style / mindset / simplicity
style / mindset / simplicity
When I found out that I was pregnant with Henry, Peter was one and Greta was two. I couldn’t imagine how another baby would fit. My days (and nights), my car, our house and my heart... all felt full.
How would we possibly expand our lives to make room for another child?
Silly me. I’d forgotten that a mama’s heart balloons with ease.
Henry arrived earthside like a ray of pure sunshine on a snowy January evening. No hesitation, no time for the ‘pushing’ mirror or even the obstetrician.
Before Henry was even on my chest, my heart made room.
From the start, Henry brought the joy.
He wore HAPPY on his sweet face and his heart on his sleeve.
Today, he turns 18. My baby is an adult. A very tall adult.
What happens to a mom when all of her children are no longer children? The truth is, I’m not entirely sure. This milestone isn’t official until 6:53 pm ET… so I have a few more hours to figure it out.
Right now, I’m going to take a little trip down memory lane and savor the final moments of Henry’s childhood. Thanks for indulging me.
I remember Henry at that tender age when every moment is filled with the magic of discovery. (How I wish we’d all remember to live there forever) While I was busy trying to manage all the things that come with three little kids, he was taking it all in. Soaking up the world like a jolly blonde sponge!
His first ‘I have something important to share’ observation remains one of my favorites… (enter eye rolls from the other members of my family)
We lived next to a pasture filled with big, beautiful horses. Greta took riding lessons and Henry took it all in. One day after what seemed to have been careful consideration, Henry announced, “Horses’ noses are their faces.” I was blown away by the profundity of his words. Truly, horses’ noses ARE their faces. Think about it…
Henry is an empath. He has been deeply feeling others' emotions since he was young.
I remember him coming home from school and recounting an incident where a classmate’s glasses had been accidentally broken at recess. Henry was crushed. He was physically feeling the other child’s pain.
We’d read books together and Henry would cry softly when a character experienced a struggle or hardship. It was precious to witness and always gave me the sense that he was wise beyond his years… and possibly mine. Henry's empathy has grown along with him and remains one of his most endearing traits.
When Henry was in third grade, his teachers approached us in December and asked to test him for full-grade acceleration. We said yes and he was tested. Flying colors! This meant that Henry would return to school after the holiday break and be placed into fourth grade. When we explained the situation to him, he was thrilled… and seconds later his heart visibly broke as he tearfully realized that he’d be separated from his friends. Henry skipped an entire grade, adapted and thrived.
He’s a dog whisperer and could often be found tucked under the kitchen table with his grandpa’s dogs. Henry would be on the floor when it was time to head home, giving a dose of his special puppy love to all the furry creatures. He even loves stuffed animals. Today, standing 6' 2" tall, he’s still a softy for a stuffy.
Henry took me on my first helicopter ride. A terrifying, unplanned trip to CHOP after his 2-year-old head hit the floor in a bookstore and he lost consciousness. We spent the night at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for observation. For Henry it was Uncrustables and The Grinch. For me it was a 24-hour perspective check and gratitude infusion. (And the best beer of my life. Thanks, Matthew!)
From early in my first pregnancy, the name Henry always made it onto the short list. When I found out I was pregnant for the third time, I knew we’d finally be meeting him.
Henry is an exceptional young man.
He has an enviably strong work ethic.
He’s wise and passionate about what interests him.
He’s quick to offer a big hug as long as your arms go under.
He has an immense and grateful heart.
Henry always speaks up for the underdog. He’s not afraid to voice his opinion when he senses injustice. You want him in your corner.
When Henry loves you, you know it.
Happy 18th Birthday, Hen. There was always room for you.
Thank you for indulging me. I'm looking forward to celebrating Henry today. So glad he's close enough to come home for the weekend.
I'm also excited about what's ahead for me. Obviously, my motherhood journey is far from over... but there is a whiff of "What's next?"
I'm going all in on my business so that I can help more women discover the joy of loving their clothes.
If you're ready for that, I'm offering Cozier at Home Style Sessions until the end of January. These one-on-one, virtual 60-minute sessions are a great mid-winter reset for your wardrobe. Click here to book your session today!
Cheers to good things ahead in 2021! Stay safe and healthy.
P.S. If you'd like to read my 18th Birthday posts for Greta or Peter, I've linked them below...
Greta- Childhood Complete
Peter - Kids Say The Darndest Things
Today is the last day of 2020.
We made it.
I hope you are healthy and well as the countdown to midnight begins. I know that January 1st is no miracle cure for all the tragedy and chaos of the past 10 months. Still, I remain optimistic that a new calendar year will bring with it new energy and a much needed gust of fresh air.
This year has certainly provided the perspective shift (aka swift kick in the pants) that I desperately needed. I know that everyone’s COVID-19 story is unique so I will only speak for myself.
I’d been waiting for this Universal wake-up call.
I knew that I needed to see my entire life through fresh eyes and yet I resisted. I was waiting for just the right time to examine the life I was living and begin to make some desired and necessary changes.
That 'right' time began on March 12, 2020.
I’ve learned so much about myself during these scary, unprecedented months. As we wrap up ‘the year that felt like it would never end’, I want to share (and document) a few highlights, discoveries, silver linings and random bits that I’ve experienced during the long, strange trip from March (you remember, the month of 1,000 days) to these final hours of 2020.
Takeaways from the Most Unusual Year Ever
Simplicity (for me, it always starts here)
Just when I thought I’d decluttered enough… enter 2020. Nothing like a ‘Shelter in Place’ order to make me take stock of all the excess, unnecessary stuff in my home. I purged a little deeper and it felt amazing.
After too long in frumpy sweats, I turned to simple, comfortable, cozy clothing that made me feel put together (and even chic). This made such a difference in my own life, that I created Cozier at Home virtual style sessions to help other women feel amazing in their SAH/WFH clothing.
You can still book a January Cozier at Home Session. (They are so fun!)
I lit all the candles! In the past, I tended to ‘save’ favorite candles for special occasions. 2020 made me realize that every single day is a Special Occasion. Celebrate now.
To combat the chapped skin caused by all the hand-washing, I finally put lotion by the sinks! My sweet daughter pampered me with my favorite hand cream and my dream hand soap! Simple, and luxurious upgrades.
I made masks out of hankies (which remind me of my dad so that's a plus). Super thrilled that I do remember how to sew! Making something with my hands felt really good in a time of complete uncertainty.
New brand, new website. During the initial ‘stay at home’, I spent hours getting clear on my vision for The Together Act… which ultimately led me to Kristen Cain Style. I revamped my business and completely rebuilt my website (with helpful input from two creative, talented friends).
I learned to pivot. As a once perfectionist*, I first met the call to pivot with much resistance. I liked things the way they were. (insert foot stomp) I didn’t want to modify my regularly scheduled life or adapt to a frightening new ‘normal’. Looking back, I see that like most things, pivoting becomes easier with practice. And I’ve learned pivoting isn’t that painful… it’s actually kind of fun. From here on, I hope I’ll be quicker to recognize when it’s time to pivot.
WE have experienced immense collective loss. The amount of suffering is utterly inconceivable. I’m grieving the routines and celebrations that once felt almost boringly familiar. I’m grieving the loss of over 1.8 million souls I never knew. The ache is palpable. I feel an underlying sadness and sorrow for all the horrors experienced and exposed this year… the pandemic, racism, political corruption, raging fires, job loss, failed businesses, and so much more.
And, I also finally feel JOY. In July, I started (virtually) seeing a therapist. Enter Kate and Joyful Moments. One of my first assignments was to write down the Joyful Moments I experienced each day. Embarrassingly, this simple task was anything but. Joy was so foreign to me that I actually printed out the definition of the word Joy and hung it on our fridge as a reminder. (I also added a Feelings Wheel so that we could all pay more attention to the big, unfamiliar feelings we were experiencing. My family loved that;-) I've been documenting Joyful Moments every day since July. I love the ritual of recording them in my journal daily and my ability to recognize Joy in the moment.
2020 has been one long gratitude event. Never before have I been more acutely aware of the incredible blessings in my life.
While I hadn’t actually been dreaming of an ‘empty nest’, I was curious what it would feel like for Matthew and me to be the sole occupants of our home most of the time. I’d entertained the idea of romantic lunches and long stretches of time to reconnect. Instead, I received the unexpected, even better gift of having my three grown up kids at home for ‘long stretches of time to reconnect’.
I saw my whiteness for what it is, an unearned privilege. I began the journey of unlearning. I sat in the shame of all the hidden and blatant ways I’ve been racist and the harm I’ve caused with my ignorance. My eyes are open. I am accountable. I will continue to show up and speak up as an anti-racist.
Sometimes we can recognize when we're living through ‘history in the making’. 2020 is certainly one of those times. I gave a ‘masked' Santa Claus ornament to each of my kids for Christmas. When they opened them, I mentioned that I needed to write the year on the back… as we always do with ornaments so that years from now it’s easy to remember the ‘when’. They quickly announced that there was no need to write on these ornaments.
“We will never forget this year!”
"2020 equals masks!"
“Let’s hope there is only ever one year like this one!”
And yet… I’m a little reluctant to drop the mic on 2020. There was so much opportunity for personal growth this year. I want to be sure that I haven’t left any lessons unlearned or any hard truths unseen. I want to carry all the wisdom of 2020 into the next nine years of this decade and beyond.
I've been listening to this song as I've been writing. The words feel fitting for the final day of 2020.
Wishing you and yours a 2021 full of little miracles and enormous blessings! Cheers to good health and more Joyful Moments than you could possibly list!
Thank you for supporting me in this space. It truly means the world that you turn up to read my words.
*More on my Perfectionism journey coming soon! Wow. What an eye-opening, life-changing discovery.
Photos: The amazing Cole Laurain.
How are you feeling these days?
My hope is that you're weathering the 2020 storm with grace and ease. If not, try to remember that like all things, this is temporary. Take another deep breath and then do what you can to create a sense of calm amidst the chaos.
What can you do in the final stretch of the most bizarre year ever to finish on a high note?
We’ve pivoted until we’re dizzy and we still aren’t sure we’re heading in the right direction. (And if you’re like me, you’re kinda over the word ‘pivot’!)
At a time when anything I could offer feels at best trite and unnecessary, and at worst, tone-deaf, I've been pretty quiet. Yet, I know that I function best when I have a place to focus my attention and my energy.
Today, that meant writing. I decided to share my thoughts on what to do now… with the hopes that you'll take away even a single nugget that helps, inspires or soothes you. The original list felt too long, so I'll be tossing out a few ideas at a time over the next few weeks.
These humble musings are based solely on what’s been working for me as I continue to navigate all the things*. I’ve realized after almost seven months of basically staying at home, I feel less overwhelmed when I concentrate on the things I can actually control.
As a style + simplicity coach, this survival tactic is near and dear to my heart. It applies to physical stuff and to any area of your life that feels complicated and overwhelming.
Maybe you decluttered full-force back in April only to find that extra stuff has found its way back into your home. Or you avoided the initial pandemic purge and are just now feeling the itch to toss the excess. Whatever ‘simplify’ means for you... DO IT. It's easier to feel calm and balanced when there's less stuff cluttering your space.
Straighten up the linen closet or organize your sock drawer. Make mealtime easier with recipes you know by heart. Streamline the bedtime routines. When all else feels unsettled, there’s comfort in simplifying.
Six months without much in-person human contact is a long stretch. We're all feeling the isolation. Do whatever you can to combat loneliness. You burned out on Zoom calls early on? I get it. Consider slowly reentering the world of online chats, especially as the days get shorter and you’re really missing your people. Check on friends who live alone or in less than ideal family situations. Find a pen pal, you know... a friend who's willing to exchange old-fashioned, snail mail letters. Join a virtual group or take an online class. (Connect with me at NINE Online;-)
This needs no explanation. Your voice matters. Period.
(If you're not in the United States, we're three weeks out from an incredibly important presidential election.)
That's what I've got for now, more thoughts later. I hope you and your family are healthy and well. What's helping you stay grounded and focused in 2020?
Oh, and I almost forgot...
I'm speaking at a really cool online event this month! My good friend (and serious wellness badass) Krista Moreland of KmoreMacro is hosting a FREE Summit for womxn.
Check it out + get your free ticket right here... The Empowered Mama Summit.
Here's a BIG virtual hug. As always, thank you for sharing this space with me.
Are we friends on Instagram yet? > @kristencainstyle
*All the things: the unparalleled tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic - human suffering, deaths, unemployment, shuttered businesses, entire industries that may never recover, the atrocities of racism, racial injustice, facing and changing centuries of white privilege, political unrest, the upcoming election, missing friends, family and physical touch, our youth missing an entire year of structured learning, our planet burning, flooding, crying out for help, misogyny, patriarchy, blatant cruelty towards our fellow humans, and so much more…