She works with willing hands.

Why Exercise is Vital to Me

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

After a thoroughly long day of meal prepping, dish washing, boo-boo kissing, disciplining, laughing, sometimes crying and repeating myself over and over and over, I cannot wait to lace up my sneakers.  One hour to myself – to move, sweat, stretch and bend my body – it is vital to this unbored housewife.

I did not always crave exercise.  There was a time in my earlier years of motherhood when the thought of exercising after a long day of parenting seemed laughable – even ridiculous.  I had a million reasons not to work out.  Exhausted – check.  Not enough sleep – check.  Not enough time – check.  Depressed – check.  Lacking exercise clothes that fit – check.  If this sounds like you, I get it, mama.  I feel ya.

But since a few weeks after the birth of my last baby, I haven’t waivered in my commitment to exercise this body that God crafted just for me, and here is why:

1.  I want to look good.

Let’s go ahead and discuss this one up front.  Yes, I want to look good.  As a married woman, I want my husband to desire me.  And I want my skinny jeans to fit well – sans muffin top.  I want to feel comfortable in my swimsuit while playing with my kids at the pool.  I don’t want to hate every single picture that is taken of me.

Perhaps a better, more Godly way of stating it is this – I want to feel comfortable with my appearance.  I don’t want to feel awkward in my skin suit.

You see, we can turn anything into an idol, including our appearance, and I am certainly not above falling into the trap of vanity.  Focusing on “looking good” can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with an exterior image that is fading daily with age.  As I sang a million times during my college years, “All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away…”  (Bonus points if you can name the song.)

As women we’ve received a lifetime of distorted messages about what it means to “look good” and we are prone to compare, compare, compare ourselves to every other female around us.  Vanity is ugly like that.

As a Christian, I seek to navigate a course somewhere in the middle.  Yes, I want to look good, but not in a vain and competitive way.  I want to feel beautiful, but that should never be my primary focus.  For I know that my appearance is in no way a barometer of my worth – no matter what society tries to sell me.

2.  I want to feel good.

When I am in shape, I just feel better.  Beyond the fit of my jeans, when I exercise routinely I sleep more soundly and have more mental clarity during the day.  I am more patient with my children, and more eager to be intimate with my husband.  I am also less likely to feel depressed.

We know that regular exercise helps us stay healthier, and although there is no avoiding the certainty of the grave, when we work out, we are caring for the body that God gifted us – which leads me to my final point…

3.  It glorifies God.

Scripture tells me that my primary purpose – the reason that God created me – is to bring glory to him.  And being thusly created, I seek to ask the question of everything I undertake in life, “Does this activity bring glory to God?”

There are many ways that exercising the physical body can glorify its Creator.  When I work out, I gain a deeper appreciation of the miracle of the human form.  After carrying, birthing and nursing three babies, I know full well that God designed my body in fascinating and mysterious ways.  When I exercise it, I am compelled to thank God for gifting me with lungs that circulate oxygen to my cells, pores that sweat to cool me down, and muscles that flex when I draw in my limbs.  Glory be to God for these designs.

Further, regular exercise equips me to be a better wife, mother, friend and community member.  This glorifies God.  I am far less of a witness for Christ when I am self-conscious, tired and depressed.  Working out supplies me with the physical energy and stamina I need to fulfill my calling as an unbored housewife.

I also meet a lot of cool women in my exercise classes – high school girls, college-aged women, professionals, mothers and grandmothers.  I touch their lives and they touch mine.  This glorifies God.

Scripture specifically tells us that physical exercise is of value.  In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, the Apostle Paul writes:

[T]rain yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.

Therefore, I exercise to look good and feel good, all the while keeping my workouts in their proper place.  “[F]or while bodily training is of some value,” seeking to glorify God is of eternal value.  After all, bringing glory to my maker is the reason that I have breath in my lungs in the first place.

If you are exhausted, sleep deprived, overwhelmed by your schedule, depressed or in poor physical shape, I encourage you to find some type of exercise that you enjoy – and commit to it.  When kept in its proper place, working out can help you look good, feel good and glorify God.  It can make a world of difference to a tired mama – it certainly does for me.

An Interview With Unbored Housewife

Photo cred the talented Allie Skylar Photography.
Photo cred the wildly talented Allie Skylar Photography.

Isn’t it narcissistic to interview yourself?

Trust me, I considered this question several times before writing this post.  However, folks have asked me a bunch of these questions since I started this blog, and since you asked, I’ll answer.  🙂

When and where were you born?

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1979, making me one year shy of being a Millennial.  (I’m not sure whether that makes me want to groan or cheer.)

When and how did you learn to cook?

Before I quit my job as a lawyer to be a stay-at-home parent, I could scarcely cook a thing.  I worked late most nights, so I often ate take-out for dinner at the office, while Jersey Boy cooked and ate his own dinner at home.  Those days, Jersey Boy did 99% of the cooking in our home, and he never complained once.  His mama taught him well.

After I quit my big-money job and nightly take-out was no longer in the budget, I realized that I better teach myself to cook.  I learned mostly from reading cooking blogs, the Pioneer Woman being foremost among them.  Her detailed descriptions and large photos of each step were necessary for a beginner like me.  What the heck is the meat supposed to look like after you “brown it”? – I had not a clue.  So visuals of each step were a necessity.

Now I adore cooking and I enjoy writing detailed recipe posts with clear photos for beginners just like the former me.

You have three little kids.  Do you really “adore cooking”?  How do you find time to do it?

Trust me, there is not a gourmet situation going on here every night.  Last night we ate grilled hot dogs.  But most nights, I prepare balanced meals with real food.  Two of my littles still nap (thank heavens), so I do most of my dinner prep during naptime.  Jersey Boy gets home around 5:30 p.m., and I do much of my active cooking thereafter.

I adore the creativity that cooking permits.  I bore easily, and cooking is a healthy outlet for me to continually try new things – new spices, new cooking styles, new ingredients.  I also cook a lot of cultural food – Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Spanish, Italian – I pretty much love it all.  I want my kids to grow up loving the same Cajun dishes that I ate as a child, so I’ve mastered most of my mom’s classic Louisiana dishes.

What is your religion?

I am a Christian.

Why do you write so much about your faith?

My faith informs everything about my life.  It is not something that I compartmentalize and take out on Sunday morning.  My faith is interwoven in everything I do every day.  But that does not mean that I am always an excellent example of my faith.  I live in a fallen world, and I screw up all the time.  I am a perfectly imperfect Christian, striving to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called (Ephesians 4:1).

Do you miss practicing law?

I have to say, I don’t miss the hours.  But I did work with some truly wonderful and wickedly smart people, and I miss them.  I miss the people.  And the paycheck.  The paycheck was nice.  (Just keepin’ it real.)

Have you always enjoyed exercising?

Um, no.  I was formerly a ballerina and a college cheerleader, and those activities kept me in excellent shape.  However, when I started law school I had no desire to hit the gym, and I went many years without consistent physical activity.  Add to that all my evenings of take-out dinners, and I was in fairly poor shape.  I never gained much weight, but I completely lacked tone, definition, strength and endurance.

Now I love working out, and it’s for one reason – I found an exercise class that I thoroughly enjoy.  For nearly two years, I’ve attended Mojo Fitness classes two to three times a week, and I love it (so much so that I lead classes from time to time).  The founder and lead instructor of Mojo, Cindy Brauer, has become a personal friend.  With Mojo, Cindy created a unique exercise experience, and she works tirelessly to keep the class fresh and accessible to women of all body types and fitness levels.  Plus, it’s crazy fun.  It’s my happy place.

Now I count down the hours until Mojo.  And I have a good excuse to buy all of that cute and trendy exercise gear.

Where and how did you meet your Jersey Boy?

Jersey Boy and I met in a bar in Philadelphia.  After downing two cosmopolitans, I didn’t mind brazenly calling him over to chat with my friend and I.  I thought he was handsome, and I expected his ego to match his visage.  Much to my delight, however, he was shy and unassuming.  He asked for my phone number and we went on our first date a few days later.  When I got home from our evening at the Cheesecake Factory, I told my roommate, “I just went on a date with my husband,” and I haven’t looked back since.  (And he somehow remembers exactly what both of us ordered for dinner that night, including the specific type of cheesecake.)

Are you done having children?

I get a little weepy when I think about this question.  Jersey Boy and I are in agreement that our family is probably complete…but I can’t imagine never cradling my own little newborn again.  So the answer is probably.  But only the Lord knows what he has in store…

Did Jersey Boy mind when you posted your abortion story?

No.  He was fully on board and supportive.  He helped me edit my story, as he does with all of my posts.  We prayed about it together, and we thoughtfully considered a range of possible outcomes and responses to publishing such a personal story.  I would have never published my story without his full and complete involvement and support.

Why don’t you post more pictures of yourself?

I am completely camera shy, and I typically dislike the way I look in pictures.  The photo at the beginning of this post makes me totally uncomfortable.  But I also value documenting my life in pictures for the benefit of my children.  I want them to know what their mama looked like when they were little.  So there I am – silly pose and all.

How did you come up with the name for this blog?

I wanted to crush the cliché of the bored housewife eating bon bons.  (What the heck is a bon bon, anyway?)  I work pretty darn hard, and I do it with willing hands for the benefit of my family and the glory of my God.  Amen.  Halleluiah.

Peace out and lots of love,

Unbored Housewife

Spring Fashion at lululemon

I haven’t always been a fitness girl.  Although I was formerly a ballerina and college cheerleader, the years of rigorous studies and then practicing law kept me away from the exercise world.  Don’t get me wrong, I know some lawyers who are ripped, but it is not without some serious tenacity and lots of deliriously early mornings.  Lawyers work a lot – and I’m not an early morning gal.

Let’s just say that after years of neglecting my fitness and then three pregnancies, I saw myself at a fork in the road – either get myself in shape OR face a future of flabbiness and self-conscious tugs at my waistband.  I chose the former and I wrote about that process here.  And I’m so thankful that today I can say that I’m a fitness chick – not from a place of arrogance or conceit – but from a place of true thanks that I have enjoyable opportunities to exercise this body that God gifted me.

I even lead dance fitness classes from time to time.  You can check out the class that I instruct here.  It’s called Mojo Fitness and it’s my happy place.

I wear my fitness gear hard and often, and prefer styles that can take me from class to preschool pickup and then through lunch and afternoon errands.  So when I started itching for some updates to my warm weather fitness attire, I consulted the experts.

These are the gals that I head to for fashion advice – Clara and Alison.

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I love fashion and feel fairly confident and capable in the style department, but these ladies are experts…and they happen to be personal friends.  They are unbored housewives, just like me, with little kids and busy lives.

They recently launched their own fashion and style blog called ClaraAlison Styling, and they do personal styling, wardrobe assessments, closet clean-outs and personal shopping on the side.  Most importantly, they’re mad about fashion, both have a wicked eye, and are fellow sweat enthusiasts.

We decided to meet up at lululemon athletica to put together some fresh looks (but not before meeting at our favorite coffee shop down the street for a hot cup o’ joe).

I have to admit, lululemon is another one of my happy places (and no, I did not receive any compensation or freebies to say that) – I just like their gear.  Their clothes have a fresh look and easily transition from exercise class to the street.

Lindsey (the rad chick in the white cap) came along to find some new gear for her RealRyder and Spunata classes, and she also took our photos.  She is an unbored housewife who happens to hold a degree in photojournalism, and she’s one of my best friends.

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That’s me in the purple top, front right.

The gals working at lululemon were positively welcoming and wonderful, offering clothing suggestions and pointing out new gear.

Clara and Alison pulled some options,

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and after some styling,

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Lindsey and I weighed our thoughts on the new mesh sided crops.  I loved the high waist and slanted bottoms, and the mesh ventilation is perfect for my Mojo class but perhaps less ideal for preschool pick-up.  What would the teachers say?  Scandalous, I tell you.

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Clara and Alison found Lindsey a look that suited her perfectly.  (And as a side note, this chick is blurry in every.single.picture.  She is in a state of perpetual motion.)

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I mean, what is more fun than playing real life dress-up with friends?

Until I got a call from my kid’s school telling me that I needed to come pick him up because he was coughing all over his classmates.  So I jetted out of there.  ‘Tis the life of an unbored housewife.

Until we meet again lululemon…

Oh, and they’re hosting this cool festival this weekend:

waynederlust

Check out the info here.  They’re going to have live music, food vendors, pop-up shops and free exercise classes all day (including pilates, bootcamp, barreless barre, circuit bootcamp and yoga).  Go get sweaty!

36 Feels Pretty Good

Yesterday was my thirty-sixth birthday.  I know that I’m still considered “young” according to many, and I certainly don’t feel “old.”  But as the fine crows feet slowly gather at the corners of my eyes, and I ascertain with dismay that I’m one year too old to be considered one of those much-discussed “millennials” I can’t help but feel thoroughly grown up.

But as they say, “age ain’t nuthin but a number” so I elect to push aside the image of myself growing ever closer to the pinnacle of that darn age-related hill.  You’re not over the hill until you allow yourself to feel that way, right?

My day began with gusto as I shook what my mama gave me at my Mojo exercise class.  That’s right, my favorite exercise class is called “Mojo” which I love because it reminds me that I have it (mojo, that is).  I talk about the class here.

And just look what my exercise buddies gave me:

birthday

While I’m at it, can I just say that I am tired of hearing that women don’t encourage and support each other – that we’ve all been socialized into catty, jealous gossips?

It simply isn’t true.

Does cattiness ever happen?  Sure.

But in my experience it is the exception, rather than the rule.  I have amazingly encouraging and supportive women in my life – women who seek to bolster each other with kindness and gestures of love.

If you don’t have women like this in your life – find them.

They may not be your age and they may not look anything like you – but they’re out there, all over the place.  Maybe it’s the grandma who sits in the cubicle across from you.  Maybe it’s the high school girl who lives next door (just imagine what an encouragement you could be to her).  Seek out these friendships.  You’ll be amazed by what you find and how you will be blessed.

Sorry, just give me a moment to step down from my podium.

Okay, I’m back.

After Mojo, my family took me to a scrumptious lunch and then I headed to the nail salon for a touch of solitary pampering (oh the joy).

I left looking like this:

mani pedi

Jersey Boy had this boxed up and waiting for me at home:

dress

And may I just say that there is something terribly romantic about a man picking out and purchasing a dress for his wife to wear out that evening?  I felt a little bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

Except I’m not a prostitute.

And Jersey Boy isn’t a millionaire.

And we’re married.

Oh, you get what I mean, right?

After slipping into my LBD and leaving our children in the capable hands of my MIL, we headed to Paris.

Yes, that Paris – the quaint French bistro and jazz café in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia.

I enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir, escargot, short rib beef bourguignon, classic crème brulee and a strong cup of decaf coffee with cream.

After dinner, my LBD could have benefitted from a bit of alteration to take out the waist by an inch (or three), but in the spirit of embracing the age of thirty-six, I didn’t much mind.

It was a birthday well spent surrounded by the amazingly supportive people in my life, and I gotta say, so far thirty-six feels pretty good.

Bravely Dancing – Originally posted at Hello, Darling

Originally posted at Hello, Darling

http://www.mops.org/blog/bravely-dancing

I surveyed the women quickly filing in as I entered the cavernous gymnasium.  They were all ages, and to my relief represented a broad range of body shapes and sizes.  They were bedecked in varying styles of fitness attire, with many of the more stylish gals standing near the front of the gym.  Those girls up front made me nervous with their slick ponytails, name-brand yoga pants and neon shoes laces.  I looked down at my sneakers and pondered, “Are these even stylish?  I think they were a few years ago.”  I nervously tugged at my pre-baby black cropped pants, hitching them a few inches higher in an effort to tuck in my post-partum belly.  On top I wore a baggy Harvard t-shirt my husband brought back from a recent business trip to Boston.  I felt sloppy and disgusting, but I had to start somewhere.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away I had been a ballerina and a college cheerleader.  But the rigors of law school and later the grueling hours of practicing law at a large international law firm had taken their toll on my body – and that was before children.  After squeezing out three babies in just over four years, my body was in shambles and my fitness level poor.  Although a piece of me stood in awe of what my body had done by growing and then birthing my precious children, I also felt ashamed of my sagging belly and gigantic, milk-filled breasts.

The music started and I forced myself to make it through each song.  I felt clumsy and graceless.  My chest ached for a stronger sports bra, and I was terrified that at any moment I would pee myself.  Dancing used to be so effortless.  Why did this feel so hard?

Despite my discouragement I vowed to return, and I did.  Slowly, over time, as I learned the dance fitness routines, I started enjoying myself.

It’s been a year since first stepping foot in that gym.  Since starting the class I have lost 50 plus pounds and gained muscle tone and strength.  However, the true measure of what I have gained is much greater.  I am finding myself again.

I started my first dance class as a mere babe of two-years-old.  I studied various forms of dance for the first twenty years of my life before the demands of studies and building a career ended dance for me.  Each of my pregnancies brought significant weight gains (far in excess of medical recommendations) and my body became utilitarian.  I lost all sense of myself as graceful and fluid.  However, my fitness class reminded me of my great passion for dance.  It makes me feel alive and free.  For an hour a few times a week, I get to be a young girl again – moving, bending, stretching gracefully.

Now when I see a new woman sliding quietly into the back of the gym, nervously tugging on her pants, I give her a knowing smile and say hello.  I don’t want my slick ponytail and neon shoe laces to intimidate her.  I am her, after all – just more like myself.