Showered in Love

Tonight as I checked in on my herb garden, I was excited to see the first fruits of my Spring Break project. I ran upstairs to fetch Liam so that he too could relish in the tiny green tomatoes sprouting on the vines. I laughed as he wrinkled his nose at the jalapeños taking flight in its pot too.

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As I walked back in basking in my little victory, a more expansive thought erupted in my mind. These herbs were flourishing because they were showered in love. First from my efforts to plant them and give them a place to take root and take off. Then Mother Nature stepped in with spring rain, idyllic temperatures, and just the right amount of sunlight to help these herbs maintain a presence in my backyard.

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On a grander scale, though, so many things around us are showered in love. This weekend for example, my mother, sister-in-law, and I hosted a baby shower for my cousin, Veronica, who is expecting her first child in early June. Family and friends gathered to shower her and her baby girl in love. Together we shared words of wisdom, sprinkled with anecdotes of humor, and showered her with gifts every new mother needs. Then of course there are all of the other gifts they don’t need, but who doesn’t love the “oohs and aahs” that come from adorable pink dresses, tulle trimmed skirts, and teeny tiny onesies.

When you travel home to be with family, your children enjoy the benefits of being doted on and loved by one set of grandparents and great-grandparents. Again this pervasive theme of “showered in love” holds true. I cannot think of two boys more lucky than Liam and Atticus because between them they share four sets of grandparents. Each of these grandparents is a blessing in their own rite showering them with wisdom, love, and experiences that will last a lifetime. Here are a few of my favorite keepsakes from our weekend in the Valley.

The takeaway for me in reflecting on today’s post is simple. In big and little ways each and every day we are showered in love. Obviously the more grandiose gestures speak volumes to us. But if we allow ourselves to slow down and take in these smaller moments, we will be pleasantly surprised by the love sprinkled on us throughout the day. For me this weekend, it was watching my father watch Saturday morning cartoons with my children or seeing Liam paint blocks for his new cousin’s nursery with my eighty-seven year-old grandmother. These simple but beautiful moments offer a glimpse at the greater love that comes from all of the family, friends, and loved ones we break bread with and share our life with. Showered in love is not only something to appreciate and be grateful for when we receive it. It’s a phrase we can apply in our daily lives as we love and serve those nearest and dear to us.

 

 

Quiet Moments for Introspection

Sometimes in our incredibly busy lives we must find ways to carve out time for introspection. Without these quiet moments to reflect and assess, how can we expect to achieve personal growth. While many will argue about how life changing technology has been for us as a society, it has also made it more difficult for us to feel comfortable with solitude.

Being more mindful, acknowledging our weaknesses, and giving ourselves permission to learn from our missteps, starts with a willingness to love ourselves. Most of us, as women, are incredibly hard on ourselves. We scrutinize, nit pick, and harp on ourselves, when we really should appreciate, own, and celebrate our strengths. Love yourself for who you are.

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When you look in the mirror, be proud of the woman staring back at you. Smile, pat yourself on the back, and remind yourself that, “you’ve got this!” Too often we undervalue our talents, strengths, and abilities. Embrace them wholeheartedly! I’ll borrow powerful words from a powerful woman who has inspired many with her beautiful prose. As per Maya Angelou, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

Fixating on our flaws, dwelling on the negative, and wallowing in self-pity rarely propels us forward. Our happiness comes from our own desire to persevere through the difficult times, high five ourselves when we overcome adversity, and offer gratitude for the beautiful moments that touch our lives. We are the author’s of our own story. Appreciate the importance of the pencil as you write, it allows you the opportunity to revise, edit, erase, and rewrite the negative parts of your story; infusing your rewrite with radiance, light, and positivity.

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We only have one chance at this life we live. Dream big, love fiercely, sprinkle in spontaneity, and celebrate your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down, ruffle some feathers every now and then, and give yourself permission to go off script from time to time. While structure and regimentation often play a critical role in overall success, we have to appreciate and even laugh at the flawed parts of ourselves that make us who we are. Find time to let go sometimes and take life as it comes!

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When we allow ourselves quiet moments in our busy lives to pause even for the briefest moments, we open our hearts and minds to personal insight, reflection, and honesty. There are countless ways to find solace in our solitude whether through prayer, mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, or quiet contemplation. Slow down and hit the pause button from time to time. You just might surprise yourself with what you discover!

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Be your best self and know that every day is a new opportunity for self-improvement, self-love, and self-acceptance.

 

My Dynamic Duo

From playgrounds to playtime and everything in between, the brotherly bond between my Golden Bear and Baby Bear continues to grow and melts my heart at every turn. I know it won’t always be this simple. When Atticus is more verbal or when Liam decides his little brother is too much of a baby to spend time with. The natural ebb and flow of sibling rivalry and banter will slowly trickle in and this Mama Bear will be praying for more patience and guidance to get them all happily through it.

Until then, I will continue to float on the beauty of these little moments- little exchanges between little people who love each other dearly. It comes in so many different forms- a sincere and heartfelt hug initiated by Liam as he wraps his brother in his arms in an embrace. The giggles and coos that reverberate around Atticus like a halo as he finds humor in all of the big boy things his older brother does. My cup runneth over as I stand idly by witnessing such heartfelt moments between a big brother and his baby brother.

Lost in each others company, they play together lovingly- stacking colorful blocks one on top of the other or pushing matchbox cars around an imaginary track on the carpet. Each in awe and wonder of the other. Liam fascinated by all of the things his brother can now do- walking, playing, laughing, and discovering. Atticus intrigued by all of the things he can only dream of doing one day- zip lining across the playground, rock climbing high above his head, or racing across the sidewalk faster than lightning.

As a mother, I absolutely love seeing the two of them leaning on one another and growing as brothers. There is something truly beautiful to see as an outside observer. My two sweet boys may you always look out for one another, want the best for each other, and demonstrate love and support every step of the way. When you find yourself frustrated or angered by your sibling, may you search deeper and let your bond and love outshine the conflict. I will always be here to lend an ear, help you make amends, and guide you back into one another’s good graces. My little dynamic duo, together you will always be stronger, happier, and more alive when you are in it together.

An Honest Look at Marriage

Today marks our two year wedding anniversary. While there are a wealth of amazing memories that I could easily reflect on, today’s post will highlight the more real moments of marriage. For those of you in a long term relationship or marriage with your significant other, you know as well as I do that co-habitating and/or co-parenting with your partner is anything but a cake walk.

From the “I do’s” to the to-do’s, marriage is an ever-changing journey that challenges, tests, and illuminates our greatest strengths and weaknesses. After the mystique and beauty of the honeymoon, real life settles in and the less than ideal characteristics of our partners and ourselves, for that matter, start to show their true colors. Balancing a career, children, personal interests, and caring for a marriage, requires deliberate effort, calculated patience, and unconditional love.

Laundry, grocery shopping, yard work, general housekeeping, cooking, and all of the other components of managing a house can create tension if one partner feels like they are carrying more weight than the other. Our little people have big needs that require constant supervision and attention. Bills, unexpected expenses, and so many other details can cloud our perspective and keep us from taking in the beautiful moments that happen in the midst of all of this.

Marriage is difficult. It takes work that requires frequent introspection, a willingness to compromise, and a desire to honor your commitments to your partnership without exception. Through it all, we have to find ways to look beyond the hard times and reflect on the foundations that built our love story. Carry their love in your heart always. Cherish their help and honor them with gratitude and appreciation. Never stop believing in the person you promised your life too.

Today and every day is an opportunity to grow in love with your husband or wife. Let bygones be bygones and let true love shine through. Life is too short to let resentment take hold of our marriage. Each new day offers us a chance to reconnect, restore, and rebuild any foundational issues our marriage may be enduring. An open mind and an open heart are an integral part of a strong partnership. Live each day in love and let the little things go. In the end, they really aren’t worth our time.

Here’s to loving our other half with our whole hearts. Here’s to putting our best foot forward to be the best wife, mother, partner, and friend we can be. Here’s to saying, “yes,” even when we’d rather say, “no!” Here’s to loving deeply and forgiving often. Here’s to the beautifully chaotic love story that is marriage.

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Marriage is about becoming a team. You’re going to spend the rest of your life learning about each other, and every now and then, things blow up. But the beauty of marriage is that if you picked the right person and you both love each other, you’ll always figure out a way to get through it. – Nicholas Sparks

The Beauty in Imperfections

Parenting is an intricate tapestry tied together with delicate stitches of many varying colors. As parents, we are called to guide our children to be their best selves. This task is one we do not take lightly. It requires infinite amounts of patience, immeasurable amounts of love, and unwavering support every step of the way.

Even with all of these tools in our back pocket, sometimes our children will misstep. These moments will test our wills and make us question our parenting abilities. For mothers in particular, this can prove to be a deeply personal struggle. The internal monologue in our heads can ring loud and often make us feel like we’re somehow letting our children down by not serving as a better model along the way.

But just like us, our children are human. Like us, they make mistakes of varying degrees each and every day. For our children, the takeaway at the end of the misstep is the most important part of the journey. An integral part of their personal growth comes from recognizing and accepting the error they made. With acceptance, they can put their best foot forward to make a more positive choice when they find themselves in a similar situation. Children, however, are not always quick learners. Their innate curiosity may guide them to push boundaries and test limits to see if the outcome or consequence will change.

Through it all, our role as parents should never waiver. We are there to love, support, model, and guide our children every step of the way. When they fail, we pick them up, dust them off, sprinkle in words of wisdom, and send them back out into the world to do it all over again.

Remember, Mama Bears, parenthood is a calling that comes with immense power and infinitesimal amounts of responsibility. There is no manual to consult for the answers to our lingering questions about raising amazing children. We can only ever take it one-day-at-a-time. Love fiercely, support deeply, and accept our own faults as parents. We are not perfect parents so we cannot expect to have perfect children. And if we look closely enough we will recognize how much beauty truly lies in life’s imperfections!

An Open Letter to Myself

Allowing ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable isn’t always easy. Tonight’s open letter to myself offers a candid and heartfelt message of self love and working through challenging moments in our life. It’s addressed to me, but I sincerely believe many of the women who read this post may see themselves in parts of this letter. Writing this for me proved to be incredibly cathartic. My hope is that in reading this letter, you too walk away recognizing how beautiful, accomplished, and amazing you are.

Dearest Heidi,

I know you set out every single day to be your very best self. There are times when you fall short of your expectations and no one is harder on you then when you let the thoughts in your head marinate. You often stew in those thoughts for far too long and carry them around until they feel burdensome and heavy.

Cut yourself some slack. You do so many wonderful things for your family, friends, colleagues, and students. You’re going to slip up sometimes. You’re going to walk into a bad day and it might take an extra glass of wine, an extra mile, or a long, hot bath to walk out of that bad day. But like every challenge you’ve ever met, you will get through it.

Like so many women who have come before you and like so many who will come after you, sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. Walk away from the challenge to regain your composure and work up the courage to start tackling it again. Don’t forget to lean on the people who love you and care about you. You look out for those you love and care about, and those beautiful people who you call friends are there to do the same when you need a little push, some extra reassurance, or a shoulder to cry on. At its core, that’s what friendship is for- lean into it, take the support when you need it, and return the favor when it’s your turn to catch them when they’re down!

You are an amazing woman, but you still need to remember that you are not a superhuman. Some days you will misstep. In your frustration, you might raise your voice when your children test your patience. Don’t lose heart. This doesn’t make you a bad mother. Motherhood will test you in ways you never knew imaginable. There will be days you want to pull your hair out, and there will be days where you wish the beautiful moments with your family didn’t ever have to end. Take it one day at a time. Soak it all up; the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.  As much as you want to do it all. Sometimes something has to give. If it means the dirty dishes stay in the sink overnight or the laundry stays in the dryer for a few extra days until you find the time to fold it, so be it. There will always be tomorrow until there isn’t. Fixating over every little to do is only going to weigh you down.

Love yourself inside and out. Do more of what makes you happy. Surround yourself with positive people. Dream big and work hard. Love fiercely and tell the people in your life who matter the most how much you love them. Give thanks and offer gratitude for your blessings. Respect others even when you may not see eye-to-eye with them. Be proud of who you are. Shower your loved ones with smiles, love, and simple acts of kindness. Cook often. Enjoy good wine with even better company! Kiss your children and your husband every single day.

Remember that every day is a blank slate. The opportunity to hit restart and do it all over again. Slow down enough to savor the little things before you blink and they’re gone. Do one thing for yourself every day- even if it’s just appreciating a sunset in solitude or savoring a cup of coffee before everyone else in the house is awake. Put your best foot forward every day, and get out there and do you!

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With love,

Mama Bear

Five More Minutes

On my favorite local country radio station, a song by Scotty McCreery has been getting a lot of air time. The song evokes strong emotions and often brings me to tears as I sing along to Five More Minutes. 

“Time rolls by the clock don’t stop
I wish I had a few more drops
Of the good stuff, the good times
Oh but they just keep on flying
Right on by like it ain’t nothing
Wish I had me a pause button
Moments like those Lord knows I’d hit it
And give myself five more minutes.”

Holding Atticus tonight before bed as he fell asleep in my arms, I found myself silently singing the chorus to myself. Thinking about how quickly time passes and how before we know it these moments become nothing more than a distant memory.

A loved one we lost before we had a chance to say goodbye. A baby now going off to college before we’re ready to be emptynesters. An embrace with a loved one as you say goodbye and part ways until the next time. In our life, if we were only so lucky to have the opportunity to slow time, hit a pause button, and give ourselves five more minutes with the people we love and care about.

You know as well as I do we would all be so lucky if we truly could afford ourselves more time. But time marches on at the same rate every single day. It is up to us to soak up the beautiful moments, grow from the moments that challenge and test us, and give thanks for all of the little things that make our lives special and rich.

Slow down enough to savor a cup of coffee with your husband or girlfriend and get lost in the small talk that comes from two people sharing time together. Take the long route home when you push your children home in their red wagon after an afternoon at the playground and soak in the smiles and laughter. Give yourself five more minutes on the phone with your mom or best friend even if you have a mountain of to do’s piling up and savor the beauty of your relationship.

One moment at at time. One day at a time. Live it as though it could be your last. We never know when that day will come but allowing ourselves to marinate in these enriching moments will carry us along through the more difficult challenges life throws in our path. It will propel us forward and give us the grace, appreciation, and love to keep these beautiful memories close to our heart. Give yourself permission to give yourself five more minutes…