I will be a better version of me, and that’s what the world wants anyways.

Thanks for reading! I’d love some feedback! Wanting to read more about change and getting on board with it? Looking for some healthy lifestyle swaps and how to support a more energetic you?  Let me know what you’d like to read about by leaving me a comment below!

Happy trails! -Chelsea

Press Play. 

I have been going through this phase lately where I’ve been looking forward to crossing another day off on the calendar. This season of life is pretty challenging. Having a toddler and an infant is emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. Somedays it feels really good just to cross off day having survived it. And somedays my Facebook scrolling goes on a little too long and I find myself yearning for a different time of life.

On the eve of Mother’s Day, I got a speeding ticket. While waiting at a stoplight, my two year old started whining for his pacifier (yes, he still has one, and I don’t care) that he couldn’t reach, and the infant was crying because he was sleepy and needed more motion to drift off to sleep. The light turned green, I started cruising off speedily to our destination (Lowe’s to get plants like every other family that weekend). Well, it was a 25 mph zone. I was not looking at my speed, but my crying baby and whining toddler in my rear view mirror. Praying that we would have some peace in the car shortly. Needless to say, I was pulled over, I got a ticket, and I cried. I cursed God, and said “Gee thanks for the Mother’s Day gift.” Meanwhile, my husband was 2 minutes behind me (driving separate to meet us at Lowe’s to haul some wood home in his car) and saw us pulled over by the police officer. This prompted him to call my cell phone. Which woke up the baby and he started crying again. Great, crying baby again and now I would also have to explain myself to my husband. When we finally made it to the store, my husband didn’t lecture me. He asked what happened, saw my tears, and let it go. He knew that I had already beat myself up for it, and didn’t add to the emotional torture.

Yesterday I got another speeding ticket, from the same officer. In a different 25 mph zone while I had my kids in the car. Seriously, who the hell actually drives 25 mph anymore.  Of course, my reaction was to cry. Of course, I was speeding and did it to myself. Of course, I felt horrible for not being a more responsible driver with my children in the car. Here’s the thing, I haven’t had a ticket in 10 years, and I got 2 within two weeks. I don’t believe in coincidence. I’ve been speeding for the last 10 years, just never “got caught.”  So why was life catching up to me? What’s the message? I’ve noticed that when things happen in 3’s, life is really trying to get my attention! So I usually tune in when I hit the second time. And, I definitely don’t want a third ticket.

I’ve always lived on fast forward. I’ve been trying to get to the next step, next stage, or next day my whole life. I take after my father in this way. His motto is “Go like Hell!” Impatient is an understatement when it comes to the both of us. I’ve always wanted to be older then whatever age I am. I’ve always looked ahead to what I would do next instead of enjoy what I’m doing now. Living for tomorrow and the goals ahead, always.

When it came to getting the speeding tickets, I had to ask what was I in a hurry to get to? I wasn’t late for anything and we had no reason to rush. Being a stay at home mom nothing truly is that pressing in our daily life. Sure, we have appointments to get to occasionally, but is it really a big deal if we happen to be a little late? Why is it so hard to just slow down? Heck, why is it challenging just to live on play instead of fast forward?

Then I started thinking about the kids. Why am I trying to speed up their childhood? What am I trying to get to? Am I trying to get to the stage where they are talking? When I’m done nursing? When they can fix their own snack? What about when I go back to work or they are in school? Am I wanting to get the the stage where they are adults and moved out and I have full ‘free time’ again? How about when I become a grand-parent? What am I rushing through the day for? What is so much better about tomorrow?

All of these stages of life are coming. We keep aging as we move through time. I will get there. Does rushing through the days make the 24 hours happen faster? Nope. Does it make it less enjoyable? Yep. I have found that when I look back at my completed stages of life, I do miss them. I loved living on Grand Ave in St. Paul with my best friend Andrea getting into all sorts of 21 year old trouble. I liked seeing my friends everyday and challenging myself in high school. I enjoyed taking hair classes and learning new skills as I grew as a hairstylist. I am sure I will miss these days of baby snuggles and toddler shenanigans. So, I’ve decided to enjoy the sleepless nights and making second lunches for an overly opinionated palate. I will enjoy holding small sticky hands as we cross the street. I will enjoy every diaper change and booger wipe. I shall savor watching my two year old snuggle his blanket and my two month old coo and smile at me. This includes all the crazy awful things about raising kids too. It’s time to just play, instead of rush forward, and let this movie unfold one scene at a time.

These two children are the people I love most in the entire world, and I’m rushing through my days with them. Ultimately we are headed to stages where we are less together as a family. Stages where our interactions change as we become less involved with each other. Right now, I have all of my children. I have their snuggles, laughs, tears, and poops. Yeah I get it all, all day long. It’s time to be here enjoying it, while the time is still mine. Time to get my mind off the future, my eyes on my children, and my hands off my phone.  I’m going to get to the future regardless. So I may as well slow down and enjoy.

Happy Trails! – Chelsea

 

Funny Plans.

While rocking in the recliner and nursing my baby, I glanced over to see a stack of notes. On those notes were thoughts and ideas to expand on. Like a bunch of little nuggets that couldn’t be forgotten. You see, I have probably close to 30 notebooks bursting with “Ah Ha” moments, new concepts of thinking, and ideas worth expanding on. My mind has soo many ideas of what to write about or business adventures to start, that there isn’t enough time in my lifetime to pursue them all. I realized how cluttering it was. To live with all of these thoughts and ideas hanging around. To have so many plans for where I want to go, that it’s actually suffocating and daunting. It feels as if I can’t trust life as it unfolds. That I must store up all my ‘goodies’ and plan for the future. All of these plans and storage for the future makes it challenging to enjoy the new shiny inspirations in the moment. I feel like a squirrel hiding all of his nuts for winter, while I’m currently starving in the fall.

All this saving for the future and planning makes me feel weighted down. I’ve got so many plans for tomorrow and who I want to be that it’s hard to just be. This also leaves no room for inspired living. Ya know, when life happens (as it does) to change your desires and gives you a new life direction. Having all these plans, doesn’t leave much room for the ones that God may have for me. What is even more overwhelming, is I carry all the plans I have with me, as if I must do them all.

I have goals from high school and my 20’s that still reside in my mind, as if I must accomplish them as well. I may be the only person who tries to become all the things she had hopes of becoming, and if I am good, because damn it’s exhausting! I still need to become the girl who can wear a bikini to pierce my belly button. (That one is a high school goal/plan obviously, I would never pierce my belly button now that’s so 2000’s).  I want to have a collection of my art be on display in a gallery. I want to backpack across Europe. I want to be a published author. I want to write and illustrate a children’s book. I want to own a salon and spa. I want to be a life coach. I want to be a photographer. I want to be an interior decorator. I want…. I want… I want….

All of these ideas and plans for who I am supposed to be is totally robbing me of enjoying my life. It feels impossible to be and do all of these things. It may not be impossible, and perhaps I will accomplish them at some point, but I need the freedom to choose them again. Right now, in my season of life as a stay at home mother, I wake up feeling like a failure. It feels like I am failing myself and my dreams. Every day. Keeping all of these plans and ideas that I had for myself and my life at one point in time as ‘must do’ in my mind, doesn’t allow me to evolve and just be the person I am now. It doesn’t allow for new dreams and new plans. It doesn’t allow for me to be the person that life has shaped me to become. All of these rigid plans for myself, while originally constructed in love, are now hurtful. Those plans and dreams used to feel exciting. Now they feel like promises that I couldn’t keep to a girl who had big big dreams.

I am still that girl. That girl with big dreams and big plans, only life has shaped me in unplanned ways. By letting go of who I thought I needed to become, and allowing myself to be and do what I have chosen now, I can be happy. Life feels lighter, and less cluttered. It’s as if I am free to wake up tomorrow and live a day unplanned. To let life inspire my direction and let myself choose where I am going in the moment. I feel like I have faith again in myself and God’s direction for me.  Living without a pre-routed trip could allow for some really fun detours on my destination to nowhere.

As a recovering perfectionist and control freak the idea of living without a plan seems irresponsible. When I ask myself, have long-term plans been good for me? The answer is, No. I can plan ahead, wayyyy ahead all day long, but when I get there it’s never how I planned it. Reflecting on the evolution of my career as a hairstylist, nothing I did ever aligned with my long term plans. Yet, I ended up having a very enjoyable career and loved having my own business. My plans were to become an educator and travel with a company to teach other stylists new techniques. Those plans never panned out. When I moved from MN to ND, I never planned on booth renting and starting my own business. I ended up being (not so gently) guided to doing so as a ‘last resort’ option. It became a journey that I truly loved and enjoyed. It ignited a love for web design, branding, marketing, and business while I also learned many new skills. If you were to ask me what my plans are now, it would be to go back to styling hair when my children are older. But I know better now. Perhaps it is true, God laughs at our plans.

So, is it actually irresponsible to live without a plan? I feel more responsible to choose to live in a way that is good for me and brings me joy. And that is to let go of my long-term plans and live inspired. I have no idea how the next 2 years will shape me and what I will feel inspired to do, let alone the next month. All I know is in the moment it feels good to write this and share it with you.

Happy trails! – Chelsea

 

Quality or Quantity.

When I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my second son, I immediately felt horrible for my first born. For two years he had every minute of me. He was my universe. He still is, but my world has expanded. I felt guilty for how much his life had changed. I wondered if two children was the right thing to do. I mourned our old life of just him and I. All the play dates and trips to the park got out on hold. Our new normal became lots of television while I nurse the baby and afternoons spent hanging out in the backyard instead out and about in town at play dates or music classes. Gone was the complete one on one attention. I felt like I was failing him. All. The. Time.


It’s bizarre that at this time I didn’t even think about my second child. I was overly concerned about my eldest and his “lack of love” by way of full attention. My newborn would never ever know full one-on-one attention. His one-on-one moments with just me are fleeting and far between. My youngest may get an hour or two a day of just us when his brother is sleeping or when he is at the grocery store with Dad. After realizing this I then felt horrible for him. I felt guilty for his lack of full mom attention and all the times I had to lay him in the rock-and-sleep to tend to his brother.

I started to think about what my youngest son and oldest son get from me. My oldest son got over two years of being the center of our universe. Smothered with attention. But, he was my first child and I was a complete basket case newbie mom. I was not a natural mother. I didn’t feel like I was “rocking it” as a mom until he was nearly two years old. I hit my stride when he was about 1.5 and really felt like, “hey I’m pretty good at this thing.”  That’s when I started to relax as a mother and enjoy our days.

I was a stress mess with a newborn the first time around. I had never really been around babies, so I felt completely clueless. I googled everything, obsessed about sleeping, and read/watched lots of parenting tips just to survive.  I was a worried mom. All. The. Time. Every milestone was met with worry of if he would meet it or how to help him. It was exhausting.

My second child is lucky. I’ve done this before. I now know that sleep will come and nothing lasts forever. The baby stage is actually very short, and pretty enjoyable when you let go of worrying so much. I’m a relaxed mom now. I actually enjoy this early baby stage (he is 6 weeks old right now). I snuggle and hug him all day. I ‘wear’ him when we play outside. He falls asleep easily and is really adorable. I enjoy watching him do new things, even if it’s just lifting his head and turning it from side to side during tummy time. I am fascinated that with each new thing he learns, he can enjoy the world around him that much more. I celebrate his new discoveries more. With my first born, I was too busy being worried about his neck being strong enough or if he had enough tummy time that day to enjoy those milestones. I was just too busy being worried.


My youngest son may get less of my time and attention, but he is getting my best. I am a better mom now, thanks to my eldest. My eldest son got quantity, my youngest son gets quality. What is better? Neither. They are divinely perfect in their own ways. I’ve allowed myself to let go of any guilt when it comes to my time and abilities as a mother. I know that both of my children are getting my all, at all times. Instead of comparing and judging what’s right or best, I’m going to let it be gray.

I’m a happier mom when I don’t analyze and compare myself to others, or to myself. I truly have no idea what is best. I can’t see into the future nor comprehend the complexity of life and God’s plan for us all. So in an effort to enjoy life, I’ve relaxed into just living it. Letting each phase, stage, and moment be perfect in its own way. Maybe someday I will be able to see the sun shine on my life, and comprehend the love of the bigger picture. For now, I’m good with gray.

Happy trails! -Chelsea

Trail Mix.

Years ago on the start of my inward spiritual journey, I was told by an energy worker that one of the causes of my distress (anxiety and depression) is my need to label (judge) everything as good or bad. I live very ‘black and white.’ She mentioned that it was quite funny and perhaps serendipitous that I was marrying a man with the last name of Gray. She mentioned that it could be the start of new chapter of how I view life.

Nearly 5 years after that conversation I have come to see how I need to embrace a life of living in the gray. One marriage and two kids later, I can no longer afford to judge life events as cut and dry, black and white, or good and bad. I’m learning that life is a big cluster of mixed everything. It’s a really good trail mix. Perhaps in the end it will balance out and be a great combination of sweet, fulfilling, nutty, sustainable, bitter, and enjoyable moments. And like a good trail mix, you need all the flavors to get just the right taste. Maybe that is all life is, a giant human taste test.

This journey has made me. It’s made me grow into my faith. Sometimes by force, sometimes by choice. The earth is always moving under our feet, forward will happen. Just as we can’t stop aging (as much as we try), it feels like we can’t stop evolving. It seems that all humans desire changes. Of course, we all try to avoid changes we don’t want, but actively pursue ones that we do. Why do we desire change? Personally, I get bored and honestly like a challenge. It feels like most of my desires for change (new) come from within me, almost unconscious. Perhaps the drive to evolve is unconscious. It’s some soul level stuff.

So here I stand, on the edge of choice. I have had the desire to share my perspective of life through writing for a while now, and it’s time to try it. I have plans for what I will write about, but as plans do, they often change. Join me as I embrace looking at life from a greater gray perspective. That nothing is truly good or bad, maybe it’s all perfect in the end.

Happy Trails! – Chelsea Gray