Friday, February 3, 2012

The Last Day!

Woot! Woot!.... can I say again, wooooot!

I know it sounds terrible, but I am beyond excited that this challenge is over - but elated that I actually put my nose to the grindstone and did it. Proud, I guess. :) There were more days than not that I pushed the post off for part of the day, not even thinking about it and then the day got away from me... and I had no idea what to write! I would sit down at 10:00pm sometimes with a blank page staring me, wondering if I could produce anything anyone wanted to hear while I was so un-inspired and under the gun.

Sure, some of the posts are ones I wish I could go back and fill the space with something more meaningful - others were WAY too long or too preachy, but I did it. I did it. And that makes me happy.

So, what did I learn?

1. The obvious, I am way too wordy. :) Sometimes, I would love to put something out there that is high on impact, but low on the word count. Jasmine Star, another of my favorites does this swooningly well.

2. Post early on a weekday. Like, 7am. That seems to be before most people get up on the East Coast and start looking for something to read to fill that space between a full coffee cup and an empty one. So, basically write one and post it the next morning. :) And plan ahead - don't just sit there and try to think of something! Be proactive and relevant!

3. People want to hear about everything! My sessions, but also a little glimpse of what is me and what is behind what I do. What motivates me to get up every day and what I see from behind my camera. This one surprised me. I really thought no one would care about what I'm about - but the feedback I got was super encouraging - and I thank you for it! You know who you are! :)

4. I found out that there are readers who want to know how to use their camera better... There are so many levels of skill with a camera from full-on amateur to heavy pro - and so many tips and tutorials can be aimed at everyone! You don't have to be a serious pro to take great pictures, and the feedback I got on these types of posts were inspiring! So, look for more on this type of thing in the future. :)

5. I know now that I can post two times a week, at least. The 30 day challenge, an every day, in-your-face monologue from me can get tiring, don't I know it! :) So, I will aim for 2xs a week; over-saturation will never be a problem for me any more. :) So many people told me they love reading my blog every day, so I was a tiny bit tempted to continue with an almost daily (weekday) thing, but I just can't. And it may have just been my Mom that says she likes reading it every day. Maybe. :)

6. Not too personal. The post I put up about my son was an extremely personal one... and while the response from it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, (I thank you all again for the lifting up of our little family!) it caused a little ripple at home. I have always been ok with having a lot of my life out there... but I have to realize I share a house with others that I am putting out there at the same time - and they may not be so comfortable with it. Point in fact, they weren't. At all. So, I have to be aware that I can share, but I have to be respectful, and share only me - my perspective - and stop there.

7. Sessions are actually quite time-consuming to put up - I had no idea they would be that hard to prep for viewing! I found that I need to find a more stream-lined flow to make sure they are easier and faster to get ready for the blog showcase. :)

8. It's like therapy. Many times I have thought to myself that writing things down seems to solidify them. Putting them on paper helps you to focus better, make things more clear, make things more obvious and can identify issues you didn't even know were forefront. This whole exercise has certainly brought things out for me that were previously somewhat muddled, and I am thankful for some of the revelations it brought me.

9. A schedule is necessary for work to be done. :) Around here, anyway! I know now that if I didn't have a scheduled post to do every day, it would not have gotten done - I would have done other things that seemed more important at the time. So, it's important that I schedule my posts for the week and keep myself accountable for them. That way, I know the blog will never get away from me again, collecting dustbunnies and cobwebs from constant neglect.

10. I set my mind to something for 30 days and did not waver. When I think about my life for the past few years, that's huge. So now, the excuses I have always had for not exercising... do not hold water. This month's 30 day challenge - exercise. :) Now that I know I can do it, exercise every day, even just a walk around the block... it doesn't seem so insurmountable anymore. And that's a huge lesson.

It was an exercise I was glad to have participated in, and I am proud of some of the posts that came out of it. But mostly, I feel way more connected to people - the people that have been reading and commenting - I have felt your support and love the whole way through. To be honest, it's what got me through on some of those rough days. I can't thank you enough for sticking with me through it all - I feel loved and grateful to have so many caring family and friends out there who truly want to see me succeed, who really want to be a part of it. So, I'm blowing a great big kiss out to all of you this morning. Catch it and know you are loved right back. 

Here's to another successful 30-day challenge! :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I was putting the kids to bed tonight and something was tugging at my heart again. You know, that feeling that your kids are getting older every second of the day and will eventually want you to stop snuggling, stop being affectionate, stop doting... I am plagued with this melancholy much of my day, especially when I look at them - even the joy of being with them is always laced with that tiny drop of dread - the knowledge that they will leave you someday, move into their own lives.

It's what we want for our kids, our ultimate goal, to see them happy and successful and independent - but it's so hard to think of that when they are so sweet and squishy and vulnerable - needing you for every little thing. So when they stop needing you for something, it's like a little victory and a little defeat all at the same time. Letting go of them, one little need at a time. To gain a freedom, you have to lose some of that need in return.

I read this the other day, a blog post aimed toward the moms with "only" one child and this passage struck me as particularly bittersweet:

To become a mother, I had to learn how to care about someone more than I did about myself, and that was terrible.  But who I am now is something more terrible:  the protector who can’t always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go.

Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard.  You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left.

When I had only one child, she was so heavy.  Now I can see that children are as light as air.  They float past you, nudging against you like balloons as they ascend.

How hard is that to think about, huh? It's just one of those nights that it's hitting me hard and heavy in the heart, collecting in my throat, threatening to spill out into a full-on sob if I concentrate on it long enough.

It bothers Cole too... if you can believe it. A poor, little, vulnerable 4 year old (inching toward 5 with every passing day, boo!) who is as sensitive as his mama - a year ago, on their birthday, before I sung them goodnight, Alex said something about "tomorrow they would turn 5!" And I said "whoa, whoa, girlie! Don't wish your life away! You have a whole year before you turn 5 (and now it's almost here), so take your time and enjoy 4 before you get excited for 5! Before you know it, you're going to be 10, then 15, etc... and you're going to want to be as far away from me and daddy as possible! So, don't wish it away, I want you to want to cuddle with me forever!" :)

And Cole just lost it. 

I was startled, rushing over to him and asking what was wrong - and in between sobs, he said... (wait for it and get your awws ready)... "But (sob) Mommy (sob), I want to (sob) stay with you (sob, sob) forever! I don't ever want to leave!" "Ooooooohhhhh, my baby. You can stay here forever if you want to! You never, ever, ever have to leave! Ever!" I was crying, he was crying... and then Alex hesitantly said: "Ummm... but I can still go, right, Mama?" lol

Such different kids. :)

Braden and Cole have both been randomly telling me - during dinner or on the way to school or in the middle of reading them a story - they ask "Mommy, can we live here forever?" or "Can we stay forever?" or "I'm coming back after college and I'm gonna live here with you guys forever, is that ok?" It. breaks. my. flipping. heart. I almost always tackle them and snuggle them tight, rock them and say over and over again - if that is what you want, my sweet, you can stay with us forever. :) Knowing full well that things will change, but absorbing all the sweetness of today anyway. It's like they know our innocent time is almost up, that things are already shifting with the changes going to school has brought our little family. They take every opportunity to grab hold of me or pretend they are babies. They run across the room to hold my hand as I am walking around the house, just because they "want to"... they hug me randomly, saying "Mommy, I love you" with increasing frequency... they jump into my arms and say "goo goo, mama! Pretend I'm your baaaaa-by", they will say in a sweet sing-song. It makes me want to cry for so many good reasons, and sometimes I do let it out, telling them how happy they make me.

So tonight, before singing to them again, I got almost a repeat of the same conversation on the night of their 4th birthday... Cole actually said - "Mom, I wish I could just freeze myself at this age." Seriously? What 4 year old is that melancholy and wistful? lol Poor thing. And then Alex started talking about leaving and having babies and getting married (she's totally getting into the princess movies and damsel in distresses and the "catching the prince" stories, ahem)... and Cole literally went spastic under his blanket, wriggling his body and covering his ears - "Don't talk about that, Alex! Don't wish your time away!"

Oh, what did I do? :)

Oh, how I will miss this!

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