8
Oct

Beauty

Dear Anna:

Growing up, I never thought I had an ounce of beauty.
I always judged myself,
my decisions
my looks
my walk
my words
my mind
hard.
I starting running at the age of 8, not because I loved to run,
but because I wanted to lose weight.
I never accepted a compliment.
I always put myself down.
And then, I met you.

There was a day when you and I finally connected and we became mother and daughter.
I remember it so clearly, you were fresh out of a bath, it was just you and I home.
I decided to snap a few pictures of you and put you down on a couch and pulled out an actual camera.
I started saying your name, trying to grab your attention and you recognized my voice.
You melted when you heard it and you looked at me, with such warmth, such love, such beauty.
You looked at me like a daughter should look at her mother, telling me, we've got this mom, you and me, we're in this together.
I felt beautiful because I was loved by you.
I felt beautiful because I was in love with you.

Dear Cole:
I was never a lover of love.
I didn't trust enough.
I didn't think people really cared because there was a lot of letting me down.
I didn't think that love could be so raw, so emotional so naked.
Until I met you.

The moment I held you, you were mine.
There is no way to explain it other than using the cliche of they slipped you into my arms and heart.
You are my one and only love at first sight.
You were full of so much new and wonder and wonderful.
You would look around the room and take it all in because every part was amazing to you.
Including me.
The moment our eyes met, they locked.
You looked at me with instant recognition and you looked at me like you knew we will have each other to count on.
You looked at me like you needed me because you did, but I needed you too.
You looked at me the way a son should look at his mother, telling me, we've got this mom, you and me, we're in this together.
I felt beautiful because I was loved by you.
I felt beautiful because I was in love with you.

My body looks, feels, and acts differently.
I am a shell of who I once was.
Because once upon a time, I was younger and young.
I was new too even though I always felt old.
I was smooth and I didn't have wrinkles and stuff didn't droop.
I was in charge and I was empty.
But I didn't like that girl that much.
I didn't appreciate her, I didn't know she was strong.
And instead, I focused on her anger.
I focused on all that was wrong, all I would change, all I wanted to change.
Until I met you coach.
And you told me she was good, she was worth it, she was able to be happy, it was ok if she was happy.

Now, this woman, I can appreciate.
I appreciate her for carrying two hearts, twice.
I appreciate her for pacing with sick babies.
I appreciate her for giving all of her and then coming back around to self-care.
I appreciate her for finding the room to breathe.
I appreciate her for taking time for her, finding her again in the fog of mothering.
I appreciate her legs for being able to run.
I appreciate her heart for being able to love.
I appreciate her soul for shining light outward.
I appreciate her stomach for stretching and molding.
I appreciate her arms for holding everyone up.
I appreciate her words for she picks them carefully.
I appreciate her beauty because she finally found it.
In the mix of all this confusion and chaos and fog and tired, she was able to find glory and grace.

6
Oct

Five Minute Friday - story

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on story.
Go.

My story is one of fear.
Always scared.
Looking over my shoulder, noticing those I pass.
Searching for monsters.
Looking for a feeling of safety.

At each turn, each new challenge, each thing I try, there is fear.
Every time the day turns to night, there is fear.
Taking a run in my neighborhood, there is fear.
Being alone in my house, there is fear.
Noises scare me.
Getting promoted terrified me.
Starting my own business made me stay up for months with panic.
Each new client I take on, fear.
Getting married was a blur of emotions, but the one that stands out is worry.
Buying a home scared me.
In parenting, there is too much fear to put in a box.
My blog fear of the raw and nakedness of my life.
Doing a race, trying a new yoga class, learning something new, at every single turn, there is fear.

So, when my little faces are scared, I remind them, mom is scared every day of her life.
Every single day kiddos, but I do it anyway.
I learn to swim so I can do a triathlon.
I take the promotion anyway.
I sleep with the lights on when alone.
I still go for that run.
I did marry dad, and we did have you and I am so happy I did.
And every decision I make, I am scared that I am messing it up but I make them anyway.
Because that's my actual story, even though I am scared, I do it anyway.
And I do it better because I use the fear to drive and motivate me, not stop me.
Never to stop me.

Yes, I wake up scared, yes I go to sleep scared.
Yes, I am scared most of the day.
Yes, this cannot be good for my health, but I am living.
I have a life and one that I built from the ground up.

Because it's true...being brave doesn't mean living without fear
it means being scared and doing it anyway.

My story is about walking through fear to get to what I need
what I have been looking for
and that is family.

My story is about walking through fear to find all of you on the other side and finding myself in the process.

Stop.

29
Sep

Five Minute Friday - depend

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on depend.
Go.

You depending on me is part of the job.
It's in the definition of parenting.
I am your rock and your constant everything.
I am the one you trust, I hold all of you with me.
I carry all of you with me, everywhere I go.
I am the strong one you can count on, you can depend on me.

And although that is true,
I don't feel strong most of the time.
I don't feel like I confidently have a handle on this, on us.
I don't feel like anyone should have to depend on me because I don't have the answers, I don't have it together.
Each day I feel less and less able to be your constant everything because the new challenges have nothing to do with nap schedules and feeding times and everything to do with raising humans.

Raising humans, I am responsible for raising humans.
What in the world made me think I could do that well?
Looking back, it was my person.
Telling me that love always fixes the broken.
That we were love and therefore needed to put love out there.
And so we did.

And now, you depend on me because I did this with purpose and on purpose.
I created two people who I wanted and wished for.
And now, I am the constant in their world.
I am the one you depend on.

And truth be told, in every other aspect of my world, I am dependable.
I am responsible.
I am the one most people can rely on
turn to
come to
ask of.
So why is this so different?
And why is it so much harder?
Being the constant is my jam.

It's because there is so much more riding on this relationship.
There are so many difficult twists and turns.
There are so many challenges that I should know what to do as they are presented.
I am the dependable one.
I am the grownup and even more, I am mom.

Moms know things
moms always have the right way, the right response, the right comfort built in.
My friends tell me that even as adults, it is their mom they turn to for help and guidance and what do I do now?
That's me now,
I am the dependable one.

Even when I feel out of sorts, I am the dependable one.
Because all you really need, back then, now and tomorrow is me.
Just being there, for you.

Stop.

24
Sep

Blankets

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

Blankets are my security.
They are my go-to for snuggles and comfort and warmth and feeling secure.
Bad day? I wrap a blanket around myself and settle in.
Having a crisis? The warmth of a blanket can make it all feel ok.
Bad breakup? The comfort of a blanket feels like loving arms.
Feeling sick? Blankets make you feel instantly warmer, getting better.
I have blankets all over my house.
Extra ones hiding in all sorts of places.
At night, I need to feel the weight of a blanket on me, keeping me tucked in.
Blankets have always been important to me.
They are significant, they have meaning in my world.

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

When I went away to college, my experience wasn't "normal".
I left home and went to college.
I left behind a family
a house
a familiar surrounding
a situation
and a life.
A life I knew, even if I wasn't in love with it, even if it wasn't the one I wanted, it was all that I knew.
And I landed in a college that felt like a warm blanket around me.
It's how I always describe my college, my experience there.
I felt taken care of and comforted, it felt familiar, homey.
And for a girl that was stepping into fear, she needed this comfort.
And for a woman that would continue to walk through fear, I continue to use blankets for protection.

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

When I met my person, it was so easy between us.
I instantly felt safe, I felt his joy, and that too covered me in warmth and comfort.
He felt like the most amazing blanket, keeping me protected from the darkness.
He was my light, my warmth, my security.
And I knew, right away, he was it.
He always kept me warm, always kept safe, always kept me feeling perfectly covered.
He was my blanket.

Because wrapped up in a blanket, I feel loved, I feel calm, I feel good about my life.
I feel taken care of, I feel nurtured.
I feel like I can concentrate on the moment.
I am here, not rushing off to a million places, I am here.

And then last week a friend told me about a book he was reading and how a quote hit him hard...
...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

Because now, I am that blanket for others.
I am the one who is covering you up in love, in security, in safe.
But, no parent can cover it all.
Even though I work so hard on intentionality with my kids.
Especially since they have hit school years and I feel like important memories and words are sticking, it's more and more important that I am not reacting to them.
That I am not white on rice with them.
That I am listening more than speaking.
That I am answering questions honestly.
That I am there, really present with them.

...being a parent feels like you are a small blanket, you just can't cover it all.

But, days get long.
Patience runs out.
It feels like nothing is getting done
and you just can't cover it all.

You can't be everywhere.
You can't be everything.
You can't do everything.
You can't always be kind.
You can't always speak with intention.
The blanket is too small and something, someone, is being left out in the cold.

But, not to them.
They don't think that I am stretched too thin.
Because even if I'm too small for me, I am still the biggest most comforting blanket for you.
I am who you want when you are cold
sad
lonely
bored
scarred
worried
sick.
I am your warmth and comfort and protection from the cold.

No matter how small I feel, you see me as able, enough.
You see me as heavy and sturdy and strong enough to continue to stretch from corner to corner.
You never feel I am not covering every corner.
I am the one now wrapping you in comfort.
I have become a blanket for your life.

And just like dad is for me, I always will be the warmth and comfort you need.

22
Sep

Five Minute Friday - accept

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on accept.
Go.

My daughter and I are reading a new book together, Wonder.
It's been all over every bookstore and elementary school but it's about a strong and dedicated family who has two children, one was born with many obstacles.
August was born with genes and gene mutations that caused his face to look deformed.
He has undergone so many surgeries, so many life-saving procedures and was for a very long time just living in a hospital.
He has been homeschooled for most of his life and in middle school, his family decided that it was time they stop.
Stop treating him as delicate.
Stop treating him differently.
Stop treating him as breakable.
And start him on the path to normal.

He has an older sister, she is in high school and she too has grown up quick.
Not because the home isn't loving and supportive and full of grace
but because so much attention has been focused on sick.

It's a story of acceptance.

As I read to my eight-year-old, there so many questions and topics we have to cover.
That's the point of the book.
She's 8 so she doesn't yet comprehend that not everyone is a friend.
She doesn't realize that friendly doesn't equal friend.
She doesn't know that you create a circle and who you choose to spend time with.
She doesn't know that circle is a reflection of who you are.
She doesn't know about mean.
She doesn't know about looks and how important they are because she's right, they're not.
She doesn't know about clicks and hurt.
She doesn't know about singling out, talking behind backs, making people feel bad...on purpose.
She doesn't know that accepting yourself will one day be hard.
She doesn't know that there will be a time she will question everything good about her.
She doesn't know that there will be a time she will have to decide if she is accepting of this behavior, this outcome, this person.
She doesn't know.

And as we dive deeper and deeper, there are moments I feel I am taking away her innocence.
I am taking away some sweet parts of the world this child holds.
The parts she sees through the eyes of a child.
Because even though she has an old soul, she doesn't believe in darkness.
Not yet.

And so, sweet Anna...
it starts with accepting who you are.
Your good, your bad, your limitations, your point of no return, yourself.

It then means bringing people into your fold that accept you, all of you, as you are.
They laugh at your crazy with you.
They help you to see the humor in life.
They too accept your good, your bad, your limitations, your point of no return, they accept you.

That also means you accept them.
You surround yourself with people that talk about ideas, not people.
You hold each other to standards of kindness and affection.
You realize that none of this matters.
That beauty has nothing to do with how you look.

But the start of all of this, is you.
I have always surrounded myself with those that accept me.
Not because I am enlightened, because as an introvert, big and popular are never important.
Small circles of connection matter most.
I have always accepted them, because I have loved them and what they have meant to me down to my toes.
But, it took me over 30 years to accept me.
It took looking into the eyes of a daughter I put here and saying
acceptance starts with me.

Stop.

4
Sep

All you want...

...is us.

Play with me.
Color with me.
Read to me.
I want to go with you.
Snuggle me.
Stay with me.
Can you just be here?
Can we have a date?
Can I go running with you?

All you want...is us.

This summer, we took a once in a lifetime family vacation.
Your favorite parts: being in the pool as a family.
Sleeping in the hotel, because you each got to sleep with us.
Just time with us is all you need to fill your bucket.
You would whisper things to me like
"I love talking to you and I promise I always will"
"I love you mommy, I love being with you"
"this is the best vacation ever, we're all together!"

Since we have been home, all you want, is us.
Playing with us.
Snuggles with us.
Board games with us.
Reading dates.
All you want...is us.
Time with us
all of us with you all of you.
Us.
Just us.

Our trips to the Cape, you love the togetherness of it all.
You love how crammed and cramped we all are, because we are all together.
You love sharing the space.
You love how cozy it is.
You love how you all pile up on a coach.
You love being, with us.
All you want, is us.

And yes, there are moments when the attention and time are almost too much.
I get tired
days are long
but this needed time
this need for just me
take me as I am me
it's incredible.
It's what I will miss the most of this small window we all have.
That out of anyone out there, you have always accepted me.
As I am
crazy and all
tired
never put together
forever wanting pjs
forever wanting cozy
the woman that doesn't know how to dress
the woman that doesn't do her hair
the one that doesn't know how to apply makeup
the one that needs peace and calm
the one that finds that calm in routine and clean
stressed and crazed
hurried and impatient
me.

You love the real me
you see me as I see the real you.
You look beyond all of the flaws and you find the me you love.
And you don't really want anything from me,
you just want me.
Not distracted
not angry
not always tired
but happy to be with you too
me.

You slow me down.
You make me realize what is important.
Because how do I say no to being with you?
How do I look at a little face and say no, I can't help you.
No, I can't be with you.
No, what I am doing is more important, than you.
You are my reminder that time is fleeting.
You are my reminder that time is precious.
You are my reminder that all we will ever need, is us.

1
Sep

Five Minute Friday - neighbor

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on neighbor.
Go.

How are we taking care of one another?
How are we lending a hand, an ear, a shoulder?
How are we listening?
How are we coming together?
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

We build homes with fences to protect privacy.
We move into neighborhoods and hardly know those around us.
We build walls instead of welcoming those we live with in.
We wave across yards instead of opening doors.
We put up barricades instead of welcome signs.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

We look inward, careful to take care of those close to us.
We are untrusting, looking for motives.
We are ending gatherings, always too busy.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

We are quick to look away if it doesn't concern us.
We are quick to turn around, not look in the direction of someone in need.
We justify with statements like, that's not my concern, not my problem, not my decisions.
We forget all the help we received along the way, the priveledges we were afforded.
We forget that most parents make it because of community, and circles of trust.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

But the ripple effect is real.
And just as much as it can turn us in, the ripple effect can also create closeness and kindness.
Like how one person pays for another in a drive through line and the chain continues.
Like how one person helps a stranger and that love is carried on.
Like how we create love is contagious and so is community.
How are we taking care of each other?
What do we do for our neighbor?

If we want to build kindness and love and generosity in our kids, lead by example.
Let them catch you helping a stranger.
Let them see you feed someone in need.
Let them watch you talk someone up, not down.
Let them be a part of their community.
Teach them the importance of framily.
Show them love, not just for them, but for people.

It is time, we are at a pivotal point in our history and when you look back at this time of need and crisis, what will your story be?
Did you retrieve inward or did you open your heart?
Did you write a book of love or of fear and hate?
Now is our time, we are raising a generation, we are setting their path.
Remind them that it is up to all of us to take care of one another.
Be a good neighbor.

Stop.

27
Aug

He's the one

He's the one you call for.
He's the one that signs you up for all of your stuff.
He's the one that gets you ready every. single. morning.
He's also the one that tackles night time routines.
He's the one you love two claps.
He's the one you look like.
He's the one that worries most about you.

He's the one that asked me out.
He's the one that got down on one knee to ask me to join him in forever.
He's the one that puts up with my crazy.
He's the one that has embraced my family's crazy.
He's the one that worries the least about us.

He's the one that sets schedules for you.
He's the one you spend your summer with.
He's the one that plans our vacations.
He's the one that plans our days.
He's the one that loves adventure.
He's the one that needs big breaks.

He's the one that celebrates your milestones.
He's the one that is never sad anything is over.
He's the one that loves your first and your last everything.
He's the one that asked for you, he's the one that realized we were now a complete family.
He's the one that wanted this life, always and forever, you were always a part of him.

He's the one that had the hardest time letting Mia go.
He's the one that I got to watch fall in love with her.
He's the one that adores Pearl, and I got to watch them fall in love too.
He's the one that walks her, he's the one that is so patient.
He's the one that realized we needed to wait and heal.
He's the one that also realized I couldn't live without her.

He's the one that won't let any of us walk away angry.
He's always the first to apologize.
He's the fixer, he's always putting us back together.
He's the one that built our house.
He's the one I see in every corner of it.
He's the one that is always trying to make us happy.
He's the one that loves us, so much he can't see straight.
He's the one that laughs, his job is to be silly.
He's the one that has so much joy, naturally sitting in there, and we're the ones that need to remind him of that.

He's the one you get your eyes from
he's the one you get your childhood joy from
he's the one you want to make happy
he's the one you really adore.
He's the one we can count on.
He is the one I count on.
He's the one that knew we were it for him.

He's the one that is more simple.
He's the one that doesn't question much.
He's the one that hasn't met someone he doesn't like.
He's the one that sees the good in everyone.
He's the one that has a good heart.

He's the one that forgets a lot.
He's the one we love.
He's the one that needs constant reminders that all of this is crazy messy goofy love.
He's the one that needs constant reminders that this is childhood.
He's the one that needs constant reminders that this was his childhood.
He's the one that needs constant reminders that this was him, always him.
He's the one that needs to be reminded that he will never be loved and needed this much again.
He's the one that we love.
He's the one that we love.
He's the one that we love.
He's the one that won't ever let us give up.
He's the one that won't ever walk away.
He's the one that expects you to move mountains.
He's the one for us, he's the one for me, he's the one that put this family together.
He's the one that we love.
He's the one that we love.
He's the one guys.

4
Aug

Five Minute Friday - try take 2

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on try.
Go.

The last time I wrote about this word, I wrote all about our fire.
I wrote about how you need to keep going, keep trying, keep giving it your all.
This week, I want to tell you that what I love most about you Anna is that you are willing to try anything.
You always try.

Anything we throw your way, you give it your all.
You really put your best foot forward, you never say no to a new challenge or option.
Actually, it excites you.
And so when I hear you say "yes!" to something new, it warms me up because you always try.

As you get older, I don't know if this will stay with you.
I don't know when the world will grab hold of you and tell you that you aren't good enough for something.
I don't know when fear will stop you.
I don't know if those two things will ever happen
because right now, in front of me, is a girl that accepts challenges and new.
A girl that always tries.

I wasn't like that until I was much older.
When I was a kid, I always scared to try.
Until I got older and realized that I needed to try new things to open up new opportunities for me
and now? Now I try to prove to just me that I can.
Most times, I am trying too hard.
At proving myself
at my job
at my health
at my everything.
You? You try because you just always try.
There is no question, there is no fear, there is just you and your willingness
to try.

Stop.

14
Jul

Five Minute Friday - comfort

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on comfort.
Go.

I find comfort in the closeness.
In the love and projection of family.
I find it in the small and in the simple.
I find it in the whispers of love.
And I find it in you, the ones that gave me my second chance.
I find it in our traditions, big and small.
I find it when I can clearly see family time is important to you too.
And so, I created a life that celebrates our family and underlines the importance of us.
I created comfort.

I created second chances
I created little arms around my neck
I created little hands cradled in mine
I created time
I created comfort in us.

I created traditions
and I have so many of them.
Traditions are my parenting strength.
They are so important to me, but even better, they are so important to you.
You have no idea how much you fill my soul when you say "it's Friday...it's our family movie night!"
or as I am kissing you goodnight on a Saturday and you say, "tomorrow is pancake Sunday and we have a reading date!"
The smile and excitement that comes across your face.
The actual joy and comfort it brings you.
How much you look forward to all the small ways that we make you feel that this is important to us.
I created comfort in us.

And that's why I did this.
I wanted something that tied us together, even as you grow and want more and more independence.
I wanted something that made you feel that this time together is important to all of us, because we are important to all of us.
I wanted you to feel that this loved, in the smallest of ways, because you are loved from top to bottom.
I wanted something that reminded all of us how simple parenting is, how all they need is us, the rest is extra.
How little stress there is in this time, how loving it is to just be together.
How my worries melt.
How our childhood comes out.
How close we all get.
I wanted to define family for you,
in its purest form.
I created comfort in us.

I find comfort in the simple
in the love
in the gathering
in the close
in the second chances
in the quiet
in the cozy
I find comfort in us.

Stop.

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