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Being 31 & Becoming 32

Being 31 & Becoming 32

“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
(Max DePree)

I don’t remember turning 31. I don’t remember how it felt or what I was thinking. I was 27 weeks pregnant. I had a lot on my mind and on my to-do list. But I’ll always remember the gift my husband gave me.

He doesn’t know much about music. Actually, I think he prefers silence. I’m the one who runs the playlists in our house. So imagine my surprise when he gave me an envelope filled with concert tickets! On our pre-baby music tour we saw Delta Rae, Ben Folds, Leon Bridges, and Florence and the Machine. And one sweaty night in June, a week from my due date, we made it through four songs at Old Crow Medicine Show before I called it a birthday completely celebrated.

Looking back on 31, it was a year completely celebrated.

In April we had HypnoBirthing classes, maternity photos, and a home visit with our doula. We had new furniture delivered and worked hard to make our new house feel like home. May was full of love and family and friends. We traveled to my husband’s hometown in Ohio for baby showers and Mother’s Day. My dad and brother were in Austin over Memorial Day weekend. I settled into the final months of my pregnancy.

My due date, June 25th, was one of my favorite days of 31. My husband and I spent it together, doing things we love. We went for a long walk around Town Lake and had lunch at True Food Kitchen. We went to dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant, G’Raj Mahal. At the very last minute, we bought the only 2 tickets available to see Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper speak that night. The seats we scored were front and center and perfect.

On June 30th, when I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant, my husband and I called a family meeting. We let our baby know it was time for him to join us. He was fully cooked and we’d done everything we could to prepare for his arrival. We were ready and excited to meet him. Like magic, we welcomed our sweet babe into the world the following morning.

The next two months, July and August, were a haze of cuddles, hormones, burp cloths, and reheated coffee. We had family in town from Ohio, California, North Carolina, and Arizona. It was comforting to have family close, but I struggled to navigate the newness of motherhood with a rotating schedule of guests.

Looking back, September was the only month from 31 where we had nothing scheduled. It was when we established our routine as a family of three. I started to find my way. I got more comfortable with leaving the house and began to connect with other mamas.

October brought our first adventures. We started the month by taking our baby to the Austin City Limits music festival. It was a huge learning experience, marked with sunshine, sweat, tears and small triumphs. The year before, on the last day of ACL, we found out I was pregnant. This year, Baby O turned 100 days old while the festival rocked on.

The rest of 31 is a story of travel. Between November and January we went to Dallas, Raleigh, Charlotte, LA, Napa, Ohio, and Arizona, all with our baby in tow. We started 2017 with a two week trip to Japan and on my 32nd birthday we flew to Ohio.

I’m already 1/12 of the way into 32 and have spent this past month thinking about the year ahead. How do I want to feel when I’m writing about being 32 and becoming 33? What changes, challenges and growth will I face? What wonders and magic will I encounter?

One thing is clear… I am craving stillness. Quiet. Simplicity. In the chaos of motherhood, my heart has cried out for calm.

I know it’s my responsibility to cultivate that calm for myself, my child, my marriage, my home. It’s hard to imagine us slowing, but I can pursue simple joys through the craziness. I can take a deep breath when I forget to breathe. I can care for my body when I am tired and hungry. I can soothe my soul when I’m feeling lost. I can write when my heart needs a voice.

Cheers to being 32 and becoming 33! I am grateful to have this space to reflect, dream, and share my journey. Thank you for being here with me.


2017 Goals: January Reviewed

Magic Afternoon Light | kaileenelise.com

“As time ticked by and an impassioned idea still had not ignited me, I didn’t panic. Instead, I did what I have done so many times before. I turned my attention away from passion and toward curiosity.”
(Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic)

2016 was all about pregnancy and baby. I am dedicating this year to the pursuit of simple joys. In January, I did this by lighting candles, savoring my favorite tea, and watching The Bachelor.

One of my goals is to get rid of things I no longer want, use or need. This month I tackled my closet, packing up maternity clothes and donating/thredUP-ing a big pile of things I wouldn’t buy if I tried them on in a store. Dressing a postpartum body feels a lot like trying to hit a moving target and I’m still breastfeeding, so I’ve been learning what works as I go.

I started the year off strong with a mini Whole30 and a handful of workouts. When it comes to my physical body, the aim is to cultivate habits that make me feel nourished and to occasionally indulge with purpose. We traveled and I got sick this month, but that’s ok. I am learning to work on these things even when the conditions aren’t perfect.

Creatively, I am content. And excited. (AND HERE. BLOGGING AGAIN. WHAAAT!?) I joined The Year of Creativity (a 12-month, self-paced course on creativity) and have been thrilled with the experience so far. The focus of January was “Inspiration” and it was just what I needed to get started. I read Big Magic, snuck away to a coffee shop to write, and submitted my first essay for peer feedback. It was more creative work than I’ve done in over a year… and the surface is just getting scratched.

My mister and I set a goal of hiring a sitter once a month for date nights. We interviewed someone for semi-regular childcare, but I realized that maybe I’m not quite ready for that step. So, we have another recommended sitter coming by on Friday for a meet & greet. Here’s hoping we can achieve our date night goals in February.

Documenting the daily life of our little, growing family is another focus for 2017. Taking videos for our 1 Second Everyday project and snapping pictures of Baby O to text to family are things I’ve been good about doing. Digitally speaking, I have memory keeping on lock. But I haven’t ordered prints of our professional photos or done much in O’s baby book since he was a month old. When things have been on your to-do list for 6 months, it’s time to take action. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

My word of the year is SIMPLE and as I shared on Instagram,

Last year my husband & I bought a new car and moved into a new home, I quit my full time job and became a mother. My whole world & identity shifted through these changes… and as I continue to define who I am in this new existence, I am dedicating 2017 to the pursuit of simple joys. SIMPLE is gentle, but firm. SIMPLE is straightforward & uncomplicated. SIMPLE is intentional action. I know raising a little babe will bring plenty of messy, unsure, and crazy moments, but even in those times I hope to remember the power of taking a SIMPLE pause to breathe.

One of my goals for January was to think about creating a daily routine for me and Baby O. Now on February 1st, I think that’s one of my bigger accomplishments for the past month. We do not follow a strict schedule or do the same thing every day, but our days have settled, shifted, sunk into a very nice rhythm. We take walks, we play and read, we meet up with other mamas and babies, we enjoy mealtime and bath time, and we share lots of cuddles. Our days are simple, but full. January has been a wonderful start to 2017 and I’m looking forward to what this next month has in store.


Being 30 & Becoming 31

Image - Becoming 31 | kaileenelise.com

“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”
(Max DePree)

Today is my 31st birthday! When I think about being 30, I can’t help but feel proud. Every age is significant, but last year covered a lot of ground, both physically through travel and emotionally through big, life-changing decisions.

In terms of travel, 30 began with a trip to LA and Napa to celebrate the start of a new decade. It was our first trip to LA and we had a great time before heading up north to one of my favorite places on earth. My grandparents have lived in Napa (St. Helena, specifically) for years and back when I lived in San Francisco I would drive 75 miles every weekend to visit them. Their place in St. Helena is nothing short of magical and spending time with them makes me feel so loved. As a special treat, we sprung for a limo one day to go wine tasting, which was a highlight for everyone involved!

A few weeks after Napa, I traveled to Las Vegas for a best friend’s bachelorette party. Vegas isn’t for everyone, but I went to college in Sin City and happen to feel very at home amongst the glitz and gambling. I had a blast, and more importantly, my bestie got to spend a few days with all her favorite gals in celebration of her final days of singledom.

In May, my Mister and I spent all but one week out of town… visiting with friends & family and working in Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Ohio. We stayed put in June, then went back to North Carolina for 4th of July weekend at my dad’s lake house. In August, one of my close friends came to visit us in Austin, then we went to celebrate my husband’s birthday in Pensacola, Florida with one of his oldest friends. I also went out to Arizona for Happy Living (a health & wellness company that my father and I started in 2014)… and got the chance to spend time with my other grandparents while I was out there.

From the beginning of September to the middle of October, we were all around and back again. My Mister’s parents came to visit and we showed them all our favorite Austin spots. A few days later we took off for our 3rd trip to Europe. This time we stayed in London, Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam. The whole trip was wonderful, but we especially loved our time in Amsterdam. When we got back to Austin, we had a few days to unpack and reset before going to our friends’ wedding in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Their big day was magical and such a wonderful reminder of what it means to create, build, and share a life with the person you love most in the world.

Things slowed down the tiniest bit when we got back from that trip. We spent our first weekend home at the Austin City Limits musical festival (our 2nd one) and early on that Sunday morning I took a pregnancy test because I was feeling a little weird. We were shocked and elated when the test was positive… and spent the rest of the day listening to music in the hot Texas sun, asking each other, “Is this really happening?”

In the midst of my early pregnancy, we had the opportunity to take a trip to Australia (for work) and Fiji (for play). We had a week in Sydney and a few less days in Melbourne. I was sick for most of the trip with a really bad head cold and nothing tasted good. Aside from those minor issues, we had a wonderful time Down Under, especially in the beach towns and in Melbourne. Fiji was a total dream. Our resort (the InterContinental) was perfection, the weather was wonderful, and the days we spent lying around doing nothing were very restorative.

A week after we got home from Fiji, we made our way to Ohio for the holidays, stopped in Arizona for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary party, and made it back to Austin to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends. The time we spent with family over the holidays was made even sweeter because we were able share the news about my pregnancy in person!

2015 came swiftly to a close and had me thinking about the changes ahead. Becoming a mama is something that I have wanted and dreamed about since I was a little girl. For as long as I can remember, my aspirations were to become an Olympic swimmer and a mother. All the jobs I had growing up revolved around children and I even got my degree in Elementary Education because I love kids so much. I always thought I’d be a young mom and when that didn’t happen, my career became the focus. When my Mister and I started dating 8 years ago, our relationship, jobs and travel adventures were the main priorities.

So 2016 started with a fresh perspective. We decided it was best for us if I ended my full time work with Happy Living to spend my time and energy on our growing family. We bought our first home, just outside downtown, and have been busy settling in. My Mister’s mom came to visit a few weeks ago and we just got back from our babymoon in Hawaii.

I am so happy to be on the other side of 30. I never really gave turning 31 much thought until a few weeks ago. Now that my birthday is here, I am thrilled to celebrate where I’ve been and the life I have today. Becoming 31 means a lot to me and my wish is to have a happy, healthy and brave year. It is sure to be filled with trials, adventures, new experiences, and challenges, but I have a feeling it’s going to be the best yet!


Good Eats & Gratitude – #WLActionPlan Week 4

Image :: 316/365 - Third World Baby

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.
(William Feather)

It can be awkward or downright scary to break free from comfort zones, but it can also be energizing to try something new. Making sweeping changes or small alterations to our lives lifts us out of ruts. New experiences have the potential to reveal pieces of ourselves that would otherwise go unnoticed. This how I feel about my experience with Whole Living’s 2012 Action Plan.

It was disorienting and difficult at times, but what I gained in return was worth every ounce of sacrifice. Eliminating processed food and drinks, added sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol from my diet for 4 weeks was eye-opening. I discovered juicing, learned a bunch of new recipes, and started working out regularly.

Week #4 Highlights:

  • Making it! I proved that I can achieve an ambitious goal I set for myself.
  • Five workouts strong. That’s two weeks in a row and I’m excited to keep it up.
  • Spa day celebration. On Sunday I indulged in a massage + mani pedi. Bliss!

Favorite Meals:

They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Over the next three weeks I hope to incorporate what I’ve learned into sustainable, healthy habits for my everyday life. Specifically, I’m planning to maintain a diet that is 90% vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and low in processed foods and added sugar.

Thanks to all of you who have shared your wisdom and support through these past few weeks. It definitely helped keep me motivated!

Whole Living Action Plan Recap Posts:
Week #1 / Week #2 / Week #3

Image Credit: 316/365 – Third World Baby via Helga Weber


Happy 2012!

image :: a whole new year

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps
a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
(J. B. Priestley)

Hello lovelies, I’ve missed you dearly! It’s hard to believe that I took almost a whole month away from blogging. I hope the past few weeks have been kind to you.

Although my break from blogging was unscheduled, it was exactly what I needed. The Mister and I had a chilly, but very fun trip to Ohio for Christmas, and a quiet party of two at home for New Year’s. It was truly the perfect ending to 2011.

Despite a few bumps and unscheduled breaks along the way, this past year was an excellent time for KaileenElise.com. My heart is filled with love and gratitude for those of you who show up daily, drop in regularly, or stop by once to participate in my story. Thank you for being such a wonderful source of inspiration, accountability and friendship.

Top 5 Posts in 2011:
A Creative Weekend To-Do List
Half Marathon Playlist
Let’s Reverb
Welcoming Summer
Blogger’s To-Do List

Also, the site traffic and pageviews are up 70% from last year!

Speaking of highlights, I wanted to share my deep gratitude to those of you who participated in #reverb11. The project took many forms as individuals and smaller groups adapted it to their liking. For me, reflecting in my journal turned out being the best way to examine my year and establish intentions for 2012.

My focus for this is year simple: healthy living in mind, body and spirit.

Through the next few weeks, I will reveal my goals, reading list, and words of the year. I’ll also share my intentions for January, with weekly recaps on my main focus for the month: Whole Living Magazine’s 2012 Action Plan.

Thank you again for being such a sparkly part of my 2011. Here’s to great things to come!


Let’s Reverb 2011

We All Reverb 2011

December 2010 was memorable. Alongside Gwen Bell and Cali Harris, I poured my heart into a passion project we called Reverb 10. It was an online community initiative with daily prompts for the entire month. A follow-up to Gwen’s original Best of ’09 blog series.

We traveled to Napa, CA for a few days — staying up late to kick things off. We took turns tweeting, writing, and connecting. The month’s focus was on sharing stories, featuring inspired authors, and diving deep. There was a magical energy, with the community reflecting on 2010 and manifesting what would be next.

I wrote a series of 21 posts for Reverb 10. You can find my archives here.

Annual projects can be challenging, especially virtual ones. We are all in different places today than we were a year ago. Yesterday, in a message to the Reverb subscriber list, Gwen explained she won’t be hosting Reverb this year. Instead, she shared how we did it.

Now you can host your own Reverb, if you wish. To paraphrase her guidelines:

  • Create 31 prompts for the month of December.
  • Post those prompts to your blog.
  • Invite other people to join you!
  • Publish on the topics each day.
  • Use a hash tag to connect via Twitter (we used #reverb10 last year).
  • Support one another by sharing links, commenting, etc.
  • Create buttons to show that you’re hosting your own Reverb.

The initiative lies in your hands, in the hearts of a greater community. If you plan to move forward with Reverb this year, I encourage you to use the #reverb11 hashtag on Twitter.

I would like to follow your work through December, I want to know what prompts you are writing on, and I hope to be part of your Reverb. Please email me with updates, questions and thoughts – or say hello on Twitter.

How will you Reverb? Do you plan to create your own prompts? Here are the questions I plan to reflect on for Reverb 11. I’m calling them my 31 Mini Muses:

  1. Where did 2011 begin?
  2. Who did you meet?
  3. What books did you read?
  4. When did you struggle?
  5. What did you discover?
  6. Who was important to you?
  7. What do you hope to remember?
  8. Where did you spend money?
  9. When were you most scared?
  10. What questions did you ask?
  11. Who surprised you?
  12. What did you learn?
  13. When did you feel the most relaxed?
  14. Where did you leave a mark?
  15. What movies did you see?
  16. What did you accomplish?
  17. When were you the most grateful?
  18. Who touched your heart?
  19. Where did you visit?
  20. When did you cry?
  21. Where did you spend your time?
  22. What were your favorite songs?
  23. Who did you miss?
  24. When did you take the easy way?
  25. Where did you eat?
  26. Which blogs did you enjoy most?
  27. When did you celebrate?
  28. What are your dreams for next year?
  29. Who will attract into your life?
  30. What do you want to do in 2012?
  31. Where do you hope to be on Jan 1, 2013?

I have other posts planned through December, things I’m excited to write about and share beyond my Reverb. That being said, I intend to journal and post and reflect and manifest.

I hope you will join me.

Image Credit: We All Reverb

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Another Week Goes By

secretitos encartados

If we look at the world with a love of life,
the world will reveal its beauty to us.

Hello lovely friends. I hope you’re having a fantastic week!

Mine has been a bit wild—and I’m looking forward to having the weekend to regroup. There’s been a lot to balance at home with getting back into a workout routine, trying to blog more often, and preparing for the holidays.

After struggling through that 5k on Sunday, I’ve managed to run 3 more times. I sometimes find myself expecting instant results after just a few days. I want to weigh less, look better in my clothes, and be able to power through a few miles with little effort. This time around I am trying to remind myself of how much better I feel when I’ve ran. If feeling better can be the motivation, the results will follow.

Work has been busy, but so good. I am officially past my 3-month introductory period and had a very positive review yesterday! I’ve barely seen my Mister all week, so I’m hoping we will have some time to catch up tonight. I might even put on something cute and take him out to a nice dinner.

I am loving Florence + the Machine’s new album Ceremonials, double tall skim cappuccinos, and the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone.

I hope to post a Creative Weekend To-Do List tomorrow, as well as start a new series about gratitude and delicious food (two things that I find are key to a happy, healthy life). I have plans to run once or twice more, and maybe even catch up with this lady for a yoga class.

Keep a look out for a Sparkle Swap recap soon. I have tried to write the post several times, but keep getting stumped. There are some people who never received a gift and I’m just not sure how to address it. Any thoughts?

Image Credit: secretitos encartados via Andreu Robusté


A Weekend Recap

{ Image :: Untitled }

Energy and persistence conquer all things.
(Benjamin Franklin)

Hello lovelies! How was your weekend?

Mine was quite wonderful. On Saturday, my friend and I drove 2 hours to our nearest Ikea. I picked up a few goodies including some picture frames and Christmas ornaments. I also had my eye on this NYC print, but I couldn’t think of where it could go in our apartment.

We stopped at a great outlet mall on the way home, where I found the cutest Kate Spade sunglasses (at a huge discount)! Saturday night my Mister and I stayed in, enjoyed some veggie chili, and relaxed on the couch. I painted my nails — Holly by Zoya on my toes and Milky Way by Essie on my fingers.

I’ve been trying to get myself in the habit of waking up early, so on Sunday I set my alarm for 5:00 am. It was a quiet and peaceful morning spent sipping tea and reading. Something I don’t do too often, but oh what a treat!

Yesterday I also ran a 5K with some friends. I figured it would be nice to run through some local neighborhoods, especially since the leaves are so beautiful this time of year. I haven’t trained seriously in months, so the race turned into a bit of a reality check. I have some work to do before signing up for my next half marathon!

Last night I sat down with my Filofax and November goals for a quick check-in. Can you believe that this month is nearly 1/2 over?! As I mentioned in my Intentions for November post, it’s been awhile since I really focused on achieving the goals I set for myself. While I’m not on track for everything, I have made some nice progress:

  • Blog 5 times a week :: Week 1 – success! Week 2, just 2 posts. Week 3, working on getting back in gear.
  • Try 2 new recipes :: Done and done. I’ve already tried 3 new recipes already this month.
  • Workout 5 times each week ::  Not quite, but I’m working on this too. I’m on a 2 day streak with yesterday’s 5K and an easy 2 mi run this morning.
  • Run 2 races :: 5K complete. Now it’s time to get some good training in before the 8K on Thanksgiving.
  • Finish reading A Place of Yes and Loving Frank :: I finished Loving Frank yesterday, so I’m half way there!
  • Finish Christmas cards :: Still on the hunt for these. I really want to work on these over Thanksgiving weekend, so hopefully I’ll make a decision soon.
  • Plan gifts for family & friends :: Making significant progress! I ordered some great gifts from DAVIDsTEA and Sephora last night.

I’m hoping to follow up this great weekend with a lovely week. What about you, my friends? Did you have a nice weekend? What are you looking forward to this week?

Image Credit: Untitled via Always Bë Cool


A Return to Blogging

Light is Good

At times our own light goes out and
is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude
of those who have lighted the flame within us.
(Albert Schweitzer)

Hello lovelies! It’s been a little over 1 month since my last post — and oh how I’ve missed you. The time away provided some much needed space for reflection.

By placing a small distance between me, my laptop, and my life online, I’ve come to realize the joy all this brings me.

There’s an unlimited amount of information, inspiration, support, guidance, love, and creativity for us to discover. The energy that courses through the hearts, minds, and fingertips of complete strangers (and our closest friends) appears like magic on our screens.

I have a renewed sense of excitement that I hope to carry with me as I dive back into blogging. I feel energized and eager. Enthusiastic about what this site has grown into over the past 2 years. Hopeful about what it might become as the future unfolds.

My break from blogging was filled with extraordinary moments. My Mister and I went to the NC State Fair, dressed up as Waldos for Halloween and snuggled while watching How to Make It in America. I made new friends on Twitter, tracked down packages and sparkle for my latest swap, mailed lots of hand-written letters and collected inspiration in magazines & books. The time away was nice, but I’m ready to spring into action.

Want to join me in celebrating a new season of inspiration? Receive Inbox Inspiration {blog posts via email} and/or Muse Memos {monthly newsletter} by signing up here.

Image Credit: Light is good from whatever lamp it shines. via nattu


A Fresh Path

Railroad Weeds

Whenever you undertake a new project,
attempt to make as many mistakes as rapidly as possible
in order to learn as much as you can in a short period of time.
(Dan Zadra)

Hi there. What’s alive in you?

For me, it’s carving out new routines. Discovery. Change. A fresh path.

On Tuesday, I started a new job with a really amazing company in downtown Raleigh. I’m delighted to be able to do what I do (corporate recruiting) within an incredibly talented and creative atmosphere (digital agency). I cannot even begin to express my delight. My joy. The excitement bubbling up inside.

I’ve kept my shifting employment status a bit of a secret on the blog because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to write. How much to share. When the search might end. What feelings were fleeting and irrelevant. Which were worth exploring and sharing in a public forum. Exposing personal details has been a challenge for me, so I’ve shied away from going too deep.

This life’s journey continues to evolve and develop into an amazing adventure. I feel so blessed and grateful to have an opportunity to learn alongside so many smart, funny and inspiring people.

At home, my Mister and I are learning to balance his demanding MBA program with my new commute and work schedule. It’s a juggling act for sure, but we’re both in the pursuit of our dreams. So we feel lucky.

Online, I am part of this unbelievably supportive community. Getting back into a blogging groove has filled my heart with joy. Opening my MacBook is like a little gift I give myself. Each time I sit down to write I wonder what might unfold. When I open my Google Reader, I revel in joining you for pieces of your journey.

At the office, each minute is about learning. Today marks day 3. There are pieces of me that feel like I already know how to dive in. Other parts still feel like the new girl. It’s an automatic beginner’s mind, disorienting and wonderful at the same time.

Image Credit: Railroad Weeds via Kevin Dooley


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