Thursday, November 4, 2010


I suppose I don’t do all of these things because I have to, my life could play out differently if I really wanted. There must be a reason. While I made choices early on that now require my daily commitment, like children, marriage and owning a business—that’s what it still is—a choice. I was beginning to get what he was really asking. What’s my motivation, why do I continue to make these choices?

My husband asks me the other day, “What is your why?” Naturally, I respond “Why what?” “Why do you do, what you do?” he asks. At first response, part of what I do isn’t by choice but rather in consequence. After thinking about my everyday routine, I am reminded of how I enjoy spending my time. While I’m not hanging out with Ava, I’m spending time with my family and friends, staying active and exercising, meeting with people in my business—helping them stay motivated with the changes they desire for themselves, providing support for Matt when he needs me, and enjoying the experience of writing and documenting life. Why do I do these things? After much thought, I was beginning to realize how difficult this question is to answer.

Without my family, life would be boring and lonely, quite empty for me. The good things in life wouldn’t be so great if I didn’t have anyone to share it with, there’s a why.

And for the reason as to why I stay active, well, if I said I do it just because I love it so much, I would be lying. The way I see it, this is the body I’ve been given and while I can’t defy gravity and age--I want to feel confident that I’m doing what I can to take care of the good parts God has given me.

I’m continually fascinated with the human experience and motivated by sharing in other people’s lives. Hearing their stories, good and bad, I think we can learn a lot about ourselves through our interaction with others. That’s why I’m in the people business.

As for coming out of the closet with my love for writing, well, it took awhile. At first, I felt pressure to write only if I could prove it was productive, if there was a return on my investment of time. Once I could answer the question of who I was writing for, I quickly got over that excuse. Leaving tracks and traces of where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m headed is important for me to share with my kids. Although time, experience, and age will change me, I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to remember when; I want to remember like it’s happening right now. I want to maintain some of today’s perspective for the future; this is why I write it down.

Thanks for asking Matt, this was good for me. I am reminded of what I should be doing differently, today, in order to get where I want to go tomorrow. I am motivated to eliminate the activities that don’t support where I am going and replace them with purpose driven ones.

Overcoming inertia and getting self motivated is an ongoing daily commitment for me. Once I can overcome this “Monday diet” mentality, (You may be familiar with this one? “I’ll start on Monday”) I learn there is still a lot I want to accomplish and I am the one with the power of choice and decision to make it all happen.

Where are you going, and more importantly, why?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Change for All Seasons

Vibrant colors of crimson and gold fall to the ground, a pumpkin spice latte warms me on the crisp fall morning as we head out on our annual visit to Lone Pine Farms in search of the perfect pumpkin—these are the signs fall has arrived. The onset of fall brings a gift of comfort in routine and anticipation for the holidays ahead.

With each changing season, I am reminded of how quickly life moves us to new places. As we have busied ourselves through a quick three months, summer becomes a blur of distant memories filled with days enjoyed by the simple things in life.

Hindsight perspective continues to teach me familiar lessons about life. The journey of conceiving our second child was similar to the first, the conflict of intended plans up against divine intervention. You would think after only three years, I’d be prepared for the process. Anxious waiting each month and the illusion of time standing still--as if I have control over the miracle of creating life.

Summer brought us a gift we will carry into many seasons. We will be blessed with bringing a second child into the world April of 2011. The chatter of baby talk has filled our home. Ava’s anticipation of her role as big sister has taken on the importance of discovering world peace. Inquisitive and detailed, plans consume her little mind. Changing diapers are on her short list of responsibilities.

Although I’ve been blessed with one relatively easy pregnancy, if I’m being honest, being pregnant has never been a highlight for me in the past. This time around, it feels different. While I am also adjusting to the thought of parenting two children, I find myself enjoying most this experience through the eyes of a 3 year old.

Ava’s questions bring me joy and great challenge. “Mom, what is it doing RIGHT NOW? Can the baby eat that toast? Is the baby happy? How is it going to get out of your tummy?” Trying to convey adult content to a toddler is like communicating with a monkey. Often, a few hand gestures and a convincing nod work best.

When baby#2 arrives, Ava will be four. It is true, new memories become old ones quicker with each passing year. Until we get in neck deep, we don’t even notice. With each passing experience, time becomes more precious. This gives me the courage to do what I love and love what I do.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Daddy's Day

Before we are parents, we have our opinions and memories about our father, our dad. Some are positive while others are painful reminders of the kind of relationship we wish we had with our own. But when we bring a life into the world with someone we call dad to our own kids, this is when it counts.

Before I was a mom, I was told the most romantic and intimate experience I could share with someone is to have a child together. Matt, I’ve been blessed to share this with you.

The other day I asked Ava what she loved most about her daddy. With Father’s Day approaching, I thought I would try to extract her perspective. Ava shares, “I just love him. It’s too hard, um…” I reply, “Ava, what is most fun about daddy?” (Thinking this might translate better). Ava: “Cereal…when I play with him…when he plays with me…workin’ hard outside." I’m amazed at how quickly she clarified the difference between when I play with him and when he plays with me. At 3, she already knows the difference.

Cereal? At first I couldn’t figure out what cereal had to do with anything. Then it made sense, the small daily commitments you make to Ava is what she loves and what she remembers. Every morning you share together, alone, just the two of you. This is where cereal comes in, it’s part of her every morning routine consistently beginning with her daddy.

Each morning Ava wakes (I’m usually gone working out, one of my obsessions in which you deserve serious points for supporting) she schleps down the hall and crawls into bed with you and it’s there the two of you share your quiet moment together. When you don’t both fall back to sleep, Ava is your alarm clock. This precious routine is exclusive to the two of you (I’ve tried and she won’t do it for me).

Every mother remembers the age their kids quit snuggling up to them for a good cuddle unless they are tired, hurt or sick. It wasn’t very long ago when I started to see my own snuggle moments fade; they are few and far between these days. This kind of snuggle is in a league of its own. It’s the quiet moments where our kids are taking care of us, I will cherish each one.

After you both get moving, I’m usually arriving back home and we swing right into the, oh so responsible task of starting our day. Ah, this is what Ava meant by cereal. You two typically part ways for the day with a bowl of cereal while you are getting ready for work.

Selfishly, I asked myself if Ava would say the same about me. If what was most fun about mommy is when I played with her…ugh, little mommy guilt moment, I wasn’t feeling too confident about her answer. In this moment, I was thankful for you and your own relationship with Ava. I’m familiar with how life doesn’t always give every child a dad in every moment they need him. I am grateful for being married and in love with a man who can also be a dad. We don’t always get both.

Ava will also have memories of the time you two spend together outside. This is a place Ava and I don’t spend much time together. Matt, I learn from you. What she expects from me tells me what you do for her, how you so patiently allow her to work alongside of you. There are so many times it would be easier to rush through a task and just do it yourself but you allow her to take part, for her to leave her impression. She is so proud of what you two accomplish together.

Matt, I’m grateful for you. Before we know it the day will come when Ava will choose a husband, create her own family. In you, I’m comforted in knowing she will learn what she needs and most importantly, what she deserves.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Mother's Shadow

We say we will never be anything like ours. We commit at least a decade of our lives doing everything possible to avoid becoming a replica of where we came from, of becoming just like our mother. We rebel, we deny, then we get as close as we can as we try and prove how we are different. Until we become mothers, we have no idea how it can happen. Then, we have our own and it becomes impossible to imagine otherwise—our children, they become our shadow—an extension of us, a limb.

Was it someone else’s life before kids because I can hardly imagine it was mine? I can no longer remember the freedom of time or choice. It’s as if there once was an emotional vacancy inside me, a void I was unaware of before—a place now filled with an immense amount of love and fear all at the same time. I can’t recall the last time I wasn’t thinking or worrying about her.

Nobody ever talks about how you lose complete ability to be objective. It’s really the first time in a woman’s life this will happen—this unique kind of love, a deep selfless unconditional care and concern for someone besides ourselves. Wherever we’ve loved before, we have never loved like this. We didn’t realize how we would one day fight so fierce with unreciprocated commitment for the life of our children.

We meet a fear we have never known, with ignorance and unimaginable vulnerability we make our way. And it’s then we realize how our mothers couldn’t and still cannot resist. It’s beautiful really. It’s poetic and passionate. When you can gain this perspective, you gain the gift of forgiveness and compassion for what every mother fears— their child’s failure and disappointment. And you gain an understanding of your mother’s desire for peace and perfection in your life.

I think of a movie trailer, a preview to the main attraction. As parents, we possess the experiences our children await. We get to celebrate their victories, reliving and recreating all the memories from our own journey along the way. We’ve seen a preview. We try to edit the story for our children, take a second chance at getting it right. We endure the disappointment, the awkward growth process, the tragedy—a resurrection of our own wounds from a life we left behind. And we wonder how, as mothers, we can be objective? See, this is when it gets too close to recognize. In many ways, we continue to stand in the shadow of our own mother as we try and cast light on our children.

We can be free to love the only way we know how, regardless of the errors we will make along the way, and we will create peace for our children when we can learn to look back at our own mothers—with renewed understanding and gratitude.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eyes on the road.

We drive together, just the two of us, most of the time. I plead guilty of trying to do a million things behind the wheel—returning phone calls on my cell, lipstick at a stoplight, a dangerous reach for her snack so I can have some silence, sing-a-long to her favorite music or playing I-spy in between errands. I no longer have to listen to my inner voice, I have Ava, she reminds me often—“Mom, eyes on the road."

Do you ever think about where your kids will be in twenty years? I try not to--most of the time. Only three years in and I already toy with the idea of what Ava will choose to be when she grows up. Sometimes I get a glimpse of her unique gifts and I imagine how she will use her compassion or already impressive negotiating skills, how influential will she become?

At 33 years of age, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve had many enriching experiences thus far in life but still feel it’s only training for something bigger. For a long time, the nagging sense of something more left me full of doubt. I didn’t plan on motherhood revealing it for me. Maybe it was my gained perspective, or the forced adjustment away from my career. Whatever it was, I’m grateful to be enlightened. I understand now how much more I have left to do—one decision or career path won’t define the rest of my life.

I’ve always told myself I would try to remember what it’s like. The day I became her mother, I promised Ava I’d try to maintain perspective—remembering when I was her age (of course this is prior to my experience with raising a teenager; this journal entry will be all the ammunition she will need to use against me in about ten years).

A wise, dear friend of mine said it best. Pam is a mother of six (this alone gives her notable credentials) and I will never forget when she shared her discovery--she could do anything and everything she wanted, just not all at once. Maybe it was just perfect timing, but this resonated with me. I began to believe everything was available to me too—when it was time.

In the coming years, what I choose not to do will become equally important as what I decide to take on. I recognize my greatest influence over Ava happens now, not later. In many ways I’m just the passenger on Ava’s journey, doing my best to keep her between the lines--wherever her destination.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rainbow: an arc of colored light in the sky caused by refraction of the sun's rays by rain.

Our kids teach us about the present, not about planning for the future. At three, Ava lives only in the moment. Most of the time, this is good news. While I’m still recovering from an exhausting meltdown (hers, not mine), Ava has moved on to something else. The other day, I found myself tainted by the residue of emotional frustration, wanting nothing more than to put myself in a timeout—while Ava was crawling into my lap to tell me I’m her best friend.

I get why we teach children a second language when they are young, Ava’s memory is endless. People, places, and tiniest of details from past experiences … I find myself asking her to help me remember. If it was important—Ava remembers. The best part of her recollection is her careful accounting—every detail is significant and deserves equal amount of attention.

As mamas, we are planners. We live in the future—a constant state of forward motion. Who else will make sure the refrigerator is full (with the right stuff) or the sheets on the guest bed are clean BEFORE company arrives? Who considers every developmental milestone, BEFORE it’s time? Day-to-day routine, meal planning, family time, social calendar…we’re days ahead of everyone else in the house. While we are on the peripheral, planning away in order to avoid pandemonium, what are we missing from the heart of the chaotic present moment? In the midst of the everyday little things life offers, Ava invites me to stop and take a second look.

The other day Ava says, “Mommy, the clouds are moving”…initially I’m thinking well yes, of course they are, they always move. Next, I began working out how I might break it down for her and give her a little science lesson—you know, don’t want to pass up a teachable moment. But then, I saw a different version, it wasn’t about the science behind a typical cloud. In this moment, we sat together and watched. I couldn’t recall the last time I witnessed the weather change so quickly, it was fascinating and beautiful. I’d forgotten how schizophrenic spring in the Northwest can be; we experienced sun, rain and hail in the matter of five minutes. It was the best five minutes I’d spent sitting still in a long time. On this spring day, Ava’s the reason I noticed.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, how Ava loves rainbows. She notices them everywhere. She insists we move anything and everything in the way, protecting the light--Ava allows the rainbow to show itself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mothers, I honor you.

As women, we share a unique relationship with one another. As mothers, the bond strengthens even more. I believe we understand one another better than our spouses understand us, we need each other. I’ll never forget when I first found out I was pregnant with Ava. Immediately, there was a noticeable difference in my relationship with other mother’s, an acceptance from a new group of women—the unspoken society of motherhood.

They saw me differently than before. For some women, it marked the day I finally grew up and with others, I discovered a unique compassion. I was invited in; a new-found respect took hold. (And I hadn’t even done anything yet!) This quiet allegiance to one another becomes idle potential for us, an unmarked treasure on our journey-- to stretch, grow and connect in ways no other species is capable—that is when we aren’t busy comparing our child’s latest accomplishment.

While I believe motherhood is the greatest gift we will encounter in life; (I can’t think of one woman I have met to say differently), we don’t always recognize or utilize this gift of camaraderie. Instead, we get tangled in a competitive web of judgment as we struggle with our own self doubt by measuring ourselves up next to every other mother. Our ability to open and connect with one another as women becomes our nemesis. Our culture doesn’t recognize lying down in complete humiliation-vulnerable and weak-as something valuable to share. We are to handle anything and everything in confidence and with a “mother’s intuition”.

Hindsight creates a faded perspective, a paled version of the journey. Every journey seeps a distinctive truth when perception and experience are shared during the travel. On this journey through motherhood, we ought to spend more time with one another on the course—honoring each other more often along the way,even if it means throwing ourselves under the bus every now and then.

I’ve been thinking about all the women I know and love. Those who have long been where I’m at in life, those who are here with me now, and those who have not yet crossed over to the new version of their life as a mom. This diverse group of women, who influence my perspective and personal experience, are a gift. I hope you know who you are.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Birthday

33 years ago today, you brought me into this world. Your resilient strength is living proof of the powerful ability we have to change our own circumstance. I’m so proud of all you’ve overcome these past few months, you are an inspiration. It’s a full circle moment for me, I totally get it now. Thank you for all the sacrifice and selfless acts of love you have given over the past 33 years…I will be forever grateful and a piece of you will always go with me. This is for you mom.

December 2009
My first glimpse at mortality came late last year. I learned my mom had two heart attacks and suddenly, everything stood still. I’ve loss special people in my life before but this scare was something different. I understood differently than I had before… I needed my mom more than I had ever known.

Of course I’ve always loved my mom. Moms are permanent fixtures, they belong with their children and I had never imagined it any other way. Every family has one person with whom everyone stays connected, this is my mom. She is the glue holding my family together.

When I first received the phone call, I was in shock. I didn’t yet know how bad it was and my mind began wandering to places it’s never been before. This is what it means to grow up, I am an adult. Bad things happen and life goes on…you don’t always get a choice. I’M a mom now, I can’t need anyone else like this anymore, and I needed to be stronger than this—for Ava. Without trying to sound morbid, it was as if I was already trying to adjust to the idea. A self preservation mode began to ensue as I felt myself callus, avoiding the alternative.

When people talk about mom, they smile. I imagine they are hearing her laugh. I envisioned never hearing my mom’s laughter again, (you always know she’s there before you see her) this is the first thought to come to mind. Her contagious laugh has become a language of its own, one of the many reasons I love her. My mom is someone who can entirely transform the energy in a room by her presence and her laugh. (You will usually find her in the kitchen).

My mom, she has a million expressions and an equal amount of emotion to match each one. She is the most emotional, vulnerable human being I have ever met…it’s beautiful. You can see other people’s pain in her eyes, her depth of compassion is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Family has always been most important to mom. No amount of money or material possession stands a chance up next to the value she puts on family. Mom lives life larger than anyone I know—everything is blown perfectly and completely out of proportion. I watch how excited she gets over the simplest of moments and am overwhelmed with admiration. She teaches many lessons with the way she lives her life.

It once drove me crazy, how gullible she is—mom will believe anything you tell her and trusts everyone she meets. The older I get the more I learn; most people don’t possess this gift. People have become so cynical and skeptical, one of the reasons our world is so dark. Many of us are closed and self-focused, not mom (I often tease her for making a best friend out of every stranger she meets). With mom you get to see everything, all at once; her transparency draws you closer to her.

Too many of us go an entire lifetime, never scratching the surface of where mom lives life—in pure, authentic, earnest truth. Mom, thank you. The fear and doubt of raising Ava will diminish each time I see in her—if even so slightly—a reflection of you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Everyday Familiar

When something is familiar it is, according to Webster, 1: belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature 2: closely acquainted: intimate. It’s no surprise to find the word intimate within the Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word familiar. Isn’t this why familiar is safe and comfortable?

Many familiarities in my life bring abundant joy. The warm cup of coffee in my hand on a Saturday morning, the smell of a wood burning fire roaring to life, the white noise of eager conversation traveling through our home on Christmas Day, and the vibrant warm colors of fall hanging below the clear blue sky on a crisp fall morning…these are just a few memories consistently awakening my senses in the comfort of familiar.

We are programmed to feel safe with what is familiar to us. One of the first lessons we are taught as parents is to create this consistent familiarity of routine for our children (people are making millions of dollars writing books about how and when your baby is to sleep, eat and play and my neurotic craving for predictability keeps these books flying off the shelf). However, I find much irony in this place of familiarity—with a fear of contentment existing as an intimate disguise for complacency (I know this exists, I’ve met these people). To find light in where I am, not in where I am headed. Maybe this is the journey, to find contentment without getting paralyzed by complacency.

Standing still hurts, literally. My familiar has always been to live in this constant state of motion and control rather than the quiet stillness of “going with the flow”-both physically and metaphorically speaking. (It is too obvious to talk about the cliché overuse of “finding balance” so I’m not even going to go there for now). Just focusing on the raw truth of my inability to comfortably sit still gives me great challenge.

I remember my pre-Ava days as if they are a distant memory; a vanishing former life. In the state of self absorbed ignorance, I would barely come up for air. I didn’t even know what I was missing. On the surface, it can look quite impressive. What appears to be a productive or ambitious life can quickly get buried and lost in the tornado of accomplishment- failing to notice the gifts to be discovered in the process. When we get like this, (I believe at any age we are in danger), and we aren’t present, we usually aren’t the first to notice. Amazing how one little girl is capable of completely changing the game for me.

Children won’t let us stay here too long, will they? I’m grateful for the constant reminder, the umbilical cord Ava has maintained in keeping me present and happy with ordinary every day. Ava will never remember much of the day by day of her childhood, yet, so many of the “little” things we do together are what leave infinite imprint on her life. I get to inspire and influence her familiar (no pressure). This may be the most significant mission I ever set out to accomplish.

Although Ava may look back with vague memory of specifics, at the end of her time I am hopeful she will experience heartfelt refuge in the comfort of the intimate familiars her life has created. This is the hope of every mother, isn’t it?

Monday, February 22, 2010

No Big D.

This is how I heard it first. Right out of the mouth of a two year old who already knows more than I do. Allow me to take you there. 4:30 p.m., the dreaded transition time—I’m coming in the door from work with an armful of files and books, desperately trying to adjust to my role at home. My real office. You know, the time when you begin recalling all the important questions about what you had missed while you were away all day.

No more scheduled appointments to remember , no more adult dialogue—it’s all about the basic needs-poo, food and sleep. I reawaken the part of my brain dominated by the needs of a two year old, all the care and concern come rushing in. I begin praying I don’t learn anything to stir and awake the friend in my head called mommy guilt for not being here to experience it myself.

Then, it happens. I drop everything, literally. My entire load from work comes crashing down papers, files, books… everywhere. It was one of those moments where a crazy laugh and irresistible urge to use adult language come rushing in. You've got to be kidding me.

I desperately try not to let this set the tone for the evening, but fail miserably. I’m grunting, very loudly—resisting the urge—and Ava bends down to meet me at the floor where I am picking up the pieces. She takes her little hands and grabs my face, peers right into my eyes and says, “Mommy…no big deal.” UGH. At this moment, the revolving door passes behind me and I’m on the other side. Dreaded transition…done. Thanks Ava. I realize, for the first time since I’ve walked through the door, Ava is watching. She’s there… watching, learning, taking notes, paying attention. I also realize, at this moment, she is the teacher and I am the student.

When and how did I lose this ability to be completely present? In relationship with one another or in reference to a project, assignment or task—anything we choose to do-when do we stop completely showing up? 100% in one place, at one time—a place where thoughts operate in a vacuum, where history or experiences don’t interfere with the possibility of new perspective.

I am often reminded how children continue to teach. What would my world be like without the mind and presence of a child?