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Thursday, May 31, 2018

My Summer 2018 Goals

Do you ever have seasons of life in which you feel the most yourself?

For whatever reason – pool lounging, beach trips, running at night to the tempo of crickets and fireflies – that time for me is summer. Cue all the High School Musical songs. So, if it's a time to thrive, it's time to push the limits on my status quo!

Here is a peek into my goals for Summer 2018:

Lose 15 Pounds

I feel like this is a goal for every season.

I've been tracking my weight loss journey since I stopped nursing on a new Instagram channel - and it's been a lot of fun! As it turns out though, I'm not one of those magical women who got super skinny after breastfeeding for a year. Nope. I tell myself I'm good at other things. Like picking out lip color and making the perfect book recommendation.

The magically losing weight? Not so much.

I've been really gentle with myself returning back to normal after baby and have lost a grand total of 25 pounds of baby weight after three months of Weight Watchers. For me, I love the program and it's flexibility. I love having something to track. And I love how even after I fall off the wagon for a day or two, it's never too late to start over.

Goal difficulty rating: 8/10

Run a 5K Race

I was my most in shape right before my wedding, about three years ago. Not only was I healthy physically, I was mentally and spiritually healthy, too.

The difference between now and then? Then I was running nine miles in 90 minutes without giving it a second thought. Now, I can't make it a third of the way without needing a break.

Training for a 5k is not difficult. It just takes time, patience and a rockin' running app. If you trust your training, it practically runs for you.

Okay, that's so not true. But you get what I mean. If I, the non-athlete, orchestra nerd from high school can pound the pavement, so can you.

Goal difficulty: 3/10

Use My Evening Hours More Diligently 

Guys. I seriously have such a problem with letting my nights get away from me. Lately, I've really struggled with staying up past 9 p.m. Being social, writing for pleasure, reading for pleasure, exercising...it's a mess. 

I did a video blog on the phenomenon, too. I need a system in place to help me be more wise with my time. There's grace, I know. But these e-books aren't going to write themselves!

Goal difficulty: 8/10

Get to Work Early

I'm a better worker bee when I'm at the office at 8 a.m. Plain and simple. I have big career goals and getting in the door and already an hour of work behind me by the time the traditional business day begins will only make me a stronger employee.

Complete a Draft of My Young Adult Novel 

I don't talk about my fiction work very much. Maybe it's because fiction, for me, is so much more difficult to write and even talk about than non-fiction.

When you write a blog about your life, the plot's been handed to you by...well...life. When you're sitting at the computer as an author, the story can take you anywhere. 

I have a tendency to be a little bit (okay a lot of bit) more particular about my fiction work. If someone dings my blog or essays it's easy to say, "Eh, it wasn't for them." But if someone critiques my fiction, the balm for the sting is a little harder to find.

This summer, I'm revisiting an old friend named Evie Tucker in a working manuscript I'm calling "Evie Tucker Makes Life More Better." The story is about a sixth-grade girl who's great at math and bad at English. She's finding her new normal after losing her mother. Evie, with her hot pink lab coat and engineering mind, creates little inventions to help make life a little easier for her dad and older brother.

I started the piece when I was pregnant with my son in hopes to write something that my kids would like to read one day. All-in-all, I have about 14,000 words of my goal of 65,000 by the end of August. Which means I need to write on average 520 words x day to have a completed rough draft by the end of the summer.

Goal difficulty rating: 7/10

So. Early to work. Running. Losing weight. And writing a novel. All in one summer. Not too bad, right?

I'm curious! Do you have summer goals? How can we encourage each other? Post in the comments and keep me in the loop! I'll be tracking my progress right here!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

We Don't Have to Go at it Alone – Officially Introducing "Small Beginnings"

"So, what's your favorite thing about being a mom?"

I was asked this at a work event a few months after the birth of my baby boy; and for all of my extroverted nature I could not, for the life of me, think of anything to say.

Great work, Brett. Not only have you failed at showing the world how much you love your son, you are also now the sole individual responsible for destroying the institution of mothering.

Postpartum anxiety is a mother, y'all.

The fact of the matter is at the time, I didn't have a favorite part of motherhood. Because, what glamorous trait of motherhood could I cling to?

The leaking?

The catching-spit-up in the palm of my hand?

The cluster feeding?

The two-hour plotting just to walk out of the house for 15 minutes?

The fear that I'd start nursing and never end and that my child would just remain a permanent fixture to myself?

How about the fact that I hadn't had longer than a three-hour stretch of sleep in months? Or that I felt like my life was on pause while I was watching my friend's lives unfold before me on Instagram?

 "I think just the identity of being a mom," I stammered. Then quickly asked for the sour cream and onion chips. After all, these feelings weren't going to eat themselves.

Now that I've had a year and more blessed, blessed sleep, I have found my favorite part of being a mother is the community that surrounds it:

You don't have to do any of it alone.

None of it.

My first venture into the nursing mother's room (also known as the "cry room" – for the kids, I presume. Not the moms) at my church afforded me beautiful people with whom I could simply lock eyes and feel understood, seen, known, in a time when I felt none of those things.

It was around then that my writing took a turn. Did other people feel this way? Did other women find joy and utter satisfaction in having their lives turned completely topsy-turvy? Was I missing something? This didn't feel as awesome as other mothers made it out to be.

It felt like a lot. And for a while, I felt like the only one.

Because while I loved my little nugget with all of my heart I also loved functioning like a normal human being.

That's why I wrote and released my first e-book, Small Beginnings: Essays on Pregnancy and New Motherhood. It's for the women who feel alone. It's for the women who find humor in suddenly having to be okay with not fitting into their pants.

It's for the women who relinquish their pride, their vanity, their own sense of self to suddenly launch a tiny human into the world.

It's for the women who keep it real. And the women who, perhaps, are curious about the things that no one wants to tell you about.

I'm incredibly proud of this. That it's here. That it's real. And that in spite of all the changes that haven taken place over the last year of my son's life, I'm still a writer.

Check out the e-book here!

The thing about motherhood is that it's not a force you can take in all at once. It's first felt in those first few shocking and blissful, confusing moments after you get the positive pregnancy test.

Inch by inch, maternity blouse by maternity blouse, you seep into motherhood. The community, the sacrifice and eventually, the love of it all.

And though we may not always agree on how sleep schedules or discipline should lead, we're there for each other.

It's small, but it's s a truly beautiful thing.

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.
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