Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Holly Jolly Year (after all)

It is hard to believe that it has been six months since I became a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) to my then one year old. Scared out of my mind and completely unsure of the future I did the only thing I knew to do… embrace the unknown.

Through moments of sheer weakness, anxiety, sadness and hurt, my thought process at the time was kinda like this: What the heck am I supposed to teach my daughter to help her excel in school? I’m home now so I need to cook…what? When did groceries get this expensive? Hello coupons! What do SAHMs do all day – surely there is a support group or a SAHM to do list. Ugh, I have to organize this house…why was I storing “this” there?

And so I got down to business. I reorganized our house. I started watching my now favorite TV show, “The Chew”, and I started a garden. I figured out quickly that Monday mornings were the WORST days to go to the grocery store because the shelves are empty!!!!!!!!! (SO AGGRAVATING!) I figured out that I actually liked to cook different things (like leeks, sprouts, and fennel…oh I love me some fennel) and learned how to braise meat, brine meat, roast meat, and season meat. Momma is doing it now, y’all!

I also learned that I can teach my daughter anything I wanted and I could go as fast as she was willing to absorb. I decided that ‘structure’ is a four-letter word… this was a huge learning curve for me, but one I’ve learned to deal with. Not to mention the fact that if I push my daughter’s naptime to “quickly” run ONE last errand then I can’t be mad if she’s cranky, “dis-o-b-e-nt” (as she says), or unruly… not that she ever is! (wink wink) Structure… is in fact my friend.

I rise really early for "me time" and devote the entire morning to my husband and daughter. And when my TV show comes on and my daughter is down for a nap, I recharge… because the rest of the day is again reserved for others. But I LOVE it!

Here is what I learned the most. To love… hard. To give… freely (not begrudgingly and NOT because it puts me on the who’s who list – yes, I was that girl. To be free… all the time. To be here… now. And to be me… as I continue to discover just exactly who me is.

This year has been the best year of my life. I am beside myself with the blessings that have poured into my family’s life. When we weren’t looking they arrived with beautiful bows. When we were praying for favor, it was granted. Our life, today, is the life we are thankful to God for. Losing sight of our walk proved to be treacherous but finding it again has been pure perfection.

This holiday season, the season we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, finds me in a lovely place. A peaceful place. A happy place. Happy, in fact, has been the word for our family for a few months now. I can only imagine what 2015 has to offer us. All I know is that I will continue to embrace this magnificent life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

New blog site coming soon……

Monday, December 1, 2014

For the First Time in Forever

In all my years of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, none has hit home like this year. As with many things of late, I was present. At one point over the holiday I was lying in bed when a rush of happiness washed over me bringing me to tears. My tears were appreciative tears, tears as a result of being set free. I am happy “for the first time in forever” (thank you Anna & Elsa) not because I have life but because I am finally living life or at least finding out how to live… truly L-I-V-E.

I have so much thanks in my heart for #mynewnormal. Happiness doesn't mean I never get sad or have disappointments. That's inevitable. It means I enjoy making my own paradise. It means I feel rich. I feel full. I feel complete. I'm learning how to make my own paradise by learning what really makes life rich. How can I not be thankful? And one could say that I should have had that all along but I say the past is just that… the past. I am living in the present having learned lessons from my past and building a better future for myself and my beautiful family. I think that’s what life is about. Enjoy what's around you no matter how much of it you have. And be sure the special people in your life know how much you love them.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of my life with you next year. We are recreating the blog so that I can share my personal journey of self-exploration, my experiences as a stay at home mom, and my adventures as an #amateurchef. Hopefully you’ll laugh as much as I do these days. My life (mainly my sweet Pepper) definitely keeps me on my toes!

Happy holiday's sweet friends!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Defining Me

I’ve been on hiatus from blog posts but articles are constantly flowing in my mind. Honestly, I’ve been trying to shy away from seemingly “deep, thought-provoking” posts to more light-hearted, feel good ones. My writings are so serious and for some reason I want to make them trendy and fun. My mind says I should write about my fun adventures because I laugh all the time these days. At the same time my heart says I am changing so much that I should share my experiences with whoever will listen because maybe, just maybe, there is one person out there who can relate and wants to break free as well. My body says, “YO, you hang out with a pipsqueak all day long, quite frankly, you need an outlet!” Alas, here goes another piece of my journey…

Recently, I sat at a community non-profit luncheon that I could not escape from quick enough. NOT because the luncheon was bad or because the company at the table was not interesting. Quite the contrary, both were absolutely lovely. But I was different. I am different. There once was a girl who was defined by how many luncheons or events she attended. She was defined by who knew her and who saw her there. She let the invitees and the folks who yelled at her from across the room define her. In truth, she let her environment define her. But this girl… this woman… sat in the room and just wanted to be at Kindermusik with her daughter. What that beautiful luncheon reminded me of was a time in my life where I lost myself and in turn lost my way. Finally in my car with a moment to breath I asked myself the following questions:

- What defines us?
- What defines you?
- What defines me?

These are the same questions I’ve been asking myself for months now. I believe we have defining moments that shape and/or completely alter our path in life. I certainly had one in June that has left me happier than I’ve been in my entire life. I am so happy with #mynewnormal that at times I find myself wondering, as I believe others do, is this real.

Ok, sidebar… isn’t it amazing that a life-altering situation can leave you incredibly happy and people think you’re faking it but if you were sad and depressed people would be content, shaking their heads in sorrow. What the heck, people? I digress! Like I tell my Pepper, FOCUS Tahnika! As I was saying, what defines me……………

What should define me? Is it easier to determine what should NOT define me? I’m no theologian, philosopher, psychiatrist, or the like but what I believe is that our morals and values should define us. My Godly, Christian morals are what I left when I started letting my environment define me and chart my path in life. I was driven to the point that I lost sight of the goal. I lost sight of me. I lost sight of love. Sadly, I lost sight of God. No more! I’ve found my faith again and in return I am finding a new me, a better me. I like this new me! The new me values love and I’m allowing God’s love to define me from within. I want to remember that my heart is priceless. It is beautiful. It is whole. My heart is special.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am learning that it doesn’t matter what role I am in, what matters is who I am on the inside. In other words, I’m not defined by the fact that I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, or volunteer... I am defined by the love I have in my heart and the way I choose to share it in each of these roles.


Friday, August 8, 2014

From the mouth of babes!

The other day I was playing with Pepper and she did something phenomenal (the fact that she breathes is phenom to me). I made her look at me because I wanted her to hear what I was about to tell her. I stared into those big beautiful eyes and said, “I am proud of you!” And with the same level of intensity she said, “I’m proud of you, Mommy.” Fighting back tears I thought to myself… she doesn’t know what she said to me but she just rocked my world.

My #newnormal happened like this. I was rocking along doing my thing when all of a sudden I was shifted into an alternate world… no, that doesn’t give it justice. I was shifted into an alternate galaxy! Yeah, that’s more like it. I started over in a way… a do-over for adulthood. A chance to really L-I-V-E. This galaxy was completely new to me and honestly I had no idea how to navigate it. All I knew was it involved spending time with this wonderful being that I fought for years to create. But if you follow my blog you are like, ok already, we KNOW that!

So here is what you don’t know… I am experiencing a happiness that’s - well, galactic! Oh my goodness I am happy! I was constantly fighting – myself and my fellow “competitors” – because in my mind all of you were just that. I was in a game and I came to win – we all did, right? Well, I am no longer in a game. Not in this galaxy! I’m in a “space” now that requires love and I am finding that I have lots of that to give. And that is why I am “galactically” happy. I am happy because everyday I am taking time to make me a better me… physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And thank goodness I’m finding this internal love, because when you start peeling back the onion, you need it. Because it hurts and it stinks and it gets uglier before it gets better. You must cling to that love within you, allowing it to get stronger as it takes over your heart. And then you begin to see the beauty that’s been around you… and more importantly, the beauty that is in you.

The other day I was at the park with Pepper and we were playing something or another. It was finally time for lunch so I walked to the car and grabbed our lunchbox. We sat on the bench and talked while we ate. Ok, so we talked about how she wanted to go back and swing but hey, we talked. The happiness that I’ve been feeling washed over me and I just smiled. She figured she won the argument… and yeah, she did. But inside I knew that even that was a victory for me. The me that existed in that other world wouldn’t have given in because like I said, I came to win, and I would have been justified by her need to know who was boss. #bologna

Now don’t get me wrong… there are still rules, routines, schedules, chores, frustrations, sad moments, disappointments and headaches in my galaxy. What has changed, and continues to change, is me. I am learning that I need some work and I am allowing that work to run its course. But I quickly discovered that I could whine or I could take the bull by the horns and teach that sucker a lesson! Well, I am holding on with both hands… and it’s a wild but marvelous ride. Anyone who knew me knows that I was more self-conscious than a little bit. Always looking over my shoulder wondering who was trying to overtake me. Always in a rush to make a quick decision because I had to “keep it moving,” as I’d say. Always making plans, always moving on to the next urgent matter.

My lesson is simple – happiness is determined by the love we have for ourselves. I did not have that but I do have that now! I am proud of me, too, Pepper. I pray that God continues to show me how to be a better person. The happiness I feel is hard to pen but if you hang around me maybe you’ll catch a piece of it. Maybe I can impart some of the love that I’m finding inside to you. I had plenty of love given to me from the outside – my friends, my family, my husband. But finding love within yourself is what makes you truly happy. That kind of love replaces years and years of pain and sad transgressions. That kind of love says “I am beautiful” no matter where I got my dress. Love that shows me the beauty in the belly I [still] have from pregnancy. Love that says even in the midst of losing a world I knew for the galaxy I gained… I am free. So…

Don’t cry for me Argentina
The truth is I never left you

All through my wild days

My mad existence

I kept my promise

Don't keep your distance
And as for fortune, and as for fame
I never invited them in

Though it seems to the world they were all I desired
They are illusions

They're not the solutions they promised to be

The answer was here all the time
I love you and hope you love me (the NEW me)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Free to be

Last week, something happened that made me quite sad. Actually, I was angry and if I were completely honest, I went into straight up pity party, woe is me mode. You know it; don’t act like you don’t! That mode where the world is simply unfair and you are being treated like a common criminal when everyone knows you deserve to be treated like royalty! Yeah, that mode! In the midst of my par’tay I said just as proudly and arrogantly as I could, “When is someone going to defend me?” And boom… the bomb dropped.

As if I were in a movie theater with stadium seating and 3D glasses, buttery popcorn, peanut M&M’s and a diet soda, I saw my life flash before my eyes. I recalled the little girl wanting to play with her neighborhood friend who seemed to be the idol of “the block”. But rather, she was in her room looking out the window because her neighbor’s cousin was in town - and the cousin always bullied me. This was my first experience of wondering, “Why won’t my friend defend me?”

Fast forward to high school. I had a friend who I loved dearly. We did everything together; we shared everything. And one day, she was no longer my friend. Just like that, it ended. To this day, I have no clue why. I wondered for years why she didn’t take a stand and defend me against whatever it was that tore us apart. Let’s be real here, I’ve wondered for a long time… up until last week.

Fast forward to college. The short and sweet – I was “steered” from joining what was familiar to me, although not conventional, only to be rejected by what was unfamiliar but would have seemed more befitting. Once again, I found myself wondering, “Why aren’t THEY defending me?!”

So, what was the bomb? It was a simple question. “When are you going to start defending yourself?” Boom - a paradigm shift. A 180 in how I think, reason, plan… live. Life isn’t about having others do for you what you can do for yourself. Why didn’t I stand up to the bully? Why didn’t I confront my high school friend? Why did I need the familiar? And why was I willing to accept rejection by the unfamiliar when I never wanted it anyway?

In truth, I have always wanted acceptance. And since I am removing the veil, I have always wanted to be on top – the best. So much so that I have compromised the very teachings and principles that shaped my formative years – my Christian walk. You see, in all my examples here, and the countless others elsewhere, it was never about them. It was about ME! I’m the best friend, I’m the lovable wife, I’m the one that’s super special. Surely you want to be with ME! In essence, I felt that I was so special that I shouldn’t have to face adversity. Life should treat me fair and right and when it doesn't “they” should be right there to help me! To defend me! To cater to me - sweet lil’ ole’ innocent me! Geez Louise, someone bring me some cheese for goodness sake!!!!!!

Wow, I didn’t expect to go there but why blog and share your journey of self-discovery if you aren’t going to be raw. I’m learning that my focus in life hasn’t been on those around me but on the accomplishments I wanted to make in life. It felt good to say I’m on umpteen number of boards (wearing myself O-U-T), and I am president, and I know the CEO, and I… I… I. What about them? Those who truly love me no matter what I accomplish… and here’s the kicker, or what I don’t accomplish. I am learning to love. I’m learning to love me for who I really am. I’m learning to love others for who they are and for who they are striving to be. But most importantly, I am learning to love Christ. I am learning that as I grow closer to Him I am gaining all that I ever needed. And that defense… well who needs a greater defender than the Savior?

I have lived a life led by fear… fear of what may be and/or what may be thought of me. I choose not to live that life anymore. I choose to live a life where I am free. Free to be the new me that I’m discovering more about everyday.

Friday, July 11, 2014

One Month Old

It has been a month since I started my journey of self-discovery. It has had its highs and its lows but it has been amazing. So let's go ahead and tackle the lows. In a nutshell, they come when I doubt myself and my decision to quit my job. Was I crazy? Should I have thought longer, harder? People probably think I've lost it. Sometimes I even cry a little (ok, a lot) and I want to call the world and say I am not crazy!!! And then I realize that I am thinking about this on my deck at 10:00 in the morning with a nice cup of coffee...and I realize that I am free.

Now, quitting my job meant giving up half of our family’s income. That doesn't come without sacrifice. We don't eat out all the time. Heck, ordering pizza one night was like a special treat! And two days later when we went to breakfast I thought I had hit the jackpot! I have my daughter (who is learning to be potty trained - sigh) with me almost all the time. I took on the responsibility of keeping the home and preparing meals. Not too bad until you're washing dishes (because paper products are a luxury people) for the umpteenth time when you'd rather be at the salon for your standing weekly gel nail appointment (also a luxury item that you've since given up)!

But! Yes, there's a BUT! But, there is beauty in all of this. In one month, I have seen more beautiful things than I've ever witnessed in my life. No, this is not the dramatic climax of my blog entry. I'm just stating the truth, my beautiful little life-changing truth. I realized that I'd never seen my husband for the protector that he has always wanted to be. I'll never forget the moment I realized it because it was a tangible moment that occurred from a simple embrace. An embrace that said, "I've got you, Lovely, and you have nothing to worry about." We've been married for almost 13 years and I've never felt I needed that. I wish I'd allowed it the entire 13 years. You may call me old fashioned but I call me a Godly woman who has rediscovered the love for Christ that she'd lost. My foundation was built on my career and not on the teachings I once cherished. I'd stopped praying and during weekly church services instead of listening, more often than not, I was surfing the net... ok so occasionally I even played Candy Crush.

I created a calendar of events and joined a "mommy & me" (thank you Facebook for your random advertisements) group. My daughter and I have started visiting places I was always too busy or too tired to visit before. We are discovering parks and daytime activities that keep us busy and prayerfully will keep us bonded. The other day I started her favorite movie, got her a snack and bundled her up. I was ready to start doing who knows what around the house when she said, "Sit down Mommy, please." We enjoyed that movie. I see my parents and I see them more. How sad is that? I stop by now just to say hi or to bring a sample of what I've cooked. (I don't want to get bored in the kitchen so I have started sampling fun and interesting recipes. Pineapple Dream, anyone? It has been fun for all of us!)

And I workout. And I love it!

So, what am I discovering in all this? That I was lost before. I was driven to climb a ladder that was taking me down. I was no longer breathing and I had stopped living. No, working doesn't mean death. But losing yourself no matter what you are doing is simply walking dead. I lost myself in my career. I lost me and now I am finding me. I love taking care of my family because I first take care of myself. I am gardening. I am still crafting. I am cooking. happy.

I have just begun, friends. I wanted a month to go by before I wrote my first blog because I wanted time to be sure I wanted to blog. I've rushed everything in my life. And I don't want to "hurry up and go" anymore. I want to keep living because I have tasted it and it's absolutely fantastic.

In the words of my little Pepper... Lata Gater

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

June 11 was the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning... however that saying goes. All I know is I was a free woman. I worked for fifteen years at a company I'd planned to work at for no more than a few years. But one turned into two and two into ten and before I knew it, fifteen years had passed. I don't regret staying that long. I met the man of my dreams there. He's my best friend and father of my darling daughter. It was at this company that I had conversations that changed the course of my life. So I definitely do not regret my time there. What I do regret is losing myself in the process. Honestly, I don't think I ever "had myself" which means technically, I couldn't have "lost myself", right? Well, figuratively speaking, I forgot what it felt like to breath... to smell the trees and walk barefoot in the grass. And that my friends, is where you find me today. Welcome to my age of discovery...