December 13, 2014


Ugh. We've all been walloped by illness here at the Bagley house. 

For a straight week now, we've succumbed to all manner of sick and gross and yuck. James wound up with croup and a double ear infection, followed nicely by my own bout with the flu (seriously?!), which all led up to poor Alan getting sick. He never gets sick. 

So the dishes are piled high in the sink. The fridge is getting low. The dog is feeling cooped up and annoyed. And I can't even find it in me to complete simple errands like making it to the post office. 

But what it does make room for is the often-overlooked, or the pushed-out-of-the-way-because-i-don't-think-i-have-time… the sleepy cuddles. The trading-off of mid-day naps. (Did you know? Being a parent doesn't stop just because you get sick. Sick while having a baby around suuuucks.) The leaning on one another to remind ourselves that we're in this together - and not just to survive, but to thrive. 

We're finally starting to recover. Thank goodness for a weekend together to get back to health. 

October 26, 2014

That Girl

We all internalize so much, and especially in today’s highlight reel culture. I’m sure it’s been going on since forever (“Keeping up with the Jones’”), but it’s so much EASIER to see all the great stuff that friends and family present.

Just like family photos, you want to present the best to the world – you don’t proudly show off those shots where hair is messed up, someone is blinking, or there’s a completely weird face in the frame.

I’ve struggled with this comparison-thing for a looooong time. Just ask my Mom. (Hi Mom!) Even in high school, we had long talks about how it wasn’t fair to compare myself to the Whitneys, Kellys, , Allisons, and Beckys. We all have unique contributions and gifts to share. But it’s so dang HARD for me to let that go.

As I’ve gotten older, it’s still there. And social media can be a great tool – easy communication with those loved ones from a distance. Networking. Sharing knowledge. But since we’re all trying to put our best foot forward, it’s so easy to get sucked into the spiral.

I had a couple of small revelations recently. I get sucked into the spiral, so I’m sitting behind this screen thinking “I’m a terrible wife – I never spend quality time with my husband.” “I’m a terrible mother, I’m not enriching James’ days with toddler-appropriate activities.”  “I’m a terrible house manager – we’re barely keeping up with NORMAL paperwork.”  “I’m a terrible daughter/sister/niece/family member, I never take the time to reach out to the ones I love.” “I’m a terrible custodian of my body – I’m eating bowls of cereal and sitting on the couch instead of working out.” “I’m a terrible photographer – my technique/gear/time management sucks.” There’s a lot more, but that’s a small sampling.

And of course, it’s like spinning plates. Or juggling. Some days – things go well. Some days, it’s only one or two things. Some days, it’s all the things.

But I was kind of shocked to hear that I’m that girl (sometimes).

A friend told me: “Your hair looks beautiful, but then it always does!”
I asked a group for ideas on how to manage the home office/bills/paperwork, and heard, “Jeez, what you already have is way better than what I have now!”
A coworker mentioned they already heard about me from another colleague: “She was so impressed with your knowledge and skills! You’re kind of a celebrity in our class now.”

Um, what?

So, what you’re telling me is… in the midst of all my head spinning self doubt and tormented frustration and shame… I’m actually doing some of the things?

Even though I can’t see it, others can?

Every once in awhile, I’m an example for others?

That’s ridiculous. And ridiculously amazing.

And totally a reminder to myself of two things:
1. I clearly need to be better about speaking up when I see something amazing. We don’t hear these things enough.
2. Other people are seeing me… and even seeing the things I had no idea were there.

I remember this quote I read in early high school. Highly impressionable days: Always remember to be happy because you never know who's falling in love with your smile. Kind of silly… but I think it’s more the idea that I carried with me. Others can so easily see your brilliance… I’ve always been my own biggest critic.

Grace, grace, grace. For myself and for others.

I think this is going to take me a long time… but I think that’s okay.

October 4, 2014


I keep holding back and dodging because I think, “Gosh, when things are better I’ll write”, or “When I have prettier pictures I’ll write” or “When I have it figured out I’ll write.” And I never do.

When I come to peace with this, the next battle is time. My Lord, where does the TIME GO? I do my best not to look in my past with regret, but flashes come into my mind about ALL OF THE TIME that I had “back then”.  I was awash in free time, in dawdling, in lollygagging. Or at least in the potential to do so. What was I thinking?? Clearly I should have been bottling that free time, or something. Instead my happy little self was loading up on afternoon naps and lounging and goodness knows what else.

But I’m not bitter. Really. Just kind of kicking myself that I haven’t done a better job of being present. For me, that’s journaling and I keep keep keep finding ways to not DO it. This small thing helps me feel connected – to myself and the world around me. Somehow it keeps me rooted, but also lets me expand. When I don’t, I feel… untethered. And that’s okay, I’m still here. Life still happens. But that’s it, Life is happening TO me. I’m not a participant here, I’m a survivor.

And again – that’s okay. There are seasons where all you can do is make it alive from one minute-hour-day to the next. You have to shrink down your perspective and make it manageable, because contemplating next week-month-year is too huge and heavy and scary. But this survival place isn’t meant to stay in. It’s draining. I think I’ve been stuck here for awhile, and I don’t need to be anymore.

So I’ve started a 30-day photography challenge. Something small, to help me spark into some creative energy. Pretty sure the whole challenge will be done with my iPhone because managing to get the photos from my big camera onto the computer, etc. is proving to be a challenge with James around. But that’s just it! It’s stuff LIKE THAT that I need to work within. Meeting myself WHERE I AM. Which just means giving up a lifetime of perfectionist tendencies, but you know – small steps.

It just reminds me of some things I’m learning as I’m growing up. (I’m 30 this year, you know.) On The Office finale, Andy says, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them".  Insta-bawling on my end… because good GRIEF, The Office. So. Dang. True.

ALL of this is the “good old days”. It sure doesn’t feel like it. But every step along the way, we’re making memories. And as the time and experience layers over these days, they’ll become part of the fabric of the lives that we’re living. Even the small, silly stuff – or perhaps mostly the small silly stuff. So my great goal is to live with more intention. With more presence. Acknowledging the hard parts, and the scary parts and the uncomfortable parts and BEING THERE, along with the fun, happy parts. Sitting on the sidelines sucks. Being buffeted around sucks.

Coming up with the energy and dedication seems impossible. Isn’t it just easier to collapse on the couch, watch mindless TV and then fall into bed? Sure. But it’s scary to realize how much has slipped through my fingers.

Small pieces. One step at a time. This is my goal right now – and ever-so-slowly (read: I’m actually caught in quicksand and might go under before it happens) I’m seeing the progress/results. And heck – maybe that’s another reason why I love journaling so much – it helps me look back and see the growth/change.

July 2, 2014


i feel like yelling, running, shaking, sprinting. anything to get this frantic anxiety OUT of me, and off my chest. off my back. off of every part of me that is shrinking and suffocating.

i haven’t been doing a great job lately, of taking care of ME. we’re all getting fed. we’re all doing just fine – i’m sure james thinks everything is just awesome. nothing is “wrong” per se, but i’m splitting apart at the seams. even though i know what i NEED, i’m not finding or making the time to prioritize for myself. so what am i left with? a frantic, stressed, anxious self, constantly turning around to find myself surprised that things are HAPPENING TO ME. i hate it, this feeling of constant pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you-gotcha! sort of feeling. this is my life, right? i’m not trapped here, being pulled along by someone else. i am CHOOSING this, i WANT to be here. and while “here” may not be perfect… it’s mine. these are MY days and nights, and i’m losing them. they’re slipping through my fingers, and it’s time to stop.

mostly the feeling is out of control. i feel out of control of my body (the weight!), my schedule (all of the things!), my home (please dear god let me stop creating PILES), my thoughts. i’m scattered all the time. i can’t focus. i’m not happy. i’m spreading myself so thin that i can’t figure out where my heart is. where my head is. and i’m sapping everything good, and inviting in all of the bad. it’s too much. i can’t handle it.

and that might be the point. it IS too much. it’s huge. all of this life thing. and getting overwhelmed? maybe that’s my first line of defense. hey lady – something’s going on. we need to re-adjust. stop comparing ourselves to other people. stop giving a damn what other people think. because ultimately… this is our life.

our gorgeous, quiet mornings as we step downstairs in the cool air to head to work. the delicate fingers of pastel color streaking across the dawn sky. how cool is that? this sunrise will never happen again.

our delicious, fresh, whole food – nourishing our bodies as we grow and learn.

our secret mama-baby moments stolen away to play. giggling and chasing and exploring. i simply cannot get enough of the chubby hands clasping a new utensil, those incredible blue eyes twinkling with mischief, and the silly james-only quirks that i’m discovering.

throwing the plan to the wind. nope, we’re not going to do chores – we’re going to live these parent-only hours to the fullest. laughing and connecting with each other again, and reminding ourselves of the people we fell in love with… and who we are today.

why trap myself into thinking i have to live a certain way – that things have to be in a specific format? what works for “them” isn’t going to be what works for me. and maybe the hardest thing about this idea is that it comes with a certain understanding that hey – you might fail a time or two. wipe out in a spectacular fashion, trying to figure out YOUR PATH. and gosh, that’s intimidating. scary. putting yourself OUT THERE. but guess what’s the best thing? FINDING yourself. breaking free.

 and look at that. already the frantic-ness is dying down. i feel myself slowing. clearly there is more work to be done. 

but first 

a snack.

April 2, 2014

Respect and Love

Or: don’t smash the cake in your partner’s face.

This is something that’s been popping up more frequently in my life recently. The casual disregard and putting down of one’s partner as if it were expected/to be admired.

I don’t get it.

Example: the disparaging comments/behavior on reality shows like Flipping Vegas. I’m a huge fan of makeover/reveal shows – I get sucked in. Over the weekend, there was a marathon going on so I had ample exposure while doing my chores. These people are not nice to each other – behind each other’s back and to each other’s face. This makes me sad in my heart, because honestly – what a terribly scary place to be. The one person who is supposed to have your back, listen to you and lift you up… is instead stabbing you in the back, ignoring/yelling and tearing you down. I found myself just begging – Listen to each other! Ask for help! Leverage each other’s strengths to bridge over the weaknesses! I feel like so much of the stress and drama could be alleviated with simple communication. I’m not an expert, but I’ve found this to be true in my own life.

Example: Shoving wedding cake in your partner’s face on your wedding day. Ugh. I hate this so much. Admittedly, I’m a nerd for traditions/origins, and the symbolism here is lovely to me. A physical manifestation of your commitment to provide for one another. So what does it mean if you smear cake across your partner’s face? It’s rude, inconsiderate, and makes the other person feel terrible – and like they have to reciprocate to "get them back". (Not to mention my totally girly comment of: Dude – I just spent $$$ on this hair and makeup to look my absolute best on this fantastic day… and you ruined it. WTF.)

I have a hard time with disrespecting your partner. By no means do you have to LIKE them all the time, every day. Real life comes with frustrations, bad moods, and short tempers. And spending your life with someone (not just the bright shiny parts) means you’re probably going to run into these grumpy spots from time to time. But in my mind, it’s awfully difficult to build up that trust, love and respect for someone when you’re trash talking them or calling names. Privately or publically. Love takes work, patience, and vulnerability. You can bet that someone who anticipates harassment or shaming won’t be opening up anytime soon – which may stunt their relationship's growth.

Everyone has their own style – I’m a grownup, I get it. Couple A is going to have a different way of handling their relationship than Couple B. I don’t want to be consulted or have approval over your relationship decisions. I just can’t get that old school rule out of my head: Treat others as you would like to be treated. And there’s NO WAY that so many people want to feel shamed, embarrassed, frustrated and angry.

I think it’s a bummer that so many negative relationship examples are set in front of our little ones, families and society – like they’re a badge of honor. Instead, I want to surround our family with strong examples of commitment and love, friendship and joy. I hope to show my son the power and beauty of a loving relationship between his mother and father – one that doesn’t involve smashing cake in his father’s face. 

April 1, 2014

Trying to remember:

Don’t let the mundane numb your life.

We’re all guilty of letting it happen.

Getting annoyed with the day-to-day. Snapping at your spouse/partner/child/dog over nothing at all. Feeling like you’re slogging through the motions, barely hanging on. Not seeing the beauty, joy and blessings all around.

It’s a grind. All of it, all the time. Wash, rinse, repeat. And when things get hard? Forget it. Add the stress of worry and the feeling of living in a pressure cooker, and then your walls are closing in. Doesn’t matter if you’re the mama, the dad, staying at home, going to work, any combination of the above. We get sucked into the dull, the monotony, the tunnel vision, the bad news.

For this, we have each other. That crazy whistle when your husband sees you walk into the room? (Nevermind that you’re at the highest level of frump-dom.) The so-cute-my-heart-might-explode giggle of joy from your baby when you come home from your work day. An old friend just knowing when and how to reach out to let you lean and let go. That smile, or unexpected act of kindness – right when you need it most. That’s all of us taking care of each other.

It doesn’t just take a village to raise a babe, it takes a village for us ALL. We get in the most trouble when we try to go it alone, be an island, refuse help. In my case, I decide that I’m not going to let anyone in or see me less than perfect… then I’ll have this big “reveal” when everything is  in order. The big joke? Nothing is EVER in order. Nothing is ever PERFECT. And the people who love me love the REAL me, not the fabricated image I have in my mind.

So for the first time, I’m allowing myself the gift of grace. Cutting myself some slack. When I fail, or stumble, or fall, I’m not immediately jumping on the “hate Alex” bandwagon. A few years ago, if I got derailed by lack of focus, or distraction, or whatever… I’d yell at myself (in my mind, don’t worry) and immediately determine that I couldn’t do it. Shouldn’t do it. Wasn’t worth it. Then BAM. Have another helping of frustration and self-loathing. Ugh.

I have James to thank for this. I’m always going to be my absolute toughest critic – never letting up on myself. But when I think about my sweet little boy… am I going to cut him off when he stumbles, fails, falls? No way. He gets all the chances he wants to perfect his technique, so try something new, to take risks.

Why can’t I have the same? Turns out, I can.