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Ten Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I cannot believe it is already time once again to do another post, Alex’s ten month blog post!  It has been a busy month, and it is not always easy to keep up with everything, but we are doing our best!  The theme this month, summed up in one word, is affection.  Alex is now giving us kisses and hugs regularly.  It is the sweetest — she crawls up on us and then stands up to get herself level with our faces and then she opens her mouth wide and then leans her lips onto our lips!  Then, she giggles and thinks it is just too funny.  She is giving us lots of hugs, too.  She can even ‘high five!’ and she can shake one’s hand as well.  She also really enjoys her story time.  As pictured below, in the evenings, Doug places her in her crib and then reads to her with Alex standing up, perched over her crib looking at the pictures.  Otherwise, if she is in our lap, when we read to her, she just wants to eat the books and grab all of the pages!  So, this has become a nightly ritual at bed time!

Alex likes her gated play area containing some of her toys, which we affectionately refer to as her ‘baby jail’ comprised of this gate and this play mat.  She loves to play with her toys, (she is really into balls right now and she is playing more with her toys instead of immediately putting the toys and everything in sight in her mouth), and she likes it even more when one of us plays with her, and she often demands one of us be with her playing!  If we are in a pinch, Victory will serve as her ‘play buddy’ in her ‘baby jail’ or in her nursery, buying us a little time to get some things done around the house.  Victory, fortunately, will cooperate!  Alex is still very aware and into Victory!  I think that Alex wishes that Victory would just sit still and literally play with her!  We are trying to teach Alex, as much as we can, to be gentle with her fur sister, Victory.  Hopefully, when Alex can understand more, she will be able to be a little more gentle with Victory.  Victory is not too keen on Alex ‘charging’ her, even though Alex means well.  Alex is currently learning what ‘no’ means.  Victory has been incredibly tolerant with Alex, which we are very thankful.  Alex is still growing like a weed and she was literally off the charts with her size when she was at her nine-month doctor’s appointment.  She is healthy, thankfully, and she is doing really well.  She had two more teeth crack through her gums this month, with more on the imminent way.   Alex is crawling all over and she really likes to and prefers to be standing vertical.  She is curious and loves to get into everything in sight!  She is balancing herself on her own more and for longer periods; and, just before Mother’s Day, Alex took her first step just before plopping down!  She literally seems to be moving right along.

Also, during this month, we celebrated our first Easter together, and it was fun.  Alex also had her first Easter Egg Hunt at her play school, which was fun, too — we helped her of course!  Both Alex and Victory got their own Easter baskets on Easter morning and they seemed to enjoy their Easter morning together!  We also just celebrated our first Mother’s Day as a family of four, which was really special!  Doug and I had a date night this month, which was nice.  We aim for one date night a month right now, if we are lucky!  Also, this month, Doug and I somehow finished getting our gardening and decks ready for the spring and summer months; and Alex and Victory are enjoy going out on the deck together overlooking their neighborhood!  Doug is also currently finishing some more baby proofing, which seems to never end!

We are looking forward to enjoying our spring and summer with Alex and Victory!  We cannot believe Alex turns one so soon!  This month has been full of some exciting changes and Alex will continue to keep us on our toes.  We love our girls and we are embracing it all, and we feel extremely blessed!

A few highlights from Alex’s tenth month include:

-she took her first step this month, which was exciting!

-she is standing and balancing herself more each day!

-she still loves crawling and getting into everything in sight!

-she is sleeping well in her crib in her sleep sack, while she is still getting up one time a night to eat most nights — we really hope to get her sleeping through the night soon, as we are very tired!

-she loves being with her fur sister, Victory, and loves when Victory joins her for a meal, while Alex eats in her high chair.  Alex creates lots of ‘droppings’ that Victory helps herself to!

-she is making lots of different sounds and she is getting louder with her sounds!  She still likes to laugh and giggle, too!

-she is very ticklish and she lets out the cutest giggles as a result!

-she still loves going for stroller rides outside!

-she loves her bed time routine and Doug usually plays with her, gets her ready for bed, and reads a few stories, which Alex loves!

-she likes bath time more and loves to splash in the water and play with her toys in the water!

-she is eating well and cheese was introduced this month, and she absolutely loves it, along with Victory, of course!

-she is still very alert, curious, and observant!  She still loves to interact with other kids and observe them!

 

A few highlights I would like to remember:

-photographing and making videos of Alex — I want to remember and capture as much as I can!

-remembering her taking her first step!

-remembering her sweet kisses and hugs!

-remembering her giving us some ‘high fives!’

-remembering how intrigued she is with my buttons on my clothing and necklaces that I wear.

-remembering how Alex likes to close her bedroom door continuously.

-remembering how Alex loves to crawl all over us, like we are her ‘human jungle gym.’

-remembering that she likes to have her back rubbed once we put her in her crib to help get her settled.

-remembering how she giggles so hard when she is tickled behind her ears!  She finds this hysterical!

-remembering our walks together around the neighborhood in her Bugaboo, which she loves!

-remembering how we say, “It’s time for sleepy time,” and then Alex makes the biggest smile!

-watching her explore her environment — which has grown ten-fold for her because she is really on the move!

-watching her ride on her Daddy’s shoulders, which never gets old!

-watching her try to chase Victory in order to try to grab/pet Victory’s fur!

-greeting Alex in her nursery each morning, as she is ready to start her day early no matter whether it is a week day or morning!

-loving how she smells after her baths!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing and growing and she is getting a little bit of wave in her hair in the back!  It will be neat if she gets some curls, but we will have to see.

-loving on her long, velvety and smooth body!

-loving her giggles!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts, and now we can see all six of her teeth!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!

-loving her long and lovely dark eye lashes!

-knowing on the days that I feel totally exhausted, that I will someday really miss these early days, and I need to remind myself, at times of this fact.  The daily exhaustion is improving, some.

-still asking myself what will I miss about this time of my life when it’s all gone?  This question keeps everything in perspective.

-most of all, we are cherishing getting to be Alex’s parents!

Doug and I are very grateful for our little girl and our little family!  We feel so fortunate and our hearts have grown so much since Alex’s arrival.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality continue to develop and unfold.  Below are a few images: Alex’s monthly portrait; Alex and Victory’s monthly portrait; followed by photos of Alex throughout this month; and some iphone images during her tenth month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s one month snapshot here; her two month snapshot here; her three month snapshot here; her four month snapshot here; her five month snapshot here; her six month snapshot here; her seven month snapshot here; her eight month snapshot here; and her nine month post here.

(The monthly photos are still tricky; Alex is in her laundry basket again this month because she kept crawling away.  I just have to find a way to capture Alex and Victory for a couple more months in order to make it to a year, chronicling this special year via this photo series!)

This month I have also been working hard on further revisions on my long-term photography project with my mentor in between everything; and it is quite a bit of work keeping up with Alex’s monthly photos; printing of the images; creating her photo book for her first year; creating blog posts; and writing Promptly Journal entries.  However, this time will only happen once, and we want to record and remember it, so we are going to keep going with this process through the first year, where so many changes occur, sometimes seemingly over night!  I will always continue to photograph our little family to document our time together, but I am not, yet, sure how that will look for us after the first year with Alex!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from this month!

(The images immediately shown below capture our first Mother’s Day together).

 

 

 

Thoughts: Mother’s Day

 

I cannot believe Mother’s Day is already upon us.  All mothers and mother figures deserve to be celebrated on Sunday.  Mothers that have been blessed with babies; mothers who’s babies left too soon; mothers who are waiting to meet their special baby; mothers who are yearning to become a mom; fur moms; and those who are mother figures.  We need all types of mothers to help us through this life.  The journey towards motherhood is not always freshly paved.  The path towards parenthood, for us, was filed with unexpected twists and turns, which made for a long and complicated journey.  There were previous Mother’s Days where our hearts ached after experiencing loss.  As a result, we are so very grateful for Alex and Victory and for this season together.  This is our first Mother’s Day as a family of four and my heart will never be the same.  I feel so thankful that I have the privilege of being a mom, which I never take for granted.  So wherever you are in your journey, you are worthy of every celebration held in your honor.  Happy Mother’s Day, to every type of mamma out there!

“In all the world, there is  no heart for me like yours.  In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.” — Maya Angelou

Favorite Podcasts

I love to listen to podcasts, when I have time, which feels few and far between these days!  I often listen to podcasts when I am out on walks with Alex and Victory or during the evenings when the house is quiet and I am able to work on trying to keep up with the editing our family photos!  It is a nice break to listen to something interesting, for sure!

Below are some favorite podcasts I am enjoying, which all can be found on your phone podcast app.

 

 

Family Secrets Podcast: When Dani Shapiro accidentally stumbled upon a massive secret that had been kept from her all her life, she dove into discovering everything she could about how that secret had shaped her reality and her destiny.  Then she started talking with other people about their family secrets.  Dani and her guests explore the power of family secrets and the ways in which discovering – and revealing – the truth can liberate us.  (I absolutely loved Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro, the memoir this podcast is derived from).

The goop Podcast: Gwyneth Paltrow and goop’s Chief Content Officer, Elise Loehnen, chat with leading thinkers, culture changers, and industry disruptors—from doctors to creatives, CEOs to spiritual healers—about shifting old paradigms and starting new conversations.  There are so many wonderful and insightful interviews on this podcast!

The Lively Show: The Lively show is hosted by Jess Lively and this is a weekly podcast designed to uplift, inspire and add a little extra presence to your everyday.  This show covers areas such as blogging; business; career; design; food; money; and motherhood.  There is also a YouTube spin-off of the Lively Show here.

Cultivate Your Life Podcast: Whether you are feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or in need of some refreshing truth, each week Lara Casey will brings practical tips, starting steps, and good news about how to grow what matters in your life—right where you are.

Against the Rules Michael Lewis: Journalist and bestselling author Michael Lewis takes a searing look at what’s happened to fairness—in financial markets, newsrooms, basketball games, courts of law, and much more.  There are fascinating stories on this podcast.

Ted Talks Daily Podcast: This podcast discusses thought-provoking ideas on every subject imaginable — from Artificial Intelligence to Zoology, and everything in between — given by the world’s leading thinkers and doers.  These talks on this podcast are very interesting.

Happy Monday!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from our cherubs, Alex and Victory!  Alex had her first Easter Egg Hunt yesterday at her play school; she is pictured below just after we finished her egg hunt and we were on our way to dinner!  (Doug and I helped Alex find some eggs.)  She had a good time and she received a sweet Easter basket after the egg hunt!  The Easter Bunny is ready to visit our cherubs on Sunday, and we are excited to celebrate Alex’s first Easter!  Wishing you a wonderful Easter weekend!

By the way, I am taking a spring break from the blog next week, and I plan to be back the following week!

“It is spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Friday!

 

Nine Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I cannot believe it is already time once again to do another post, Alex’s nine month blog post!  The time is going by so quickly right now!  Alex has now been an ‘external baby’ as long as she was an ‘internal baby!’  The theme this month, summed up in one word, is teething.  Alex’s top, middle two front teeth came in!  As of this writing, both of her front teeth have cracked through the gums, thankfully!  She has been uncomfortable with these two teeth coming in.  This month, she has even ‘personalized’ her crib — she has made teeth marks all along the top perimeter of her crib.  Had I known, I would have bought some protectors, but it is too late now!  Victory also had issues with her teeth this month; she had a recent dental, whereby it was discovered that her middle two lower teeth were loose and they were pulled as a result.  Victory healed up well, thankfully.  So, one of our cherubs is gaining teeth, while the other cherub is losing teeth!  Alex is still really, really into Victory and wants to pet her insistently and crawl after her all the time!  Victory, is adjusting more with Alex being mobile!  However, Victory is much quicker than her sister, Alex, and can out run Alex in a heart beat!  However, Victory still makes her daily morning and evening rounds with Alex, which is so adorable!

Alex is well and she is sickness free, for the time being, which is great!  She is standing up on her own for a few seconds, at a time, and she is pulling herself up on everything in sight!  She still loves her walker!  (Victory is still sacred a bit by the walker!)  Alex loves crawling all over our house and getting into everything!  She loves our cook books in the kitchen and she loves my photo albums in the living room!  She also loves the door stops and Doug just replaced them all through the house to a more ‘child friendly’ type of door stop.  She also loves to chew on my keys and crocs, and we plan to get her a pair of her own crocs!  She even likes to be crawl around the deck and look out over our neighborhood!  We are in the process of getting our decks cleaned, flowers planted, and our outdoor furniture out in the next couple of weeks!  Alex has been out to eat several times during this month, and she has done really well!  We now have a bag with all of her ‘going out to eat gear!’  We even got Victory out to eat with us a few times, as the weather, for the most part, has been relatively nice here!  We have done quite a few walks together, this month, which has been great!  Alex still likes to try a variety of foods, which is great!  She still really loves vanilla yogurt, probably her favorite food right now!  She is also such a big girl drinking from her sippy cup!

Alex is really big in size and she always lets you know how she feels, without hesitation!  When we were at the doctor’s at the end of March, for a check, to make sure Alex’s pneumonia had indeed resolved, she was off the charts with her size.  She seems to continue to grow and grow!  We go to her nine month appointment next week, and we imagine that she will be even bigger!  Some mornings, she just looks and feels bigger.  My arms definitely get a work out these days, as a result!  The doctor said most people will think Alex is over a year old based upon her size!  I feel like I birthed a little giant some days!  We just ordered her some new spring and summer clothes, as we bought a lot of clothes before she was born, not knowing how big she would be — so our stock pile of clothes did not last as long as we anticipated!  We now know what fits her well (she has a long torso like her Daddy) and what type of fabric she likes to wear!  We also look forward to the outdoor pools opening next month, and we are signing Alex up for swim lessons since she is finally over all of her sickness and it is now warmer outside!  She is enjoying bath time more these days, so we hope that she will take to the water!

Our days are getting more predictable with time, which has been nice.  Alex usually takes two naps, or one long nap a day these days.  Alex is still getting up once a night to eat, and we hope that we can get her sleeping through the entire night soon.  She still goes to bed early and she is an early riser, so Doug and I are on her schedule, as a result.  She is also doing really well at her play school and appears to be developing well.  She is making different sounds and loves to make her “o” sounds and she rounds her lips when making this sound, which is just really cute.  She has learned how to give kisses, which are more like licks, which I love!

We are looking forward to enjoying our spring and summer with Alex and Victory!  We cannot believe Alex turns one so soon!  We have some fun ideas and plans for her first birthday!  This month has been full of some exciting changes and Alex will continue to keep us on our toes.  We love our girls and we are embracing it all, and we feel extremely blessed!

A few highlights from Alex’s ninth month include:

-she loves crawling all over and getting into things — she is getting into everything (my purse, photo albums, cook books, Victory’s water bowl, etc.) and putting everything she can get her hands on into her mouth!

-she is pulling herself up and standing on her own balancing herself for a few seconds at a time!  She also loves to pull herself up on Doug and myself and then she balances herself, which she thinks is fantastic!

-she is afraid of strangers, people she does not recognize, and she then cries when held by an unfamiliar face, which we think is pretty normal right now.

-she is sleeping well in her crib in her sleep sack, while still getting up one time a night to eat most nights — we hope to get her sleeping through the night soon!

-we are almost done with finishing our baby proofing; and we recently ordered Alex a bigger play yard and play mat for our main floor, which she, hopefully, she will like, along with some new fun toys Doug picked out!

-she is still making lots of different sounds and she loves to laugh and giggle!

-she is still ‘throwing raspberries’ often, and she thinks it is hilarious!  It is not so funny when she throws raspberries when she has food in her mouth!

-she has learned to give ‘kisses!’

-she loves going for walks!

-she loves music!

-she still loves to be read to each day!

-she still finds the mirror to be very captivating and intriguing!

-she loves to play with her toys and now she likes to pick out her own toys to play with!

-she is enjoying eating and trying new foods and she likes to feed herself and she likes to share her food with Victory, many food droppings find their way to the floor!

-she is still very alert and observant!  She still loves to interact with other kids and observe them!

 

A few highlights I would like to remember:

-photographing and making videos of Alex — I want to remember and capture as much as I can!

-remembering her pulling herself up and standing on her own (for several seconds) for the first time!

-remembering that she is never afraid to let us know how she feels!

-remembering her determination!

-remembering how she is learning to give ‘kisses,’ which melts my heart!

-remembering her trying the ‘big girl’ swing at our neighborhood park for the first time, shown below!

-remembering how intrigued she is with my buttons on my clothing and necklaces that I wear.

-remembering that she likes to have her back rubbed once we put her in her crib to help get her settled.

-remembering that she likes to hold her bottles now to feed herself and she appears to be right-handed, but time will tell.

-remembering that she always likes to hold a burp cloth while she has a bottle and when she falls asleep.

-remembering her giggling when she gets the soap lathered on her during her baths.  She is so ticklish!

-remembering how she giggles so hard when she is tickled behind her ears!  She finds this hysterical!

-remembering our bedtime routine where she just laughs and giggles before bed during which she loves to crawl into our laps and give us hugs right before bed.

-remembering our walks together around the neighborhood in her Bugaboo, which she loves!

-remembering how we say, “It’s time for sleepy time,” and then Alex makes the biggest smile!

-watching her explore her environment — which has grown ten-fold for her because she is really on the move!

-watching her ride on her Daddy’s shoulders, which never gets old!

-watching her try to chase Victory in order to try to catch up with Victory!

-greeting Alex in her nursery each morning.  It is and adjustment to see her standing and making teeth marks all over the top of her crib!

-loving how she smells after her baths!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing and growing!  It will be neat if she gets some curls, but we will have to see.

-loving on her long, velvety and smooth body!

-enjoying our morning time together, where Victory joins us each morning whereby she licks her sister, Alex, from head to toe!

-loving her giggles!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts, and now we can see all four of her teeth!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!  I think she might have her Great Grandma Rose’s eyes, and we gave Alex the middle name “Rose” in honor of Doug’s beloved Grandma Rose.

-loving her long and lovely dark eye lashes!

-loving her rosy red cheeks!

-knowing on the days that I feel totally exhausted, that I will someday really miss these early days, and I need to remind myself, at times of this fact.  The daily exhaustion is improving, some.

-still asking myself what will I miss about this time of my life when it’s all gone?  This question keeps everything in perspective.

-most of all, we are cherishing getting to be Alex’s parents!

Doug and I are very grateful for our little girl and our little family!  We feel so fortunate and our hearts have grown so much since Alex’s arrival, and I feel as though a part of me has been awakened.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality continue to develop and unfold.  Below are a few images: Alex’s monthly portrait; Alex and Victory’s monthly portrait; followed by photos of Alex throughout this month; and some iphone images during her ninth month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s one month snapshot here; her two month snapshot here; her three month snapshot here; her four month snapshot here; her five month snapshot here; her six month snapshot here; her seven month snapshot here; and her eight month snapshot here.

The monthly photos are getting a bit more tricky; Alex is in her laundry basket this month because she kept crawling away.  I tried to use her walker, and she kept jumping up and down, scaring Victory, who started to run away.  So, I tried placing her into her seagrass laundry basket, where Alex had to balance herself and it worked!  I just have to find a way to capture Alex and Victory for a few more months in order to make it to a year, chronicling this special year via this photo series!  It is definitely more tricky to photograph them together these days!

I have been working on further revisions on my long-term photography project with my mentor in between everything; and it has been quite a bit of work keeping up with Alex’s monthly photos; printing of the images; creating her photo book for her first year; creating blog posts; and writing Promptly Journal entries.  However, this time will only happen once, and we want to record and remember it, so we are going to keep going with this process through the first year, where so many changes occur, sometimes seemingly over night!  I will always continue to photograph our little family to document our time together, but I am not, yet, sure how that will look for us after the first year with Alex!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from this month!

(The image immediately below is one of my favorite images of Alex).

 

 

 

 

 

A fun video!

Do you have a Nickname?

Do you have a fun nickname?  Funnily enough, our baby Alex already has a nickname!  About two months after Alex was born, Doug came home from work and, while I held Alex, Doug greeted her and he proceeded to pull Alex’s pants at the waist band, (Alex was wearing a cotton onesie with matching cotton pants with an elastic waist band), and she subsequently let out the loudest cry, her face became beat red, and she was very, very upset, as a result.  Ever sense, Doug has referred to Alex as “britches,” and the nickname has stuck!  What an unlikely nickname!  Also, Victory has a couple of nicknames, “Tory” and “Ms. T.”  Victory knows her nicknames very well, and she always responds to in kind!  I sometimes catch myself mixing up their names, especially when I am tired.

Doug also has a nickname for me, “Big Cheetah,” which has stuck for the past almost fifteen years!  And, Doug is my “Panda.”  The ‘cheetah and panda’ is a metaphor for our relationship, and we even had a cheetah and panda displayed atop our wedding cake!  We also have a collection, that has been put away, due to Alex’s arrival, comprising a menagerie of cheetahs and pandas that we have acquired over the past fifteen years!  Maybe Alex will like to play with them some day, as some of the cheetahs and pandas now reside in her nursery!  We are not sure what animal metaphor represents Alex, yet, but she seems, thus far, not to be a “panda,” but time will tell . . .

 

ASPCA: Dog Fighting, A Fighting Chance

Today is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day.  The ASPCA recently contacted me and asked me to share this information with you, kindly asking you to take a stand against the barbaric practice by taking legislative action in support of the HEART Act while also posting on social media to help spread the word.  As way of background, the HEART Act is important legislation that would help victims of dog fighting by decreasing their length of stay in temporary shelters and allowing them to be rehabilitated and re-homed faster.

As a result, the ASPCA would love your help in raising awareness by doing a blog piece or sharing one of the following, listed immediately below, on social media anytime during April 2019:

  • Today, I’m helping the @ASPCA fight for victims of dog fighting and put an end to this barbaric practice. Visit ASPCA.org/AFightingChance to give dogfighting rescues a #FightingChance
  • In honor of National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, sign the HEART Act, which helps victims of dogfighting find loving homes quicker: ASPCA.org/AFightingChance @ASPCA #FightingChance

Thank you so much for your help with this important cause helping these dogs have a fighting chance!

 

 

The above image is courtesy of the ASPCA.

Loving Spring 2019

Happy spring!  We hope that it will actually feel more and more like spring on a consistent basis soon!  We have, however, had a few beautiful days here that we have really enjoyed outside!  Below are some items I am loving!

 

 

1. Justin’s Peanut Butter — I recently tried this peanut butter, and it is really great — I highly recommend it!  Victory loves it, too!  (Victory recently had a dental and lost two teeth, poor girl, and we used this peanut butter to give her pain and inflammation medicine, and it worked!)

2. Journal —  I have been using this journal, and I really love it.  It has wonderful inspirational quotes included as well!

3. Tommy John’s Air Brief — These are my new favorite undies that Doug got for me recently!  (Doug also got a pair, to try, and he loves them, too!)  (My past favorite undies here and here are, unfortunately, no longer made.)

4. Dare to Lead — This book was a great read!  It is a wonderful actionable handbook on creating a space for better work and more fulfilled people.  Brown writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable.  It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart.  Easy?  No.  Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default.  Worth it?  Always.  We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”

5. Diono Car Seat  — We love our Diono car seats, and, importantly, Alex seems to love them, too!  These should last us a good while, unlike our infant car seat!

6. Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion — I really love this lotion!  It is wonderful and I use it everyday after I shower.  There is no scent, no oily residue, and it keeps my skin really hydrated!  I highly recommend it!

Happy Spring!

You can view other things I love here!

Interview: Lydia Sohn, Writer and Minister

Interview with Lydia Sohn, Writer and Minister

Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Lydia Sohn, a writer, minister, and speaker who lives in San Diego, California with her husband and young son.  I fell in love with Lydia’s blog last fall, when I discovered her wonderful blog chalked full of wisdom, that I look forward to reading each week.  Below, Lydia shares her thoughts on creativity!  You can learn more about Lydia here.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How did your journey lead you to becoming a minister and writer?

LYDIA SOHN: It all happened very naturally.  Neither were careers I considered for myself, even up until my college years.  Looking back, of course, it makes complete sense because spirituality and writing were always sources of great joy for me.  And then I experienced a lot of resistance towards the ministry once I did have an inkling that might be the path for me.  I grew up in a fairly conservative church with only male ministers around me.  I didn’t even think women could be ministers for most of my life, much less young women! 

Writing as a profession came with less resistance but there was still a lot of self-doubt.  I thought one had to be a bookish introvert with certain literary tastes to be a “real writer” but I eventually discovered that to be false as I began to write regularly and for the public.  With both of these careers, one step simply followed the next and the outcomes unraveled organically. 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What artists/writers inspire you?

LYDIA SOHN: Julia Cameron was really the first artist/writer to release the writer within me through her books, The Right to Write and The Artist’s Way.  Prior to reading those books, I relied upon a lot of external validation to legitimate my craft.  Those books empowered me to write simply because I wanted to and for no other reason than that.  She suggests these powerful exercises that help the artist with every person emerge. 

Before Julia Cameron though, my writing style had been greatly influenced by Lauren Winner and Anne Lammott because both of them are spiritual authors who activated a latent desire and potential within me to articulate my own spiritual journey. 

More recently, I have been so greatly nourished by Elizabeth Gilbert and her ideas about creativity.  Much of her ideas about creativity are in her book, Big Magic, but she also riffs on these ideas a lot in her talks, interviews and podcast.  She’s similar to Julia Cameron in that she believes that what we long to write about pre-exists so it’s not something we have to think up but rather, listen closely and download.  I find this idea to be incredibly liberating because it takes the pressure off of us to produce amazing ideas.  We just need to follow our curiosity, observe where it takes us and then document it. 

 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any rituals and/or practice that you implement while writing?

LYDIA SOHN: Yes, I rely greatly on time-blocking to get all of my writing done.  I am a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique.  I discovered it when I was juggling a lot of different projects and it’s the only thing that has enabled me to keep writing and a full-time job while at the same time, raise a small child.

 

KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any favorite, go-to books for inspiration?

LYDIA SOHN: I definitely have a canon of books that have changed my life and return to whenever I want to be re-grounded.  Included in this canon are Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now and Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak.  A book that radically helped my marriage is Alison Armstrong’s The Queen’s Code.  Another book that was a godsend is Intuitive Eating.  I struggled with an eating disorder after I graduated from college and that book put my debilitating struggle to an end.  It also transformed my entire worldview and moral philosophy.  You have to read the book to know what I’m talking about. 

 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How do you not let fear hinder you from beginning a new endeavor?

LYDIA SOHN: I have so much fear and so much doubt when I’m about to begin a new endeavor!  What soothes my anxiety is a belief that what will be will be.  Another Elizabeth Gilbert idea I love is that we as artists and designers of our own lives must do what we can on our ends but we have to let God (or the universe, whatever metaphysical reality that resonates with you) take care of the rest.  The way she puts it is, “our labor is the contribution to the miracle.”  In that way, I do my due diligence by being faithful to my responsibilities and then let God take over the rest.  If it’s meant to be, it will unravel accordingly.  If it’s not meant to be, doors will close fairly quickly.  God is so good to me in giving me really helpful signs to guide me and show me which endeavors I’m supposed to pursue and which I’m endeavors I’m supposed to let go of. 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated daily? 

LYDIA SOHN: What inspires me to keep going is a sense of deep joy and fulfillment I derive from my work.  I do the work I do now—ministry and writing—because it fulfills me so much and I feel that they are the perfect channels for expressing my interests and strengths.  There is perfect alignment with my internal desires and my external work so it’s easy to just keep going.  My work becomes a grind when there’s misalignment in some way or I’m over-working.  Whenever I notice myself avoiding or resenting my work, I take those as clues to look closer to see where I’m misaligned with a certain project or whether I just need some more rest.

 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: How has becoming a mom impacted your creativity, writing, and ministering?

LYDIA SOHN: Parenting is the most awe-inspiring and at the same time, challenging experience of my life.  This experience then, inevitably provides abundant material for me to reflect, write and preach about.  It has been said by many parents that our love for our children gives us a clarifying lens through which to understand God’s love for us a little more.  This has most certainly been the case for me.  Whereas before parenting, I spent most of my life striving to earn God’s love and favor, I soon realized after I had my son that God’s love and favor have been with me from the very beginning, and is non-negotiable.  In that way then, my life is no longer a test with loaded temptations but rather, a generous gift for me to enjoy. 

Being a working mom has also helped me to create better boundaries.  I am much better at saying “no” to projects or commitments I’m not fully passionate about because if I’m not protective of my time, I will wear myself down and subsequently, hurt my family.

And finally, because I’m a type-A kind of personality who derives a lot of satisfaction from work and productivity, parenting has forced me to slow down and trust in the process of life; to focus less on producing and focus more on being present.  I know I only get one chance to parent each phase of my son’s life and I won’t ever be able to rewind time so this reminds me to be here fully. 

 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: You help people cultivate their authentic selves.  What advice do you have for others trying to do this?

LYDIA SOHN: Oh my goodness, I teach an entire workshop series on this so it’s hard for me to encapsulate it here now.  In a nutshell, the theme is: march to the beat of your own drum.  Stop measuring your value and worth based on others and social expectations.  Follow your joy and align with your own values, not others’.  And if you don’t know what those are because you’re so disconnected from your true self, observe what lights you up and fulfills you and start doing them.  Take small steps and slowly, those small steps will open up an entire path for you.  I’m going to release some workbooks that give step-by-step instructions on how to do all of this so subscribe to revlydia.com if you want to be in the know about those workbooks. 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: You have some of the most thoughtful blog posts, which I find to be especially helpful.  How do your blog ideas come to you?

LYDIA SOHN: They come to me in exactly the same way that Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron describe.  I don’t sit down and think them up.  They come to me at the most random and odd times, like when I’m driving or at 5 a.m. in the morning.  They are, of course, ideas I’m experiencing in my own life so those ideas are not external to me but the way those ideas coalesce together and show themselves to me feel like a process that’s external to me. 

 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: One of my favorite blog posts you have written was on the topic of surrender.  How has a practice of surrender impacted you personally?

LYDIA SOHN: If I didn’t practice surrendering in my life, my whole life would be a major struggle.  I love to control my life and its outcomes.  Part of this is a sign of healthy self-confidence because I really do see myself as the agent and artist of my own life, which I believe God has bestowed upon all humans to craft as they wish.  At the same time, I have to hold this truth in balance with the other truth that there are some things in life we can’t control.  Along with that, God’s ways and perspectives are so much greater than our own so I continually remind myself to trust that my life will unfold according to God’s timing and ways rather than my own.  As frustrated as I get, it is ultimately marvelous that there’s something so much bigger than us with a greater wisdom and perspective who always guides us. 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What is your favorite quote and why is this your favorite quote?

LYDIA SOHN: I just love Marianne Williamson’s famous words, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Of course, the entire paragraph from which this sentence comes from is amazing but this little sentence is the one that always stays with me.  One’s inner light is a theme in almost all religious traditions, including my own, Christianity, and Jesus says something similar to Marianne when he says, “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The reason why I derive so much comfort from these words is because I struggle a lot with the “who am I” kind of thinking.  Who am I to be doing what I love and pursuing my dreams when there are so many people struggling and suffering out there?  This kind of thinking probably derives from my conservative Christian background that glamorizes suffering and sacrificing your dreams and comfort for the sake of others.  Intellectually, I know that this is all crap and that life doesn’t actually work like that yet of course, it’s a long process to let go of entrenched beliefs one was raised with. 

 

KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for living a creative life? 

LYDIA SOHN: Follow your joy.  If you don’t consider yourself a creative person or don’t know where to start, I would recommend beginning with small projects so as to not overwhelm or intimidate you.  Try the Pomodoro Technique.  So if you want to write, just do it 25 minutes a day on a random subject like what your kitchen looks like in the morning.  If you want to dance and have stopped, just do it a few minutes each day or once a week.  As hard as it may be, try to detach yourself from what others think of your work.  It’s natural that we should want to refine our crafts but don’t let others’ perception of your work determine whether or not you pursue it.  If it gives you joy, then that’s the whole point, the only point. 

 

 

All images are courtesy of Lydia Sohn.

You can read more interviews here.

Memories: Photo Magnets

Happy Friday and Happy Spring!  This is how Alex feels about it being Friday and officially spring, shown immediately below!  She, thankfully, appears to finally be feeling better and she is hopefully on the mend.

We recently redid all of the magnets on our refrigerator, shown below.  Victory even made a quick appearance!  I took everything off of our refrigerator and started fresh, while Doug made sure my first rows were level to keep everything lined up well.  We started in the upper left corner with photo magnets beginning from when we found our we were pregnant with Alex and chronologically we are currently at the lower right through month eight with Alex — we are clearly running out of room, as there is only room for one more row of photo magnets!  If you like photo magnets, I highly recommend Fox Print.  The photo magnets hold up well, we get them printed in color and black and white, depending upon the image, and it is fun because you can easily keep things current, as they are easy to remove and move the photo magnets around on a magnetic surface!  Currently, I have my favorite images printed once a month.  It is also neat to see the progression visually, in one spot, highlighting our time with Alex and Victory!  It is always a great conversation starter in our home as well!  (When I go through a big update again, I will keep the photo magnets for Alex to have some day; and, I will not go as low with the photo magnets, as she is starting to go after them — why I did not foresee this, I have no idea other than pure exhaustion.)

Happy Friday!