Learning without Limits- Toddler Edition

Dear Readers,

Tonight I watched my 18 month old deliberate and negotiate getting off the bed and onto the floor, I watched her think about it, start to do it, and then stop and then start to do it again, and then stop and then like a flash, she fell/shimmied off the bed.

I watched her do this about 5 or 6 times before I took a picture of it. Some of the best parenting advice I have ever gotten is, “Don’t miss what is happening NOW for the first time because you are trying to capture it on camera.”

When she started this, I REALLY wanted to help her and I even started to reach my hand out, but then as I was in the act of doing it, I realize, she has to do these things (so it begins!!!!) and so many others by herself so I withdrew my hand and watched….. Ready to help but not offering it unless she looked at me or seemed to want help. I watched her really think and contemplate and she made a few squeals (her newest habit is squealing randomly) as she thought about it. She seemed to be saying “okay so I am going to get off the bed.” “Okay, wait, this is pretty high, so maybe I will come cuddle next to Mom.” so she sat next to me for a few seconds and then shimmied back to the edge again.

I watched the wheels turn as she figured it out, and again, I waited to see if she needed my help.

Guess what? She didn’t. She constantly amazes me with how fearless she is. She will run into a wall or fall down and I am sure she is going to scream like a banshee but before I can “pause for reaction” she is already up and moving again.  It reminds me that she is teaching me things all the time.

It’s this and many more but here are the top 3.

  1. She teaches me to appreciate every bug, leaf and flower on our walks.
  2. She teaches me to wait, wait, wait and relax, relax, relax.
  3. She is teaching me to dance like no one is watching, and sing to ALL the songs.

If my 18 month old can teach me something, who is to say there is not something for all of us to learn from each other. That person you can’t stand and say hi to every morning?

What if you asked them – “how are you?” and really wanted know. I am constantly in awe of the lessons waiting for us in the people around us. I heard something today that I really like. “You should learn three new things from every person you meet”

What a great way to add to your education.

Think About It….

If it doesn’t give you joy, let it go!

Dear Readers,

I have not read the “The Life-Changing Magic of of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and I am aware of the basic concept of the book.

“If it doesn’t give you joy, don’t keep it” – this could be clothes, dishes, books etc.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went through our closets and started this process. My focus was mainly on getting the stuff out of my closet that I start to put on and then when it doesn’t fit (yep, I had a baby folks, those size 14 jeans will NEVER fit again, time I face that fact) you throw it on the floor and say, “No, you sit there on the floor and think about what you did. NO HANGER FOR YOU!

I have to say the thing I was NOT prepared for was how liberating it was to put in a bag and then put it in my trunk.

Never mind that the bag is still in my trunk.. that’s for later… !

(baby steps, people, it made it out of the closet!)

But to get it out of my closet, is a good step, which makes way for more joyous choices!cropped-swirlygirljenniferhaston

Now I can see the clothes that truly give me joy (LIKE THIS BLUE DRESS ^^^^^^) and wear them till they no longer give me joy and just think, that dress I bought in 2008 with a credit card (spent almost 2000.00 on an entire wardrobe change some of which still gives me joy, but this dress no longer does so OUT it goes!) can be found by someone my size and they can say to themselves, “I can’t wait to wear this!” and mean it.

The yes/no piece of it really got me thinking.

Why not apply this to other tasks that give me no joy? It’s a little hard to say “no” to dishes without saying “yes” to insects but hey, I have a partner and we can renegotiate the terms of our kitchen contract – He does the cooking, I do the dishes. Maybe I can flip that.  You never know, it could happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that if your job doesn’t give you joy, you should quit tomorrow, but maybe if it doesn’t give you joy, you should investigate what it would take to eventually do something that does.

Sometimes it takes a while to find something that gives you joy, you are worth it, take your time to find it. It’s out there, trust me.

What about that volunteer task that you keep doing and swear to yourself, “this is the last time!” but you said yes again before you could stop yourself. Ask yourself, does it give me joy?

Here’s a tough one. What about relationships? You know the ones I mean.

The one that you get the text message, voicemail or see their name pop up on the screen with a picture (likely of the two of you in joyful times long gone) and you breathe a heavy sigh before picking up the phone or more likely, hit “Ignore” to avoid the call.

Why are you investing in a relationship that doesn’t give you joy? Back to the yes/no question. It’s a handy trick for figuring out what you should prioritize and what should take a backseat or maybe not even be in the car with you.

Think About It.

While you think about it, really commit to yourself to have more joy in your life.

Goodness knows life is short and full of a lot of joyless things, figure out what gives you joy and throw out the rest. Trust me, you will be much happier for the trade.



Embracing the Unexpected!

Dear Readers,

Last night my husband made us steaks to celebrate a milestone we achieved with our financial goals. It’s not as sexy as saying we are debt free, (11/16/2015 baby) and it’s an important one.

I was really excited to eat the steak and have lots of conversation about the day, but before that I took my little girl to the mall so we could get some exercise and I could shop for shoes for her and for me.

As I was doing that, my husband was cooking with his cast iron skillet for the first time and as often happens when we do something for the first time, it doesn’t always go well, so it got a little smoky in the Haston Love Nest. When we came home (sans any new shoes) the smoke detector was going off and the smell of smoke permeated through the house and kitchen.

Due to the condition of the house, we decided to eat on the patio and it was great! Cool breeze, lovely atmosphere and the food was wonderful!DinnerAlFresco

None of that would have happened if we had done things according to “plan”

We also decided to do it more often, again, it would not have occurred to us to do that if we hadn’t had to deviate.

I have posted about this before, and it’s still an important lesson that I continue to learn especially with a toddler running around the house!

Embrace the unexpected, it often turns out well.

Think About It.

Be Bold, Make Mistakes, Repeat.

Dear Readers,

Today is International Women’s Day- YAY WOMEN! There is so much that we can do and there is no limit to what we can try so I say, tell them to try it all.

Reshma Saujani is the founder of  “Girls Who Code” and gave a powerful Ted talk a few years ago about teaching our girls bravery, not perfection. She tells a few stories about how she attempted running for office and failed at it in a very public way.

I have to say I think this is easier said than done, and I absolutely know it’s possible.

In the early days of my academic career, I spent a lot of time telling myself I was not good at math and even made the joke “Numbers and I have a fractious relationship” but all joking aside, this was something that definitely held me back in more ways than one.

Thankfully, I had a college professor who finally opened my eyes to the fun and excitement of mathematics but I often wonder what would have happened if I had told myself a different story. Certainly I plan to encourage my daughter to try things that are hard to and to keep trying especially when it’s hard and as hard as it is to watch, encourage her to dare greatly.

My issue is that I always want to be wonderful at the start of anything that I do, and that simply isn’t possible, since you have no idea how to do something you have never done, so you should be prepared to not be great at the start.

When I did my first 5 K in 2014, I definitely wasn’t wonderful- I had good friends to support me when I did that first walk/run and it was not great, but it was a starting line and definitely not a finish, but it did lead to a recent running success.

But it got me thinking, even as a runner, which I definitely am a runner.

Even after multiple races and workouts, I still feel a little like an impostor when I put on the shoes and the headband and get running on the track or treadmill, like any second someone is going to come along and say, oh, you don’t know about mileage and sprints and other running things (maybe I just haven’t learned them yet?) so you aren’t really a runner. It’s pretty easy to surmise that one might feel this way about other roles in life. Perhaps Motherhood?

As I type this, my child is asleep and peaceful, any second she could wake back up (Please Vivienne, stay asleep) and I will be faced with the choice, do I go get her? Do I let her cry it out?  Despite the fact that I have already fought this battle a few months back and opted to let her “cry it out” the choice is always there when the situation presents itself. The back of my brain maliciously whispers,, “A real mother would know what to do”,

I am stopped by this and the guilt starts up and then I remember, I have a tool to help defuse that bomb. I simply have to refute that fear-based statement with truth.

I am a real mother. I don’t always know what to do. I know what feels right to me, and her reaction helps me know if it was the right move or the wrong one. It’s a lot of troubleshooting and instinct, as my mother of choice told me during those first days in the hospital.

My pediatrician says she apologizes to her kids when she makes mistakes and then went on to say that she does make mistakes and it’s important for our kids to know that. So if a medical professional who went to school for years and years and has been practicing on other kids for years and still screws up with her kids, what makes me think I am so different? I found that to be a bit of a relief and thought it might be for you as well.

I am sure I am not alone, which is one of the main reasons I decided to write about this today.



Think About It….

I owe you an apology.

Doc List Photography

Dear Readers,

A few months ago, I was pushing my daughter in her stroller on a beautiful day in the park and observed some parent doing the same while using her phone. Aghast, I thought to myself, “She must really not love her child, my goodness, what a neglectful parent!”

Okay, I didn’t take it that far, but I did judge her just a little bit. It’s not something I am proud of, but I did do it. I went right on judging later on when I was at the restaurant and meeting my girlfriend for some long overdue catching up (sans both our children) and noticed that three other tables next to us had their phones out and were not really looking at each other or talking to each other, I judged them a little too. Then later, I noticed still another parent give her mewling child an IPad to gain a little peace and judged a little more. I never said anything to anyone but if this was the sitcom version of my life, I would go up to all of them (ala the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and bust out an improvisational (and yet perfectly choreographed) song and dance about how they are missing the best moments of life and to put the flinging flanging device down, I haven’t really found a rhyme for that, but I am working on it.

In real life, I silently judge and resume my own activity whatever that might be. I felt justified in my judging mainly because I had this idea in my head that to use my device around her at all meant that I was a neglectful parent or it meant somehow I cared less about her because I was doing something on my phone, I never want her to see me using the phone and think for one second it or any other device means more to me than her. This was the story I was telling to myself and no one told that to me, and then a few weeks ago when taking care of my own child 24/7 I found myself seeking the refuge of a few minutes with a device or computer rather than the constant “you are on, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” wait, no scratch that, “You are on, NOW” of being with an active toddler.

I definitely had a lot more leniency in my minds for those I had judged because while not “the answer to life and all its problems”, it definitely provided me with a few minutes of sanity amidst a day of a very fussy Vivienne.  Therefore, to all of you out there who I have judged for this, (including my own husband) I sincerely and heartily apologize for judging you.

On the flipside of that, Do I think we could all stand to use devices less? With a count of 80 checks a day to our phones, you bet your bahookie I do, and I think there is room for balance here that I have not previously acknowledged. I really think we are becoming a society of people who spend far too much time behind a screen so I suggest some balance.


A very shocking statistic, some people would give up sex rather than go one day without their phone. Even more shocking, some would choose to give up chocolate rather than their phone.

Some things that I have started to do to help this.

On my days off, I wake up and leave my phone in the bedroom until I head to the gym, or out with friends, that allows me to spend time with my daughter and husband sans phone.

We do not use our phones during meals (we even have a phone jail)

I actively turn off my phone or put it on silent when with other people for dinner or coffee.

I heard about one mother who committed to not using devices when her child was awake, and that’s inspiring. I am not sure I can do that, or that I want to do that, and I love that she has that goal for herself.

Do I think that could work for you? Maybe. It’s up to you how little or how much technology you want to allow and when (whether you have kids or not).

I can’t say for sure what will work for you, and what will not. I encourage you to experiment with it and see how long you can go without it and be intentional about when you choose to use it. My only ask?

Think About It.

What if everything is awesome?


Dear Readers,

I spend a good amount of time concentrated on the sunny side of things.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate and embrace reality or the “SUCKS OUT LOUD” of a situation, AND I think it’s probably better than worrying yourself sick over something that may never happen.  Keep in mind, this has not been the case my entire life, I spent some time cultivating this habit. Much like using and rather than the word but, which negates what came just before it.

Recently when talking to a friend who was waiting on some news, she was worried about, I said, “What if there is nothing to worry about?” “What if you are worried for nothing?” Still another has a health concern with no answers, and it was actually where this idea originated, “What if everything is awesome?” In both cases, neither is solved and things are definitely NOT AWESOME.

That’s the downside to “looking for positive” sometimes it DOES not pay off and you CAN’T speak what you want into existence.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times the positive spin does NOT pay off and you wind up disappointed but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid way to start out. You can always spend time dealing with reality if it doesn’t turn the way you want, but what’s the harm in thinking everything is going my way.

I used to have a little mantra I would say and it goes like this.

Expect the Best.

Prepare for the Worst.

Adapt to the Outcome.

So, recently, I ran my first 5K since I had my baby.  A major milestone!

To be completely transparent with you, I attempted one back in September, (one year from her birth) but I barely made it a mile and realized how absolutely out of shape I was so I made the decision to get back on the path to working out and training again.

I am DELIGHTED to report.  I ran 3.2 miles in 58 minutes and 51 seconds! YAY!5KJMac2018

So in this case, everything WAS awesome. (I didn’t know that but posed for victory anyway… see what I am talking about?) JMac5K

Do me this favor, ask yourself about the current situation that you are pondering.

“What if everything was awesome?” “What if it’s all going to work out?”

Think About It.




Reconditioning your Response

Vivienne & Mommy

Dear Readers,

If someone says to you, “Hey, You should go to the gym!”

“you should eat better”

“you should sleep more”

“you should drink more water”

What do you do? Do you respond and say, “My goodness, thank you, it’s so clear how much you care about me and want me to succeed so I really appreciate that feedback?”

No, probably not. If you are anything like me you get defensive and REACT. Usually pretty strongly. You might even get defensive. No, maybe that is just me.

This past week, my husband had surgery on his nose, it gave me the opportunity to spend several uninterrupted days taking care of our daughter and love her though I do, it was tough to be “on” that long. My husband does it every day with very few breaks (her nap) and rarely complains. THANK YOU JEREMY!

I lasted five days before I got ornery and told him-

“I need a break” I said, “I know you are tired, I know you are hurting, I know it’s impossible for you to hold her without her touching you and maybe hurting your nose but I NEED A BREAK.”

I should say, I don’t think these were the words I used, I definitely know I was not nice or calm in the way that I coach people to be, because I was in Reacting mode, not Responding Mode.

I think this has to do with the fact that I was telling myself a story during these days, “If I am not totally happy and satisfied with how I feel while (e.g. If I let myself be tired or annoyed or frustrated) I am taking care of her, I am doing it wrong or I am a bad mother”- No one else told me that, I told myself that.

Also, I was saying some not so nice things about him, “Ugh, he is not helping, does he not see how fussy she is and he is DOING nothing!

Well, that wasn’t true either. He was healing from pretty intense SURGERY on his nose.  It’s amazing to me how a little time, a little rest, and a little perspective really helps to calm a situation down and more importantly helps you see things much more clearly.

After I apologized for my outburst, we discussed it and I realized that the story I had going in my head felt bigger and larger than the truth which is that I was tired and needed to admit it.

I was telling myself the story that led to my outburst, I could have built a different narrative.

“I am tired of taking care of her and that doesn’t mean that I am not a good mother, it means I am human.”

This is just one small example of me “reconditioning my response” or “owning my story”

Brene Brown talks about this- Lots of ways that we self-sabotage and break ourselves down instead of building ourselves up. It’s super easy to go negative with the thoughts and not think the best of ourselves or a situation.


So, what story are you telling, and does it serve you or stop you?

Think About It.