December 10, 2016

Thank you for leaving. Thank you for staying.

I read something the other day that punched me in the gut. It was some motivational Facebook-video thing about "...don't chase people to be in your life... If they don't respond to your calls or texts, walk away. The people that belong in your life will come find you and stay..."

Or something like that.

I get it, I totally do. Curating your relationships to ensure that you're surrounding yourself with the right people is so important for a happy, healthy life. This can be challenging (particularly if those relationships are family), so I can appreciate the motivational sentiment about not getting wrapped up and chasing someone down who doesn't want to be chased. Don't get trapped in a toxic "relationship".

But right now?

I'm in this season of life that makes me feel like a terrible friend/daughter/sister/person-who-should-have-a-memory. Days pass before I return text messages or emails that have gotten buried - even from people I WANT to talk to. (Don't even get me started on voicemail.)

Like so many things, there is so much going on below the surface. What you don't see/hear on social media or when you pass me in the hallway. I'm certainly not alone - there are so many other people out there juggling even more than me. But right now - I am struggling to eke out solutions that work for my unique family and situation.

I love my tiny humans beyond understanding, but they are all-consuming. James is thriving and full of questions and observations and thoughts and WORDS (so many words). Thomas is growing like crazy - cutting new teeth, learning to move (NOT crawl, but more on that later) and growing into himself.

So then add in a healthy dollop of: no one is sleeping at night. Thomas is fussy due to teething, and more recently is incubating the germs that big brother just passed along. James is growing so quickly, and struggling with nighttime growing pains and accidents. Which means that we are currently waking up between 2-6 times a night tending to these tiny humans, then bringing them into our bed, and contorting ourselves into uncomfortable-yet-safe-for-the-baby positions, and battling the alligator rolls and shrieks from James when he feels "squished". 

We wake up in the morning. Get ready for the day. Get everyone to work/school. Work our 8-10 hours. Come home. Get dinner ready. Maybe get dishes done, and also get boys bathed/ready for bed. And by the time they're in bed, we're exhausted. How much do I want to respond to emails or texts or work on projects? NONE. I want to try and get a couple of hours of sleep before the first kid wails and needs more attention. And in this fashion, days/weeks/months pass. Full of these unremarkable moments, but when layered together - they create this life. 

So, I want to say thank you for staying. To all of my friends and family who are able to text me, and then text me again, and send me reminders. And who are patient. Thank you for encouraging me, for picking up where we left off. For being the initiator for getting together. For having enough bandwidth and grace to carry us both. Thank you for hanging in there, and having enough love for me and my kiddos and my family and my hot-mess status.  
I also want to say thank you to those who couldn't wait. Those who don't have that room and space to carry me right now. I'm thankful you are strong enough to break away and advocate for yourself and surround yourself with the people you need in this season of your life.

Please consider that someone who isn't returning your messages and calls and texts isn't ignoring you. Isn't trying to cut you out. Isn't trying to make a statement about you. Let's give each other the grace and love we all so desperately need. 







All images taken by the amazing Rebecca of RAW Photography by Rebecca Ann Walsh

September 2, 2016

Changes


Today is the first day of my first sabbatical. My company offers a paid month off every 5 years you're employed with them - an incredible benefit, and a bit overdue for me. I just celebrated my 7 year anniversary at the beginning of August, but while I've been eligible for some time... it was never the RIGHT time. Taking the sabbatical while moving from Phoenix to Denver didn't feel right. And then once we felt a little settled, we found out we were pregnant with Thomas - another less-than-ideal time.

So now... I'm in this wonderful space. We've moved into our new house, and time on this sabbatical will be put towards making it feel more like a home instead of a blank canvas.

I'm especially thankful for this sabbatical as a time to sort out self care - something I've put on the back burner for so long, I'm not even sure how to best take care of myself. I'm looking forward to figuring that out again.

Part of my needed self care is time to write, think, and process. With so many changes recently, and exactly NO time to process, I'm especially glad to finally reflect and process. My intent is for this practice to continue past the sabbatical to infuse my life with a feeling of being grounded.

This quote up above? Totally accurate, at least in my experience. With a big change there are plenty of positive feelings: excitement, anticipation, gratitude, etc. But there are also some uncomfortable feelings. Sadness. Reluctance. Grief. You're leaving a chapter and starting anew. You're moving away from your previous life and experiences toward something new and unknown.

A few weeks ago, the Xterra died. Catastrophic break. All of a sudden, we were scrambling to figure out how to navigate life with one vehicle. Not the end of the world, clearly. But there were many layers here. Stress, hassle, the financial hits, and yes - mourning the "death" of the Xterra.

Some folks don't relate to loving a vehicle. But... for me, it's part of the family. My family has a history of buying a vehicle and keeping it forever - we not only drive and do the day to day, but we go camping, do upgrades, perform maintenance, and make that vehicle one of us. It's a reflection of who we are and what we love. When my father sold our Suburban, I cried. When I sold my first-ever truck, I cried. And when I saw the Xterra loaded up on the tow truck... and finally drove away from it forever... I cried.

The X was Alan's truck originally. He bought it when he got out of the Army. It was the truck he picked me up in for our first date. Our first road trip. What we drove to my parent's in after he proposed. What we drove to our wedding. We took the truck to Colorado, drove the trails in Moab, and explored in Arizona. Zoey rode in pretty much every seat in that truck. It's been with us for 7 years.









Bye, Xterra. Thank you for all you gave and gave and gave.

August 30, 2016

Love Your Spouse: Day 7



Day 7: Birth of Thomas – November 2015

I’ve always known Alan was strong. In ways I still can’t even comprehend. When we found out we were expecting Thomas, we both looked forward to a birth experience we were hoping for – natural, unmedicated, in a birth center setting. This time around, we felt confident that we could do this birth “on our own” by which I mean that we didn’t hire a doula or have my mom in the room. There was us, and our birth team (midwife, nurse, and yes – photographer). And my goodness, I’m glad Alan was there. If I was to share with you all of the images from this birth – there is one constant: Alan, tirelessly supporting me. The top image here speaks to me – there was nothing to do but wait as Thomas and my body worked together toward a common goal. The midwife and nurse waited quietly and patiently while Alan talked to me, held me, encouraged me, and singularly focused on me. He’s incredible. My mind still struggles to wrap around the fact that we have these two incredible children – but it all comes back to the bond we share with each other. Alan, thank you for sharing your strength with me. For helping me get through the perceived-impossible. 

. . . . . 

I’m celebrating this incredible phase we’re in. For so long, I wondered and dreamed and wished and hoped to find a person that I could share my life with. Doodles and notes in high school were consumed by the topic. Hours of phone conversations – millions of texts, I’m sure – hundreds of journal pages. Not only if and when and who I would find… but would we have children? Where would we live? What would we do together?

Suddenly, I find myself on the other side. (Maybe not “suddenly”, it’s been years after all. It just hits me suddenly, I suppose.)

I found my person. We’re learning and growing together. We’ve created and welcomed these two small people into our family, and we are challenged and privileged to help them grow up to be the best versions of themselves that they can be – while we are still trying to grow up to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. We’ve bought our house to put down our roots and put up our photographs and create our memories and practice our traditions and live our lives.  

Crazily, I have everything my younger self hoped for. It’s astonishing and humbling and nuts and joyous. So even while we’re in the middle of everything, it almost feels like a new start. We’re leaving one chapter, and starting anew.

So, Alan. I want to remind you:

I, Alex, take you, Alan, to be no other than yourself.
Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know,
I will respect your integrity and have faith in your abiding love for me,
through all our years, and in all that life may bring us.
I will help you when you need help, and turn to you when I need help.
I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.

Happy anniversary, my love.

August 29, 2016

Love Your Spouse - Day 6



Day 6: Waiting for James – March 2013

Often, marriage isn’t about the big flashy gestures. It’s the quiet moments spent waiting, for good news or bad. It’s making the choice to choo-choo-choose your spouse over and over again. Being able and willing to be open and vulnerable with each other – even when, especially when it’s hard. Putting them before yourself. Learning how to partner with someone completely different from yourself, and striving to meet them and love them where they are. Alan and I have joked before that we’re “marrying kind”. As in – people who knew that marriage just fit them. It’s true – being married is awesome for us. But it’s also work. It takes loyalty and commitment and patience and communication and effort and love and kindness and bravery and sometimes? I’m not so great at it. Sometimes things fall apart and we have to come back together. As I’ve gotten a little older, I realize again and again that no one has everything figured out. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have in that moment – and hopefully striving to do better.


This picture is from our maternity shoot while I was (very) pregnant with James. I love the quiet strength I see here.

August 28, 2016

Love Your Spouse - Day 5


Day 5: Photo shoot to celebrate our 2 year anniversary – July 2012

Here’s another fun photo with more bubbling beneath the surface than you’d expect. I love this image, because I think it’s wonderful. I love the way Alan is looking at me, I love the composition… and I also love that in my belly is a teeny tiny little James. That Alan still didn’t know about. :)


I had taken the test earlier in this week, and it was killing me not to tell him, but I had a specific plan and way to tell him – especially since the news lined up so well with our anniversary. Needless to say, it was a very fun and cheerful photo session on ASU’s campus – a way to embrace our love of Arizona and celebrate Alan’s last year of school (he graduated that December) – and one more milestone on our path.

August 27, 2016

Love Your Spouse - Day 4



Day 4: Celebrating the holidays - December 2011

Oh this series of pictures. To date, one of my favorites. You see, there’s something special about these images, beyond just the happy faces and the kiss.

First: we were celebrating the holidays with my family. That brick is the entryway to my father’s house, and the house where I grew up after we moved in middle school. Those bricks – that house – are such a part of who I am and all the growing and loving and learning I did growing up as a young woman. I love it here.


Second: This is the first time I actually felt like myself – like there was hope, like it was okay to laugh – after we had our miscarriage a month earlier. It was heartbreaking for both of us. All of us. And it took me time to knit myself back together, to grieve that baby and walk through that pain. Alan felt his own loss and grief, and while we experienced that separately – we were there to support each other. And on this day, when I could finally see so much light through the darkness – I’m so thankful to have gotten these pictures (and the rest in this series, including my brother and parents). I’m so glad you are my partner for the unimaginable, Alan.

August 26, 2016

Love Your Spouse - Day 3



Day 3: Trip to Colorado – September 2011


Since Alan was based in CO while serving in the Army, he knew he loved it and wanted to share that with me. Shortly after adopting Zoey we decided to take a trip up to visit some friends and enjoy all the good stuff about Colorado – trees, hiking, friends, and reasonable temperatures. I love this picture – this was a gorgeous hike we went on with our friends Matt & Diana and their dogs, and we made some incredible memories. Notice I’m holding Zoey’s collar? Because at one point she ran off during this hike, got herself stuck in a gulch, and we had to go rescue her. Sheesh. But being outdoors, seeing all that nature has to offer with my favorite person? Perfection.
 
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