The  Motherload
Breaking up with my job was easy. Breaking up with the old me, the woman who measured her worth in achievements, is hard.
I’ve spent the last year consciously uncoupling from a codependency with my career. After years of letting work dominate my life and relationships, I don't want it to be the center of my universe anymore. But the truth is, as a recovering girlboss (cringe), I’m terrified of relapsing into stale behavioral patterns. 
In the world of corporate media, quitting is a revolutionary act. Nobody ever leaves. Which is crazy, considering you’re away from your family for weeks at a time, pretending like the insane pressure is NBD and living with the existential dread of having to hop on a flight on a moment’s notice to cover the latest tragedy. 
It was all backwards. The more successful I became – the higher I climbed – the more life I missed.
But then the pandemic made me a mother… twice… and suddenly I stopped caring what everyone would think if I did the unthinkable and moved on. 
I also just knew too much by then. Those power-suited girl bosses I idolized (and often worked for) silently sacrificed an awful lot by making work their primary focus. No one ever talks about the loneliness, the strained marriages, the latchkey kids, the immense stress – the brokenness beneath a shattered glass ceiling. I was very close to following in their footsteps… until I challenged my own definition of success. 
Couldn’t success also look like a loving marriage, a robust home life, a career I take pride in and contentment with the possessions I already own? Isn’t that the real flex?
Whether it was sparked by childbirth or the pandemic or something else altogether, millions of us are struggling to reconcile who we are on the other side of a massive career change. I mean, Beyonce just wrote a song about us. If the unbreaking of your soul prompts a bit of soul-searching for you too, you’re in good company.
I wanted to get a science-based perspective on my latest identity crisis, so I reached out to licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa-Marie Del Rio. She goes by The Identity Doctor on Instagram where she offers incredibly poignant analysis on destiny, trauma and, yes, identity. “If you’re feeling like your identity is wrapped up in your work and that this conflicts with your co-existing identification as a mother, know that you are far from the only one,” Dr. Del Rio explains. “This is very normal, and it results not from any shortcoming on your part but actually from your biologically-gifted strengths.” Whew. Instead of fighting natural desires to achieve and parent or feeling forced to choose between the two, Dr. Del Rio encourages women to embrace duality. Research has supported the idea that women who embody multiple roles – like mother and professional – tend to be physically and emotionally healthier. 
And here’s why. “Women have a large prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that facilitates organization, self-control, emotional control, planning and time management – as well as a larger lateral parietal cortex, which is responsible for powerful cognitive processes, such as attention and working memory. These features are what give women an advantage in multi-tasking and taking on multiple roles,” Dr. Del Rio says. 
“Women also have an enlarged orbitofrontal cortex, superior temporal cortex, and insula, which essentially means that we have heightened senses. Because of this, we fully engage in whatever role we are playing. We aren’t simply doing. We’re being." 
Over the last year, I’ve had the luxury of fully engaging in motherhood. It is the job that brings me the most joy, hands down. And without Slack jolting a daily dose of cortisol through my veins, I’ve even had time to work on myself too. Giving myself permission to decelerate and do less – without worrying what others will think – set me free. I stopped drinking six months ago and – I never thought I'd say this – but I am in the best physical shape of my life after having two kids. For the record, I am still working. Only now, I’m doing it on my own terms.
“To find a healthy balance, a working mother has to make a conscious effort to simultaneously foster the three aspects of herself: her material self (who she is at work), her social self (who she is in relationships), and her spiritual self (who she is at her core – her personality, values and conscience.) All parts of her must dance in unison to fully capture an integrated identity. If one part is neglected, her whole system feels the weight of misalignment.”
Quitting your job can be an empowering identity reset – it was for me. My spiritual self is slowly unlearning lame ass “boss babe” mantras and learning how to cultivate self-worth without relying on the validation of my peers. And instead of succumbing to the pressure of “having it all” at once, I’m simply choosing the next right thing for my soul. Here’s hoping that cultivates harmony between who I was, who I am and the woman I want to be. 

Image item

Crazy Good 
Protein Brownies
I did it, y'all. I finally did it. I made a healthy, low-sugar dessert that is actually edible. And not just edible – these high-protein brownies are shockingly delicious. Yes, I eat clean 85% of the time, but ya girl's got a major sweet tooth. And this one has NO added sugar! You will need some specialty ingredients (Monkfruit sweetener, Keto flour) that can be a bit pricey, but you'll still have some left over to use in other recipes. 
1 cup (120g) Vital Proteins chocolate collagen powder (or use unflavored and add more cocoa)
3/4 cup Monkfruit sweetener (Lakanto Golden Monkfruit has the best flavor)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp. Keto flour (I used King Arthur's)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup water (or milk of your choice)
1/4 cup nut butter of your choice (I used peanut butter)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 large) egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare to have your mind blown. 2. Mix wet ingredients first, then dry. 3. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper or lightly grease it. 4. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly dry. 5. Cut into 8 squares and go to chocolate town. 
(Each brownie has 128 calories, 5 g of fat, 16 g of protein and 25 carbs)
A Summer Dinner Party They'll Remember All Year Long
I'm not sure what's more satisfying – attending a fabulous dinner party or hosting one your friends will talk about for years to come. There's something so inviting about a long banquet table, decorated with romantic florals and glowing candlelight. But if I'm being honest, pulling it all together seamlessly can be a bit daunting. As the dinner party makes a roaring comeback, I enlisted the impeccable taste of my dear friend Aaron Hahnselle – a brilliant designer and celebrity event producer who has perfected the refined, yet relaxed, tabletop aesthetic. He's the one I bombard with a million questions whenever it's my turn to host. Today, he's sharing five tips for creating the ultimate dreamy – and unfussy – summer tablescape.
1. Seek inspiration
Creating a simple, yet thoughtful, tablescape starts with a small spark of inspiration to inform the design. Hunt for a patterned table linen, border-stitched linen napkin, or even a vintage salad plate to set the tone for the overall vibe and mood. Don't stress – keep things simple and uncomplicated. 
Image item
3. Add layers of height and texture
Use florals, candles, and unexpected elements like bowls of fruit to create varied heights down the center of the table. Be wary of anything too tall that would impede guest sight lines. 
Florals are a must have! Choose a single floral type per vase to create mono-botanical floral arrangements. Vary your vase sizes for added visual interest. 
Candles, candles and more candles! 
When in doubt, candles are always the answer.
Candlelight is the easiest way to warm up a table and create a mood. Incorporate a mixture of votives, tapers and hurricanes for the optimum glow. 
5. A splash of the unexpected 
Give your guests a moment of surprise and delight with an added touch of detail. Set a floral stem at each place setting, write your guest names on a place card using a watercolor pen or create your own napkin tie with a raw silk ribbon. 
Aaron and I both love a good vintage haul, so I've put together a few items that caught my eye (some old, some new) in the hopes they'll serve as inspiration for your next gathering. Don't forget to check your local thrift store for vases, bowls, glassware and candle holders!
Image item
And because rich conversation is always the most important element of any dinner party, consider taking your discussion deeper with these prompts.
Thank you SO much for reading the first issue of The Motherload! Lots more to come around purpose, wellness and relationships.