Saturday, May 20

a special evening + a little note to Richard


     Today isn't anything special, in fact, we seem to have a nasty cold and a flu bug going through the house and are feeling pretty crummy. There are patches of sunlight around me under this big tree by the pasture though, and I hear a chorus of happy squeals coming from the trampoline across the yard, so this feels like the perfect day to jump back on here and share some favorite photos from a little evening spent in the sunset. 

     We had the pleasure of meeting up with our photographer friend Roxana Baker and shooting some stock photos together of a couple beautiful gowns created by Natalie Wynn, and since our wedding was such a last-minute and quick event, it was the first time he and I were able to get dressed up and just talk and have fun and walk hand in hand. These photos are so precious to me, because we have faced such extremely hard times together already in such a short time, but we are closer than ever and striving to always put each other first, and I think you can see that on our faces:) I thought about writing some deep thoughts about the ups and downs of marriage, about all of the different wonderful things and really hard things that have come since we reconnected and were married, but I think along with these sappy photos, I'm going to just write a few sappy things that I love about Richard. 


          So darlin,
     Off the top of my head on this beautiful day: I love your selfless nature and am often surprised at the caring thoughts and ideas of service that pop into your head. I love that you've brought so much new music to the house and that we always have something to sing along with or dance to. I love that you play the guitar, and I love listening to you singing soft and low when you think I'm focused on my work. I love your grilled cheese sandwiches. I love watching you play and teach and interact so tenderly with the kids and seeing how much they love and trust you. I love seeing you pumping up Ellie's bike tires (over and over again), watching you help Sophie with her homework, teaching John to throw a football, tyeing Lydia's shoe-laces while answering her nonsense questions, and brushing Evelyn's crazy curls after her bath. 
     I love the way people are so drawn to you and your open personality. You have a rare talent of helping everyone feel happy and important, and you always have. I love that you're a writer, and the emotion and soul that you spell out on the paper or the screen. You've always painted pictures with your words that drew me to the beautiful things in life and helped clear the fog of troubles, thank you for that.
     I love the way you love me so unconditionally. That you accept all my broken pieces and all the struggles that I face daily whether they're mental, emotional, or spiritual. I love that you so appreciate and love Martin, and the life and love that we shared for so long. I so love hearing you talk gently and openly about his life and passing to the children, encouraging them to remember and express so much. These kiddos deserve nothing but love, they don't deserve to be fatherless, but having you fill the huge hole in their lives and their hearts with laughter and smiles has changed their futures for the better. I love that you've helped me be brave, and to run towards the roar of cruelty and maliciousness that works so hard to tear me down and tell me I'm not good enough. You have a way of making me feel beautiful at my lowest, you always warm me up when I'm cold (which is all the dang time.haha), and you hold me tightly when I need it the most.
    I love that you're a dreamer, a doer, a supporter, and an explorer. We have so much in common, and I get so excited thinking about all the adventures our little clan will have in the future. I really really love you on that cruiser *wink*, especially when you picked up those pink balloons for Lydia's birthday and they were blowing behind you in the wind.haha I love that the children are more observant now, that they care more for the people around them, that they're always looking to grow their talents and skills, and that they don't see anything standing in the way of their hopes. I love your close relationship with your family, that you've fit so well into mine, and that you are so respectful and close with Martin's family. 
     I love our movie wind-downs, midnight taco runs, family circles, doing the dishes together, the way you read books like I always have, the way you listen intently and offer advice and encouragement when I'm getting wound up over something, the way you tell stories with your whole body, your random sweet texts throughout the day, that you confide in me and appreciate my opinion, the way you're constantly thinking about how to care for and bond with each child individually, how hard you work, your loyalty to me, that you stand by my side no matter what, that we share so much, that we spend so much time together, that you're always willing to jump in the car and drive off on some unknown adventure as long as we're all together. I love that you're my best friend, and I love your faith.

     I could go on for a long long time, but I can't believe how much I wrote already when I was going to be fast.haha So I guess you know by now that I really like this guy, and I'm grateful every day that he came to our family when he did. We've been so blessed to see beauty in our lives again and to also have a clearer view of the hardest things we've gone through and how they've shaped each of us. 

Love you boo,

Thursday, May 4

and still we rise

     Hey again friends, and hey there May:) I felt like I was hiding a bit all through April. Bracing myself for each new hard day on the horizon, and then when it would come and rush over me, I would pick myself up and shake it off only to look up and see the next one coming even faster. I've gotten used to living this way for years now, but I was overwrought all the same.
     Preparing for May offered some relief of anxiety, knowing that there were only a couple grief anniversaries to get through and that overall it would be a slightly easier month. Then the 1st came, and I realized that this is also Melanoma Awareness Month, that yesterday was National Widow's Day, that May is when they told us that he only had a couple weeks left, that this month last year is when Marty really said goodbye to the children and I, and on and on. May came, and I realized yet again that there will never stop being days that stop me in my tracks. Days that freeze my body and rush my thoughts through months of pain and crying children and fear, memories that stop my breath in my lungs and make me sob and mourn and miss and regret and dwell and hurt. Memories that break my heart over, and over, and over again.

     But there comes a point when you have to just live.
     All those emotions are needed and healthy and expected and important yes, but so is peace, and so is joy. It's okay to feel crushed after a year and ten years, and it's okay to get excited and to dream. It's okay to get lost in the fog, to curl up and cry, to feel like a wreck, like you're falling apart and that you'll never be okay again. And it's also okay to dance in the kitchen, to laugh, and to stick your head out of the window to feel the sun and the wind rush over your face. It's okay to surrender to the heartache once in a while, and it's okay to wish for normalcy sometimes. Because grief has no rules, and because grief comes where there was once tremendous love, and just like love, once grief takes over your soul it will never leave you.

     What I've realized (over and over) and tried to share, is that moving through the deepest pains of life can open up more space for experiencing the deepest joys. That the deeper grooves that sorrow carves into our being, the more space we have to contain happiness. We feel lost in the dark and so alone, but we're being shaped to see the brightest light.

     If you had asked me a year ago if I could live without Martin, I would have said no. He was everything to me, my dearest love, my other half, my whole world, and I could never imagine a life without him... and then he was taken from me. We fought his terminal diagnosis as hard as we could for 15 months, but he still just slipped away. And yet here I am, and I'm still alive. I have happiness in my life, I have love, I have peace in my soul, even if just a tiny little fraction at times. I can't think what can be worse than watching my sweetheart die in pain, but I am surviving. This tells me that we as human beings can survive anything. Any loss that we suffer, any heartbreak, any betrayal, any pain. We are forever changed, but it becomes part of us, of who we are. We heal, body mind and spirit. We rise. We thrive.

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     I talk to so many of you every week who are scared of death, who have lost or are losing someone you love and you don't think you'll ever feel happiness again, but you will. I'm not saying you'll 'get over' it and be all better someday because that's not true. I'm not saying that you'll start missing them less because, in reality, you'll miss them more and more the farther away their presence becomes. You'll feel the heartache deep in your bones, but you will adapt, and you will get used to living with the pain and sorrow. You really will.

     Not only will you change, but I've come to meet so many broken people who are the most beautiful people, whose lives are deeper and richer because of their brokenness. Especially after losing a loved one, we see that life is so so short. We don't waste time on trivialities. We have a new appreciation and understanding to savor every moment, and we never have enough time with those we love after a loss. These people that have known such intense fear and defeat and suffering and have struggled their way forward, they have more tenderness, more compassion, and more kindness than ever before. Value is added to even the smallest moments, and we hold desperately to even the tiniest bits of things like hope and faith and joy.

     Light comes, laughter comes, joy comes. The dark doesn't fade, but the little patches of light shine so much brighter than ever before, that even a tiny sliver is enough to flow through you and fill you. It may be a text message from a friend or a little plate of cookies on your porch. It may be a good night's sleep, your favorite song, a sweet memory, or a tighter hug than you've had in a long time.

     Hold onto that light.

     Don't let anyone else tell you to slow down, to turn back around and face the despair when you're struggling every day to find reasons to even breath. Don't let anyone else tell you to walk faster towards the good either, to speed up and stop letting yourself feel pain. It's like you've lost your legs, and everyone is standing around you with their healthy bodies telling you how to feel and how to walk and run again. Shut out the voices, shut out the opinions. Your journey through grief and pain and recovery is as unique to you as your fingerprint.

     Let yourself feel everything with your whole heart. Don't laugh because you think you're supposed to, don't cry because it's expected. Don't shut out the world because people tell you it's what your loved one would have wanted. Anyone who truly loves and cares for you would want peace for your soul and love in your heart. It's as simple as that. Missing them doesn't mean you have to live sheltered and miserable, it means living more richly for their sake. It means becoming their voice and honoring their life through living your own. It means adding more value to each day in their absence. It means not taking life too seriously and enjoying the journey as they would have if they were here. It means finding light and joy and peace, even when it seems impossible.

     Thanks so much for reading, and I'd love to hear your thoughts below if you have a minute to share:)


Sunday, April 30

Weekend Wrap-up

THIS WEEK: was the first whole week spent at home in a long while it seems. We've had so many little family outings and work thingies that I've always had something on the horizon that I was mentally and sometimes emotionally preparing for, so it was a nice little break. Richard took my laptop to get fixed by a good friend of his after it crashed mid-youtube upload, and it came back as good as new! So I'm writing from it now, and I have high hopes of progression in every aspect moving forward. 
     April was really a tough month, but I feel like it was also very needed and very important. There was wonderful time spent with family, and lots of happy days, but I also dwealt on pain more than usual. I felt more failure, more helplessness, more fear, and more burdening sorrow than I've had weigh on me in a while, so going into May and a new Monday at the same times seems like just the blessing I needed to reset myself a bit and move forward. Soaking all of that darkness into myself and using it to propel me onward and upward, letting it give me more depth of spirit and empathy in my soul. 
     I had some really good realizations about myself this past month, lots of parenting inspiration to further help each child with their current struggles, lots of strengthening talks with Richard, many mental notes of how I can be better. I accomplished a bunch of projects that have needed done for over a year some of them, so all in all, right now at least.haha I'm feeling good, breathing deep, and breathing in the last bits of April air while they last.


- write up a new little health and fitness plan for May
- organize my blogging schedule for May
- set a new YouTUbe posting goal
- sort the office once and for all
- work at finishing the gallery wall
- start teaching the girls piano weekly
-start trying yoga again
- work on my friendships
- set up the girl's chore charts
- set work hours for myself
- keep up with water drinking (I've been awful)
- try to get more sleep
- make more smoothies
- take each kiddie out on a date
- plan a family trip for after school ends
- keep up the good deed days with the kiddos
- give myself more grace 
- write a letter, on paper
- cook more
- spend as much time in the sun as I can


  • Did you know that I can't snap my fingers? yeah, no. I've tried and tried for years. So many people have tried to teach me, but to no avail.haha I don't know anyone else who struggles with this on the planet, so please tell me if you do too! We can start a support group.haha
  • I have a big thing for documentaries and especially ones related to nature and wildlife like Planet Earth. Oddly enough (or not surprising at all depending on how you look at it.haha) Richard loves it too! 
  • My parents taught us growing up that chocolate was bad for you, so we weren't allowed to eat it. I didn't end up having a single chocolate thing until I was about 12. A friend gave me an oreo and I just couldn't withstand the peer-pressure! haha So really though, I'm not kidding.haha

"Strength doesn't come from what you can do easily, 
it comes from accomplishing the thing that you once thought you couldn't."
- Rikki Rogers

Cheers for the new week ahead my friends:)
So long April! 


Thursday, April 27

another hair tutorial + video

Good to be back again guys:) As most of you guys know, there were a handful of extra tough days the last couple of weeks (10-month mark, wedding anniversary, his birthday, etc) that made posting here kinda tough. I didn't want to delve deeper into things and share a bunch of stuff here, so instead of sharing 'lighter' things, I just stayed away pretty much. But now I'm here and loving it! 

I looked back in my archives to see when I last posted a new hair tutorial, and it was in February of last year:/ So as I say in the video, it feels great to not only be getting another tutorial video out but to have it be for these curls that I have been asked for over and over and over for years! Here ya go:

I hope that you give it a try and see how it works for you, and if you have any questions feel free as always to leave them in the comments so I can help you out! Happy curling, and good luck with the rest of your week ahead my friends:)