happiness

THE LOVE SERIES #5: Partner Love

The husband and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary so this 5th installment of the Love Series post is dedicated to partner love.

At our wedding reception. Photo Credit: Austin Miller Photography.

At our wedding reception. Photo Credit: Austin Miller Photography.

My wonderful husband and I had a date very early on where we visited the beautiful Mecom Fountain. It was lovely and romantic and less than a year later it was also the place he proposed.

Another year later, on the morning after our wedding, we had a lovely breakfast at our hotel’s restaurant and could see the cascading fountain from our table as we sipped coffee and orange juice.

To say that this fountain has played a part in our romance would be an understatement. So when the time came for me to procure a ‘wood’ gift for our 5th Anniversary I decided to paint our beloved fountain on a wooden canvas with the words “I will always say Yes” painted at the bottom. Here was the result:

I mixed glow in the dark paint with the white. Because I'm a grown up.

I mixed glow in the dark paint with the white. Because I’m a grown up. Acrylic on Wood. 

© 2016. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved

The husband had no idea what I was getting him so what do you think he got me? A wooden jack knife easel that he burned our anniversary date and other sweet nothings into. We gave each other complementary anniversary gifts without even realizing it. And in case you’re wondering, yes, yes, we are this lovingly disgusting all the time. 😉

And for those of you looking for a partner to love (not that you need one to be happy or whole or anything in between) here’s some advice I got on my 21st birthday. Take what you like and leave the rest:

“It takes 3 things for a relationship to work:
1. The spicy taco might look nice but it’ll give you heartburn. Go for the baked potato.
2. The man has to love the woman more than the woman loves the man.
3. You have to be friends. Somedays you won’t like each other, but you’ll still have to get along.”

Not sure how #2 fits for same sex couples or if I agree with it at all but I especially like and agree with #3.

THE LOVE SERIES #4: A Good Cuppa

This is the fourth installment of the Love Series and it centers around something that, without fail, will lift my spirits: a good cuppa. Whether it is coffee or tea, a good cup of hot liquid is something I truly love and usually features in my self-care days. So make yourself a hot brew and enjoy!

Watercolor and Ink. And yes, I was drinking a cup of tea while I painted this. :P

Watercolor and Ink. And yes, I was drinking a cup of tea while I painted this. 😛

© 2016. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

The Positive Affirmations Coloring Book

Well, it’s finally here – I’ve published my coloring book! 😀

I started the rough draft when I was pregnant with my daughter and SOMEHOW I’ve managed to finish the rough draft, final draft and publish it while caring for a rambunctious one year old.

OMG. IT'S REAL.

OMG. IT’S REAL.

There are two ways to procure a copy:
1) On Amazon HERE. 

OR

2) you can get a FREE PDF version by subscribing to my website HERE. 

If you do buy copy or subscribe, I’d love to see any of your beautiful creations! Send them to me via email: angelle@lonestar.life or via Twitter: @angelleconant.

This book is for the world. I hope you enjoy. <3

[UPDATE 8/17/2016: Here’s one of the pages I colored. Motherhood – the struggle is real.]

One of 2 fill-in-the-blank affirmation pages in the coloring book.

One of 2 fill-in-the-blank affirmation pages in the coloring book.

Why Am I So Afraid of ‘Hard?’

What do I have against hard? Ever since my daughter was born, all I’ve been looking for is easy – the path of least resistance. I’ve shunned hard hard. So what is it about hard that I’m so afraid of?

My dear husband makes my life harder in many ways. I’m a neat freak, he’s…not. I love veggies and tofu, he… doesn’t. I’m a saver, he’s…not. But sharing my life with him is so worth the ‘hard.’ There has been so much joy and healing and fun and unconditional love because of him. And it’s only the beginning.

My daughter makes my life harder too. But she is so unbelievably worth it as well. Owning a home makes my life harder but it’s worth it. Being a stay-at-home mom, in many ways, makes my life more difficult, but it’s also worth it. Breastfeeding. Cloth diapers. Co-sleeping. Trying to get my daughter to nap on her own. Cooking unprocessed, whole foods. Eating low sugar. Self-care. Exercising. Meditating. Creating memories. All of these things require substantial effort and make my life ‘harder.’ But they also, in many ways, make it much easier at the same time. And they’re all things that I have chosen consciously and created within my life. And they are all worth it. And somewhere along the lines of exhaustion and fatigue, I’ve forgotten that hard isn’t a bad thing. I’ve forgotten that just because the path is hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path for me. If I’m presented with a hard path and an easy path, the universe isn’t telling me to take the easy path just because it’s easier. Giving birth to my daughter was hard but so worth it. So worth it, in fact, it didn’t even register as hard. It registered as a challenge but one I was happy to meet. And somewhere along the line I have stopped being happy to meet these challenges. All I want is easy. All I want is effortless.

Sometimes I think about my life if I had never gotten married and had children, almost as a fantasy. And when I’m in a dark place, so weary,  tired and run-down, it seems like a wonderful fantasy. But thinking about it now when I’m only slightly weary and exhausted, it just seems sad and devoid of the chaos and mess of life. This life that I have, that I have chosen for myself and created consciously, it’s hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mission San Jose

It is time for me to stop choosing the easy path simply because it is easy. Sometimes that will be all I can do and that’s okay and forgiving myself for that and being gentle with myself will be the hard part. Because even when I take the easy path there is always a hard part that goes with it. So no matter what I choose I’m taking the easy/hard path or the hard/easy path. Writing a book while being a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious 1 year old who doesn’t seem to want to sleep without her mom next to her will be hard. But it will be so worth it. Unschooling my daughter for the next 17 years will be challenging but it will so be worth it. Making time for my self care is freaking hard but it’s worth it. And making time for dates with my husband is hard but worth it. Making time for friendships and family is hard but worth it. It is time I stopped running away from hard.  It’s not something to be afraid of – it is something I have chosen consciously, to create a life full of love, chaos, fun, mess and even challenge. Because an easy life, though seemingly wonderful at times, is boring for me and not the life I will choose for myself. This is the life I choose – time to go live it.

Open Letter to An American Teenager

One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.

This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).

Dear Teen,

I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).

This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world. 

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© 2016 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved. 

Secondly, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’s time to get back to the basics:

  • FOOD :  Am I eating often enough? Am I eating good, healthy foods? How can I prevent ‘hangry‘ moments?
  • WATER : Am I drinking enough water? How can I always have water accessible to me?
  • SLEEP : Am I getting enough sleep? Is it good quality sleep? How can I improve the quality of my sleep?
  • MOVEMENT : Am I moving my body almost everyday? Is it enjoyable? If not, how would I enjoy moving and strengthening my body?
  • OUTDOORS : Am I getting enough time in the sun (and therefore, Vitamin D)? Am I getting enough time in nature? How can I get outside more?
  • MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
  • SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.

What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief,  caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.

And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.

Oh, and one final thing:

YOU ARE VALUED.

YOU ARE NEEDED.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

YOU ARE LOVED.

All my love,

Angelle

*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.

Positive Affirmations for Motherhood

A while back I wrote a post of positive affirmations for my first pregnancy. Recently, I’ve been struggling and overwhelmed with Motherhood in general and when the original paper I wrote my pregnancy affirmations on fell out of my journal, I knew what I needed to do. Some of the affirmations are the same but many are new. We mothers have the most amazing and, at times, overwhelming, job around. May these affirmations remind us to be kind and gentle with ourselves and, in so doing, teach our children to do the same.

  • I am enough. I am strong, wise, grounded, kind and patient.
  • I respect my need for alone time.
  • I ask for help easily and with an open heart.
  • I respect my limits and needs.
  • I love and accept myself just the way that I am.
  • I focus on the things that truly matter and let go of the rest.
  • I embrace an imperfect and messy but happy and love-filled life.
  • I am doing the best that I can and my best is good enough.
  • I am a great mother.
  • No matter what happens, everything is going to be alright.

Motherhood

 

The Gift of “No”

Dear Angelle,

Your dear husband is probably wondering what this ‘self-gift’ is all about so please be sure to read this letter out loud.

This year I am gifting myself the power of “HELP NO.” (Get it, ’cause it sounds like “HELL NO.”) But really it is a two part gift of “HELP” and “NO.” 

Let’s start with the gift of “NO.” Too many times you say ‘Yes,’ or more frequently say nothing at all and therefore OK, when you really mean “No.” And the two people who suffer the most because of this are you and Bill. You because you end up doing things you don’t want to because you previously agreed to it and then you’re angry and resentful or depressed. Bill because he is the one you most often say ‘Yes’ to when you really don’t want to because you think it’ll make him happy but you just end up angry and passive-aggressive with him.

So this year it’s time to start saying “No” (including to yourself). Which means you’ll have to start really taking the time to think about things before you respond instead of just saying “Yeah, OK, whatever.” I know! I know what you’re thinking! This requires time: time to put Ellie down, put your to-do list down and get in touch with yourself to know what it is you truly want. This bring me to the next part of the gift: “HELP.”

You need to start asking for help. Help with Ellie, help with the dishes, help with whatever it is you need help with so that you can get these 10 or 20 minutes EVERY DAY. These 20 minutes help you to stay sane and happy and in touch with your truth. And really, 20 minutes a day ain’t a lot to ask. 20 minutes a day for one year is less than 1.5% of the whole year! That’s a helluva deal for increased happiness. And it doesn’t always have to be Bill whom you’re asking for help. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You have wonderful family and friends who would LOVE to watch Ellie for 20 minutes or take her for a 20 minute walk. You are not superwoman and that is perfectly OK. In fact, it’s normal. So this is my gift to you – the power of “NO” and asking for “HELP.” Use it wisely.

All my love,

Angelle

P.S. Eating better and starting yoga again might help too. <3 

 

Happy Holidays Everyone! May your days be full of love, laughter, and joy! <3

It’s True.

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© 2015 Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

Original Digital Drawing by Angelle Conant

Software: free PaintJoy App on Android

5 Reasons I Love My Shaved Head

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After many years of wanting to, I finally shaved my head and I’m loving it. Here’s why:

  1. It was on my list. Ever since my high school English teacher showed us a picture of her shaved head, I’ve always wanted to do it. Why hadn’t I done it yet? Fear. It feels SO GOOD to throw fear aside and do something I’ve always wanted to do. It is incredibly empowering and joyful. I still giggle with glee when I see myself in the mirror. Which leads me to…
  2. I feel so sexy! Confidence and sexiness go hand-in-hand and doing something even though it scared me was a huge confidence booster. Bonus: my husband finds my new hairdo super sexy too!
  3. It’s so easy. I have a 2 month old daughter so I’m all about quick and easy right now. No hair getting in the way while breastfeeding or carrying her around. It’s the ultimate mom haircut but with a little bit of badass thrown in. Also, with this hair, I’ve gotten my shower time to well under 10 minutes. Good for my baby and the environment!
  4. Earrings. I finally get to show off my beautiful earrings that were always hidden behind dark hair before. It’s a whole new jewelry world!
  5. It feels awesome. I love rubbing my hand along my head and feeling how soft my hair is. I love feeling the water from the shower hit my scalp and the wind blow through my hair (which is amazing in this Texas heat!). It’s a completely new way of feeling and I love it.

Overall. I give shaving my head 5 beautiful,  bald stars. I highly recommend.

Tips for a 3rd Trimester Babymoon

The husband and I recently took a weekend-long babymoon to Galveston, TX while I was 37 weeks pregnant. We learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of a having a successful trip – our lessons are here for you so that you might get the most out of your vacation, whether it’s a babymoon or not.

  1. Vacation somewhere close to home. This one seems pretty obvious, but I’d thought I’d throw it in anyways. Because I was in my 3rd trimester and only 3 weeks away from my due date, trips to distant lands were out. Galveston is only an hour away from Houston so if something were to happen, we could be home in a very short time.
  2. Think about the kind of vacation you really want and choose your city and hotel accordingly. Do you want it to be more about relaxing or exploring? For us, we wanted a relaxing babymoon so that we could rest and reconnect before our little one’s arrival. If it’s relaxing that you want, then it might be best to choose a smaller town with only minimal attractions and more relaxing activities. If you’re looking for a more exciting and exploratory babymoon where you can share some new experiences, a bigger city might be a better fit. For us, we kind of halfway hit the mark on this one – Galveston is great for sleeping late, relaxing beach walks, sitting in rocking chairs and drinking beer (for the husband), but it has also turned into quite the party town, which we were not in the mood to do.
  3. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for it to be nice or considered ‘pampering’ – value is what matters. We, foolishly, did not follow this one. We ended up spending quite a bit on a historic hotel and, in the end, it wasn’t worth it. The hotel was catered more towards the party goers of Galveston and had jazz music in the lobby until 10pm. After that ended, the bar in the lobby was still open until late and the voices of the inebriated could be heard in our room all night. Not great sleep makes for a cranky, pregnant wife.
  4. When planning your day, take into account your limits and needs. This includes things like: is there a restroom that I can get to within 5 minutes (or less)? Can I get snack and water within 5 minutes? One thing that does help is carrying a large, filled water bottle and snacks everywhere. Also, take into account the level of physical activity that will be required. My little one dropped the day before we were scheduled to leave so walking far distances became something I couldn’t do. Also, the closer it gets to my due date, the more naps and rests I seem to need which is something we had to account for. I’ve also been more sensitive to heat and sun exposure during the pregnancy – another thing to account for.
  5. Plan your food ahead of time if you can. This was one of the best parts of the trip – eating yummy, yummy food so go ahead and get excited about it by planning ahead. And don’t try and drive around to find a good food place when preggo is already hungry – have a place to eat and get there. Be okay with some disappointments – there are always risks in trying new places, even with good online reviews. And if you’re not up for disappointment, it’s okay to go to some chain restaurant that is familiar. Also, try to plan ahead for some healthy food options. During my pregnancy, I’ve become accustomed to eating quite healthfully and was disappointed by the choices at most restaurants. By the end of the weekend, my body was seriously craving some collard greens.
  6. Lastly, ask for what you want. I had a great day on the first day of our trip because we ended up cuddled up in the hotel room watching Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t care if it seemed lame, it was what we wanted to do, so we did it!

This post can also be found on Offbeat Home. 🙂

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