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Forever Changed

15 Sep

IMG_0126bw (Large)The thing I still struggle with the most about motherhood is the loss of freedom. I look at people without kids and think, “They have no idea how easy they have it. They only have to worry about themselves. They can do anything they want!” And I kick myself for having taken that freedom for granted while I had it. How many times did I complain about being stressed out and spread too thin before we had Emma? I had no idea.

It’s that lack of freedom that most often makes me question my choice to be a mom. When we were in San Francisco for my brother’s wedding, Travis and I had to leave early, dip out for a time or chase a toddler around the whole time, which severely limited how much we could enjoy the festivities. Most of the time, I can roll with the punches (or the tantrums). But sometimes, I just wish I could go back to the way life was before we had Emma.

Elk hunting in Colorado is coming up in a month. Since we camp in the mountains in a wall tent, elk hunting is pretty much the least baby-friendly activity next to swimming with sharks. A wood stove, dirt floor, knives, guns – yeah, pretty much a nightmare with an 18-month-old. So Emma is going to stay with my parents for the 4 nights, 5 days I’ll be gone. Part of me is very excited for the break. I get to fly and read a magazine instead of entertain a child! I get to read a book during the day! I don’t have to feed anyone else lunch except myself!

The other part of me is panicking. I have only been away from Emma for one single night since she was born. This will be 4 nights, and we’ll be up in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, so I can’t Skype or call several times a day to check on her. And I won’t see her for 5 days. In a row. How can I last that long without hearing her giggle, or seeing her smile, or getting a hug and open-mouthed kiss?

As I think these thoughts, it hits me. I can never go back to the way life was. Not only because Emma is now a human being that exists and that I’m responsible for taking care of, but also because Emma is a part of me. She has forever changed my identity and I can’t turn off being her mom and this impulse to do anything possible to protect or care for her, any more than I can turn off being a woman.

So even when I do get a taste of that glorious freedom again, it won’t be the same. It’ll never be the same. That might be hard for me to accept at times, but in the end, the experience of having this kind of deep, inexplicable, unconditional, no-holds-barred love for a child is priceless. In my more selfless moments, I can see motherhood for the gift that it truly is. And it’s those moments that make me thankful for being forever changed.

10 Ways I’ve Changed in the Past 10 Years

15 Jul

Today is my 31st birthday. This past June marked my 10-year anniversary as a born-again Christian. A person changes a lot in 10 years, but even more so when your entire paradigm and reason for living do a 180. So needless to say, most people who know me now would not recognize who I was back then, and vice versa. There are the obvious things that have changed, such as, I got married, moved to Denver and back again, and had a baby. But here are 10 not-so-obvious ones (in no particular order):

  1. I value friends who ‘get me’. My whole life, I’ve always had 1 or 2 really good friends that I did everything with. It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado that I realized how rare it is to find a friend who really understands you. I still have a couple of really good friends (who I met as an adult) and even though we don’t live in the same place geographically, we can talk on the phone or in person and pick up right where we left off.
  2. I value family more. I have been extremely blessed to have an amazing family and family-in-law. Travis and I moved back to Minnesota primarily to see our family more. Ten years ago, I enjoyed time with my family but I didn’t go out of my way to see them. We didn’t have any of our family in our wedding party. But in the past 10 years, I’ve seen plenty of friends come and go, and realize now that family is for life. I want to continue investing in those relationships, and grow closer to my siblings and their spouses.
  3. I am more confident in who God created me to be. I used to really struggle with feeling like I needed to be good at everything, and being scared of someone finding out that I wasn’t good at something. That mindset prevented me from living life to the fullest: I refused to try rock climbing in high school because I was scared I wouldn’t be good at it; I avoided playing sports at cookouts and parties because I didn’t want to reveal my ineptitude; I wouldn’t play Big Buck Hunter because I SUCK at it. But over the past 4-5 years, God has shown me that I don’t have to be everything; I can just be me. And I am not good at sports, trivia, shooting games, remembering dates and numbers, estimating distances or sizes, or recognizing tree species.
  4. I exercise and eat (mostly) healthy because I enjoy it. Ten years ago, exercise and dieting were solely means to losing weight. I obsessed over my body image constantly and struggled a lot with binge eating, which I compensated for by severely restricting calories and using exercise as ‘punishment’. When I started doing endurance sports in 2009, exercise turned into something I really enjoyed. In 2012, I did a book study at church called Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. God really did a work in my heart during that time, because since then, I hardly ever struggle with binge eating or body image. Praise be to Him! (As a side note, I fit into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes now!)
  5. I don’t spend more money than I make. I used to be horrible about using credit cards to buy things I couldn’t afford. My generous parents bailed me out more times than they should have. When I graduated from college and got a job, I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (thanks to my bro Jeremy!) and got serious about living within my means. A year later, I got married. Travis is a saver, so he has also really helped rein in my ‘spender’ personality. We’re just getting going on using YNAB (You Need a Budget). I love it so far. Mint.com wasn’t cutting it.
  6. I wear yellow gold jewelry and pearls. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in yellow gold or pearls. They just weren’t my bag. A few weeks before we left Colorado, I bought some new earrings at Charming Charlie’s to replace my entire earring collection that got stolen out of our house when we were showing it (!?!?!?), and when I got them home, I realized that they were all yellow gold (color, not real obviously!). Ha.
  7. I buy timeless clothes, not trends. I feel so old saying this, but “at my age” I want my clothes to last for at least 4-5 years, if not longer. I don’t want a ‘time stamp’ put on my clothes by buying something that is majorly trendy. Examples: fluorescent colors, high-low/mullet skirts, ombre dyes, chunky necklaces, etc. I mocked the girls in college that wore UGGs with skirts and sweatpants (and there were a LOT of them). That said, I do buy into trends when they’re something I really like. Examples: tribal patterns, skinny jeans worn under tall boots, non-UGG boots, scarves.
  8. I dress modestly. Ten years ago, I dressed to attract attention from guys. Short skirts, plunging necklines, you name it, I wore it. But after hearing a talk about modesty during a Summer Beach Project, I got rid of all my revealing clothes and now I only buy/wear things that are modest. I’m not Amish about it – I still wear strapless dresses and shorts that fall above my knee. But the motive/idea behind it is to protect my brothers in Christ from stumbling, and save some things for my husband’s eyes only.   
  9. I’m all about practicality. I used to buy whatever I liked or wanted (hence my overspending). Now, it doesn’t matter how cute something is; if it’s not practical, I’m not buying it. Practical, to me, means that: I will use it often enough to justify the price; it goes with my existing wardrobe or house decorations; I don’t already have something similar to it; it is versatile in color/purpose; and I will enjoy using it (no more uncomfortable shoes for the sake of fashion!). 
  10. My taste buds changed. Ten years ago, I hated even the smell of coffee and thought butternut squash was the grossest vegetable next to pickled beets. But I developed a taste for coffee while studying abroad in Venezuela, and discovered that butternut squash is actually quite delicious. Pickled beets are still gross though.

And just to keep it even: 10 Ways I HAVEN’T Changed in the Past 10 Years

Some of these are review…

  1. I don’t buy into trends. I refused to get an iPod when they first came out, but when my Discman broke, I finally caved. I reluctantly got a touchscreen smart phone in 2010, thinking I’d prefer a real keyboard (touchscreen is definitely the way to go). I didn’t join Facebook until 2010. I still refuse to buy any Apple products.
  2. I suck at history and trivia knowledge. 
  3. I hate scary movies.
  4. I hate rollercoasters.
  5. My first response to being disappointed or hurt is anger. It takes a lot to make me cry. Unless I’ve given birth to a baby in the previous 6 months.
  6. I love writing and reading.
  7. I suck at sports. I have no hand/eye coordination.
  8. I am better at expressing myself in written words, than by talking.
  9. I get extremely nervous when talking in front of a group.
  10. I love watching hockey. Playing it is another thing… see #7.

The reason for blogging

12 Feb

I’m back from my baby shower in Minnesota! The weekend was a lot of fun and not without a few incidents that kept us on our toes. But I’ll blog about that later this week. I’ll also do my 32 week pregnancy update once I take a bump pic.

Today, I wanted to share some thoughts that I’ve had for quite a while now. And please understand that I’m not judging anyone. This is meant to inspire discussion, not condemnation.

……………..

Blogging is kind of a strange thing when you think about it. I don’t read celebrity gossip magazines because I don’t want to spend more time finding out what’s going on with Lindsay Lohan or Kim Kardashian than living my own life, and yet, by reading blogs, I know what a girl who lives out in California had for dinner last night.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – either for me to know what she ate, or for her to share. Blogs are personal and the author can post about anything they want. If I have a problem with it, I can just stop reading.

But it’s funny how that works. Blogs can get sort of addicting. I find myself wondering how Person X did in their race. I see something at the grocery store that reminds me of Person Y. Or the reverse happens – I’m out on a run and start writing out my blog post in my head. I take pictures of random things “for the blog.” I share more details about my life on this blog than I do with some of my friends (because I’m the only one talking here!).

I think blogging touches on a desire in every human soul. C.S. Lewis said it best (as always): “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. … The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game. … I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .”

We want to share experiences.

What once went unshared or was only shared with the closest of relatives or friends – the parking ticket you just got, how traffic was on your evening commute, what kind of peanut butter you think is the best, what you did on the weekend – can now be shared with the entire world.

That’s the aspect about blogging that I love the most: being able to connect with other people who share my same interests and experiences. When I was training for my marathon last year, I was inspired by reading running blogs. Since getting pregnant, I’ve added about a dozen pregnancy or motherhood blogs to my Reader list. If no one in your “real life” circle shares your interests or is going through the same thing, someone in blogland does or is!

But just like with any online community, I think there is a line. Do I know more about a girl I will never meet than I do about a girl in my care group? Do I share things on my blog to serve and inspire others, or just to talk about myself?

From time to time, I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that my blog “should be” a certain way or I “should be” a certain kind of blogger.  I should post once a day, document everything with pictures, be on Twitter and Daily Mile and Pinterest and go to blogger retreats. Or I read a certain blog because they read mine, or because I’ve been reading it for months. But the truth is, I don’t want to be more connected than I am now. I should read only those blogs that uplift and inspire me. And I want to be more engaged in living my own life than I am in reading about others’.

I really do benefit from the blogging world and don’t have any foreseeable plans of discontinuing my blog (though that is a question I’ve also wondered – what is the lifespan of a blog?) or of not reading others’ blogs. But I do think I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to accept that I won’t ever be a “conventional” blogger. I can’t post quality thoughts every day. I don’t want to share every detail about my life. I won’t be buying an expensive camera to take pictures of my food in natural lighting.

But I will share my life journey and what I’ve discovered brings joy. I will reveal what God is teaching me. I will point to Jesus as the only way to heaven. I will share my love for endurance sports again someday.

All that said, I hope that my blog is a blessing to all of my readers. And I hope that you are out there, living your own life with gusto.

If you blog, why do you blog? Why do you read others’ blogs? 

Ten random observations of Colorado (by a Minnesotan)

27 Jun

{While I’m off trekking around Alaska, please enjoy these posts from the archives and random thoughts library of Life, Really.}

–Originally posted February 21, 2008–

1. The same street can have two completely different names. On one side of the intersection, it’s South Boulder Road and on the other side, it’s Table Mesa Drive. Makes it kind of hard to follow directions.

2. They never plow the roads when you need them to and they do plow them when the snow is gone.

3. They’re not very creative with street names. The same name, for example Arapahoe, is used in any combination they can think of: Arapahoe Street, Avenue, Road, Boulevard, Circle, Square, Lane, Pathway, Alley, Sidewalk, Gutter, etc.

4. They named the road in front of our apartment Table Mesa Drive. Mesa means table in Spanish. So technically they named the street Table Table Drive. ???

5. No matter what the temperature, Coloradoans always complain about it being cold outside. It can be 65 and sunny and they’re still complaining. Try living in Minnesota for a week. That’ll shut you up.

6. There are organic, overpriced grocery stores everywhere and they’re just as big as the regular grocery stores. There are literally four in Boulder alone. I personally have not yet stepped foot in one, anywhere.

7. It must be a hoppin’ auto market out here because I see more people driving around with the registration paper taped to their back window than I do people with actual license plates. (When you buy a car and are waiting for the registration to be processed by the DMV, you put the paper in your back window…we are one of those people.)

8. People regularly drive under the speed limit. This is unheard of in Minnesota. Absolutely unheard of. Are people just happier out here? More laidback? Or maybe their feet are lighter on the gas pedal because of the higher altitude?

9. Everybody loves to talk about how the weather is so great in Colorado. Except for this winter. And last winter. And the winter before that. Well, the weather is great in theory at least.

10. I love Colorado: 300 days of sunshine…………….5 days of winter.

Wise words.

23 May

When Friendships Fade

12 Oct

June 2012 marks 10 years since my graduation from high school. It’s crazy how fast time goes! TEN YEARS have passed. A Facebook group for the Mayo High School Class of 2002 has been started and plans for a reunion are getting underway.

I’m not sure I’m going to go. I mean, I guess it would be kind of interesting to see what everyone else is up to now and there are a few people that I wouldn’t mind reconnecting with. But overall? Meh.

It’s not because I had a bad experience in high school — I actually loved those years and I had some really close friends. But I don’t talk to them anymore. None. Not a single person from high school.

When I went to college, I remained really good friends with a few girls. But eventually, those too dropped off, mostly caused by my becoming a Christian and doing a 180 in how I lived, essentially making everything we used to bond over things I no longer did.

Once you lose the commonality of shared interests and hobbies, you lose what inspired the friendship. C.S. Lewis writes this in his book The Four Loves:

Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one’….

I still remember the first night that I realized my old friendships were fading. I was sitting at home alone waiting for my best friend from high school to come to town, only to find out she had arrived quite a while earlier but was  hanging out at one of my friend’s houses with my college roommate – without me.

It felt like a slap in the face. I hung up the phone and sobbed. Matthew 10:39 gave me comfort and reassurance that the pain was worth it – “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” I knew that to follow Christ, I had to let go of my old life – including old friends.

It was hard to watch the friendship fade into nothing, knowing that it was my choice. I was the one who essentially walked away. But what else could I do? Jesus had changed my life – I couldn’t go back.

When you have so much history and so many memories with a person, it’s hard to let that go. It’s hard to not feel like you should stay friends, if only for the sake of old times.

But that didn’t work for me. I tried to stay friends with her, but through a series of events, it became clear that we were very different people. The only thing keeping us together was memories. Little by little, we stopped calling each other. We stopped emailing. We lost touch.

Would I say hi to her if I saw her on the street? Of course! I have no ill will against her, or any of the other friends I’m no longer in touch with. But I have found that it’s hard enough to keep in touch with my good friends from Campus Outreach, who understand and encourage me, and whom I truly love and appreciate. You have to cut your losses at some point.

Out of the 5 bridesmaids in my wedding, I only regularly talk to 2 of them anymore. Even at the time, I knew that I was growing apart from 2 of them. But it felt weird to me to have them at the wedding, but not in the wedding, since they were such a big part of my life at one point or another.

Looking back on that, I’d probably have more of my family in our wedding party instead. After all, I’m still talking to them and will hopefully grow closer to them over the coming years. But those friends? I might never see them again (unless I go to the reunion, huh?).

Just today, I was putzing around on Facebook and noticed that one of those friends had removed herself from being tagged in some of my pictures.

Even though it shouldn’t matter, I was hurt. It brought back that feeling of losing friends. But I can’t say I completely blame her. I was a horrible person before becoming a Christian (so much so that I am amazed she kept being my friend then), and even after I did, I still handled some situations with her very poorly. I’m sorry for the pain I caused her and hope that she forgives me.

A part of life is that people change and move on – friendships come and go throughout the different stages of life. I think the biggest reason why I have lost so many friendships over the years is because I have changed so much – for the better (by God’s grace!).

So do I want to go to my high school reunion just to take a stroll down memory lane? Maybe. Maybe not.

Did you or are you planning to go to your high school reunion? Were you happy with your decision?

Have you ever let a friendship go because you drifted apart?

Five Randos

11 Oct

1. I started reading Long May You Run by Chris Cooper (with many contributing authors) the other night. If you’re a runner, this is an awesome book. Each “article” is only a page long, there are fun quotes and tips from amazing runners, and it includes a lot of fun stats and information about running that I never knew.

2. I love getting low on groceries. There’s something I love about using up the things that have been sitting in the fridge or cupboard for a while. I know, weird. Last weekend, I used up the last of our bagels that we’ve had for weeks, and last night, I used up our butternut squash, potatoes and part of a ginormous zucchini. Look at this thing:

3. There are two kinds of a’s. As I was driving to work this morning, I realized that while most people hand-write lowercase a‘s as a circle with a vertical line on the right, printed things use the kind of a used in this very font. I guess there are formal names for such a distinction but I just find it interesting that your brain can see these things without observing them.

{source}

4. I have serious baby fever right now. And I mean serious. As in, “Maybe I shouldn’t do a marathon so we can start trying right now” kind of serious. (But I really want to do a marathon and I’m pretty sure Travis wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon earlier than we’ve talked about. So…)

I’m trying to remind myself to enjoy the freedom and peace of not having kids. I can do things like spend hours upon hours running each week. We can go out of town at a moment’s notice. We have a lot more money for fun things, like elk hunting and races. I can have a clean house without toys scattered everywhere. The only loud noises we have to deal with are dogs barking (and then, we can shove them outside). I don’t get spit up on my clothes. My body is (roughly) the same it has been for the past 10 years.

But still, about 95% of the young married couples I know (IRL) either have kids or are pregnant. I can think of 3 who don’t or aren’t (we make 4). I can think of at least 10 women who have recently had babies or are pregnant. I mean, seriously. Married without kids is a dying breed. 

Anywho…

5. Working out this week most likely isn’t going to happen. Before Thursday night, I need to:

  • Go grocery shopping
  • Make pumpkin bread, chili, and chicken wild rice soup
  • Clean the house
  • Pack for elk hunting
  • Help Travis set up the wall tent
  • Go to Book Study tonight and Care Group tomorrow night
Yeah… I’m a little overwhelmed.