New Year, New Look!

Hi. You might have noticed things changing around here. My life has changed so much in the past year and I want those changes to be reflected here as well.

2014 was a year of miles for me. I ran 9 races in 8 months, logged over 200 miles and developed a respect for a sport I always thought was beyond my abilities. With work and dedication I went from a 14 minute mile to a 9, from not being able to run a quarter mile to completing a vicious 20k. Through running I was able to recenter, better deal with my postpartum depression, and give myself the energy and confidence I needed to get back into the gym. Through running I realized I can still be an athlete.

That’s what it all really boils down to for me, what can I do that I never thought possible? What kind of example can I set for my girls as they grow up in this very complicated and women-negative culture? I want them to look at a challenge and not even question it because it’s just natural for them to go, do, conquer. I want them to hear “Girls don’t/can’t/shouldn’t…” and to be able to say “Girls do, I’ve seen it.”

Not to mention I feel better than I have felt in a long time. My mind is clearer, I’m happier, and I’m more determined than ever.

I’ve got big plans for 2015, big lifts and big miles are waiting for me. 500 lbs and 500 miles, here I come!

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New Year, New Look!

Every Little Piece

Emilia,

It’s been a while since I’ve written a letter like this. This one is important to me and it’s something I need to write down to remember to enforce every day in myself.

The first time I looked in the mirror and saw beauty there, I was in my 20’s. I have heard the word my entire life, but it was the first time I saw it myself. With naked lashes and spotty skin, I admired the shape of my jaw, the strength of my chin, the size of my eyes… I saw someone who I could love.

Now that I have you (and you are what it took to see myself clearly) I realize how important it is to feel that way. How important it is to bury that self-love deep into your soul.

From this point on I will make up for all of those years I missed. I will love myself now, because now is where we exist; you and I in this moment that we’re so lucky to have.

I am not perfect, but I am beautiful. I am strong. I am confident.  I am secure.

You are all of these things, too. Right now. In all of your two-year old glory. You are SO fierce. So beautiful and strong. You will do it “all by yourself.” And you do, you almost always do. At the same time, you don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. I admire you so much for that. You’ve taught me that strength comes not only from independence, but recognizing limits and seeking support.

When I told you your hair was crazy, you corrected me right away, “No, my hair is BEAUTIFUL, Mom.”

And it was. You are always beautiful.

Your anger is beautiful and a force of its own. You lash out, you scream, you don’t want to be touched or spoken to. I stay back, but still as near as I can. I sit there with my arms open and my lap waiting and you come to me, you crawl into it and your hug is just as powerful. I love you so much then. I love every tear that spills over, every scream that rocks my core. You’re so beautiful in that moment it breaks my heart.

Your love is beautiful and more gentle than I ever would have expected. You caress my face and pat my hair and look deep into my eyes. “You love me mommy?” Yes, baby, I love you so so so much! “I love you so much, too. I’ll keep you safe.” Emi, my fierce little girl, that will never be your job. I will always be your  mother, you will never have to take my responsibility onto your shoulders. Broad like mine, yet so delicate, you will always be free to be a kid.

That little sigh you make right before you fall asleep, the way your breath hitches twice; your hand gripping mine from the backseat as my arm goes numb; the way you sing E I, E I, O; the way your whole face frowns; the way you smile all the way to your toes; the color of your skin and your hair and your eyes and your lips and your nail beds; your very faint scar; your endless bruises; your baby teeth gap; your voice; your cry; it is all so very, very beautiful.

By the time you are old enough to read this, Taylor Swift probably won’t be music you listen to, but you’ll know every word to this song anyway.

I love you, little big girl.

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Every Little Piece

Monday Mindset

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

I don’t feel like writing today. Emi had a hard night last night which translates to me having a hard night, which translates to suck. I got so little sleep that I called into work and let them know I would be late just to get a couple more hours of shut-eye. Top it off with my body being on the fritz, skin irritation in places you neeevveerr want to have a rash, and about a thousand things on my To-Do list, I’m definitely not ready for it to be Monday.

Still, here I am typing out words that don’t really mean anything just because I need the outlet. I have to pour them out of me so I can find perspective in them.

Because my daughter slept horribly, but she’s healthy and a bad night’s sleep isn’t the end of the world. Because I could call in and sleep a few more hours without worrying about making ends meet when so many are trying to figure out how to make it through Sequestration. Because we all woke up at all. Our town is currently filled with smoke from a fire that is ravaging national lands, has destroyed homes and after 5 days is still only 40% contained. And that’s not even the worst of what’s been devastating towns across the US. My heart is heavy with grief for all of the devastation people are facing with the determination to carry on.

So it’s Monday and I am tired, but I am also incredibly blessed to be dealing with nothing more than a bad night of sleep.

Monday Mindset

Why Words Matter

I can run down a mountain like the wind. My toes barely touch the dirt before I lift off, every rock that is dangerous to someone else is a spring board to me. I run, leap, and slide like I was designed for it. I’m sure I don’t look graceful, but I am able.

Yet, my entire life I have believed I was clumsy. Uncoordinated. Accident-prone. I tripped and stumbled and fell often, not just literally but figuratively. I didn’t feel capable, not like I do now. That was who I was, I was the clumsy one, the gangly girl — all knees and elbows. The one who couldn’t ever be a ballerina because face it Melanie, you just aren’t graceful enough.

Words have a tendency to become reality. What you believe is what you do. If you don’t think you can, you won’t. If you are told you can’t often enough, you just might start to believe it. So I am very careful with my words now, especially with Emi.

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I don’t call her clumsy. I don’t tell her she can’t, that she’s too small, that she isn’t strong enough. You want to lift mommy’s tire? Go for it! You can’t right now? Try again tomorrow. Tomorrow you’ll be stronger. When we fear for our children, we put fear into them. So, I tell her she is strong, fierce, a hard worker, insistant, and capable. I believe she is able and I speak strength into her.

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I still set limits for her, I don’t let her do everything she wants just because she thinks she can, but I try not to interfere if I can help it. I mean, she’ll have to hold off on the knife juggling until she’s four. Until then, I let her try. I let her fail. Most times, I let her fall. And you know what? She gets back up. She always gets back up.

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She needs to learn her own limits, to learn to not only trust her body but to respect it. How can she listen to herself if I am constantly shouting over her? Instead, I sit quietly by. Far enough back that she isn’t in my shadow. And when she needs it, when she looks my way with hesitant eyes, I tell her “I believe in you.”

Because she can do it, she can do anything.

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Why Words Matter

Living Life on Purpose

555150_148807201952265_2081807157_nThe biggest decision I have made in my life wasn’t to become a parent. It was the kind of parent I chose to become.

My husband was the first of the big decisions I made. I had a very clear choice. I could have done the safe thing and went off to college, built up a staggering debt, and repeated the small town cycle of life I grew up in. I didn’t know any different. Through him I had another choice. He said, “Stay with me.” And *poof* just like that I made the decision to leave everything I knew and write my story my way. The Hub has been the greatest gift of my life. Together we’ve built a beautiful life full of happiness, trust, and support. I know without a doubt that in 50 years he’ll still be by my side come hell or high water. He makes me strive to be better, for him, for Emi, and for myself.  I know I made the right choice.

When I got pregnant, I realized parenting wasn’t just about my child, it was about me too. When I chose a home birth I faced some of the normal backlash of “But it’s dangerous!” and “It’s selfish!” I think it started me off on the right foot because it forced me to prepare, to research, and to gain more knowledge in the physical and mental processes of pregnancy and birth. I didn’t sit back and let things happen to me, I chose the path I felt was best, regardless of other’s thoughts. This was a huge realization for me. It isn’t selfish to think of your own wants and needs, it doesn’t make you a bad parent to respect your own happiness while fostering your child’s. You matter too! It was the beginning of listening to my truth above the chatter of everyone elses.

As I started thinking about the kind of parent I wanted to be, I only had to think about the kind of person I wanted Emi to be. How could I shape her into a strong, kind, independent, loving, secure, and healthy person? By being that person to her. Without showing her love, kindness, strength, security, and an example of health, how could she internalize those things? She could eventually, but it’d be a harder road than it needed to be. For starters, I do not withhold affection from her for any reason; if she asks for me I give her everything I have. Period. No situation changes that. I set limits, I tell her no, but I do it with respect and empathy for her feelings, because her feelings matter. When I speak to her, I think about what I am saying and I choose my words carefully. I don’t tell her she can’t do something if I can’t give her a valid reason. “I see that you can climb onto the counter! That is exciting for you. I don’t want you to climb onto it because it’s not safe for you to be up there. Remember when you fell off yesterday? It scared us all and it hurt you. I won’t let you play up there.” Does this upset her? Absolutely! Does she push limits to test my seriousness? Of course! But I am her parent and I owe it to her to be consistent and trustworthy. My word has to mean something and without follow through and consistency it won’t.  I am not perfect, I fail many time a day. When that happens I apologize. I take responsibility for my actions and my feelings and I am open with her about them. The night before last I fought with her, becoming so frustrated that I yelled while I was trying to get her ready for bed. I stopped, I looked her in the eye and I apologized. I took responsibility for my frustration and asked her how we she wanted me to help her get dressed. All she wanted was to lie on her stomach while I put her diaper on, such a simple request that took me much too long to listen to. We got her dressed and she crawled into my lap for a hug. It’s moments like that that I am so thankful I parent deliberately and not just from the hip. She deserves my best, I owe it to her to be present and involved in her life every moment, not just for the big picture. It’s the moments that matter most.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” — Maya Angelou.

Read that quote again and again; live by it. Let your past go and embrace your future. Learn more, do better, and make the most out of what you have. Live deliberately. Make the choices that will facilitate you dreams. I spent too many years miserable, letting things happen to me instead of making the choices that would have made me happier. I made the right choices where they counted and I love the life I have made for myself with my family. I think the key to happiness is going for what you want and failing as many times as you have to until you get it. And if you have the right people around you, they will support you. They will help you build the ladder that reaches to your moon. Hold those people close and don’t ever let them go.

Living Life on Purpose

Sharing Joy

This is my happy place…

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Over the weekend I brought my daughter out to experience it with me. She was in heaven, and I couldn’t have felt more joy at her happiness. What I call “my mountain” is really the farthest out-cropping of a sprawling mountain ridge. It’s still pretty fun to climb and can be an intense workout, but it’s not impossible for anyone to do it. If my two-year old can do it, what’s your excuse? We had so much fun, she refused to stick to any trails, and her favorite part was climbing the rocks and running downhill. She makes me so proud.

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When we got to the mountain and started up the trail she decided she wanted to go a totally different way. We asked her to follow us and stay on the trail, she looked up at us, waved and said “Bye Mom, bye Dad!” and continued on her own. In the middle of the desert, where she has never been before. No fear, no worries, just a wave and she was on her way. That kid…

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Sunday morning I woke up with a burning throat and throbbing ears so the Hub got up early with Little Miss and they had some Daddy/Daughter bonding time while I rested. We spent most of the day laughing, snuggling, and splashing in Emi’s new pool. We ended the day in the backyard, doing tire flips (with Emi’s help, of course!) and running around. Emi loves to do what we do and I hope fitness just becomes an organic part of her life. Active will just be something she’s always been.

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All in all, it was quite a refreshing weekend. After everything, peace radiates through our house and I am soaking it deep into my bones.

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Sharing Joy

Your Mountain Is Waiting

I adore Dr. Suess. His imagination, his outlook on life, how as an adult his words are more profound to me than ever — he’s eternal. My favorite Dr. Suess quote of all time is:

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This may be because my favorite thing to do is climb the mountain ranges surrounding my town and running down them. There’s a point when I’ve picked up so much speed and my toes are barely touching the ground that I feel like I am flying. It’s the most exillerating feeling. The mountains have become my happy place.

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Lately I have been thinking about happiness, about the things that matter to me and how I want to spend my time. I’ve realized that I am not doing the things I am passionate about. I want to work with women and babies, I want to teach people about health and fitness, I want to spend more time with my daughter, and I want the time I spend away from her doing things that fill up my soul. So with the Hub’s encouragement and support, I’ve decided to pursue becoming a Bradley Method™ instructor, doula and a personal trainer. I’m still deciding when I want to take the personal training certification, but I know I will be attending the Bradley workshop in December. I am excited and scared and so super nervous, but you’ve got to take risks to make things happen. I want to live my life in a way that will inspire Emi someday. I want her to follow her heart and work hard to obtain her dreams and I need to be the person I want her to be.

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Your Mountain Is Waiting