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,

Monday, March 16, 2015

I would blog more if I didn't have to make up titles.

I would venture to say that the first rule of blogging is to never talk about how crappy you are at blogging. Also never commit to posting more than you actually will, because really, no one likes liars. 

Now is the moment where I wrestle with whether or not to tell you something true or something witty. So let's do both.

First things first, I've read a few books. The weirdest (and longest) being The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. But luckily I've recovered, taken a bunch of pictures, tried Blue Moon's new peach ale, and fearlessly made it through an ob/gyn appointment (without tears. Please, send me all the awards). I watched every episode of the Bachelor season 23048203498, taught Rowan how to clap, and hired a house-cleaner. Patrick was about to slay me over the state of our house, and who can blame him. It was horrendous. 

I started a new role at work that I am completely in love with. Moreso because it allows for better friendships with my team, AND MY TEAM IS THE BOMB. But seriously, you should work at Pardot. We had cupcakes today. And Jimmy John's. And breakfast catered from somewhere fabulous. You can play video games, write on the walls, have a beer, and talk to people about marketing. Or coding. But I talk about marketing, because HTML, woof.

On a more serious note, I've recently become impressed with the fact that people have both a true self and a false self. The true self is who you actually are deep down. Your gut-level honest self. But your false self is the one that is interpreting what people want you to be or how they expect you to act, and then catering your behavior to that. 

We get into trouble with these concepts when we live so heavily as our false self, that we either A) don't know who our true self is any longer, or B) we've built an entire life and relationships around someone that we actually aren't. The hard thing about option B) is that to get back to your true self, it means undoing some unhealthy relationships, re-orienting your job or certain responsibilities, changing the hobbies you invest in, altering the way you talk or think about things or people, etc. And a lot of people can get hurt in that process because they've fallen in love with your false self, not your true one, and when you start to let your real colors shine through, those relationships can't look the same any longer. Not because you don't like the other person, but because the entire connection was based upon things that weren't real.

And in the South we easily get caught up in the "southern hospitality" mindset, and gradually compromise those things that we really think/believe for the sake of niceness. So I think we probably fall most victim to this struggle.

So my challenge to you is this: be the true you. Don't say what you think people want to hear, don't agree to something you don't want to do or don't feel right about. The more honest you are, the more authentic your relationships can be and the deeper they can go. If you won't face how you really feel, you can't actually get the help or attention you need most. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

I've Made No Resolutions


Well everyone, it looks like my last post was on Korea. Whoops.

And to be honest, it has taken about that long to recover.

Oh, and we still have a baby. I know, right?

So we press on.

But since then, we've done some grand things. I went to San Francisco. We had a wonderful first Christmas with Rowan. Harim came to visit the day after Christmas. We celebrated New Year's with him. And for any of our childless friends, babies get up at exactly the same time regardless of whether or not it is a holiday, so theres that. We went to Charleston and then to Vail. And are now up to our ears in laundry and mail, because it turns out we can be a little bit disorganized from time to time.

In other news, Rowan is now 8 months old. I made no resolutions for 2015. I still love my job. Lucy throws up every 3-5 days on our white carpet in the den. Also, who the hell let me have a white carpet? I have a love for gel nails and barre3. And also for Jenny Lawson, thanks to Patrick Murphy. I periodically leave trash on the kitchen counter, and I have a dentist appointment next week.

Other than that, life is trudging along. I made that sound a bit pessimistic, but its not. Maybe if I add a ! to the end it'll feel better. Other than that, life is trudging along! Better, right? Ok, good.

In all fairness, we are living our lives more than we have in the past. Rowan is happy as a lark. Our pets get fed, although rarely walked. (Again, the baby.) I do wear clean clothes, bathe (almost) every day, enjoy going out with friends, and I've also gotten into white wine. All that to say, I'd like to receive all the awards. But really just for the dentist appointment. Thats commitment to health.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Adventures in Korea

The last few weeks have been quite the whirlwind. We spent 9 days in South Korea, came home for 6, then I headed out to San Francisco for 7. 

And you guys, I am DEAD. 

But first thing's first, Korea. 

From the minute we landed in Incheon until we set foot back on American soil, we were whisked away and treated like kings. Harim's family was amazingly generous, and showed us every square inch of South Korea. It is a stunning country. However, I am certain that I have never hit the ground running this hard in my life, and with a baby, that did not come without a price. But everything we saw was beautiful, and we were so grateful for the experience. 

We were also relieved to find a Burger King in the mall on our last day. So there's that. 

Trying street food everywhere we went

Seoul Tower

Cable car ride to the top of Seoul Tower :: This day Michael rented us a car and driver for the day to take us around Seoul

The Asian Games were in Incheon while we were there, and Michael got us passes to a handball game. 

What I wish the entire trip consisted of: listening to Harim play the piano for hours

Seorak Mountain

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Pet Cafe with Harim

Silkworm larva is a delicacy in South Korea, woof

A temple in Gangwon Province

So down to business...

How was the flight? Actually, better than expected. We had heard that 4 months was the only window to travel internationally with a baby, and we agree. 15 hours is long no matter what, but I will be a lot less anxious about flying with Rowan from now on. She did great.

What was my favorite thing about the trip? Seeing Harim and all the places he talked about while he lived with us. I'm also glad we saw both urban and rural places, so I felt like we got a good feel for the landscape of Korea as a whole.

What was my least favorite thing? The schedule was really tough while we were both jet lagged, and then added a jet lagged infant just for fun. I think we could manage ourselves, but convincing a baby to swap her days and nights was just as terrible as you'd imagine. Which left us with not a lot of energy for the daily rigor of South Korea.

What was the weirdest food option? Red beans in ice cream, slices of raw fish at the table as a side dish, silkworm larva, dried fish, fermented octopus, the list goes on. I still have anxiety. Also, I brought 18 Cliff Bars, and by day 3 I was having to ration. Poor Patrick forgot to bring his own snacks. 

Biggest surprise? Babies come with a lot of stuff, from strollers to diaper bags to toys. And wherever we went, each family member took something off of our backs to carry. So one person would push the stroller, one would carry Rowan's diaper bag, one would carry our camera, etc. It made it so much easier on us every day to have everyone pitch in. 

But, DID YOU SEE GANGNAM? YES. And you guys, Gangnam is the coolest place in Korea. The streets all cross in unique directions, the architecture is crazy unique, and it is just beautiful and vibrant. We ate dinner at the Ritz in Gangnam, and I felt every bit as upscale as you can imagine. I borrowed a few Gangnam pictures from Google, since mine were terrible:

Huge thanks to Michael and Sook for being gracious hosts, Harim for still being every bit as perfect as we remember, and for Rowan hopefully forgiving us for dragging her across the world to see and experience something new. We've kept thorough notes for her counselor when this experience comes up later in therapy.