Memorial Day Cookout 5/28/2012 — A Personal Journal Entry
This is an excerpt from a journal entry of mine from May 2012. I was at a Memorial Day family cookout at Maw’s house. That evening of the cookout I spent time looking at one of Memaw’s (Maw’s mother) scrapbooks and I also remember having a conversation with Maw about my college classes and how defeated I was feeling after my last semester. Maw always knew just what to say to uplift and encourage me. This conversation with her always stuck with me thereafter and I’m so glad I journaled about it.
“I had asked Maw if she could get out Memaw’s old scrapbook so that I could look at it and she had it sitting out for me to look at. I spent at least two hours looking at it. Maw and I took it outside and looked at it on the patio together.
I love looking at all of the old pictures of my beloved relatives and the relatives that I wish I could have met. And I love hearing Maw tell me stories and memories from her past. Memaw used to write poetry and I absolutely love reading it! Her poetry is so beautiful. Reading all of that poetry has inspired me to write and journal and scrapbook.
Maw told me that Memaw would love to know that I love poetry and reading all of the classic novels (Memaw’s favorite novel was always Jane Eyre)! I guess I get my love of poetry from Memaw. Maw has also told me before that Papa would be so proud of me for loving to work in the garden. I feel like I know Memaw and Papa, but Papa died before I was born and I’m pretty sure Memaw did too. I really wish that I could have met them, I think that we would have really gotten along with each other and I would have loved them even more than I do now. But I know that I will get to meet them in heaven one day. I know that Memaw and Papa are looking down from heaven watching me.”
“While the girls were still playing, Maw came to stand by me and she asked me how my summer was going so far. I told her that it was going good but I was just afraid that it was going to go by too fast. Maw told me to just enjoy every day of my break. Then we got to talking about classes and school work.
I told her that I guess I would be ready to go back to school when the time comes. And I was telling her that I was still upset about my bad grade that I got in BIBLE. She told me that one bad grade didn’t matter and that I have come a long way, and that as long as I am learning, grades aren’t that big of a deal. I told her that I was learning a lot, but that I feel like sometimes no matter how hard I try I still get low grades.
And at this point I was tearing up. Maw told me that she had to work really hard in school too! And that good grades didn’t come easy for her. Maw said that she had a cousin that just got really good grades so easily but that she was different. Maw hugged me and told me that I can do it. She gave me the love, support, and encouragement that I needed and can get from no one else. I just know that I want to graduate and keep pushing forward.”
Re-reading this journal entry almost 10 years later is kind of surreal. I still remember that conversation with Maw like it was yesterday. I was feeling so defeated and embarrassed about my bad grade in that one college class. I was worried I had disappointed my family and I felt like I was failing and couldn’t measure up. I think when Maw saw how I was feeling and she opened up to me about how getting good grades was hard for her too it created this safe space for me. She also made me feel loved and supported. I was putting my worth and identity in good grades, but Maw reminded me that I am enough just as I am, with all of my flaws and short comings.
For as long as I can remember, Maw was always encouraging me and speaking positively over me. Even when I felt so defeated and didn’t think I could do something, I knew that she whole-heartedly believed in me and knew I could do it. Maw always told me the story of how her daddy believed in her, and when she didn’t think she could do it her daddy would tell her “You can do that, Kat!”. Maw told me that she would always think to herself “If Daddy thinks I can do it, then I guess I can”. What a beautiful picture of how powerful our words are and how much of an impact they can make on the next generation.
A few weeks ago, God took care of a situation and answered a prayer of mine that I have been praying about for a year now. I still find myself stopping in gratitude as I go throughout my day and taking a moment to thank God for providing and protecting me and my family. I don’t want to take these sweet moments for granted, because I have come a long way from when I started praying for this situation.
There were a lot of dark, hard days last year, especially going into the fall and winter months, that left me wondering if I would ever feel happy or whole again. I couldn’t make sense of the situation and I was left feeling hurt and confused. But even on the toughest days, I trusted that God was going to take care of me even if things didn’t play out the way I wanted them to.
During that season of waiting and praying I learned a lot. I learned that sometimes God lets us go through difficult situations in life, not because He doesn’t care about us but because He wants us to learn and grow from our trials. And He also wants us to learn to lean on and trust Him, not just in the good times, but in the bad.
If God would have answered my prayer in the way I wanted last year when I turned to Him, I wouldn’t have grown in grace and strength the way I have. I would have wanted all of my problems to disappear right then and there, instead of doing the ugly, messy work of healing. I would have missed out on valuable lessons and learning what areas of my life needed growth. I can see all of that now that I’ve come through it, but God knew what I needed all along.
This picture was taken at the beginning of July this year. I will never forget this evening. About a month prior to this I came to God in boldness and desperation, telling Him that I couldn’t go on much longer with this situation the way it was. I needed Him to move for me in a mighty way, and remove some things from my life that only He could.
While I had been praying for a year about this season I was in, I realized that my faith hadn’t been what it needed to be. I was still trying to hold on too tightly and control things myself. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to fully surrender my situation to God and trust that, no matter what, He was going to fight my battles, that I was was able to release everything into His hands.
A month after that, when this picture was taken in July, a new chapter was beginning to unfold in this season of my life. I was finally starting to see prayers being answered. I went on a walk by myself that sweet July evening, and as I walked the same paths I always do on Liberty University’s campus, I found myself feeling a deep deep gratitude for all of God’s goodness, His mercies, and protection during this incredibly difficult season I had been walking through.
I couldn’t help but smile as I walked and looked at the gorgeous sunset. I had this overwhelming sense of peace. Peace that things were indeed going to be okay. I heard God telling me “See, I told you I was going to take care of you. Trust me and let me handle this.”.
As the sky burned with deep colors of orange and red as the sun began to set, I felt the need to stop my walk and sit in the prayer garden for awhile to pray. Yes, I had been thinking all of these thoughts of gratitude to God, but I knew He wanted me to take a moment to stop, turn my music off, and just be still in His presence. So I did.
I sat and reflected on all I had been through the past year, and how through it all God had carried me through. I would never choose to walk that path again, but I could see how God had used all of it for my good. As I sat in stillness, I prayed for God’s protection, no matter how the situation was to unfold, and asked that He would help me to trust Him, even when it is difficult.
As I got up from the prayer garden and continued on my walk, I couldn’t help but feel that all of campus and nature was humming and singing praises and peace along with me. The campus was quiet but it also felt so beautiful and alive, I haven’t felt that there in a long time. I smiled as I walked, and felt a bit lighter and more confident. I even saw a mama deer and her two little fawns. I had the urge to look up the meaning of a deer encounter right away and read that “a deer encounter can represent unconditional love, gentleness, peace, and to trust in your inner wisdom and intuition.” I thought that was perfect and very much described what I was feeling in the moment.
I share all of this as encouragement to anyone who is going through a difficult season right now. Know that even in the darkest times God is with you and He hears your prayers. Our prayers might not always be answered the way that we think they should be, but remember that God’s timing is perfect and His ways are better than ours.
I have definitely seen God’s hand in my life and how He has provided for me and my family, but none have been so evident to me than in this difficult season I have walked through. I believe that I have walked through the darkness and come out on the other side and now have the empathy and experience to help others that are walking through similar seasons of life. What a beautiful thing to come out of so much pain!
This has been on my heart recently and I felt led to share. I hope that if you are going through a difficult season you find hope and encouragement to keep pressing on!
Every year around the beginning of September, right before my birthday, I like to take some time to reflect on the past year and look at what I’ve gone through and how I’ve grown. Last year when I wrote this type of reflection post, I said that 26 had been the hardest year of my life. Well, little did I know that 27 was going to bring me to my breaking point and force me to go through a lot in order to grow a lot.
As I sit here taking in the past year of my life, I am reminded of my birthday celebration last year and what a beautiful day it ended up being. I always wanted to share about my 27th birthday on my blog last year, but it just never happened. So, I thought I would share a little bit about that today and some photos from my birthday last year.
Last year for my birthday all I wanted to do was get dressed up and go out to lunch like things were normal. My mom, grandma, and Brendan had planned on coming out to lunch with me at one of my favorite local restaurants downtown and then afterwards I was going to have some family over for dessert and coffee that afternoon.
I picked a cute outfit, curled my hair and took a little extra time to do my makeup. Brendan was going to come home on his lunch break, pick Ellis and I up, and then we were going to meet my mom and grandma at the restaurant downtown. Well, as we were about to head out the door, my mom let me know that the restaurant was closed that day. I was so upset. I don’t do well with plans changing last minute, and while I know this was kind of out of our control, I started to lose it and I ended up having an anxiety attack.
My mom suggested that we pick a different place to eat, or that we pick up something and bring it back to the house, but I was too upset and didn’t care at that point. Brendan ended up driving us around for awhile while we decided what to do next. And I quickly started to spiral. On top of being disappointed that things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to, I then started feeling so bad that Brendan took time to leave work to spend his lunch break with me, and here I was crying and not knowing where to go to eat.
I ended up telling him to just pick a place for Ellis and him to get some food and not to worry about me. At that point I was feeling like I was so upset that I didn’t want any family to come over to my house after lunch time. I didn’t want to have to try and act happy and hide how stressed out and disappointed I was. My mom insisted that it would be okay and that everyone would still come over and it would all be fine.
I fought it for awhile, but I also didn’t want to disappoint anyone else by changing plans last minute. So, we ended up picking up some lunch for me and bringing it back home and I ate a bit while I finished tidying up the house before everyone showed up. Brendan went back to work and Ellis and I waited for everyone to come over.
While I was eating my lunch my sister texted me telling me Happy Birthday and asking if I’d like a coffee. I told her that would be so nice and then proceeded to tell her about how the day was just going as planned so far and how I was stressed. Since I knew she had class that afternoon, I figured she would be bringing me a coffee later in the day when her classes were over.
My mom and grandma were the first ones to arrive. I was still bustling around and feeling pretty frazzled and didn’t even realize that my sister was also there. She surprised me by skipping her class that afternoon so she could come over for my birthday. I don’t usually get emotional in front of other people, but I couldn’t help tearing up when I hugged her. In that moment I started feeling the love that I needed most in that moment, even though I had tried pushing everyone away and canceling the whole afternoon. I’ll never forget that moment.
My mom walked in with two big Mum plants to go in the beautiful stone planters that my dad had gotten me for my birthday, and again I felt loved. Not long after that everyone else arrived and we all just kind of gathered around in the living room to chat. I was surrounded by all of the women closest to me in my life — my mom, sister, grandma, aunt, cousin, second mama and what I consider my adopted sisters.
Ellis ended up playing upstairs with the girls almost all afternoon, so I felt like I got a much needed break from being “mom”. And the rest of us sat around and talked about motherhood, being a stay-at-home-mom, and me just kind of opening up about how I felt so defeated and how I felt like motherhood felt so overwhelming to me.
I don’t know if anyone picked up on it that afternoon, but looking back now I realize that I was caught right in the thick of postpartum depression. I just couldn’t shake the fact that motherhood felt too hard, and I thought I was just a bad mom or not meant to be a mom. Even if nobody knew how bad I was suffering in that moment, I was still grateful to have people that loved and supported me all around me that day.
We ended up opening presents and then eating a homemade vegan lemon bar dessert that I had made. We put candles on the dessert and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me, and I felt so much happier.
When Brendan got home from work all I wanted to do was to get some dinner and watch one of my all-time favorite movies, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Ellis ended up falling asleep before we could get him dinner, so the two of us ate Rivermont Pizza while watching the movie. And then I got to open up my presents from Brendan. He had also bought me some beautiful Mums.
I don’t know if many people will care to read this blog post, as it’s almost just like a journal entry for myself. But I loved these pictures from last year and wanted to share them. I’m hoping and praying that my 28th year of life will be full of growth, change, grace, and beauty. The world feels like a scary place to be in anymore, but I know there is so much life and beauty here too.
I remember that when I took this photo on my birthday weekend in 2020 I thought 27 was going to be “my year”. After the past few months with the pandemic going on and the craziness that the world was in, I thought that surely this coming year would be better and things would start looking up.
I imagined being 27, spending cozy fall evenings cuddling up at home enjoying my autumn decor. I imagined having friends over more often for small dinner gatherings where I would make a delicious homemade meal and there would be soft jazz music playing in the background. I imagined being more bold and confident in who I was as a person, living the way I thought was best for me and not caring what other people thought. But, the following months I felt anything but confident, I didn’t want to have people over, rather I slowly started pulling away from others. There weren’t many happy cozy evenings that October, instead I spent many nights up late, the hours fading into the early morning, crying and unable to sleep.
Last fall my anxiety reached an all time high, the Postpartum Depression I chose to ignore came flooding back in full force, and I don’t know how many people around me actually knew how much I was suffering. I had trouble letting others in, I didn’t want to tell others the thoughts I was having or the way I was feeling. It all felt so hard and complicated to put into words, plus I really didn’t want to burden people with my problems.
Looking back, I wish I had let people in sooner. I wish that I didn’t push people away, or try to pretend that things were okay when clearly they were not. I wish that I hadn’t spent so many sleepless nights up by myself, with just the tv on for comfort because I was too afraid of what others might think of me and what I was going through.
I thought 27 was going to be a year where things slowly started to look up, because how could they get any worse? But I didn’t realize that I would have to reach my breaking point, the lowest of lows, before I reached out to my best friend, before I asked for prayer, before I started going to counseling. I didn’t know that in order to seek true healing, I would have to actually ask for help. I thought I could do it on my own or ignore it until it went away. But God doesn’t want us to go through life, and especially the soul crushing seasons of life, alone.
I am so grateful that I am finally in a better, healthier place now and am actively working on overcoming my Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. There has been a lot that has happened over the past 2 1/2 years of my life that has played into this, things I will be working on healing from for quite some time. But May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’m so grateful for the conversations that are being had and the resources that are being shared about this topic. And I am so happy that I feel like I am finally in a healthy enough place that I feel lead to share more about my experience. Mental illness is real and many people suffer from it and we should not feel ashamed about it. I plan on sharing more about this season of my life as I feel lead to. ❤️
I’ve been taking things slow recently, enjoying the stillness and calm that the winter brings. I wanted to share a little bit about my January and the word I have chosen for 2021. I might ramble on a bit, but that’s okay. I’m giving myself permission to freely share my thoughts today.
I’m trying to keep my expectations modest, my feet grounded, and my heart open this year. I’ve taken half the month of January to focus on the intentions I want to set for myself for 2021. In the past I would have been stressed to have a perfect list written out with my goals by January 1st, but this year hurrying things along didn’t feel right, sitting in stillness resonated with me more.
I always take time to write out both my intentions for the year as a whole, and then my intentions for each month. This year I felt like I wanted to pick a word that I could hold onto as my theme for 2021, and I also found a color to go along with my word. So first, let me share a bit about the color I chose.
My Color for 2021
Since the beginning of January, I have found myself attracted to the light blue color of the winter sky. Green has been my favorite color for years, but I have noticed that at different stages of my life I am pulled towards certain colors. I’m always curious to learn about colors and their meanings, so I did a quick Google search to learn a bit about this particular shade of blue.
Blue is typically known as the color of Trust and Loyalty. Like the ocean and sky, Blue is calm and constant. Other words associated with Blue are relaxation, peaceful, support, honesty, reliability, confidence, and security.
Every time I look up at the sky my eyes follow along the ombre shades of blue, going from dark to light. I see the white puffy clouds floating along, so light as if they carry no worries or burdens. I trace the outlines of the bare branches of trees against the sky, and feel a connection and a bond with those lonely branches.
My eyes are able to rest on the gentle color and soak in its peace, the airy clouds remind me to I N H A L E , E X H A L E and not take my breath for granted, and the trees remind me of how I have been stripped down to the bone and am left standing in full transparency, ready for new growth. I love this color because it reminds me that every day is a chance to start fresh.
My Word for 2021
2020 was a hard year. The last few months of 2020 were the hardest months of my life. There have been times I find myself longing for things to have gone differently and wondering if I could have avoided some deep wounds. But ultimately I believe that good can be found in any situation and I know that God is in control and can use what I have walked through for my growth.
A couple of words I considered for my word of the year were Growth and Self-Care. While these are beautiful words that I’d still like incorporate into my life this year, the word that has felt right to me is H E A L I N G.
heal•ing: the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.
This word resonates with me because I have put myself on the back burner for too long and I have some deep hurts, both physically and mentally, that I need to tend to. I’ve gone through a lot of shifts and changes over the last 2 1/2 years and haven’t allowed myself to really work through what I’ve been feeling. I won’t go into detail about that here, but I just wanted to share what “healing” has looked like for me in the month of January.
I finally made myself an appointment for the chiropractor after putting it off since Ellis was born. I have accepted the fact that I’m still very much going through Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. I am going to counseling to seek professional help. I am letting others in and asking for help when I need it. I’m carving out time for myself everyday to do yoga. I have gone back to eating plant-based.
It feels good to be taking these small but significant steps toward bettering my health.
I’m looking forward to doing a 10 day fast with my church starting Wednesday, which I believe will be so good for me mentally and spiritually. I will be giving up social media and Starbucks (yes, its a problem) and focusing on spending more time with my family and reading God’s word.
I want to know, what are some of your intentions for the month of January? Do you have a word for 2021? What color have you been drawn to recently?
This coming Wednesday, September 9th, I will be twenty-seven years old. I’m sitting here struggling to figure out how I’ve gotten here and how so much time has passed.
Since becoming an adult, the week of my birthday has come to be a time of deep reflection for me. Looking back on my life, where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, what I’ve accomplished up to this point in my life. My main focus of reflection usually ends up being on the past year of my life. So, I’m looking at September 9th, 2019 to the present.
To put it briefly, this past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I’ve struggled in a lot of areas in my life, and to be quite honest I haven’t been doing well mentally and emotionally.
I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been extremely difficult on everyone. We’ve all struggled in different areas of life to different degrees, but no doubt we have all felt some type of loss and sadness. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and all that comes with that, for starters. And so many of us are hurting in so many ways.
I just celebrated my son’s second birthday, which means that I have now been a mother for two years. Earlier this year my husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, which means I have been a wife for four years. I wish I could say that after these past few years I feel like I’m a confident wife and mother, but the truth is I don’t feel that way at all.
This past year has broke me in so many ways, some good and some bad. There are many names I go by in life — Wife, Mother, Daughter, Doula, Christian — these are my roles in life and names that others call me. But here recently I’ve really been struggling with figuring out who I am to myself.
All my life I’ve dreamed of the person I would become as an adult. During my college years I thought that I was getting a clear picture of who I was and could see a bit of the bigger picture. I could see myself and my husband making the life that we had been dreaming about. But here recently I’ve been questioning what it is that I want anymore. Some days I feel like a complete stranger to myself. And if I don’t know who I really am, then how could anyone else really get to know me?
In Order to Know Others, I Must Know Myself
It’s no secret that I’ve never really had a lot of close friends. I was homeschooled growing up so I always considered my siblings my best friends (still do). In college Brendan was my best friend and I almost exclusively hung out with him. I had a few friends during the first couple years of marriage, but they turned out to be co-workers more than deep rooted friends. Now that I’m a mother, I have a couple of mama friends, but I don’t see them very often and I know the friendship doesn’t currently run as deep as I’d like it to.
So what am I trying to say here? Honestly, I don’t really know. I think I’m starting to peel back the layers, the roles and names I go by, and begin to take a long hard look at the center of myself and what’s at that very foundational layer, what’s at my core.
I think it’s fair to say that I don’t have many friends, or am afraid to let people in, because I don’t even know who I am myself. How could I let others in and allow others to like me, to care for me, to love me, if I don’t even love myself?
I know that my family loves me, my husband loves me, and my son loves me. But even more important than that I know that the God of the universe knows me down to my very core, sees the ugliest parts of me that I keep locked away and hidden in closets, and He still chooses to love me. And I’m embarrassed to admit how often I ignore Him and don’t take the time to get to know Him better and to love Him like I should.
I think until I take the time to get to know God better, and learn to love Him better, I will never know how to love and accept myself. Only then will I be able to let others love me and accept me for who I am.
And that’s kind of where I’m at now.
What’s My Role?
After I gave birth to Ellis, I feel as if a part of me died and this new person emerged. It was as if one day I was me, myself, the Ashley I had always known, and then the next I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the woman standing before me.
I’m sure many people know by now that I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after having Ellis. It’s been an on-again off-again battle I’ve been fighting for two years now. So that coupled with the huge identity shift I experienced when I became a mother has left me wondering who I am and who I’m supposed to be.
I don’t feel like the person I used to be before having Ellis, and I’m struggling to put all of the pieces together to figure out who this new woman is. I think in an effort to give myself a name, to find a new identity for myself so to speak, I’ve tried to rush into things I’m not ready for, roles I’m not ready or equipped to fill.
During the winter of 2019 I started doing some freelance photography work here and there when the opportunity presented itself. When I went to my first shoot I felt like I found a little piece of the old me that had gotten lost along the way. I felt happy to be using my talents and my college degree again and I felt important because I was filling a role, doing a job, and getting paid for it.
During the spring of 2019 I decided to go to a doula training through DONA International because I felt that God had put this calling on my heart to get involved with birth work. After my own pregnancy and home birth experience, I felt passionate about learning how to help educate, advocate for, and support women who wanted to birth differently. My own doula was amazing and I felt she truly supported me. I wanted to be there for other women like she was there for me.
I attended my first birth as a doula a couple months after my training and felt that I was really on the path that God wanted me to follow. This felt like a new piece of me that I had never known about before, a piece of my new identity.
Then I attended my second birth as a doula on January 1st, 2020. And that was such an amazing experience that I am forever grateful to have been a part of. I saw raw emotions, unconditional love, fierce mama lioness power, and a new life birthed that night. In that moment and the days that followed, I couldn’t think of a more messy, humbling, magical, beautiful way to start a new year and brand new decade.
I was believing for a bright and beautiful future in the year 2020.
During the month of January, Brendan and I did a 21 day fast along with our church to start the year off right. Those 21 days were transformative for me. I chose to give up social media, which I’m embarrassed to admit has come to take up so much of my time. I felt like my eyes had been opened and I started to see what was really important in my life.
During that time I was reading my Bible more often and felt like I was connecting with God on a deeper level, Brendan and I found a house and put an offer on it that was accepted, and I started to feel God nudge me in a different direction than I had felt at the very beginning of January.
January was a beautiful month full of life, growth, hope, and excitement. February was a pretty great month too and I felt like I was starting to get a clearer picture of who I was and how I wanted to take care of my family. And then March came and the whole world, not just my little corner of the world, got turned upside down.
I Hear You, God.
During those first couple of months when a lot of people were staying home and were unsure of what the next few weeks and months were going to look like, I felt myself slipping to the end of my rope. I needed help and I wanted answers and the only place I knew I could turn to was God and His Word.
And you know what? These past few months have sucked in a lot of ways. But, I can say that I see how God has used this year to break me down and bring me closer to Him than I have been in years.
Looking back over this past year, I can see that God has really been trying to show me where He wants me to be and what He wants me to do. I knew it in January, but I ignored the still small voice I heard. And now, after months of thinking about it, I feel like I can’t ignore it any longer.
Deep down in my bones I feel that God wants me to focus my time and energy on my home and my family, to be a homemaker, and to accept that and to be content with and at peace with that for this stage of my life.
I’m currently twenty-six years-old. Last year I jumped into twenty-six not knowing what an exhausting year it would be. In a few days I will be twenty-seven, and right now that number feels refreshing and inviting to me.
I’ve tried to push myself, to adapt, and squeeze myself into everything I think others want or expect me to be. I’ve done this for years, and it just doesn’t seem like something a twenty-seven year-old should do to herself anymore.
Ever since I gave birth to Ellis, I have been in way over my head with this whole role of being a mother. Ellis has been a dream baby and for the most part is so easy going and easy to please.
My husband has been more amazing than I could have ever asked for when it comes to caring for me and Ellis, supporting me in whatever goals I have for myself, and helping around the house and with Ellis. But still, I find myself drowning trying to stay afloat and take care of my easy-going baby and husband.
I look at other mothers and wonder how they seem to manage taking care of more than one child, serving their husband, and also working either full-time or managing some side project, and I’m over here silently screaming for help because I feel like I can’t even watch my child and take care of the house while my husband is at work. I’m not trying to compare myself to others, I just haven’t been able to figure out whats wrong with me.
All the while I hear God telling me that it’s okay to do what He’s asking me to and to to stop fighting Him. I’ve been striving so hard to try on different hats, or different roles, that don’t fit me quite right. Or, at least they aren’t the right fit at this point in my life.
I’ve been feeling guilty about not having a job and not making any money to help us get out of debt a bit faster.
I feel like I’m falling behind on my doula certification because I’m nervous and I’ve taken things extremely slow.
I feel like I’m not a great mother because I spend my time wishing Ellis would entertain himself or take a nap so that I could work on my doula studies or have some time to myself.
And I feel like I’m not being the best wife because my husband and I don’t get to spend a lot of time together at the end of the day, and my time and energy have been used up by then.
I’m kind of rambling on at this point. But what I’m trying to convey and process is how this past year has broken me, reshaped me and my mindset, and given me perspective and clarity into what’s most important in my life and the direction I think I want to take from here.
The thing is, nobody has made me feel inadequate in any of those areas. It’s me that puts the pressure on myself to do more or be better. It’s me who worries what other’s will think of me if I decide to take a different path. I’m worried I’ll disappoint others and worried I won’t be enough if I’m simply a wife, mother, and homemaker.
Deep down though, I’ve known that this is always the role I wanted in life. This has always been my highest calling.
Who Will I Be at Twenty-Seven?
There are a lot of things I’m passionate about and a lot of areas I’d like to work on in my life.
I’m passionate about birth work and helping support mamas on their journeys through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
I’m interested in learning about gardening and herbalism and how I can grow my own foods and medicines to help nourish and keep my family in good health.
I love different styles of writing and would still like writing to be a part of my life whether I’m getting paid as a freelance writer or just using this little blogging space to connect with a few people.
Photography is still one of my favorite ways to express myself creatively. I take pictures every single day and love to document my family’s life that way.
But my big take away from this past year of my life is that in order for me to focus on helping others or using my talents to do a certain job, I must first take a step back and learn how to place my focus and energy on my family. Because if I don’t know how to take care of myself and my family, then how am I to be expected to know how to care for others properly?
I just really want to make Twenty-Seven a year dedicated to growing closer to God, following where He leads me, and letting go of other’s expectations of me, and letting go of my own expectations of myself.
I know that this has been an extremely long post, and if you’re still reading I’m humbled that you would take the time out of your day to read these words.
I rambled on quite a bit because this started out as a simple journal entry, but I felt lead to share my thoughts and feelings in the hopes that it may help someone else not feel so alone. Trying to figure out who you are as a person and what role you are meant to play in your life can be very overwhelming. But I know that above all, I am a child of God and I can take comfort in that on the days where I feel lost.
So here’s to Twenty-Seven and all that is to come and all I am to be!
I always forget how much I love the month of August until it’s upon my doorstep. It’s such a lovely transitional month where it’s still summer but the days are growing shorter, sometimes slightly cooler, and we slowly start to feel autumn in the air and the tug towards a new season. I like to think of it as the beautiful in-between.
Today is the last day of August and the start of a new week. It felt like the perfect day to cleanse and reset from the busy weekend we just had. The last two weeks we have had family stay with us for a short period of time — Brendan’s brother and his brother’s girlfriend the week before last and Brendan’s parents this past weekend — and while I loved finally being able to open up our home to have guests stay over, it’s always nice to settle back into my own rhythm at home.
Today has been the coziest of Mondays (well, for the most part). Ellis slept in his own bed all night long and woke up around 6:45am. It was still dark outside and the tropical rains we were expecting had already started. Even though my body felt tired my mind was ready to be awake and I was eager to start the day.
I came downstairs to the sight of gift bags and various toys strewn across the living room floor, the aftermath of a wonderful birthday party. Ellis wasted no time and got right to playing while I went into the kitchen to start my day. Once we said our goodbyes and got Brendan out the door for work, I put on a pot of coffee and started fixing Ellis and me some breakfast.
We took things slow this morning. Ellis played and watched some tv while I sipped on my cup of coffee and started folding the two baskets of laundry that were waiting for me in the corner of the living room.
I like to start my day by writing out a little “to-do” list for myself. I find that this works well for my personality because if I reach a point in the day where I’ve lost focus and motivation its easy for me to glance at my list and see what task I can accomplish, no matter how small, to put me back in the right mindset.
Today’s list consisted mostly of tidying up the house and focusing my energy and intention on looking ahead to the month of September. I washed bedding (something I like to do either at the end or beginning of the month as a way to say “out with the old/dirty, in with the new/clean”), put away gift bags and tissue paper still left out from Ellis’ birthday party, cleaned out the fridge, burned some sage to cleanse our rooms of airborne bacteria (look it up), and transplanted a few of my plant babies to different pots.
I also spent a decent amount of time simply playing with Ellis. We played with blocks, colored, played with trains, read some books, and listened to music. His imagination has blossomed over this past week and I love watching him get creative in his play.
I recently read the book The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman and at the end of the book there was a short chapter on children and love languages. After reading that book and watching Ellis a bit more closely throughout the day, I’ve come to realize that quality time is definitely one of Ellis’ main love languages. It’s hard to be certain at such a young age but I can see the difference it makes in his attitude when I take a few minutes to put aside whatever it is I was working on to simply sit and be present with him. He notices now when I’m sitting next to him but my mind is not really there or focused on him. That was a big wake up call for me and is something I’m working on.
While today was lovely, I did have a few moments that had me telling myself “of course this would happen, its 2020!” I went down to the basement at one point to switch the laundry over and saw that there was water leaking down from the ceiling. That meant that there was probably rain coming in through the chimney, down the fireplace and into the basement.
So after I got that all cleaned up and came back up stairs my doorbell rang. Nobody ever comes to my door, so I was surprised and a little thrown off. I answered the door to see a few children with their mother walking away. When I asked how I could help them they said that my car window was down and they just wanted me to know since it was supposed to be raining all day. So I grabbed some towels and went to roll the window up. But the damage was already done and the back seat was soaked. I hope this isn’t a trend for the rest of the Mondays in 2020.
After Ellis woke up from his nap I made some broccoli cheddar soup for dinner. It felt like the perfect evening to make a cozy pot of soup since it had been raining all day and the high was only in the 70s. I put on an Autumn jazz playlist and got cooking in my happy little kitchen.
Brendan had to work a little later today and he also had homework to do this evening, but I didn’t mind. I got to spend a little more time with Ellis after dinner this evening playing, reading, and eventually letting him nurse until he dozed off. As I picked him up and carried him to his bed, I couldn’t help but hug him a little closer knowing that my baby is almost 2 and really isn’t a baby anymore. Who knows when these cuddly night time nursing moments will be a thing of the past. I’m not quite ready to give them up yet, so I’ll hold on just a little longer.
As we step into a new month and begin to shift into a new season, I’m looking forward to and believing in change for the better, focusing more of my attention on my boys and being a homemaker, and letting go of the things I can’t control and doing what I can within my little corner of the world.
What are you looking forward to in the month of September?
Hello, August! I can’t believe you’re here already.
This morning after I finally admitted defeat to my toddler and accepted the fact that I was not going back to sleep, I cracked the blinds and we said “Good morning, world!” like we usually do. Sometimes we say “Good morning, sunshine!”, but this morning’s sky was gray and cloudy. Brendan had left the house early to go play basketball this morning, so it was just Ellis and me that crept down the stairs and into the living room.
First I fixed Ellis some breakfast — cereal is his go-to, must have breakfast item of choice at the moment, much to this mama’s discontent. Next I turned on an old Mickey Mouse cartoon for him — again, another current favorite of his. I feel like I am becoming the mom I didn’t intend to be, but I absolutely understand how mothers get here…the toddler sass and drama can be real when you try to suggest something other than what they have their mind set on, and sometimes fighting it just doesn’t seem worth it.
So cereal and Mickey Mouse it was this morning. Does that make me an awful mom? No. Do I still feel like a failure for giving him crappy cereal and letting him watch a cartoon first thing in the morning? Yes. What can I say though, I’m learning as I go and I’m trying to give myself grace on the days I fall short of my own mothering expectations.
After getting Ellis situated, I went into the kitchen to brew myself a cup of coffee and fix myself a super nutritious breakfast of toast. ha. That’s right, I’m being real with you guys today. No nutrient dense, healthy breakfast for me this morning, just toast. While I waited for my coffee to finish brewing, I watered my plants and whispered good morning to them. Then I took my breakfast into the living room to watch cartoons with Ellis and share my breakfast with him. I didn’t need a whole breakfast for myself anyway, right?
The weekends are known as “Daddy Days” around here because Brendan is home instead of at work and Ellis gets to spend more time with him. It’s become a weekly ritual for the boys to go downtown to the train station in the morning on the weekends to see the Amtrak train come into the station. Brendan loves trains and is sharing that passion with Ellis now. It makes me happy to see them bonding together in that way and its adorable to see how fascinated Ellis is with trains.
While the boys were out this morning I took a moment to write out a to-do list for the day and put a bit a makeup on — such mundane things really, but if I take the time to do them in the morning then I feel a little bit more put together and ready for the day ahead.
Then I brought my cup of coffee and my journal outside to the deck to take in the beautiful morning. Today is August 1st and still very much summer time, but I’ve been feeling the subtle pull of autumn in the air recently. A few crunchy leaves on the ground here and there, crickets chirping in the early morning mist, and the gray overcast sky this morning had me day dreaming of cozy autumn days in this beautiful house.
While outside I took some time to write out some of my intentions for the month of August and I also decided to write in my prayer journal, something I don’t do often enough. This time and connection with God and nature was good and grounding for me.
I spent the early afternoon tidying up around the house and doing some chores that were neglected on Friday. I washed our new sheets, washed the dishes, and cleaned out the fridge. I fixed Ellis a smoothie and continued tidying up while the boys had lunch together.
Then to my delight, I realized that Brendan had taken Ellis up to the bedroom to try and put him down for a nap. It was a bit earlier than Ellis usually goes down for a nap, so I wasn’t counting on him falling asleep right away. But thankfully, he dozed off almost right away and didn’t ask for mama to come upstairs and be with him.
I was able to sneak away this afternoon to go grab a cup of coffee and find some outdoor seating where I could set up to do some blogging and reading. I like writing in the home office, but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house and not feel like I have to focus on chores.
After a couple of hours to myself, I felt a bit more calm and motivated. Brendan said that Ellis woke up from his nap happy and asking for dinner from our favorite Mexican food restaurant. So while I packed my things up and got ready to head back home, the boys went to go pick up dinner.
We spent some time playing legos, listening to music, reading books, and running around the house with Ellis after dinner. The weekends are so nice when we’re all able to spend a little down time together.
Once Ellis went to bed around 9pm, Brendan and I got ready to finish watching “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, which we had started the day before in honor of Harry Potter’s birthday. Yes, I am a Harry Potter nerd. Go ahead and judge me.
Going forward with the month of August, I want to be more consistent with blogging regularly. When I first started blogging about 6 years ago now, I did a lot more photography and “weekly recap” lifestyle type posts. I honestly kind of miss that, so I might tap into that a bit here and there. What type of posts would you be interested in reading?
A few more questions for you: How do you spend your mornings on the weekends? Do you write out monthly intentions? If so, what are some of your intentions for the month of August?
This afternoon I’m feeling angry. Angry at our government, angry at ignorant people, and angry at the situation we all find ourselves in today. I know there are some things I can do, but for the most part nearly everything is out of my control.
I don’t want to make light of the situation and what is happening in the world and in our country, because honestly I feel that there is a lot of evil and deception that is going on and a lot of people either are oblivious to it or are turning a blind eye toward it, but I have had to stop myself from going down these rabbit trails. I find that I get so caught up in everything thats circulating and my mind starts swimming in a sea of anger and despair. And that’s right where Satan wants me, but it’s absolutely not where God wants me to dwell.
In the late afternoons when I usually get some time to myself, the gears in my mind start to turn and I have to be careful what I choose to focus my attention on. I can either reach for my phone and be brainwashed and consumed by what I read on social media (whichever side its coming from), or I can pick up my Bible or a mind nourishing book and spend my time there. I don’t always succeed in choosing the latter, but when I do I find that my evenings are filled with more hope and peace.
The afternoons that I have chosen to nourish my mind and soul rather than give in to letting my mind and spirits decay, I have walked out of my room feeling like there is some hope left in this world and that I have a lot of fight left in me. It’s easy to let other people fill me with doubt and fear, but I find that it really helps me to choose getting to know what God has to say about life and the world and understanding what He wants me to do during this confusing time.
All of that to say, I’ve always been the type of person to believe that we can look into a horrible situation, find the good in it, and extract something positive. I’ll admit I’ve let myself sit in the anger, the fear, and the complaining for too long. But I’ve been trying to mindfully think about all of the good that I see playing out in my life that may not have happened if it weren’t for this pandemic.
So here are some things I’ve observed in my life and the world around me that are positives during all of this chaos. God is teaching me a lot!
Due to schools being shut down and continuing classes online, my sister moved out of her dorm and came to live with us for the rest of the semester.
Since all of this “lockdown” stuff started happening right as we were moving into our new house, it’s given me the time to get settled into our new home and get to know this house.
I used to go out most afternoons, either to aimlessly shop around and kill time or go on a drive while Ellis napped, but since we moved I’ve been staying home more often and getting into a comfortable rhythm with Ellis. And we’ve finally established a pretty good (flexible) nap time routine.
I have been trying my best to be less wasteful and use what food we have and eat all of our leftovers to save money and trips to the grocery store (it’s a madhouse out there!).
I’m finally getting the opportunity to plant my very own garden. This mess we’re living in has really pushed and motivated me to start wanting to be more self sustainable.
I truly feel that God is giving us this opportunity to pause, rest, think about what is important, and determine whether or not we are on His side.
I haven’t been able to see my grandma in over a month, but I’ve had some great conversations over the phone with her that have really been special to me.
I’ve also had some great talks with my dad about life, politics, gardening, end times, the Bible,and house projects. Those kind of talks don’t happen very often, but I’m so grateful that these topics have surfaced for discussion.
And here are a few things that I think are positives amidst all of this chaos (not everyone will agree).
People are staying in and treating more minor illnesses at home rather than running to the doctor for every little sniffle. I hope that this time at home gives parents more time to research and practice more natural forms of medicine when pharmaceuticals are not needed.
Families are receiving a very rare opportunity to reconnect and spend time together. Not out running errands, taking children to museums, birthday parties or fields trips, but nestling in T O G E T H E R at home.
A lot of people are getting the chance to slow down and think about what’s really important in life.
Children are spending more time playing outside in the fresh air in the sunshine!
More women are realizing that home birth is a viable option (when woman are not considered high-risk) when it comes to birth. A hospital is not the safest place to give birth, especially during a pandemic.
I really do hope that people are using this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to reconnect with their family and loved ones, ask the hard questions about life and this situation we find ourselves in, research and learn to think for themselves when it comes to important issues, and become more self-sustainable.
What are some of the positives that you have found during this lockdown?
March feels like it’s lasted longer than 31 days this year.
The year 2020 started out beautifully — full of life, hope, and change. January was, for me, a month of blooming. I attended a birth as a doula, went on a 21 day social media fast, and put an offer on my dream house with my husband. Everything seemed to be falling into place and we were brimming with excitement.
February was kind of a drab month. Nothing was wrong per-say, I just felt like my routines and good habits started to unwind and fall out of place. I stopped doing yoga regularly, we all caught a cold (rare around here), and we were holding our breath during the house buying process and counting down the days until closing.
Enter March! March 3rd was closing day for us and also the day Ellis turned 18 months-old. During that week I was feeling full of gratitude for the closing process going so smoothly and the fact that I was on the mend from illness and my body was feeling lighter, stronger, and healthier.
Then everything kind of started to shift, and sway, and close in around me.
Out of nowhere (or so it felt), I started seeing people talking about the corona virus on social media. Yes, I had heard about it here and there when it was just in China, but since I don’t regularly consume what the news outlets have to say it wasn’t something I was dwelling on.
Next thing I know, people are talking about there being a shortage of toilet paper because everybody is stocking up on it, friends are saying go get groceries and stock up on everything you need now before the weekend because things are about to get crazy, and there was talk of being quarantined at home while this virus continued to spread.
Almost overnight, I felt that there was a change in everyone’s mood and I was seeing a lot of panic, fear, and uncertainty.
I myself didn’t know what to think at first. I sent Brendan to the store one evening after scrambling to make a quick grocery list of a few items I thought we would need (one of them being toilet paper because we were literally down to two rolls). I remember talking to different family members about everything I had heard and we were all trying to make sense of what could potentially be happening in the following weeks.
This was around March 12th. It was finally starting to feel a bit like spring and my main focus was on getting our belongings packed so that we could move our family into our new house. That’s all I wanted to do. I didn’t feel like going out and fighting people to get toilet paper or worry about stocking up on all of the essential foods we would need because of potential shortages and weeks of quarantine. I just wanted to be excited about starting this new chapter of our lives.
Things rarely go as planned in life, and that’s just something we all have to learn at some point or other. I’m very grateful that our moving day went smoothly, despite it being a long day for everyone. My family came to help and it was chaotic and fun and exciting. For that day, it was nice not to dwell on what was going on in the world, and to just focus on family and new beginnings.
Even though I feel I have handled everything that’s going on pretty well and have remained upbeat and positive for the most part, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned. I’m not afraid of the virus itself or of coming in contact with other people that have it (which is a miracle considering I’m a pretty extreme germaphobe), I’m afraid of what our country is going to look like in the weeks and years to come.
I try not to let my mind wander down too many rabbit holes, but its easy to do when seeing all that is being spread around on social media. It’s hard to know what to believe and who to trust. But I know one thing is for sure, I can trust God in times like this and cling to His promises.
The other day as Ellis was napping, my mind started slipping and wandering down the path of worry. Worrying about what the future is going to look like, feeling concerned for other people and choices they are making, etc. And then it hit me that I didn’t need to dwell on these things and stress myself out. That would only lead to fear, and it’s fear of things that I have no control over. It was in that moment that I felt God telling me to place all my worries into His hands, trust Him, do my part (whatever that may look like) stay informed, and then let it go.
To be honest, things haven’t changed that much for me. If anything, I’ve finally gotten into a little rhythm with Ellis around the house. The only difference in our day-to-day that I’ve noticed is that I’m not randomly going shopping at stores like Target several times a week.
I consider myself an introvert for the most part, but I do miss gathering with others and having that human interaction and connection that I think we all crave, no matter how introverted we may be. I miss going to the mother’s circle I’ve been attending for the past year, I miss coffee dates with doula friends, and occasionally going out to the movie theater with my husband for a date night.
In a way though, I feel like I’ve been preparing for this time of so-called “quarantine” my whole life. Growing up I was homeschooled and my family lived in a farmhouse in a small town that is kind of in the middle of nowhere. We usually went out to “town”, as we called it, once a week (if that) to get groceries. So for the most part, it was just my mom, my siblings and me hanging out at home doing some school work, entertaining ourselves by playing outside, playing board games and video games together, watching movies, reading, talking, scrapbooking, cooking, you name it.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the way my parents raised my siblings and me and my heart is overflowing with gratitude towards them. This whole situation and my outlook on things could look a lot different if it wasn’t for the knowledge and values my parents instilled in me. We were not only educated at home from textbooks, we were taught life skills and lessons that I see coming into play now and seem more important than ever.
Growing up, my siblings and I learned how to garden and grow our own food, my dad taught us how to safely and properly handle a gun, we learned how to chop and gather fire wood, my dad taught us how to hunt and fish, and my brothers even learned how to process and freeze their own deer meat. Of course I learned even more rudimentary skills such as cooking/baking and how to clean and take care of a household.
While there are days I find myself wishing we could go back to how things were before this pandemic chaos, I’ve really been humbled by the way God has been using this time to bring some of the desires of my heart to fruition. I’ve learned a lot recently and I want to share some of what God has been teaching me, but that will have to wait for another post.
I know this post was a long one, so if you made it to the end know that I appreciate you taking the time to read some of my thoughts during this confusing time. If there’s anything you’ve learned over the past month that you’d like to share let me know in the comments!