Were you praying, Dylann?
Who were you praying for?
When the clock strikes 9pm at my house, you can almost hear the cherub angels singing a chorus of “Hallelujah” from Heaven. It is at this time when everyone in my house except ME is in their beds asleep for the night. I use this time for a myriad of things… Continue reading
This past weekend’s blogging conference was amazing. Seeing as it was my first time doing something like this, I spent much of the time feeling nervous and unsure of myself, especially when speaking with other bloggers who were more established than I am. However, I also pushed myself to be brave and make connections and be proud to tell them about who I am and what I write about (even if I only spoke to like, 5 people). I left the conference feeling more sure of where I am in life right now and the direction in which (I think) I am headed.
I realized that I write because it is my way of processing my experiences. I am able to express things I have seen and heard and felt using words that come from a very real place. I also write so that my girls will hopefully one day be inspired by my words and our stories. It’s a gift I can give them that they (and maybe their own families one day) will have long after I am gone.
BlogHer taught me that my story is important.
That I need to remember the joy in what I do.
That my story can be a light for those in darkness.
That you can create community through your readers.
That my words have value.
And that I am enough.
I am a BlogHer Conference virgin, and this weekend will be my first time.
I purchased my ticket three days ago. Cuttin’ it close, I know. But I really only decided that I wanted to take my blog to the next level recently (as in, a day before I purchased my ticket), and in doing some research happened to stumble across the BlogHer website. There seems to be quite a few veteran attendees graciously sharing their advice on what to pack, how to get the most out of the conference, tips and tricks on how to survive if you don’t know anyone, and even how to stay healthy while attending. I’ve read some really good posts that have eased my nervousness and fueled my excitement.
For all the conference newbies, I’d like to share my own tips on how to prepare if you’re a conference virgin and have no idea what you are doing. (Disclaimer: Seeing as though the conference hasn’t taken place yet, I have no idea if these will help at all. This is just what I’m doing to survive the weekend.)
1. PRINT BUSINESS CARDS.
At first I thought it was weird to have a business card made for a blog, especially if you’re like me and are just starting. But think about it, if I’m going to make connections this weekend, how are people going to remember who I am? I’d like to think I’ll make such an impression that they’ll just remember my name and blog address amongst the hundreds of others they will come across, but in reality, I probably won’t have the courage to speak to anyone. I’m thinking of just scattering them on some random tables when no one is looking. Or stick them on the back of bathroom stall doors.
2. COME UP WITH AN ELEVATOR PITCH.
Honestly, I had no idea what an elevator pitch was before reading about them on BlogHer. I guess this is what you will tell people your blog is about. I’m just going to recite my tagline: Inviting remarkable experiences into my life and recording them. I hope this is enough! If not, I’ll give one of those, “You should read it and find out!” responses. I’m sure that’ll bring on the site traffic, right?
3. PRACTICE TAKING SELFIES.
Because apparently there’s a #selfiebration going on at #blogher14 and you can win a MacBook Air (!!!) and other prizes as well. And because I’m really not a selfie kinda gal I had to practice with my daughter. (Does that make it an us-ie?)
4. PRAY TO GOD THAT SOMEONE WILL WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND
Never underestimate the power of prayer. I prayed about my anxieties of not knowing anyone at the conference. Then I went to church with some people and my friend introduced me to a fellow blogger.
Who happens to be attending the conference!
Thank you, God.
5. FIND INSPIRATION ON HOW TO BE BRAVE
Stepping out of my comfort zone makes me nervous. It also gets me excited. I’ve been reading a new book that has inspired me to do that which makes me uncomfortable. And in doing these things I find myself growing and changing into a better version of myself.
I’m looking forward to seeing what this conference has to offer. I wonder if fellow bloggers are as friendly as veterans say they are, if the parties will be off the hook (Run DMC, people!), and if I’ll really need an extra bag for all the swag.
If anything, I know it’ll be an adventure. And I’m always up for that.
A while ago an old friend of mine contacted me to see if I’d be interested in joining a small faith-sharing group she wanted to start up. We would meet once a month for mass and then have coffee afterwards and chat about the readings, our lives, and anything else that we might want to bring to the table. I am someone that has to be intentional about stepping out of her comfort zone, so while this was something I was interested in, I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go or if I’d even feel comfortable meeting up with strangers and talking about…stuff. I put my anxieties aside and said yes, hoping that I could recruit a friend to go with me so that I wouldn’t have to be alone.
There were 5 of us present at this first meeting. We attended mass at the Santa Clara Mission. The church and campus are so beautiful that for a second I felt like going back to school, just so I could enjoy the scenery on a daily basis. During mass there was a point where I thought it was really amazing that I was attending mass with people who I don’t really know, yet are connected to through the Spirit.
Community. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Reaching across the aisles and breaking bread and embracing community.
After mass we went to Starbucks and chatted about the readings of the day. Our conversation focused on thinking about the ways the Spirit is tapping on our shoulder at this point in our lives. What are we being called to do? We shared some stories, had a few laughs, and made connections. I found myself feeling grateful to be able to share a small snippet of my journey with people who were open to listening.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a new adventure that I want to embark on and have had so many doubts and fears about starting. But in chatting with these women I realized fear is what has been preventing me from doing something I know that I am being called to do. And I was reminded, once again, how important building community is. When we build community, we are making much of God.
Being that it is summertime, I’ve been on the search for toddler classes to keep Dylann occupied. I’m thankful to have summers off so that I can do this with her. I go back to work in August, and there are very few toddler programs that take place in the late afternoon/evening. (Why is that, by the way? I know there are working parents out there that want to enrich their children’s learning experiences, too.)
The Main Library in our area has a toddler story time that takes place once a week, and it’s FREE! We tried it out last week, and it went pretty well. There were lots of little ones around Dylann’s age group, which was great as she needs to be around people her age more. We sang songs with funny actions, read books, had play time, and even made a simple art project. I really only had 2 BIG issues with the program:
A part of the play area smelled like urine.
The toys looked like they hadn’t been cleaned. Like ever.
Maybe it was the carpet, or perhaps a little one was running around with soiled underpants, but the smell was very present and almost overwhelming. I tried very hard to keep Dylann away from the area, which was hard because it was near the play kitchen which is her favorite thing in the world.
I found some of the toys to be sticky, and the clothes on the dolls were stained. It just means that the toys are well-loved, right? Ew.
When I spoke to David about it later that evening, he said he was surprised I even stayed for the whole class. I’m not a neat freak or anything, nor am I OCD about germs, but I do have a tendency to get grossed out easily. And, of course I wouldn’t want my daughter to contract anything from playing with dirty toys. But the truth is I loved seeing her in a new environment – using her imagination somewhere other than in the comfort of our living room. She had so much fun watching the other kids and exploring. (Not to mention it was very refreshing for me to get out of the house.)
I don’t think we will be going back, sadly. I think what did it for me was when my husband said, “If it was you who had to work in a place that smelled like urine and that had dirty object that you had to handle, you wouldn’t do it. So why would you subject our daughter to it?” He has a point.
Am I being too OCD? Are my standards set too high? Should I just let it go and focus on the fact that she enjoys going to the class?
I guess for now I am continuing to search for other venues. Let’s hope she didn’t contract anything from being in that room for an hour. I’ve heard hand-foot-mouth is so not fun.
“I need a break.”
Both girls were crying. One didn’t want to take a bath and the other just wanted to be held. My husband had just gotten out of the shower after a long day at work and an hour commute home. In traffic.
I walked downstairs and sat on the couch, listening to my husband stomp around in the room above. I hear the bath running and him trying to coax #1 into the tub. He runs back to #2 to give her the pacifier. It works for 10 seconds. She is crying again. He puts white noise on. #1 is now screaming, “Mommy!”
I just wanted 10 minutes to myself.
Feeling defeated, I walk back upstairs after 3, pick up the baby, and go over to tub with my fake smile and my best mommy voice.
“Wow! You’re taking a bath, Dylann? What a good girl! Now you’re going to be all clean!”
She stops crying, looks up at my with red, puffy eyes and says, “Yeah.” She grins.
Then something happens between that moment and after #2 is done with her bath. I feel anger, resentment, and exhaustion rising from within. And it all comes out. There is yelling and tears and screams. There is also confusion and hurt. Somehow we had forgotten that the kids were in the room.
#1 is confused and scared. She puts her hand on my face and repeats, “Stop talking!”
I can’t even begin to describe the million thoughts that went through my mind in that one moment. My two-year-old knows something is wrong. Does she get it? Does she really understand? I see the fear in her eyes. Mommy and daddy don’t talk to each other like this.
What ensued next further perpetuated my guilt and affirmed my belief that we had scarred her for life. She wouldn’t look at me, at either of us. We asked for hugs, she turned her back. She never does that. She didn’t say anything for a while, and she didn’t want to go to bed, even when we offered her her bottle – usually a source of comfort and sure-fire way to get her to go to sleep.
I woke my husband up later that night to apologize. There were more tears, but the yelling was replaced with words of forgiveness. We promised to try and be slow to anger, more understanding, and more loving. We promised to try and never fight in front of our children again. The way they will view the world will be dependent on what they see going on in front of their eyes. And we agreed that we don’t want harsh words and raised voices to be their normal.
Parenthood can bring out the worst, though it demands the very best. It will push you to your limits, and also expand your heart to territories unknown. But I think overall it has made my husband and I want to become better versions of ourselves. I see so much of ourselves in our daughter – in the way she talks, reacts, laughs, and loves. Being her parents has shown us what it is to love and be loved unconditionally.
I know there will be more days like this, where we forget how to be kind and patient, when our voices are full of anger and resentment and tiredness. Hopefully those days will be few, and our children’s normal will consist mostly of laughter and light and love.
We’re working on it.
There is an eerie sort of calm that has just come over my house at this moment. Both my girls just happen to be napping. At the same time. Finally, some time to myself! My first instinct is to pick up my purse and head over to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Oh, wait. The girls would have to come with me, huh? Forgive me, I’m still somewhat new to this whole mom-of-two thing. Today was the first time I took both girls out by myself. We took a short trip to the library for a Learn and Play class we signed up for this summer. It was our first time, and I was excited for Dylann to get the chance to be around other kids for once. (Is it normal that 2 of her dolls are named after her 20-something year old cousins? That’s her crew nowadays.) The whole “getting ready” process took a total of 2 hours. That included changing and feeding both of them, packing our things, taking a shower (people without kids take this for granted), making coffee, and getting everything and everyone loaded into the car. We arrived at the library 30 minutes early, which was good because just getting them out of the car and into the sling and stroller took a while. But we got to the door with 10 minutes to spare! The class was great and my one-month-old slept the whole time, which made our time there much easier. We sang songs and played and danced. We even made a paper turtle. When we got home, both girls were just as exhausted as I was from our little field trip. It’s no wonder they both knocked out. I thought about the things I could do during this golden hour – fold the laundry, watch TV, sleep, do the dishes that have been sitting in the sink for 2 days. But instead, I choose to write. I write because it gives me a chance to collect my thoughts. I write because nowadays, more than ever, I feel the need to be creative. I write because I want to remember. And as I write I wonder if my house will ever be clean again (it’ll just get dirty again tomorrow), if I should just give up on folding laundry altogether and start a “clean clothes” pile on the floor of our guest room (our laundry piles are endless), and whether or not I should clean up the toys strewn about the dining room turned play area (she’s going to throw a fit when she realizes her Doc McStuffins doctor bag is put away). I also start to wonder if it is normal to miss my kids when they are sleeping. While I type the conclusion of this post, Dylann is already up and calling for her baby sister. Devynn answers back with a loud cry. And just like that the golden hour is over.
I got the chance to chat with 2 friends on separate occasions the other day - a rarity nowadays due to the busyness of chasing after a toddler and caring for a newborn. I honestly had forgotten what it’s like to talk to someone who is not a toddler. I totally get now why mommy & me groups exist. One can go a little crazy hanging out with littles all day long!
My good friend from college called me up and we talked on the phone for almost an hour! (Keep in mind the only reason I was able to chat that long is because my parents had my kids preoccupied in another room. God bless them.) We spoke about random goings-on in our lives and complimented each other on how beautiful each other’s kids are. Mostly we talked about how inspired we have been to put good things out there in the world. See, we used to be in a young adult church group together and were constantly doing things to serve our community – from serving at mass, to making sandwiches for the homeless, and even dressing up like M&M’s one Halloween for the children at a shelter. We were making a difference. Nowadays we spend our time serving our own families – still making a difference, just in a different way. And we both feel like doing more. I found myself being inspired to take action. It’s amazing how one conversation can prompt you to act, to move, to do.
Later that evening my husband and I had dinner with another friend and her husband. This friend I have known since Kindergarten. We were best friends all throughout elementary and high school. We even went to college together, but drifted apart a little bit at the time. We remained friends, and I can honestly say that she has been such a comforting constant in my life. Even though I rarely talk to her, I feel like I could tell her anything and she would just get it. We spent our dinner catching each other up on married life and married life with kids. We didn’t really delve into anything “deep” or serious, but for some reason our interaction felt so easy, comfortable, and real.
Connecting with these two made me so thankful for people in my life that help me – sometimes without knowing – to be who God meant me to be.
I recently came across a blog that was offering a micro course on How to Start a Blog with Purpose. I have no idea how I found the blog. The origin was one of those links that led to other links that led to a whole group of links, etc. I definitely think it was divine intervention, though, because I have been sitting on this blog for a while now, wanting to post all the time but never really taking the time to do so after I finished with the Letting Go series.
While I was in college (about 14 years ago…SERIOUSLY?! I am old.) I started a blog because I loved writing, I had a lot to say, and I was experiencing so many cool things that I wanted to remember. Your readers consisted of your main group of friends, and it was basically an online diary. I wrote about road trips with friends, the perils of Hell Week (the week before finals), and finding God in the everyday. Blogging was somewhat new, though not too popular at the time. Presently, blogging is a whole different ball game – an entirely different world. There is so many blogs out there that are inspirational and beautiful and amazing, and I guess when I think about my own blog I feel as though I’ll never be any of those things. I want to continue blogging, but I fear that I cannot keep up with the current blog world and what’s expected of a good blog nowadays. But this course has really reminded me that my message to the world is unique, because of my own unique experiences. It has also made me come to realize that my fear of not being good enough is preventing me from doing something I really want to do, and that is to write about my life in the hopes of inspiring others.
A lot of my inspiration has come from reading other blogs. They have helped me
and much, much more.
So right now, I’m just going to keep writing, mainly for myself but also in the off chance that someone out there might be inspired by my story. Cheers, to the good life!