You are Enough

You are enough. Three simple, yet powerful words. Three words that need to be used more than they are. By me. And by YOU.

You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are. ~ Danielle LaPorte

Be unapologetically YOU.

My first name, Amanda, means “lovable; worthy of love,” yet I’ve struggled hard with feeling worthy and there have been so many days where I think I’m difficult to love. I’m not sharing any of this to fish for compliments or to be pitied, but rather to paint a picture of how society sets us up to dislike ourselves. That we need to fit within a certain box, otherwise we’re not worthy. This past year has been a game changer for me – tested me, pushed me, and opened my eyes to the heart of the matter. I want to share all of this with you because while I have felt a shift in my thinking, I know many still struggle.
I’m here to tell you that what you really need is to find peace within. To recognize that you are worthy at this very moment. You are ENOUGH. If you follow me on Instagram, you most likely saw the post I shared on my birthday along with this amazing poem:

“Never trust a mirror,

For a mirror always lies,

It makes you think that all your worth,

Can be seen on the outside,

Never trust a mirror.

It only shows you what’s skin deep,

You can’t see how your eyelids flutter,

When you’re drifting off to sleep,

It doesn’t show you what the world sees,

When you’re only being you,

Or how your eyes light up,

When you’re loving what you do,

It doesn’t capture when you’re smiling,

When no one else can see,

And your reflection cannot tell you,

Everything you mean to me,

Never trust a mirror,

For it only shows your skin,

And if you think that dictates your worth,

It’s time you looked within.”

~ Erin Hanson

Social media is a blessing and a curse. I have a love-hate relationship with it but lately it’s been getting better with adjusting my mindset. I have to frequently check myself and step away for my personal sanity, but I have watched it destroy others – to the point where they completely lost themselves or their self-worth hit an all-time low. 

My battle with self-love dates back to high school and got harder along the way with toxic relationships. I heard it all (from men and women):

“not skinny enough”

“fat face”

“big-boned”

“breast implants could help”

“not pretty enough”

“eyes are too big”

“too sensitive”

“needs a backbone”

I could go on, but it’s kind of depressing…and in the past. Disordered eating and body dysmorphia became a part of my life. Rather than looking within, I became obsessed with the reflection in the mirror and food…and not in a healthy way. It took a lot of hard work, time, and weeding out who I allowed in my life to get where I am today. Perfectly imperfect.


Going back to when I said social media is a blessing and a curse. When I talk about social media, I’m referring to Instagram (IG) because I left Facebook a few years ago as it wasn’t healthy for me. Instagram has connected me with so many amazing, inspiring, empowering people – some of them I consider my dearest friends, most of them I haven’t even met in person. And some of them are people I’ve known personally for years (former co-workers, school friends, family) – it’s a blessing to have an app to keep us in the loop of one another’s lives. To connect us. It feels good to be supported – to get a virtual hug, high-five, and the occasional “I’ve been there, mama” or “me too!”

Now the curse. The overly filtered, heavily edited, perfectly staged, selectively chosen pictures that are posted. Combined with the competitiveness and elitist attitude from some of the people…it can be a pretty toxic space…if you’re not careful. Did you know that I have received a quite few messages about how my photos could use some work or how to improve my blog or how to gain more followers? You probably didn’t. And while I try not to let that sort of stuff get to me, catch me on a bad day and I will over analyze everything and shut down. I’m not looking to grow my page or blog. To me, Instagram is my life in photos. Family, nature, food, and anything in between…I guess I consider myself a lifestyle page and to me, it’s kind of like a digital diary, an account of the delicious recipes I’ve tried, beautiful hiking spots, and my world…Willow. I post things that genuinely excite me or make me happy – I never post something as a way to impress someone or gain anything. Same goes for my blog – it’s more of a hobby for me. Something I genuinely enjoy because I write for me and if anyone happens to read my rambles, it’s just an added bonus. I don’t take the time to use a photo editor app or perfectly stage my food…nothing against those who do, for me, I just want to eat my food and I’ll occasionally snap a quick, in-the-moment pic, but that’s because I want to enjoy my food while it’s still hot or devour it before it melts. I can absolutely appreciate those gorgeous photos and even if I don’t photograph my food, I still make it pretty…does that make sense? But I need to digress because this rant is not where I intended this to go!

Back to curse. Not everyone on social media is genuine or compassionate. Just like in real life. It can be a selfish world and by that I mean, there are people who are only on there to benefit themselves, even if it means hurting others along the way. For example, there are accounts on IG who spend time commenting on random posts using fake compliments. Sometimes they’ll even go so far as to “follow” you and say, “I love your page” or “I love what you’re doing here.” All of this just to get your attention so that you’ll check out their page or follow them back. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’ll unfollow you once you’re following them. All they care about is growing their numbers. What’s sad is that I know a few people whom this has happened to and due to already low self-worth, it set them over the edge. They took it so personal, as an insult, that they became so depressed. If only people took others feelings into consideration before acting.


It is SO easy to get caught up in the comparison trap – those “perfect” photos can be intimidating and for some, they can be toxic. Here’s my message to you (and a reminder to myself):

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You can’t compare a 38-year-old stay-at-home mother to a twenty something college student. While age doesn’t matter, getting older changes things. Bodies are different, lifestyles alter, priorities shift. I remember being in college. I remember working two jobs while taking a full course load. I remember my body being totally different. I remember having more time to myself. BUT, remember, pregnancy and birthing a child is no joke. I look at my cesarean scar and stretch marks as gifts and while I may never have a toned, flat stomach again, I am damn proud of my body. I am enough.

I’ve even been bad about comparing myself to other moms – I’d see “perfect” posts and think, ‘I need to workout more,’ or ‘I don’t do enough when it comes to homeschooling,’ or a general blanket statement…’I need to do more.’ Heck, there are some days when getting dressed is about all we do and guess what? That’s enough. When I take a step back and look at my life, what I’ve accomplished, my goals – I’m proud and I think I am enough. 

Don’t let those perfectly clean, organized house photos fool you. I have to laugh because I’ll joke and say that I need to snap a photo as evidence that it’s possible to have a clean house. Truth is, our house looks like a tornado ripped through it…95% of the time. Dishes piled HIGH, mail strewn about all over the counter, Willow drawings scattered on the floor, markers missing caps, crumbs EVERYWHERE, and blankets + couch cushions thrown about. We have an almost five-year old child and three fur babies. Our home is cozy, lived in, and messy. When Josh comes home from work, he’s able to follow the trail of the events by looking at the house. So, mamas, look at it this way. A messy house is a sign of having fun. A sign of living. It’s a sign that you’re feeding your family well. It’s a sign that you’ve found more important things to do than scrub the floors or dust the shelves…you’re being a present parent! Just because your house isn’t clean and organized like those posts on IG, doesn’t make you any less of a human being. Remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH. I am enough. (P.S. – also consider the fact that those so-called perfectly clean, organized homes were probably in disarray moments before or after they shared a pic).

What you can’t see in the photo below is our kitchen! Ha!! And to be honest, this is considered pretty clean…


Do not compare a blogger’s food photos to your own. Most bloggers have really nice cameras and props. Some have special lighting equipment. Most make a living off of creating recipes and taking stunningly beautiful photos. It’s their “job” and passion. More than anything, those bloggers put in hard work and effort to create a beautiful shot. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in this specific comparison trap. Being a SAHM I’m forever multi-tasking. Trying to snap a “perfect” photo is next to impossible because either (A) Willow is pulling on my legs or arms asking me to come look at something , (B) Willow is begging to eat what I’m photographing, or (C) I don’t have a really nice camera (just an inexpensive point-and-shoot Nikon or my iPhone), nor do I have any props. Once again, NOTHING against those who have all of this. I am simply stating why my photos aren’t much to look at. I AM a foodie though. I love the kitchen, I love creating, and I love trying new recipes created by others. Will my photos do them justice? Maybe not. But like I said, my posts are like an account of what I’ve made and enjoyed. I personally struggle sometimes to even post food pics because I think to myself, “these aren’t good enough” or “this looks nothing like so-and-so’s photos.” Stop that. Stop that right now. I’m talking to myself and YOU. Because remember…YOU ARE ENOUGH! So post those photos if they make you happy!

I intended on snapping a before photo, but she couldn’t wait to dive in and honestly, this photo makes me waaaaaay happier than a bowl of banana ice cream…


Do not compare someone else’s journey with your own. – Whether its spiritual, health, healing, diet, lifestyle, etc…DO NOT compare the path you are on to another person’s. Do not minimize your progress or success to someone else’s. Keep the focus within. What we all need to remember is that each one of us is different. Bodies. Mindsets. Priorities. Resources. Finances. All of it differs from person to person. Family to family. I do feel that it’s nice to have something to aspire to and occasionally it’s healthy to use someone else’s story for inspiration BUT not as an end all. Not as an “I need this in order to be happy, healthy, or beautiful.” Keep checking in with yourself. Are you happy? If so, you’re on the right path. And remember, no matter the case, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

– I struggled for a while with my own spiritual journey. I’d be bombarded by posts from others sharing what I needed in order to be truly spiritual. I began to feel that I wasn’t meditating enough, praying enough, unplugging enough, reading enough, minimalist enough. In a nutshell, I didn’t feel like I was enough, that while I thought of myself as spiritual, I began doubting that I actually was. That I constantly needed more. Truth is, after taking a deeper look within, I began to see that I was enough and that what I held dear to my journey – to my spiritual practice – worked for me. I began to phase out what others were throwing at me and focused more on what worked for me. Once I stopped comparing my journey with others, I was more at peace. I am a constant work in progress; forever learning how to be the best version of myself without the influence of others.

– In line with this thought, everyone’s idea of veganism (or diet in general) is different and for us to belittle one another over minor details is silly. What I consider healthy for me, won’t line up with the next person. What’s important is that we do what’s right for our own body and mind. Realizing that it’s enough – you’re not less healthy or less of a person because you consume more fat or carbs than someone else. 

Holy bright!!!! I swear this photo is unedited! I attempted to capture Willow being super silly,  but just as I snapped the pic, she ducked down in her car seat…but I managed to capture how truly happy I was…


I have to share an excerpt from Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (seriously read her books, I’ve loved them all). The last paragraph on the page below is so perfect…


Do it for YOU. The second you start posting for someone else’s attention or approval or writing what you think people want to hear, you’ve lost yourself. You’ve forgotten what it’s all about. YOU are important and what you have to share IS important. So don’t post something because you think it will get a lot of “likes” or “followers” – post from the heart. Post what makes YOU happy. Post what sings to your soul. When you do that, the right people will be aligned with your path.When you get caught up in what others like or what the “trend” is, you stop being yourself. What YOU have to offer is ENOUGH. For me this also means taking frequent breaks or unplugging for a few days – I’ve learned to be OK with not replying to comments the day they’re left or catching up on everyone’s page. Those who matter will still be there when I return. I choose to take care of myself (and family) before anything else.

If you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to someone, you have already forgotten your value. ~ Unknown


Do not compare numbers; in fact, ignore them. Just because you have less followers than someone else, does not make you any less important or valuable. Just because you only got 30 likes on a post doesn’t mean your photo wasn’t beautiful or meaningful. Know deep down that numbers mean nothing. Some of my absolute favorite pages/people have small followings and I adore them because their captions speak to me and their photos are  real, in-the-moment accounts of life. I enjoy interacting, engaging with other people and often times, the bigger pages just can’t keep up with comments or questions, which sadly, makes me less inclined to reach out to them. I love the pages that share unapologetically and a little bit of everything: food, personal, nature, quotes, motherhood…you name it. As long as they’re posting from the heart, that’s all that matters. So whether you have 20 followers or 100k followers, you need to remember that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Your worth is not determined by numbers. As long as you’re doing what YOU love, it is enough.


If you’re unhappy with who you are, what you look like, or where you are, I highly recommend digging down deep within and figuring out why. I say this because trying to change who you are or what you look like doesn’t always bring happiness, in fact, chances are, your feelings will remain the same. So choose to be happy now, not “when I lose 10 pounds,” or “when I get that promotion.” Embrace who YOU are and recognize your unique self and remember…

You are not your wrinkles, age spots, acne scars.

You are not the number on a scale.

You are not your pant size.

You are not your grades in school or your degree.

You are not your job title.

You are not your mistakes or shortcomings.

Your worth is NOT determined by the amount of followers you have or the number of likes you get on a post.

You aren’t less worthy if you “fail.” Choosing to put yourself out there and be who you are is a brave action. Vulnerability is not weakness.

The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognise your own worth. ~ Maxwell Maltz

I had an epiphany a couple of days before my birthday (which is what sparked this blog post) and it was literally as if someone finally turned a bright light on after being in the dark for years. I felt a sense of freedom that was indescribable. Rather than living in a state of fear or walking on eggshells, I am now able to approach social media with a new mindset. New eyes. New confidence. I used to fear what others would think so I would hold back (filter) what I share. This last year was a whirlwind of emotions and struggles with health, creativity, relationships, love, loss, and change. I learned to follow my heart, my gut, and listen to my body…and ignored what others said was the “right” way. Through this journey, I have lost a few friends (real and online) because they didn’t agree with my path. And that’s OK. Hundreds unfollowed me on social media in a week’s span and while it stung at first, I count it as a blessing. I’m being aligned with those who truly matter; those who accept me for who I am…all of me. I learned the difference between true friends and those who only “liked” me when I was either making their recipes – only “supported” me when it was convenient or only talked with me when my life was positive (when I kept my struggles to myself)…a handful of those people unfollowed me on social media and while I’m grateful for what I learned from them while we were “friends” I am also grateful to not have artificial friendships in my life. I have grown because of them. I have learned that I AM ENOUGH no matter what. If I’m in a creativity slump…I AM STILL ENOUGH. I believe in supporting my friends wholeheartedly, even if their path doesn’t align with my own. Even if I am unable to make their recipes or buy their products, I support them with my words and energy. Realize that YOU ARE ENOUGH and if for any reason you doubt your stance with someone, it is time to let go and recognize that you should not have to fight to be heard by a “friend.”

I’ll share one last bit before I end this loooong ramble 😉

Becoming a mother opened my eyes in more ways than one. I’ve grown more than ever during these almost five years and have come to really recognize my strength. During these years, I have also been criticized more than ever – whether by random strangers on social media or family. Everything from diet, choice to not vaccinate, homeschooling, and me being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I’ve been told that I need to do research, or I’m depriving my child, I need to listen to doctors, or get a part-time job. Yep. That last one really irks me. Get a job?? I may not punch in my hours on a time clock or receive a paycheck, but I hold many “job” titles and work 24/7. As with everything else, I’ve come to grow from the criticism or negativity. Why? Because I realize that my worth does not depend on what others think of me. And as far as being a mom, sure I have my bad days and moments of doubt, but I know deep down that I’m doing a pretty damn good job.


I think we all need to remember that we’re human. We might make mistakes, fall down, fail, do things we’re not proud of, but we are ALL WORTHY.

To anyone and everyone reading this, I’m sending you LOTS OF BIG hugs. Thank you for taking the time to read this to the end.

 

Celebration of Life: Remembering Eden

 

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Sometimes, someone crosses your path and changes everything around you. The way you view yourself, how you see the world, your attitude and priorities. Eden was that someone for me and I know for a fact that she impacted anyone and everyone she encountered. ❤

When Eden’s husband, Colin, emailed me to break the news of her passing, I did not expect to react the way that I did. I literally dropped to the floor and cried. It felt almost irrational considering my friendship with Eden never got the chance to go beyond emails and Instagram, but I think that goes to show just who she was – a remarkable, young woman. A true gift to this Earth.

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With Willow by my side while I was sobbing, I chose to welcome the tears and pain rather than wiping it all away. I shared with Willow what happened, briefly touching on her battle with cancer and we spent the next hour or two talking about Eden’s life – who she was and all that she did. Together, we watched the videos on Feed Life and I showed her some photos. Her response was, “Mom, she’s pretty.” More than you know, sweetheart. More than you’ll ever know.

A few days after the news, I felt the need to write about what Eden meant to me and remind myself about all that she taught me. I originally intended on keeping my thoughts private, but as I was pouring the words out on paper, I realized that the world needs to know who this beautiful human being was.

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I had the honor of interviewing Eden for my blog last year and through that interview, my admiration grew leaps and bounds. It also sparked a beautiful friendship. They say that not all superheroes wear capes and this is a prime example. She was the most selfless person I knew as her life was spent helping others – inspiring, teaching and impacting. Eden developed programs in Sri Lanka to help children and families and also co-founded Feed Life with her husband, Colin, where they provided the tools to live a healthy, vibrant, plant-based life. Everything I learned from Eden was not by way of preaching, but rather indirectly through example. I thank the universe every single day for connecting me with such an amazing human being and I wanted to write this post to celebrate her life.

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When I first got word of Eden’s passing, I immediately felt guilt and anger. Not towards her, of course, but at myself for all the things I didn’t do or say – and for such a beautiful life being cut short. I remember being so impressed and amazed at all of her accomplishments, along with the list of projects and goals she had. It’s as if she was unstoppable – no limit to what could be done. Through Eden’s life and actions, she taught me rather than comparing yourself with others, to focus on what your gift to the world is. Your purpose. What makes your heart sing. To follow your passions and dreams.

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Eden also opened my eyes to finding the beauty in everything. It’s easy to dwell in the darkness, to get stuck in the negative mindset. Train your eye to find the light in all things. During all of my conversations with Eden, she never let on to just how bad things were. I knew she had cancer and I knew she had her struggles, but her words were always positive. Whether in her Instagram posts or our exchange of emails, I was always left feeling inspired and more often than not, she shifted my perspective or realigned my spirit. Eden was such a source of peace and encouragement – whenever I think of her, I am filled with joy and honored to have known her.

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I thought I knew all about gratitude, but Eden changed the meaning of the word for me. Thanks to Eden, I acknowledge all that I’m grateful for each and every day. It’s the little things in life, small gifts from the Earth that I give thanks to and feel incredibly blessed. I have gotten in the habit of writing down or saying aloud, what I am grateful for each night before bed – which has also helped me be more present and mindful in life; refocused my priorities, along with who and what really matters.

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LOVE. A four letter word with BIG meaning. Eden helped me with self-love and the importance of not only filling yourself with love, but also spreading it to others. Words are a powerful thing and choosing to express yourself in a positive light, to shine on others strengths is a beautiful gift. In one of our emails we discussed one of my struggles and how I let others actions (whether directed at me or someone else) bring me down. She taught me to continue sending out good energy & love no matter what – to be a light to the world. Love is an essential part of life. And as I’ve learned from reading one of Eden’s favorite book (A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson):

“The way of the miracle-worker is to see all human behavior as one of two things: either love, or a call for love.”

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I know that I didn’t get the chance to tell Eden just how much she meant to me and all the ways she impacted my life, but I’d like to think that on some level, she already knew. She will be deeply missed by many and I know that because of her, lives have been changed for the better. I will forever carry Eden in my heart and one day, I will journey my way to Sedona, put my bare feet on the ground, feel the magic all around and know that she will be there with me in spirit.

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A huge thank you to Colin for helping me with the photos – her beauty and spirit shine through each one. If you’re not already following Feed Life, I encourage you to visit the website and learn more about their mission – Colin plans to continue the work they started together and I would love for him to get all the support he deserves.

My interview with Eden (August 8, 2014): Interview with Eden Elizabeth

Below is the slide show from her Celebration of Life service:

Love and light ❤

 

 

Unplug to Reconnect

I have been unplugged from social media for over a week now. One full week. It was never my intention, but after two getaways with my family where I didn’t use my phone for anything other than texting, I came to a sad realization. We, as a society (myself included), spend far too much time on our phones. We get so caught up in the lives of others or documenting our own, that we forget to just LIVE. I would feel the urge to grab my phone and browse to see what everyone was up to or I’d get anxious about the emails that I needed to respond to. It made me think back to what my life was like before social media. Years ago, before I got sucked into the online world of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs and Googling everything, my life was very different. I used to spend more time reading, writing, creating, exercising and simply being more present in the moment. Since Willow was just a few months old, I began writing in a journal to her every night. I realized just how much things had changed when I opened her journal one night and saw that it had been two weeks since I wrote anything. But that wasn’t the only thing that changed.

Unplug to Reconnect

After returning from our camping getaway, you might remember me saying how I felt overwhelmed. During our two days away, I had my phone off and out of sight. I didn’t get distracted by incoming texts, notifications from IG or Pinterest and I had no idea how many unread emails I had…until I turned it back on. Those two days were incredibly freeing. I found I was more present and mindful as a mother and wife. There was more eye contact, deeper conversations and just an overall increase in engaging interactions. Turning my phone back on immediately brought about anxiety with all the things I felt “needed” to be done. Then my overnight getaway to Seattle with Josh for the Trader Joe’s party opened my eyes even more. I was spending far too much time on my phone after Willow fell asleep that I was missing out on quality spouse time. After Willow fell asleep, we were doing our own things – he would read, play video games or fall asleep early, while I spent hours catching up online.

Before Willow was born, Josh and I did everything together. Not because we felt we had to – we genuinely enjoy one another’s company. We’d go grocery shopping together, cook together, watch movies together and just spend time together. When we became parents, our focus and priority became Willow – her health, happiness and well-being takes the top spot. We soak up all the precious time with her, but my time with Josh is just as precious. You see, Josh works 50+ hours a week and not your typical Monday-Friday 9-5 gig. His work week starts on Friday (12pm-10pm) and ends on Tuesday (4am-2pm). Hours are all over the place with long work days.The recent trip to Seattle made me realize just how important it is to have that time together. I was reminded of all the little things we take for granted, such as an uninterrupted conversation or cuddling up on the couch together to watch an episode or two of a series.

When i was smacked in the face with the realization that I was spending too much time on my phone, something had to be done. So, I unplugged. I turned off push notifications, told myself I wasn’t allowed to open the IG app, and only checked my email once a day (I would have cut it out all together, but emails are how I get notified of an Etsy sale). As the days went by, I found myself becoming less stressed and overwhelmed and more calm and mindful. I could feel creativity creeping back in and far less distracted. My days were filled with more joy, smiles, laughter and adventure because I was less worried about catching up. It was honestly freeing. Rather than reaching for my phone excessively to capture photos of food or something that Willow was doing, I was learning to just live in the moment and ENJOY.

Unplug to Reconnect

I highly recommend clicking on this link HERE – you’ll see some photos that show you just how much our society is heavily dependent on their phones, along with some pretty great quotes.

Here are some observations I’ve made, as well as things I’ve noticed within myself. If any of the following signs hit home, you might want to unplug for a bit. I honestly feel that all of us could benefit from unplugging, even if it’s for a day or two.

10 Signs you Need to Unplug:

  1. When you wake up, you instantly reach for your phone to check your online profiles – who “liked” or commented on your posts, who started following you or browse your Facebook/IG feed. I’ve been guilty of this. I used to be so good about saying affirmations or just taking a few deep breaths before greeting the day. Lately I find that some mornings I am too quick to grab for my phone to see what I missed. Most mornings I sleep in with Willow and don’t have time to even bother with my phone. I now realize that whatever I “missed” can wait. Unless it’s an urgent voicemail or text message, it can all wait.
  2. You can’t go a few hours or an entire day without checking your feed and/or online profiles. Really pay attention to just how often you’re reaching for your phone.    
  3. Your child has to repeatedly say, “look at me!” or has to repeatedly call for your attention because you’re too busy on your phone. I’m generally pretty good about staying off my phone while Willow is awake. I’ll occasionally text someone back, post a quick photo on Instagram or glance at emails, but I stopped browsing IG a long time ago and wait until Willow is asleep. Why? It hit me one day that I want Willow to look over at me and see me looking back at her. She shouldn’t have to hear the words, “Hold on” or “One minute.”  I don’t want her to know me as the mom who is glued to her phone. I want her to know that she is far more important than online profiles and the number of followers I have. I’ll never forget this awful play date we had last year. The mom had her phone in her hand the entire time – I think we made eye contact once during the few hours we spent at her house. She was consumed with replying to emails, texts and who knows what else. What saddened me most was her son’s behavior and how she reacted to him. He was screaming, throwing himself on the floor and clearly in need of attention. Rather than talking with him and figuring out what was going on, she took him up to his room for a “time out” and left him there for a good 20 minutes. Willow and I sat there awkwardly playing while she resumed whatever she was doing on her phone. That was the one and only play date we had with that family.
  4. You find your mood being negatively affected after time spent online. I will be the first to admit this has happened to me. Whether it was a hurtful comment, judgmental post or people unfollowing me, I no longer take it personal. There will always be haters and the amount of followers you have does not dictate your value or importance. Within the last month or so, I stopped looking at the numbers and post whatever I feel like. I tried running two separate accounts on IG, but it was time-consuming and I realized I’d rather attract people who were interested in all aspects of what I post. This works for me, but I can understand why people keep it professional. Along those lines though, when your online profile begins to feel more like a chore and less fun, that is a clear sign that something needs to change…or you need a break.
  5. You spend more time on Facebook/IG (etc.) rather than spending real quality time with the people in your life. I already discussed this earlier in the post.
  6. A large portion of your day/night is spent replying to emails, comments on posts or browsing the web. We co-sleep with Willow and after she has fallen asleep in my arms or on top of me, I reach for my phone and catch up. I had no idea just how much time I was spending on my phone until I timed it one night. Responding back to individual comments, questions, direct messages on Instagram and then browsing/catching up with what others were up to….are you ready for it…three hours. THREE HOURS. It was then that I realized that I can no longer use the “excuse” I don’t have time. Those few hours could have been spent meditating, doing yoga, exercising, writing, reading and a long list of other things I struggle with finding the time to do. Limit usage, for example, allow yourself to spend an hour to browse or respond to comments. Remember, it can wait – so don’t feel like it all has to be done in one sitting.
  7. Your phone joins you at meal time(s). I know many of you are guilty of this one. Josh and I don’t use the phone during meal times together, but I’m guilty of snapping photos of our meal before eating. I’ll be eating dinner with my family and in my head I’m planning out the caption to go with the photo. Rather than being present at dinner and spending REAL time together, my mind is elsewhere. Such a sad thing to admit.
  8. You feel the need to document everything online (what you ate, what you’re wearing, what you’re doing) – in other words, if you’re posting excessively. I’d like to think that I’m not one to post excessively. I try to limit myself to one or two posts a day, if that. Ask yourself, “Who am I posting this for?” and “Why?” Are you trying to impress someone or gain popularity? Think of social media as a way to inspire – a tool to spread knowledge or ideas. I recently unfollowed a page that was posting six or seven times a day….every day. It all felt repetitive and this person was sending the message that he/she spent ALL day on there.
  9. You feel the urge or need to respond to every comment or email right away. Guilty. When I started receiving more comments on my posts, I felt the need to rush to respond back. I know it’s not expected of me, but I like to respond to each comment individually. To let the person know that I read and acknowledged their comment/question. I later realized that it can wait. I can’t do it all – no one can.
  10. Your sleep is suffering. Are you going to bed too late and waking up exhausted? I was. There were a few nights where I was up until 1:00 am responding to IG notifications and/or emails and then waking up wiped out. Willow typically sleeps through the night, but sometimes she wakes up needing me. So, on those mornings, I was extra exhausted which lead to me feeling lazy, sluggish, grumpy and stressed. I’ve heard some people say that they charge their phone outside of the bedroom so as not to be tempted to check it so frequently OR spend the last hour before you go to bed phone-free. Use that time to meditate, journal or read a book.

I will be the first to admit that finding balance is hard. My struggle is that I can’t do things half-heartedly…for me, I put all my focus and energy into whatever it is that I’m doing. Trying to do that across the board meant spreading myself thin. I could literally feel myself breaking apart. When I begin to feel overwhelmed or too anxious, I pull back from just about everything. Everything but being a mom. Making the decision to be a parent is a HUGE responsibility and it was MY decision…not Willow’s. I think as parents, we need to be more mindful and remember that WE brought our children into this world, that they deserve our undivided attention. I feel happiest when Willow is happy. When I know that I did the best I could, that I soaked up the moments with her. We’ve also made the decision to unschool, so over this last week, it has been a lot of fun being 100% focused on following Willow’s lead. Her passion for learning is strong and that’s something I want (and need) to keep feeding. I’ve done a lot of reading on mindfulness over the years and here’s a short list of ways to be more mindful as a parent…which is deeply connected to unplugging from technology.

Unplug to Reconnect

How to be a More Mindful, Present Parent:

  1. Put your phone away and spend actual time WITH your child.
  2. Turn off push notifications for social media, emails, etc.
  3. Turn off the TV.
  4. Let go of the To-Do lists.
  5. Always make eye contact while talking with your child.
  6. Get down on their level – play on the floor, sit next to them.
  7. Be a “YES” parent.
  8. Involve your child in day-to-day activities.
  9. Put yourself in their shoes.
  10. Forgive yourself.

I’m not saying that you can’t use your phone at all during your child’s awake time, but most definitely put a limit on your use. If you’re one to check your phone every 20 minutes, try limiting it to every hour or two. If you feel the need to carry your phone in your back pocket, don’t. You’re a parent and the people who know you, know that. Don’t feel like you have to respond to every text immediately or rush to the phone with every beep, or vibration. If it’s important, they’ll call you! Let go of expectations – rather than being consumed with all that “needs” to be done, realize that none of it is going anywhere…it will be there later. If you have deadlines to meet or feel pressure, don’t hesitate to ask for help – whether from your significant other, a close friend or family. Don’t use the TV as a babysitter. When you are spending time with your child, get down on the ground and play with them! Whether it’s doing a floor puzzle, building with Legos or digging in the dirt – they appreciate you joining in with them. Willow’s face lights up every time I grab crayons to color with her or when we build a tall tower of blocks together just to knock them all down. I do believe that independent play is important, but if they ask you to do something with them, don’t deprive them of that.

Unplug to Reconnect

Our little nature girl.

I was in Target the other day and the number of times I heard this mom say, “no” to her child was ridiculous. I’m not saying that we should spoil our kids and say “yes” to everything, but what’s the harm in a $1 pack of note cards or post-its? Avoid the power struggles and learn to pick your battles. I always think to myself, “how would it feel if that were said or done to me?” I’m pretty sure I would feel defeated if everything I brought up was greeted with a “NO.”

The one thing in the list above that was a bit hard for me at first, but definitely an important one, is to include your child in day-to-day activities. I am a perfectionist and sometimes I’d rather do something myself so it gets done in a timely fashion. As Willow has gotten older, I realize that everything is a learning opportunity, a chance to teach responsibility or new experiences. A meal that would take me 20-30 minutes to put together will now take an hour or longer, but Willow LOVES to help and it is all worth it to see the smile on her face. Same goes for when we started involving her in feeding our dog, Abbey. Willow runs to help and does it proudly. What used to be a quick 30 minute workout, now takes a good bit longer because I’m either teaching Willow a new move or we’re rolling on the ground laughing.

Unplug to Reconnect

Excuse the poor quality of this photo and our mess of a kitchen, but here’s our sweet girl focused hard on helping with dinner.

I am far from being a perfect mom or wife, but I learn from mistakes and greet each day as another chance to do better. When you find yourself juggling a lot of tasks or responsibilities, it is important to find that balance. Don’t let the stress of it all get the best of you. There is absolutely NO shame in taking a step back, a break or unplugging from it all for a bit. For me, I needed to unplug from almost all of it to center my soul and reconnect with the people I love. If you’ve never disconnected from your phone before, do it. You might be surprised by what you learn.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love, Strength and Learning

On the night you were born,

the moon smiled with such wonder

that the stars peeked in to see you

and the night wind whispered,

“Life will never be the same.”

Because there had never been anyone like you…

ever in the world.

{{On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman}}

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

These last few years have been nothing short of amazing – they’ve also been filled with unexpected growth and strength. Becoming a mom is easily the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I have always wanted to be a mom and dreamed of the day I would have a child of my own – sometimes it still feels surreal. Today is my daughter’s THIRD birthday. Three. I remember the day of her birth so vividly – like it happened yesterday. The very first time I looked into her eyes, I instantly knew that this little being was going to change everything for the better. Three years later, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Our sweet Willow Rayne came earthside on April 15, 2012 at 7:52 PM measuring at a healthy 8lbs 3oz and 21 inches long.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

The days leading up to Willow’s birthday have been emotional, for so many reasons. It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating her first birthday and now she’s this little independent being who has developed quite the personality. I look at her and I no longer see my baby girl, but rather a child with determination and strength. How did we get to three so fast? Sometimes I miss the baby stage – the constant cuddling her in my arms and being able to fully protect her. But you know what? I love the toddler stage! Good grief, it’s filled with anxiety and stress as they discover new fun ways to get into trouble, but it is by far my favorite stage yet. I still get to cuddle her every day and night, but now she’s the one to initiate. Out of the blue she will run over for a hug and it is the best feeling in the world. I will take all the hugs and kisses from this kid while I can. Hearing her talk, watching her run and witnessing her thirst for knowledge brings so much joy.

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We have watched her develop, not only physically, but in personality, too. She has gained confidence through finding her voice and is not afraid to use it. Being able to tell us what she does and doesn’t want, asking for help and saying, “I love you.” Words that I patiently waited to hear for a very long time.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Willow on her First Birthday!

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Future vegan chef?

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Shortly after her Second Birthday! Our little fashionista.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Never a dull moment.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

She hates anything in her hair, but here is a rare moment full of hair clips!

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I’ve learned a lot over these last few years and grown so much more than I ever imagined. Like anyone else, I’ve had my fair share of challenges, tears and disappointment, but I’m a better person because of it all. I won’t bore you with all the details of what I’ve learned over these last three years, but I will share some of it.

What I’ve learned:

  • The importance of patience.

Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions not retribution.

~ L.R. Knost

Age two was a true test. Countless meltdowns, screaming, declaring her independence and finding her voice. As many of you already know, we believe in gentle parenting – being engaged, empathetic, respectful, listen, supportive, respectful and loving. There’s no harsh punishment in our house, just gentle discipline – rather than reacting in an angry way to an outburst and sending her to her room, we choose to talk it out – let her feel the emotions that she’s feeling and always end with a hug. When you scold a child for being upset, you’re teaching them that they “shouldn’t” feel a certain way. I certainly wouldn’t want someone telling me not to cry when I’m sad or upset. Kids are learning to express themselves; they’re learning to communicate. Crying, tantrums and meltdowns are their way of communicating. It’s certainly not always easy, but we take a breath, stay calm and patient and work with her to figure out what’s going on. Just like adults feel stress, anxiety, sadness and anger, children do, too. By adopting a more patient, gentle approach, we’re providing her with a sense of security and it paves the way to effective communication and problem solving. We followed our hearts to this approach and reading The Gentle Parent by L.R. Knost sealed the deal. I realize that this way of parenting doesn’t work for everyone, but if you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend visiting her website: http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

Fresh air + a long hike = nap time

  • Love. Unconditional LOVE.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

I thought I knew love, but becoming a parent brings about a whole new meaning. Never in a million years would I have imagined a bond or the ability to feel a love so deeply. This little girl has my heart – she makes the days brighter and everything worth it. I have also learned the importance of showing love, not just saying, “I love you.” I truly believe that all of the love this kid receives (not just from me) has taught her, not only how to be a loving, caring and kind human being, but also confidence in herself. Kids learn by example. She knows that she is loved through all of the hugs, kisses, cuddles and verbal affection. No matter how upset I may feel, my love for this child is ever-present. Unconditional.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

LOVE

  • No one is perfect.

We learn through trial and error. You can read a million books about how to parent, but the best way to learn is through experience. Yes, you’re going to make mistakes…we all do, but we learn from those mistakes and move on. We also all have our bad days and probably could have handled a situation differently, but make a mental note and move on. Ignore those on social media who post “perfect” photos – a spotless house, a gourmet meal, clean/presentable kids, well dressed and hair combed…truth is, there are times when I don’t get a shower for a couple of days or we ate frozen veggie burgers for dinner. My time is better spent playing with my daughter and enjoying every moment of our time together rather than fussing over a clean and organized house. If you are so busy striving to be the “perfect” parent, you’re going to miss out on what’s right in front of you.

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  •  Embrace differences.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned since becoming a mom, is that everyone grows & develops at different rates and that there is not some magical one way to parent. Milestones happen in due time. Never compare your child with another. Willow may have been “late” to crawl, walk and talk, but she is a happy, healthy and smart little girl. The world would be very boring if we all looked, talked, and acted the same. Differences are what makes us all unique and special. Rather than wishing to be like everyone else, be proud of who you are. Don’t compare yourself as a mother – we’re all doing the best we can.

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  • Self love.

I’m an imperfect human raising an imperfect human in an imperfect world, and that’s perfectly okay! ~ L.R. Knost

Oh, this has been such a battle for me since I was a teenager. Shortly after I published my story of her birth, I felt the need to reach out and get support from other like-minded moms and connect with women who had been through similar experiences. At the time I felt very alone and was still, in a sense, grieving. That sounds silly to some because we had (and have) a perfectly healthy baby girl, but I struggled for quite some time regaining love and acceptance of the body that I felt let me down. After years of battling body image issues and anorexia, not being able to have a “natural” birth caused quite a bit of inner conflict. I grew to hate my body – not for the size, but for being unable to function as it should. I found a few groups through Facebook during the first year – natural parenting, natural birth, vegan mom groups. When I say “natural” I’m referring to a more holistic, gentle approach. I remember being excited and even connected with a few women who brought a sense of normalcy back. Unfortunately, not everyone in those groups were as open-minded and respectful as I had hoped. I was ridiculed, shamed and criticized for having a cesarean and not being able to breastfeed. I heard everything from “all cesareans are unnecessary” to “you just didn’t try hard enough.” Obviously, I left all of those groups and deleted Facebook.

A few weeks ago, I got up enough courage to finally watch a video about a cesarean delivery. Having skipped over all the chapters in the books I read, I was clueless as to what was involved. I never thought it would apply to me. While looking through the “explore” or “search” page of Instagram, I stumbled upon a photo discussing cesarean and the comments were beautiful – women lifting each other up and others expressing an overwhelming sense of emotions after watching a video. I knew right then that I needed to see it for myself and it was exactly what I needed. Watching the process, what the body endures and the beautiful baby that comes from that major surgery. I used to look at that five-inch scar where the incision was made and cry – not because I wanted it gone, but because I was reminded of the sadness of not having the birth I envisioned. Today, I run my fingers along the scar and smile. That video left me feeling strong and empowered. I may not have pushed a baby out the “natural” way, but my scar is a reminder of survival, strength and love. I no longer look at my body in disappointment, but instead I am proud. My body was a home, a warm place that provided nourishment to a healthy baby. I’m wearing this scar proudly now. I am grateful for the doctors and nurses that acted quickly and delivered my sweet Willow. My daughter is a constant reminder of strength. I look at my daughter and want her to grow up with a healthy body image and self-esteem. I don’t want her to go through the battle I did, so I made a change within to love myself – to appreciate my body and what it is capable of.

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So, today we celebrate love, strength and learning. Happy Birthday to our Willow Rayne – our bookworm, dinosaur obsessed, Lego building, car loving kid! Here’s to the little girl who has brought about endless smiles, joy and laughter. You will forever be my baby girl. I’m looking forward to what’s in store.

Love, Strength and Learning // Be Sol-Ful

YOU are Beautiful

I am 5’4″ and 120lbs. I’ve been called fat, big-boned and thick…and during my unhealthy, sick years, I was called all the opposite – a walking skeleton, a rail, skin and bones. Why am I telling you this? All of those words did damage to my body image. Our society’s concept, or definition of what’s considered “beautiful” is sad. Women are starving themselves for a thigh gap or flat abs; they’re covering up their curves and hiding behind makeup. I’m also sharing this with you to be honest with myself, to embrace the body I was given and to work on self-love.

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While I personally do not use or support Dove products, I can get behind the message they’re trying to send. According to their research, only 4% of women worldwide consider themselves beautiful and the saddest part, only 11% of girls globally are comfortable describing themselves as ‘beautiful’.  As a woman who struggles with self-esteem and positive body image, I am working hard to be a better person for my daughter. From the moment Willow was born, I vowed never to use the words “fat” or “skinny” and to be more confident with who I am and what I look like. To focus more on health, happiness and well-being and less on the numbers on the scale or the size of my jeans.

The other night I stumbled upon Dove’s Legacy video and it really hit home. I’m sure Willow has seen me make awful glares in the mirror or even heard me say something negative about my body under my breath…that all stops now. I’m sharing this with you because I think it’s so important that we raise girls to be more confident, to look in the mirror and smile – be proud of who they are. Words can be so damaging. So, mamas, please be positive; be a role model for your sweet girls. Love your body and treat it right – teach your girls to do the same. Most importantly, teach them that beauty is more than just a pretty face.

“The way a girl feels about her beauty starts with how you feel about yours.”

So, from this day forward, NO MORE negative self-talk or thoughts. YOU are beautiful. In fact, I say we all need to make a list of what we like about our bodies, not what we hate. Write it down and be proud. We influence our children, even when we don’t think we are.

You can read more about Dove’s social mission HERE

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Thanks for stopping by!

A Voice Unheard

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom, it’s that no two kids are alike. Every kid grows at different rates, hits milestones at different times, and one single approach doesn’t work for everyone. It frustrates me to no end when we go to the pediatrician appointment and we hear how she rates among other kids – her weight, height, and other developments. I hate that we compare kids. Rather than acknowledging that Willow has never been sick, she’s happy, full of energy, and sleeps well, we pick at where she stands on those darn charts. If you’ve read my blog post about Willow’s birth, you know that it was difficult emotionally, mentally, and physically. These last two years, we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but nothing we couldn’t work through – this challenge I’m going to talk about though is different, one that makes me feel very alone.

Most parents get to hear their child’s first word somewhere between 9-18months. Most kids will make sounds like “ba-ba” or “da-da” which eventually turn into actual words. Willow turned 2 in April and we’re patiently waiting to hear that. She’s a very smart kid, understands everything we say, follows directions well, but just doesn’t open her mouth to say anything. We joked for months, saying that she was “speaking French” because she does this closed-mouth jabbering. She opens her mouth to scream or cry, but words have yet to slip out.

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The meltdowns, tantrums, and cries happen on a daily basis…and not just on Willow’s end. Our days can be exhausting – the frustration gets the best of us sometimes. I can only imagine how upsetting it must be for Willow to not be able to communicate her needs and feelings like we can. Since she can’t use her words, she does lots of pointing or will grab our hand to lead us to what she wants. Most of the time it’s a guessing game, but we’ve learned to differentiate her cries and jabbering. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve lost my patience a few times and have broken down and cried in front of her…I’m not proud of that.

I have a few friends who assured me that she’ll talk when she’s ready and that there are kids who didn’t talk until they’re 2 or 3 years old…heck, Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4! I wasn’t concerned at all, just anxious to hear her voice. Willow was late to crawl and didn’t walk until she was almost 15 months old – and rather than taking a single step, she walked all the way across the room. We chalked it up to her being a perfectionist! Which is another reason we were so laid back with her development – we had the mindset, “She’ll do it when she’s ready.”

But between her pediatrician and all the comments that had been thrown at us by family and friends, I found myself crying a lot and started to think that maybe we needed to take action. Comments such as, “There must be something wrong with her,” or “Wow, my kid is speaking in sentences already.” At her 2-year wellness check, the pediatrician voiced her concern and told us to take Willow to a speech therapist. It wasn’t until a month later that we decided to make a call. Unfortunately, insurance wouldn’t cover the visits, so we were looking at spending a couple thousand, at least. Now, I would do anything for my daughter, no matter the cost, when it comes to health and well-being. But that seemed a little steep for a family who just bought their first house. Thankfully, my mom looked into it and found a program that is free! The Alyce Hatch Center is home to a number of programs designed to fit your child’s needs. We took Willow in for an evaluation on July 7, 2014 and that is when she was diagnosed with a severe developmental delay in expressive communication. For just short of two hours, we sat with a speech therapist and a physical therapist who ran a series of tests, watched her interactions, how she played, and we had to answer a series of questions. Willow’s results showed that she scored high or average in all areas except communication. Throughout the evaluation, we learned some areas that we could improve on as well as some tips. Overall, the experience was extremely helpful. Later this month we’ll start setting up some appointments where a therapist will come to our home to work with us.

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After that appointment I started blaming myself and questioning what I could have done differently or where I went wrong. I couldn’t help it. I’m the one who is with her all day and night. In my eyes, she’s this perfect little being and it made my heart hurt to hear “severe developmental delay.” I took time to process it all and think about everything we learned from the evaluation. My mom encouraged me to write a post about our experience in case there are other families going through a similar challenge. There might be parents out there who need some reassurance that they are not alone. So I wanted to also share some of what we learned – things we never would have put together on our own.

Some things we learned….

  • Strider Bikes are great for balance, but don’t work both parts of the brain…we were told to get Willow a tricycle – we found one on the way home from the evaluation from a used baby/kid store for $13!
  • Use sign language! We had tried to teach her sign language when she was very small, but she had no interest in learning. My advice to all parents or parents-to-be, start young and don’t give up. In the two short weeks we’ve been using sign language, Willow has learned: ‘help,’ ‘more,’ ‘cat,’ ‘eat,’ ‘drink,’ ‘sleep,’ ‘tree,’ ‘angry,’ ‘gentle,’ ‘whale,’ ‘ball,’ and ‘bowl.’ We still struggle some days to get her to sign, but we try a little each day.
  • Don’t use straws all the time. Kids need to drink from a regular cup to use their mouth, to open it and it works a different part of the brain. We use straws in the morning for smoothies, but other than that, she’s drinking from a regular cup really well.
  • They suggested using a 2-3lb weighted yoga/exercise ball to help work her muscles in preparation for speech. She passes it back and forth and lifts it like it’s nothing!
  • Blow bubbles!
  • Use straws to blow cotton balls across the table.
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Willow loves to play with water and rocks…it’s the simple things!

Like I said before, Willow is a bright kid – she knows her numbers, colors, shapes, animals and puts together the United States of America puzzle together faster than my grandmother! She’s a super happy and affectionate kid – Her hugs and kisses melt my heart, but I long to hear those three little words, “I love you.” I even dream about her saying, “mama.”

She’s a master at drawing circles.

Lately she has been making some animal sounds, most of them are done with her mouth closed…but her ‘lion’ makes me cry because I feel like I’m getting a glimpse of what her sweet little voice sounds like. We picked up some really great flash cards in the $1 bins at Target and she loves the animal cards. Yesterday she wanted to play with them and it was amazing to watch her pick up a card and make the proper animal sound or gesture. It gave me hope that there is a voice inside that little being just waiting to come out.

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My mom also stumbled upon this really great blog – so if there are any parents reading this who are in the same boat we are, I encourage you to check it out – Finding Cooper’s Voice. It hit home for me while I was reading it last night and tears just came pouring out as I found myself saying, “Me too,” and “Oh, my goodness! That sounds like Willow.” I found a sense of peace and comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone and I know that I’ll be emailing Cooper’s mom for support and guidance.

If you have a child who seems to have some delays, I encourage you to Google Early Intervention & Early Childhood Special Ed (EI/ECSE). Services are free and designed around your child’s needs.

 

If you happen to live in Bend, OR, please check out The Alyce Hatch Center http://alycehatchcenter.org/

I appreciate you stopping by to read this personal story!

Lots of love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I’ve been enjoying reading everyone’s “What I’m Thankful For” each day on Facebook – it’s interesting to read how people measure their gratitude – from things like a cup of coffee to a car that starts every morning. While I’m a firm believer in being thankful for what you have every day, it is nice to see it all on paper – to see just how truly blessed I really am. It is a reminder that there is so much to be thankful for every day…That we need to focus on what we have rather than what we don’t. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is what I am thankful for:

  1. A loving and supportive family.
  2. A healthy, smart, and beautiful daughter.
  3. An incredible husband who works hard and makes his family priority.
  4. My furry friends – they bring so much joy to my life.
  5. Laughter.
  6. My health (knock on wood, I haven’t been sick, not even a cold, in years).
  7. The knowledge to heal myself without the use of medications or over-the-counter drugs.
  8. A warm place to stay with a roof over our heads.
  9. Food on the table at every meal.
  10. A hot shower every day.
  11. Clean water to drink.
  12. Clothes to keep me warm.
  13. A car to get around.
  14. A camera (usually the one on my phone) to snap all the thousands of pictures I take of my daughter.
  15. People who still send cards and letters via snail mail…it’s a pleasant surprise and a distraction from the usual bills or junk. Besides, it’s so much more personal.
  16. The friends who text out of the blue just to say hello and check in.
  17. All the vegan (and gluten-free) bloggers, recipe creators, and cookbook writers – you’ve made life a little bit easier 🙂
  18. A beautiful place to live – so far, Bend is my favorite city to call home.
  19. Books – and not eBooks – I love the smell and feel of a real hardcover book.
  20. Honest people.
  21. Old and new friends who make life a little brighter.
  22. The change of seasons – especially Fall.
  23. The simple things in life – a hug when I need one, a hand to hold, the smell of fresh air, and a long list of other little things 🙂
  24. People who text and email without the use of a million abbreviations or acronyms – sorry…a bit of a pet peeve of mine!
  25. Music – awakens my soul and warms my heart – it’s amazing how a song can have such an effect on your mood.
  26. Great doctors who are respectful of my natural way of life.
  27. Enemies and unkind people because they have shown me who I don’t want to be.
  28. All the experiences in life that I have survived – I have learned that I am stronger than I thought.

Goodness, I could go on, but I’ll spare you the much longer list! What it comes down to is the little things. Since becoming a mama, my life feels complete, so anything else is considered an added bonus.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving – may it be filled with lots of love, surrounded by friends & family, and delicious food!

xoxo

 

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