Thursday, July 3, 2014

paddle board yoga on the chattahoochee river


sometimes there are things you've always dreamed of doing or had on your "life list", and other times things come along that you have never even thought of … and they still feels like a dream come true.

stand up paddle board yoga was like that for me. i never even knew it was a thing until my friend madison posted pictures of it. last night i tried it for the first time, and it was so much fun! it felt like a vacation. we took our class at sunset on the river - absolutely beautiful. at first i was terrified to stand up and paddle around, but paddling around ended up being easier than standing up and standing still on the board without a paddle. (we anchored our boards and tied our paddles to the anchor for the class.)

the first fifteen minutes or so i was terrified. madison said, "well at least if you fall it's just into water." very true. very logical. and a very positive and grounded way to think. but i was busy fielding rapid-fire thoughts in my brain like: "was that a snapping turtle sticking its head out of the water? what if i hit my head on a rock? i wonder if there really are crocodiles in the chattahoochee? which way will i go if a crocodile shows up? what if i get sucked out of this calm inlet to the rapids? i'm not a strong swimmer. why am i doing this? how is everyone else making this look so easy? why am i the only one whose legs are shaking? what was i thinking trying this so soon after having a baby, my core is still weak. i wish there weren't so many onlookers …"

the first few poses and attempts at standing up i was seriously so scared i was doing my mental chant of "thank you Jesus" and variations of "I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me" because that is just what works for me, as crazy as it may sound. i am a big believer in taking risks and doing things that scare you.

the good news is after the initial fears passed, i relaxed and had a great time. we all fell in a few times. the water felt great. we laughed a lot. it wasn't hard to get back up onto the board like i was afraid it might be. and afterward my other friends were talking about how their legs were shaking too. guess that's like most of life - we think it's just us, but it's never just us.

if it was free, i would seriously do this every day. great workout + fun + relaxing + nothing refreshes me more than time outside, especially being on (or near) water. at the end we just laid on our boards for a few minutes. we were supposed to close our eyes for the closing sequence, but no way jose ... i was enjoying the gorgeous sky, eyes wide open. ;) if you ever get the chance to try it, go for it!



 

{rachel in the water, madison in the middle, and me. i must have been tensing up my shoulders and neck, because my neck is sore/tight today, whoops.}





 {sweet friends i am going to miss! madison is from utah and rachel is from texas, and their husbands are in ranger regiment too. thank you lance for being an AMAZING dad and husband and giving me a fun night out!!!}

{source: pinterest}

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

karl

i find it easier to write about people who aren't on the internet. that way i am not intimidated by the thought of them reading it or misinterpreting it when they do. it probably shouldn't be that way, but writing usually works better when i don't filter.

so, for instance,  it's easier to write about my dad, because he "doesn't do computers." and i've been thinking about his friend karl, because he doesn't do computers (as far as i know) and he is a character like my dad - which is probably also what makes writing about them so easy.

karl makes me smile. he is the only karl with a k (not a c) that i know. he loves hunting and fishing and smoking cigarettes. he has a medium build with tan skin, brown hair, and a mustache. he wore a cartoon tie and brought a disposable camera to my wedding to snap picture of me and my dad. i wasn't even sure they still made disposable cameras in 2013.

his voice has its own drawl to it - the kind you could easily pick out if you had to. when i was dating lance and i saw karl one time, he said, "chelsea, i heard ya got a steady!" um yeah, yeah i guess i do? i'm not sure how to respond to that, but thank you for allowing me to feel like i'm living in the 1950s that i paint so dreamily in my mind for a moment.

one of my earliest memories of karl is waiting for  him to clean out the backseat of his car so my brother and i could ride in the back on the way to go hiking. something had a ketchup stain on it and he said, "damn it, that's not gonna come out. oh i mean darn it. you didn't hear me say that, did you?"

karl is one of the kindest people i've ever known. he picks up hitchhikers, lets people stay at his house if they're down on their luck, and is quick to give money to people in need.

my dad says that karl is probably the hardest working person he knows. if you ever need a tree to be cut down, call karl. "boy, he has a gift. karl can make a tree fall exactly where he wants it to." i am laughing as i write that. my dad is fantastic at acknowledging other people's gifts. he says that one of his roommates is "a genius with a telephone." here i am laughing again, because what does that even mean? more than he can operate a telephone and make calls my dad doesn't feel like making. but to hear my dad talk about it you would think that guy has set olympic records.

but karl is your guy if you ever need a tree cut down. he has had several jobs and maybe he got fired sometimes, but he would always get right back out there and find another. he never gives up.

when karl worked at cactus willie's, a buffet with made-to-order steaks, we tried to visit him at work with my dad. i say try, because i don't actually remember that we ever ate there at a time when karl was working. i think my dad had just found a convenient excuse to eat at a steak buffet as much as he wanted to and took advantage of that.

i pretend gag when i think of cactus willie's now, because i have adopted my mom's disdain for buffets and smorgasbords. why stuff your face with rows of mediocre (at best) food, when you could order one sensible portion of deliciousness at a nicer restaurant? if that's not enough to convince a person not to like buffets, i think what happened to my dad the last time we ate at cactus willie's would.

my dad was wearing new shoes. he has enormous feet and is very particular about the shoes he buys, so finding a pair he likes is a big deal. i forget what they looked like, but they probably cost a pretty penny because joseph benjamin shank does not skimp when it comes to footwear. we waited in the winding line to get into cactus willie's, because it was wildly popular when it first opened and that was when karl worked there. we got our table and went our separate ways to fill our plates. all i remember eating there was soft-serve ice cream cones.

midway through the meal, my dad got up to go to the bathroom.

when he came back, he had this look on his face that you knew something was either terribly wrong, or you were about to hear a really good story. this time it turned out to be both.

when he opened the door to the bathroom, someone had thrown up all over the floor. so my dad slipped around and wound up with someone's steak buffet puke all over his new shoes. if there are words to describe the look on my dad's face after this debacle, or how much it burned him up, i don't have them.

we never ate at cactus willie's ever again. it could've been the shoe incident, but it's more likely that we stopped going because karl stopped working there and moved on to trucking. cactus willie's has since gone out of business (i guess we left a big hole in their income) and i will forever count it a privilege of adulthood to choose restaurants myself.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

here and now

dax had his four month doctors appointment and shots today. he was 18.2lbs and 27.5inches - "top of the charts, but that's no surprise," our doctor said. i cannot say enough good things about our pediatrician - he is a father of seven and a fantastic doctor. dax was all wiggly when he lifted him up and he said, "boy, he's a handful huh?" yup. :) i feel spoiled that lance was able to break away from work to go with us to the appointment. i hate watching him get shots, so it's really nice to have lance there as a calming presence and to hold him down.

and now lance is working an overnight shift that reminds me how thankful i am for his time in the army coming to a close.

the army has been good to us. lance is more than excited to be finished with his four years in the military and moving on to other things. for me the move back to pennsylvania is bittersweet. i've only been here for a year and a half (not even!), but oh what a year and a half it has been. columbus holds so many memories for me. we got engaged here, along the chattahoochee river. one of my favorite little spots and views in the world. brimming with beauty and sentimental moments.

we moved here after our wedding and had our first apartment together. it was my first time making a house a home, learning to cook and now loving to cook, and it was where we figured out how to be married and make our marriage work. lots of laughs and priceless memories, lots of fights and hard times too. the ups and downs that make our days a life.

this is where i carried my very first pregnancy. where dax and i spent so many moments together while lance was deployed. this is the apartment where i waited for lance to call so i could tell him that the ultrasound revealed we were having a boy. where i was filled with fear at the news of other rangers being killed and injured, and then with a guilty sort of gratitude that lance was okay.

we had the joy of being reunited when he returned from his deployment. the last two months of my pregnancy together, with lots of mcdonalds runs for ice cream sundaes and laughing at lance ordering in the drive through every time - for no other reason than sometimes i get the giggles and just can't stop laughing and i bring everyone around me down too. ;)

then my due date came and went and finally we got to meet dax a few days (that felt like an eternity) later. and in our cozy one bedroom apartment we learned how to be parents together. and we'll keep learning wherever we move next.

i think it's a bit easier for lance to move on because he is ready for a new career, and because he isn't quite as plugged in here as i am. i feel like i really immersed myself here and made the most of the past year and a half.

i'm kind of amazed at how many friendships i've formed in such a short time. and even so i am afraid that won't happen wherever we end up. i seem to have an ongoing fear of 'what if i don't make friends?!' even though so far i've made friends everywhere i've gone.

a military town and community make forming relationships kind of convenient - almost everyone is in a state of transition with their family spread across the country, so you become each other's family for the time that you're here. i love it. some of my favorite memories are just having people over for dinner and hanging out at our house. i have met so many strong people. a taste of military life would be good for a lot of people - it adds a lot of depth, appreciation and strength. i love our church and how welcoming the people were, how easy it was to jump in and fit in. i love all of our couple and family friends, and i love my other "mom friends" here with babes so close in age to mine. i loved walking through pregnancy and the newborn stage with them.

i heard a song on the radio with a line i adore: "God put a million, million doors in the world for his love to walk through, one of those doors is you." i complicate God's commands, but when i look at my life the thing that's always made a difference is the kindness of friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. when i think about things i want to impress upon dax, one would be that what matters most in our day is how we treat other people. i fail terribly at this - usually by getting in a hurry, concentrating on myself or being annoyed or distracted, but it really is what matters most. kindness and meaningful relationships make all the difference.

* * *

… i wrote that yesterday morning and i'm not sure where i was going with it, more than to say that i will miss columbus a lot. especially the friends.

the south is still every bit as weird to me as it was when i first came here - if not weirder - and i had more culture shock moving here than when i lived in nepal. the georgia-alabama line is a whole 'nother world. even though i never felt like i meshed with the southern culture, i will miss this crazy place.

it's been a formative season … and a very GROWING season. i feel like a different person from when i moved here, but that's good. change is usually hard while it's happening, but looking back it's almost always the best thing. something i think about often is: "insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results." i mention that because i'd take change over insanity any day.

i'm nervous heading into so many unknowns … but even if the changes are painful, they'll be worth it. it's like the speaker at our church said this week: God loves us just the way we are, obviously, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

imperfect

i never considered myself a perfectionist, because i thought that i never really did anything that was "perfect." does that sound like something a perfectionist would say or what? i still don't know that i am a perfectionist through and through, but i'm reading an amazing book by brene brown and i love the way she explains perfectionism …
"i don't think that some people are perfectionists and others are not. i think perfectionism exists along a continuum. we all have some perfectionist tendencies. for some, perfectionism may only emerge when they're feeling particularly vulnerable. for others, perfectionism can be compulsive, chronic, and debilitating, similar to addiction." [brene brown]
that's me. seeking perfection in certain areas. i think we all do. hence this being an excellent definition/observation. i highly recommend the book - "the gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are."

i first heard of brene when i listened to her amazing ted talk on vulnerability a few years ago. (it's a must hear. carve out a nook of time to listen.) i'm not sure why it took me so long to read her books, but i'm hooked!

reading it makes me feel a bit vulnerable. as in, 'people are going to think i'm so hoky/weird/psychotic reading a book with a title like this …' but it is one of the best books i've read in awhile. i took for granted how much free time i had to read before i had a baby, but reading is one of my favorite things to do so i am trying to be intentional about carving out time to read. it's usually as simple as skipping computer time when dax takes one of his power naps.

one of the other books i'm reading right now happens to tie into this thing of imperfection thing too: the nesting place, by myquillyn smith. and being the book fanatic that i am, i highly recommend this too!


i didn't buy it because we are moving in less than a month (ahhh!) so i'm trying not to buy anything besides food/necessities. i've read half of it at barnes and noble, and i wish i had bought it because it is SO GOOD. lance and i were hanging out there after a dinner date on saturday night, and i said, "it's not  very crowded tonight." he said, "well it is saturday night." oh yeah. some people's idea of a great time isn't hanging out at a bookstore on a weekend. but anyway. ;)

it's easy for me to believe lies that everyone has it all together … that their lives are going according to their plans … while sometimes i feel like i have no plan and when i do have some semblance of a plan nothing is going according to the so-called plan. are you lost yet? my mind is a complex place of nonstop thoughts, so i understand if this makes no sense. but i think something i want to do in response to reading brene's book is to write more. even if i feel like what i'm saying is silly or insignificant.

one thing i've been thinking about as i read, is that some of my best relationships have formed out of being vulnerable. it's been times in my life that i've been vulnerable … real … put myself out there … that i have really, truly connected with people. the people i love to be with and want to be like make it a point to be real, genuine, authentic. they do not apologize for who they are, they walk in confidence and gratitude, and are gracious to those around them. they are admitting imperfections, embracing who they are, living out in the open. sometimes you put yourself out there and don't get the response you imagined, but that's better than never trying. and the times when you do put yourself out there only to find out you're not alone, you're not the only one, and it's not just you … well, that's just the best feeling. freedom.

even though vulnerability can be scary … it's like anything else, in that the more we do it, the more natural it becomes. and we grow. and before we know it we're helping others to grow. and that's way better than the alternative of staying the same person for the rest of our lives, not learning from our circumstances or helping others to get through what we've gone through, and being locked down in fear.

i'm not even finished with brene's book yet, and i am refraining from quoting the whole thing here.

the nesting place book is about embracing imperfections in our homes. taking risks with decorating. but of course these themes can be applied to much more. and as i read about taking risks by putting holes in your walls, i thought, 'big deal, i can do that no problem …' the author was one step ahead of me and explained that while sure, that is easy for her too, there are other areas in life where she is scared to take risks.

myquillyn smith gives her example of makeup - put her in the cosmetics department and she is like a seven-year-old boy: lost. um, ME TOO. decorating risks might be easy … but makeup?! scary! so instead i don't wear much, if any. we all have areas in life we hold back instead of risking … usually for fear of messing up or not doing it right. but who is going to punish us if we do these things "wrong" or incorrectly? of course some things need to be perfect/precise (i.e. open heart surgery) but most of what we hold back in would not need to be that perfect/precise!

even though i am a writer, i hesitate to call myself a writer. and even though i am a good writer, i hesitate to call myself that. because the voice of fear in my head says that someone is probably reading this and noticing all of my grammatical errors ...going crazy over the fact that i have not used capital letters in the post … or thinking that i am babbling on about stupid information and not saying much of anything, or saying the same thing as someone else.

whether that's true or not … who cares? why do we worry so much about what other people think? why are we so hard on ourselves? both books i mentioned are challenging me to let go of those fears in life, let go of trying to do things "right" and just do them. i'm enough. there's not a point of arrival, not a rulebook, no one policing the world to stifle my creativity … i am the one stifling my own creativity and personality. it's time for self-compassion.
"we can find rest in our less than perfect circumstances when we figure out that no amount of striving can create the perfect life we think we are looking for. true rest comes when we realize that we can't get it from trying extra hard. we find rest when we give up." [myquillyn smith]
one of my favorite things about each passing year is knowing myself more and gaining confidence. i really do like who i am. but i need to be kinder to myself. lower my expectations for myself. (because i definitely do project them onto others then too - eek!) and something else i love about growing up is watching the lies i've believed be dismantled. like how i used to think i was the only person with insecurities. i couldn't tell that other people had them! i would elaborate, but that could probably be a blog post in and of itself, right?
"i've finally figured out that almost no one is living in their dream house. and i don't know anyone whose life has gone exactly like they would have planned. you make the best choices you can at the time with the information you have, and then you deal with the consequences, and that's the part where life happens." [myquillyn smith]
my life has not gone how i would have planned. at any given point one, two, three, four, five, ten, etc years ago if you had asked me where i'd be now, i would not and could not have predicted this. but you know what? i love my life! i love where i am now. it's not perfect. i'm not perfect. there are days i cry and yell and complain and wonder what's going to happen. but that's okay. it's normal to have emotions. and we're never the first person to feel that way, or the only person to feel that way. the ups and downs and meltdowns and i'm-so-happy-i-have-tears-or-my-face-hurts-from-smiling moments … that's life. and i love it. and it's easier to say that sometimes than others, but that's okay. it doesn't mean i'm ungrateful, it means i'm alive.

and it might be cliche, but even though my life has not gone how i would have planned … it's so much better! i grew up thinking of hawaii as a lifelong dream to attain. like maybe someday if i win the lottery or somehow figure out a way to be really rich, i could MAYBE go to hawaii. instead i got to live there when i was 18 and again when i was 20. and i got married thinking i wanted to wait five years to have kids, but instead i got pregnant on the pill in the very first year. and i was very depressed and angry and i thought it was wildly unfair … and it turns out i love being a mom, and the timing could not have been more perfect. (again, for so many reasons it would be another whole blog post!) and i have an incredibly beautiful, healthy, hilarious son who i love times infinity … and at least once every day i think about how crazy i was to think that getting pregnant "accidentally" (yeah right! God's got great plans for our family, and none of this is by accident) in the first year was a bad thing.
"we find rest in the incompleteness of the present moment as we learn to recognize the goodness of what is and we trust that what is needed for the future will be added at the proper time." [sally breedlove]
… that's a quote used in the nesting place, and i want to end with a challenge also swiped from that book: practice taking little risks until it gets easier. you know where you need to risk … and you can do it. feel free to let me know how it goes. ;)

p.s. i am not editing or re-reading this post … just clicking "publish" and going to bed … taking little risks until it gets easier … because that's not easy for the perfectionist in me.

Monday, May 5, 2014

bits and pieces about baby

the hidden costs of having a baby are things like running the dryer so he will take a nap, and turning on the shower so the bathroom gets really steamy so he will stop crying and relax and forget about that phlegm problem he has. no one tells you about those things.

people try to make you think it's expensive because of all the stuff you "have" to buy, but you don't really need much. especially for dax. he doesn't like his baby swing. (not a big deal since it was a few bucks at a yard sale.) sometimes he will sit in his bouncy seat (free from a friend who got two! see how easy it is to save on baby stuff?) but what he really likes is sitting in the recliner. and not just with me or his dad - he loves sitting up in the recliner and just chilling out by himself.

from my itsy bitsy teeny tiny bit of experience with parenting … here is almost three months worth of advice, observations, thoughts …

- be flexible. start each day with new with fresh perspective and a good attitude.

- remember everything is temporary. the good, and the bad.

- just when you think you have your baby figured out, they will change it up. so don't worry about trying to figure everything out.

- buy a nosefrida. it is the coolest product, and way better than the gross nasal aspirators from the hospital. (swedish design, so of course it's genius.)

- new baby smell is heavenly! i had no idea! (or maybe i didn't believe the hype!) this is one of my strongest memories from the hospital, and if there is a scent i could bottle up … it would be the way dax smelled the first few days after he was born. amazing.

- when baby screams i feel like i will lose my mind. sometimes i had to say, "WHAT DO YOU WANT? JUST TELL ME AND I WILL DO IT!" but when baby sleeps … and smiles … it makes everything okay, and there is nowhere else i would rather be.

- i might have also told lance, "i am a words person! i need words! how am i supposed to do this if babies don't use words!" meltdowns were the norm the first several weeks. i mean meltdowns are the norm my whole life, but post-pregnancy hormones don't mess around, sheesh.

- cutting dairy from my diet helped dax so much. i felt like a horrible mom for not figuring out sooner that this was what was bothering him.

- i braced for the worst and expected a newborn to wreak havoc on our young marriage … and i was oh so pleasantly surprised to find the OPPOSITE! my love for lance has grown and grown since having dax. watching him be a dad is so awesome, and i feel like our marriage is getting stronger and stronger.

- babies are funny. we laugh at dax so much and he laughs at us and it's awesome.

- being a family is awesome. one of my favorite things as a kid was getting pizza on sunday evenings with my parents and brother … eating it at the park in  the summer and playing on the playground … or at our house in the winter and watching baywatch (so wholesome) … and we have fallen into a tradition of late of getting pizza downtown and walking by the river. my heart could just burst it makes me so happy. ahh, family + the simple joys of life.

- learn to live tired. just accept that it's the way it will be … and then any sleep you get is a pleasant surprise, and when you don't get sleep you adapt easier.

- taking out trash and doing laundry. that might be what you do the most, besides feeding baby.

- getting dax dressed in cute outfits is as fun as i anticipated it would be and then some. i love that i get to set his style. baby clothes are just adorable, that's all there is to it.

- i have always been a big sweat-er … even at night, which is weird and a long story, only because it's me and i can make just about anything a long story … but after having baby i would wake up at night DRENCHED in sweat! i have (so far) talked to one friend who had this same experience, so i know it's not just me, thank God. it was probably the first four weeks after, and now it's over. i guess i was sweating out pregnancy hormones? or dropping the weight? thank you mom and dad for great genes and metabolism, even if it does mean i sweat like a manly man.

- don't waste so much time researching labor/birth and forget about the rest … you'll probably end up having a c-section if you do that! ;)

- lactation consultants are angels in disguise. ;) breastfeeding … though natural and seemingly simple … can be complicated! i love it now that it's going well, but there were definitely some anxiety-ridden times with that process. it's a lot of pressure that you are in charge of keeping your baby alive and if the breastfeeding isn't working, then what?!

- old people love babies! i love making their day. i should take dax to nursing homes.

- old people also love to say: "is there even a baby in there?! i can't see him!" when dax is in his carseat at the grocery store or wherever. i accidentally got in a habit of grocery shopping on wednesdays and quickly realized that is senior citizen discount day. old people think this is a sly way of getting to see the baby, but i'm onto their tricks and lift up the blanket/carseat canopy before they finish saying it now. one night at an italian restaurant a huge table of old people (i know, it's probably very offensive to keep saying old people over and over, but i can't stop now) was leaving and they all stopped to coo over dax. his face watching them all was hilarious. one sweet (old) man said, "the old and the new, right here together." it was funny but i also could have cried at the sentiment.

- even if you dress your baby in blue, people will say "she" or ask "boy or girl?" and it will be really offensive … even though you know you wonder the same thing about other babies. (but really, blue should still signify baby BOY to the public, even in these crazy mixed up times - come on people.)

- sleep when the baby sleeps. easier said than done, but the best advice. which is why this post is getting cut short and to be continued who knows when. ;)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

a ridiculous post about eyes (and worrying)

the other night i was literally lying (or laying? what kind of english major am i ...) awake in bed, unable to fall asleep, because i was worrying that i might have eye cancer or need to have my eye removed or wear an eye patch the rest of my life. the more i thought about it and worried, the worse my eye hurt.

my eye had been really, really red a week before that and i told lance i was worried about it. not a completely ridiculous concern, because last summer i had a corneal ulcer in each eye. if corneal ulcers sounds like something more common in senior citizens than women in their twenties, that is because they are. leave it to me to have not one, but two.

the eye doctor who diagnosed them told me that it was very serious and it was good we caught it early, because you can go blind from these things. talk about terrifying. and because i was pregnant we couldn't even use the medication usually used to treat them, so that was also unsettling. but i got a different prescription and eventually they were cleared up to the specialist's satisfaction.

so when my eye was all red i got scared, but lance assured me it was probably just because i was so sleep deprived. the redness went away in a day or so, and i sighed in relief that lance was right.

but then my eye started hurting and burning, and after my sleepless night i made an eye doctor appointment.

naturally, two things happened.

first it occurred to me that maybe it was allergies. the pollen in columbus is severe. (but why was only one eye so bothered?)

second, my eye started to feel MUCH better today, the day of my appointment. isn't that always how it goes?

so i went to my eye doctor appointment tonight … only to be told: allergies. more bothersome in my left eye because the corneal ulcer was so bad in that eye, and now my eye could always be extra sensitive.

i have to laugh at myself … because how many of my worries are like this? (um, all of them.) i let my mind go crazy only for everything to be a-okay so many times, that i barely remember all of the times that it happens. which is why i decided to write this ridiculous post as a future reminder not to worry.


the other thing i got worked up about this week that ended up being fine, was dax's two month shots. partly because of the recent hype/controversy over whether vaccines are good or not for babies. mostly because i didn't want to see him in pain, and i was stressing that he would be screaming the rest of the day and night. but lance went along and helped to hold him down, so i didn't really have to watch … best husband/dad! and dax slept way more than usual that day and night - woohoo!

dax was 14.1lbs and 25 inches. i think he might be an inch taller, but the nurse had to work just to get him to stretch his leg so as it was. both of his nurses and the doctor commented about how strong he is. watching his personality grow is so much fun. we love him so much.