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Sunday, May 20, 2018

You Don't Have to Break - Thoughts on One Year of Motherhood

Hi y'all! Did you hear? My brand-new e-book released on Amazon! Check it out and give it a read! I'm so jittered to share it with you all!

Exactly one year ago today I was losing my ever-loving mind.

I was a week overdue with my first pregnancy. Hooked up to a fetal monitor, strapped across my bulging belly with a stretchy Ace bandage and ready, just ready with all my heart to stop being pregnant and to be a mom.

I wanted to fight against an induction. I wanted it all to come on its own. To be one of those superwomen who labor and have the Powerful Moment of bringing life into the world.

But by the time my scheduled induction came up on the calendar, I didn't care how it happened. Just get this precious, tardy kid out of me. And maybe bring me a hamburger with extra french fries.

And so, my Powerful Moment came by way of a bright-white operating room. Loopy, suspicious,  confused, and frankly disengaged, as I heard my son's first cry:

"Is that my baby?"

They wheeled us back into the recovery room and that was it. I was no longer pregnant. I was a mom. And the adventure – this small adventure that grows and grows – was only beginning.

This whole year, I've lily-padded from one milestone to the next a bit like I was in that post c-section haze. The new parenthood stage was like a tsunami that I was trying to outrun with positivity and a can-do spirit:

If I can just get through this cluster feeding.

If I can just make it through this teething.

If I can just  make it through this developmental leap.

If I can just make it through this late-night feeding.

(And if we're being super honest...)

If I can just make it through this trip to the grocery store.

If I can just make it, keep my head down, push through the changes, the snowstorm of our "new normal" would melt away; and our old normal would remain.

I stood stubborn to that line of reasoning. Waiting, anticipating, expecting to level-up to the role set out before me; never quite accepting the fact that something's gotta give at some point. Whether it's sleep, a promotion, girls nights, Sunday afternoon naps or  maintaining a blog that you love.

Our little family of three is incredibly happy, yes. Incredibly. I will say back and forth, up and down, sideways and under how I'm so lucky I get to live with my favorite people.

And yet, I'd be remiss if I didn't stop to acknowledge what has taken a hit in the last year; what has shivered under the quake of the pressure to be the Perfect, Doting Mother, all-the-while wrestling with anxiety on a level I'd not yet experienced, and trying my best to be all systems go with work, friendships and showing up to the important stuff.

Here's what I've learned after a year of new motherhood: you will get it all back.

Your sleep. Your social life. Your peace of mind.

That's not to say that some things aren't changed forever. There is a new little human in your family tree. Life sprouts and with it comes worry, fear, and a new overarching theme in your life: after all, you're someone's mother.

It was like how Shauna Niequist in her book Bittersweet talks about learning how to be bendable against the waves that break like glass on the shore. The waves of changes may break, but you don't have to.

And I'm here to tell you as a woman who was tentative about surviving pregnancy and the intense changes motherhood brings – there will be throw up, and recovery, and a serious dip into your savings account, and cardboard books, nap times and meltdowns in public (from your kid, and maybe you, too).

But the changes happen swiftly, and the first year goes by as fast as the world will tell you.

You will make it. And you will make it without breaking.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Be the One Person

Let me be clear from the start: you matter, you matter, you matter.

We said goodbye to a beloved friend today at church. Goodbyes are hard for this ENFP. I feel all the things. The hardship of change, the ushering in the new and airing out the old. It hurts. It's painful.

But at the same time it makes you reflect on impact. On how one singer, one worship leader can have the influence to break down the walls of my heart. To capture true worship with the beauty and power of a voice. To inspire you to live your life better, with more honestly, grit and virtue.

This is the power of one person's influence on your life.

I've been a member of First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk for five years. I met my husband there. Started a small group for young women, which blossomed into four years of refining, beautiful friendships there. We baptized our son there.

We have community there. 

As we said goodbye to our friend this morning, I recalled another goodbye we said to a family at church a few years ago.

The mother of the family – ironically the pastor's daughter of the church I grew up in – invited me to come with her one Sunday during a particularly tumultuous season in my work, personal life and faith.

Her kindness and patience with me as I accepted her invitation to attend that first service with her was the first step in my life changing for the better.

I met the good man who became my husband a few weeks later. We got married. We started a family. I fell in love with my new job. I had community. People who noticed if I didn't show up.

And it was all because of that one person. I don't have the words to write to share how utterly thankful I am.

A few nights ago I sat across the table from a dear friend. 

We hadn't had good one-on-one time in ages. And I wanted to convey to her that I missed her. That her absence from my life didn't go unnoticed or that our friend group didn't care one way or the other.

We do.

That one person has such power to make a difference.

I suddenly wanted to share that with the world. Because I'd been feeling temptation to withdraw.

Sometimes, as a mom, it's just easier to.

Why go to church if I'm going to have to sit in the nursing room for half the service? Why go to small group if I'm going to be distracted by my kid the whole time?

Why go to the party that's hours away if there are going to be a bazillion people there and the host won't likely notice my absence?

To be present you have to pack. Plan. Strategize. Change diapers on the road. Let the baby stretch his little legs. Coordinate with your significant other. Texts back and forth with such romantic liturgy as: "need anything from the store?' And "coming home late, can we leave by 6?"

But then you show up. 

And to someone else you're that one person that day. That one person who's kindness and attentiveness puts you back on the right path. Puts you in the arms of friends – for the bad times and the good.

You matter. Your presence matters. It makes a difference, whether you like it or not.

If you're in a season where it's easier to be lonely, because lonely is easy, may I encourage you to push through it? May I encourage you to take the time, make the date, put it on your calendar and start showing up.

Because you matter.

You extraordinarily matter.

And you just have no idea how much you could do by simply being the One Person in someone's life.

Friday, March 30, 2018

I'm Not That Kind of Girl (And Other Lies We All Believe)

I was never an athletic kid.

I took on the identity of clumsy and uncoordinated early on. Accident-prone, certainly. I thought athletes were naturally gifted at running. You were either fast or slow. If you were tall, you were good at basketball. If you were fast, you were a naturally good swimmer.

I was neither tall. Nor fast. Swimming scared me in a lot of different ways. So, I stuck with the stuff that I was naturally inclined to. Music, being on stage, dance. Fluid movements for fluid gifts.
There are some people who are just naturally good at all the things. But for the rest of us, for me, I stuck with what was safe. With what I knew was in my wheelhouse.

It wasn't until I graduated college that I began running. There, my competitive drive and inclination for distance grew. I ran my first 5K. A few 10Ks here and there. At 26 I ran my first half-marathon.


I love running. I love my breath feeling sharp in my chest. I love my feet hitting the pavement, listening to a podcast, and the feel of the heat of the sun touching my shoulders. It's a different world. It's a world where I get out of my head and only concentrate in the here and now.
I'm not the best at it. Not by a long stretch. But for so long I told myself I'm not the kind of girl who runs.

So I didn't.

Lately, I've come to realize that I wasn't an athlete because I wasn't athletic. I wasn't an athlete because I never tried. I never trained. Not because I'm afraid of hard work, but because I was afraid of trying something and not being good at it right away.
When I laced up my running shoes a few nights ago - the first good run of the season - I found myself wondering what my life would be like if I hadn't pushed through the fear of not being good at something right away.

What if I never became a runner?

And, in that same light, what other bits of my life have I shied away from for fear of failure - for fear of not doing it perfectly right away?

What if everyone thought that way? 

What if no one ever went on dates because they were afraid of break ups?

What if no one ever became parents because they were afraid of raising jerk-kids?

What if no one ever went back to school because they were afraid that even after a master's-level course they still wouldn't be employable?

What if no one ever blogged or wrote stories because they were afraid they'd never get published?

What if everyone spent their whole lives saying: I could never do that. I'm not that kind of girl.

I've spent my whole life thinking I wasn't the type of person who was fashionable, healthy, a leader, successful.

So, I have spent almost thirty years living as though I was not those things. And could never be. I'd tell myself over and over again:

I could never video blog.

I could never lead a team.

I could never breastfeed in public.

I could never move past hurt or failure.

I could never build a platform to get a book deal.

I could never be friends with people like them.

I could never have that type of haircut.

I could never rock that kind of job. 

I could never. I could never. I could never.

I'm not that kind of girl.

But, when I lace up my pink running shoes, and run laps around the sidewalks – still with red lipstick on, mind you – I realize I and everyone else can be whatever type of girl we want to be.
We just have to work for it.
There's nothing magical about the people who do the things you want to do. There's nothing sensational. There's no X-factor, there's no level of IQ (unless you want to be an astrophysicist...maybe?). 

The people we admire likely have off-days, too. They probably feel just as skittish in front of a crowd or sitting in a salon chair.

But they work. They're doing it. They're risking failure. They're risking looking dumb or not put together.

They're working toward being the type of person they want to become.

Be a runner. Be a photographer. Be a business owner. Be whatever. Be that kind of person.

Because the truth is, you'll never be that kind of girl. Not unless you make yourself one.

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