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The MAY 2016 | Series No. 3, Issue No. 2

ease

Issue

Curate Your Motherhood with Victoria Gloria ALSO

R ECON N EC T TO M O N E Y • MAK E SPAC E FOR BABY • LOV E B EIN G A MOM


The PERPETUAL YOU


At The Perpetual You, we believe in choosing, embracing, celebrating, and unleashing who you've always been - who you already are - who you want to be.

Be YOU...the Perpetual You.

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I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be. – JOAN DIDION

The PERPETUAL YOU


L E T T E R from our E D I T O R

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he idea for the theme Create Ease by Celebrating Growth came out of our desire to disprove the phrase “Growth is Hard.” Yes, growth is challenging. Yes, growth can require serious thought and deliberate action. But does it have to be hard? Through the curation of this issue, I’m more convinced than ever that growth and ease are not just compatriots; they are correlated. Growth can lead to ease, if only we can acknowledge it, accept it, and even ask for it. Growth is about knowing who you are, all the while choosing who you want to be. Growth is letting go and showing up, questioning everything and deciding on something. Embracing growth begins with recognizing your current stage of life and then having the courage to move forward. The Perpetual You is in a monumental stage of its life, what some entrepreneurs might call the “hustle.” We are growing. We have been steadily growing for the past ten months. And we plan to continue to grow. Plants need water and sunlight. People need food and air. The Perpetual You needs readers, and we also need supporters in order to survive. We want our growth to be organic and our supporters to be authentic. For that reason, we’ve joined Patreon–a platform where our community can pledge to financially support our content creation. You can see what it’s all about by visiting our personal Patreon page.

Asking for your pledge isn’t about becoming the next “big” thing; your support is needed in order for us to continue doing what we are good at: providing uplifting, original content paired with gorgeous, inspiring photos and design. The most important thing to our entire team of collaborators is that we can publish a consistent magazine, with unmatched quality and an uninterrupted message. Any support we receive will be a blessing and a boost. Every great idea is borne out of a desire to make the world a better place. For that reason, makers and creators such as myself and my team are willing to forego the “easy life” for the sake of the cause. For almost a year, I have become more and more entrenched in the possibility that lies within this publication. Bolstered by the faith and financial support of those closest to me, I have grown exponentially, both in my capacity for learning and in my ability to connect with others. I desire for nothing more than to offer women everywhere the same opportunity to have their lives forever changed by the vision of The Perpetual You. But I can’t do it without your help.

lee lee


IN THIS ISSUE

Create

ease

by Embracing Growth

realize

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Engage in activities and rituals that encourage and celebrate growth: assessing the budget, taking pretty pictures, cooking brunch (and shopping!) for mom, digging in the dirt, playing under the stars, and settling down with an introspective book.

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dwell Entertain impromptu guests, forwardthinking designs, and the adorable accoutrements of a classic nursery.

The PERPETUAL YOU


M O N T H LY M U S I C

Embrace raw emotion & follow our "Hard Times & Growing Up" playlist.

embrace Embrace the moments of motherhood, whether picture perfect or inspirationally true-to-

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live

life, with photographer Victoria Gloria.

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Emerge from feelings or practices that are holding you back from growth, by reframing weight gain, making intentional choices, and enjoying your life as a mom.

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SOCIALIZE WITH US

T H E P E R P E T UA L YO U M A K E R S

The Perpetual You wouldn't be possible without the amazing women who collaborate with us. Click on the Maker's handle or website to connect with her directly.

Maya Cover Story Photographer Maya, of MOJALVO, is a cinematographer and photographer, capturing moments in hopes of telling rich stories of the world around her. Most days you can find her behind the camera lens, but she also enjoys snuggling with a big mug of coffee, baking something paleo, or exploring the northeast. See her work at mojalvo.com or on IG @mojalvo.

Maya The Perpetual You is a place where creatives and coaches can come together to showcase their work and be part of a movement designed to shake up the world. Interested in adding your talents to the mix? Email hello@theperpetualyou.com.

The PERPETUAL YOU


Kirsten

Kristi

Walker Sisters

Senior Designer

Designer

Staff Photographers

@kirstenmariedesign kirstenmariedesign.com

@druggedoncolor kglyphics.com

@walkerstudiosllc walkerstudiosllc.com

Victoria

P.K.

Jen W.

Contributing Photographer

Proofreader

Contributing Photographer

@victoriagloria victoriagloria.com

Connect on Facebook

@jenwenzelphoto JenniferWenzelPhotography.com

*

Amy

Sarah

Kate

Contributing Artist

Contributing Photographer

Contributing Artist

@craftivatect craftivatect.com

@sarahannayphotography sarahannayphotography.com

Connect on Facebook BlackSquirrelWorkshop.com

Victoria, our cover story superstar, also curated much of this issue's photography with her motherhood story collections!

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SOCIALIZE WITH US

T H E P E R P E T UA L YO U T E A M

Lee Lee

Jessie

Creative Director & Managing Editor

Art Director

The Lee Lee is the #ladyboss of The Perpetual You. A writer by trade, designer by heart, and mother by choice, she seeks intentional practices and a positive mindset. Connect with her through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Email. If you’re near Hamden, CT, she welcomes you to stop by her front porch.

Jessie Leiber is a multi-disciplinary designer & art director striving to make her world more pixel perfect. When she's not poring over mockups, she can be found singing (loudly) in her car or compulsively buying striped shirts. You can stalk her @jessieleiber or work with her at Little Legends.

Sarah

Brittany

Online Content Editor

Social Media Coordinator

Sarah Sandidge can often be found reading. A lover of language, cultures, and sociology, she’s a chatty introvert fascinated by people. When not reading or editing, she is spending time with her family—mostly taking care of her two beautiful children—somewhere in the heart of Missouri. Meet her at @LulainLondon.

Brittany is a social media guru and cabi stylist. She is often found on her phone curating hashtags or talking the latest runway trends, but also enjoys the perfect mix of chocolate and barre classes. You can plug in with her on Instagram @dressedtt9s or Twitter.

The PERPETUAL YOU


realize to align your daily practices with your

ever-evolving desires


Monthly Challenge Ready to Grow? Join our monthly challenge on Facebook or Instagram.

E M B R AC E T H E I M P OR TANC E OF

Money The PERPETUAL YOU


REALIZE

A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living. – VIRGINIA WOOLF

My journey into motherhood had a less than perfect start. A rough labor experience and a baby who did not sleep well put me into a fog for the first few months. My life was still there, but parts of it felt outside my control. I was just along for the ride, moving forward one step at a time. Through the chaos of those first months, I went through the biggest period of growth in my life.

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his little angel became the center of my world and I gave everything I had to him. He was my teacher, providing me lesson after lesson as I struggled to keep up with the pace and grow along with him. It is so easy to get disconnected with other parts of our life during periods of change and growth. I was so focused on my son that as I got accustomed to my new normal, I realized that other areas of my life had been neglected. I needed a serious check in with my self-care and my money—two things people don't often realize are intertwined. I had grown into my new role as a mother, but my life was off balance. The following are three questions I come back to when I need to reconnect with myself and my money.

Where am I overdoing it? With a new child, one lesson I am constantly reminding myself is that more is not better. He does not need every toy under the sun, so I carefully choose toys to be nice, functional, and fun. Be mindful about what you let enter your life. Where do I not have enough? I never seem to have enough time, so right now anything that helps me save time is a priority. Sometimes that means getting my produce delivered from a local farm or planning to get extra help for my son. In the future, it will mean getting help with housework. (I can’t wait for that day!!)

continued on next page

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Use money to create ease in your life. What’s important to me? Right now working on my backyard and getting my garden planted is important to me. Taking a big family vacation this year is less of a priority. So, I will spend my resources making my yard beautiful and think about a trip next year. Direct your resources in the direction of what’s important in your life. Even if you have never checked in with your selfcare and your money I challenge you to start today. These three little questions can get you thinking about money as more than a resource. Money is a tool you use to build the life you want. Once we accept and embrace the importance of money we can use it effectively to get through all phases of life, the calm and the chaotic.

Start Today Here are three ways to start using money as a tool to create more ease in your life.

Shop for Comfort. The next time you buy a new outfit, keep your entire life in mind—not just the specific event you’re buying for. Buying purposefully will make your money go further and your closet last longer. See more tips for comfortable style on page 28.

Focus on your Values. Purchasing self-care products that are safe for everyone in the family shows your loved ones you value their skin as much as your own. Plus, you won’t have to worry when the little one starts drinking their bubble water! Read about passing down your beauty routines on page 24.

Enjoy your Free Time. Nicole Cooley is a corporate dropout and new mama currently obsessed with sleep, green juice, and planting her new garden. Her company Money With Moxie helps women align their spending to their value system and use money as a tool to design their ideal life. Connect online at Facebook and Instagram.

The PERPETUAL YOU

Recognizing and fully participating in the ͞little moments͟–whether hearing a favorite song on the radio or accompanying the kids to the park, can be a fun, free way to add some spark to your day. Find out why your wellbeing is worth slowing down for on page 26.


Passionate about reading? Follow our Books To Read Board on Pinterest for monthly suggestions.

E M B R A C E​ H E R O I N E S W H O T R A N S F O R M

Big Magic

Emma

My Name Is Lucy Barton

by Elizabeth Gilbert, Pub. 2015

by Jane Austen, Pub. 1816

by Elizabeth Strout, Pub. 2016

Creative growth; most of us abandon it before it ever really begins. We paint, imagine, and dream as kids, but in adulthood, ͞grounded pursuits take precedence. Soon, we no longer feel alive, engaged, or inspired. We feel busy, anxious. This isn’t a state we have to live in, according to Elizabeth Gilbert. The memory of feeling ͞joyful, light and creative can be our motivation to create. To make a meal, a book, a sweater, a new dance move... Creativity unlocks the mysteries of inspiration, and this brings growth.

When we meet her, Emma is a selfimportant rich girl with a penchant for matchmaking. As the novel continues, though, her personal growth is expedited by some pretty big mistakes; and she soon understands that her way of seeing the world isn’t the only way. On this decadently detailed (and fairly hilarious) journey, we learn that our mistakes hold value, our friendships hold wisdom, and our decisions power. Most of all, Emma shows us that growth will keep on knocking until we quit resisting and let it in.

Most often, the hardest moments in our lives become the biggest propellers for personal growth. In Elizabeth Strout’s beautifully written novel, we see growth between a mother and daughter whose relationship has been stagnant for years. There is compassion, understanding, and a new level of trust reached, all within the confines of a hospital bed in New York City. This novel, and its protagonist, Lucy, make it clear that it’s never too late to grow a stronger bond with those who matter to us the most.

Radically committed to magical mornings – Micayla is a wordsmith, entrepreneur, and mindset enthusiast living out a decidedly different post-secondary path while eating wholesome plants, drinking black coffee, hyper-organizing her days, and staying up too late working on poems. Lots more online and tweeting cheer from @Micayla_Vranic. The E A S E IS S U E

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REALIZE

E M B R AC E

Nourishment

The PERPETUAL YOU


Mom nourished us from day one, so it makes sense Taking your mom to brunch? Tag #theperpetualyou and #momsbrunch so we can re-gram your mom’s big, beautiful smile!

we’d want to prepare or buy a meal for her on the day meant to celebrate her role in our life.

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o matter what kind of mom you have or what kind of relationship the two of you have, one thing is for certain: she sustained you – bathed you, protected you, and fed you – until you were ready & able to take care of yourself. The sheer amount of meals she prepared qualifies her for a lifetime achievement award! Mother’s Day brunch is a special event in and of itself—any day you get to have brunch with loved ones is pretty special!—but this day is also about giving mom a break. A day to show her that all those meals, not to mention the resulting dirty dishes, are much appreciated. The holiday spreads; the birthday parties; the pancakes with syrupy, smiley faces. Don’t worry if you’re not as good of a cook as your mom; order something from the market or take her to your favorite brunch place. If you’re mom’s long distance, order a meal and have it arrive the day before! The only rule? She is not in charge. Let mom know she can continue to care for you on every other holiday, but Mom’s Day planning belongs to you.

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EMBRACE A TREND

No brunch drink’s popularity is growing more rapidly than the “new” Bloody Mary. From Bloody Mary bars—where you choose your type of vodka and add your own fixings—to uberexpensive, small batch Bloody Mary mixes, this trend is going strong. There’s something irreplaceable and visceral about this beloved cocktail: the sanguine color, the restorative mythology, the ever-expanding acceptable garnishes. Our Bloody Mary base includes a custom spice blend of pimento, celery seeds, and black pepper from the global brand La Boîte à Epice, along with the requisite tomato juice. To that we added vodka, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, and myriad

The PERPETUAL YOU

toppings including bacon, shrimp, red pepper, a lemon slice, and a sliver of Jasper Hill aged cheese—there is literally no limit to the number or variety of garnishes one is allowed to add. Don’t let the reputation of this cocktail as “hangover cure” dissuade you from giving this ultra-trendy but still humble drink a chance. Whether brunch for Mom or an unhurried morning with your closest friends, pick the easy, trendy way out, and offer the “new” Bloody Mary. Entertaining has never tasted so good.


Nature EMBRACE

Spend time outdoors soaking in the growth that is happening all around. Gardening, planting, digging, watering...all take

strength and builds muscle. When you soak the flowers, spray yourself a little too. Take a cue from the natural longings of children to play in the dirt. Reach deep; let the lush soil remind you of how good it feels to be alive and thriving.

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EMBRACE THE

Celebration The 2016 Motherhood Gift Guide is also on Pinterest! Click here to follow our board.

The PERPETUAL YOU


REALIZE

At the Perpetual You, motherhood is revered, savored. That’s why we chose to center our first ever gift guide around this holiday.

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other’s Day isn’t really about buying gifts. Sending mom a token of appreciation is part recognition of the significance of motherhood itself. A thoughtful gift also becomes a celebratory symbol of everything mom has given you If you still haven’t found the perfect gift for your mom, click to visit our Motherhood Gift Guide online. The Mama-to-Be desires to nest and be nurtured. Spoil her with a deluxe cleaning kit from Murchison-Hume or Empire Squid’s sublimely simple organic belly butter. When buying for Mama with an Infant, choose gifts that focus on self-care, strength, and support. Waxing Kara’s peace spa tower gives her the soothing, satisfying spa experience right at home! A Mother of Young Children is focused on blending her individual life with her life as mommy. The tassel necklace from Conflicted Pixie or Purple Maroon’s signature ribbon tie dress are casual but gorgeous. No one deserves to have more fun than the Mom of a Tween or Teen! The flower power clutch from Tulusa is a fun, sophisticated way to store her iPad or other necessary items. When Mom’s kids go off to college, she’s ready for gifts of a higher caliber. BBeadazzled’s “choose joy” necklace or an upcycled wine tote from CB Sacks both encourage her to enjoy this new phase of life.

Get Featured The Perpetual You loves featuring handcrafted, locally sourced products. Send us a note with recommendations to your favorite goods!

Grandmothers, by nature of the job, have a little more time on their hands than when the kids were young. A Himalayan salt bath from Being or a custom Kimono robe from Ortupes will either one be much appreciated and used often.

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E M B R AC E T H E

Beauty & Mess Purpose and adventure lend themselves to one another. Finding and cultivating our purpose helps us reach our full adventurous potential. On our pursuit of ultimate joy, we must be audacious and let go of paths no longer serving us.

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e change, evolve. We learn, grow. Sometimes growth is a beautiful, graceful dance. Other times, it is challenging and takes multiple tries. The energy and image we project to the world during growth is our choice. How we choose to present the beautiful mess that is life is an empowering way in which we unfold the women we are becoming. Deleting the image of ourselves that doesn't align with how we want to feel is easy, so we exhibit only those moments that are polished and pretty. We fall down, but only share the triumphs, with a filter on top (thank you Instagram). Why not reveal the rawness and grit too? You can display your genuine life—from personal defeats to messy hair—and still be in pursuit of the ideal. Other times, putting the most edited version of a moment is what we need to do, and how we do this is completely personal. Cropping out the “dirt” of life can be motivating and inspiring—not only personally, but socially as well. Sharing the best parts of ourselves can reframe our self-worth and our situation. You can filter out the “ugly” to showcase your spirit and celebrate the best version of yourself and still live authentically.

The PERPETUAL YOU

Embracing the grit makes the choice to embrace luster and gloss all the more special. Both “images” are real, but tell a different story. Some moments of growth call for protecting your light; others require you to let it shine. At the intersection of the tenacity of daily experience and the soft, blurred edges of the looking glass lies a great amount of ease.

Summer is always enjoying the journey and making the most of the everyday moments. She is the wearer of many colorful hats; a yogi, mom, wife, writer and marketing & education coordinator in the Florida Keys. She is also the lover of really great red wine. You can follow her island life adventures on Facebook, and Instagram @airabess or #findingmywaylivingthisdream.


Try This at Home A purposeful travel mindset means giving to others, even while experiencing something amazing for yourself. Take a series of photos and edit them using whatever filter or software you want. Now place the original and edited version side by side. Share. Try doing this several times over the course of a few days. Simple daily activities and (maybe) big, grand adventures. Tell your story with grit and with the polish.

Buy a disposable “film” camera and carry it around with you for a week. When you have the impulse to take an “Instagram worthy” picture, take one with this camera instead. At the end of the week, develop the film and scan in those pictures which resonate to you as a completely authentic representation of your week. Share.

Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you dream of. – ALICE WALKER

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REALIZE

Embrace Self-Care Busy women with busy lives need simplicity wherever they can find it. A purposeful make-up routine will bring much-needed ease.

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rowth can be rooted in the everyday rituals that we seem to find mundane or boring. For example, I used to find bathing my children a time hindrance until I made bath time into a fun ritual we could enjoy together. A bubble bath that acts as a car wash or colored water that helps us create a new potion cures bath time boredom in a heartbeat. The everyday acts that we complete together are opportunities to explore and nurture our relationships with others. Additionally, the practice of self-care is an important gift you can give your children. Treating your body with respect isn’t just one of the most important and beneficial things to do for yourself—it sets

The PERPETUAL YOU


Beauty on Purpose 1

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Keep it Simple and Fun One of my favorite parts of bath time with my children is teaching them to put on lotion and they love it! I squirt a dimesized amount on each hand and let them rub their tummies. Not only am I teaching them self-care, but I also get to smell calendula and lavender all day! * Leigh recommends California Baby’s Calendula

Everyday Lotion or Beautycounter’s Baby Soothing Oil.

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Give Yourself a Treat Self-care is pertinent to growth but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable or indulgent. You don’t have to splurge on every product you buy but if you have one that you particularly love and know that it works, then treat yourself. If you love it and will use it, the investment is worth it.

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* Leigh recommends Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cleansing Balm or Lurk Perfume Oil.

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Meet Your Kids Where They Are My children are toddlers so teaching them to apply lotion is a first step in self-care. For older children, try something as simple as washing your faces together. With each stage of life comes a new stage of self-care. Simple acts like these can help you stay connected.

* Leigh recommends Kiss my Face Clean for a Day Face Wash or Yes to Coconut Cleansing Wipes.

3 an example for those who admire you. My daughter watches me apply makeup every morning and she always asks for a little dusting of blush. Because she sees that putting on makeup is something I enjoy, she wants to be included. Children are always watching. They love to imitate what we say and do. Taking care of yourself first means you have more to give when needed. Teach your children to take care of themselves—spend time with them in the moments of self-care. One day, they will value the practice and pass on the joy of self-care to their own children.

Leigh Schwab is a mother of twins who uses her love for skin care to help educate women about the ingredients in their products and the need for proper skin care legislation in our country. You can learn more about Leigh’s passion for a healthy and simple life on Facebook and Instagram. The E A S E I S S U E

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REALIZE

This month’s Self-Care Toolkit

Red Raspberry German Chamomile Emerald Damara

E M B R AC E E AC H

Moment The PERPETUAL YOU


Mothering can be exhilarating. The days, weeks, and months fly by. All you want to do is hold on tight to each moment. To stop time in its tracks, pay attention to the littlest of details and look with eyes wide open at the wonder of your daily life.

H E RB

ESSE N TI AL O IL

CRYSTAL

GO D D ESS

Red Raspberry

German Chamomile

Emerald

Damara

B E N E F I TS

BE N E FI TS

BENEFITS

BEN E FITS

Helps to stay vital, energetic, and supported

Heals pain and kills germs

Fosters love and compassion

Assists in growth and gentility

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must-have herb for mothers is red raspberry leaf, a uterine tonic that assists in becoming pregnant and keeps you healthy and strong during and after pregnancy. Packed with minerals and vitamins, this herb sustains vitality, energy, and feeling supported. Add four tablespoons of the dried leaf to one quart of bowling water; let steep covered for 30 minutes. German Chamomile is “mother’s milk” of oils. This healing oil is very safe, and one of the only oils recommended for small children. To help with inflammation, pain, diaper rash, bug bites, cradle cap, add 5 drops to one ounce of olive oil and apply to the skin. German chamomile also kills bacteria, germs, and infections. The pure green color of an Emerald stone connects it strongly to the heart chakra—a true destination on a long trip searching for home. Mothers can carry this stone with them to increase the capacity for love, compassion, and nurturing. Wear this stone close to

your heart during meditation, and stay connected to your hearts’ truest loves. The Celtic fertility goddess Damara guides you to your true mothering self. She carries the message: “My vigilant focus on keeping harmony within households stems from my desire for children to maintain their youthful awe and sense of wonder.” Remember Damara’s gentility when you need assistance in mothering or when your family is experiencing growth. This spring, skip some of those routines that tie you to a strict schedule and just play in the grass & under the stars with your family. Let mother nature embrace you in her arms for a few moments and you will feel more ease.

Ashley Dees frolics around Saint Augustine Florida, picking herbs, finding herbal remedies, and playing with aromatherapy, tarot cards and crystals. Learn more about her, and how she teaches and gathers goddesses together at her website greenharmonyaromatherapy.com.

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Embrace Comfort “Fashion has two purposes: comfort and love.” – COCO CHANEL

Growth challenges us to go outside our comfort zone. From learning how to parent a toddler to learning how to market a small business, we’re constantly growing. Embracing comfort where we can, even in something as small as what we’re wearing, eases the major discomfort that comes with growth.

The PERPETUAL YOU

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ince life challenges us everywhere else in life, let’s not make what we wear a challenge too. Wear the same thing you wore the other day with different accessories. Go ahead and wear your favorite jeans every day this week with a different sweater. Pair that same white t-shirt with a cardigan, a button down, or a patterned scarf. Keeping our outfits simple allows our bodies to move and our hearts to breathe with ease. When you get dressed in the morning, always start with comfort in mind. Wear loose boyfriend jeans so you can easily hop in and out of your car while running errands. Pair that plaid button down with some soft linen pants, so your body can breathe as you move through your day. Layer a t-shirt with your favorite light jacket and

P H O T O by A D D I E P O E P H O T O G R A P H Y , @ A D D I E P O E

REALIZE


Embrace the Kimono

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Light, easy and stylish, a kimono is one of the most versatile pieces you can add to your comfortable wardrobe.

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Comfortable by Yourself Your busiest of days calls for the comfiest of outfits. Whether you’re being productive around the house or running errands, start with the jeans that allow you to move the most. Pair boyfriend jeans with a plain cotton tank, a floral kimono, and some flat sandals. The kimono adds color, dimension and style to an otherwise pretty blah day with very little effort. Pictured: kimono, boyfriend jeans, white tank, flat sandals, Leocadia K. Talisman necklace

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Comfortable in a Crowd. Dressing appropriately is hard when the weather’s all over the place. Whether you’re at a backyard BBQ or an outdoor birthday party, layer a cotton maxi dress with a floral kimono. The dress will keep you cool on a hot day because of its loose fit and warm on a cool day because of its full coverage. The kimono updates the look without over complicating it. Pictured: kimono, maxi dress, flat sandals, Leocadia K. Sun + Moon necklace

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Comfortable One-On-One. You don’t have to sacrifice feeling comfortable for looking your best. For a meet-up or a date, pair your favorite skinny jeans with a neutral blouse, grab that kimono, and slip into some spring wedges for height and curve without the foot pain. You’ll move with ease and enjoy the evening stroll after dinner without worrying about how long the walk is. Pictured: kimono, skinny jeans, blouse, wedges, Leocadia K. Turquoise Tribe necklace

3 scarf, so you’re prepared for changing temps. Colorful, patterned layers keep your comfortable look fresh. When we’re comfortable in what we’re wearing, we feel confident, relaxed and content. In this comfort, we feel more like our true self and we’re more receptive to the growth that a full life requires. Our true self wants to expand, learn, and evolve; she has the courage to move us forward into the unknown and she knows the way through the seeming chaos. Choose comfort first, and you’ll have more love, light, and energy—to grow with grace and style.

Caitie Sherrick is a jewelry designer + stylist for mildly rebellious flow-goers at Leocadia K. She’s deeply inspired by modern art, has a boho heart + loves the warm, unconditional love of a good cup of chai tea. Join her on Instagram for daily inspiration + visit her shop for more every day outfit ideas. The E A S E I S S U E

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P E R S P E C T I V E S from T H E P E R P E T U A L Y O U PA N E L

How has mothering (or the desire to mother) re-framed the way you see growth?

Mothering has taught me to be the best version of myself. I find myself having to be more vulnerable, sensitive, compassionate and seek advice through community. I have two children and the one that has pushed me the most out of my comfort zone is the one that is creating the biggest impact as far as being a better person. In my transformation, his own change is blossoming like wild flowers.

My daughter, Mariah, was born in 1995. When she was 3 ½ months old, she died unexpectedly in her sleep. This forever changed my perspective on life and motherhood. When my boys were born several years later, I had a completely different view. I have cherished all the experiences my boys have gone through; every milestone is a huge accomplishment. Growth is learning to experience all that life brings our way, to find the good and positive in it all.

Ashley

Victoria Anne

April

Life Coach + Motivational Speaker Paso Robles, CA

Counselor St. Peters, MO

Coach & Branding Expert Houston, TX

The PERPETUAL YOU

As a mom of two boys I am reminded daily of how precious life and lessons learned are. They teach me more than I teach them. Their growth is rewarding and challenging; the experience to be a part of nurturing the life of another is such a blessing.


My role as play therapist urges me to access mothering energy for many different unique souls. I’ve learned that children want to grow and survive—that there is a tendency towards growth, given the right conditions. Letting go of control is one of the most fruitful things I do. Each child’s journey is unique and far greater than anything I could have envisaged, never mind engineered. For me, mothering is about being the container for growth.

Being an auntie, a mentor, and mothering a business, I now see how much sacrifice, dedication and love mothering requires. The simple things (I know I took for granted as a child) come flooding back to me—from “basic tasks” like showing up and being present to the everyday things like late night homework, play dates, and music lessons. What a unique and unselfish strength mothers have in choosing beyond themselves and their own desires.

Mothering has forced me to grow in ways I never knew possible, and kept me from growing in other ways—I'm not afraid to say that. You sacrifice when you become a mother, and even though I have tried to carve out time for myself and my passions, it is still a constant balancing act. Watching someone grow, literally, in front of your eyes, is an amazing gift and a constant reminder of the incredible power of the human body and brain.

Rachel

Cara

Katie

Play Therapist Hong Kong

Marketing Expert Baltimore, MD

High School English Teacher Arlington, MA

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“ When I ask them how to be

free ,

they simply tell me to unfold, let go, and

bloom . ”

– ALEX ELLE The PERPETUAL YOU


dwell to align your physical space with your

ever-evolving self

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DW E L L

Design Ease H AV I N G A R E A D Y H O M E

With mom’s designer influence and my own purposeful design aesthetic, I’ve adopted the philosophy of having a home that’s suitable and comfortable for all who enter.

The PERPETUAL YOU


DW E L L

“A

lways be ready to welcome people to your home,” was my mom’s constant advice to me growing up. In my younger days, she was an interior designer who had created spaces for some of Manila’s elite. Even though she retired soon after I was born, her taste and design influence carried on throughout her full-time vocation as a wife, a homemaker, and mom of three.

I always lived in homes that looked good, thanks to Mom’s hand on things. I don’t know how many children were taught to appreciate Eames chairs at the age of nine, but I was one of them. My brothers’ and my favorite coffee table book as children was Terrence Conran’s The House Book, mom’s veritable bible of interior inspiration, which occupied its own special space atop our glass-topped coffee tables. (Now that I recall, our coffee tables were always glass. I wonder how my mom managed to keep us from ravaging them?!) Aside from being easy on the eyes—not overly fanciful, but pleasantly appointed—our homes were always open to guests. Being members of an active church community contributed to this, of course. As a women’s ministry leader in her younger days,

Mom would have ladies’ groups over for brunch or dinner, or one-on-one chats over merienda (afternoon tea). No matter what her party, she had one philosophy: Everything at home needs to be well-made and beautiful, and also serve a purpose for others. This philosophy was like her religion. For Mom, finding an intersection between the ease of home design and the challenge of entertaining was just as important as making sure we as a family felt great in the homes she created for us. At 63, she still welcomes guests at home every week, and our family home is still as it has always been: a happy, cozy, open haven of community and fellowship. I’ve since taken on her philosophy. In the two homes I’ve had since getting married, for instance, I always have a set of dinnerware that is good enough for everyday use, but presentable and pretty for when I have guests over. I also have versatile furniture, like nesting tables and free-form tables, so that I can use them as side tables or consoles, or even as extra dining tables when guests come over.

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Matching Energy & Design: Entertaining My habit of creating “art” using throw pillows is something I learned from her, too, and so I always have “suites” of throw pillows that create different moods in our living room, simply by changing up one suite from another. I do it almost unconsciously, too, and only really got to think about all this while writing this article! And I suppose, it's all because of Mom. Thanks to her, even my husband and older boy have said they are grateful that our homes have been and are pretty, yet “nice to be at home in,” to quote my husband. Perhaps the greatest design lesson Mom has taught me is this: Creating a visually beautiful yet purposeful home design can help usher in a feeling of ease for its dwellers, and a homey feeling for our guests. This has never been more apparent than in the homes we’ve had, growing up. From a European style condo in Hong Kong to a resort-esque split-level home in Singapore, to a minimalist 2-story home with a sprawling garden here in the Philippines, my mom’s prevailing aesthetic prioritized feelings of ease, comfort, and relaxation. I wish for nothing less in my little family, my home, and for all who enter.

The PERPETUAL YOU

Having a home that is ready to welcome guests can put your mind to ease about drop-in visits from friends or family. Have tea lights and candles ready as part of your functional décor; lighting them can instantly transform your space for entertaining. A bar cart can be stocked with everything from quick cocktail ingredients to a bottle of wine to napkins and glasses. Displaying a record player or an iPod deck can add to your décor, and also be used during a night with friends. Let your everyday décor create a welcoming aura in your home.

Martine De Luna is a Manila-based freelance writer and content creator, specializing in website management, blogging, social media, and copy-writing. Her work has been published in various magazines in print and online, including Good Housekeeping Philippines, Baby Magazine and Working Mom Magazine. Aside from curating her blog, "Make it Blissful," Martine consults for women-centric websites and offers social media strategy for small businesses. She also produces the Gather & Learn events, the BLISSMAKERIE, and the Work in Freedom Workshops. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.


“ I am rooted, but I

flow .”

– VIRGINIA WOOLF

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The PERPETUAL YOU


DW E L L

My mother is an awesome decorator. We don’t share the same taste in décor, but I’ve always admired the way she can pull a room together. One aspect she is a genius at is finishing touches. She always picks the right print or vase or little accessory to complete a space.

T

he artwork that she chose as I was growing up was always tasteful and classic–a bit traditional, and so I was never really drawn to it. The little Victorian girl at the piano with a kitten at her foot, My Old Kentucky Home–these are the “scenes” of my childhood. They were peaceful–and dull. I was drawn to more modern art, abstract pieces, and bolder colors. I fell in love with Picasso at an early age and was always drawn to the human form, even though the idea of having a nude piece in my room was out of the question. My mom would have fainted at the suggestion. I did talk her into Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss though, and had it hanging over my bed for a while. Even this, she found a bit questionable and “racy.” As an adult, I’ve mentally started to make this shift back to appreciating the human form more, but in reality I still cling tight to my traditional, modest upbringing. I rarely even let my husband see me in “true form.” (Yes, I mean naked...but that word is still scandalous to me!) I’m growing, evolving, trying to break free from that conventional mindset, but it’s taking some time. And really defining what that means is tricky business. There’s such a fine line between beauty and explicit sexuality, for example, and I’m starting to learn where my line is and becoming comfortable with it.

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Women have been so objectified since the beginning of time that sometimes we forget our bodies are incredible works of art. I love looking at the form of other women. It’s amazing how every single one of us is so completely unique. We are true works of art that a painting or sculpture can only attempt to replicate. I desperately want to pass on this thought to my children, especially my daughter, Lula, and I feel that having these kinds of representations in our home would help create an appreciation of the human body instead of insecurity of it. I love for Lula to watch dancers on TV for this very reason. Of course we are aware of age-appropriateness. I don’t want her seeing things that objectify women or are too mature for her age. But I want to instill the awe for human creation that is stirring in my own soul in her so that, not only is she secure in her own skin, but she’s comfortable with what she puts on her walls in her own home someday.

The PERPETUAL YOU

It’s hard to forget what we were taught as children and take on new forms of thought that develop into action. One of the ways I’ve wanted to embrace this new thinking is to display nudity in the form of art around my home–a beautiful painting or an African fertility statue–little things to celebrate our bodies instead of hiding, exploiting, or objectifying them. Looking through prints on Society6, I’m drawn to images like Home by Rubyetc, Woman in Blue by Shonnet Nova Brittaine, Anielka by Anna Reith, and Nude by Abundance. I feel at ease with tasteful and gorgeous, but not too sensual, depictions of the female form. We all have our lines and levels of comfort. My mom’s is a little too high on the Modesty Pole for me, so I want my home to reflect my values.

Sarah Sandidge can often be found reading a book. When she’s not reading for fun, she’s reading for work as a freelance editor, which is also fun. Her love for language, cultures and sociology makes people fascinating to her even though she’s a bit of an introvert, albeit a chatty one. When she isn’t glued to a written sentence, she is spending time with her family—mostly taking care of her two beautiful children— somewhere in the heart of Missouri. See how cute they are on Instagram @LulainLondon.


Dwell on This

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If there’s a tradition or mindset you’ve been trying to break free from, why not choose this month of growth to fully embrace your way of thinking. Make a purchase or do something bold in your home to begin creating different pathways in your brain that embrace a courageous, new idea.

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Go Bold! Were you taught that neutrals are “safe” and go with everything? That’s true, but also bland. Choose one wall to splash a bold color on this month!

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Go Green! Did your mom always have faux plants around so nothing would die? Easy, but boring. If you’re scared of your lack of green thumb roots, start with a succulent or two to prove you can keep something alive!

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Go Nude! Feeling insecure about your beautiful body? Buy a tasteful art print that reflects your own shape and place it in your bathroom...where you’re naked the most...to help see yourself as a work of art!

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Go Moody! Perhaps you grew up in a home with little to no ambiance and lots of bright, “illegal” lights. Turn those overhead lights off, and buy a few lamps to create a more relaxed, romantic mood in your favorite spaces.

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Go Modern! Just because your mother thought it was the best style of décor and still thinks you should to, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Find your own sense of style and start making your home your own with one accessory at a time.

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Share your Space Tag us (@theperpetualyou) on your interior photos to be featured in an upcoming issue!

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Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable. – MARY OLIVER

The PERPETUAL YOU


DW E L L

Growing Pleasures Words by Lee Lee Thompson & Katie McCracken

Designing during a time of transition offers opportunity to be more relaxed in your ambitions, and the challenge to incorporate the design of a temporary space into your overall aesthetic. Rather than focusing on attainment of the Ideal, embrace the process and enjoy the results—while you have the chance.

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Lee Lee

W

hen I found out my closest “Connecticut” friend was pregnant, I have to admit—I did not embrace the news. Sure, I gave her a hug, but my heart sank at the same time. Pregnancy isn’t high on my list of fun things to be a part of. The end result is totally worth it, which I know from experience (!), but pregnancy itself is boring at best and nauseating, exhausting, and segregating at worst. Or so I thought. Granted, I was coming from a place of extreme prejudice. During my first pregnancy, I was too busy to really stop and consider what was happening to my body. I ate, threw up, and worked all the time. The second time around I was “older” and my body reminded me of this on a daily basis. I was more sick and more tired for longer into the pregnancy. Despite nine & a half months of a healthy pregnancy, I also became anemic in the last two weeks which changed my birth plan quite a bit! Lucky for me, new friends bring more into our lives than just an introduction to a new restaurant, or an expanded knowledge of playgrounds in the area; new friends bring growth in all sorts of ways. They can expose us to a different way of life, different daily habits, and even a different mindset. My friend, who I met just five or six months before she became pregnant with her second

The PERPETUAL YOU

child, introduced me to an easier approach to life—she’s even-keeled but authentic, a mindset I admire in anyone, especially a mom of a toddler! The first few months of Katie’s pregnancy had me scared. Don’t worry: everything was normal with her, but my life was changing a lot—what with her being tired and nauseous and not available for last minute champagne socials. Oh how I bemoaned my fate: What am I going to do without my buddy?, I kept thinking. I kept my distance and hoped it would all be over soon. While I realize someone else’s pregnancy has absolutely nothing to do with me, and that I was overreacting to a very-temporary situation, my feelings are my feelings. And Katie’s the kind of friend who would have listened and probably even comforted me.


She’s also the kind of woman who bounced back from the early pregnancy woes with more fervor than I could have hoped for. She has showed me that pregnancy doesn’t have to slow you down. Nor does it have to be a bore—though it will change your lifestyle, if you roll with the punches (and survive the first trimester or so), life can still be meaningful and fun. Imagine that! Upon realizing energetic Katie was back in the proverbial house, I approached her with the idea to feature the new baby’s nursery in this month’s Dwell section. Though this was probably the first meaningful conversation we’d had

since she became pregnant, she not only didn’t hold that against me— she agreed to up the timeline for the nursery design in order to have it done in time for our scheduled photo shoot. I knew how lucky I was to have her as a friend as soon as she said yes to my proposal. And I already knew she was a design force to be reckoned with. But I couldn’t have predicted that this little tiny room—an afterthought more than a bedroom, really—would become a sweet, welcoming haven, not just for baby #2, but for all who enter within.

Katie The overall design scheme was inspired by the movie Fantasia (the original one from 1940), which I had watched with my toddler a long time ago. As a kid, I remember thinking it was so boring, but as an adult I found it captivating. There are scenes with whales, lilies, and fairies with bright blues, purples, and pinks. I remember thinking how they would be fun images for a nursery someday. When it came time to paint the room, I decided ahead of time that blue was a beautiful, calming color for either gender, and that I could take it in any direction from there. I didn’t actually use any images from Fantasia in our nursery, but continued on next page

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I kept those images in mind as I put the palette together. I was also inspired by a bohemian rug on Pinterest that caught my eye and scoured the internet to find one that I loved with the same vibe. Going off of this inspiration, I designed the room to complement the style of the rest of our house. Our house has several bold color choices and this room is no exception with the bright blue accent wall, rich purple accents, and the multi-colored bohemian rug. The room is pretty small, so I couldn’t have a lot of “extras.” This turned out to be

The PERPETUAL YOU

a good thing—as a first time mom, you can easily get carried away by all of the nursery “must-haves.” My first child (Lyle) had a light blue and white Beatrix Potter-themed nursery. The room was simple yet, a typical looking baby nursery. We had moved into our apartment when he was just four weeks old, so I didn’t even know what to expect from the room, and hadn’t had time to do any “nesting,” Designing it was fun, but the room was more “themey” than homey. Ironically, he has no clue who Peter Rabbit is!


This time around it was actually really easy for me to stick to the essentials, while also designing a room that is aesthetically pleasing for me—functional, but personal and pretty. I know that the baby simply will not care. I’ll be the one sitting in here nursing. I’ll be the one who cleans and hangs up clothes. The design is really for me, and I love the way it came out. I’m also pleased that, like the rest of the house—the room is full of artwork and pretty things. An important part of my design aesthetic is to incorporate things I already have rather than furnish a room with “all new.” I think every room in my house has something in it from one of our grandparents. Our house is turning 100 this year; filling it with family heirlooms or flea market finds only highlights the beautiful, natural woodwork and makes up for some of the quirks (like a door and terrace off of the smallest room in the house!). The nursery is no exception—there are very few brand new items in here, mainly just small accents to fill in and a fuzzy, goldspeckled blanket I just couldn’t resist. The items that make the room lovely to look at and to spend time in are those with a past, a story: the pegboard my husband made, a bunny and some books from Lyle’s nursery, and the rocking chair we found at a flea market and had a blast painting. Cost didn’t dictate design, but it was important. We moved into this house less than a year ago and have several projects going, so I wasn’t able to let the nursery absorb too much of the budget. Also, as a second-time mom, I understand that the actual baby will be expensive, and the nursery doesn’t have to be comprised of super expensive items. The rest of my house isn’t either!

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Getting it done quickly kept me from questioning my ideas and also leaves room for other projects down the road—whether the built-in shelving we considered, but decided to wait on, or a little something Lyle, who loves painting, makes for his sister. Decorating a nursery is similar to raising a child. Nothing needs to be perfect or ideal. After all, life never is. But, in the words of one of my favorite artists, Leonard Cohen, the birds still sing in the morning. I’m actually trying not to envision what “life” will be like too much, once the baby comes, so that I’m better prepared to accept whatever the reality is.

Very little time will actually be spent in here, For the first year especially; we will mostly be following her older brother around. Diapers, nursing, changing clothes, and napping will probably all take place here. Playing, reading books, and spending time together as a family will probably all be lived outside of this room as a family. One way this impacted the design was the rocking chair. This room just isn’t big enough for a plush nursery glider and ottoman. With Lyle, I actually nursed very infrequently in the nursery. Instead, I was in the living room or our own bedroom. This time, I made sure that I have a comfortable place to nurse in each

The PERPETUAL YOU

of those rooms, and chose a rocker with a very small footprint for the actual nursery. I really enjoyed creating a vision or plan for this nursery and then seeing how it evolved as I actually started working on it. I didn’t go in one weekend and throw the whole thing together. I made a plan, then over about a month, started tackling it, piece by piece. With each small update or item placed in the room, each time a new project was accomplished, or we got closer to being finished, I felt more excited. The nursery turned out incredibly close to my original vision. I like it even better than I thought I would.

I know it will be different. I expect there will be additional stress. But I’ve done colicky, sleepless nights before and know we will all survive. I also know that I’ll love her—whoever she is—and that she’ll change everything, just like Lyle did and does. That’s actually really hard to envision ahead of time. You just look back and say “wow.”

Lee Lee Thompson is learning to be intentional, whether mothering, writing, designing, or imbibing. A true collector and bargain boss, she’ll shop you under the table at the thrift store of your choice. Follow her journey through pictures, through words, or through her hopes and dreams. You’re also welcome to come hang out on her front porch. Katie McCracken is a native Texan, now living in the Northeast. She is currently a full time mom to a preschooler, with a second baby due in August. When she's not running around with her almost 3 year old, she loves to read and work on home improvement projects. Her true love is a hot sunny day.


Mom Design 101 Regardless of the age of your child, if there’s nothing in their room that is inviting or important to you—as Mom—you won’t want to visit them, much less stay a while. Try sneaking in some of these mom-centric elements to your next kid-centric design!

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Adult Reading Material. Raise your hand if you’re tired of reading the same book over and over and over again! I stash adult reading material in every room of the house—the youngest has a high shelf where I keep poetry he might like to hear; the oldest has chapter books that aren’t just about underwear antics and treasure hunts.

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Comfortable Seating. Cushions on the floor are fine if that’s your thing, but if you’re anything like me, you prefer a comfy seat with pillows to boot. Even the smallest of rooms can accommodate a side chair with a throw blanket and a pillow or two!

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Healthy Snacks & a Hydration. If you can fit a small fridge in a room upstairs, by all means go for it! Stock it with healthy snacks the whole family can enjoy and some seltzer water. I make sure to buy a flavor the kids don’t like so I know there will always be a drink left for me.

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A Place for Your Tea. Kids will throw their indispensable water bottles and empty juice box containers any old place, but I prefer my drink to be on a nearby table where I can reach it without throwing out my back. Also, I haven’t yet figured out how to keep my coffee cup on the ground and *not* have a child kick it over.

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Pretty Things. As you choose artwork or accessories, remember that you have to look at them too! They can be kid-friendly but also fit in with your overall aesthetic and the design of the rest of your home. If you don’t want to spend your days looking at cutesy animals, then upgrade to botanical or forest prints that bridge the gap between kid & mom.

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Keep up to date with our monthly product selections by following us on Pinterest!

The PERPETUAL YOU


DW E L L

Shop the Look Curate a calm, cute, and completely custom corner in your room with our May 2016 suggested home products.

G E T T H E L O O K F R O M T H I S M O N T H ' S F E AT U R E D DW E L L I N G

Click on the “buy� link next to each product to purchase.

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1 | Trio of Planners by Mead (from $8, buy it)

2 | Hand Blocked Bolster Pillow by Tulusa ($72, buy it)

3 | Give a Hoot Laundry Hamper by Land of Nod ($99, buy it)

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Alice-inWonderland corresponds to Benjamin Moore 807

Jolie Mae corresponds to Benjamin Moore 2065-20

I Like You, Iris corresponds to Benjamin Moore 2071-20

M AY C O L O R PA L E T T E

Climbing Rose corresponds to Benjamin Moore 2012-60

This month’s color palette is classic, simple, feminine, and sophisticated. Inspired by the elegance of a ballet dancer and the texture of florals such as hyacinth and roses, this gentle palette creates an atmosphere of ease & whimsy. Other suggested pairings: Alice-in-Wonderland, Climbing Rose, & Lily Pure. Use this completely pastel palette in small doses—for example a walk-in closet or small home office—and balance it with plenty of modern texture, from faux fur rugs to rose gold accents.

Lily Pure corresponds to Benjamin Moore AF-10

Jolie Mae, I Like You Iris, and Climbing Rose. These three colors make a beautiful tablescape. Keep it modern with geometric patterns on your dishes, and soften with linen napkins..

Jolie Mae, Climbing Rose, & Lily Pure. As pretty as a beautiful sunset, this combination offers showstopping possibility. Use them as accents in an otherwise neutral foyer, mudroom, or guest bath.

The PERPETUAL YOU

Color Inspiration For more ideas & inspiration, follow our Color Palette Pinterest Board.


embrace to align your life story with your

ever-evolving growth

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C AP T U R I N G T H E L E G AC Y O F

Motherhood with Victoria

The PERPETUAL YOU

Gloria, Motherhood Journalist


Words by Lee Lee Thompson; Images by Maya Oren

In this era of curated Instagram feeds and proof-pretty lives on Facebook, the candid photograph has become all but extinct. Combine this with the ever-present “Good Enough Mom” standards, and you have a recipe for disaster: no memories of the messy days; no evidence that mom was “normal;” no adulation for the parts of mothering that deserve praise—the gritty parts, the spontaneously fun parts, the hurt knees and spilled milk and beheaded flowers.

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I

n her intention to “Capture the Essence of Motherhood,” Victoria Gloria, self-proclaimed Motherhood Journalist is out to change that. Victoria believes in a candid depiction of your lifeas-mother almost as much as she believes in the art of mothering. With her help, the rawness of life will not fade away. Instead, the mother’s true legacy, that of spending time with her children— bathing them, playing with them, cleaning up after them, tickling them—will not only be captured, but it will be preserved for those children to enjoy well into the years when they no longer “need” a mom. By spending an entire day with the mothers whose stories she is telling, she can capture “the beautiful, the natural, and the real” moments, which she then packages up to be a “personal relic” passed down to future generations. In this way, Victoria is participating in and, in fact, encouraging a time of growth for modern mothers. From helping women feel at ease in front of the camera to presenting them with the proof that they are “doing a wonderful job,” her motherhood books prioritize and legitimize the amazing work mothers are doing– not their social media persona; most moms have that covered! – but the everyday “tiny moments” we might otherwise forget to appreciate.

The PERPETUAL YOU


ONCE UPON A TIME... Victoria’s main source of inspiration, in both the literal and metaphorical senses, is her own mother, Laura. Through her mother’s daycare practice, Victoria was exposed to the art of being a mother from an early age. Victoria appreciates the fact that her mother stayed-at-home and never had anywhere else to be. She “just wanted to be a mom,” says Victoria. “That’s where it all started—my mom. She’s my muse.” The idea to photograph mothers came from Victoria’s childhood. “I cherish the little moments—how Mom would tuck me in every night and listen to me talk about my day until I fell asleep,” says Victoria. Knowing her mom was tired from running a daycare and being the primary caretaker for her own family, makes these memories all the more special. “No matter the day, no matter how she felt,” says Victoria, “she would always make me feel loved.”

“That’s where it all started—my mom. She’s my muse.”

Her mother kept scrapbooks for each of her children; Victoria has memories of sitting and looking at

this book full of candid photographs alongside her mother. Seeing her mom in a messy room, looking “completely natural” rather than “perfectly posed”–witnessing this moment in time that might otherwise have been forgotten–is the impetus for her business of capturing the truth of motherhood. As an adult, Victoria and her mom continue to have a special relationship. Her mother is both “best friend” and “still her mother.” Some children go to mom’s house continued on next page

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Family is a value of Victoria's that trumps all other desires.

to have their laundry done or to get a free meal; Victoria visits her mom so that she can take a bubble bath! Why? Because her mother “knows how to make me feel better when I’m down,” says Victoria. She “knows how to fix any situation I’m going through. She’s my number one person.”

T I M E PA S S E S . . . All of this motherhood inspiration would, of course, not lead to a career photographing mothers without the talent and experience photographing. This is where Victoria’s other inspirational force comes

The PERPETUAL YOU

in. At the age of 19, Victoria became a nanny for a photographer, Michelle, who was worked from home. Victoria “fell in love with her lifestyle”–that of a working photographer who was “still present” for her children. This adulation turned into Victoria becoming a sort of unofficial assistant for Michelle—when the kids were napping, Victoria would help with studio tasks and Michelle would bounce ideas off her. Soon, Michelle was encouraging Victoria to take photographs of her own. In fact, it was Michelle who suggested she be a family photographer in the first place.


Victoria looks back on meeting Michelle as “the moment” when she knew what she wanted to do: be a great mom who also earned her own income doing something she loved and was good at. Through her experience having Michelle as her mentor, Victoria also solidified her desire to focus her photography on mothers. Additionally, Victoria takes great inspiration from the time she became an aunt, when she was 17. She tells the story in detail on her website: how on a “warm summer night,” she received a phone call from her sister. “I could tell by her tone it was important,” writes Victoria. “I walked in the door; [my sister] and her husband were sitting on the couch, both smiling widely. I sat down...my stomach in a tight ball.” When her sister shared the news that she’d soon be an aunt, Victoria’s “world stopped.” The feelings she experienced are still visceral, even more so now that she has a relationship with her nephew. In fact, the desire to be close to her family—to be present in her nephew’s life—has kept her in Connecticut even though she’d long been planning a move to Boston. Family is a value of Victoria’s that trumps all other desires. Another source of inspiration for Victoria that isn’t quite so personal is what she terms “Instagram Moms.” Even though Victoria’s goal is to capture motherhood in its raw state, she admires (and even stalks) mothers who depict their life in curated photos. “They’re so passionate about mothering, keeping a tidy house,

Thank You! Victoria Gloria graciously donated the majority of this month’s photos out of her Motherhood Photography collection. Thank you to her (and to the moms!) for this authentic, loving depiction of all the different shapes Motherhood can take.

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even baking cookies,” says Victoria. She loves that “being a proud stayat-home mom is trendy.” Victoria takes inspiration from these moms and their activities, whether ideas for photos or even ideas for curating her own Instagram account.

THE PLOT THICKENS...

We would like to extend a special thank you to j.rene coffee roasters and Elizabeth park greenhouse for providing the setting for our photo shoot.

Since focusing on mothers and their daily lives, Victoria has had very few challenging experiences. She gets along with the mothers well, and just wants to ensure they’re happy with the product she’ll provide them with in the end. She focuses on capturing “real life” moments–mom and child bathing together, the mother feeding her child, playing on the floor or outside in the garden.

But moms are “moms”—and Victoria’s clients are often more concerned with her needs than considering what they want out of the day spent together. To this end, Victoria is ready with a list of questions, which she sometimes provides ahead of time, so she can redirect the mother’s focus back to herself. The answers to these questions are edited and included in the motherhood storybook Victoria provides to every client. Victoria also blogs about her experiences, a way for her to reflect and also gain new business. There’s some level of difficulty in determining which responses are appropriate to share on the blog, but she has stuck with her gut and not given the mothers a chance to “opt out” of sharing. Instead, she relies on her instincts and occasionally checks in with the mother if something is extremely personal. Most mothers are “totally fine with” Victoria sharing their stories. This allows Victoria to extend the mission of her business, to act as a resource for moms who are searching for solidarity. “If they're up late one night,” Victoria says, “they’ve had enough. They’ve given up and feeling like they aren’t a good mother and can’t do this anymore—they can go on my site and know they’re not alone.” Though her clients are willing to answer her questions, finding moms who have the mental energy to be vulnerable can offer even more difficulty. In order to balance the subject’s needs and Victoria’s desire

The PERPETUAL YOU


to pass along their story to moms who need to hear it, she simply shares with her clients what the end goal is: to provide them with specific proof of their legacy, and also to effect positive change on mothers in general.

H A P P I LY E V E R A F T E R . . . Ultimately, Victoria’s genuine desire to become a part of the mother’s world— if only for that one day—alleviates much of the discomfort women often experience in front of a camera. This is evidenced by her photographs, which are candid but comfortable. She provides the mothers with “gentle directions,” perhaps telling them to look out the window if the light is particularly stunning, or to fix their bracelet or tie their child’s shoes in order to shift their focus from having their picture taken. “Kiss your child’s cheek, tuck their hair behind their ears. Walk with them towards the garden.”— Victoria’s directions allow the women to feel natural, not self-conscious or stiff. Photography is also about being patient. “I wait for the moments to unfold naturally...until I see the perfect moment I want to capture,” says Victoria. She could take “5 million photos in a 5-hour window” and decide what to use later, but less photos taken equals more connection with her subjects. If the mother forgets she’s having her picture taken, then Victoria knows she’s doing her job well. Not to say there are no “posed” shots. Outside of the candid photos of her

mom, Victoria has a favorite photo of her mom “in a sundress standing in front of a blossoming flower bush with her children surrounding her.” This is a moment she loves to recreate with the mothers she photographs, complete with “fancy clothes” and direct sunlight and flowers—lots and lots of flowers.

"I wait for the moments to unfold naturally...until I see the perfect moment I want to capture."

Though she’s providing an invaluable gift to the mothers who hire her, Victoria feels that she’s the lucky one. Being a business owner is fulfilling; mentoring other photographers is a privilege and a way for her to pass on the tips her own mentor gave to her. She also gets to spend time with women through other professional connections, such as the Monarch continued on next page

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Start your Journey Visit My Motherhood Story for examples, testimonials, and the opportunity to connect with Victoria Gloria.

“If you're giving as much love as you can, you're golden.”

Workshop in Wallingford, CT. She’s connected—a feeling she likes.

TO BE CONTINUED... Victoria has big plans for her business and wants to travel the world to capture mothers across the nations, but the ultimate goal is and always will be to become a mother herself. “There’s nothing I want more in the world,” says Victoria. In the meantime, however, she’s learning to balance home and work, and also soaking up the array of knowledge the moms she photographs have to share. Spending this time with them has given her a much more realistic view of motherhood, without dissuading her from wanting to experience it for herself.

The PERPETUAL YOU

For someone so young—with much of her life still in front of her—Victoria Gloria already possesses a healthy view of the kind of mother she will be. From her passion for documenting motherhood, she has observed the genuine paradox that is every mother’s life: every little thing that goes wrong is not a tragedy, even though the “little moments” are still the ones that shape you into who you are. She has seen firsthand how hard mothers can be on themselves and wishes she could say one thing to mothers: “You’re good enough. You’re doing a wonderful job. You don’t have to say you’re sorry. You’re working hard. There’s always going to be dirty laundry, dishes in the sink, dust in the corner— If you’re giving as much love as you can,


Your Best Shot Want to document you & your children’s lives more? Here are Victoria’s top 5 techniques for snapping a perfect picture every time. you’re golden. You’re fine. Spend your time with your kids before they’re gone.” When the children are “gone”– off to college or beginning their careers–the Motherhood Storybook will be waiting, particularly for those times when the child gets homesick. They can open up this book and read about their mother’s own times of stress and loneliness, and “feel better.” Also, like Victoria, they can re-live the memories they see in this book, remembering that their mother was “present and loving” during their childhood. Where Victoria’s own mother worried and prayed, Victoria plans to take life one day at a time. “I know how much work [motherhood] is,” says Victoria, “Being a mother is a fulltime job. Once your baby is in your hands, they’re never leaving. They’re always in your life.” Motherhood isn’t just a role important enough to document, it’s a legacy worthy of being captured.

Lee Lee Thompson is the Cofounder and Managing Editor of The Perpetual You. Since the inception of this magazine, she has had the privilege to interview and write about eleven amazing women devoted to passionate pursuits. By telling their stories, Lee Lee hopes to inspire other women to choose, embrace, celebrate, and unleash the best parts of themselves– their Perpetual selves.

1

Get the Light Right. ͞Light is literally everything,͟ says Victoria. Position the subject next to a well-lit window. Never take a picture in a dark room!

2

Plan your Pose. The hour before sunset is known as the Golden Hour to photographers. Take pictures of your kids and family then, and the colors will come out ͞rich and creamy,͟ says Victoria.

3

Infuse Texture. Provide an interesting background with a vintage bedsheet. Victoria recommends a ͞pretty floral print.͟ Layers of texture work well, as long as the print in each layer is a different size.

4

Go Professional. If you want your photo to have the ͞studio͟ look, purchase two pieces white foam board from a craft store and position them around the subject. This is an easy way to get a good product shot.

5

Trust Your Gut. If something doesn’t feel right about the shot or it’s not coming out as you expected, switch it up. Move around to different corners of the room and take some quick shots. Which one feels like ͞the magic spot͟?

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3 Q U E S TI O N S with...

Victoria What are some ways you allow for Growth in your day-to-day life?

What aspect(s) of your physical space brings you the most Ease?

For you, what is the connection between Ease & Growth?

Knowing my limits and not being afraid to say no. In the past I would accept jobs that weren't in line with my business and go to events and meetings that I knew wouldn't benefit me. It took a long time to understand how to run my business efficiently. Now, I take care of my highest priorities first.

Honestly—I can't lie—it's my couch with my big furry blanket (aka my Game of Thrones blanket). That and my flower arrangements that I have sprinkled throughout the house; they bring me so much happiness!

Growth isn't comfortable. I quit my “easy money” waitressing job because it was getting in the way of paid shoots. I wasn't sure If I was going to make it, but— now that I'm through that rapid growth period—it has become easier. You have to go through growing pains!

realize

dwell

live


live

to align your innermost thoughts with your

ever-evolving perspective

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LIVE

Forward ON LY MOV E

Words by Jennifer Sterling; Images by Victoria Gloria

Having a child is one of the greatest blessings. From conception to birth and beyond, your children will be the source of incredible pride, joy, and love. As they grow, you will grow, and as they learn you will learn. And if you truly give in to the process, they will become your greatest teachers. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my son so far is unconditional love and acceptance of my body.

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My body is the site of a miracle now. I don't want to be pre-miracle. — Kerry Washington

W

hen I announced my pregnancy to my family and friends I was told about the sleepless nights—“your sleep will never be the same,” they said. “When they're little, they'll keep you up because they don't want to sleep and when they get older you'll be so worried about them that you won't be able to sleep.” They told me that I could kiss my social life good-bye, “your kid will have more of a social life than you.” I was told that I should start saving for college immediately and that kids are expensive—“did you know it costs $300,000 to raise a child?” I was prepared for everything, except the changes that would happen to my body. I knew the basics—your abdomen gets bigger to create space for the human being growing inside of you. I knew I would gain a few pounds and I was told that I should start using a stretch mark cream immediately to avoid “permanent damage.” What I didn't know is that my body would forever be changed by the experience.

I thought I could “get my body back” after I had a child – lose the weight, take a few Pilates classes and it would be back to business as usual. I believed the magazine covers—after 6 weeks the celebrities looked the same, if not better, than before they had a child. Flat abs, toned bodies...no physical traces of the child who grew inside of them. Although I've lost weight in the 4 years since birth, and anyone looking at me would think I slipped back into my pre-baby body quickly and easily, I know it's not the same. Hiding underneath my shirt where there were once toned abs is a soft belly, my belly button that was once an innie is now an outie, and there are stretch marks, even though I used stretch mark cream religiously. My pre-baby body doesn't exist, but that's ok.

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Beyond the physical differences, my body doesn't feel the same as she did before I gave birth. She exists in the world differently. She's softened and become more feminine. And after carrying a child for 42 weeks my heart is more open and I have a greater capacity for empathy and compassion. Is your body different? Have you evolved into a different version of yourself? Yes. This is how it's supposed to be. My son's admiration of my belly is what helped me to shift my perspective and accept the changes that happened to my body. He often asks to look at my belly and beaming with pride and admiration will say, “mommy, I used to live there. That's my home.” He's comforted by the softness—it's one of his favorite places to fall asleep. No matter what it looks like, it is still his first home. He loves his home unconditionally, and his unconditional love gave me permission to allow my body to find her own normal post-pregnancy.

I still take Pilates classes and exercise, but the focus is no longer getting my body back. I do it because I enjoy it and because I want to be able to keep up with my growing boy. I know that I could work-out more and have a flat stomach and toned abs, but I find joy in being able to provide my son with everything that he needs from me as he develops—from milk to a cozy place to lay his head. Change is inevitable, and it's beautiful. Our bodies change at several points during our lives—adolescence, pregnancy and menopause are the most noticeable ones. Embrace the changes and challenges of each stage because they are normal. Love your body unconditionally. Work with her, instead of against her. There is no going backwards, only forward, with lots of love compassion and tenderness.

Jennifer Sterling is a Certified Holistic Health and Movement Coach, who uses her signature BodyLove Method™ to help women struggling with body image and disordered eating learn to nourish their bodies with food; dance their way through the tough stuff; and, love themselves unconditionally. Photography by Victoria Gloria.

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“ And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to

blossom

.”

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Growing Intentions Words by Katie Lynch; Images by Victoria Gloria

An intention, in the simplest of terms, is something we set out to do. An intention can also be the catalyst for us to heal a wound. My journey from child-free by choice to hope-to-be-mother-to be has been full of intention, and also has helped me to heal myself from wounds created by fear and a lack of self-love.

I

spent the better part of my twenties and very early thirties watching friends and loved ones take the big, exciting and scary leap into parenthood. For some, this was a well thought out and methodical plan that involved careful planning, usually on the heels of graduate degrees, promotions, marriages and the purchasing of homes. For others, babies came about after a “whoops� forgot to take my birth control pill kind of moment. Either way, the time had come in

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our life where everyone was having a baby; in some cases, babies. Except me. I was busy. I was very busy tackling graduate school, my career, training for road races, perfecting yoga poses, spending money on what I wanted when I wanted, traveling at the drop of a hat and generally embracing the ease that came with being child free.


LIVE

Life was good and while all this good stuff was occurring, I ignored with ease, any external or internal pressures nudging me to complicate my life with motherhood. From time to time —especially after I turned 30—those around me would inquire about whether or not I had any plans to parent. Without hesitation, I would gently explain that I considered myself one of the “lucky ones” as I had been spared by the infamous “ticking biological clock.” Over the years, with each inquiry, I developed and strengthened my case in support of the child free lifestyle. I collected a great deal of evidence in support of my child free choice; “I have seen children ruin friends relationships”; “I can’t imagine finding the hours to raise a child with my work schedule”; “There are so many people already on the planet, do I really want to be responsible for the reduction in even more of our precious resources?” The speech became so curated, I could have recited them in my sleep! Eventually I had even convinced myself that I would not ever have children. Not that I didn’t like children. Quite the contrary. In fact, I had spent a lot of time with children over the years—first as a nanny in graduate school, then as a child therapist, and finally as an aunt to six (yes six!) little wonders. I loved children, and even enjoyed their company over that of adults at times, but I had developed the narrative for myself that I was perfectly comfortable not giving up the personal, physical, and financial freedom that my child-free lifestyle awarded me. Looking back, I do not think this intention to live childfree by choice was in alignment with my true desires. If I am being truly honest my desire to be a mother has always been there, hidden behind fear and complicated by my inner struggle to love myself. Confession: I was afraid that I would be an awful mother. I thought of myself as impatient, selfish, and too emotional. I was afraid I would make a child with the completely wrong person and be forever tied to that wrong person. I had no intention of being a parenting disaster; in fact, I was going to do everything in my power to avoid such a thing. Rather than confront these fears head on, challenge them, and be open to receiving the love towards myself that

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facing these fears would gift me, I set an intention to simply not parent.

A few years ago, in the midst of loving and embracing myself, I met someone I really wanted to make other humans with, like really really wanted to make humans with. The feeling cannot be explained unless you have experienced it. Everything in my soul was screaming “let’s mix up our gene pool and see what comes out, shall we?” This urge to procreate eventually turned into a whole new intention: we are going to make a baby. In the days leading up to the removal of my IUD, I found myself experiencing a variety of emotions. Excitement, love, and joy were the primary emotions raging through my body, but of course there was also my old friend fear. The old fears and self-doubt began to creep their ugly heads, attempting to sabotage my new intention. Oh fear. That voice in the back of all of our minds, right? Often waiting and lurking. If you are anything like me, most days you are able to quiet the murmurs

of fear—until something really exciting is about to happen in life and then it becomes a little bit more challenging to drown out the all-too-familiar voice. The voice of fear is often fueled by the old distorted thoughts we hold about ourselves. My fear voice was telling me I am impatient, selfish, and too emotional. Fear was screaming: How can someone like you possibly be a good mother? What woman on the brink of motherhood hasn’t heard that same voice inside of her? With a little attention and gentle self-reflection, we can quiet these voices. We can acknowledge the beliefs we hold about ourselves and remind ourselves that these beliefs are not truths, they are simply labels. These labels can guide us, but not define us. Rather than let fear stop us from taking big scary leaps, we can choose to confront the voice of fear and open ourselves up to the growth that is patiently waiting amongst the labels. Am I impatient sometimes? Of course. We all are. The difference now, I have learned to listen to what my feelings of impatience and irritability are telling me. I recognize them as a signal that I need to slow down, take a breath, and be present. A signal that I need to tend to myself, take care of myself, and understand what I need in order to feel present and grounded. A signal that I need to love on myself more. 'Through my growth I have learned that patience comes when I am able to care for myself, slow down, be present and grounded. Am I selfish sometimes? Heck yes. If by “selfish,” you mean “self-aware,” (and you can be too). Gaining self-awareness means that we have the ability to recognize when we need something. Our own needs are important, they matter. When we love ourselves, we tend to our own needs. When we are able to meet our own needs first, we have so much more to give to others who need us. We are able to give to our family, friends, clients, partners, and children. Am I emotional? Yes. Our capacity to feel deeply is one of the most precious gifts we have to give to the world. As humans, our capacity for empathy is enormous. I have grown to love and embrace this very special part of me. This aspect of me makes me a good therapist, coach, friend, daughter, sister, and wife. Someday, it will make me a good mother too.

The PERPETUAL YOU


Right now my intention “I am going to make a baby” continues to bring in fear in various forms. Some days this fear says “Wow we are really trying to do this? Because it’s scary.” Other days, because at 35 I am learning that pregnancy is not as easy as 16 year old girls make it out to be, fear says “Wow we are really trying to do this? What’s going to happen if you can’t get pregnant?” I am embracing it all and allowing myself to grow into the fear. If our baby decides to come. I intend to let this sweet little one know a few things. First, I will be the perfect mom for the baby I have. I am going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, but we all make mistakes; the mistakes we make are such a gift when we allow them to be. I intend to let my baby know that the stories told about me—stories about how I used to be one of those people that didn’t want children—are true. There was a time in my life when I was afraid of a lot of things and being a Mom was one of those fears. I was really afraid to love

myself enough to see what an amazing Mommy I could be. I needed some time to love myself first so that I could be ready to love someone else. I needed time to understand who I was, because the person I am is going to have a big impact on the person my baby becomes. Finally, I intend to let this little one know that there will be times I will be impatient, self-aware, and emotional, but I will take lots of slow, deep breaths and will try my hardest to be patient--with others and with myself. I will take time for myself when I need it so I can stay fulfilled in motherhood. Each of us will grow, in ways I cannot predict, but—no matter what—I intend to always love my child deeply, honestly, and wholeheartedly.

Katie Rose Lynch, LICSW is a professional mindset coach + psychotherapist and a semi-professional newbie wife. Katie Rose brings compassion, humor, love, and a contagious positive attitude to all of her work and is committed to moving women confidently in the direction of their goals Katie Rose is also rumored to be an avid baker, and blissfully recovering perfectionist who really believes that there isn’t any problem a hot cup of tea and a nice long nap can’t solve.​Connect with her online.​ Photography by Victoria Gloria.

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M AY M A N T R A

I

let go of resistance

and embrace ease by

allowing my growth to unfold as it’s

meant to. .

Mantra by Krystal

The PERPETUAL YOU

Krystal Brandt, Authenticity Coach, is a soulful, sensual siren who lovingly and powerfully guides high-achieving women back to their innermost desires by re-introducing them to their own intuitive whispers of wisdom. She brings a provocative, feminine and powerful edge to creating deeply connective experiences where vulnerability is invited, divisive walls come down and your truest self comes out to play.


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If you want something different, you have to stop accepting what you’re used to. —SAMANTHA KING

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LIVE

RECLAIMING

Motherhood T H E F R E E D O M , E M PAT H Y , A N D S T I L L N E S S IN AUTHENTIC MOTHERING

Words by Lee Lee Thompson; Images by Victoria Gloria

Remember when... Holding your baby’s tiny hand. Hearing the heartbeat. Knowing, for certain, that you were going to be a mom. Embracing your little one. Meeting her for the very first time.

H

ow did mothering first make you feel? Nervous. Excited. Overwhelmed. Lucky. Grateful. Exhausted. And how long did it take for your Joy at becoming a mom to turn into anxiety, fear, and doubt? When was your first moment of guilt? How quickly did you find yourself in despair or depression, wondering what in the heck you had done?

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I have a visceral memory of a late night about two weeks in to my first time mothering, lying on the bed watching my partner do everything—warm the bottle, feed the baby, rock the baby, pat the baby’s bum—all the while concern & love emanated from his every molecule out to where I lay. Rather than being grateful for the immense help and strength he was providing, I felt hopeless and smug. Thank goodness he’s here, I thought, followed immediately by, He won’t last long. Maybe you are there now or were there yesterday or will be there tomorrow. The feeling doesn’t last—thankfully—but it also never really goes away. Our insecurity at mothering is at once completely understandable and totally without merit. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fails. Everyone changes their mind and loses their temper. Why would mothers be any different? The culture of Motherhood is stunting our growth as women. Mother Theresa, the Queen Mum, Hillary, Marissa Mayer, Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Brittany Spears, Angelina Jolie, your neighbor, the mom you see in school pick-up line, your mother, daughter, sister, friend, long ago childhood confidante you now know only through Facebook updates...they’re all doing it better than you. Or, they’re all doing it wrong. Are they failing or succeeding? How do we know? These women are not Motherhood; these women are individuals, who also happen to be mothers. The culture of Motherhood would have us believe some mothers are “good enough.” (If they’re good enough, what are the rest of us?) The culture of Motherhood would have us believe some mothers can “have it all.” (If they can have it all, what are we left with?) The culture of Motherhood posits that parenting is a “this or that” profession. (If this isn’t that, and that isn’t this, then where

The PERPETUAL YOU

do I go when I want both or neither of my options?) Answer the following questions honestly: • Why do we need to label our mothering? Is this a game that some women win and some lose? • Why do we need to defend our mothering? Is this a court of law where some women are innocent and some are given a lifetime sentence? • Why do we need to make mothering even harder than it already is? Is this a job that women need to be “good” at so they will be promoted and win awards and get a raise, a corner office, and a brand new car? If we agree with the culture of Motherhood that mothering is hard, our fate is predetermined. Many of us fought our way into mothering, whether wrestling with our own demons or going to the greatest lengths to get pregnant or experiencing loss, pain, and heartache along the way, and—for this reason—we feel passionately about this institution. We love mothering and feel that means we have to love the culture of Motherhood too. This allegiance is difficult to let go of.


Parenting Book Junkie To truly be at ease with your role as mother, you must resist the culture of Motherhood. When you first make the choice just to mother the best way you know how, life gets even more challenging. Thinking is always more difficult than following the crowd. Over time, this starts feeling less like growing pains and more like the Joy you expected to get out of mothering. Soon, you begin to see how easily enjoyable the challenge of mothering can be. Referring back to your core values and long held ideals of mothering occasionally helps, but that can also backfire. Inevitably, you will let yourself, or others, down. Instead, the concept of Motherhood needs to change: the language, the rules, the requirements, the standards, {the number of coffees we can have in any given day}.

One of my favorite advice nuggets I got from my parenting book obsession was to never make a big deal about something that will resolve itself. The author gave the example of a child who doesn’t use silverware. How many adults do you know that don’t use silverware? Do you think your child will be the only person who grows up and refuses to use silverware? This simple advice has helped me choose my battles and also provided me with a laugh whenever I catch myself bemoaning my child eating with his hands.

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SUCCESS COMES FROM FREEDOM. You are an individual. Your child is an individual. No parenting book in the world is going to have the magic formula that makes being a mother easy. Instead, you blend instinct with experience, intention with reality. One of my highest values has always been Independence, and I was lucky enough (read smart) to find a partner who felt the same way. Naturally, we expected our child to follow suit, so much so that “Independent Playing” was coached, scheduled, and rewarded. To be frank, it still is!

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Our two sons do not like to be by themselves, for wholly different reasons. The eight-year-old is a lethal combination of anxiety and obstinacy; the three-year-old is an extrovert whose greatest joy comes from making another person feel good. How could we have known this is the pair we’d get? We couldn’t have. Until a couple years ago, I tried very hard to ignore my children’s personalities and, instead, mold them into mini-lee lees. Once I began parenting with the mantra, Parent the child you have, in mind, I began to learn who my children really were. My life isn’t a piece of cake but I feel less guilt when I indulge my child in one more late-night hug, and experience more relief when they play—with

each other or on their own—without needing me nearby.

CONFIDENCE LEADS T O E M PAT H Y. I have found my worst and loneliest of days to be those days when I have judged a fellow mom. Where my focus is, my growth happens. Who wants to grow in their capacity to judge? Not me! This is tricky business—not being judgmental. I was raised in a very strict “we’re right and they’re wrong” culture, a mindset that’s hard to shake. I have to experience time and time again the negativity I feel about myself when I am being critical of others.


Love The One You're With To spend more time in the present, and love the child you have (not the one you thought you’d have), reframe the character traits you have trouble loving. A child who is stubborn is also a child who can stand up for what they believe in. A child who is needy is often very good at nurturing others when the time comes. A child who is a picky eater may grow up to become a chef who specializes in a niche market. Seeing these ͞negative͟ qualities in a positive light helps you connect with your child by replacing tension with hope.

I think: I wouldn’t get along with that mom. I feel: That mom doesn’t like me. I think: I would never dress like that mom. I feel: I wouldn’t look good in an outfit like that. I think: How could that mom let her child do ___? I feel: What have I let my child do today that I shouldn’t have? I could go on, and on. Judgement of others is indicative of how I feel about myself—not of how I feel about the other person. Why should I care what that mother says, wears, or does? I honestly don’t. Recently, I was at a playdate with several moms, one of whom began talking about losing her baby weight. I

went through a range of emotions and a plethora of responses, all of which were negative, none of which I voiced aloud (thank goodness!). I wasn’t expecting to judge another mom for wanting to be more comfortable in her own body, yet there I was. This, of course, is because I’m uncertain about my own appearance, and still getting comfortable with not wanting to be my pre-baby size. Her feelings, which had nothing to do with me, stirred a reaction that reminded me of how much more love I can give to myself.

GROWTH HAPPENS IN STILLNESS. Growth, for me, isn’t about goalsetting or milestones or lbs. gained, inches added, sizes moved up. I spent

30 years of my life keeping track of life’s ups and downs, planning for the worst or best case scenarios, and analyzing every single moment along the way. I have “grown” more over the past ten months than for those entire three decades because— instead of dictating every outcome—I have started trying to appreciate the moment I am in. My older son and I had a special relationship when he was a toddler. We were a lot alike, in ways that made us want to be together. We loved to read. To laugh. To take naps. To people-watch. To do nothing, side by side. That boy is now a teenager trapped in the body of a child.

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Mood swings; control issues; temper flare-ups; the desperate need for attention that it’s “not cool” to admit needing...we have seen it all. On the surface, he’s a hard person to get along with. I spent several years (!) in a fog of wistfulness, lamenting the loss of my sweet baby boy. During that time, I missed out on a lot. Most notably, I missed out on the fact that he is still exactly like me. These days, I try very hard to just be Here, in this place, where I am the mom of an eight-year-old boy. My life isn’t everything I ever dreamed it would be, nor is my life the worst it has ever been. By just seeing him for who he is and trying to experience whatever that brings, I have {re}discovered how quirky he is, how eager he is to be included, how patient and kind he can be to his younger brother. How much I still love him. How special it is when I turn out his light and he yells “Love You” as I walk out the door.

As a new mom—almost a decade ago now!—I wanted so badly to be a good mother. I had very purposefully gotten pregnant and this sense of purpose brought with it the added responsibility of doing everything the way it was supposed to be done. I had so many opinions on Motherhood; I knew exactly what kind of mother I wanted to be and exactly what kind of child I wanted to have. I do not think this rigidity was completely due to my own neuroses, though there was (and still is) plenty of that. I “studied” motherhood, read the guides and bought into the rules. When I

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discovered that there were “proven methods” to bring about “desired results,” the competitive side of me was activated to the nth degree. I was going to give Motherhood a run for its money. The problem with such high standards is that failure is practically guaranteed. In my case, I took it to the extreme and convinced myself that because I wasn’t good at being a mom all the time, I didn’t deserve to be a mother at all. Motherhood was not the be-all, end-all. I didn’t love every minute of it. I hated breastfeeding. Cloth diapers turned out to be disgusting. I get anxious every time I watch a child start taking toys off a shelf or out of a bucket. I’m not someone who should be taking care of children, I told myself.

Fortunately, I recognized my own craziness and got some help, along with some much needed time away. During that time, the most important thing someone said to me was, “It’s not too late to establish a relationship with your kids, no matter how old they are.” Believing that took a lot of faith on my part, due to where I was in my growth journey. But it turned out to be true. Today, due to the growth I have embraced, I actually believe that it’s not too late to change the culture of Motherhood, to reclaim this concept, to once again love this role. I have witnessed firsthand the power of women being honest and vulnerable with each other. I have been shown how beautiful just loving someone where they are


can be. I have learned how much more fun I can have when I live in the present and look for the good in the people I am with. The challenges of mothering are not going away. Like any other part of being alive, there are very high moments that get us through the times of sadness, boredom, and total exhaustion. However, the culture of Motherhood—telling women what they can and cannot do, feel, wear, or say—IS a form of oppression that we can eradicate. If we look at mothering as a gift, as a time of growth—even as a wild, unpredictable ride—then we can experience mothering to the fullest; embrace mothering with grit and grace; and enjoy mothering in the way we thought we would, way back when.

The Lee Lee is the #ladyboss of The Perpetual You. A writer by trade, designer by heart, and mother by choice, she seeks intentional practices and a positive mindset. Connect with her through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Email. If you’re near Hamden, CT, she welcomes you to stop by her front porch. Photography by Victoria Gloria.

The E A S E I SS U E

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P O E T RY BY

Kate Kearns

Archipelago A mother and her girl, more mud than flesh, build drip islands on the exposed ocean floor. At the lowest tide, the mud-soft ground isn’t meant for human tread. They’re monsters—the girl and mother, both charged with daughterhood, both so muddy they may as well be naked. Mud in their palms, they crouch, focused. One drip at a time alights on dried peaks. Not a continent, but an island chain of the same wet earth. Osprey hunt shrimp in the ankle-deep sea, each fisherman precise, poised as a crossbow. Five islands they’ve made and crushed, exalting to destroy them, brutal, united. The waves will hold for one more. This one is worthy of a tunnel, mud forest, haunted tower, caves for its mud beasts, and even so, it isn’t safe. The rising tide will wash it away. Chill invades the sun-warmed shallows. This is elemental. Two monsters—the mother and her girl— come inland with conquest between their toes. Feet press it into floorboards; it’s part of the house now. No harm they ever inflict upon each other will sweep it away. Kate Kearns, author of How to Love an Introvert

The PERPETUAL YOU


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A R T W O R K by A M Y S T A M P , @ C R A F T I VAT E C T

Create Ease by Embracing Growth  

Vol. I, Series 3, May 2016

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