cleaning up our act

Over the weekend I had family over for dinner and some brussel sprouts roasting in the oven. Seems like no big deal, but I burnt them. I was seriously looking forward to eating them, and so was everyone else. Like any kitchen mishap, I had some cleanup to do; the half sheet pan they were roasting on needed a good scrubbing. In using the old elbow grease, I had a revelation about our own need for taking care of ourselves and how it’s never too late to start cleaning up our act.

HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

I neglected to get a before shot of my half sheet pan, but let’s just say it had a good layer of burnt brussel sprouts on it, along with seasoning from previous forays in the kitchen.  I had a moment of negative self-talk about how I’d let things get out of control; for how filthy my pan was and my neglect for scrubbing it all off earlier. But let’s be real, all the bacon, roasts (chicken, beef, ham), and delectable vegetables left their marks on the pan that a regular sponge or dishwasher couldn’t get off. It took me getting out the Brillo pad, scrubbing, and SCRUBBING to get that pan back to its shiny self.

As I scrubbed and scrubbed, it got me thinking about the ways in which we take care of ourselves. How at times, a messy pan can be intimidating. How when our work is so clearly cut out for us, it makes us feel nervous. The pressure of can we/can’t we sets in and it’s downright scary. Let’s face it, we all kinda want to eat a little cleaner, to live a little more active lifestyle, to donate a little more to organizations we believe in…but finding the time, the energy, the money can make us feel anxious.

When the scaries set in, the best defense is a small step forward. There are many little things we can do each day to take better care of ourselves. Instead of trying to wrangle them all at once, choose just one or two and see if you can stick to it. Park a little farther away from the office if you can. Challenge yourself to bring nutritious lunch to work for three days in a row. Set a “mental break” timer at work to give yourself a chance to refresh after a session of intense focus. When we break down our goals into smaller “bites” it can seem much more manageable. Plus we generate momentum by achieving these little milestones along the way.

HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

Sometimes we don’t take the first step to take care of ourselves because we’re afraid of how hard it’s going to be. Sometimes we feel like that burnt brussel baking sheet; like we will never get back to our old self. But if we don’t try how will we ever make any progress? The first day is always going to be hard, but a month from now it will be easier and we will be stronger. Every day you show up, every day you try to reach your goals, you’re proving to yourself it can be done. This positive experience will snowball and it WILL become easier. Although you will have to experience it for yourself.

I want to end today by saying that we all have work to do in this self-improvement department. Deep down we all have things we want to do better, but it all starts with the first step. After all, little changes over time really make a difference.

Let’s do this!



the lies we tell ourselves

HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves

So I completed the inaugural Race Across Durham Trail Marathon, last weekend. My third marathon, but my first true trail race of this distance. It was a great day overall; the course was awesome, the volunteers were amazingly supportive, and the weather was perfect for spending the day on some technical ass trails. My awesome pals, Amy and Liz, and I just kept stepping and sharing encouraging thoughts with another. We made jokes about how slow we were moving. We celebrated when there were cookies and Pepsi at the aid stations. We pushed past a barrage of crazy feelings along that soul-crushing course all the way to the finish. The race was a lot more challenging than we expected, and we all had to keep the positive mental attitude strong to get through it.

The truth is this: for moments in the race, I was absolutely lying to myself. For only the second time in my amateur “I-like-to-run-for-long-periods-of-time” career, I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to complete the race. Parts of the course I could barely hike without tumbling ass over ankles, much less run. I didn’t know if we’d ever make it out of the woods. I was in way over my head, but acknowledging that uncertainty would only make matters worse. I had to make a choice to banish my doubt and pretend it was going to be perfect. I had to monitor my inner dialogue and speak only kind words of encouragement aloud to Amy and Liz. I crafted lie after lie so I could stay focused and be supportive of the process.

When we finally stumbled out of the woods six hours later, it was revealed that my friends and I experienced the same exact thing. Each of us had doubts and worries and concerns, but we all made a silent vow to keep it positive for every step of our 26.2 miles. It is truly amazing that three completely different people can-without talking about it-get on the same page. Trail running is not really a team sport, but on 12/3 in Durham, it absolutely was.

As a person who subscribes to an “honesty is always best” policy, I have to admit that the lies we told ourselves last Sunday were absolutely necessary. Honestly, I did not KNOW what would happen. I had to hope for the best and believe we would get through it. I’m reminded of Henry Ford’s famous words:

HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves

This has always resonated with me. I believe that the mindset you have going into a situation informs it’s outcome. Think about it for a moment. When we look forward to something with excitement, we are usually a little more forgiving. Maybe the caterer mixed up an appetizer order, but the party was still great! Maybe our best friend’s incoming flight was delayed, but there was no traffic on the way to the airport! When we are hopeful, we can overlook some of the imperfections and idealize reality.

Conversely, when we are full of dread and anxiety, when we are fearful or doubtful, there is a snowball effect. I know we have all had days were things start off bad and progressively get worse. Without fail, if you are already running late for anything, there will be some traffic situation to delay you even more. And then you will probably spill your coffee everywhere and leave your lunch at home on the kitchen counter. Is the universe out to get you? Probably not, but it feels that way.

Why does this happen?

It happens because negativity, even a kernel of it, can send us down a spiral of doom. It begins to color the lens through which we see everything. When we start expecting a hot shitty mess at every turn, our brain will do everything it can to make that a reality.

It takes great effort, and sometimes a little creativity to be positive, but it’s worth it. The little lies we tell ourselves, the little uncertainties we smooth over, they help us to stay focused on the task at hand. They keep us moving forward so we don’t get stuck in the spiral.

So remember, next time things start to get a little dark, try with all your might to look at the bright side…even if it has been created with artificial lighting 🙂



HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves HebrewDawn: the lies we tell ourselves

coming out of the fog

HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

My daughter is just about to turn nine months old, which means she will be out as long as she was in. As we hit this milestone I finally feel like I’m coming out of the proverbial new mom fog. If you’re in the midst of the fog you might know what I’m talking about. If your past it, I’m almost certain you know what I’m talking about. Whether we’re in it or past it, we all eventually come out of the fog.

As a mom, it is always an adjustment to embrace your new found identity. You had this baby that spent nine months growing inside of you, but now it is learning to live outside of you. You spent months adjusting your growing belly and now you must recalibrate and learn to provide for this little person all the time. 

Not only are you learning caregiving skills, but you also have this new identity called motherhood to embrace. You’ve gone from being your own person, and now your some little person’s whole world. If you already have older children, you’re learning how to share yourself with all the little people vying for your attention. No matter how many children you have, it’s always an adjustment to accept the new you.

When you have a baby, they’re always worried about you having postpartum depression. No one talks about this fog you’re living in. With so many things changing in your body, your life, identity, etc. you spend your days with your mind spinning. I am here to share something with you that I’ve heard from almost every mom; adjusting to this new identity as a mother is a challenge for everyone. I’ve also heard from almost every mom that we do make it out of the fog and see our world clearly once more. The way we see our life and world may be different than before, but it is now filled with lots of love and joy. 

yours in motherhood,


HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

when volumes speak #metoo

HebrewDawn: when volumes speak #metoo

I have to take a moment to appreciate the gesture of those tiny words. As I’ve scrolled through my social media feed over the last week, I see countless women (and men) coming forth in brave solidarity. These people are my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and for many, this is the first I’m hearing of these events. This movement is not about trending or gaining new followers. It’s not about one-upping or getting attention. It’s not even about righting the wrongs of the past. It is simply about awareness. This is a demonstration that encourages volumes to speak two little words…me too.

Some of you have courageously shared the details of your experiences, and I commend you for this because I couldn’t do it. To be honest, I still feel like the times it happened to me were my fault. I still feel like I let it happen; although, the throngs of you who are bravely acknowledging that you too have had this experience is slowly chipping away at that feeling. Seeing all the #metoo posts are slowly helping to alleviate the shame. 

Brene Brown a renowned author and research professor suggests that empathy is the only way to eradicate shame. In one of her videos she explains empathy with a powerful example. An example that epitomizes #metoo  and why it is, in fact, a gesture of empathy.

I thought for a great while about not “fessing up” and posting the #metoo status, but I chose to speak. Besides, what has silence brought me but shame and torment? In truth, the way I’ve handled my shame is by isolating myself. I stopped living my life because I was afraid of repeating “mistakes”.I considered the situation to be something that was my fault so in attempt to gain control, I removed myself from the situation. I stopped drinking with my friends, I stopped dating, I thought twice about what I wore and how it made me look, I chose my words more carefully. I built a wall around myself.  I thought it was to keep bad things out, but it has only served to keep the shame close. You see, we can try everything in our power to “remove ourselves from the situation”, but it will only do so much. When we stop living our lives, we are giving in to the shame.  At the end of the day, the only thing that can ease our shame is the awareness that we are NOT actually alone.

The truth is this; if any person has tried to engage you in any sexual activity (conversations, touching, name calling, photos, etc) to which you did not provide consent, that is WRONG. It doesn’t matter if that person is your boyfriend or your boss or your coach or whatever. Taking advantage of someone by force or leveraging shame IS WRONG. The assumption that a woman is promiscuous due to her dress or behavior or that she gives consent by default of these attributes is WRONG. Consent is quite simple. It is a clear YES. Any response other than an emphatic  YES is a f*cking NO.

Excuse my language, but this is a very serious thing we are dealing with. Last Monday tons of people came forward to say “me too”. To crawl down into the pit with those who are hurting and say we are here and we understand. This gesture has helped me to feel a little less shame, and a little more brave in standing up for what is right. I  hope it does something similar for you, too.

In love and kindness…


work your body, calm your mind

HebrewDawn: work your body, calm your mind
Phew-it’s WEDNESDAY! We are officially halfway through the week y’all! I never used to get excited about humpday, but I’ve created a little midweek routine and it’s really changing the game. For so many of us, our energy levels trend downward as the week progresses. In the beginning, we start fresh as a daisy; bright, strong and ready to take on the world. I don’t know about you, but usually by Thursday night, my daisy is flaccid and wilty and generally over it. I find myself stressed about what I have left to do, worried about what I didn’t do yet, and desperately trying to make it all come together. It doesn’t have to be this way though. If you are looking for more energy and a “less sucky” end of the week, I’ve got the plan for you.  Working your body can actually calm your mind-using the energy you have inside will release stress, bring stillness, and create even more positive energy for the rest of the week.

The first part is an easy sell. It’s not uncommon for people to exercise as a way to relieve stress. While physical activity is a great way to take your mind off the things that are giving you grief, it can be just a brief distraction. Exercise becomes an outlet when you combine it with intention. If you have ever heard someone say they are going to “leave it all on the table,” you can assume he or she is delivering their very best and walking away knowing they couldn’t have given more. This is a powerful concept-entering a situation when you’re prepared, confident, and ready for a challenge is inspiring. When you “leave it all on the table,” the outcome doesn’t matter. The growth is in the journey, you’ve done the work and proved something to yourself. You can let go of the pressure and fear of judgment and appreciate your efforts.

The second part probably seems counter-intuitive. Using energy to create energy? It’s true that if I have $5 and then spend $5, I no longer have $5. Strangely your physical energy stores work the opposite way. Believe it or not, going for a brisk walk can refresh you the same as would a power nap. Next time you feel that I-ate-too-much-lunch heavy eyelid feeling, give it a try! Hop up and take a brisk 5 minute walk, you will feel better and more alert…Kinda cool, no?

So that’s the theory; using exercise to let go of stress and create energy. Why and how exactly do we need to apply it?

Let’s suppose we missed a whole week of work/life/etc. due to a vacation, illness, business travel, or some other reason. Upon return we usually scavenge for the critical points we missed and the rest is history. In a situation like this, it’s so much easier to let go of the past. We understand that the world kept turning while we were away and it would be fruitless to rehash every detail of our absence. It’s not like someone told us not to give a fig , but for some odd reason we are able to give ourselves a break and let it go.

Why can’t we extend this same forgiving attitude to our weekly to-do list? The stress we feel on Thursday about the stuff we didn’t get to on Tuesday seems justified and most of us keep trying to add a little extra here or there to stay on track. Maybe we don’t get enough sleep one night, skip a workout, or cancel something we were really looking forward to; either way we end up paying for it later on. We trudge onward losing steam all the while, and by the week’s end we are completely pooped. Raise your hand if you habitually make and then cancel post-work plans on Friday night because you literally can’t even!

We forget that robbing Peter to pay Paul still leaves somebody broke; trying to make up for lost time is the exact same flawed logic. The key to avoiding the end-of-the-week slump lies in cleaning the slate. Celebrating all you’ve accomplished so far and forgiving the things you haven’t can help you look forward with a sense or purpose instead of dread or defeat.


Step 1 – divide your week into two parts, the BEGINNING and the END. I work Monday through Friday so Wednesday is the middle for me. My friend Cait is a security guard and she works Wednesday through Sunday so Friday is midweek for her, you get the idea. Set your intentions on getting to the midpoint and get excited about tapping into your “happy.” Don’t worry about getting through the whole week, you’re journey is to the middle.

Step 2 – get “happy” with a fun activity. This should be something you look forward to, but something that’s also challenging. The key is to choose something that makes you feel good about YOU! This is a great time to leave it all out there as we discussed earlier, but it can be anything. Time, intensity, variety are all up to you. Some examples are squats for the duration of your favorite song, holding a plank, taking a bike ride with a friend, a pilates class. Not feeling physical? Try meditating, coloring, or preparing a new recipe. We are taking time to be present in our activity and celebrate our awesomeness, so feel free to give your body whatever it needs.

Think of  each week as a road trip with the “middle” as your destination. This approach gives you two chances to get it right. You have the way there AND the way back with a checkpoint in the middle; a chance to learn, evaluate and make adjustments along the way. Reaching your halfway point destination is a big deal. You’ve done it! Your midweek “happy” time should celebrate you. A little time to say “thank you, me, for being so good to me,” to recharge before you start again. Once you get where you’re going, reflect on where you’ve been, you might need to change things up. The beauty of the road trip is that the way there can be completely different than the way back; the best part is that you have the freedom to decide what you need.








Getting Healthy

Do you take good are of yourself? I mean, do you exercise regularly, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and get enough rest? I’d like to think and say that I take good are of myself, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I could definitely do a better job! Today I want us to talk about being better at this. So what does it look like to take good care of ourselves?


There are lots of thoughts out there about how we should go about doing this. Some may think it’s following a special diet, doing a certain type of exercise, or joining accountability groups. Much of that will definitely help and be part of that process. Much of it can sound like a lot of work, and not something we want to do. We’ll make excuses because it seeems like there’s a long list of musts, shoulds, and can’t haves and we don’t want to be deprived of the things that we want. I truly believe that this isn’t quite the right approach. We need to get our thoughts focused on being or getting healthy. When we think about doing what’s healthy and good for us, then that is something  we can get on board with doing. We might not want to talk about how we should eat or how much we are going to exercise, but what if we started asking ourselves if what we’re about to do is going to make us the healthiest version of ourselves?

I personally planned to be better about exercise in 2016, and I’ve not been as good as I had hoped. I don’t really want to go for a run, but I do want to be the healthiest version of myself so I can live life to the fullest. So tomorrow is my birthday, and I’m going to use this as my new year to start over. I still plan to exerise more, eat better (less sugary sweets), and other things of that nature. I will not be marking my calendar up with exercise appointments, but I will be writing reminders to myself to make healthy choices. By doing this I’m going to be concerned with being a healthier version of me for today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.


There are simple steps we can follow after we change our thought process on being healthy:

  1. Start and end each day with a refreshing glass of water. Once you have this habit in place, it’s easier to keep drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  2. Get to sleep at a time that will ensure you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. We may think we can get by on less sleep, but studies show that our bodies NEED that much sleep. When do you need to be up in the morning? Make sure you’re in bed 7 to 9 hours before then, and include some time to wind down too.
  3. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and healthy snacks in between. Skipping meals isn’t good for your metabolism and sets you up for making poor food choices out of starvation.
  4. Find a physical activity you love and do it. There’s no sense making yourself run if it’s something you hate doing, but there’s also no reason to deprive yourself from going to yoga if that brings you joy.

Getting yourself to the point of being healthy doens’t have to be complicated, but it does involve choosing to be healthy. What would your life look like if you did this?

So, how are you ready to get healthy with me? I’m planning to share about my successes and failures, but no matter what I’ll be taking care of myself . I’m no expert on this topic, but I am a woman trying and encouraging you to join me.

Self-Care 101

self care 101: taking care of yourself or at making yourself a priorityAre you good at taking care of yourself or at making yourself a priority? If you’re anything like most women that I know, the answer is probably no. We all talk a big game about how we’re going to exercise more, eat better, drink more water, and take more bubble baths (or other relaxing activities). But at the end of the day it doesn’t happen, and it’s all just a lot of talk.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always the best about self-care, but it’s something I’m continually striving to be better about. I’m also someone who encourages those around me to be better about caring for themselves too. This is why wellness is going to be a new recurring theme on HebrewDawn. Today we’re going to talk about the why and the how of making self care a priority.

Why do we need to make this a priority?

  • Your body NEEDS exercise for your continued health and well-being
  • Your body NEEDS to rest so that you can be refreshed and renewed
  • Your mind NEEDS you to continue learning for increased memory
  • Your mind NEEDS to rest so that it continue to learn

Are you noticing a trend about our minds and bodies? I don’t think any of us want to see our bodies become weak, out of shape, or unhealthy. Just as we want our bodies to be healthy, we also don’t want to see them overtaxed and unable to continue. In the same vein, we’d like to think that our minds will remain sharp as a tack, rather than forgetful. In all of this finding balance is key, and requires commitment on our own part. How we each go about taking care of ourselves might be different, but it still needs to happen.

How are we going to make this a priority?

  • START making yourself a priority .
  • Make exercise and learning a part of your routine.
  • Find something that interests you and learn more about it.
  • Practice the art of saying no.

No one else is going to make you stop, rest, and care for yourself if you are not willing to do it. The people who love you and care about you might encourage you to slow down, but they most certainly cannot make you. What if you started saying no to the things that are keeping you from doing what you need to do for your own self-care? Far too often we’re afraid to say no to someone out of fear for how the other person will feel, but we fail to think about how this will make us feel. What if you did say no from time to time?

I’ve had a friend recently say that she generally focuses on the destination not the journey. Like myself, and many other women I know, she’s constantly on the go and not the best at slowing down. Now due to a recent injury, she has HAD to stop running at full-speed, slow down and enjoy the journey not the destination. How different would life be if we allowed ourselves to focus on the journey AND the destination? This could look like your schedule being less chaotic and full of things that bring you the most joy. In the realm of self-care, this would look like taking care of yourself being the norm, and not something special you have to do


Where can you make exercise, rest, and learning part of your routine?

Coming Soon: specific ways we can care for our bodies, brains, and more!

Dear Breastfeeding Mama

Dear Mama Breastfeeding with a Newborn,

Please do not forget to take care of yourself! You have worked hard for months to grow this sweet baby in your womb AND to bring this fresh baby into the world. You deserve to take time to care for yourself too. I mentioned in my baby registery post last week a couple items needed for taking care of the breastfeeding mama, but I didn’t get into all of them. It takes the sisterhood of motherhood to learn how to care for ourselves and our little ones. I’m thankful for the other moms who shared these tips with me, and I hope you find these tips helpful too.

  1. If you have not started using nipple cream after each nursing or pumping session, start using it EVERY SINGLE TIME. Don’t wait until your nipples hurt. After a few days your nipples will hurt and you may question why you’re feeding this demanding child all the time. Don’t let this pain scare you, because this discomfort will pass SOON.
  2. Go make or have someone make you  a couple cups of tea and enjoy them.Place the tea bags on a plate and put them in the fridge for an hour or so ( until they’re nice and cold). Place the tea bags on your nipples and allow them to sooth your discomfort. The tannins in the tea help to alleviate the discomfort you may feel in the early days of breastfeeding.
  3. It’s okay to live in nursing tanks! Throughout my maternity leave (and after returning to work), I paired these with a cardigan for home. If I left the house I’d another shirt and I was set for nursing on the go. I could pull the shirt up, pop open the nursing tank and have the cardigan to provide privacy on the sides. Over time it got easier to nurse discretely without even using a nursing cover.
  4. Know that nursing sleep bras are worth the money! They keep the nursing pads in place you from leaking breast milk all over you and your bed. They’re easier to use when you wake up are woken up by a hungry baby to nurse.
  5. Keep nursing every few hours to keep your milk supply up, but know that it gets easier. Eventually my daughter had enough head and neck control that I could nurse on my side. Which meant, I laid in bed while half asleep and my little girl did all the work. #winning
  6. The laundry, dishes, and cleaning can wait. Anybody can wash and clean up, but you need to heal and bond with your baby.
  7. Know that you are not crazy to have your emotions swing from high to low and all over the place. It takes time after having a baby for your hormones to get in balance. So go laugh, cry, and feel all the feels.
  8. Say yes to offers for help. because they want to help you. You can try and do it all, but you don’t have to do it all.
  9. Ask for help. If people are not offering you the help you need, ask for it. Sometimes people just do not know what to do, but are happy to do it if you ask.
  10. People will want to come see you and your new baby, but you don’t have to say yes. Saying not right now is an acceptable answer.

Don’t forget about you in the midst of all the diapers, feeding, and bathing. Your self care is critical to healing, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Newborns are sweet and cuddly, but they are also a lot of work. You will be overcome with love for this tiny person in your arms and wonder if you’re doing it right. Know that you ARE doing a great job mama! Reach out to your fellow mom friends for support. If you do not have mom friends yet, know that this mama right here is here to support you too. Feel free to send me a note here you need it.


a mom who’s been there before too

a favorite nursing photo of VHP

This post has also been featured on the linkup hosted by a hopeful HOOD and Through for by