Simply Living


I can’t get enough of the British reality show “Escape to the Country”, a show where families move from the hustle and bustle of modern life in search of the peaceful, idyllic rural landscape. There is something about the green pastures, the historic sites, and the picturesque villages that exudes a relaxed atmosphere and the charms of simple living. Farmhouse sinks and repurposed woodwork, churches and mom and pop businesses make up the day to day. It’s the pleasures of bringing it all back to basics with clean, fresh off the farm eating, fresh air, and family gatherings that are at the heart of country living.

The inconvenient truth is that not all of us have the opportunity to escape into the countryside. But we can all bring a little country into our homes. We can install that farmhouse sink. We can re-finish that old wooden dining table. And we can bring a little rustic to our pillows and throws and blankets, with natural hued cottons and linens. There is something about a passed down rocking chair by the fireplace or a bit of shiplap in the kitchen that I find quite appealing.

Big, open windows invite the sunshine in, so open up those blinds and heavy drapes. Bring some potted plants indoors as well as place some fresh cut flowers in vases throughout your home. Don’t be skimpy on the farm-friendly artwork. Start a decorative plate wall display, or put your china in a rustic cupboard. Hanging pots and pans in the kitchen is another countryside favorite. Get yourself a reading nook, or drape a few patchwork quilts on the arm of your favorite lounger or lay it out at the foot of your bed.

Don’t forget that at the end of the day, not only is your family a priority, but your sanity as well. The sturdiness of cottons and linens can allow for frequent washings, and there’s no such thing as permanent fingerprints on a wooden table. A large farmhouse sink will easily forgive you the load of cups and dishes, and no need to search for a pot or pan when it’s hanging above your head. After all, we are trying to simplify here, and being a mother is not a piece of apple pie!



~ Tatyana Pyshnyak

creative and passionate about interior decorating on a budget





Olga after birth

Victory Epistle: A Birth Story

Dear Lady Warrior:

This is a message about victory and power that comes through bringing a life into this world. It is a message about letting go of control and finding peace in the imperfection that is Birth. This is a vision about an emergence of a woman that is strong, passionate and inspired to take her experience and to transform it into the rocket fuel that will propel her into heights unseen, untested but thoroughly attainable because she is fearless.

YOU can do this. How do I know? Because I did it. And if I did it, so can you.

August 11th, 2015

I wake up approximately 1-2 hours before my water breaks. I cannot sleep. I wonder and run through my mind to test and see if I have any stresses that keep me awake, but I find no undue stress. So I just lie there, experiencing a few cramps, nothing neither frequent nor serious. This is what Braxton Hicks are, I thought. Eventually I decide to get up and visit the restroom.

As I make my attempt to maneuver myself out of the bed, I feel something flow out… and as soon as I finally stand up, the rest just gushes out. My water broke.


Oh my God. I was so unprepared even though I’ve read countless accounts and listened to tens of proud mamas. Today was the day I was going to write up my birth plan, pack my bag and cast the mold of my belly.

My soul knew and kept me awake. I was high on expectation without even knowing it. Trust the process, lady!

I reach out to Chris, my husband, and wake him with a dazed voice…

“Chris, my water just broke.”

“Are you sure you didn’t pee yourself?” was his sleepy reply, after which we both jumped into action.

I recalled that a few days ago I was talking to my baby and a strange, very esoteric thought came powerfully through my mind. My baby told me “Mommy, just wait a little more. I am coming soon”. I thought it was my imagination as I had two more weeks to go.

I let my doula know, right after I called my mom in Massachusetts to tell them the glorious news that their granddaughter was going to be born that day.

I was shaking and shaking and couldn’t stop shaking. Chris tried to be helpful but my body was not my own. I ran to the computer to type up the birth plan, hoping that this would help me calm down.

I had a vision of exactly what my birthing experience would be. I am the quintessential type A personality, the teachers’ pet. The one that always sat in the front row, smack dab in the center. I even had a plan for how long it was going to take. Yep, my labor was going to be super comfortable and smooth and would last exactly 8 hours. Precisely. I would labor at home until the last moment and as soon as I was about to pop out the baby, I would run to the hospital on the winds of reason and successful planning and deliver in a seamless execution. I was going to be an example of all that had been done “right”.

Thankfully, I didn’t know that having my water leave me in such a copious amount meant that I didn’t have that layer of protection for me and my baby during the contractions. Labor barely started and something already went wrong.

I typed up the birth plan, printed off three copies. One for us, one for the midwives and one extra, in case someone misplaces one.

My doula arrives and I escort her into the guest room. She tells me to rest but I tell her I will do that as soon as I pack the bags and basically ask her to stay out of the way until I need her. Feeling pretty in control, Chris and I pack the bags.

I rest. We all watch movies. I walk the perimeter of my yard with dogs for company. As I walk, I go deeper and deeper into myself. The day sets behind the horizon … my doula and Chris come out to join me and sip beer. It was a long day. My contractions were still far apart but getting stronger. I started to lose track of time. I sensed the baby wasn’t coming that day.

I remained calm as I listened to the hypnobirthing CDs. I breathed and still felt in control. Chris and I worked on the belly cast to pass the time.

My doula put on the Tens unit on my back to help with the pain. It helped and I eagerly pressed the button whenever I sensed the wave coming upon me. Eventually, my doula suggested I get into the tub. I was afraid that the pain control would not be as great in the water as it was with the Tens unit. To my surprise the water felt amazing!

August 12, 2015

In the wee hours that Wednesday, my doula and I felt that the baby was coming! I was so excited and we contemplated remaining at home to deliver but finally decided to go to the hospital as we still would’ve had to do that after the birth of the baby.

We raced to the hospital. I tried to breathe through the contractions as I felt every bump in the road. Baby was coming. My suffering was almost over. I was glad as I was always told that my pain threshold was very low and that I was nuts to do it naturally. I wanted to show it to the doubters. Look at my prowess!

I was firm in my resolve to do this naturally.

As we walk up to the emergency entrance, at the door we meet a young lady leaning against the wall, who asks me if I am there to give birth. She suggests I get an epidural and then I would feel nothing.

I proudly tell her that no, I was there to do this naturally. NO epidurals!

I recall walking up to the birthing section, stopping to breathe and survive through the contractions… I couldn’t reply, I couldn’t pay attention to anything around me as I had to go deep within myself to make it through. If anyone talked to me …or near me… I felt sick. I couldn’t handle any additional stimulation.

We walked into the room around 2am that Wednesday morning.

After that …time blurred. We expected the baby very shortly as all the signs were there, but she still wouldn’t come. I walked the halls. I danced. Listened to CDs over and over. I did my squats and various other formations. The bath was my preferred method as my doula and Chris took turns to pour water over me…for hours. The contractions raced through my body in a ceaseless, merciless wave after wave…

I was hot and cold… I couldn’t find comfort in the pools of laboring sweat….The Tens unit had long ago lost its effectiveness in the fight against pain.

Surely this was the time, finally, for the baby to come….It was late evening…

My family was extremely worried…two days passed and no baby.

I stuck to my resolve. I WAS going to do this naturally.

I remember leaning against Chris and silently crying against his chest, 2-3 times…telling him I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t go on.

My doula, who had an extensive amount of experience with hundreds of births, many of them high risk, prepared me for the pushing phase as surely this was the transition time.

We allowed the midwives to check on me as we avoided any checks prior due to the risk of infection as it was so long since my water broke.

I longed eagerly to hear the confirmation of that impeding phase…

I almost died when they told me that I was dilated only 5 cm. I was very soft and the baby was low but I just wasn’t opening up. I remember almost crawling up the wall in that bathroom. I contemplated asking for pain relief or a C-section but I was far from being coherent or able to process and then verbalize any thought.

I felt God left me. I was so sure He was going to bless me as a child of God. I trusted Him. After 2 days of intense anticipation, I was still only halfway there.

I told Chris to let my family know that I needed their prayers now more than ever as I tried to hold on…one contraction at a time.

The midwives urged us to speed up the process. They brought out breast pumps, dusted them off from a forgotten corner. Time and time again, they kept pumping me to stimulate the contractions to get stronger… 15 minutes at a time was the prescribed formula as they didn’t want to over stress the body.

I began feeling the prayers as I started recalling various powerful scriptures from the Bible. I was holding on with every last atom of hope and trust as I repeated those verses over and over and over…

  1. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  2. Nothing is impossible with God.

I remember either falling asleep or passing out between contractions as I went away to a muted someplace and came back into each contraction. I couldn’t think past that one contraction. To live, as I felt I was dying, I had to focus on the intensity of the present moment. I would collapse under the thought of the future of more contractions coming my way.

I remember thinking this is it for me. I cannot go on. I will expire.

Soon after thinking those thoughts, I heard the voice of my daughter again…in a very mysterious fashion crossing my mind.

She said, “Mommy, I am very sorry. So sorry. I am coming very soon. Just hold on a little more”.

I told her as I cried silently, “Take all the time you need, baby. Mommy is alright”.

We were a team. Throughout all the frequent checks and monitoring, her heart was strong. She reacted to the contractions like a Lioness-with vigor.

August 13, 2015

I felt fear overwhelm me at one point… Fear of complete lack of control. I didn’t know what was coming next and I was scared. So scared.

It was almost a spiritual realization. It was a helpless, cowering sensation as I was turned into water, a form which could take any shape in any container of a circumstance.

I finally felt the overwhelming desire to push at 8cm. It wasn’t something I could control. To try and stop this feeling was like trying to stop a train by your hands, in the middle of the tracks. I had neither energy nor stamina left to attempt.

The midwife team surrounded me in those last hours of my marathon journey. I remember someone urging me not to push but I was helpless in the clenches of this passion. My body writhed and I couldn’t stop it. The fire spread in my nether regions as my baby’s head finally peeked through. I felt her hair and my spirit was renewed. I was finally truly near to my joy.

I was led into the bed for my final pushes. At that final push, I felt that not only did I give birth to my baby but that I also gave birth to myself, a new me… a new era at 2:07am that glorious Thursday morning.

My baby breathed her first breaths as I cried out over and over-“My baby! My baby! My baby!”.

My joy and triumph was palpable and I tasted it and drowned in that sensation. I held my baby as she suckled at my proud breast.

Through the stitching and the uterus being massaged after the birth, I held onto my baby and my Victory.

I knew that moment that we were one, my baby and I…one team. We can go through anything and surpass any expectation. I felt that I could conquer the world… Like an Amazonian princess on top of the mountain. I felt that the elements and nature would be subject to me!

As days passed, I started to revisit my birthing experience, processing it one bit a time. Talking to medics and mothers. I had a lot to process, revisit-chew over and over.

But the conclusion is this:

I found peace in my experience and had forgiven myself and others for not having it my way. I no longer measure my success by my lack of failure. What I called failure I now call resilience.

I am water now, able to flow. I am unbreakable now that I was broken.

What a great start to our journey together, my Maya Sophia and I.

We did it. That confidence would carry me through my first days and months of motherhood…sleepless nights and worried mornings, hazy days and tired afternoons. I knew that I would take each hour, one at a time…as I took hold of my contractions, one at a time.

I feel that my roar is now real, able to flex its muscle, primed to change the world…as in fact; I had changed the world already by giving birth to my baby. It is forever changed; future had been forever altered because I gave life.

You will never feel as powerful and proudly amazed at yourself as during those first moments of being a mother. Nothing will ever compare to what you just had done. Nothing. Every accomplishment will pale in comparison. You will feel that you hadn’t lived up to this moment… not truly. Not fully. I promise you that it will all be worth it!

You will be like Chris and I, walking around the shops and restaurants and cafes with chests thrice their size, silly grins on our faces. Loopy on our love for the baby. The aura of the newborn is huge, consuming everything in its stretch.

And yes, I do want another baby.

Sincerely Yours,

Fellow Mother in Arms


~Olga Pyshnyak-Lawrence

lover of passionate living and everything purple










Happily ‘Seconds’

Tonight I had the opportunity to listen to two amazing women explain the mission behind their small business and the motivation behind the products they create. While explaining the method involved in crafting natural apple cider vinegar, a health elixir we would all do well to incorporate into our diets, one of the women remarked that they use the ‘seconds.’

In produce, the ‘seconds’ are fruits or veggies that aren’t pristine. They may be bruised, wrinkled, or mottled. Most consumers don’t want them for their external imperfections, so they’re sold at a reduced price.

Oh, how I can relate to those apples! Juggling parenting, school, and work means that my outward appearance isn’t often a priority. By extension, my minivan leaks cereal bowls from breakfasts-on-the run, and my house bears witness to the three rambunctious girls who live here. Lifestyle blogger I ain’t.

But that’s okay. I take time for myself in other ways, and I happily embrace the occasional opportunity to dress up a bit. This season in life will soon fade into the next, and eventually I’ll have time to perfect my winged liner- or not.

It takes all kinds of apples to make vinegar- and from what I tasted tonight, the seconds make some of the best.


~ Emily Nolan
wife. mother of three. health, fitness and lifting guru.