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I grew up in a small town. The kind of town where people are born and die in the same hospital bed. Midwest dreams of nothing more than marriage and babies and your own plot of land to park your trailer…

 I chose to head West. To follow love and adventure and something else, something I still can’t quite put my finger on. I found those things in my husband and in the life that we have led since then. I chased the sunset looking for a place to stick my toes in the sand and smell the salt water air. Those places seemed golden to me at 18 and live somewhere between my memories and fantasies now that I have experienced them. 

In the last six years I have learned to let go, to forgive, to love unconditionally, and to trust in the process. I had a baby, lost a baby, and am growing new life again. It all comes down to family, first seeking my own and now trying to fit it all back together. 

So away we go. Tonight we pack up the car, say goodbye to the California home I never thought I’d own and head back towards the sunrise, to start anew in an old place. So many changes to come and I have never been so ready. 

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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

Seeing Signs

My father’s mother has had perhaps the biggest influence on my life. Her endless patience and unconditional love for me has shaped the way I love others and I try to live in a way that would make her proud.

I miss her every single day.

She loved hummingbirds and always had full feeders hanging from her porch. Whenever I’ve made a big decisions or have gone through something hard I see a hummingbird, even in the middle of the winter. Whenever I see a hummingbird, I see her. I feel that she sends them to me to reassure me that everything is going to be ok. They day I started to miscarry I was sitting in the front yard while the Hub took out his feelings on an ugly fountain with a sledgehammer. It was loud and I couldn’t stop crying.

BOOM!

No heartbeat.

BAM!

No heartbeat.

BOOM!

No heartbeat…

Then, out of nowhere a hummingbird flew into the yard amidst all of the chaos and came right to me. The Hub stopped and we both just watched her hang in the air like magic. I could feel my grandmother right there with me, hear her voice telling me it was going to be ok, that I was going to be ok.

Yesterday after a particularly bad day where I was barely hanging onto my sanity and negativity was all I could muster, I saw my first hummingbird since my miscarriage. She flew right up to me, so close I could have touched her, and she brought me peace. She told me again to just let go. To let life happen. So I did.

Those we love stay with us, we just have to pay a little more attention.

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Seeing Signs

Between Big and Little

My blog name is now outdated. That pacifier? She gave it up weeks ago. Barely batted an eye. We said, “You don’t need this,” and she believed it. Like we knew what we were talking about, like we know anything.

She used to ask me to kiss her hurts, lately she just kisses them herself.

“Ouch. Aw better.”

So this is parenthood. This shift, this push, this pull, this constant changing. Ready or not…

“I love you, Baby.”

“Lo’ ‘ou, Mommy.”

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Between Big and Little

Happy Holidays

I love fitness; I love to work out, to lift heavy weights and feel sore for days. I enjoy the power and the struggle and the triumphs. I have goals that I am always trying to reach, big and small, and they matter to me. Yet, most of the time, I still hate my body. My body is amazing, it’s survived years of starvation, healed from all of the wounds it’s endured thanks to my clumsiness and my self-destructive tendencies. It’s grown and birthed a beautiful, healthy, 8 lbs baby. It’s earned it’s stripes for sure. Still, I hate those stripes. I look at each wrinkle, each dimple, each sagging area and I feel frustrated and betrayed. I can’t see myself clearly, because I ALWAYS see myself. Worse is that I feel guilt. I feel guit when I have pizza, or eat cereal for dinner. Like a failure for those cookies I demolished before lunch. Awful for the lunch I skipped for two days. Eating right is the most important part of fitness if you want to see results, but I have a problem with food. A problem with eating enough and eating clean and eating responsibly… it’s a pit of unhappiness and avoidance.

My friend said to me, “I love Christmas but I HATE the holidays.” How many of us feel the same way? Stress and worry and guilt and indulgence, all things that make us feel bad yet it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year. All we hear is how we should have more self control, or how to shed those “holiday pounds”. What if we didn’t worry about that? What if we didn’t go into the holiday’s dreading the aftermath? What if we have that cookie or that extra piece of pie and what if we laugh instead of grimace?

That’s what I am going to do. I am going to eat without guilt, I am going to adjust my point of view and forget about those resolutions and the processed sugars. I’m going to teach my daughter to eat icing and laugh until her stomach hurts and then I’m going to lie next to her on the couch, cuddling while we come down from our sugar highs. And when I say Happy Holidays, I am going to mean it. While my goals might be a six pack and a 10 minute mile, I am not a failure for setting aside some time to indulge. In food, in family, in happiness; these are the things that matter. I don’t want to teach Emi to look to December with dread and her own body with distaste. I want to teach her to eat cookies in December and to still love herself come January.

Happy Holidays