The Next Chapter

July 28, 2015

Over the past six years, this blog has been a little book that contains the story of our family.  It has seen me leave an abusive marriage, the pregnancies and births of two children, my entire relationship with David, and many of the adventures we've embarked upon over the years.  But more than that, more special then the things we've done or the memorable events, this blog has captured my growth and our growth as a family.  Though words often fail to convey how I truly feel, I've written how investing in my family changed my life, the powerful joy I found in simply being devoted to them, how completing our family gave new meaning to being whole, and many of the ways my relationship with my family has become deeper and more meaningful.  So many of the stories of our life have been shared here, and I'll always be grateful for the memories captured here.

But with time, that passionate desire to share allthethings on social media has slowly but surely faded.  Somewhere along the way I realized how truly sacred every single moment I have with my family is, and the desire to eliminate outside distraction and simply be more present with my family has grown and grown.  I’m leaving my camera and my phone behind more often when we go out, I’m taking fewer photos when I do bring them along, and I’m taking time to revel in the memories of the day privately, rather than rushing to share them with the rest of the world, as I once did.  I’ve slowly shifted my way of thinking, and what was once an obsessive need to document everything is now little more than an afterthought, as I’m too busy simply living life to let those things preoccupy my mind. 

And as I've shifted my obsession from capturing our memories to simply living those memories, I've realized something else.  I suppose you could say that I've always used the blog - in some teeny, tiny, small way - for a bit of validation.  Not in specifically seeking compliments or anything like that, but just feeling a small sense of validation in knowing that someone out there somewhere found our story, our life, interesting.  But over time, I've built an unshakable inner validation that allows me to love our story for what it is - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I've become so content with this life we're living that I don't want our story to be tainted by ego or bragging, which is an inevitable part (no matter how small) of sharing it with the rest of the world.  The more settled and happy and fulfilled I become with this beautiful life we've created, the less I want the outside world to "be a part" of it, as selfish as that sounds.

Now, more than ever before, I find I just want to hoard these memories we're making, to keep them locked inside.  I no longer have that overwhelming desire to describe the peace and love and happiness I've found to strangers, as those who truly know me can see it within me.  I no longer wish to shout our story from the mountaintops, because those who truly matter are already a part of this story.  And while it worked just fine for six years, I no longer wish to share this love we have for one another with the outside world.  I want to keep that treasure locked deep inside, just for us.

And so, with these words, we begin the next chapter in our story.  I've fought this change for quite some time, reluctant to let go of something that has been such a big part of my life for nearly six year now - but I'm really excited about heading in this new direction, as I feel it will allow my family to continue growing closer and closer.  It's always been my goal to live my best life, and to build the best life this family can live, and I feel like this is a big step closer to that goal.

I don't know exactly what this means for the blog.  There's a part of me that would like to continue sharing my photography, some of my personal goals, progress on our home, and so on.  For now, I want to take a step back from all this for awhile and see how I feel about it.  It's the perfect time to take an intentional break, to give us the chance to soak up the last of Summer and then adjust to our new routine.  I plan to return in a few week's time, and reveal what I've discovered.

Batgirl Preview

July 22, 2015

I haven't forgotten about ye ol' blog, have just been busy living life, and enjoying every minute of it!  The big kids are going to the beach for a week with my dad, so we've been soaking up a little extra time together before they leave, which means this little bloggity gets put to the side.  I have tons of updates to get around to eventually - park trips, photos, Noah's birthday party, more home projects, and a BIG announcement coming soon!  But all those things will have to wait a bit longer.  For now, enjoy this preview shot from Faith's Batgirl "cosplay" shoot.

On Comparisons and Competitions

July 15, 2015

There is a thing called the "Mommy Wars" that most people have at least heard of, and many have experienced personally.  This is when mothers compare their parenting choices to others in a competitive way, intent on convincing the rest of the world that their parenting decisions are superior (and in turn, that they, themselves, are superior).  I believe this way of thinking is based, almost solely, on insecurities.  We have doubts or simply lack confidence in ourselves, and in our warped minds, being "better" than someone else gives us a (perceived) boost of confidence. I suppose that works for some, but most of us eventually realize that it's all a sick, sick act.  When you really break it down, it's nothing more than an attempt to make yourself feel better by putting other people down.  And that behavior is quite disgusting.  Most of us see this at some point in time, and immediately feel shame and guilt for ever believing that was an acceptable way of thinking.

But unfortunately, some people never outgrow that way of thinking - their competitive viewpoint continues to grow and grow, invading every aspect of their life (these are often "Keeping Up With the Joneses" type people - always trying to "keep up" or be "better than" what they perceive as success).  Perhaps those people never learn to "believe in themselves" and for the rest of their lives, their "confidence building" comes from judging other people and placing themselves on the higher ground (the irony is that simply by judging other people and putting them beneath you, you automatically fall to the lowest of all moral grounds).  I can't help but feel sorry for people who live like this - how sad is a person's life when they feel an actual "need" to put others down?

Let me take a moment to say that I speak from experience here.  I fell for the "Mommy Wars" after Noah was born, when I was in an abusive relationship that left me feeling lower than low.  For a time, I compared my children and my parenting to other people, and the very tiny bit of confidence I thought I possessed, sadly, came from feeling I was better than others.  I know from experience that this is a miserable way to live your life, even if it feels "right" at the time.  The flip side of comparing yourself to others is that each time you fall short, every time you or your family don't come out on top or aren't "better" than others, you become consumed with jealousy and bitterness and anger and a sense of failure, even depression - so in the end, it's little more than a source of self-harm, really (but that's difficult to understand when you're in the midst of it).

Somewhere along the way (I guess Noah was about a year old), something inside me clicked.  I slowly began to realize that no parent is "better" or "worse" than any other - just different.  I realized that we're all doing what we believe is best for our families.  I began to understand that even if I wanted to, I could never judge someone else's situation because I wasn't living it, and therefore, I could never understand all the intricate dynamics that made up that situation, never form an educated opinion on how I would behave myself.  When discussing my children or my parenting decisions with others, I began to repeat "Good for them, not for me" whenever differences existed.  When someone else chose to breastfeed their baby for two years, but I had stopped nursing Noah when he was four months old, I told myself "Good for them, not for me."  When an old friend from high school moved to New York City, and after travelling the world I decided to settle down right in the very same town I grew up in, I said "Good for them, not for me."  When other mothers returned to work and I chose to stay at home, I repeated "Good for them, not for me."  

Eventually, I found that I no longer had to repeat those words.  Somewhere along the line my brain learned to stop comparing, and just began to accept differences.  When I make a conscious choice to let go of all those petty comparisons and competitions, I discovered a brand new life.  I now have deeper and more meaningful relationships with friends and family because I am no longer judging them and weighing myself against them.  I now have confidence that my decisions are genuinely based on what's best for my own family, not motivated by an egotistical desire to be better than someone else.  I have more time to pour into my own family because I'm no longer wasted my precious life concerned about what others are doing - I'm so consumed with my own family that I don't have time to worry what others are doing, even if I did want to.  I have a better relationship with my kids because I'm no longer comparing them to other kids, but simply seeing them for how unique and special they are in their own right.  I no longer make decisions based on self-doubt, and do not allow other people's opinions to sway me.  I've found a deeper level of happiness for other people - instead of feeling jealousy when they succeed in life, I am able to share in their happiness with a joyful heart.  I no longer live my life to impress anyone else, but make choices that create happiness for us (and have accepted that what makes other people happy doesn't necessarily make us happy, and vice versa).  I have a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for all the wonderful things I do have.  I've discovered indescribable satisfaction and fulfillment in my own life.  And most of all, I've discovered an unshakable inner peace.

I know some people will never come to these realizations, they will continue to live out their remaining days with that destructive, comparative/competitive mentality, and they will not be willing to put in the hard work that is required to change their way of thinking.  But I suppose everyone has to follow their own path, learn their own lessons, live their own story.  I, for one, am incredibly grateful I can say that I've put that misery behind me - and I've discovered that it really is a beautiful, beautiful world.


July 13, 2015

Hey, do me (and yourself) a big favor and if you haven't already, watch some videos on passive drowning.  We had a little scare over the weekend with Noah when he decided to venture a bit too far in the deep end of the pool.  Thankfully there were eight adults sitting five feet from the pool watching the kids - David jumped in right away and Noah was fine, but I can't even think about what would have happened if we weren't always so diligent about watching the kids.  If you haven't seen passive drowning in action, I guarantee you will be surprised by how mild and calm the symptoms are.  Also, don't be fooled into thinking this only happens to people who can't swim - it's particularly prevalent with rip currents at the beach (make sure you know the proper way to get out of a rip current if you swim in the ocean!).

Otherwise, we had a wonderful weekend filled with family time, smoked meat, relaxation, and cake (Happy Birthday David!).  I can't believe how few weekends we have left before the kids start school, but we're not letting that stop us - we have a few activities we're intentionally saving for Fall when the weather will be cooler (i.e. more bearable outside).  We don't always go places or "do" things - sometimes our weekending consists of lazing around the house and simply enjoying each other's company - but is there really anything better than finding joy and fulfillment in the simplest of things?  I think not.


July 11, 2015