Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A broken heart is not the end of anything. It’s the beginning of everything.

I've written before about my respect for the brilliance that is Glennon Melton behind the blog Momastery and her book Carry On, Warrior. Today's post by Glennon on Facebook captured everything I've been feeling this week and made me cry huge fat hormonal pregnancy tears.
She writes,

"We try to protect ourselves by not allowing our hearts to be broken. But a broken heart is not the end of anything. It’s the beginning of everything."

(Oh sister, ain't it the truth.)

Along with this video:

)


Here's the full link to the post Broken is the Beginning (this accompanying poem is heart-wrenching).

One year ago this week my heart was shattered in ways I never knew possible. It took me a whole year to get here, but here I am, living proof that it was the beginning of everything.

I'm 39 weeks pregnant.

With my first son.

With a lost mucus plug, bloody show, hours of painful contractions, many centimeters dilated, a car seat installed and two big sisters excitedly awaiting his arrival, any day now.

It's the beginning of everything.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Follow me

So, I'm finally joining the century, oh, say 10 years late, and have started a Facebook page for this here blog which, coincidentally, links up with my Twitter account. You should really follow me on both, as I post more than links to the stories I write here. I write all sorts of commentary (snarky and sincere) on life, love, motherhood, being an Idahoan, puking, giving birth, peanut butter M&Ms and more. It's really fun. Although I'm so old-school at heart, I also blame part of my slacking in the social media trend on growing humans for the better part of the last ten years.
 
 

 
And baking lots of sweet treats as a result. Just keepin' it real. And delicious.
 




Friday, February 14, 2014

ARTSY: A love poem

love is:

the smell of his sweat, knowing... glances, a rash from his beard, staying in bed all day, hungover breakfasts, running away, crying through vows, sharing one car, proofreading thesis, U-hauls, Wall Drug, Graceland, swelling bellies, death, heartbreak, blood, vomit, growth, care, learning
 

and:
 

her big brown eyes, April, thunderstorms, cradling in hospital beds, Minneapolis, ticks, fear, introversion, owls, airplanes, anxiety, books, sweetness, curls, math, so much kindness
 

and:
 

her tiny features, daycare, dance parties, big sisters, camping, chaos, fast, funny, speech therapy, fearless, blond, puzzles, Idaho, cuddling
 

and:
 

two pink lines, nausea, exhaustion, sadness, worry, ultrasounds, heartbeats, rolling, lolling, quickening, stretching skin, exploding hearts, belly kisses, tiny blue onesies, joy



*A valentine to my family. I wrote this a few weeks ago for a contest called Speak To Us Of Love, hosted by jenny wren designs and Rose & Odin, two makers of art extraordinaire. I won some fabulous prizes, but the best part? I cry every single time I read this.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

CULTURE: Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Boise State University

This year my kindergartener, Alice, spent a lot of classroom time learning about who Martin Luther King Jr. was and why he was important. As part of that lesson her teacher told them they'd be going on a silent peace march through the school, but I knew I wanted to continue that education outside of our little elementary school.
 


In early January I'd picked up some kids books on MLK Jr. for the girls, as MLK has affected our lives more than we even know. But mainly the lives of African-Americans, giving them their voices and, subsequently, some power back.



I have been a follower of Dr. King since my youth. Two moments, however, stand out in my memory as really feeling his teachings and life lessons: spending a half a year as a white student in a downtown Charleston, South Carolina university and visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis on my honeymoon. I walked into the room at the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. King lost his life and I couldn't breathe. I stepped out onto the balcony to escape the sadness and, embarrassed by my reaction as a young white gal from Idaho, I ran to the street below. The tears that flowed so long and so powerfully remain etched in my skin.


 
 
I will never truly know, or 'get,' it. Neither will my girls. What we do get, though, is the importance of standing up, speaking your mind, taking a chance, fighting for your voice, being respectful, remembering history, and seeking hope for the future. If I can leave any legacy for my children, it's this:
 

 
(Thanks to Holli Woodings, State Representative, Idaho Legislature, District 19 at State of Idaho for this photo.)
 



*Much thanks to the Boise State University MLK Jr. Living Legacy Committee for organizing this march, providing poster making materials, homemade buttons, tee shirts, and leading the walk from the campus to the Idaho State Capitol building. They host this community event every year on MLK Jr. Day in January. Join us next year.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

BOOK REPORT: Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed

 
This is one of those books that are kind of life-changing, or, in my case, life-affirming. I've been a huge fan of Glennon Melton's for several years now. She started as a blogger, and her blog, Momastery, has thousands of readers. Glennon is a young mom of three and a recovering from everything addict and a Christian of the best kind. She's flawed and honest, gentle and kind, brilliant and hilarious. Here's the blurb from Amazon:
 
For years Glennon Doyle Melton built a wall between herself and others, hiding inside a bunker of secrets and shame. But one day everything changed: Glennon woke up to life, committing herself to living out loud and giving language to our universal (yet often secret) experiences. She became a sensation when her personal essays started going viral. Her hilarious and poignant observations have been read by millions, shared among friends, discussed at water coolers, and have now inspired a social movement. In Carry On, Warrior, Melton shares new stories and the best-loved material from Momastery.com. Her mistakes and triumphs demonstrate that love wins and that together we can do hard things. Melton is a courageous truth-teller and hopespreader, a wise and witty friend who emboldens us to believe in ourselves and reminds us that the journey is the reward. Carry On, Warrior proves that by shedding our weapons and armor, we can stop hiding, competing, and striving for the mirage of perfection, to build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.
 
Her husband has been unfaithful, and they're still together, working through it, which she writes about with such heart and love it is truly amazing. I know it may sound sappy, but I can't recommend this book enough to women, especially. (Somehow I don't imagine it being that appealing to men, but I could be wrong.) It's a compilation of stories, many of which have been published as blog posts and on such prominent sites as Huffington Post. My favorite 'chapter' in the book may be the letter to her son, Chase. It's such a fast read, but has a waiting list at the Boise Public Library, so request it now!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013, you were really, really hard.

My life is mostly filled with beauty and wonder and learning and, for the past five years, I've approached the new year with joy and excitement. Being a working at home mom has really suited me, and I continue to grow and am constantly fulfilled by the new life and work adventures I seek out. 2013 started off much like that.

I received notification that I was selected as one of the top 50 Idaho business women of the year, a prestigious award sponsored by the Idaho Business Review. It was a bit of a shock - I was nominated by a local female and had several stellar letters of recommendation, commenting on my work as a writer and historic preservationist. Most of my accomplishments listed were non-profit, volunteer, "mom-ish"and artsy - much different than my fellow awardees, who were more traditional professional business women. Even though I felt a bit out of place, I was proud to represent the non-traditional working woman - someone who works from home, counts being a mom as a really big, important job. I liked the idea that I was breaking the mold, somehow. The award ceremony was a really fun and fancy and held at the Riverside Hotel in Boise in February.

Apparently, also early in February (or maybe even late January, we'll never know) I accidentally got pregnant with my third baby. Thus began the explosion of my heart in 2013.

In early March I started to feel a bit funny, in that familiar, wonderful way. Overly weepy and sentimental, exhausted for no reason, and a severe aversion to fast food surprised me and sent me to the Rite-Aid for some pregnancy tests. With two daughters who were soon to be turning five and nine, we were "done." There were not supposed to be any more children, right? (Also: 37 YEARS OLD = advanced maternal age = complications.) I was oddly calm and ecstatic. It was SO meant to be. Two pink lines popped up, and I took about four tests to make certain. It was certain. I was certain.

In mid-March I was selected to participate in the first of a unique event called FEAST here in Boise put on by The Charm School. Here's how it works: the public is invited to attend the FEAST event, and pays $20 for a chef-made dinner and a ballot. During the meal, diners are presented with 10 artist projects vote for the project they would like to see funded. The presenters have 5 minutes and a Powerpoint presentation to sell their idea. At the end of dinner, the artist whose proposal receives the most votes wins much of the funds collected at the door—ideally $1000, depending on turnout. Creative genres of all kinds are accepted. I proposed a public picnic/celebration in the park on May 6, 2013 for International No-Diet Day, promoting Health At Every Size and body acceptance, something I feel very strongly about sharing with our local community, and our children. There were writers and actors, visual artists and singers, all proposing their unique projects be funded. The event was quirky and fun and ultimately, I didn't win, but felt positive about spreading a crucial message.

The next day I began the long, terrible, painful process of miscarrying my baby, somewhere around the 8th week of my pregnancy.

The next day I also found out that a diner at FEAST the night before had been writing horrid things about me and my body on Twitter, bashing not only me as a person, but the idea and movements I was promoting. Thus began the explosion of my mind in 2013.

The bigotry against me and my plus-sized quest for equality, kindness and respect continued onto Facebook later in the spring. This time, it came from women I considered friends and men I hardly knew. Thus continued the explosion of my heart and mind in 2013, as I continued bleeding for nine long weeks and spilling more tears than I ever thought possible.

I took a long summer break from Facebook and did some cathartic and needed "unfriending."

Eric and I decided that there indeed was a place in our family for another much wanted and already loved child, and conceived again sometime in June.

It was also in June that my beloved job as a monthly staff writer for Treasure Valley Family Magazine, an esteemed local publication that had been around for the past twenty years, ended. My publisher/editor/owner decided to retire and retire the mag along with her. I had to suddenly scratch the word "writer" off my occupation list, and it felt sad and wrong.

In July I discovered I was indeed pregnant, and was terrified and feeling so lucky.

In August the morning sickness turned into all day nausea and Eric turned forty and I was still SO LUCKY. And I was anxious for my first ultrasound to give me some peace of mind and to confirm that I was indeed carrying twins, which I already knew in my heart and soul. I could feel the blessings of two babies, even while I couldn't even get out of bed each day because GAWD, THE SICKNESS.

In September, on Labor Day weekend, I hemorrhaged a lot of blood and tissue and rushed to an early ultrasound. At eleven weeks, I had a very healthy baby, and I lost (presumably) a not-so-healthy one. It was a case of the rare not-so-vanishing-twin-syndrome. I should've still felt lucky and happy, but I felt so broken and grieved so hard. Losing two babies in 2013 was never part of my life plan, yet here I was, doing it. Surviving it.

The rest of the fall found me continuously vomiting and terribly ill, losing thirty pounds, diagnosed with placenta previa (but, it moved and cleared itself from high risk at the end of the year!), and living each day with fear and sadness. It was a most frightening first and second trimester, but baby boy (after two girls! WHA?!) was thriving.

And you know what? So was I.

I have been so, so grateful and happy and thriving, even. The year was filled with more wonder and joy that I didn't write about above, really, but these difficult major life events over-shadowed it all, if I am honest.

But, this has been our family motto for many years now.



I seriously thought about getting this tattooed on my hand in 2013, that's how hard a year this past one has been for me. But? I conquered/survived many hard things, and in most cases, I was surprised when my life changed for the better. Here's to power and hope in a new year.

(And a beautiful new baby boy to enter our life in March 2014!)


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BOOK REPORT: The Obituary Writer

 
I read a review of this book a few weeks ago in some trashy women's mag (like Oprah or Ladies Home Journal or the like) at my hair salon while sitting under the heated dryer. Immediately, I checked to see if my beloved Boise Public Library had it on their shelves yet, and they did, in New Fiction! I checked into the book on Amazon.com as well, and was thrilled to see it have four stars. Here's the blurb from Amazon, which was basically what I read in the mag that had me so quickly hooked:
 
On the day John F. Kennedy is inaugurated, Claire, an uncompromising young wife and mother obsessed with the glamour of Jackie O, struggles over the decision of whether to stay in a loveless marriage or follow the man she loves and whose baby she may be carrying. Decades earlier, in 1919, Vivien Lowe, an obituary writer, is searching for her lover who disappeared in the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. By telling the stories of the dead, Vivien not only helps others cope with their grief but also begins to understand the devastation of her own terrible loss. The surprising connection between Claire and Vivien will change the life of one of them in unexpected and extraordinary ways. Part literary mystery and part love story, The Obituary Writer examines expectations of marriage and love, the roles of wives and mothers, and the emotions of grief, regret, and hope.
 
At just under 300 pages, I finished this book in about four days. It is the kind of fiction I love, suspenseful and dramatic, beautiful and sad. I had never read anything by Ann Hood before, but now want to devour it all (I get that way with intriguing writers). However, it appears as the author has suffered from some traumatic deaths in her life, both of her brother and a young daughter, both which inform her fiction a great deal. Often children die in her stories, which, being six months pregnant and overly emotional, might not be the best reads for me at this stage in my life. Soon, though, you'll see me with another Ann Hood book in my hand. So, so good and worth it. Highly recommended.