deep breaths at sunrise

Two weeks ago I told you I did a "big thing" for my 28-Day Challenge. I was pretty stoked about it, honestly. It's something I've wanted to do for awhile but had been putting off. And apparently I did it just in time, because a few days later my little munchkin decided to show up. Roxanne Rae appeared in the world for all to see. That's why this post is coming out late (although most of it was written before the baby was born).

My one big thing was a small thing that I chose to make big, the way taking deep breaths can sometimes heighten your experience of life. 

I woke up before my husby. This was the biggest step, because I have zero percent excitement for mornings unless someone makes me breakfast. Especially when it's dark out and the covers are the perfect type of cozy and there's a handsome man breathing heavily next to me. Factor in how difficult it is to roll a 40-weeks-pregnant chick out of bed, and the scene turns downright ludicrous.

But I got up anyway.

I made coffee, put together Josh's lunch, got dressed (and it was cold enough for me to wear socks and a flannel! Hello, gorgeous autumn!), and stuffed a bit of breakfast in my backpack. I went back into the bedroom to kiss Josh goodbye...and almost crawled back under the covers.

But I slipped on my sneakers and went out the door instead.

The twenty-minute drive didn't do much to wake me up, and I found myself second-guessing my little plan when I arrived and saw the main parking lot quite full. But this was the Garden of the Gods; what did I expect? I shut down the inner Grouch and looked for an obscure place to park.
Going to the Garden at sunrise...can we all say t o u r i s t? But if I ever leave Colorado Springs, I don't want to look back on my time here and see a list of things I never did because I was pregnant, or too busy, or ashamed of doing something because it's tourist-y. No, I want to do things because they are important to me.

This was one of those things.

I managed to find a chill pull-off where I had a clipped view of the main spires. I wrangled my pregnant body out of the car with my backpack full of stuff. Then I spent the next hour and a half doing yoga and having quiet time/journaling with God.
Yes, I used a selfie stick. Don't judge. Obviously taking yoga photos is a learned skill, but I wanted to have something to remember this day. Remember how I felt graceful despite the baby inside me throwing off my center of gravity. Remember how I found peace and quiet as the sun rose. Remember these last few minutes alone before baby Roxy came crashing headfirst into my world.

I know that this may not be an enormous challenge for most people. So many of you are awake before 5:30am EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And I applaud you for that! But for me, this was amazing. I was two days away from my due date, I woke up with some weird pains that had me worried (they turned out to be nothing more than indigestion), and I sort of thought that maybe it wouldn't be worth the effort.
But it was. I'm so entirely thankful that I didn't talk myself out of it.

Nothing compares to alone time with God. To morning stillness lined with chirping birds. To deep breaths of fresh air. To moving your body in the pre-dawn chill until, with a welcome smile, the sun peeks over a rock and kisses your face. And as you watch, it brings warmth and color back to the world, making everything new again.
Sunrises are worth it. Starting new days is worth it. 

And, dare I say it? Maybe being a morning person is worth it.

It's strange looking back on this day. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing something I wanted while I was hugely pregnant (and, let's face it, feeling lazy). Since then, I have had to be brave in a different way. I went through labor and birth and now I have a tiny baby depending on me for life every day. Though everything has changed, I have to remind myself that these things are still true: every new day God has given me is worth waking up for (whether I've slept the night before or not). 

Wait Patiently + MOPS 28-Day Challenge, Week 4

In case my baby bump selfies have left you with the impression that being pregnant is always adorable, I have to say: BEING PREGNANT IS UNEXPLAINABLY HARD.

There have been so many days recently where I crawl (not an exaggeration) out of bed. Days I start to cry and I can't stop - without explanation. Days I get ten minutes into my workout and I feel like like I'm dying, when the only thing that gets me through is angry music (I'm talking Five Finger Death Punch, Crossfade, Saliva...not really "certified mom music").

Days I don't want to eat because nothing sounds good, when the amount of time it takes to slather pb and j on bread is just long enough to make me decide that I don't want it anymore.

I made it out the door yesterday on my way to my doctor's appointment and I realized that I forgot my ever-present nalgene...and I didn't put on deodorant! Guess I'm just lucky I managed to brush my teeth.

So yeah. Pregnancy can be tough. However, there are a few things that keep me going:

1. My husband.
2. Moving - even if it's just a walk to the mailboxes.
3. Telling myself to breathe...and/or nap.

The theme of this week? Wait patiently. I cannot express to you how much God has been hounding me with this truth. Wait to see progress. Wait for important things to get finalized. Wait for the baby to come.

Life is the waiting, though, those awkward in-betweens. Life is not a series of accomplishments or arrivals. It is a path filled with slow transitions.

Anywho, this is it. The last week of the 28-Day Challenge. To finalize it all, I was dared to plan a "One Big Thing" that I've always wanted to do. Something that was specifically for me. You'll get to see a post on my big thing next Monday or Tuesday (unless the baby decides to arrive, haha).

For now, here is the rest of this week's daily challenges:

Day 22: Banishing Ghosts

September 1st

DARE: Organize your closet. Get rid of any clothing that makes you feel terribly about yourself.

I only spent about fifteen minutes on this one. I was afraid if I was in that closet any longer than that, I would start going through literally EVERYTHING, and my husband would come home five hours later and find me sobbing on the floor - with no dinner made. All things are more overwhelming when you are pregnant.

But I did manage to purge a few things! It's hard to know what what I'll even be wearing post-baby... 

Day 23: Campfires and Confessionals

Sept. 2nd

TRUTH: When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?

I've toed the boundary line a lot with little things - using elk meat in recipes; doing adult things like getting electronics repaired, combining bank accounts, and figuring out Medicaid and WIC; being honest in this blog; and spending time with God even though it feels strained and awkward. But I haven't done anything big outside of the boundary recently.

Day 24: Hearing God

Sept. 3rd

TRUTH: What distracts you most from being present in your life?

Probably my phone. I use my phone to avoid being vulnerable in social situations. I use it to keep myself occupied when I don't want to think about my problems. Because I use it for just about everything, it easily makes one task last an hour. Perhaps I need to segment my time a bit more.

Day 25: Forget-Me-Nots

Sept. 4th

I confess, I did not complete either a truth or a dare on this day. I spent the day with my husby, playing video games and basically having the laziest Sunday ever. Ended with a sunset stroll at Palmer Park.

Day 26: A Dazzling Unfolding

Sept. 5th

TRUTH: Write down three things that you want to become an expert in. Take an hour today to take a first step.

1. Yoga
2. Writing
3. Being a wife (and by this, I don't mean cooking/cleaning/household tasks...I mean learning to be a part of a team, figuring out how to best support and encourage my husband)

Day 27:The North Star

Sept. 6th

TRUTH: Describe a reoccurring dream you've had. What do you think it is trying to tell you?

Most of the reoccurring dreams I've had involve me trying to get somewhere to accomplish some important thing that no one else around me has a clue about. Or they involve me trying initiate a sense of urgency in the people around me - aka, a murderer is coming and we need to get out of here. 

I think this has to do with the fact that I shy away from situations where I am dealing with a problem that no one else can help me with. I like being alone...but I don't really want to have to accomplish big things alone. 

Day 28: Good Things Run Wild - ONE BIG THING

Sept. 7th

This will remain a surprise till next week. Can't wait to see you then!

Nifty Tip: Make your own iced tea or fruit juice and pour it into glass Snapple bottles. It makes me extremely happy and also saves money (plus, I can sweeten mine with Stevia and keep it THM). 

Goodbye, Past-Self

Someone shared a thought-provoking post on facebook, and I'm sure it's been around the block, BUT if you haven't read it yet, check out Anna Gannon's blurb Dear Pre-Mom Self: It's Time to Let You Go. I really connected with what she wrote. I've been struggling with the insane ways that my life has changed in eight and a half months - and they're not all baby-related. Maybe my baby Comet hasn't made her grand entrance into the world yet, but I'm already a mom. And a wife. And an adult.

All of that happened in less than a year.

I know that people go through crazy life changes all of the time. Everyone has had a moment where they are simply overwhelmed by what is happening to them. Those moments are the thresholds of choice: will you stay, or will you go? Going doesn't always mean selfishly running, and staying isn't always the wisest option. Every situation is different.

And so is your reaction to it.

What follows are two letters I've written: one to my past-self and one to my body as it is right now (bloated and huge and clumsily pregnant). They are written to encourage both me and you to stand firm in who we are today and all of the beautiful and messy things that that entails. We know that we will change again. We know that we used to be someone else. But today, we are only us - in transition.

Love this transition from sunset into dusk...the darkness already creeping from the mountain shadows.
Progressions are awkward and yet beautiful in their contrast. 

Dear Past-Self:

Not a day goes by that I don't miss you. And this is wrong. I can't wait for you to come back. A part of me expects you to - that one day I will climb out of adulthood and find myself alone, unencumbered, and wandering again. You were such fun, had so much energy to pour into the world at your touch. 

It's not enjoyable to tell myself to leave you behind. I still feel like I could be that person (even though the truth is, I can't). But if I'm going to move forward and live to the fullest in who I am now, then I want to acknowledge a few things about you first. 

You have made me who I am today. You went through a lot of tough things to get me here (granted, a good deal of them were caused by your own idiotic mistakes, but still). You decided to grow outside of your comfort zone, always eager to leave home. You tried to listen when God told you to do things that scared you. Sometimes you ran from Him. 

But you stuck around for 24 years. You slowly became an adult, recognizing that there are more important things than flirting and traveling the world and having the perfect fashion sense and being noticed by everyone. You were forced to realize two things: that you were scared of being truly alone, and that you didn't know how to love unselfishly. 

I don't want to waste my time missing you anymore. I want to be excited for the new things I get to learn next to my husband. I want to be ecstatic about having a kid - not reluctant to have major responsibilities. I want to be pumped for learning a new definition for "adventure"...not disappointed that I have to have a baby with me everywhere. 

Farewell. I'm moving on.

> > >

In my MOPS 28-Day Challenge, I was dared to write my body an honest "love letter," if you will. Because wasting time hating on your body is pointless. Your body does a heck of lot for you to survive. It was created by God to serve your needs.

Being pregnant just makes that a bit more of a challenge.

I think it's important that, while focusing on self-image is exhausting and selfish, we do need to take time to recognize our own beauty. If we don't, we're saying that God screwed up when He made us. We're not perfect, we're not more beautiful than someone else; but we don't need to walk around cowering under the shadow of our imperfections. I challenge you to rise above that.

So here it is:

Dear Body, 

In the past 8 and 3/4 months, you have grown and changed and started speaking a new language that I don't understand. You are not always hungry when I want to eat, you pee when I distinctly don't want to go to the bathroom (AGAIN), and you seem to find great difficulty in performing tasks that used to be a breeze.

You and I are pregnant. 

I keep looking for that milestone of having the baby, so I can "get my body back" - as if the thing I'm walking around in right now isn't mine. As if the baby will come and POOF I shall be a teenager running around barefoot again. The problem is, there are only more changes in store for us. You will never exactly be the same body again. 

Despite all of this insanity that does not make sense to me on a daily basis, I have come to realize that I can still cherish you as my own. When I workout, stretch, or do yoga, I realize that I can still feel in-tune with you. We figure out new ways to do the movements together.

I've come to notice your beauty, too. We look very curvacious (okay, usually sort of lumpy). But we look strong, too, because we are carrying a child and that is not an easy weight to bear. We also look expectant and happy - what people notice first about us physically is that we are pregnant. That is not a negative thing. It means I am holding a life. It means that I will soon be a mom. It means someone inside me is trying to get a glimpse of the world through my eyes and ears and mouth. 

Beautiful. Seemingly impossible. 

I see the little purple squiggly lines appearing around our belly button, thighs, and butt (stretch marks), and the little extra fat deposits that have latched on. I see the way we are tired around the eyes and the way we stand trying to protect our back. But I cannot let myself be upset. This is my body. It is here to serve a purpose. 

And I love it still. Even though occasionally I look down and think that this human flesh cannot possibly be me anymore. 

Thank you, God, for giving me with healthy, strong body that has all it needs to create and sustain life within. Thank you for allowing me to feel the impossible joy of Comet's movements every day. And thank you for giving me enough energy to still do the things I love, like hiking. 

Goodbye, body of mine that I used to idolize. Here's to being transformed and finding new strength.

What do you love about your body? There are always parts we'd rather change. Even before pregnancy, I had moments of disliking my body (I honestly hate my nose). Loving your body is not about focusing on perfection. It is about focusing on being able to do things with our body that are important to us.

P.S. Waking up this morning was hard, and Josh and I are both chomping at the bit for this munchkin to arrive! Hahah ;)

Dear Friends

(I don't want to get into the habit of posting on weekends, but I feel a slight urgency to share this tidbit because right now, I am missing all of you.)

I'm about to be a mom. Technically, I already am.

I'm really good at pretending that I can go through some "normal" thing like pregnancy and have a different experience than everyone else because I am UNIQUE, okay? Which means that I keep reading all these books and posts about how your life changes after you have a baby...and to keep from freaking out, I say to myself, "You won't be like that. You'll still be young and fun, just with a baby. You can do everything you've always done."

It's okay. Laugh at my denial. I know I would too if I weren't me.

So, friends, I would like to tell you right now that I don't want to lose you. I'm not really sure how to deal with life changes sometimes, and I try to hold on to people. But honestly I am bad at communicating. Phone calls seem like work to me (until I actually hear your voice over the phone; then I'm okay). Most of the people I care about do not live within easy driving distance.

As soon as baby Comet pops out, my priorities are going to drastically change.

Please, don't let me become a hermit. Please remember that I want to talk to you even if it looks like I haven't made the effort. I love emails and letters and texts and I try to respond quickly.

The thing is, there is no escaping the fact that I will be busy with a baby. I will be enamored by her, and will probably blow up your news feed with photos and anecdotes of this child that is mine and thus the coolest thing ever born. I want to say that I won't - that I'll have funny things to say about, you know, anything that doesn't involve babies. But I probably will. Because I'll never leave the apartment.

Just kidding. I hope.

Your job is to tell me if I'm being obnoxious. If I'm too obsessed with my kid. If you can tell I'm dying for social interaction (read: if you can't get me to stop baby-talking, even to adults). I need your honesty! Without you, I will become unbalanced. The last thing I want to do is be so wrapped up in my baby that I forget that other people are important, too.

So share your problems with me. Just don't expect me to be overly sympathetic when your biggest problem is whether or not you should go out on a Friday night. I might beat you over the head.

I know that I will probably "lose" some of you - for a while, at least. I don't expect my single friends to completely understand what it's like to be married with a baby. And that's okay. I'm going to try to be okay with drifting away from that.

Can I just say that I am scared to only have mom-friends, though? That only talking about diapers and breastfeeding and tantrums for the next year(s) terrifies me?

All I can think of are solutions that aren't solutions at all.
Solution: All my good friends must start having babies.
Solution: Everyone must be equally obsessed with my child.
Solution: We must all congregate in the same neighborhood, preferably somewhere in Colorado.

At 39 weeks pregnant (exactly one week till due date), when the only thing in front of me is the Unknown Canyon of Parenthood, and I'm letting you know that I don't know what this transition will look like. Promise me you won't just disappear from my life?

Do not feel left out if you don't appear in these photos! I ran out of space and time and got lost in memories and yada yada yada. I STILL LOVE YOU. Message me your favorite photo or comment with your favorite memory of us together <3

MOPS 28-Day Challenge: Week 3

How many absolutes are there in this world? Basically none. Everything I've ever started to see as a constant, God has meticulously cut out of my life, leaving me feeling uncertain - again. And I learn more and more that He is the only absolute that I can count on.

While I try to hold to a routine, even with this blog, I know that life changes things. So bear with me as I figure out how to be dependable...while living in grace for the times when I screw it up.

Lots of truths this week, as you'll notice; I like the idea of the dares, but most of them seem to involve action that I simply don't have the energy for. I'm noticing a huge difference in my body/energy levels as I'm pulling through the 38th week of pregnancy! Yay for nausea, food aversions, and crazy labor dreams that make sleep feel exhausting...

This 28-Day Challenge seemed so easy in the beginning! Guess it wouldn't be a challenge then, would it? Tell me something you've challenged yourself to do lately - big or small :)

Day 15: Aug. 25

TRUTH: When was the last time you did something for the first time?

This question kind of makes me sad. It's hard to think of exciting new firsts at the moment, and I miss the way they used to come at me every other day. I made chicken and dumplings for the first time for dinner the other night (shhh, don't tell my THM friends, it wasn't on plan). 

Day 16: Aug. 26

TRUTH: When were you changed by someone else's kindness?

The kindness and generosity of others has struck me so many times in my life - especially in the past few months. I've been staggered by the baby items that keep rolling our way (I haven't bought a single outfit for our little girl because we've been given so many used, and occasionally new, items). I cannot thank you all enough for your gifts, advice, reassurance, and personal experiences! 

Day 17: Aug. 27

TRUTH: What four words describe your current first impression on someone? What four words describe your ideal first impression?
1. Pregnant, blond, awkward, and smiley.
2. Pregnant (yes, I want people to notice this, because it has taken over my life for now), pretty, unique, and fun. 

It sounds cheesy even to me. But I guess I'm not that different from everyone else: I want you to see me and see someone worth noticing, worth wondering about. And while I'm wanting that, I need to remember to make someone else feel that way.

YOU are worth noticing.

Day 18: Aug. 28

TRUTH: What is your biggest regret? What do you need to forgive yourself for? 

This whole year of 2016 (so far) has been one incredibly long journey towards forgiving myself for things that have happened. I won't go into detail here, but there have definitely been roadblocks that kept this regret fresh in my mind. However, the most beautiful moments occur when I realize that I don't regret what happened. If I truly did, then how could I live with myself today? I screwed up. It happens. I get to see the insane beauty God is already bringing out of the ashes of my mistakes.

Day 19: Aug. 29

TRUTH: What is the motto for this era of your life?

"These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb." 

I keep trying to fix things and make my life something it isn't. I've told myself that I can only be happy if I'm in motion, on my way towards a goal. But sometimes we're stuck. Sometimes we're supposed to learn from what we're going through...without challenging the situation. I need to learn to unpack my burdens and leave them in the hands of God.

Day 20: Aug. 30

TRUTH: Listen to a song that reminds you of a significant memory. Write out the lyrics.

I'll spare you this one. Go listen to your own song. Let the memory overtake you...and then remind yourself that you're in the present, and make a new memory with a different song. 

Day 21: Aug. 31

DARE: Let someone off the hook for a mistake they made. 

Marriage is an intense microscope when it comes to mistakes. Little things you didn't know about yourself and your husband/wife are suddenly big, obnoxious, and impossible to forgive. You don't even realize you're holding out on forgiveness until the anger explodes. Every day, you have to let each other "off the hook." 

Every minute, the other person is going to do something you don't like. They're going to fart and laugh when you were having a serious, emotional moment. They're going to nag you about something that seems insignificant. They will spill something on all the clean dishes you just washed. 

If we keep a mental list of all the ways the person has "ruined" our life today, we'll never be happy, and it will seem impossible to love that person. So forgive. Realize you probably screw up their day just as much - or more. 

Nifty Tip #4

Lemons. Cut them in half or into wedges, keep some in the fridge or freezer, and toss them in the sink/garbage disposal when it starts to smell like dead fish. Works like a charm.