Thursday, May 28, 2015

Life Tenants

On May 26, I celebrated my 30th birthday. In a lot of respects, I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been. And because of that fact, I think I welcome this decade change with open arms. I see it as good. The marking of a new and beautiful season, only beginning to come to fruition. 

Now, I'm not into the cliche lists of "30 things to do before 30" or anything like that. But I have picked up a few pieces of wisdom that have proved to be tenants that I base much of my life around at this stage, and in large part have gotten me to this place of wholeness. 

1. Change is good. It's healthy. Embrace it. It means you're growing and being challenged. It means you don't live in fear of life's next turn or hiccup. It means you have an abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mentality. Change makes us better. Forces us into new places and lessons we might not have chosen on our own. It makes us flexible and honest. It keeps us from being stagnant. It keeps relationships alive and thriving. Some change can hurt at first, but your attitude about it makes all the difference. Stephen Covey would say that you carry your own weather, and nothing could be more true in my opinion. So let's get excited about change and new opportunities together. 

2. Travel is essential. It gets us out of the small world that we've constructed for ourselves and forces us to see things from a new perspective. Some of my biggest life lessons and most humbling experiences have been when I've traveled. And some of my most genuine relationships are ones that were forged through rigorous travel schedules, hard-to-eat food, no electricity, holes in the ground for bathrooms, throwing up in foreign toilets. We don't naturally see from someone else's perspective. That's something we have to work on and cultivate in ourselves. Travel gently forces that on us and makes us better people. Better humans. 

3. If you find a way to compliment someone or make a connection with them, they will most likely do anything for you. My grandmother Annie and I drove to the beach together one summer. We stopped at McDonalds for a quick lunch and the first thing Annie did was compliment the woman taking our order's eyes.  When we sat down to eat, my burger was cold. And Annie said that because we found a way to make a connection with the woman behind the counter, and tell her she was special, she would probably be more than happy to give us a new burger or warm ours up. And she was right. The woman was apologetic and gracious, and happily replaced our meal. 

If the priority is always connection, we are able to be open and honest, truly asking for what we need. 

4. We must build a life around our true selves. Not the one we think the world wants, but the one that we truly are. And that comes with a risk of knowing that we won't be close with everyone. But the people we will be close with will be friends for life, through thick and thin. It's ok to let your guard down, stop pretending, and own who we are. The world needs us to fully be us and to be fully alive in who we are. If you want to learn more about authentic relationships and how to cultivate that, check out Scary Close by Donald Miller. It was a game-changer for me. 

5. Write lots of cards and letters. I can't tell you how many beautifully written cards and notes I have beside my bed, in my car, stuffed in all my books. When I'm having a bad day, I know and can read that there are people who love me and believe in me. Having those tangible expressions of love are invaluable. They call me back to who I am deep down. 

And last but not least, 6. Therapy is always a good idea. Whether it's been a few years or you've never gone, you never realize how much YOU are holding yourself back. You never realize how much past hurts truly impact every decision and relationship. I used to hate the phrase "hurting people hurt people" because I always felt like I was hurting in some way, all for reasons out of my control. But my unhealthy responses to hurt and my lack of ability to healthily process the pain, truly hurt every. Single. Relationship. Because I was never happy. There was deep hurt that I kept hoping would magically go away or I'd meet someone remarkable that would take it all away. Or maybe if that one event was celebrated in this way, or I got that one job or one dress or that one gift. And that's just not realistic. We need to bring our whole and healthy selves into relationships. And 95% of the time, you're probably not seeing yourself in a way that is healthy or correct. We need outside perspective. Outside encouragement and support. And I'm the biggest fan of getting out there and getting it so that you can really live your life. Don't waste it thinking you can manage. You don't have to get by "just managing." You can THRIVE. You can be full of love and life and healthy relationships. You don't have to settle, so don't! Go after what you need for you, and everything else will come into better perspective. And you'll learn to trust that you really do carry your own weather. 

So cheers to the past 30 years. Some I'd live over a million times and some I never want spoken of again. But on this day, each of those trillion moments made me who I am and has brought me to this place of gratitude, love, acceptance and life. 

Please join me in my next 30. I'll save you a seat at the bar. But you have to bring the real you. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy Mother's Day to Both of Us

Dear Rowan,

I'm writing you this today because today is perfectly positioned between Mother's Day, your first birthday party, and your actual first birthday. 

My precious girl, I would not be a mother if it weren't for you. Finding out that I would be having a baby was one of the most exciting and terrifying moments of my life. It didn't feel real. Even after ultrasounds and listening to your baby heartbeat at appointment after appointment, reality still hadn't set in. But when I found out that you were going to be a girl, everything seemed to click. Seeing your little body on the screen and watching your heart pound and your fingers curl, and knowing that you would be my daughter was the most overwhelmingly happy I had ever felt. 

That is, until you were born.

The day you were born was chaotic and full of painkillers and nausea. But you came into our world the most sweet and content little baby. Your daddy loved you so well as I recovered from the surgery. The nurses would come in and tell me that I could send you to the nursery for a few hours if I wanted to get some sleep, but you were so fresh and new to me that I wanted to keep looking at you, and reaching over to touch you. We always had to wake you up to eat, so we never heard you cry. I was so consumed with love for you that I took videos of you sleeping. You were 7 lb. 11 oz of pure love. 

Nursing was one of the biggest surprises to me, but I loved knowing that not only was I able to grow everything from organs and fingernails to muscles and bones, but I could also sustain you outside my belly. It was something that set us apart from the world. 

You let us be neurotic about your sleep schedule, and we're so grateful for that. You sleep well, love bedtime, and always have great energy when you're awake. That's probably more a product of your FOMO than anything else, but I'll take it. 

Rowan, you've taught me how to love more unconditionally than ever before. You've taught me how to speak life, fight for the words that are spoken to you and over you, and given me hope in the next generation to come. Your heart is so sweet and pure. You embrace the world with open arms, and you dance at the drop of a hat. When we're in the car you laugh and make faces to yourself and kick your feet. You give loves to your stuffed animals, and grin if you see me looking at you. You eat everything we give you, and sometimes even the things we don't give you (like lip gloss and m&ms). 

You are the most beautiful and vibrant thing in our lives, and we love you so completely and dearly. This year with you has been the most humbling and perfect year yet, and I'm excited to cheers to a lifetime more of memories with you. 

Big love to you,