Decorating my body with memories

The other day I was washing dishes, staring out my kitchen window  when my thoughts drifted to my tattoos. I have three of them. None of them planned. All spontaneously done but filled with memories and meaning.

It’s sort of like life isn’t it? So much of what we experience isn’t planned, but brings with it memories & meaning along with the pain.

My first tattoo is a butterfly located on my right hip. I was 18 and up until that point I had always been an obedient child, rarely going against my parents wishes. I guess you could call this my rebellious stage. There was no planning or thought put into it, I simply went into the tattoo parlor, picked out the first thing that caught my eye and went for it.

Growing up I had always been VERY shy, but something happened that summer before entering into college. I no longer wanted to be the shy, self conscious girl anymore. I wanted to come out of my shell, make friends and learn who I was. In hindsight, a butterfly was the perfect representation for that season of my life.

As the years followed, more tattoos came, along with the memories (good & bad) that they would bring.

A flower with my husbands name written in the vines on the top of my left foot, capturing that sweet dream-like season of life. Newlyweds, with hearts wide open to the journey that was upon us. I remember the tattoo artist telling me that this tattoo would never last, the color would fade in such a delicate spot, but I didn’t care. It was exactly what I wanted. And you know what? It still looks as beautiful now, 12 years later, as it did then.

Initials on my lower back honoring the loss of my brother in law, Jason. A time in our lives when we felt broken and unsure of where our lives were headed. Where I had to learn how to live 500 miles away from my husband for 9 months, in a city where I knew few people and had no friends of my own.

And a addition of vines and another butterfly to my first tattoo. Initially, I did this out of pure desire for more. But now see it as a representation of myself in this new city, once again having to learn how to spread my wings and fly.

There was a time when I feared that decorating my body would be a phase and something I’d later regret.

I never put much thought into my tattoos before arriving at the tattoo parlor, so there have been times where I feared that I might regret them. But as I get older and experience life, I love them more and more.

I love that I was bold enough to get my husbands name tattooed on my body, something that I’m sure others would never do. Or that I just went with my gut and did what felt right in the moment. I love that I have a way to carry my brother in law with me always. And a reminder of the beauty that life brings when you spread your wings and fly…

XOXO,

~P

The art of making space for Peace.

Hey Friend,

It’s been a while hasn’t it? Honestly, as much as I love to share my heart in this space of mine, I’ve enjoyed the time away. LIfe just gets too busy sometimes, don’t ya think?

So I’ve been learning the art of making space so I can have more peace in my life.

Initially, I didn’t know how to slow down. I’m a people pleasure by nature and hate to let others down. But I had said yes to too many things, and felt I was missing out on the moments in my life that mattered most. But where to start?

First I had to be honest with myself and ask “What areas in my life bring me the most joy/stress?”

Some of the answers I came up with in the joy column where pretty obvious:

  • My family
  • My friends
  • Supporting women struggling with infertility/hypothalamic amenorrhea
  • And sharing my life through motherhood

The areas that brought stress, not so fun to admit. Especially since it would mean letting others down and giving up things that I actually enjoyed, but knew in my heart they weren’t right for me in this season of life.

And I truly craved slower days where I could be more present in my life…where I could cultivate peace.

Once I gave up those areas of stress, I took a look at my schedule and daily rhythms. In what ways could I simplify the “busyness” of my life and create more space for peace? I’m a neat freak and would straighten up my house and clean all day long, but I realized this was taking away from time I could spend doing the things that actually matter and bring me the most joy.

So I made a list of the things that I wanted to keep up with on a weekly basis, broke them down so was only focused on one thing per day and limited straightening up to just the evenings. Talk about a relief! Instantly I felt my days become slower and more peaceful…goal achieved.

What life looks like now…

It’s amazing what will open up in your life when you create more space. I have more time to be present with my babies and hubby, I can get together for playdates spontaneously, I have time to pour into my calling and more time for myself .

Letting go of the people pleasing, asking yourself “what really matters?” and making space to cultivate peace in your life can allow more room to flourish in your life like never before!

Until next time my friend…

XOXO,

~P

 

Stop & Smell the Roses…

As much as I’d like to say I’m living life being truly present with those I love, that would be a complete lie…

Being present is something I’ve been striving for especially during this season of life, but the days keep getting away from me. My to-do list is long and there’s always something to be done, a kiddo who needs me, a house to keep clean or meals to prepare. But I truly don’t want to look back on my life and feel like I missed the point.

I’m a neat freak and a busy body, so slowing down enough to be present in even the most simplest of things is HARD. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, praying and reevaluating of my life over the last few months to try to change this. I am far from perfect or even close to where I want to be, but I’m making progress…

This week was a big step in the right direction.

My hubby was gone for 3 days and initially I was feeling all sorts of anxiety, stress & exhaustion just thinking about those 3 days. But to my surprise I found a lot of peace during my “single mom” days. And this time even came with a BIG change in the napping department…on the first day of my hubby being gone, Savi dropped her morning nap and Jase dropped his naps all together.

At first I wanted to cry, but I quickly realized that with some switching up of my routine, it wouldn’t be so bad. An to be honest, I’m actually sort if loving it! It’s given me the ability to have more down time with my kiddos, to be more present and to stop and smell the roses.

This year has already brought so much change, and yet I feel there is still so much more to come.

I feel the shift happening, telling me to let go. And although I want to fight every bit of this and stay in my ways, my world around me is changing and I know deep down I need to change with it. I need to be more free, more relaxed and more willing to slow down.

My to-do list can wait and things will get done in time, but my babies are growing at a rapid pace and I’ll miss the beauty if I don’t focus on what matters most. So today and every day I will keep reminding myself of this: to Stop & Smell the Roses.

XOXO,

~P

Behind the Name

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” -Ben Sweetland

When I was first deciding on a name for my blog, I wanted it to capture the essence of my life both past & present. And I kept coming back to the word happiness. For so long, I didn’t feel much happiness in my life, but I desperately wanted to.

When I think back to that time in my life,  I felt the only way to get there was to finally become a momma. But one thing I’ve learned is that it isn’t just that one thing you crave that will bring you happiness. It’s a daily choice.

Because even though I’m living my dream now, it doesn’t mean every day is happy.

I didn’t know this then, but being a momma is not an easy job. It’s very demanding, exhausting and stressful. Worth it, yes. But not always happy.

I don’t want to look back on this season of my life and feel like I let the hard stuff get in the way of my happiness though. So I’m choosing to find pure happiness in each of my days. What do I mean by pure?

To me, pure happiness comes from within. From your heart. Because finding that kind of happiness can only come from God. Only He has the ability to provide a different lense through which we see our lives. To look for those moments, where you feel that warmth in your heart even when the days are hard.

My hope is to share how I’m finding pure happiness in each of my days, so that you too can find it in yours…

Because after all it’s the community, connection & being real that bonds us and inspires us. Sharing the hard stuff, the messy stuff and the beautiful stuff makes us feel less alone. It gives us the ability to learn from one another and live the lives we were meant to live.

Happiness is a choice that we must make daily. I’m not great at it, and there are many days I completely fail. I let the sleepless nights, teething babies & tantrums cloud my ability to see the happiness that is always there. But I will continue to search for it, trust it’s there and lean on God when I can’t seem to get there.

The beauty of this life is it’s never too late. Each day brings a chance to make new choices and to live life Finding YOUR Pure Happiness…

XOXO,

~P

 

HA Sisterhood: Mattie’s Story.

Today I’m so honored to bring you another story of Hope, Inspiration & Dreams come true…fellow HA Sisterhood member Mattie, has a story that I just know will resonate with so many…

For me, HA started with an eating disorder right after my 13th birthday. I had regular periods for about 6 months before I started learning about calories and saw how easy it was to skip lunch and go for a long walk after school. I also saw how quickly my pants started to fit looser and how it became somewhat of a game. Not to mention, with this change in lifestyle, my periods dropped off immediately. I became quickly enthralled with eating the smallest amount possible.
I ate the least amount of breakfast as I could to get me out the door and approval of my parents, skipped lunch and any snack entirely and ate the least amount of dinner I could. I can’t imagine I was sustaining on much more than 1000 calories per day. As a growing, athletic 13 year old!! Can you imagine?? I should also mention my mother has a full blown eating disorder and though I love her dearly, she was my example.

It was normal for women to exercise and not eat all in the name of being thin, right??

All of this behavior continued into high school. I even joined the cross country team my freshman year which helped peel off more weight. I became obsessed with checking nutrition labels, learning about calorie counts at popular restaurants and burning off as much as I could through exercise. It’s sickening to think back to all I did to myself. After my freshman year of high school, my parents did not let me run cross country again because I had become so thin and unhealthy.
I went from about a 120 pound frame in 7th grade to less than 100 in 9th. My mom took me to her OB gyn who explained to me the thought process of an anorexic person and why it is so addictive. He gave me a magic number of 110 pounds and said I should aim for that. He also said that is the reason my periods had stopped. At this point, I was prescribed birth control. Doctors typically know nothing about fixing this disorder!!

So I left that appointment with a “magic” number in my brain and a slight willingness to help myself.

However, birth control would give me a period even if I weighed 80 pounds! Woohoo, I can continue in my ways and not gain weight and have a period! How naive I was!

Over the next 2 years, I fluctuated a bit but the scale did go back up. I ate more, but my mindset was the same. Calorie counts, excessive exercise. Not surprisingly that even with the increased weight, I never had a period. My senior year of high school, I started dating my husband. I lost a lot of weight that year. It took him about 6 months to confront me on the issue. He vowed to help me and hold me accountable.
I left for college the following year, thinner, weaker and unhealthy as I had ever been. I was close to 90 pounds. So scary! My boyfriend did hold me accountable though. I checked in with a doctor at my university once a week to be weighed and to discuss my habits. My weight slowly crept up. I STILL exercised to excess through college. Cardio, cardio, cardio. I looked for any excuse to exercise.

While I was eating more, I was still restricting certain things and not doing enough for my activity level.

My body couldn’t recover. I kept my weight higher until my senior year of college. My husband who was still my boyfriend at the time moved across country for military training. With the stress of senior year and not having him with me all the time, I went back to my ways. I was back down to close to 100 by end of senior year.
We were engaged the spring of my senior year and he told me he wanted me at 120 by the time he graduated fm his training in June. He seems to be the only person I could do this for. When he graduated, I was where he wanted me. However, we were to be married later that fall and I unconsciously slipped back into my ways.

See, here is the thing, if you don’t keep constant tabs on yourself and stay honest with yourself, you WILL slip. It is so easy to go over that cliff again.

After we were married, I was thin but not that thin. I had gotten to about 115. Still not where I should be. My husband told me when we moved in together, he wanted me to listen to him, eat what he told me and stop the cardio. I had come off birth control for the first time in almost 10 years. (I had gone off sporadically at times to see if I could cycle, but of course, never did). Within two weeks of relaxing, having lots of sex, eating a ton, and eating lots of peanut butter, I had my first period in 10 years. It only took 2 weeks!
I continued to have periods 35-40 days apart up until August when I had the genius idea to train for a half marathon. Well what do you think happened again?? I lost my period, my weight dropped and I became obsessed with food again. After going on like this for several months, I made the decision to do something. This is the first time I realized I had HA. I researched and consumed all the information I could on the issue, sometimes sitting for hours on the fertile thoughts forums, thinking, yes, that’s me!!
I cut out my cardio, I started to eat more (and lots of fats) and within a month of my new ways, my period came back! I kept up with my new healthy habits for about 6 months until my husband deployed for the first time. I decided to take classes and become a personal trainer. It was all very easy–stuff I already knew. That summer he was deployed, I started training a few people (I am a teacher and have the summers off) but I was also increasing my cardio and not eating enough/ had started to restrict again.

I lost my periods over that summer. And this time, I didn’t lose any weight. It was like my body just refused my lifestyle. It knew. And it refused.

I did not let this continue. Once I realized it only took a slight decrease in calories and increase in exercise to make my periods disappear, I realized how sensitive I was and how much I will ALWAYS have to work to stay healthy. By the time my husband came home from deployment, I had jumped back on the research wagon, was eating right, exercising correctly and had started to cycle again.
When he returned home, we started a workout program together. Solely heavy, Olympic lifting. No cardio. About 4 days a week, maybe 30 minutes each time. Let me say that again. No cardio!! I was stronger than I had ever been before and was proud of myself for having multiple, perfect 28 day cycles. I was eating lots, feeling great, (again having lots of sex–I swear to this day, that has something to do with the hormone turn on that allows me to cycle. Just a small piece of the puzzle, but it is part).
I was also eating a LOT of peanut butter and coconut oil again. Plenty of carbs and protein. Plenty of everything. I had to eat at least 2500 for a while to gain my cycle back and then maintenance for me is well over 2200. And I am small. So if you are taller/weigh more, then you need more!! But don’t get caught up on numbers. I also took vitex while I was in times of not having a period, that seemed to help bring things on as well. But ultimately, it is reduced exercise and increased food intake. It just is.

Anyways, after 4 months of his return, we decided to try for a baby for the FIRST time. I got pregnant on the first try! The first try.

But I was listening to my body, taking care of myself and doing the right thing. I had a wonderful pregnancy,  loved being pregnant and have loved every second of motherhood so far. I did struggle slightly after having my baby boy with my old ways, but I nipped it right back in the bud. After not having a period for 6 months after stopping breastfeeding, I knew I had to do what I knew would work. I stopped any cardio I might be doing, which wasn’t much at the time and started eating 2500+ calories again. Within a month, boom. Cycling regularly.
As of now, I am almost 19 weeks pregnant with my second baby. A little girl. This time I got pregnant by accident!! I know now how careful and loving I have to be to myself for things to work properly. I also know that I don’t want my kids to grow up with a parent who is obsessed with food and exercise. Who is too stressed about control and getting things done to enjoy the small things. Who pushes away and loses relationships because my eating disorder and obsessive thoughts are more important.
I don’t want to look back on my life and think, I wasted it. Those 10 years of struggle were enough. I am beyond blessed to be where I am today. My beautiful boy, a baby girl on the way, a husband who loves me. I don’t want to take these things for granted. I also know that I will need help the rest of my life. A constant checking myself. A community like The HA Sisterhood that P has created for us women. We have to stick together and lift each other up!

Good luck to you all on your journey. I am happy to help and answer any questions you all may have about recovery. You CAN do this!!


ADDITIONAL STORIES FROM THE HA SISTERHOOD:

Karly’s Story

Teaghan’s Story

Taleen’s Story

To join the HA Sisterhood, click HERE.

To the girl I see when I look in the mirror…

Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear,
But let me tell you, dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

{Priceless by For King & Country}

I remember the thoughts so clearly…”When I lose __ lbs, then I will be truly happy”, “When I tighten up ___, then I will love my body”, “When I can fit into a size __, then I will be beautiful”.

Lies. They’re all lies. A decade later and I have finally learned the truth behind the girl I see in the mirror. I am beautiful, I am worthy and I love my body. Not because I’m a certain weight. Not because I fit into a certain size. Not because I’m tightened or toned. It’s because I am me, the girl God created in His own image. The daughter He loved so dearly, He would allow me to walk this journey to the truth so that I could be full of love and gratefulness.

It’s heartbreaking that so many women see those lies when they look in the mirror. Is it society? Is it how they were raised? Is it their own lack of self worth? It’s so many things. But sweet sisters, I’m here to tell you that so much lies ahead of you when you release those lies and cling to the truth. YOU are beautiful. YOU are worthy. And you can learn to LOVE your body.

The next time you look in the mirror, tell yourself this…

I am beautiful.

The scale does not dictate my worth.

The size of my clothes doesn’t make others love me more or less.

I will respect my body by nourishing it with good food and rest.

The dimples and squishiness are a sign of a fertile and healthy body.

My body is only temporary, but the joy that comes with loving myself lasts a lifetime.

I love what my body can do when I treat it right.

I love myself.

I love my body.

Learning to love your body doesn’t happen overnight, but with each step you take, you will get to that place of acceptance and love. It takes a conscious effort to rewrite the way you view yourself. To stop the negative thoughts and redirect them towards love. To see your body for all that it is capable of when you honor and respect it. To let go of the desire to look a certain way and learn to love the way God created you.

I have so much faith in you. I know that you will learn to love the girl you see when you look in the mirror…

Because that girl has so much life to live. And to truly live it. To be present with her thoughts and those around her. To be confident and comfortable in her own skin. To look at herself in the mirror with wonder and awe at such an amazing creation.

You’ve got this my sweet friend. Never give up, life is too sweet on the other side…

XOXO,

~P

***Thank you for reading along! If you’d like to read more about HA Recovery, please visit me  HERE.***

Finding Your Identity among Dirty Diapers, Dishes & Paw Patrol

Before I became a momma, I had dreams of what life would be like…

I envisioned slow days where I would play with my happy kids, clean up around the house while they napped (at the same time) and have dinner on the table by the time my hubby walked through the door. I knew in my heart that being a momma was absolutely my calling, but what I didn’t realize is that I would have other callings/passions as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kiddos and feel truly blessed to be able to stay home with them. I know how lucky I am to not have to send them to daycare every day. But being a stay at home momma isn’t always easy and my days are definitely not all sunshine and rainbows.

My days are usually filled with lots of crying/whining and racing around the house trying to get stuff done while the kids nap only to finally get a break the second one of them wakes. There’s messes and spills at every turn and a toddler that thinks throwing things in the toilet or playing in the cat food is a good time. There’s a very strong-willed 3 year old that I’m constantly having to battle with in even the smallest of things.

About a year and a half ago I felt this urge to find a way to express who I am outside of being a mom.

I used to feel like others would think I was ungrateful for wanting more. After everything I’d been through to become a momma, why did I feel the need to add to my life? But what I’ve come to learn is that it’s ok to explore and express another side to who you are. And that’s where this little space of mine came into play.

I had written my first blog the prior year and found this passion for writing that I didn’t know I had. At first blogging started out as an outlet for me to connect with other blogger moms as well as share my passions about healthy living and motherhood. However, it quickly became a place for growth and finding my true identity.

For so long I was the girl that struggled with Infertility. That was my identity. It became who I was and what I talked about. And when I finally became a momma, I wanted to leave that identity behind. I wanted to embrace this new identity that I had always hoped for and run with it. But before I knew it, my journey with infertility began to show up in places I least expected.

Over the last year there as been a lot of soul searching, trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between the two.

I’m still in a place of exploration, but I feel closer to being the person God intended me to be. I’m learning to embrace this season I’m in (dirty diapers and all) while still finding time to express the passion I have in my heart to mentor others going through infertility as well as build a mom tribe with some of the most lovely women.

My hope is that this year brings with it a sense of peace in my new identity. Knowing that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing…I can be a momma and a passionate person that loves to write and connect with others.

Because when your children are grown and living their own lives outside of your home, there needs to be a soul that is fulfilled. And true fulfillment can only come from becoming who you were meant to be…for myself that’s a loving wife, a caring mother, a friend to those struggling with infertility and writer sharing my heart & struggles through motherhood.

My sweet momma friend, my hope is that you are living your passion too. That your soul feels fulfilled even when the days are hard…

XOXO,

~P