The Settling In Phase : A Postpartum Update

I walk into the 6-8 week checkup and get the standard checklist of questions…most centered around the newborn I’m holding but then I got a zoned in….”How are YOU doing?”  Kudos to all 3 of my OBGYNs for actually asking this. I hear some sadly do not.  I’ve answered as authentically as I could which is “Good, tired, happy, adjusting.”

You take 9 months to grow this being and then one day they go from inside to outside.  I’m always reeling in that miracle for a good 3-4 months.  How is he really here now?  Look at his face. I dreamed what it would look like and now I see it before me.  How did we have our family before him? He’s forever a part of our unit now and I cant imagine life another way.

There’s the new baby bliss, the getting lost (literately) in piles of laundry, the night time wake ups, and then the demands of the other children that you’re trying your darnest to meet.  But I feel like my head is still above water because the support is there.  People expect me to still be adjusting and are usually quite gracious when my preschooler shows up late, with mismatched socks and no coat in the dead of winter.

I work off adrenaline those first few months.

Then around month 4 it starts to wear off and I’m left with the accumulation of several months of life-change hitting me (what feels like) all at once

For this reason, I’m here to share something I don’t hear folks often speak to : stages of postpartum.  I’m talking beyond the “4th Trimester” and into the following months, maybe years, afterwards.


For me personally, this falls under 3 levels of postpartum :

The initial postpartum : which is month 1-3

The settling in postpartum : month 4-6

The post-nursing stage : 1-2 years (depending on the kiddo!)


The stage I’m currently in, month 4-6, is when I get hit with a certain kind of heaviness : feelings of irritability, helplessness, and the sinking sense that I’m one step behind on just about everything.  And the falling behind part clips me most because I’ve learned that in this phase there is really is no AHEAD.  The most I can hope for is to keep up with the current flow,  but there is no getting ahead for me.

I often feel hard on myself.  Why can’t I be more calm and present?  Why is my son smacking applesauce in my ear while I’m trying to read making me feel like I want to go She-Hulk?!  Why can’t I look at my body and see all it’s done, instead of critiquing the changes I’m left with postpartum?  And then after these thoughts, let’s add on an extra layer by being hard on myself FOR being hard on myself.

This is the grappling reality of where this stage leaves me.  I’ve seen it happen after each of my 3.  But this time I’m doing things differently.

This time I’m removing mystery.

I don’t crinkle inward and hope someone will identify and unravel the knots in my soul.

Rather, I muster up the gumption to tell someone, to bare my feelings.

I say, “I’m trying to meet the needs of everyone else. I have needs too.  Can we start here with ____?  This is something that I would really love space for/care in.”  I have the guts to ask.

Deep down I want to be the one others ask for, not the one asking, but this “settling in” stage of postpartum is a season to lay down that pride.  To allow myself to provide margin that has been missing for going on a year now.  To claim back my body in the spaces I can safely do so.

It is a gift to give to others, but if we never allow ourselves to receive, then we are potentially denying that gift from someone else.  And what is more refreshing that someone showing their own humanness?  Truly.  May we have the humility to allow our own needs to be known and receive the ways others rise up to meet them.

So maybe some of you mamas find yourself somewhere in these lines.  If so, my hope and prayer is you feel a little less alone today knowing that for me postpartum is a carried-out journey : taking necessary pit stops, blisters on the soles of my feet, and learning to adapt to changes in terrain along the way.  It’s one I’m navigating now and likely will be for years to come.

Mamas, I see you.

I have grace for you.


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Gingerbread Bars

Christmastime has me craving all things ginger and spice. I tried this recipe a few different ways, had about 4-5 folks recipe test with me, and unanimously landed on the simple fact that butter makes this recipe have the best texture and flavor. I mean, it’s butter. Who is gonna argue with butter.

These bars are taken to the next level when you use Honey Mama’s Ginger Cardamom Bar crumbled on top. It gives it such a rich flavor that’s sure to have people asking “what’s in those?” because it’s truly got a unique profile with the addition of cardamom.

I hope you all love these as much as we do! And they’re healthy enough you just go right ahead and have them with your warm cup of morning coffee (or matcha). 🙂

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When the Doer Doesn’t Do : A Postpartum Update

I knew this was coming.  I could feel it in my busy little bones.  When a new baby enters into the world, the entire pace changes.  Let me clarify : the pace changes for the mom, but the hard part is it often does not change for the rest of the family.  This leaves the mama feeling a step behind on almost everything – late to school drop offs because of miscalculating the time it’ll take to load that one extra child, leaving crusty dishes in the sink and unswept crumbs on the floor.  I would be withholding information if I did not disclose that we are currently living out of a closet that is also known as our dryer.  When my daughter runs in looking for an item, my response is typically “Look in the laundry hamper!”  My husband jokes by the time I get around to it, it’s the texture of paper mache.

Newborns have few demands, but the ones they have require immediate and constant response.  As a postpartum mother, your body has undergone the majority of an entire year riding the waves of hormone fluctuations, the literal stretching of your body, and then the life-changing and Olympic act of birthing them into the world.  One minute they’re one inside of your body and the next they are on the outside.  And even though 1 become 2, it still take awhile for your body to feel yours again.  It takes awhile for your mind to settle into the reality of the change, the forever kind of change.

But back to the time, the pace, the rhythm that shifts once you shift from prenatal to postpartum.  I’m a doer.  I often will not ask for someone to help me because I figure by the time I ask and explain, I could’ve already done it.  So I just do it on my own.  I rarely sit down and I even have a hard time watching movies because that requires me to be still and engaged for well over an hour and well, who has time for that!  I used to not be this way but motherhood brought it out in me like never before.  I now have become that person that (embarrassingly) admits that I sometimes add items to my to-do list that have already been completed just so I can allow myself the simple delight of adding that check mark to the left of it (or line through it – whichever method you prefer).

I also love to create and then use those creations to serve others.  Now here’s the part that has unearthed itself and shocked me most.  I feel like if I’m REALLY honest, I’ll confess that I’ve often patted myself on the back for that.  It feels good to ME to give and harder yet to receive.  In this particular season, I find I’m still trying to give to the outside world at the same capacity I did before and the main people who suffer here are the people within the walls of my own home.  My rations are a bit short now and I have to be careful with where I store them.  I always tell other moms that are lamenting over feeling overcommitted that their first call is to their very own “little church”…and “don’t feel bad cutting your calendar to preserve that!  It’s most important!”  I can now feel this same message trying to land on my own heart.

The cure for all of this?  Well it certainly isn’t a one-time fix as this is a well that water is pulled out of daily.  It is the disciplined practice of moving in the direction I want to go.

This looks a lot less like studying the enneagram just a little more to understand the “why” behind my acts or trying to plow through the long days and a whole lot more like taking your sleeping baby upstairs to the rocking chair.

Sitting down and looking at his face.

Listening to his heavy sighs and watching the rise and fall of his chest, allowing the comfort of it to wrap up around you like a cozy blanket on a chilly winter day.

It’s choosing to open a window and listen to leaves rustle in the wind instead of turning on the radio and welcoming more input. 

Each step you take to lay down the doing brings you that much closer to the BEING. 

The art of being connects you deep places in your soul that are often running dry without you even realizing it.  It allows you the time and space to truly see what’s right in front of you and be present for your own life.  Engaging in these things fill our cups right back to the brim again, allowing us to pour out and invest in others once more,  giving us the reserves so we can be the caregivers we wanted to be all along.

So today I’m leaning into my new rhythm.  I’m leaving the tasks and trading them in for moments of rest and reprieve.  Tomorrow I’ll wake up and preach this to myself all over again and ask willing friends and family to encourage me as I do. 

I will accept the challenge of calming my restless heart and laying down my compulsion to do, trusting that God promises to work while I rest.

I can find comfort in the fact that even the very God of the universe took a full day of rest after He created our world, so surely this girl and her humanness would require the same.

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Fitness Apps I Use…

I get questions daily on instagram asking my opinion over which apps to use or my opinions on each one, since I use a few different ones and actively post my workout routines for the day.  I quit my gym membership and haven’t looked back once!  Not only does this save me time (and gas mileage), but it also saves me money!  So here’s the 4-1-1 on each app and how I use them!

This is my top pick for most people who ask me!  ALL the workouts are about 28 minutes long and I get the same results I used to get working out at an hour long class at the gym.  Another huge perk is that there are new LIVE workouts (from their studio in NYC) every single day!  They run from very early in the AM til around lunchtime so you can hop on to any of those and possibly hear your name get a shoutout too which is always fun.  If you workout at night or can’t catch your favorite trainer at the time frame you want to, you can likely get the class on Replay.  Replay also offers some libraries of specialty workouts like : Prenatal, Postnatal, Low Impact, etc.  And another great thing they have is Express which is 10 min workouts.  So sometimes I’ll tack one of these onto another workout or use the Foam Rolling/Stretching Express videos on a rest day.

They were generous enough to give me the code “HEARTFELT” so you can save 30% off your first month!  Tip : If you decide you love it after that, I recommend doing the year membership (this is what I did once I did my trial), because then you get the membership for $199 for the year which is 40% off!

Class Types I use :

Define : Sculpt //  This is a super interesting class because you truly get it all : cardio, pilates, a little barre even!  It is very low impact, yet makes my body feel worked, lean, and strong afterward.  My favorite trainer for this was Megan, who is no longer doing live classes but has 80 videos on replays. I also enjoy Mary – she’s skilled in pilates particularly and has a great attitude, Madelaine – whose style I find most similar to Megan’s, and I love to use Kathryn on her Soulful Sunday class where she has a little heart-filled chat with you the entire time.

Define : Strength // A great strength training option for everyone!  I find this to be one of the most well-rounded classes. After taking Strength I do not feel overworked to the point of fatigue, but rather just challenged enough that I have a big spike in energy and endorphins.  You must try out a class with Walter because his energy will have you beaming and his commentary will literately make you laugh out loud!  I do the class the most with Kat E. because she is such a gifted teacher at explaining each move and also has Prenatal options for this one!

Define : Power // I find all I need for strength training in this one!  You use heavier weights, doing less + more concentrated reps, and the heart rate gets UP using the bigger muscle groups.  I use Tiffani & Kat E.

Sweat : Dance // My dancing has improved so much from this class.  I’m truly horrible at cardio, ok…so I have to basically do it while I’m not aware I’m doing it (forget a treadmill – I feel like a hamster on a wheel!)  I have a ton of fun and find myself smiling during these classes.  It will make you feel carefree and like a kid again! I sadly haven’t been able to the full classes since I hit my second trimester because I carry so low that jumping jacks/bouncing while carrying my 3rd kiddo just aren’t working for me.  But I’ll be eager to get back to it once my body is ready!  Trainers I like : Amanda K, Megan via replay, and Madelaine.

Sweat : HIIT // This class is awesome!! I’m not a huge believer in doing extended hours/time slots of HIIT but I think High Intensity Interval Training a couple times a week is great.  For this class, I’ve used Melody & Tiffani (who are the most fast-paced), Mary, and Kat E.F

I joined Tone it Up several years ago and did the full membership which gives me access to nutrition plans, challenges, and more.  When you sign up, you get access to every past challenge/plan released and ALL the future ones included with your membership.  Truly amazing! They have since launched an app with a database of classes (I think it was about $80 a year or $14/mth). 

If you are wanting something that will include a nutrition plan AND exercise, this may be the best choice for you!

The community that I plug into the most is via Instagram.  I’ve connected to other TIU mamas and women in the community and it is truly a positive group of girls.  The actual app offers the 5 daily moves (this is 5 moves you do 15 reps of 3x through) every single day for free.  So you can download the app just for those if you wanted!  They’re not in video form, so I like to do them when I want to listen to a podcast or something in the AM.  If you want access to the video library and newly released workouts, then you’ll need the full membership.  They have the workouts sectioned off by category : HIIT, arms, prenatal, barre, cardio, etc and you can also use a search feature.  I like this app for workouts while traveling because they have classes where you can use a booty/resistance band which is an easy thing to pack in your travel bag.

Here’s where I get super honest.  I quit TIU for over a year.  The workouts were getting too long and intensive for my body.  The reps on the 5 DMs went up and even though it was slotted to take 15 minutes, it would take me close to 30 ON TOP of the other workout recommended for the day.  I also added up the calories on the recommended eating plan and was concerned as it was around 300-500 less than what I needed.  I lost weight, felt hungry/irritable, and was spending too much time exercising per day in a time where my adrenals were already fatigued.  Their nutrition plan offers healthy calorie add-ons and I wasn’t using them, but I plan to do this upcoming summer challenge, and I will be adding in those calories!  So that’s my little caveat here : make sure you are getting the calories that are right for you and your activity level (this goes for ANY nutrition plan you follow!)

One of the 2 creators of Tone it Up, Katrina, has since had a baby and I really felt a shift happen.  She has been incredibly brave with her choice to share transparently the transitions of her prenatal and postnatal journey, which has earned my utmost respect!  I also have felt it return to a more balanced workout with many options availble. They recommend getting in 4 days a week (offering you 7 workouts through the suggested schedule) and majority of  the workouts on the app are often 15-20 minutes or so.  I’ve been happy to return to TIU again, in a space that feels more balanced, extensive in it’s reach, and realistic in it’s approach.

I tell everyone who asks me, if you love yoga…you MUST get this app.  It is $20 a month and I swear I’d pay $50 (just kidding, please don’t take the price up, peloton ;)).   Years ago I left the doctor with unusual symptoms of stress and a written script for yoga and meditation (kudos to this doctor!)  I have been practicing on and off ever since…but a lot more ON since I’ve been working to add calming rhythms and intentional movement into my life.

You should feel better after a workout – not more on edge or stressed – and after a good yoga session I consistently feel like the best version of myself.  It is a deep sigh for my soul.

The whole reason I joined was because Kristin McGee told me she had come on as a trainer and I was so happy because I’ve been practicing with her for what feels like almost a decade and now I get to feel like I’m in studio with her on a regular basis!  They have classes for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels.  I practice all 3 and love them all for different reasons.  Each trainer creates their own playlists for the class and I love flowing to music!

The other trainers I use on the app are Aditi and Anna and they are both fantastic as well!  Peloton Yoga will even do themed classes from time to time which is so fun!

As for the meditation, I often do these before bed and in carline.  I usually do a 10 minute class and I’ve got to say, they are better than any apps or other forms I’ve tried.  I think yoga instructors really understand the deep importance of breath and how it connects us to everything and calms the nervous system, so these meditations will have you utilizing this powerful tool you always have access to right within your own body.

I hope this has been helpful to give you an overview.  If you have additional questions, you can always contact me via Instagram or the contact form on here!

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Maple Blume – Luxury in a Box

I’m so excited to share this beautiful Maple Blume box with you all!! Over the years, since switching to clean beauty, I have done several subscription boxes and the problems I have run into : 1) I usually only find 1 item or so that I like, which leaves me disappointed I spent the money. 2) They come too often and products pile up and clutter overwhelms me!

What I like about Maple Blume is that it comes 4x a year (February, May, August, November) and ALL items are well-rounded and full-size! They have items for body, hair, skincare, and makeup.

I’ll be sharing the box for February, which is close to selling out so grab it while you can!

Here’s the lineup of items :

— The Hair Oil from Prim Botanicals

— SUNDAYS Detox Bath Salts from MS Skincare

— AUM Restorative Body Oil from MS Skincare

— Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum from Viva Health Skincare

— Avocado Waterproof Mascara – Black from Ere Perez

— Jojoba Eye Pencil in Stone from Ere Perez

TOTAL RETAIL VALUE for the box : $220.81

what you pay (USD) : $91.26

Let’s dive into my absolute favorite from the entire box : the hair oil!!  I was pumped when I saw it was in the box because here in Colorado (and in winter) my hair has been desperately dry!  This oil seemed like it would be wonderful but I had no idea how intoxicating the smell would be.  It is HEAVENLY!!

Next up, I have been using this nonstop.  I shower and then coat my arms in it.  I get keratosis pilaris in the winter especially (little red bumps on my arms, called “chicken skin” ha!)  This seems to really soothe it and it has a beautiful lavender in it.  It smells 100% pure – the nose does not lie!  It relaxes me.

Makeup time!  If you follow me on instagram, yall know I am ALWAYS exploring green beauty mascaras.  I truly think it’s a tricky category that has not been mastered yet.  I saw waterproof on this one and got nervous, but I found it’s actually easier to remove then some of my other regular green beauty mascara formulas!  I LOVE the volume it builds and it did not flake or run one single bit on me.  And sadly, I had my dog pass away last week and I cried for DAYS and this mascara did not budge (trust me, I put it to the true test!)  For me, it’s a winner and I plan to purchase the regular formula next.

It comes with the eyeliner too.   I’m also a good test subject for this one because my eyes run and are sensitive with most that I’ve tried other than Beautycounter, Mineral Fusion, and this one.  I lined my waterline with it and found it give the perfect amount of smoke.  It’s got a bit of a purple smoke underhue which I was totally digging.  I also tried it lined heavy on the top and smoked out, which looks super chic!

For the skincare item, it is by Viva Health Skincare and features hyaluronic acid, which I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz over lately.  When I see the word acid I immediately think of a drying out – but hyaluronic acid does just the opposite – it allows your skin to retain extra moisture which gives you that glow!!  Now this mixture is NOT for those looking for strong forms of it.  It is not the single ingredient in the mix, the first ingredient is actually water.  So maybe try this out if you are someone with sensitive skin or wanting to explore how you do with the acid.

All in all, I’m super impressed with this box.  I also happen to love supporting women business owners who truly care about getting safer products to people, without having to compromise quality or experience.

Maple Blume won me over!

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welcome to my table

Hello friend! I'm Rachel Stricklin and I'm so happy you have landed here!


My recipes are focused on whole food ingredients and are meant to bring you warmth, nourishment, and a

reason to gather.

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