it’s complicated

In all the relationships I’ve had in my life, there have been a few I’d classify as “complicated” at some point or another.  The one relationship in my life that stands out as being the.most.complicated is my relationship with running.  You guys remember this post.  It’s always been a give and take, a start and a stop, a renewed dedication.  It’s always been the one thing I could go back to and even though I always had to start over (ugh), it was the one thing I always knew I could do.

So this spring I started training to run the DSM Half with my sister.  I was a little behind the training schedule and hadn’t been running as consistently as I should have… till about three weeks ago.  But even when I started getting serious about training, things weren’t gel-ing for me.  My shoes weren’t great, I had no energy, running 1 mile was hard (let alone 4).  I did some tweaking last week just in time to run 6 miles on Sunday.  Which I did – kicking and screaming and in the time that it takes most people to complete a half marathon.  But I did it, and it was over, and I felt awesome after.

Till yesterday.  I had pain in my right foot that wasn’t there previously.  Of all the ailments that have ever plagued me in my running life, foot pain was never one of them so this was different.  I went out this morning (after FINALLY finding an awesome trail around the corner from home) even though my foot hurt.  I walked to warm up and started out with an easy pace.  I even have a mantra from my sister that I remind myself of when I’m just getting warmed up: “it’s my pace” in my head over and over.  Pain interrupted my mantra.  I didn’t even make it a full mile before I turned around and headed back to the car.

Flash forward four hours.  After meeting with the sports medicine doctor at the walk-in clinic… I have a stress fracture.  Which means my half-marathon dreams are over since I have to wear this stupid boot for four weeks.

Here’s the real rub for me: I want to be in control over when I do and don’t run.  I went on a serious hiatus after I moved to Iowa – we’re talking two years – but that was my choice.  I don’t like to NOT have the option to run for any other reason than I choose not to.  I drove home trying to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t be running a half, I wouldn’t even be allowed to run; I’d have to start all over again in four weeks with one dumpy mile.  In short, running never looked so good till she’s gone.

This boot is already annoying and I have to take it on and off every time I drive.  This is going to be a long and disappointing four weeks.  It kind of doesn’t feel like I really have to do this.  I’m reminded the moment I take my boot off and walk around and it starts to hurt again.  I guess this is for real.  Maybe next time I won’t take it for granted that I’m healthy enough to run.  I think that has to be the silver lining here… right?

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rachel’s story

Hey everyone! We have a first here at the blog: a guest.  With Mother’s Day not too far in the rear-view, my sister agreed to share her daughter’s birth story.  As many of you know, I adore little miss Avery.  In real life, away from the blog, it also happens that I adore my sister—we talk almost every day—and when I’m not talking *to* her, I’m talking *about* her (always in a good way).  Rachel is one of those rare creatures whose birth plan went about 98% as planned and she handled every single struggle like a boss.  For real.  So please, sit back and enjoy this written in my sister’s voice.

Rachel’s story

Awesome.

That’s not normally how someone would describe their labor and delivery. I am sure you have read a lot of blogs about horrible experiences in the delivery room and ‘things no one tells you about after you have your baby’. I read them too.  And if you’re looking for that, it’s not here. I will be honest but the truth is that birthing Avery was the most amazing thing I have ever done. Because I’m an ‘over-sharer’ let’s get started with some backstory and way too many details.

Married

I was married when I was 21. I met Adam at 20 and just recently celebrated my 30th birthday – so doing the math, I’ve been with him all throughout my 20’s – that’s not said to be a bad thing. I share it because our first couple years were rocky. We were just really getting to know one another. I would leave lights on around our house, which he hated, it would leave him saying stupid things and lead to fights (about something pretty trivial). Lesson: all marriages have hot buttons. We just made it a priority to work on ours so that we could have a happy marriage. Of course, we failed time and again but continued to work together. Making a marriage work takes a lot of *hard* work. In fact, most people tell you it’s not easy but it’s truly hard to understand what they mean until you are knee-deep in it.

Babies were not something on my radar. Throughout most of our marriage, Adam and I would joke that we might never have children. Then there are the people that tell you “You have to have kids” and my typical response was “uh, no we don’t.” I fully felt that it was our decision to make. Right before I turned 29, I watched a riveting documentary called ‘The Business of Being Born’ and safe to say it changed my outlook on having children. Not only did I want to have a baby, but I wanted to bring it into this world in a beautiful way; surrounded by my loving family. I have such a wonderful family and I’m so blessed to have such amazing people in my life. I also wanted to bring a child into the world in a very natural, unmedicated way as well – which is what most of the documentary is about. You really feel that sense of empowerment when you realize what our female bodies are made to do. Needless to say, it blew my mind. I am pretty sure I was crying with Ricky Lake at the end. After watching the documentary, it prompted Adam and I to have the discussion about children. I shared my deepest desire for truly wanting a child with my amazing husband. The conversation was a little shocking to him but I’m pretty sure estrogen made me do it.

Working momma

In 2013 I had been working at Target for almost four years. I was in a pivotal place in my career. I was asked to take on a new task working overnights as the stores in my district were being remodeled in order to offer produce to our guests. It was a huge change for me. I wanted the career but I also wanted a family. I was ready to put 110% into my new work assignment but at the same time, I was also ready to get pregnant. Whatever happened, I was prepared to work through it all. I got off birth control in February and to my surprise, we were pregnant by June.

The reveal

I had just gotten over some fluke flu, which is what prompted me to take the pregnancy test in the first place. After taking the first test, I took two more just to be sure. I wanted to tell Adam we were pregnant in a very special way. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m very into Pandora bracelets. I carefully chose the baby binky pendant as a present to him to show him we’re having a baby! My timing probably wasn’t the best; he was gone for work for two full days, and I’d just gotten over the aforementioned flu. We went to have dinner at Sixth and Pine, which is the restaurant in Nordstrom. I had a couple bags in hand from my pre-dinner shopping excursion, and as soon as he saw the Pandora bag, he asked what I bought (you can’t plan this, people). I confessed to the cutest pair of earrings and then told him I had a surprise for him. He slowly opened the perfect little bag and as he pulled the tissue out and saw the pendant, he had no idea what it was. He kept asking me what it was and after about 5 minutes or so of prodding him to guess, I told him we were expecting. He was in shock but really happy because we had been trying. I think the realization set in that holy cow, we’re pregnant!

The pregnancy

At first it didn’t really seem like I was pregnant other than the minor lifestyle changes (goodbye booze, goodbye bologna, goodbye Cedar Point, see ya beef carpaccio). These changes become very real when it’s time for that first ultrasound. I didn’t cry then but thinking about it now makes me tear up. The little life that grows inside you is simply breathtaking. I thought in that moment that people have to be crazy to think that life isn’t human. It’s a life that grows and breathes and develops and moves inside you. Avery looked like a turtle at first but with each ultrasound got progressively better. We didn’t know the sex at the time so the baby was known as ‘Baby Roy’. I looked forward to each ultrasound visit. I would talk to Baby Roy, play the baby music and read out loud. It was amazing to connect. It also made me take precious time for myself to relax. Every mommy knows that changes once the little bundle arrives.

For the most part, I was very healthy throughout my pregnancy. I would read and do research, LOTS of research. I was a research junkie. I did so much work to prepare however there are some thing you cannot prepare for. I felt pretty confident but I had some rough patches. Around six months in, I developed pregnancy induced carpal tunnel, which, by the way, totally stinks. You lose feeling in your hands because of the extra blood and swelling. My left hand went numb and then my right hand. I couldn’t feel my fingers. I kept hurting my hands because I couldn’t feel anything. It’s a very odd sensation, or lack thereof. Even with those issues, I felt very blessed to have an overall wonderful experience being pregnant. I had a birth plan and I was one of the lucky people whose birth plan goes exactly as I wanted it to. I found a Doula and a birthing class and I recommend both. Birthworks is an awesome birthing class and find a Doula on D.O.N.A. You’ll be so happy you did.

Even though we shared that she’d be a girl, we were keeping the name a secret from our friends and family. We gathered to celebrate our little girl at her shower. I loved every minute of Baby Roy’s baby shower. I love being around my friends and family so that was a very special time for me. My motto is ‘go big or go home’ and I had a very big shower. It was like a wedding reception and everything was wonderful – from the guests to the food and the support and love I felt. Her room was done and everything was organized. I was ready for the baby to come.

The birth

The one fear I had was that my sister wouldn’t be there. I’m not a huge fan of of her being so far away but I know she’s loving her new surroundings and that makes me happy. But having Ryan be a part of this experience was something that was very important to me. We made a plan early on that once I knew it was go-time (for real), she’d get on a plane and bust-it back to Cleveland. The day before Avery was born, my contractions started around midnight, then became more consistent around 2 a.m. I made sure to contact Ryan early.

A lot of people ask what contractions feel like and I’d say really bad period cramps – like 100x worse. Thankfully our bodies can handle those. At first, they weren’t so bad. I had time to pack, shower, put a full-face makeup on, do my hair and get ready to go. My plan was to wait as long as possible before heading to the hospital. This is where having family support and a doula was helpful. I knew I had to wait and they kept me calm. We had good conversation, they helped me breathe through the contractions and I even tried to eat. That turned out to be an epic fail as it all came back up. This is real, people. I knew I had to wait till Ryan arrived (which is about a 4 hour trip, airport to airport) so I just kept working through the contractions. Just days before going into labor, I was reading a chapter out of ‘Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way’ and they mention just when you think you are ready to go to the hospital, you’re not ready and continue laboring a little bit longer. (This book is an enlightening and educating read and I totally suggest it.) There was a point after laboring at home four hours, just before Ryan arrived, that I asked Adam how I’d make it to the car. I laugh in my own face thinking my contractions were that bad then. No matter what, I had to reach a point where I knew I’d be ready to go to the hospital and that was as soon as Ryan arrived.

I safely made the car ride to the hospital with no issues. After arriving, Ryan and I made our way upstairs and even though I called the nurses before arriving, they weren’t ready. Even so, they made me feel at home fast. When the nurses checked me out, I was 8 cm dilated (not too bad if I do say so myself). Things did slow down a bit and even though I was fully dilated two hours later, my water hadn’t broken. I pushed but didn’t have that urge to. Truth: I was very calm and pleasant to be around during my entire labor and delivery. The last thing I wanted was to be mean to everyone, especially my husband. No way did I want to be mean to the man who gave me such a precious gift, no matter how hard this experience was. I wanted love to carry me through and it did. A couple times I was praying to God and He gave me the strength to fight a little harder. I had been having contractions without the urge to push for five hours. I was safe and healthy and the baby was too so the doctors were supporting my decision to have my water break naturally. I was so tired at one point, I considered having them break my water but I waited. Finally, I was sitting on the toilet, and my water broke (kind of like a ‘whoosh’). Adam kept me calm and encouraged me throughout. I had a second wind, which I totally needed. My only thought was: ‘yay! Baby Roy is making her way into the world.’

As the doctor continued to check me out and stretch me (yes, I said “stretch”) I got an indication that Baby Roy was sideways and every time I pushed, she kept slipping back. I kept pushing harder and harder with no results. Baby Roy was moving but it wasn’t enough. At that point, the doctor handed me a towel and said to pull – almost instantly that made a difference. She started moving and not slipping back. My contractions felt like they were on top of each other. Seriously, I didn’t have time to rest between them. I must have looked pitiful when I would tell everyone I needed to push but I just desperately wanted 10  minutes of rest. Everyone was getting so excited that they could see her head, then she was crowning and the whole family got really excited. Adam said “I can see her head!” and I knew I had to get my game face on. I don’t know where it came from but suddenly I had a burst of energy. I was entirely exhausted by this point but I wanted to meet our baby so I just kept trying. At one point in the labor, I looked over at my mom and I told her I was so exhausted and I had no clue how I’d have the energy to breastfeed immediately. She looked at me and told me that I would be so excited once the baby arrives that I wouldn’t even worry about being tired anymore. She continued to encourage me to keep on pushing and I felt relieved I’d have the energy to breast feed after delivery.

When the baby started crowning the doctor gave one end of the towel to Adam and I held the other. After a few short pushes, Baby Roy entered the world. My heart melted as I looked at this little life. A life that needed me. Baby Roy was placed right on me and we began our bonding, Vernix and all. She wasn’t breathing so the nurse took her for a second (and it was really a second) to remove fluid from her throat to enable breathing. After the nurse put the baby back on my chest, Adam and I looked at each other and he said “do you want to share her name now?” We both knew she was an Avery. Avery Jo Roy, sweet baby, little life, gift from God and she was ours.

After

Getting home with our baby was a truly odd experience; there’s a new being in the house. Our furry baby, Mera the cat, had no interest in Avery. Life truly did turn upside down for all of us. The house was filled with love. My mom, sister and friends were here to support and help us. Our first night with Avery, Ryan took the night shift so I could sleep a little and that’s about all I did. I was tired but my body was in mom-mode. I’d have to say that I really wanted to be the perfect mom but that doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to get into a schedule, for you to feel like yourself again and somewhere in there you’re a new person. Avery has made me crazy, happy, sad and whole. Bringing a child into the world is unlike anything I have ever done. So “thank you” to everyone who ever tried to give me wise advice before I was ready because now I hear you. All the stories and jokes people make about having kids aren’t as funny until you have one of your own. I am now the proud wearer of that badge of Mommy honor.

 

Rachel & Avery

Rachel & Avery

winter thaw

FullSizeRender

So, here’s the truth.  I love being domestic.  I know it’s not very cool or anything that could be rated a “hot topic” of discussion, but it is a true thing about me.  I love cleaning (so.much.more.than.a.normal.person, you guys), baking, cooking, planting, painting, decorating… the list goes on.  Spring always inspires renewal in pretty much everyone, so I’m no exception.  After winter is over and everyone begins to emerge from their weather-imposed shut-ins, I get the desire to start running again, to get my hands in the dirt, to declutter and go garage saleing (maybe that’s not a real word but whatevs).

Speaking of dirt, this year we’re going to have an epic garden.  It’s pretty much the only thing I can think about right now.  The weather here is getting great (in between intermittent surprises of 40 degree weather), spring has sprung (and all that) so my sole focus has shifted to all things outside.  The fella in my life inherited a pretty awesome green thumb and he’s a master starting things from seed.  And in true underpreparedness, EVERYTHING we planted has decided to grow.  Everything.  The basement is overrun with little seedlings that can’t wait to meet the sun.  They already had to be transplanted to red solo cups which are scattered a bit of here, there and everywhere in an effort to keep the cats from eating them.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my modest gardening experience, it’s that planting things in the Earth is unpredictable and it truly is a combination of blood, sweat and tears.  If all these seedlings die after we transplant them, I’m going to be super upset.  In the meantime, we’ll wait for the ground to be ready, we’ll plan for sunny days ahead, we’ll dig into the Earth the way people have been doing for generations and we’ll begin the labor of love that is growing our own food.

my frienemy, purpose

You guys, I’m about to be really honest and it makes me super uncomfortable. The part of me that knows I want to write this post is the part of me that knows I should be honest in this space. I’ve been avoiding you all because this is the only thing I can think about but it feels so raw to share. So I’m going to just.do.it. Like ripping off a Band-Aid.

My whole life, I’ve wrestled with this voice inside of me. Sometimes it goes beyond just being a voice and is an actual feeeeeling; something that makes me want to act even though I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing yet. If I had to pinpoint the voice’s residence, I’d say it’s somewhere behind my breastbone (as that’s where I usually feel its urgency or disappointment or elation). This voice is what pushes me to continue moving in life; it keeps one foot in front of the other, and aims for bigger and better things. It was the calm that moved me to Des Moines, the nervousness in a job interview for a position I wanted more than anything, the peace that found me at home in my first apartment, the longing for Ohio/family after it’s been too long since I visited. In a nutshell: this voice feels like my purpose. I’ve always had a really complicated relationship with purpose. It’s like it knows this secret that I don’t yet know… that I have to choose the right path but it gives me no hints about what’s right.

I’m going through this season in my life where purpose is particularly relentless in trying to get my attention. I’ve tried, in the past, to squash it down but it always comes back. I was telling Dave about it this past weekend and he said the obvious “well, what if it’s part of your character”. After considering that, the truth is, it’s the part of my character that I prize because it makes me fearless and risky and calm and it’s the seat of my faith. What do I do when it doesn’t want to be quieted? How am I supposed to find direction with it clanging around inside me?

That’s where I am now. I’m trying to marry my gratefulness with this ever-reaching purpose. Trying to figure out what it means for me.

I don’t want to just blindly follow purpose for the sake of it but it suddenly feels as though purpose has betrayed me. I’m older now than I was when purpose started coming around and I’m not any closer to finding the meaning. I have never, ever known what I wanted to do when I “grow up”. Purpose isn’t helping me narrow it down at all.

I guess the point of this “rant” is really more to find out that I’m not alone and for other people who are constantly nagged by purpose to know that they’re not alone either. Most days it’s easy to see the trees for the forest and find happiness in the moments but purpose is powerful. I’m trying to harness and embrace it; to figure out how it can maintain a presence in my life but not crush me if I don’t concede to its demands. This is definitely bound to be a learning for me, so I’m going to leave us both with this poem by the great Walt Whitman (who is much more well-spoken than myself).

 

Happiness,

Not in Another Place

But in this Place…

Not for another Hour

But This Hour.

something to talk about.

Lately, it seems like the same post is showing up on all my favorite blogs.  The post about blogger burnout.

It’s the topic of the moment.  While I can’t exactly relate (as I’m an incredibly inconsistent blogger with dreams of actually having this problem), I can understand the general feeling of burnout.  My whole adult life I’ve reinvented my situation every two years.  It’s about the marker of time for me to change positions in the company, for moving, for that sneaking feeling of urgency to stir in my belly that something needs to change.  While I’m in this period of embracing my 30’s (myself) I’m trying to pull that part of me in and figure what I can do with it vs. letting it fill me with unease and continue on making me the nomadic person I’ve always been (thus starting all over).

I actually like where I am right now so that feeling is more or less channeling itself in the form of nesting and trying to hone my creativity.  When I say “hone my creativity” it kind of consists of spray painting 20 year old bedroom furniture, replacing the pulls (harder than it seems) and trying with all my might to conjure a blog post.  I have my cart hitched to a fella who loves *stuff* which goes against every bone in my minimalist loving body.  I don’t have any useful life hacks to provide, tips on spray painting furniture (okay maybe two), tips for decorating, etc.  The scariest thing I’m facing currently is trying to figure out what to make my family for Christmas this year.  And guys, those are all blog posts I’ve considered before realizing it would be three sentences long.

I believe in life there should always be a desire for growth, a learning and a refinement; something to spur you on in your journey.  My journey has always been about fulfilling my desire to *be* (all that I can be?).  You guys remember this post.  It’s a lot like that; there are dreams I have, things I want to make, things I want to contribute to my family and the world.  It’s a little exhausting at times trying to do all of that within the confines of every different set of circumstances and I am so.hard.on.myself.  That brings us to the burnout.  I’m in this grey area of time between my birthday and Christmas where I feel a combination of homesickness/productivity/excitement/boredom all at once.  It’s got me in a funk not easily cured by the usual suspects (food, writing, reading, running).  Frankly, I’m feeling a little lack of inspiration.

Doesn’t it seem so crazy that in this world of over-stimulation someone should find themselves in this situation? I think about that a lot. Anywhere I look I can surely find a modicum of inspiration (I spend a lot of time on the internets, guys) but I can’t seem to translate that into something that I want to say.  Maybe over-stimulation is actually a creativity killer?  I can’t seem to see that far in the future so I don’t know where I’m going with this space but I would hope that we’ll still be here; me sharing my stories with you.

Meantime, I hope you’re all well and I’ll be back soon.

giving myself credit

I found this on the interwebs today. And let me just say: “Preach.”

The quote is what took my breath away. “Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” — Steven Prefontaine

Right now, as you know, I’m a pretty far distance from where I started. That’s speaking both physically and metaphorically. Like the article talks about, I think I’ve spent a lot of time being focused on a particular destination. The odd thing is that I’ve found my life being swept up in the lovely in-betweens to the destinations—more as an adult than ever before.

People told me that when I turn 30, all the questioning of my 20’s would go away. I can tell you guys, that much is true. However, in place of it, I find myself questioning the bigger things like marriage and babies and homeownership. I believe it takes special people to get married, stay married and then put that union through the trials of homeownership and children. I have nothing but respect for the people that make those choices every day.

I feel so conflicted sometimes because part of me keeps thinking I should be more concerned with the destinations; my pesky adventurous spirit has always kept me from acting on those feelings. I’m saving those joys for a time that’s precious to me. Some destinations are meant to be savored and fully realized. I have to keep it top of mind that my journey isn’t meant to be like anyone else’s—it’s only meant to be mine.

ioway

photo 2

look at that sky – majesty

 

There are a lot of things that Ohio and Iowa have in common.  For example: four seasons in both states, the landscape isn’t vastly different (vastly being the keyword), we’re both considered Midwestern states (which I didn’t know till I moved here); in a nutshell, it’s not a total culture shock to move from Ohio to Iowa.

Back in another blogging life, before I left my home state, I wrote a little homage to Ohio which some of you may remember.  I wasn’t sure what to expect moving to Iowa but here I am.  I am happy to confess that all my preconceived notions were totally wrong.  Turns out there is more here than pigs and cows and corn; there is a great little music scene if you’re patient enough to wait for it to come; there are wonderful places to roam and big cities within driving distance.  My job has blessed me immeasurably by indulging my traveling heart so I think I’m now qualified enough to write a post about the differences between Iowa and Ohio.

The first and most obvious difference is how kind people are here.  It was a lesson I learned after one of my first trips to Hy-Vee.  Everyone there said hello, made eye contact, smiled… it was really weird.  I chalked it up to the liberation of being completely anonymous but it persisted everywhere I went: at the gas station, at Target, driving down the road (people wave a lot in rural Iowa)—Iowa kindness was rampant and it changed me.  I became Iowa Ryan and Iowa Ryan is personable and will ask you about your 150 head of cattle, your dog, your sister’s dog, your daughter’s goats and I like that people are willing to share their stories with me.

There was also a learning curve with some minor things.  Here, instead of asking “would you like a bag for that?” people ask “you want a sack?”  Sack.  At first I replied, “yeah, I’ll take a bag” but it wore off when I realized “sack” is much more fun.  Plus, I blend in when I use the local lingo.  Another word that was met with a quizzical brow was my usage of “expressway”.  I don’t know if that’s a Ryan-thing or an Ohio-thing but in my house/family/network of peeps we always called all the highways “expressway” whether it was 76, 480, 71 or even 80 (“the turnpike” sometimes).  Here, Iowans use the correct highway, “I was eastbound on I-235…”.  Speaking of, people here use cardinal directions.  It seems like everyone has an inner GPS and they know what’s the north side of the street or the east building so it forced me to learn pretty quickly that my former method of taking directions just wouldn’t suffice.

While there are still pretty much all the same landscape elements in Ohio and Iowa, there are far fewer trees here.  I remember my old commute to the office when I lived in Ohio, both sides of the expressway were lined with forests of trees.  Here, it’s fields as far as your eye can see.  It’s almost like the sky touches the grass.  There are rolling hills, more corn fields than you could ask for, farm animals and wind turbines for miles.  The landscape here truly is something special.  Last week I was lucky enough to find my version (so far) of heaven on Earth.  It’s called Corning, Iowa.  There was dirt road after dirt road where no one would pass by and when I watched some calves run and play along the banks of a pond I knew in my heart that being here has been so right.  I never anticipated running away from home and ending up so far away but I am convinced that this is my kind of place.

Corning, Iowa

Corning, Iowa

I’ve become a better person for being an Iowa transplant.  The other day, my friend Kelly told me that I know Des Moines in my year and a half here better than she does having been here longer.  I learned everything I know from a fella that loves his city and I honestly think that makes all the difference.  I never gave Cleveland that same respect until I left.  This place is just magic to me.  I love and learn from the differences in my two homes.  So when/if you come to Iowa, prepare to go back home just a little bit changed.

stolen idea

I’m completely stealing this blog idea – because I love it and let me tell you why.  I love the honesty of it and I’m continually looking for balance when it comes to my honesty here with you all and making sure that I’m not crossing into territory where I’m hurting someone’s feelings.  I’m sure other bloggers can empathize that when you’re blogging about your life, it can sometimes get compartmentalized and complicated.  I’m sure it’s much more freeing to blog about recipes and cooking or fitness.  What’s going on in my life drives this blog – good and bad (probably the reason for some lengthy absences).  I don’t want it to come off “Dear Diary” style but at the same time, it seems like when I’m writing from my heart, it’s less work to convey an idea and you all are more receptive.  So in the spirit of honesty, I give you the 3 Things I’m Bad At.

#1 Paying “silly” bills on time

Okay… I wrestled over including this one cause it makes me sound *so* immature.  But since we’re being truthful, I do have a few bills that I regularly don’t pay on time.  I know it’s not a good thing, guys.  Stuff like my cell bill, a store credit card (cringe), internet – those are bills that seem a little sillier than rent, car payment, CAR INSURANCE so I take a few liberties when getting those paid.  I know all bills are to be taken seriously and I’m in the process of trying to scale back the spending and tighten up on the whole budget thing.  The funny part about this is that I never feel more adult than I do when all my bills are paid.

#2 Openly correcting grammar

Okay, so I love proper spelling and grammar.  I’m sure I’ve abused it a time or two in the past – who hasn’t?!  I can tell you that I’ve gotten a lot better at knowing when to correct in mixed company (I used to be worse and way more annoying).  Sorry, family, you’ll always be fair game.  My eyes are trained to find the errors in PowerPoint presentations and in business situations I take people less seriously when something is misspelled.  I love the English language and I will be the first person to butcher it intentionally, so I’m really sorry in advance when I mutter “well” under my breath when someone says “he did good”, or “supposedly” when I hear “supposebly” or “essspresso” when I hear someone order “expresso” because truthfully, I have no right to do that.  Clearly, this is an ongoing area of opportunity for me.

#3 The follow-through

This one is probably the hardest and the most honest.  I start a lot of things I don’t finish.  I’m well aware through old adages and reading that this is an undesirable characteristic.  My resume includes diets I start and don’t finish, gyms I start and don’t commit to, books that lose my interest and end up back on the shelf, starting and stopping running about five times, leaving the last dish in the sink unwashed after doing alllll the other dishes, and not calling my family/friends as often as I should. There’s also the ideas that pop into my head randomly throughout the day of things I think I’d like to do.  Prime example: today I was thinking maybe I should make all the food I eat from scratch and eat nothing processed.  Let’s be honest, guys.  That’s a setup for immediate failure.  I can spin this a plethora of different ways, both positive and negative.  It doesn’t hinder my growth as a person but I really do this a lot.  I think it probably frustrates me more than anyone else (right, family?).

I believe we all have things we’re bad at.  And generally speaking, those are the things that cause us a bit of heartbreak, some bumps and bruises and leave us with some thicker skin.  Yes, a good portion of the time we’re the better for having gone through hard times.  That’s not always true, of course, but when I look back on times I thought were so hard they’d crush me I scratch my head wondering how I could have thought it was so bad.  The point is, if we start owning those things we’re bad at it becomes easier to embrace the unique person we are.  They don’t have to be defining characteristics… they can just be a smaller part of what makes up the whole.

act your age

I have to be candid here… I’m sorry for the break; I’ve had some heavier than usual stuff swirling around me lately (Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” amongst other things) and serious things are the ones I struggle blogging about.  It’s always a challenge to figure out how I feel and then to translate that to words… it makes my head hurt.

My younger sister turned 30 this past week.  Our respective 30th Birthday celebrations were quite different (there may have been tears for mine—but who doesn’t cry on their birthday?!).  It got me thinking about her first 30 years and how I’ve been a part of each year.  That makes me feel old.  I’d venture to say even more so than my own birthday.  It also got me thinking about how I don’t feel my age at all.  I started mentally compiling a list of reasons why I don’t feel 31 and I’ll keep the self-deprecation to a minimum.

Reasons I don’t feel my age

1. I leave the house at least 3 mornings a week with wet hair—for work.

2. I still struggle with exercise and eating right.  Still.  10 years later.

3. I wear Chuck Taylors with shocking regularity.

4. I actually own nothing of value with the exception of two TVs and all my Apple products.

5. Money management?

6. I have way more teeshirts than dress shirts.

7. I own a very impractical two door stick-shift car.

When it comes to aging, I always think about an assignment we had to do in 5th grade health class—we had to make a timeline of the rest of our lives filled with important events and at what age they would happen.  At first, I was filled with anxiety because even then I had no concept of what the next day would hold let alone 30 years of days.  Once I overcame the seriousness of the task (they didn’t really expect us to know when we’d die, right?!) I think I slopped down that I’d graduate in 4 years of college, have some ambiguous corporate job, wake up at 7 every morning, be married by 25 and have kids by 30.  Obvi, that timeline was rooted in the idealistic views of my 5th grade mind and I’ve managed to embrace the fact that my real-life timeline is very different from my imagined one.  Sometimes I let that silly timeline get to me and I start thinking about all that I *haven’t* done.  I can’t really say that I know how to combat it other than to let it in, let it have about 5 minutes and then get rid of it with thoughts of all that I have done and all that I do have.

I’m pretty blessed and I definitely know it.  Thank you to all of you lovelies that keep me chasing creativity; the ones of you who challenge me to look at the world, who keep me running and cooking and striving to be the best me I can be.  And not least, thank you to my amazing sister who makes 30 look sparkly and fabulous.

avery.

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Tomorrow will be two weeks since my niece, Avery Jo, was born.  I started to write the story of her birth on the plane ride to Cleveland but I decided that it might be better to get it down in cyberspace—after all, the internets are forever.

The Story

From the time my sister found out she was pregnant, I’ve been telling everyone with ears how excited I am about being an auntie.  About a week before the birth, my sister emailed the family their birth plan.  My portion of the birth plan was hard to actually plan for.  The plan was this: my sister wanted to labor as long as possible at home before going to the hospital, so she’d text me when she knew she was in labor.  Hopefully she’d labor long enough for me to get on a plane and get to Cleveland so I could be at the hospital.  It made me really uncomfortable cause this plan hinged on the baby being ready—so she could be on time, early or late… the whole month of February belonged to my sister and the baby.

After a fitful night of sleep on February 4th, I awoke to a text around 5:15 am:

“Morning sister!!!”

“You may want to pack a bag, and look at flights.”

“I’m timing my contractions…”

My response:

“Seriously?!”

Rachel had been having contractions since midnight.

Six hours later, I had a bag packed and was on a flight to Cleveland.  The weather in Des Moines had other plans… we sat on the runway for an extra 30 minutes while the plane was being de-iced.  I had foolishly booked my connecting flight through Chicago O’Hare which I’ve had mixed luck with in the past.  I joked pre-labor about Home Alone-ing it through O’Hare (you guys know, when they overslept and had to sprint through the airport) and all kidding aside, that’s exactly what I had to do.  The 30 minute delay made me miss loading on my connection so I ran through the airport, suitcase behind me.  The gate agent had to open the closed door for me to get on the plane.  I’m so lucky I made it because there was a snowstorm already happening in Des Moines and it was headed to Chicago.  I don’t know if I’d have been able to get another flight if I had missed my connection.

I pulled into Rachel and Adam’s driveway just as they were loading up to go to the hospital.  My mom told me later that Rachel waited for me.  She was 8 cm dilated when we got to the hospital but there was still a long night ahead of us.  This is the part where I have to stop and tell you that my sister was a warrior.  Their birth plan included no “drugs” of any kind, no constant monitoring, and the ability to get up and move around if she wanted to.  She had the birth she wanted and she was incredible.  The whole experience was so special because there was nothing but love in the room.  Rachel was kind, patient, even apologetic at times but most of all she was herself.  She pushed for three hours and never once said she wanted to give up.  She was ready to meet their little girl and she worked hard.

Avery was born at 2 am on February 5th in the middle of a snowstorm to two of the most loving people I’ll ever know.  She made a quiet entrance and had quite the little cone-head.  I know I’m a little biased but she is perfect.  The whole experience, from that first text to seeing Avery’s little body flopped up on my sister’s chest, was so far beyond anything I could have expected.  I never understood the magic of birth and babies but I do now.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her; I love her more than I thought I could and all that happened in one breath.

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I stayed for a week.  My mom, sister, brother in law, Avery and I were all holed up in the house together for the first time in ever.  We cooked together, ate together, laughed together and made some new memories as a family.  I got to see my mom as a grandma and my dad as a grandpa (his teary eyed response to holding her was beautiful).  I stayed up with Avery at night so my sister could get rest.  I changed diapers and helped during feeding times.  I sucked in as much of that little girl as I could before I had to leave.  My emotions are still very raw even two weeks later.  I’ve never cried leaving Cleveland but I did when I left them.

I couldn’t really be told what this would mean to me, like all good things in life.  I had expectations but it was nothing short of the biggest moment I’ve been a part of.  More than anything, I feel overwhelmed by the hope and excitement that comes with new life.  It took 9 months and an instant.

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