Yes.

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I used to say yes, always. Yes, yes, yes. I’ll bake that cake, make the extra meal, take care of that toddler, write that, post that, moderate this, email them, yes yes yes. Then I read the quote about “…saying Yes to this means saying No to that…” I thought deeply about what I was saying No to. I was too tired to look for  middle ground. The early years of motherhood should just come with a large dose of; Don’t bother with yes or no, go with it, go with grace and grace and grace. Only that.

I shifted; No, No, No. No to all of it, to you, to me, to everything. I was left with saying yes to the only thing I knew I could say yes to without mistake, my children.

It’s strange. I’m a grey believing person, little in my life is black and white and the older I get the less black and white there seems to be. Why this quote shook me so hard, and shifted me so thoroughly from black to white, I can’t quite pin down. But I can feel, and know, that it was wrong. Where my heart and growth are rich is in my Yes. I know myself better the more I give.

The often heard quote in mom’s group (to be fair, it can’t be heard enough!) is that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. So as I’ve begun to say yes again, to taking these pictures, writing those posts, moderating that group, holding this baby (yes, emphatically!), and making that meal, I’ve also added some new yeses to list.

When the girls were so young I had to find the way to say yes to me in the small moments. In washing the dishes and watching the wind in the tree out my window. In laying in bed for the precious half hour before all the little feed padded in to join me (still do, but now it’s about three hours!). I worked to find it in the small spaces. But as they’ve grown, so has my space, and with it I let guilt creep in. But whole and healthy has hollered louder, and now I just accept my space as a huge gift.

Yes to self care, yes to yoga, yes to writing blogs that might make no sense or seem wholly self indulgent, yes to things that I may get made fun of  for, yes to boldness, yes to what makes my soul sing. Yoga, writing, running, lifting heavy weights, dreaming bigger than before, and yes to new. New experiences, new ways of viewing myself.

My yes has multiplied the ways I can serve. The way I can give more now, while feeling full still. I’m relentlessly on the search for some balance as I still Yes where I should NO, here and there. But seeing that selfishness and selflessness can coincide in the same hour, I feel some freedom.

If you are Yes to everyone else and a No to you, take a moment to stand and think what you need and can do for you in a two minute span. Can giving yourself two minutes of deep breaths change you? Yes. Can a meal eaten alone, in your laundry room, with your eyes closed change you? Yes. Can a door closed and music loud for five minutes of sun salutations heal your heart, just an inch, YES.

I’m all over them map, the self care and giving map. Trying to find my north star as I, aimless, shoot arrows into ideas that might pop into a blissful rain of YES. But, sometimes, they just deflate the cloud and leave me standing there deciding; now what? And that’s okay. That’s my Yes, and it’s okay.

Right now, this season, I am saying yes to dreaming and trying. Failing and becoming even more of character of ridiculous millennial musings. I’ll say, it feels good. It feels so good.

 

The words we use.

Acceptable. Hot. Skinny. Okay. Good enough. Too much. Too flabby. Too soft. Good food. Bad Food. Clean food. Dirty food?

The words we throw around as goals, or descriptors are big. They aren’t just words, as much as I wish they were. They’re the balm we rub onto every inch of skin and stretch marks and cellulite, and take them on as truth. If ‘hot’ is my goal then I will bathe in that daily in the form of “goals or mantras”or what words will “push me through that last rep” until my brain has learned that what is inside doesn’t matter as much as what my skin pours out, am I hot? Hot enough? Too hot to be a mom? I can’t win.

*(I like goals and mantras, but not when they’re tied to how I “need” to look in a certain time frame)

The words we use are important. They’re the words we teach our kids. The words I toss around above their heads to friends as they absorb them like bubbles in the baths we take together. The baths where they talk about how much they love my Mama Marks, and how squishy I am, and soft I am. The words unspoken are; comforting, love, fulfilled, theirs, mama, cozy, memories, soft, mine. And those are words I want to wear with every inch of my skin.

The goals aren’t wrong, having a body goal isn’t inherently wrong, but pursuing body above heart and brain and self love, is. It’s dangerous. It’s insidious for our children. It’s shame and doubt and self hate. It’s where your fingers go on your phone in the night, what youtube videos you find yourself watching (how to get rid of cellulite, how to lose ten pounds fast), it’s where your heart feels heavy quick when you start to compare. It’s fear over a size up, and anxiety over a sleeveless dress.

We are far more than dresses and sizes, scales and numbers, lumps and bumps. We aren’t the words we’ve owned for so long, that is why changing them is important. I am not only what I pursue. I am what I am today, and that is worthy of care, love, and acceptance.

I am soft, strong, muscled, dedicated, hydrated, fueled, comforting, consoling, mine, theirs, his, and ours. I don’t have to shy away from my body just to celebrate it, this body is worthy of good words, sexy words, and descriptors. But it isn’t the only part of me.

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I asked for positive body descriptors on my Facebook page today. And damn, damn damn damn. Those smart people. The list just brings me right to my knees. If you are struggling with words for your body, read this list. Read it again. And then start to bathe in these words each time your brain wants to rob you of your worth. Also, I pulled this list verbatim. I wanted to see where the words overlap, where we are all leaning into, because there is power in knowing that as you chant “I am strong. I am strong.” you aren’t alone. I’m there, chanting it too. And so are these other women. Building up, not just ourselves. Not just our children. But each other.

 

Statuesque

Majestic

Beautiful

Strong

Sturdy

Tolerant

Nurturing

Perfectly Imperfect

Comfortable

Soft

Healthy

Invaluable

Unbreakable

Determined

Curvaceous

Nurturing

Spirited

Calm

Vital

Luscious

Capable

Juicy

Strong

Voluptuous

Home

Snuggable

Resilient

Unique

Capable

Strong

Learning Flowing

Sure

Desired

Squeezable

Sexy

Bangin’

Strong

Life-Giving

Comfy

Evolving

Life-Giving

Nourishing

Strong

Rooted

Alive

On Fire!

Voluptuous

Fertile

Resilient

Curvaceous

Life Creating

Solid

Luscious

Beautiful

Capable

Full of Life

 

I’ve read this list. ReRead it. And then challenged myself to read it out loud. I’ll be here. Coming back to this on the darker days, the mean brain days, and remembering. I’m not alone, we’re here together. “We are strong. We are strong.”

Mothers Day

I wanted to share a couple of things. One is my post from my Facebook page, that you’ve likely seen. And two is my post to my girls on Mothers Day from my personal page. I’m sharing it here because today marked a big and really awesome milestone. I’ve written posts to my girls in some form or another, on some platform or another, every Mothers Day. But today, I read them all aloud to them. And they were still, and listened, and smiled, and cooed over the photos of tiny them. They’re getting big, and grown, and starting to understand it. How deep our love is. And how special and different it is. I’m so honored to be theirs, and today felt so big to share with them.

However, I am aware of what a deeply hard day this can be for so many, and so first I wanted to share from my page these words. I dropped tear after tear thinking of the hurting women out there who are aching for babies of their own. My heart breaks for those who give and give as Mothers, who put out mothering love and energy and don’t receive this day as their own for one reason or another, mostly all based in labels and cultural constructs. This day is hard and loud, and I hold you close today.

 

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Happy Mothers Day to you! You out there who nurture, who give, who donate, who love on others. Those who mother birth babies, babies birthed by others, babies that come over from across the street for a cookie and an ear, those who mother the kids who come through their line of work, those who mother with their hearts but not always their bodies, Happy Mothers’ Day to you. You who ache, you who yearn, you whose heart hurts, I am thinking of you today. Happy Mothers’ Day to those who are that stable person for a child, a teen, another person whose mama isn’t. You are doing the work, and it’s work that matters, regardless of what story your body or Facebook tells. This day is for you too. Take it, whether that is in a gentle thought to your heart, or a card, or a hot bath, or just a passing thought as you work yet another day. You are a strong Mama. No matter through what avenue or for what amount of time. I am thankful for you.

 

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Noele, meeting you was the single hardest thing I have ever done. Getting you out of my body, and to my arms was incredibly difficult, long, and scary. But we did it, together. We beat what every one in the room thought would happen, and you and I worked together through it every moment. Your Papa was the first to hold you, and your bond is deep and unbreakable. When you came to my arms, I felt what I had alway been come to a new and deeper fruition, I knew Mama was my name. You calmed and clung and nursed and gave me every gift in knowing you. We have continued to work together, learn each other, but have that deep and unspoken understanding between our matching round eyes. You are fully your own, and have been my guinea pig in motherhood. I’ve learned how to put the ideas I had into action with you, I’ve felt regret and learned to apologize, you are the best teacher and most forgiving friend. Thank you for allowing me to watch you grow, witness you as a person coming into your own more each day, but fully yourself ever day. You are curiosity and wild delight, you are grace and calm, and you are nurturing personified. I love you dear heart, forever.
 
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Ever, you are my spit-fire. Your birth was all redemption and beauty and prayer in action. You arrived into my arms, and were welcomed with total surprise (you came so fast!). I wept with pride in myself, and for us together, and your life has continued with that. We work together endlessly, we talk and talk through each obstacle and you have the endless ability of reflection. You came out scowling and crying and only wanting me, persnickety to the bone, and it’s only been recently that your shell has been allowing others (Nolie, Papa, and I have always had access!) to peek open to your deep security and willingness to allow others into your Joy and grin filled world. You are well named my love Ever Harbor Joy, you are always a moment away from a tight hug, a huge grin, and a quick joke. You have continued to surprise me, and put my ideals to the test. I love being your Mama and seeing your world unfold. You made the new baby mantra true in every way for me, when you were born ‘Everything is new again’ and it hasn’t stopped yet. Ever, you are wild and sensitive, gentle and talkative, particular and genuine through and through. I am so thankful to be your Mama and am honored to get to know you, and that you choose me daily in your arms. I love you dear heart, forever.

dreaming.

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Motherhood is my calling. What I wanted to be, what I dreamt about, what I played as a kid. I enjoyed college and it gave me my love of writing; but finding out I was pregnant before I graduated wasn’t heart breaking, it was exciting. The confirmation that this was what I wanted to be only grew with each month of being a mama.

In these past six years have felt more myself, known, at home, and sure than ever before. I have also, obviously, questioned everything so many times, but my main feelings since having Nolie have been of such content.

Motherhood gave me myself. A clear image of my skills, my talents, and just how deep and wide my empathy and patience really run. Being a Mama has made me more secure in being me. The deepest joy I could have ever asked for, and the biggest gift I would ever receive.

As the girls grow and my time grows I’ve written a few times about feeling adrift… what next? what happens when they’re older? And that feeling has been sailing about in my heart for the past several months.

Till fairly recently I haven’t had an answer. I’ve been trying to find myself in homeschooling. But it’s just not there. {I love homeschooling, but it’s not a passion, it’s a project and a job and a necessity for our family. Thankfully, there is zero shortage of motherhood wrapped up tight with homeschooling, and it’s working well for me.}

But I’ve found something different. Or, rather, it found me, again. Where I have found relief, answers, calm, and myself whenever the storm picks up, is Yoga. My heart is starting to dream of what this is, could be, and what I could do with this passion. But it’s all wild dreaming for now. I’m researching and spending late nights practicing and googling. Searching some more.

For now, all I’ve got is dreams. But they feel so indulgent and magic and full right now. I could burst.

weekend.

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He’s reading books in ridiculous voices and their smiles are quick and goofy. She has loose teeth and absentmindedly wiggles them at every chance. Her tiny fingers find Ever’s and they squeeze hands as his silly Ms.Frizzle voice grow’s louder and more emphatic. I can hear their anticipation as the story grow from across the room.

***

We drive in bright dappled roads, lined with tall trees, the warmth is out and bringing the calm in a way that only sunshine in Washington can. My hand on his familiar thigh as new music that cuts to the heart plays loudly and the road winds and winds to the beach. Nolie is surefooted on the path and Ever is snug on my back, the questions and conversation quick and bright and unceasing as both have mastered language and illuminating their thoughts into words. It’s new. The years and years of “what does she want?!” have ended and there is rarely a moment that we don’t know what both want, need, and are asking for. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s glorious. I’ll take my never ending talkers any day. I soak up their thoughts and ideas like a dry sponge as the trail descends and I feel Nolie’s hand tighten in mine and Ever’s body grow heavier and tired.

***

There is space. We come home and dispersing into play is immediate. They spread like water into the corners of our home. Creating fairy homes, and Strawberry Shortcake adventures. Piles of books spread wide and fill every space as Nolie devours one after another after another. The window that sold me on this home has never let me down. It lets in the most beautiful and warm filtered sunlight onto my flaxen head babies as they are silent in their own space. Charlie eats and reads. I have time and I write. Their play and my typing are our afternoon symphony and it feels too right to be true.

Too beautiful to be my own.

A season I can’t fathom that illuminates with a  brightness that I turn my face to and soak up the vitamin D that this family puts off.

***

And it’s only Saturday. 12419117_10101600455905590_6954619838839458809_o

Traditions.

When Nolie was really little I felt this huge need and pressure to create traditions. But I tried and tried and nothing stuck, felt right, or really worked. I can now see, looking back, that’s because we didn’t really know our family all that well yet. We were still figuring it all out (and still are, big time), we had lots of needs (need to nurse often, or snack all the time, need to sleep right.now., need to get a diaper changed, need to rear face, etc.) and those made traditions (that are often far away, car filled, late at night, long term, include waiting or lines, and often not super baby friendly…) hard. But as we are finding our groove with a, still so young, growing up family we are slowly finding that traditions are gaining, and so much fun!

But, we’ve had one (seriously, other than sweet potato cheesecake on Thanksgiving… I think this is it) long standing, forever tradition. And that’s the pumpkin patch! And over documenting! And donuts! And I love it.

This was year six. And goodness, look at how  much changes in six years.

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One not quite one year old, two exhausted parents wondering “are we doing this right???” and now … two big ol’ kiddos and two exhausted parents thinking “I think we might be doing this right!” And, whoa, that feels so good. Not that I don’t have days of intense doubt, but it’s pretty amazing to be coming into the time where we can see some of the results of our parenting (especially in Nolie!) and feel like “yes! This path, the one of endless talking and relating and loving and gentleness and not punishment… it’s working!” and I just want to go and hug those two parents from six years ago and say “hold her! nurse her! she’s great! you’re great!”

I obviously took a million pictures and I love them all. So here are a few… this is our family scrap book!

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This is the first year that both of the girls were fully into the family photos! Neither put up a fight, both giggled and smiled and picked apples and asked if they could get the donuts after this (of course!). We figured the donuts were a pretty good incentive to get through the sappy mom and dad moments 😉
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This was our first visit where Nolie was interested in taking some of the photos. She snapped a ton and has a pretty great eye! I love her pictures best because you can see that none of us are uncomfortable around her. All the kisses, grins, and loves are so authentic. So, thanks Nolie!
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Almost 6 suits Nolie. She’s just amazing. And made for a pretty perfect big kid baby holder for her sweet and tiny 10 week old buddy, Birdie.12087948_10101489502896310_1486973605987359779_o

She’s still all nut though. 12108722_10101489504458180_542569339146138902_n

Donut, that is. 12065479_10101489503839420_5553754914229578542_n

Ever Harbor Joy is 3.5 and a spunk. Wild, overflowing, huge emotions, slow growing empathy, and mindblowingly sweet. Her favorite things are to fly! and run! (she can run two miles! what?!) 12132537_10101489502716670_1168160652183001784_o

 

This was the last year this pumpkin patch will be open, but I know that our tradition will live on and next year we will be scoping out a new spot. But an apple orchard is required!

Bright, 2015

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{Every New Years we burn our Christmas Tree and make our new year wishes. This year it burned high and bright and quick.}

It has taken me a solid week to really be *in* the new year. I just put the last of the Christmas decorations and new years sparkles away. And I am closing in on a week of no Facebook (today!), and day four of my Whole30 (I’ll be sharing more about that soon!). I am one an odd duck. I am a slow mover, slow processor, and talk talk talk it out person… till I am not. And then I just leap. For example, I hemmed and hawed over a Facebook break for months and month (how ridiculous) and then I just pulled the trigger and full on ‘deactivated’ on January 1.

I will be, embarrassingly, honest. The first four days were really hard for me. I couldn’t really even be on my desk top because the urge to just “check” was too strong. I started to feel really weird and paranoid, I can hardly explain it. But I started to feel like my friends were happy I was “gone” and were talking about me (but, I mean, who cares if they are? were? The ones who matter have my phone number and have been texting me their amazing and hard and hilarious life updates… you know, like friends!). It was weird. And almost paralyzing to not “know” what was going on in the Facebook world. But after those four days it started to feel amazing. My brain feels calmer, less hectic (could be the sugar detox I’m on thanks to the Whole30 too), and I don’t feel so frustrated all the time. See, I have this awful habit of reading stuff on Facebook that makes me feel awful (parenting debates that just eat me up, heartbreaking articles, or obnoxious posts that rile me up) and then I would stew on it all.day.long. It was so pointless! It didn’t do anything but feed some heartbreak in me, and cause me to be a big downer to my kids. Such a worthless thing to spend my time on. Now that I’ve cut that out I am shocked at how much less annoyed and frustrated I feel! I smile more (and, I smiled a lot before! So it’s kinda crazy.) and feel like I can listen better (to my kids, to Charlie, and myself too!) . I had forgotten how GOOD it is to feel bored. To have your brain wander, quietly, and think of beautiful things  to create, or words to write, or songs to sing, or just about how the trees look all empty of leaves and full of spring promise (it’s coming early here! 45 and bright today!). I actually picked up a pen and wrote on paper till my hand cramped! I am not sure how or in what capacity I’ll rejoin Facebook come February, but this break is already proving fruitful and it’s only been seven days.

Some of the stuff I am doing/thinking about lately:

Wanting to run a Sweater Drive in February in honor of Mr.Rogers! But I need to find a place that needs some cozy sweaters.

Writing! What do I want to do with this blog? with my heart for writing? and with my need to grow my skills. . . .

Playing. How to play? Why does it seem like it’s hard for so many new parents? And how to help parents learn to really just play.

More on the stuff my book dreams are made of. How to have a deeply respectful and loving marriage while still attachment/unconditional parenting young children.

What life will look like this time next year, what decisions we will make regarding schooling for Nolie and how I can fulfill all these rolls and meet her needs best.

Buying heavier plates for our weight lifting, because I am out growing the ones we have (BA!BAM!)

Signing up for another half marathon and getting on that Training Fun again!

How to parent Ever through what seems to be her most tumultuous life phase to date (oh the fits, guys, they’re big!) and come out the other end with more love, closeness, and emotional maturity for us both!

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I’m pretty excited to see what my brain and body do with this next week of whole eating and Facebook free living. I feel like I’m on the edge of something, something big and bright and light. 2014 was amazing and weighty with decisions and intense growth. This year feels Bright and Joy filled already. 2015, lets grow!

Traditions: Pumpkin Patch

Year One: 69865_494766586256_4175302_n

Year Two:307806_879709193820_583087261_nYear Three:

581007_10100321155409040_1737613536_nYear Four:

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1069290_10100668462423000_2099827825_nYear Five:

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Also, somehow our three kids (we always pumpkin patch with the same sweet families who have been there through thick and thin, pregnancies, pregnancy scares, and all the booze and popcorn fueled playdates you can imagine) turned into seven over these years.

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abundance.

Our little home has given us quite a lot. Room to grow, security, fresh inspiration, roots, and most recently; an endless bounty of foraging fun. We have blue berries, strawberries, mint, rosemary, apples, grapes, and some fruit we can’t quite figure out. . . .looks like a huge cherry tastes like a tiny peach?

Regardless. I am feeling the love for our little home today. 10492116_10100993583832090_875959782473656188_n

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{also, that little mudroom bench is one of my favorite reclaimed pieces Charlie has made.

It is just so soft and worn, perfect fit, and holds tiny feet with tired bodies with so much ease.}

Full.

 

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I used to think that fulfillment was found in only the usual spaces. The paycheck with my name on it, the pat on the back from a superior, the scale moving downward, and the compliments from strangers. It was a small definition and one without much depth.

I grew a little and found fulfillment in consistent alone time with God, in meeting Him at 6am, on the dot and without fail. In being at church on the right days, with the right people, at the right time. But that was weak and small, that was habit and religion, not fulfillment and relationship. That was another definition that was little and without growth.

Lately I’ve noticed fullfillment shifting, new every day. It those deep baby sighs as they fall asleep in my arms, full. In hands plunged deep in the sink of hot water washing the film from a meal I made with my hands, full. I am finding it in reading to Nolie, endlessly, full. In spelling out words, counting up high, singing without ceasing, and prayers on my lips all the time, full. Thanks Full. His gifts, so full. A constant conversation with my God, not a stranger, feeling Full.

I have been doing the work, or rather letting it happen, that I am not aching for Full to come in the form of a check, habit, number, or accolade. But I am noticing Fullness, fulfillment, and Him. Everywhere.

In bubbles blown high off the back deck, in a freshly cleaned kitchen, in burping a newborn, in a rearranged living room, in a nearly all homemade renovation, plunging into the cold lake, in hands callused and held tight for ten years, in my girls bright eyes, in new words learned from lips and pencils.

The definition is growing, expanding, exploding. And it’s unending.