25
Jul

Heavy

Do you ever feel so heavy that your heart feels like a rock? Like it sinks down to your belly and then tries to fight its way back to its place in your chest but can't? I do.

Do you ever feel like there is an unbearable ache? You ache for those you love, you ache for their pain? You see it in their eyes and you hear it, when their voice cracks, you break along with them? I do.

Do you ever feel things too much, you cannot breathe, you cannot stand it all? I do.

Do you ever miss parts of your past that you know is not what you want your life to end up, but wonder if you could go back, what would you change? And if you changed any of it, would any outcome have been different? I do.

Do you realize you are missing now, even as you are missing it? Because when you feel this heavy, you know you are not here, you are not present. You know that your mind is in so many different places and as much as you yell at yourself to be thankful, watch what is happening in front of you...you know you're missing it? I do.

The past several months have been a lot. And although there have been moments of such deep sadness, I have been ok. I have been really ok. People ask why or how and I just don't know. I don't understand it either. I am not one to put things into compartments. I am not one to think logically only, I feel too much. I am too much.

But then, the last two weeks, I arrived in a place my family and I have been dreaming about. Planning and dreaming. I do none of the planning. My husband is in charge of everything to get us here and get us back. He does all the research, he figures it all out and we all just go with it.

From the moment I stepped on this island of paradise, I have felt a heavy feeling that could not go away. I woke up the very first morning to unbearable news from a friend. News that will forever change her, change her course, change her everything. And I hung on to hope with her and I let go of hope with her and I listened to her cry and try to laugh. I listened to her talk and we also sat in silence.

Life can be so cruel and at the same time, so giving and beautiful. I do not understand.

I watch another friend struggle with pain. Actual pain that is debilitating and no matter what they try on her, none of it works. It hurts her, physically yes, but mentally and her family. It hurts her family. All I can do is check-in, offer to help, and watch from afar. I do not understand.

I have watched the real strength of women hold their families together even when they cannot hold themselves up. And all I feel is heavy.

I know that in times like these, there are no words, no deeds, nothing that will make any of it better. All you can do is sit with them, allow time not to heal, but to make the pain liveable.

A friend told me that this time here isn't the universe telling me that I should not be here, but telling me to rest up myself. That when I return, I will be needed. But the problem is, I feel needed now, even though I know there is absolutely nothing I can do.

To those in my life that are hurting, that are scared, worried, heavy...I promise I will try with all that I have to lighten your load. My heavy is because you are not okay and you being okay again one day is all that matters to me.

Do you ever wonder how to get out of the heavy and then realize it just on its own lifts and it is when you feel the washing over of joy that you realize you can feel joy again? I do.

17
Jul

Five Minute Friday - strong

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 strong.

Go.

When I had you, I met an amazing photographer that put into words everything I wanted to teach you...#StrongIsTheNewPretty.

I feel that at times I can move mountains and other times, I feel like a mouse that hides away from bullies. I feel like I would push a bus out of the way for you, and I also feel like there is so little I can do. I feel like I push to prove that I am strong, I try to scream it from rooftops. But it is when I listen that I show you the strength we all carry.

Sweet Anna James, you too carry strength you don't know. It's right behind your fear. You have to trust me on this, it is right behind your fear. You can do hard things, you can push through a little bit of pain. You can do hard things. You do not need to be rescued, you can make your own way. You have all of it in you.

And when you feel like you need a break, come home and rest your bones. Come back to comfort and care. But not because you have to, but because you want a break. There will be times as a woman walking this earth, you will feel the weight of family, and responsibility, and home, and career, and babies, and friendships. But trust me, you will figure it out. Find family and framily and you will carry the weight. Fight through the fog of life and remember how gorgeous it really can be.

#StrongIsTheNewPretty my girl and you are stunning.

Stop.

4
Jul

Tomorrow

As we round the corner, we are staring down a pretty important milestone. This anniversary isn't just a typical one. This one marks something pretty special.

July 8th 2021 means we have been together for 21 years. Twenty-one years of us. And there has been so much sharing in those 21 years.

From the couple that so easily fell in love. You were the easiest decision of my life. You were so joyful, so full of pure heart and I fell so hard.

To the couple that heard the news that would change their lives forever. And just when I thought it would only change mine, you reminded me there is no just you and me anymore. We're in this. You stood by me, you held me together.

To the couple that moved and moved and moved and moved. Until they found home, but a forever home. We fell in love with our surroundings, our town. We fell so in love with our home and we grew it to exactly what we wanted. We fell in love with the lives we were creating.

To the couple that got engaged. The night you got down on one knee was a story written just for us. Proposing in front of our Mia, making sure she was right there, a scared boy asked me to walk by his side forever.

To the couple that got married. And had a WEDDING. A wedding that was full of people and things and glitter and gold. I know this day is all you wanted and I'm so happy it was the magic it was.

To the couple that saw little blue lines that made them whole. I know how much you see and want from them. I can feel your pull for their future, just remember to hold on to the today that they are there and when you can, remember the joy. Remember how Cole is you, your pure heart. Remember that Anna wants us. Remember that both want us. Remember that time with you is all that little man asks for. Remember that our window with her is closing. Remember that we are going to blink and empty nest will be here.

To the couple that lost their first puppy. The loss of Mia was a moment I will never forget. You and me, in a room with her. You begging me to take her home, me trying to hold it together long enough to make the decision that she needed to go. She was our reason and we felt so lost without her for so long.

To the couple that opened their homes, lives and love to their second puppy. Pearl Rose is exactly who we needed, exactly what we all needed. She is not our dog, she is the family dog. She loves her entire pack. She loves her kiddos, she loves her mom and dad, she is shared. She is the lover of love we all needed.

Job and big career changes and address changes and adding kids and puppies and illness and really living hard to really living. We are a couple of 21 years.

But it's July 9th that means something. July 9th is 21 years plus one day. The day that marks us being together longer than we've been apart. The day that marks knowing you, having you, loving you, building with you, longer than I've done it on my own. I will officially close my eyes knowing that you have been with me longer than you haven't. I knew this day would come Coach. I knew that there would come a time when it would happen and July 9th is that day.

So, for this anniversary, we will be in Hawaii. We will be sharing our every other year trip with our kiddos. We will be in paradise, but lovey, you have already given me paradise.

You gave me babies I didn't know I even wanted. You gave me motherhood and I cannot believe how much I adore it. You gave me your smile your heart and then, you gave it to your little man.

You gave me years of taking care of me, giving me shots that made me so sick. You fought through my tears and my pain, you held me altogether.

You were always fine with my training, my races, my goals. You tackled a lot with me and you let me do some alone.

You stuck by me during the move and my career. You have taken on so much to make sure my career pushes forward. You truly get how important work is to me and you allow it to happen. You pick it all up.

You have taught me about true partners. Partners that just show up. No matter what...I drop, you pick up. You drop, I pick up. You do it better, you've always done it better.

You gave me all of the trips we take. You set up every vacation and each one is better than the last. I am so happy we are doing this for our babies and I'm so happy we found a way to make it happen.

You said yes to Pearl. You could see and feel how much I needed her and you showed up...again. You said yes to a puppy we never met and you never looked back. You realize how important she is to us and you love her as much as we all do.

You are all over our house. Every inch is you. Your design, your hard work, you built me a home after we just bought a house.

You bring me wine anytime I ask. You get up of the couch and get me anything I need. You ask me if I want/need anything just as we settle in.

You take walks with me at 11pm. Even if you're sore from working out. You know that I'm scared of the dark and you come with.

We have both changed so much. I've gotten softer, you've gotten harder. You've become a harder worker, I've wanted to take a step back. We both have grayed. We both look different. We both act differently. But, I remembered the secret that I figured out...grow together. Just keep growing together. It's going to be tough, the dark years filled with fog will really really make you question it all. And, they are years, not days, not weeks, but years of fog. But, keep growing together. Get through the hard, it gets hard, and keep growing.

So tomorrow I will remember that 21 years plus one day is really important, really special. We will wake up with our babies, the ones you always knew would be here. We will wake up in paradise and have a day that you planned for us. Tomorrow, I will know you longer than I haven't and that means something.

I love you Coach, alottle.

Olive juice always.

6
Jun

Isn't it strange?

Is this not enough
This blessed sip of life, is it not enough?

It's certainly not just you, but it's so obvious in you. You seem to shout it from the rooftops, how you feel like it's all not enough and not worth it. How you keep begging, bargaining for more. And because of this, I feel like you take advantage of the time we have here, worrying about things that don't matter. I feel like your priorities aren't straight. I feel like you make things, life, this life, our life, harder.

You can't get out of your own way. But like with all things with you, I try and accept and move on. I try. And I also learn. I learn from you when you are not even realizing it. And you are teaching me, even if you are not trying.

Because the truth is, this blessed sip of life, it is enough. There are so many reasons I have been thinking about this very thought these days. This life we are given, there is a lot of heartache and things to worry about in this life. But there is also so much to be thankful and grateful for.

Isn't it strange...how we move our lives for another day?

Since always, since before always, I have lived for another day. I finally stopped to look at myself. There is something really special about finally doing that. Stopping, taking stock of what you have, what you love. REALLY looking around, there is something moving and special when you can.

I will always have goals and dreams. I will always be planning ahead. Always. But for the last year and a half, I have also slowed down and planted my feet. And that's why I do feel I've had a really good and loving life. I'm not waiting for the best to come, I'm living the best years, each year.

Wash out this tired notion
Oh, that the best is yet to come

And I stopped burning the day.

...this love will open our world
From the dark side we can see the glow of something bright

Isn't it strange...

how it takes a pandemic

or the world to stop spinning

or your life to be ripped away from you

or your real priorities screaming at you

or when you have space,

to finally realize who you are, what you have, what you want?

Isn't is strange?

I'm able to inhale and exhale a little more each and every day. I'm having some really difficult conversations, but I'm also able to realize, love lived here. And I want to thank whoever or whatever gave me this blessed sip of life.

The person I get to spend my life with makes me happy. It's hard but he makes me happy.

My children are loving and kind and able. Parenting is really really hard, but it makes me happy.

My first puppy raised me. She loved me until she said goodnight and she lived her purpose. Losing her was a heartache I didn't realize I could feel, but if losing a puppy is my worse heartache, that's a really good and happy life.

The puppy I currently get to love is full of love and light. She wiggles her bum when she sees me. She hugs me, she smiles. She walks and runs with me. She snuggles into naps with me. She loves my babies. Her dad is her favorite but she makes me so so happy.

I left an agency that taught me so much more than leadership and running a business. They taught me about the importance of childhood and little. They taught me to believe in me and how capable I was. It was hard and exhausting and at times, painful and the stress was debilitating, but I am so happy I found them.

I have a disease. One that is unknown when and what it will take from me. But, for 19 years, I have kept on. Not out of luck, but out of a fight in me. I didn't ask for you, but I'm not going to let you quiet who I am. So yes, I don't know what it will look like in another 19 years, but I am happy with how I dealt with it. I'm proud of the marathon I ran, and the half marathons I ran and ran and ran. I'm proud of the solo races I did and the ones surrounded by hundreds of people. I'm proud of the tris I did and the hard work I put into learning how to swim. I'm proud and happy that it happened to me.

My home is filled with love and memories and every corner has a special moment. It is too big and too messy, and too much, but it makes me so happy to come home.

'Cause we need the light of love in here
Don't beat your head, dry your eyes
Let the love in there
There's bad times but that's OK
Just look for love in it
And don't burn the day away

And I stopped burning the day.

9
May

To mother

To mother means sharing your whole body, regardless of if you carried a baby or not.

To mother means to sharing every part of your being, every ounce of energy you have.

To mother means you carry your baby, always and forever, regardless of how old they get.

To mother means you lose yourself, even for a minute, and then find yourself again and they reemerge someone, something different.

To mother means you find strength and then you find rest and then you find a way.

To mother means you say no a million different times but yes to so much more.

To mother means you mange...relationships, feelings, emotions, arguments, fights, brawls.

To mother means you mange...schedules, appointments, lives.

To mother means you manage...your feelings, your emotions, your relationships, your past that you thought you could keep in the shadows but to mother means they bring them out into the light.

To mother means you love differently. Yourself, your person, your littles, your life.

To mother means you are loved differently. By yourself, your person, your littles.

To mother means to give a lot up but to also gain so so much.

To mother means to be used and at times tossed aside.

To mother means you find yourself crying over a familiar smell, or an old article of clothing.

To mother means you look at pictures with aches in your bones.

To mother means you stare at the phone, you worry, you lose sleep.

To mother means to be the protector, the smoocher, the light, the happy they see when they wake up and go to sleep.

To mother means to be the one that keeps all of their moments, every single one.

To mother means to love them in your sleep.

To mother means they are with you, even when they are not.

To mother means to be strong.

To mother means something.

25
Apr

Let's take a walk

Let's grab a flashlight and walk around in the dark. Let's hold hands and snuggle close. Let's bundle up, it's cold outside. Let's wear our hats, and gloves, and warm coats. Put your hands in my pockets, let's grab the hand warmers. Let's talk about how cute it is that Pearly smiles and trots when she's with us. Let's talk all about how cute Pearl is. Let's talk about how lucky we all are. How happy we are, how warm this feels, even though, yes, it's cold.

Let's look up at the sky and talk about the stars, the moon, the way the clouds look. Let's talk about the way sometimes it looks like a painting, that's how gorgeous it is. Let's talk about how funny our boys are, how adorable they can be. Let's talk about how good dad is at well, everything. How he fixes everything for us. How good he makes our house look, how lucky we are that he's in our life, how lucky we are that he asked me. Let's talk about how cute monkey is, how much he loves loves loves his dad.

Let's talk about school and your friends. How great they are to you, how funny you guys are together. Let's talk about how important friends are to me, why they are. Let's talk about how we make sure our friends are our right circle, how important that is. Let's talk about how to be a good friend.

You know what all of this is? It's gratitude. It's moments of appreciate that make us feel warm and lucky and grateful. This allows us to take stock. It helps us to see our big picture, see who else we can help, talk about how important helping is. It allows us to set priorities. Make sure we are going all we can when we put our head down at night.

Let's take a walk sweetie.

18
Apr

Bricks

I read a story written by a black mother that talked about the bricks she has to pack in her children's bags.

Don't wear this sweatshirt.

Don't go out in a group with other black people, but don't go out alone either.

Don't drive in this neighborhood, I know your friends live there but don't.

Don't be in a car with too many other black kids.

Don't run away, don't walk away, don't walk towards.

Don't make eye contact, but don't look away from.

Don't be too seen, don't call for attention.

Just come home to me. Just come back home, please.

Can you imagine how heavy that bag is, how many bricks are in there? Just come home to me baby.

I don't know how to read this and not ache, but I also have no idea what any of this feels like.

I have read and listened to so many in the black community talk about how exhausted they are. It's a never-ending war. I have read that each and every time, it is a reminder that they are less than. They are not as valued, they are not humanized. I don't know what that is like either. I don't know what it is like to not feel like you are part of society, you are not part of the human race. That I need to humanize myself to let you see me, I don't know what that is like.

All mothers worry. All mothers carry their babies long after pregnancy. All mothers want their babies to come home. But, this, it's different. It's a different feeling, it's a different worry. It's a life I cannot relate to and I am so sorry.

But, I am not tired. I haven't had to endure this always and forever, so I'm not tired. My kids are not tired, we are just getting started. I have not carried bricks, I have not placed bricks in their backpacks, so we are not tired. We can still move, I'm so sorry you have felt so differently for so long. I'm sorry for all I have done to contribute to it. I am sorry I thought not being racist was enough, and how much I did not do. I'm sorry it took the world seeing it on video to prove you right, and I'm sorry there are still some that do not believe.

I'm sorry that you are seen as a threat, that you are seen as scary, that you are seen as less than. I'm sorry that as white men continue to shoot up people, and churches, and even that Capital, they are not seen as a threat. I'm sorry it's always so different. I'm sorry that your communities are seen as less than. I'm sorry that protecting you is not an obligation, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry you have to show us pictures and videos of black pain, black joy, black families, in order to us to see you as a person, a member of a family. I'm sorry that we become the judge, jury, and executionist. I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that you are told how to protest, I'm sorry that we who have made you need to protest, also tell you the right and wrong way to show your pain. I'm so sorry that it's always so different. I'm sorry that we are not moving fast enough because for people, you move faster than this.

I'm so sorry but I promise I won't stop at I'm sorry. The job is done when you no longer have bricks to carry, bricks to pack, and when we disassemble the building.

I see you, I believe you, I stand and kneel with you, and we will figure out a way to throw the bricks away and create something so strong and beautiful.

13
Apr

Five Minute Friday - pressure

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 pressure.

Go.

It's not Friday, it's actually late Monday night and the first time I've had a chance to do this. Not because I've been under too much pressure, but because I took the whole weekend off. You know how sometimes that can recharge you and other times you feel the pressure build? I had both happen. I had so much fun this weekend, but also kept a running list in my head of what I needed to still do.

I also had a lot of responsibilities unexpectedly fall into my lab this weekend and instead of the pressure building there, I took it in stride. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes the pressure is so much and sometimes it all just happens to fall into place. But, as you are too well aware of little faces of mine, there was a time when any little thing pushed this mama of yours over the edge. The pressure was built to boiling and I could not keep the lid on the pot. I was always exploding. There is a reason I need to remember those days and who I was then. I need to remind myself I cannot let it get to that point again. Busy, sure. Lots to do, okay. Too much to do sometimes, we can handle that. Lots of lists, I love a list.

But the pressure that made my head hurt for years. The one that made it so I couldn't chew because my jaw hurt. The kind that made me feel like someone was always standing on my chest. The pressure that made me shake and have nightmares. The one that made me cry so much and stole my joy, I allowed all of that to happen. I asked for it and I did more and more to welcome it into my life, our lives. That pressure I cannot tolerate anymore and have to know when I am getting close to the fire and walk away.

Life can be hard, it can be filled with things we feel are "have tos". Life is also pretty gorgeous and can be filled with a lot of laughter. So tonight, I had a meeting at 8, it was pretty important to me and the community that I want around me. But my brand new 12 year old daughter asked me with her big eyes if we could have a reading date and I blew it off. I sat in bed with her, we read and then I put her to bed and wrote to you. I picked well.

Stop.

6
Apr

12

I don't know Belle, it has been quite a year from 11 to 12. Something has changed, but stayed all the same. This year, you have held on to little so deeply and still grown and become who you are meant to be.

This year, we talked and walked and laughed a lot. You turn to me now, you and I became closer, somehow. There are a lot of things about 2020 that I want to keep and carry forward. This is one of the things I won't allow us to give up. Our late night walks and talks. Our snuggles, our reading dates, our love of Pearl, our holding hands, our relationship. I will hold on to those for dear life sweetie.

We became a thing in 2020 didn't we? After years of you asking me when I was going to come down from this crazy schedule, after years of me talking about when I would only run my business and be more available, we arrived. It mattered to you, it mattered to you a lot. You really were asking for me. You wanted my attention, all on you. You wanted me to know things. You wanted to tell me your stories, and without it, I lost you for a minute there. I lost you to a side of girl I don't love. I lost you to drama you were not into, but could not shy away from. I lost you to you not being you and we had to find who you were again.

Now, I adore you, but in no way am I going to sit here and not recognize all we still have to work on...like your tone with Cole, like your heart with him. Yes, he is younger and a little brother but he loves you in a way that cannot be described. We have to work on you not getting lost again. We need to make sure you always remember who you are and not blindly follow. You are you, and I need you to hold strong to who you really are.

But, we did 2020 right sweet girl. We got all of our time in, even more than we both wanted. I know you missed a lot and I know there were times you were so sad, but you worked hard on holding on to all of the good. You worked hard on being a good friend and a great daughter. You worked hard on loving our Pearl, you put her first. You did school with her, you read with her, she really is going to miss you.

So, two years ago, when you became my double-digit girl, I bought you a matching necklace. One we both wear every single day. This year, as you turn 12 (gulp) I have this front-row seat on watching you falling in and out of the in-between. Every day, walking one step farther away, but that's ok. You really are taking your time and I so love you for it. I love you for doing it apart from knowing how much I need it too.

So here's the thing Anna James. You think you aren't tough enough, you are enough. You think you aren't strong enough, you are enough. You think you can't do a lot of things, but you can. This falling in and out of the in-between has you still thinking you can be taken care of and although we will always and forever take care of our girl, it is time for her to realize how much she can do. I'm in there baby girl. I'm in there too. You have to trust and believe me on this, you can do hard things and you being scared is totally fine, do not let it stop you. Let that little voice guide you on what feels right and wrong but do not for one second think I can't. We've got you, but you've got this.

Alright 12 year old. We will see what coming out of COVID and walking into teenage years means for us. I hope it means that as we figure this out, we do so together. I hope it means the talking does not stop. I hope it means as you realize all you are capable of, you remember where you came from. I'm proud of you Anna. I'm proud and honored to be your mama. I'm happy you found us. I love your heart, your smile, your dimple, your laugh, your I love yous, your hugs, the fact that you're a book nerd, I love your love of Pearl, I love your love of traditions, I love that you hold us accountable to them.

I love you 12 year old. Happy birthday to you.

28
Mar

It's going to happen

For the first three years of your life, it was all you. All of your firsts, all of your milestones. Every single time you did something new, you had a first, so did we. We captured all of it. I wrote about it, I measured your everything, I wrote you letters, I journaled for you, I captured it all in photos, I created so many albums with you front and center.

Then, the other day I was thinking about how you leave for college, Cole will only be 15 and will still have a lot of firsts and milestones. Maybe a prom, driving lessons, driving on his own, maybe a team. There will be moments that exist and will be captured and you will not be here to see them. You won't be in the memories, because you won't be here.

And just like he literally wasn't here for the first three years of your life, you will not be in our home the last three years of his life with us full time. I don't know why I am thinking about this now and I don't know why it feels stranger to me to think of it and it wasn't strange at all with it in reverse.

The obvious reasons are he wasn't even a thought back then. He was a fit to a puzzle we didn't know was even missing. But once you got here, you were always here, with us. The thought of you living out there, calling to catch me up (hopefully), the thought of life moving on because you've moved on, it's all so far-away and right around the corner.

When I get like this, dad gets annoyed thinking that I'm so focused and living in a world that is so far off that I'm not present and enjoying all the things between now and then. But, I see it differently. For me, thinking of those days makes me more present, more patient, more on top of being with you. Because I know the window will close so so soon.

Listen, your mama has done a pretty decent job not making you her everything. I love my work, I have friends, I have activities and hobbies, I even have an empty nest bucket list. But, as much as I have tried to make my life full outside of motherhood, I have really loved motherhood. I truly adore and feel so special and chosen to be your mom. I feel so honored that you picked me. I tuck you in and see that little face, those little cheeks, I cannot help but get overwhelmed with the fact that I get to do this. I get to mother you. I get to be your goodnight kiss. I get to help you, I get to take walks with you. I get to be the one you can't wait to tell stories to. I get to be your mama.

And soon, all too soon, I get to watch you be the person you were always meant to be, out there. All too soon, I get to watch from the side lines and my front row seat will be replaced, taken away. I promise I know it is the way it has to be, is meant to be, the stupid circle of life and all, but yeah,

It's going to happen. I know that and I know that anything I try and do to slow it down or hold on too tight will make it backfire and have you resent me. So, I have to let it happen.

It's going to happen. You are going to grow up and out of your little. My little book nerd (god I hope you keep that always and forever) will find new passions and loves. My little one that tells me how much she adores me, and wants hugs all of the time, will fight me when I want any time with her (I do hope you hold on to some of our times together). My little one that tells me ALL of the things, with ALL of the details, will keep things closer to her chest.

It's going to happen. We're going to have years of pictures with just Cole, and you won't be there. You won't be a part of it, you'll be living a life somewhere else. You'll be checking in, more like I'll be begging for a check in. But, I'm going to have to really get my head around it being a different set of three. Until we are back down to the two who started it all.

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