Heather Jenson: Achieving Big Goals in Small Ways

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“I’m not a professional athlete.  I don’t do this to win money and races.  I do this to enhance my life and it brings me joy, along with my family . . .   As long as I'm putting them first and taking care of them, everything else usually falls into place.”

Heather Jenson says this to describe how she views her "little" hobby as a triathlete.  This sport can suck people into perfectionism, obsession, and the comparison trap.  But Heather has learned how to resist the negative side of her passion and embrace it for the goodness it brings to her life and to her family.

Heather shares how her love of racing (she started as a swimmer!) increased after dealing with a terrible bout of postpartum depression, that having big and then bigger goals to aspire to helped her regain what she thought she had lost within herself.  She is so honest about how hard training can be, but how breaking up a huge goal into small pieces has helped her achieve big dreams.

A favorite example she shared: Her first half-marathon was 10 years ago at 24 years ago and her time was 2:14.  He latest half time was 1:36.  And yet, Heather is insistent that running is her hardest sport and what incredible lengths she has gone to to improve.  She is also just as insistent that if she can become an Ironman, so can you.

So even if it's not you seeking to race in Kona like her, Heather inspires us to reach within ourselves, find some passions, and let them guide us to becoming better people inside and out.

Heather will have an entire episode devoted to her on the show, "Quest for Kona" on @NBCsports next Wednesday, 10/25.  Check your local listings for times!  Here's some more information on the show: here and here.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Heather's website and Instagram
Last week's episode with Ganel-Lyn Condie
My interview on The Luckiest Mom Podcast (click on Episode 151!)
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Insta feed and website
Related: Monica's views on Sponsorship and WHY she's partnering with Monat
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!) (Affiliate link)
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

Selling Out: My Views on Sponsorship

Monday, October 16, 2017

We all know those posts.  The ones where an influencer shares about a product that we can all tell she's used maybe once.  A makeup artist who goes crazy over a lip gloss that you never see appear in her posts again. Or a meaningful podcast interrupted with ads riddled with celebrity names.

I share the feelings you do when it's clear that someone I follow is "selling out:" the annoyance, the skepticism, the exasperation.

But here's the thing: I don't think sponsorship is bad.

I think there is a wrong way to do it, and a right way.  For me, I do believe these "influencers" work very hard.  They produce something for me to ingest everyday: from entertainment, to wisdom, to instruction and advice on fashion, makeup, books, fitness, food, and parenting.  Many of these influencers legitimately have changed my life (and my children's!) for the better.

Perhaps it's because I take special care to follow people who genuinely add to my life and do their best to promote goodness that I don't mind their occasional sponsored posts.  I do feel that I can trust these select few when they say they use a product or service because they have a reputation of being genuine and honest.  AND because I do think they deserve to get paid for the work they do so they can continue to add to my life in the way that they do.  I want them to be able to keep going and support them in return.

If someone is clearly "selling out" on a regular basis, I simply unfollow them.  I think we are all smart enough to tell the difference by now.

Now as a (small) producer of content that my (also small, but lovely!) community ingests, I am to that point where I am ready to start incorporating sponsorship.  This is something that is very complicated for me and that I've been mulling over for quite some time.

I work hard at what I do, spending 20-30 working hours a week to write posts and produce the podcast.  I spend my own money each month to host the podcast and blog, as well as on software and equipment.  I pay for babysitters occasionally to get things done.  I get up early, stay up late, stress out, and think about what I create constantly.

I have made less than $150 in two years of work via affiliate links to Amazon and ads on my site. I've paid way more than that to keep it up and running.

I also LOVE what I do and see great value in it.  I got into all of this for what I believe are the right reasons and I do my best to continue to align with those reasons every day, to stay on-point to who I am and what I want my public work to inspire and help in others.  And to do so with integrity.

But, I also started it all with the (realistic) hope that it would in time pay me in more than just satisfaction and joy.  My writing here, my Instagram, and my podcast have been undeniably what I NEEDED in my life, which was something to aspire to.  And I needed to share the messages that are near and dear to my heart.

I don't think it's wrong to also have the goal to get paid for what I contribute.

I knew from the beginning (almost two years ago, wow!) that I would be doing things differently.  There would be more heart; more real and less of the "highlight reel;" and that when the time came to do sponsorship, I would also do it my own way.

I have been offered sponsorship many, many times the past almost-two years and especially the last six months, whether it's to post for free products or money.  I HAVE TURNED EVERY SINGLE ONE DOWN.

They simply didn't feel right; I felt like if I took companies up on their offers, I would indeed be selling out because their products were things I either wouldn't use in real life OR pay for (especially because they were too expensive in my normal life).  So, I said no to the gorgeous boots, the tempting watches, and the high quality bras.  I said no to the random apps, the snacks for my kids, and the cookbooks.  I said no to people paying me to post on my site and insert ads on my podcast.  I paid for each book, lipstick (including Lipsense!), planner, and more that I have shared about even when it was offered to me for free. I also buy each product/service my podcast guests pitch, because I believe in them AND want to support them.

I have done all of this because I reminded myself that the TRUST I was creating with my little community was far more valuable than getting something awesome for free or a little money on the side, even if I needed it, quite frankly.  I reminded myself that incorporating sponsorship in the RIGHT way and right time was worth waiting for, so that my online friends could still trust me.

So with a bit of angst, I'm going to start sharing what things I ACTUALLY use and love in my life.  Things/services I have been loyal to long before getting paid for it, and will continue to adore even if I don't earn a cent.  And I plan on sharing these things in as genuine of a way as I can.  If I share a story about a product, you have to trust me that it's real.  If I get excited about a service, I truly do think it will add to your life.

I don't feel angst about what I'm planning on sharing--they feel right!--nor about the timing.  But I do  I feel worried about appearing to be a sell out, because it's been vital to my mission to be 100% real.

So, here's some transparency for you:

Initially, I plan on sharing about some products/services like Fabletics and Audible.  These are affiliate ads, meaning I only get paid if people buy the products or pay for the service vs. getting outright paid, which I get offers to.  It's not guaranteed money for me, but they are are least companies I can stand by because I've used and loved both for years.

In addition, I plan to share about hair products that have solved huge problems I've had with my hair (and scalp!) for years, and years.  Products I've paid for myself and used for 8 months without the intent to sell them.  And I plan on doing so minimally (primarily through one ad-slot on my weekly podcast, but perhaps 1-2 posts about it per month on the blog/Instagram) and WITH INTEGRITY.

I am now a market partner with Monat, so I will actually be adding more work to my load and help my future clients--but that feels right to me.  To be honest, sponsoring myself this way will entail far more time for me than working with the ad services I've been pitched numerous times; but I want to try it my way first.

Because I want to ensure that you understand who I'm going to be partnering with (again, on a minimal basis!) the why behind it, and how I plan on doing so, I created this video specifically about my partnership with Monat.  I also share a history of my hair/skin issues to build some understanding around my genuine love of Monat's products.  I hope you give it a chance, and give me the benefit of the doubt.

And even if you don't, just know that I haven't changed.  That I'll still be here, doing things my own way and in my own time, and for what I believe are the right reasons.  That I love you anyway.

Here's the video, friends.  Thanks for reading (and listening, and watching)!

If You Find Yourself Depleted

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I started this blog right in the middle when I felt the most depleted as a mother.  The demands on me were exceptionally high with a little baby who was very attached, an unpredictable (that's a nice word to describe him, at the time) two year old, and a basically-traumatized-by-daily-life four year old.  I felt sucked dry, honestly, for a year.  I had nothing left to give, but I had to keep giving.

I wrote a few posts while in the trenches (here, here, and here) and I can read those now and see that I was completely drowning.  But those posts?  That writing?  That attempt at joining millions of public accounts on Instagram? That's what got me through it.  That is what helped me rediscover my strength.  That is what helped me regain my confidence in mothering.

That's why I started my Do Something campaign.  Because my little attempts at being brave--at doing something outside of my mothering responsibilities--was getting me out of a terrible pit.  That writing--that investment in myself, trying something that scared me (starting a blog/Instagram) was more than just a little hobby; it was actually SAVING me.

While my pursuits certainly added a bit of stress, it was the good kind--the kind that was motivating, the kind that was only mine, that it was just for me.  So while it took energy, self-doubt, and lots of time, it also ADDED energy back into my soul that I needed to get through that very demanding period of motherhood.  It seems counterintuitive, but it's something I now swear by. (Oh, and parenting expert, Ralphie Jacobs, stands by this thinking too--this will benefit your children!)

So, if you mothers (and dads!) find yourself in a similar place as me--lost, unrecognizable, and unsure how you can continue in this way--please do something about it.  It doesn't have to be public, like it was for me.  But do something that you've been wanting to do, thinking about, or interested in.  It doesn't matter if it takes five minutes out of your day or a few hours.  It's worth the investment, it's worth the neglected household chores, it's worth the added (but energizing!) stress.

And then maybe you'll see a little transformation like I did.  You'll be "you" again.

I spoke more about this time in my motherhood with Reagan from the Luckiest Mom Podcast and what I did to get out of it.

I loved her interviewing style and this podcast is much shorter than my own, which I think people appreciate!  Here's where you can find Reagan: website, Instagram, and podcast.  And my episode is "Do Something" on her podcast feed, which you can find by searching for "The Luckiest Mom" wherever you get your podcasts.

PS: My Do Something campaign is still going strong.  I now highlight people on my podcast as part of my special monthly episode.  If you're "Doing Something," however small or big, tell me about it.  Or nominate a friend/loved one.  Let's share how moms are saving themselves, one hobby/interest/pursuit at a time!

Ganel-Lyn Condie: Strengthening through Surrendering

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“Some of the most challenging, heart-wrenching times of my life have in some ways become the greatest blessings . .  . They were the pathways to learning.”

The list of "life lessons" (aka: trials, obstacles, traumas, etc.) that Ganel-Lyn Condie has been through is astounding.  And yet this woman walks with a bounce and speaks with a light that is absolutely contagious.

Ganel-Lyn shares deeply about how surrendering to these lessons, giving up on perfection, and turning to a higher power have in turn strengthened her to better deal with what life has put in front of her.  As an author and speaker, Ganel-Lyn doesn't shy away from hard topics as she's faced it all: parents divorcing, chronic illness, infertility, job loss, perfectionism, and the tragic passing of her sister, Meggan, through suicide.

It's not that Ganel-Lyn doesn't have her hard days; it's not that she's eager to face another big trial; and it's definitely not that she knows the answers while in the middle of the darkness.  But it IS a choice that she's developed to give in--but not give up!--learn what trials have to teach her, and in turn find greater empowerment to not only create a happier life for herself and her family, but for the world.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please share, subscribe, and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Ganel-Lyn's Website, Instagram, Facebook, and BOOKS!
Monat Natural, Anti-Aging Hair Care: Contact Monica to learn more, OR research via her Monat Insta feed and website
Fabletics! Get 2 leggings for $24 when you become a VIP member (they're the besssssst!)
Q&A Episode + Interview with Janssen Bradshaw
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" and "Tonight" by Nicolai Heidlas

It's Never Too Early, and It's Never Too Late!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Last year, I told you about the perfect planner I purchased, and that my friend Amanda and her father are the brains behind.  I say this without bias--this particular planner is not only wonderfully structured (it's exactly what I'd want out of a planner), but it was essential to my growth both personally and professionally.  I didn't know how badly I needed it until I now have that 20/20 hindsight. 

This is coming from someone who was an OCD planner all growing up and through college, but then fell hard into the other side of perfectionism--the underachieving kind where you don't dare to even try.  The past year, I was an old dog (re)learning old tricks, so having this planner as a way to guide my goals, provide plenty of space for my to-dos, and act as a way to track my progress has been SO helpful in getting me back on the organization horse.

Here are some pictures of just how loved this planner has been for me.  I use it for my home/family to-dos, to plan out posts, to track work-outs, and schedule out all the podcast stuff.  I have also been documenting all my insurance calls so I know exactly where to look to remind myself what they said or call them back armed with you said what/when.  (Ugh, insurance!)

I'd say I'm not obsessive about using my planner, as I had to have some balance with reinstating this good habit and making it something I could actually keep up with!  For me, I simply tried to keep it accessible (on my desk in my kitchen) so I could jot down to-dos as they came to mind in addition to planning out my day either the night before or morning of.  But I also used the planner as a journal of sorts to track my progress with its prompts to both connect with my goals and reflect on my work to get there.  Even a few minute a day on this--or even every other--has helped me immensely in getting back to the old Monica who actually did things. Friends, it's never too late to work on developing a good habit--I'll be your example for that.

Sure, it's October and I'm talking about my planner for next year.  But . . . it's OCTOBER!  The year has gone by so quickly.  So on a similar note, it's never to early to be proactive about setting yourself up for a success.

I was thrilled when Amanda let me know the 2018 versions of the planner were going live early this year (active now here!), she has a code for my followers for 15% off (use APWS2018), and a giveaway of one of your choosing on my Instagram.  Talk about nice!  (This post isn't sponsored, but Amanda kindly sent me a planner.)

Mine arrived last week.  I was pleased to see they now laminated the cover, so that's a plus.  Also, the new cover options are perfection--the right variety of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral selections.  

On the inside, I am VERY glad they kept with the same layout, as well as kept inspirational quotes.  There is the perfect mix of ways to take notes, make lists, as well as planning daily by hour, weekly by goals, and monthly calendars to boot.  I'm always reminded to stay focused on what I'm reaching for, which I all too easily forget.  

Having my 2018 planner already is making me look back on the past year a bit and start thinking  about what I'd like to accomplish next year.  Just as I did before, I'll be sharing that with you as the year comes to a close, so look forward to that.  (You will, won't you?!)

Remember, the giveaway is here (closes midnight PST on Saturday--look for a picture of the planner!), code for 15% off is APWS2018 (offer ends on 10/16/17 at midnight), and you can peruse the new planners here (Amazon links are affiliate).

Special Episode: Navel-Gazing, At Its Finest! (AKA: Q&A!)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Hi friends!  We've made it to 50 podcast episodes.  Woohoo!!  I am so thrilled about this, and grateful for those of you who have been with me from the beginning and just as grateful for the rest of you are are new to my podcast.

You were kind enough to send in questions for this particular episode: things that you wanted to know about me, the podcast, my parenting, eating, children, where I live (and why), and more.

This episode was super fun to record because I did it with my sister-in-law, Emily.  But it's painful for me to listen to because it's seriously a huge exercise in obsessing over myself.  Also, it went much longer than I had anticipated.

If this is just as painful for you, I get it!  We'll be back to our regular programming next Wednesday.  Otherwise, I'd love to hear about some of YOUR answers to these same questions.  Let's connect more!  You can comment here or on my Instagram and Facebook, @aboutprogress.

Thanks so much for your support!

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
People I recommended you follow: The Listening Ear Projects, Talk Wordy to Me, Thriving Motherhood, and Julie In Real Life
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Janssen Bradshaw: Propelling Yourself to Greater Opportunities

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Fear is not a good reason to not do something.  What is the worst that could happen? . . . If I can live with that worst case scenario, then I’m going to do it and stop worrying about failure."

Janssen Bradshaw of Everyday Reading didn't think she was "creative" or "entrepreneurial."  And yet, those two words completely encapsulate who she is now as the producer of a successful blog and a co-creator (alongside her husband) of a brand new business--children's rain boots!

Janssen shares how starting one thing propelled her into another, and how even the failures she faced led to more opportunities anyway. Refusing to live based off of "what ifs" and fears has led to a series of Janssen trying new things bit by bit, and doing so has trickled down into all areas of her life.  Janssen has learned that you can't just let life pass you by and not try things out of fear of failure or how hard it might be; because time passes anyway, and you'll only be left with regret and "what ifs."

Janssen talks about what it is really like to be a successful blogger, how she is able to stay authentic and resist posting only for , why reading matters for her and her family, and her essential--and SIMPLE--was she survives the everyday chaos of raising a family and a business.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Janssen's Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook
London Little rain boots(!!!): Website and Instagram
Janssen's FREE course on raising little readers
Last week's podcasts with Ralphie from Simply on Purpose and Food: How to Use It, Not Abuse It, Part Two
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Get Ready With Me: In 5 Minutes

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Hi friends!

We are ALL so busy.  So, I'm sure you're like me and are thrilled to look somewhat presentable within five minutes, because not everyone has time to contour!

I've done something new today and done a little video where I recorded me getting ready within five minutes.  This was on my very first try and I wasn't even sure if I was within the frame, I had a toddler playing with my makeup at my feet, and it was all under my terrible bathroom lighting.  But it's definitely a "real life" video for you, which I'm all about!

I sped up the video just a tad to fit with the song, but I literally only had five minutes before I needed to leave to go to my son's preschool event.  That's pretty standard for me. Yes, I had wet hair, but the top layer of my pony tail dried pretty quickly so it looked fine.  If I have to choose, I'd rather have less dark circles than cute hair.  Oh, and earrings are a MUST for me every day.  My make up and hair are very simple six days of the week, so a little pair of earrings makes me feel much more out together.

Just a few notes: I love the CC cream because it has SPF in it. That blush looks a little scary at first, but the translucent powder softens it.  I swear by setting my makeup, because even if I only take five minutes I want it to last ALL DAY!  And lastly, if there's anything you get from this list I'd recommend the eyebrow gel, cheap mascara, and the lip cream (which you can use as blush when in a pinch!).

I've included links to Amazon for all the products I used, but I'd definitely check out Ulta or your drugstore before checking out to ensure you're getting the best price.

I hope you enjoy the video!

Clean and Clear Face Lotion (used this since I was a teen)
Clarin's Radiance Plus Glow Booster (mix two drops into the lotion for a subtle tan--not orangey)
CC Cream (in light)
NARS Radiant Concealer (in Light 2 Vanilla)
Essence Satin Blush (in coral)
Eyeliner (usually a dark gray)
Eyelash Curler
NYX Translucent Powder
Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray
Eyebrow Gel (in "dark brown," but comes in five colors; posted more about it here)
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara (got this for $12 at Ulta for recent special)
My Favorite Drugstore Mascara (I like it even more than the expensive one)
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream (in "instanbul;" LOVE these--have several colors; long-lasting but not harsh)

Other moms are sharing in different ways how they get ready. See them below, and if you want to participate please sign up with Madeline or Kiana.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Britt at My Little Sunshines // Erica at Good Job Momma

Food: How to Use It, Not Abuse it; Part TWO (with special focus on Intuitive Eating and Flexible Dieting)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Surprise!  I have a bonus episode for you this week, and it's Part Two of my series on Food: How to Use it, Not Abuse it.  Cultivating a healthy relationship with food has been a huge part of the work I've done on myself the past 11 years.  I'm still focusing on it every day, but I see the improvements I have made that have made it all well worth it.  I hope to inspire that in others, too!

Part One is here, and there we spent a lot of time talking about what it LOOKS like to have a poor relationship with food and what you can begin to do about it.  This episode--Part Two--involves more discussion on specific methods, both of which incorporate embracing a the "grey," ridding ourselves of black-and-white thinking, and moving towards natural moderation with how we view and eat food.

The primary focus overall is Intuitive Eating, which is my very favorite eating philosophy.  You can find the book here, and I'd definitely start with that; but I do recommend a coach if you are in the throes of trying to figure this out.  I can recommend Elizabeth Dall and Stephanie Webb, both of whom are experts on this topic.  Elizabeth is the primary Intuitive Eating expert for this episode, but Stephanie was the main expert for the last episode on this topic.  (See their contact information below.)

The second method is "Flexible Dieting," or also known as counting macros.  Amber Brueseke is our expert on this, because not only does she know her stuff, but her whole goal is to move her clients towards Intuitive Eating.  In essence, she wants to work herself out of a job.

I know you'll enjoy this candid, helpful episode.  Please let me know what you got out of it, and share it with those who you feel will benefit from it.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Part ONE here
Elizabeth's Instagram, Facebook, and website
Amber's Instagram, Facebook, and website
Past interview with AMBER
Stephanie's Instagram and Website
Intuitive Eating book (HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Ralphie Jacobs: Rediscovering Hope in Parenting through the Growth Mindset

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"What it means “to grow” is to practice something—one thing really deliberately—and do it over and over again.  And then when you make a mistake, you look back and you close that loop really quickly by recognizing what went well and what didn’t go well, and then you practice it again."

Ralphie Jacobs admits that she was born with an innate love for children and a natural gift of caring for them.  But even she was surprised as a young mom by how easily her well-informed, highly educated patience could "vanish."

Recognizing this capacity in herself, Ralphie decided to deliberately change how she was parenting, to grow her skill set as a mother just as she would with any other talent, skill, or expertise that requires growth and practice.  Now, Ralphie is a parenting expert who passes on the incredible (and I'd say LIFE-CHANGING) things she has learned over the years about how to grow purposefully within your job as a parent.  And she makes it clear: the answers are actually quite simple.

Ralphie shares how she became a parenting expert, what it looks like to use the growth mindset as a parent, how to increase your knowledge of what's out there BUT also rely on your instinct, how to reinforce good behavior in your children as a way to rid them of the "junk behavior," and what is the number one thing she wants every parent to know.

Ralphie has a special message for you parents who are reallllly in the trenches with parenting, for one reason or another.  You will leave this podcast armed with tools--yes--but, even better, with hope.

For your use, here are the four main jobs as a parent that I took away from my discussion with Ralphie:

1) Teaching
2) Modeling Happiness
3) Being Purposeful Through Reflection and Redirection
4) Looking for the Good in Your Children

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Ralphie's Instagram, Facebook, and Resources
Books Recommended: No Drama Discipline, Simplicity Parenting, Boundaries, Parenting with Love and Logic, and books by Dr. Glenn Latham
Referenced podcast interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
Last week's episode with the founders of BRAVERY MAGAZINE 
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Friday Favorite: Coconut Oil

Friday, September 22, 2017

If you've seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you might remember the dad in the film's obsession with Windex as the balm to anything bad or irritating.

That's how I feel about coconut oil.

Coconut oil is known for its amazing health, gut, and skin benefits (but it needs to be organic virgin oil).  It's full of really healthy saturated fats that actually help us properly absorb other fats and has also been proven to help in a medicinal nature.

I LOVE coconut oil for cooking and for health benefits; but my skin has really been the best benefactor.  I have major issues and very sensitive skin, thanks to plague psoriasis.  Coconut oil has helped my flare-up symptoms greatly.

I usually buy it in giant tubs at Costco, but I've bought probably every organic extra virgin coconut oil at most grocery stores.  I keep a big container in my kitchen and use it daily (see below), but I also spoon out some more for a jar I keep in my bathroom, with a little tablespoon inside to help scoop it out.

If you haven't tried coconut oil yet, you've got to. It might be safer to try a smaller jar first (like this one--look at alll those reviews!) until you get used to using it for a variety of things.  Then you can spring for the giant jar stuff!

Here are some things I use coconut oil for:

*To replace oil/butter in cooking and baking: I NEVER use canola/vegetable oil anymore.  Roast some veggies, saute your chicken, use it in your muffins and cakes.  There are countless ways to incorporate coconut oil into your cooking.  Those tubs will go fast!

*Body moisturizer: Coconut oil is my go-to as full body moisturizer, goodbye body lotion! I rub about a TB size of this all over while my skin is still damp from the shower.

*Makeup remover: Dab it on a cotton ball and go to town. Works on Lipsense, too!

*Facial oil cleanser: Have you heard of washing your face with oil?  It's super helpful with acne.  I now use a different oil recommended by Kayti from The BeYOUty Bureau (who was a guest on my show, here!), but I use her same method with coconut oil when in a pinch.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND her method, at the very least. My skin is looking better than it has in years (although that might just all be thanks to pregnancy--I switch off between terrible and good skin each pregnancy).  All the same, I know this method helped my skin even before I got pregnant.

*Nighttime face moisturizer: Just a littttttle bit goes a long way here.  Sometimes, just around my eyes. If it clogs your pores, then you'll know you're using too much.

*Skin treatment: I make a little concoction with shea butter, coconut oil, and a little tea tree oil, and castor oil (here is a similar recipe).  When my skin and scalp get enflamed (again, plaque psoriasis), I use this to settle it down, asap.  With my skin, I rub in my special cream right out of the shower BEFORE toweling off (seals in the moisture).  For my scalp, I massage it onto my scalp, pull up my hair, and let it sit for an hour or so before showering and washing my hair.  (You'll have to shampoo a few times to ensure your hair doesn't stay greasy.)

*Hair treatment: Besides the shea butter concoction mentioned above (which is realllly thick and heavy), pure coconut oil is easier to apply and excellent as a deep conditioner for your hair.  Rub it into your hair dry--especially the ends--pull up your hair or wrap it in a warm towel, and then wash it out.

*Prenatal/Nursing/Infant Care: I use coconut oil as a belly cream for stretch marks, as a replacement to nipple cream, and for diaper rashes and other skin ailments my babies face.  LOVE. IT.

*Oil Pulling: I haven't done this in a while because it wasn't working with having three small children to get ready and out the door (aka, I need to be able to talk), but I did use coconut oil for a while to do oil pulling in the mornings.  If you haven't heard of it, google away!!!

Are you already a fan?  What do you use coconut oil for?

Elyse Beard and Ashley Aikele: Being Your Own Kind of Brave

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

“Bravery is being scared, it’s being afraid; but doing it anyway . . . It’s OK to be afraid of something, but own those feelings and rise above.”  

You think if you were the masterminds behind a magazine with "Bravery" in the title, that you would be a very courageous person.

Not so for these ladies.

Elyse Beard and Ashley Aikele both profess that they have let fear hold them back for far too long.  But when they had the idea to create a publication that inspires courage in children by sharing stories of brave women, they knew they had to be their own kind of brave.

To build something so monumental from nothing entailed a lot of letting go alongside a whole lot of work.  Elyse and Ashley talk about how they practiced "fake it 'til you make it," used their different talents, and now witnessing their vision take life.  Their dream is that ultimately this publication is far more than a magazine; it's a movement.

Elyse and Ashley share how a huge part of being your own kind of brave is figuring out what your "thing" is, and how even the process alone can demand a special kind of courage.  Ashley shares how perfectionism prevented her from following through with many ideas in the past; Elyse talks about how she couldn't figure out what talents she had to offer to the world and how unfulfilled she felt because of that struggle.  But these women have risen above their own fears, and shown us that if we dare to believe in ourselves, try new things, and even risk failure, we can create something life-changing.
Ashley and Family
Elyse and Family
You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunesSoundcloudStitcherPocketcastsGoogleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Bravery Magazine's Kickstarter (where you can order the first printing!), Instagram, and Facebook (website coming soon)
Last week's episode with Nicole Kalkowski
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Happiness Hack: Take Five Minutes

Monday, September 18, 2017

I started a news series last week on my Instagram account.  Each Monday, I'll share one small way to boost your happiness and help prevent a case of the Monday Blues.  I'll continue to post there, but I also thought I'd post them here at times for those of you who don't spend time on Instagram.

My first share was this: Eat Something By Yourself.

It can be a whole meal while the kids are napping/having quiet time (that's what I do!); it can be a piece of chocolate in the shower; it can be an apple on a quick walk away from the office.  Just having those few minutes to yourself--and not multi-tasking!!!--is essential to re-grouping.  There is a whole mindfulness piece here too.  You actually enjoy your food more AND know better when to call the quits when you're actually paying attention to it.

Having lunch by myself was a practice I started as a teacher.  I would literally lock my classroom door and the kids knew that that time was for me.  If I hadn't done it, I think I would've quit like three months in.  As a mom now, this is also essential to my sanity.  My older kids know to give me some time when I ask for it midday, but they're usually busy sleeping or quietly playing anyway!

I was pretty shocked by how many commenters (here) said they NEVER eat alone, or even sitting down for that matter.  I understand that for most meals of the day, honestly, with so much going on whether you're home or at work.  But I honestly feel that if each person makes a point

My second Happiness Hack: Take Five Minutes.

This can happen at any point of the day.  You just take five minutes to simply sit.  You can meditate, read, look through a magazine, draw, listen to music, or just close your eyes for a little cat nap.  The days are long, busy, and stressful.  But we can all spare five minutes.

If you know your day is going to be out of control, I'd recommend waking up early.  Each morning, I've been trying to wake up around when my husband leaves for work at 5:30 AM.  I used to wake up then to work out, but now that I exercise later I've been attempting to instead meditate, do a spiritual study, then knock out a bit of work and house duties before the kids get up.  But even if I don't get up by 6:00 or even 6:30 AM, I still get up a little before I know kids' clock is going to light up.  I meditate just five minutes.  Even that makes a big difference in my day.

So when can that be for you?  Before your day begins?  Right in the middle of it?  Before the afternoon rush?  Or at night to help wind down for bed?

Oh, and in case you didn't get the KEY to this five minutes, here it is: no phone.

I hope you instill this short practice and let me know how it goes!!!

Friday Favorite: Tinted Eyebrow Gel, Yep!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Two weeks ago, I shared my FAVORITE way to grow eyelashes and brows.  This organic castor oil that costs $12, won't kill your budget, or you, for that matter.  (I shudder when I think of the chemicals in serums, let alone the cost.) I was shocked by how many people wanted to know more, so I'll do a little tutorial soon with more information, and put it here for you.

In the meantime, I need to share another beauty favorite of mine: tinted eyebrow gel.  Yep.  This is happening!  And it's from the drugstore, too.

I'm not totally lacking in the brows department--I have enough that I don't NEED to fill them in daily; also, I don't want to.  (#lazy) (also #notskilled)

But in recent years--just like my lashes--my brows have lightened a bit and thinned out in some parts.  Plus, I have to give in to all the beauty bloggers and own that having a bit more defined of brows goes a long way to having a pretty face.  Most days, I just wear concealer, mascara, blush, and this eyebrow gel.

This gel is tinted, comes in five colors (I use dark brown), and is a three-in-one: keeps your hairs in place, slightly darkens them, and plumps them up a bit.  At first, I used this one--which I also love.  But then I accidentally bought this kind with the fibers in them.  At first, I almost returned it; but after trying out for a few days, I was sold. Because it defines my brows a bit more without it looking like I filled them in.  That's the look I go for--the one that makes it look like I didn't do much.  (Misleading, I know...)  I still use both kinds, though!  It's all a matter of preference of whether or not you end up liking the fibers or not.

With either of these versions, there is a bit of a learning curve.  My tips:

1) Use a light touch, with slightly flicking motions
2) Take a the excess product off the wand before applying
3) If it gets applied a bit too thick, let it dry then brush them through lightly with an eyebrow brush (I rarely have to do this)

I promise I'm not going to become a beauty blogger, because that is not my skill set at all.  And reminder: these aren't sponsored posts, just things I genuinely love.  Although the Amazon link is affiliate and will earn me literal cents if you buy it from there.  I don't care though girl, go to Target!

If you use either of these, let me know how they work for you!  Next week will be another cheap or free Friday Favorite!!

Until then, I'll leave you with my subtle photo sharing this product.  If that doesn't sell you, I don't know what else will.

Nicole Kalkowski: Fighting for Children with Special Needs

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

“You have unique experiences with each one of your children. I think that working to cultivate happiness in your home, even though you could be going through hard things . . . really pays off.  What you think about transcends, and it impacts your everyday life.”

Nicole Kalkowski has had to fight for her son throughout his entire life.  From a toddler diagnosed with regressive autism then immediately after with a myriad of diseases, including mitochondria and epilepsy (see below for a more extensive list). Nicole has relied on her intuition and resilience to get doctors to hear her and to help her son.  She has literally kept him alive.

Redbook Magazine covered the Kalkowski family for an entire year, documenting what it was like to have a then-three-year old son with autism.  (A beautiful picture from the feature is below, with article links in the show notes.) Nicole later became an advocate and got amazing legislation passed that will ensure other parents don't have to face the darkness helplessly, as her family had.  

Ryan (now almost a teen!) requires round-the-clock care.  Nicole, with her husband and three other children, have adopted the phrase "Roll with it!" when life presents new challenges or interruptions  to each day.  That decision to let go is repeated often in Nicole's story, as she learned to rely on others, on God, and to search for happiness wherever possible.  And Nicole sees it everywhere.

You'll be inspired by this mother's resilience, how she knows who Ryan is at his core, and how she can say she is now grateful for the dark times she and her family have faced.

Ryan's Diagnoses:
* Mitochondrial disease
* No immune system
* Multiple autoimmune diseases
* Dysautonomia, affecting heart and organs
* Hypoglycemia
* Life-threatening epilepsy
* Global hypotonia and bigamous laxity
* Tremors
* Debilitating nerve pain
* Sleep apnea
* Asthma
* Hashimotos
* Multiple gastrointestinal diagnoses
* Autism and developmental delay

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe and leave reviews!!

Show Notes:
Redbook articles on Kalkowski family: hereherehere, and here
Another article on Ryan's Make-A-Wish fulfillment
Last week's interview with Briana Johnson
SURVEY!!!! (It takes less than a minute to fill out--thank you!)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
More Podcasts from About Progress
Song Credit: "Sweet Promise" by Nicolai Heidlas

Special Upcoming Episode: I need your help!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


I am so excited to tell you that we are going to be approaching our 50th episode in a few weeks!  I am going to air a more informal, fun, and (hopefully) curious podcast for you, but I need your help.

The format with be Q&A.  So, I'll need questions from you about things you are curious about: me, the podcast, my family, living in the Bay, health, food, balance, etc.  You can comment below with your question(s) as long as they're appropriate/nice, or contact me via email.

Questions are already rolling in and it's very entertaining to me what you are interested in.  Keep 'em coming and I'll be sure to prepare a fun episode for you.

Thank you for your support!!

Friday Favorites: My Go-To Podcasts

Friday, September 8, 2017

I am certain that it doesn't surprise you that I LOVE podcasts, and have for years.  It wasn't until I a little over a year ago and heard some more "amateur" podcasts that I suddenly realized this was something lay-people could do.  (Eventually, that meant me!)

I thought today's (free!) Friday Favorite could be a list of the podcasts I find myself listening to almost religiously.  From the top to the bottom, I'm listing them how long I've been a follower--not in order of my preference.

My Go-To Podcasts
1) Fresh Air, with Terry Gross: Terry, Terry, Terry.  I love her silky voice, her thoughtful questions, her laughter, how celebrities even go ga-ga over her, and I even love her stutters.  She is an incredibly bright woman and I feel that each episode teaches me something incredible or is just plain fun to listen to.  There's a great variety there.
2) This American Life: Ira, Ira, Ira.  (OK, I'll stop doing that from now on.)  I hang on EVERY WORD each episode.  Sometimes I skip Fresh Air, but never This American Life.  I don't think there's a single episode from the last four years that I haven't heard.  And shhhhh, this might be my very favorite.
3) Happier, with Gretchen Rubin: I listen to most of these; however, it took me a few months of occasional listening to suddenly really love this podcast.  It tends to focus on "white people" problems--meaning, how we are obsessed with happiness despite having so many reasons to be happy--but I still get a lot out of most episodes.  The sister-to-sister (monotone) banter is fun, too.
4) Young House Love Has A Podcast: This was that first podcast where I thought, "Man, I would love to do this."  John and Sherry were VERY VERY successful interior design bloggers who left it all behind when it was getting too much.  Then they started this podcast.  I love the married banter, the quizzes, and learning about interior design. But that's because I love that thing!
5) The Chris Loves Julia Podcast with Preston Pugmire: This is similar to YHL, but very different too.  I don't miss either of these podcasts.
6) The LifeBeats Project: Briana Johnson has become a friend, but even before that I would have considered her one just as a listener.  This is the first "amateur" podcast I discovered and was hooked right away.  She connects SO SO well with her guests, asks amazing questions, and seems to know just how to navigate really difficult, really personal stories.  I don't miss an episode.  Psst: she was a recent guest on my show here, and I was on hers as well here.
7) The Extraordinary Moms Podcast: I discovered Jessica Dalquist around the same time as Briana.  I love her style--she is very good at coming up with new questions, interviewing an AMAZING variety of guests, and getting to the meat of what matters from the interviews.  She was also on my show here, and I on hers here!!
8) Bold New Mom: I found Jody after we both interviewed the same person--Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife.  I absolutely love how she reframes things and I've learned a lot from her.
9) Vibrant Happy Women with Dr. Jen Riday: She has the same format for each interview, but we somehow get something different out of each one.  I love the variety of women she has on her show and how she's able to distill things down to takeaway tips.  She also has a killer voice for this sort of thing and the whole podcast looks and sounds very professional.

But, wait!  There's more.

Newish Podcasts to me that I'm digging: Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations (just started last week and I love it, but who doesn't LOVE Oprah?!); 10% Happier with Dan Harris (LOVED his book); How I Built This with Guy Raz (just getting into this one and it's fascinating--going to be a favorite, for sure); Parenting Great Kids with Dr. Meg Meeker (really great); More Happy Life (these are shorter in length and very educational/easy to follow--Andy was a guest on my show!); Wow in the World (GREAT for kids!!!!); Pod Save America (don't listen to this around kids because they use adult language).

Beyond this list, I've listened to countless others.  Some I come back to, but these are my tried and true.  I'm always interested in hearing others though--so please share your own go-to's in the comments!

The Happy Healthy Mom Summit!!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Friends!  I have something so wonderful to tell you about.

Stephanie Webb from Eat Happy Nutrition should be a familiar face to you--or rather have a familiar voice...  She's been on two podcasts with me, the latest is here where she's my expert on healing your relationship with food, and the first is here where I highlighted her at the end of the episode (and she was so great, I had to have her back).

Stephanie is the host of the most AMAZING and FREE upcoming online conference for moms who need a little something in their lives to motivate them, inspire them, and encourage them.  Don't expect to be guilted with this conference--it's nothing like that.  Instead, imagine a group of 27 of your favorite gal-pals who talk to you about things they are passionate about AND good at: fitness, style, self-esteem, mindfulness, and more.  That's what Stephanie has compiled here.

From September 25-29th, there will be 5--6 interviews shared each day and they are free for 24 hours.  After that, you can access the interviews and ALL the amazing bonuses for LIFE by getting the All-Access Pass, which is being offered for $67 up until the summit start and then the price will increase.  (Just a note: if you get the pass, you'll receive your full access the day after the summit ends, September 30th.  Yay!)  However, remember while the summit is actually airing it is FREE.

If you want to know more, I'd check out the very easy-to-follow page that Stephanie has set up here. You can not only reserve your FREE ticket there (it's very, very easy to sign up!), but you can find a list of the women who are apart of this summit, what they are talking about, and when.  Stephanie also shares more about the bonus material that comes with the All-Access Pass as well as FAQs.

Once you see that list of women, you'll wonder why I was asked.  Me, too!  Stephanie wanted me to speak about my mission to encourage using technology and social media for good in our lives, and how to weed out our habitual-to-addicted use of it.  My class is entitled, "Managing Social Media to be a Positive Tool," and it's live and free for 24 hours on September 29th.

This is a different medium for me--you'll actually see my face and all my wild expressions!  Recording was equal parts fun and intimidating, but I've seen the interview that you will, and I didn't cry.  I kid!  I was actually thrilled with it and can't wait for you to take part in it.

Sign up for your free ticket and get your All-Access Pass here before the cost goes up!  I'd love to hear if you'll be "attending!"  Comment below or reach out to me.

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