Birth Story | Hudson Elle

{our last night as a family of three}

Our evening began with a cute dinner date, our phones put away and focusing on each other. We laughed at clips of a show playing off in a corner and Paityn trying to eat her meal. The sweet simple love for each other was palpable. I wore my orange maternity dress, and for that hour I wasn’t uncomfortable or even necessarily feeling pregnant. The past few nights of exhausting contractions felt years away as the rain felt softly outside. It had been so important to me that Landon and I be emotionally close and in sync the night that I go in labor. At the time it had felt like just the break from pregnancy exhaustion that I needed, but it turned out to be the start of our birth story.Hudson2

We ran to the car through the rain with only one girl to buckle into her car seat for our last time. Once  inside I pulled out my phone to check what I’d missed. The decision about a blogger opportunity that I’d been refreshing my email over all week came through, and it was positive. Excitedly I read Landon the details as we drove home. It felt like just the sweet gesture that I needed to get through a few more days of pregnancy. That if I went to sleep that night and woke up on the due date still pregnant that it’d be ok.

Luckily, my body had other ideas. So as we cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie, and I tried to focus despite my excitement over the collaboration, my body began to really prepare to bring this little girl into the world. I didn’t begin to notice the consistency of contractions till I was set up to fall asleep on the couch for another night (our bed having become too miserable to sleep on) and I found myself leaning over the arm of the couch playing on my phone through waves of back labor. I knew things could carry on for a while, and that the odds of it phasing out eventually were good. I acknowledged that the next day could be a long and tiring one, and tried to not stress over that fact.

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{the real deal contractions}

Eventually I wanted to be near Landon so I crawled into bed next to him and started timing the contractions, not wanting to wake him up knowing that he had a long day of work tomorrow without the option to take a nap like I would. Around 2am I gently woke him up, letting him know they were 5 minutes apart, lasting around a minute, and that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen from there. We stayed in bed and talked till it was too uncomfortable to lay down through each one.

I killed time doing my hair and packing a few things in our hospital bag before getting into the shower finding so much relief feeling the water hit my contracting torso. And then a contraction came that scared me. There I was, not even sure if I was going to ‘go into labor’ that night, and I was experiencing a contraction that stopped me in my tracks. Everything around me disappeared as I attempted to calmly breathe through it. I got out of that safe haven of comforting water to talk to Landon — it was time to assume this was the real deal. As he woke Paityn and got ready to take her to my aunt’s the doubt stayed in the back of my mind. “If I could barely make it through that contraction in the shower how was I ever going to do this?”

Taking one contraction at a time, standing still and finding one spot on our floor to focus I got through each one while worrying about cleaning our house for our doula Gloria who was now on her way down from Salt Lake. I encouraged Landon to grab some food for himself quickly on the way home from dropping off Paityn, knowing it could be a long journey for both of us till the little one arrived. When he got home though I was too nervous to continue laboring at home. You always hear how much faster the second baby comes, and that knowledge was making me tense as I could feel the energy in my body changing — the rushes becoming stronger and closer together. I had Landon call Gloria and see what she thought about meeting at the hospital. Originally the idea of laboring as much at home as possible had sounded so lovely, but just a few hours in I was ready to be checked in. I’m so grateful for her response: “I want you to be wherever you’ll feel safe.” You guys she was the best. And it just got better from there.

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{checked into the hospital}

The worst contractions of Hudson’s birth were by far the 5 or 6 that I had in the waiting room while they checked us in. Totally our fault for not pre-registering. And thankfully they were fine having Landon answer all the questions and provide our information. Taking each one at a time I stared at a spot on the wall or floor, feeling thankful that we were at least at the hospital knowing that these contractions weren’t going to phase out like the previous three nights that week. As they wrapped up the paperwork and I watched the nurse come around to let us in, tears fell that I didn’t try to stop. It felt so good to let some of those fearful emotions go with each tear — the fear of not having help from my doula in time, the fear of having the birth go too quickly leaving me feeling out of control, the fear of not being able to do this; I was doing this.

Gloria, our doula, arrived just minutes after I was pulled into the side room with two nurses to be checked for progress. “Kyra, you’re doing awesome!” she greeted me with the warmest smile, and I believed her.  I was doing awesome. Within minutes I was walking down to the room where we’d stay for the birth and recovery process. I was dilated to a 7 and most definitely, in labor. In the comfort of my own v-neck tee, boy shorts and socks I labored with the help of Gloria and Landon, bringing little Hudson closer and closer to greeting the world.

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Going into, or rather anticipating a natural birth, I knew that positive words really resonated me. So that’s what I expected Gloria’s role to be — to help remind me of my goals, to let me know that I WAS doing this and doing it well when I thought I wasn’t or couldn’t any more. I had no idea just how much I would physically rely on her. My need for her help was as primal as it gets — I could not have gotten through each of those contractions from a 7 to a 10 without her. It was a powerful but simple need. So I sat on the edge of the bed, closing my eyes and going inward as each rush began — Gloria pushing firmly on my knees and Landon pushing on my lower back. I breathed, then later moaned through each one. When I had things under control my breathing was steady and my voice was low. If one intimidated or scared me there was an audible change in my voice, hearing it rise in pitch. She was right there giving me a breath or sound to imitate — a yoga “ohm” for example, and we would go back and forth, me trying to relax and coax my voice and fears down to her deepness till we were in sync and the contraction had ended.

All the while Landon was there, and his physical proximity was one of the most spiritual changes between my two birth’s. For this birth I was able to take the lead, showing what I needed, and he was able to support me. With Paityn he was just as involved, helping hold up my legs that had no control or feeling due to the epidural and helping coach me through pushing her into the world. This time everything felt simpler in the most beautiful way. His head resting against my upper back as he applied pressure to my lower back is a feeling I hope I can always recall. And if not I wish I could bottle that emotion up, because I fell in love with him so many times over in those moments, but didn’t realize it till a few days later.

{pushing}

Still in my t-shirt bra and socks, just how I wanted, I began to feel the involuntary need to push at some point after 6am, after checking into the hospital a bit before 4am. Within minutes, after being cleared to follow the lead from my body (and after my water accidentally breaking all over my doula) I started the second phase of labor. Similar to the contractions before, once each was over it was over I was able to open my eyes and take in my surroundings. Working with my body I pushed with each rush, resting in between. But at some point early on with pushing I realized how fearful I’d become again. As I rested between two more contractions I layed back on the pillows that were propping me up and thought back to Paityn’s birth when it came down to buckling down and pushing that little girl into the world or being wheeled off for a C-section. I told myself that I needed to find that place again. With the next contraction I grabbed my legs after being scared to do so before, and lowered my chin.

A few minutes before 7am, the energy in the room became chaotic. My eyes still closed through each contraction, focusing inward and willing the child into the world, the music disappeared and more staff came into the room. Landon’s face who had been right next to mine, cheek to cheek through the pushing was now facing me telling me that I needed to do this. That Hudson was stuck and that we needed to get her out. The midwife (who was unfortunately the one that I hadn’t met yet, my appointment with her being scheduled for later that day) who had been there out of necessity up to that point in my mind became just who I needed. With eyes open now I made fearful but unwavering eye contact, doing everything that I could to lean into the contractions and push the little girl out while she helped assist with turning her shoulders. And then in the most satisfying moment ever she was out at 7:01am. Our little Utah baby.

It got a little dramatic after that, but I’m writing this story so I’d like to rewrite it a little. Because as disappointing as it was how chaotic it got as our request for delayed cord clamping was denied (as well as getting to do skin to skin right after) and my midwife rushing the placenta being expelled, the room eventually cleared till it was just Landon, Gloria and I and this little babe and all of her dark hair. All 10lbs 9oz.

IMG_1143I was disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to revel in that glorious post baby moment when all is right in the world and pain isn’t even close to a word in your dictionary. I wish they would’ve calmed down a bit, and not rushed the Pitocin into my IV lock and began the pressure to make a decision about taking other drugs to combat the possibility of hemorrhaging due to having a large baby. I wish I wish I wish. But it’s ok. She is here, and this is my birth story, it’s not going anywhere. I did it. We did it. She’s here.


I had gone into this birth wanting it to be a spiritual experience, and as we left the hospital as a family of four I left with the reminder that spiritual doesn’t mean that it has to be overwhelming or full of tears. That things of a spiritual nature can instead often be simple and peaceful — everything resonating with what you believe in.

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Along with that reminder, I left having been taught about trust on levels that I didn’t expect — learning to trust myself, my instincts, my body; and learning to lean and trust others.

Making 2014 Count | Year End Review

2013 was an extremely difficult year for me. I did the best I could to stay present through the good and the bad, but without goals to shoot for and guide me through the year it ended up being so much less of a year than it could have been. I can’t tell you what a night and day difference 2014 has been. I followed the lead of Kelli Murray and others with choosing a word to focus on and to make 2014 count. I chose growth, feeling the need to push myself and knowing that “doing less” definitely wasn’t what I needed this year. (But it may be what you needed.)

With the help of this list of goals I truly believe I was able to accomplish things I wouldn’t have otherwise accomplished. Resisting tanning beds completely for example was huge for me, and something that I hadn’t done for an entire consecutive year since before freshman year of High School. In 2012 and 2013 combined I honestly believe I read 2 books total. In two years. Because of my specific goal of a book a month, I read over 20 this year. And it felt so good.

Here is a quick recap of how I did with focusing on my goals and the idea of growth the past 364 days:

My personal 2014 goals
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Be more comfortable + independent with driving
Become more athletic: lifting, running and yoga
Have a gym membership/setup all year
Be knowledgable of the week’s current events and news
Purchase art supplies, sketch in the afternoon
Purchase an instrument I can love + and progress with: piano or flute?
Read a new book a month
Resist tanning beds completely
Work on Spanish speaking desires again

Cook dinner for us daily
Try a new recipe a week
Have electronic-free time with Paityn daily / Love her more
Keep a daily schedule
++No soda for the rest of the year
Prepare emotionally + physically to have another little one (:

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Create a desk workspace

Invest in an iMac and/or DSLR camera
Learn beginner Photoshop techniques and/or InDesign
Revisit NASM CPT, become certified by December
Publish 52 blogposts a year
Register personal URL + blog email

Come to know and love Christ more deeply
Finished the Book of Mormon a 2nd time
Read the New Testament
VT 100% for the next two years

And the few shared goals Landon and I accomplished ||

Get Kyra caught up with Outdoor Gear
Move into a cute new place for Landon’s new job
Start career in the outdoor industry
Earn credit scores of 740+ : the excellent range 
Never have more than $150 on a credit card (had this for a few weeks!)
Shred credit cards (and then we brought them back out again for school)

I learned that my personal goals meant more to me, than our shared goals meant to us. So we’ll have to reanalyze our shared goals and decide what we want to do for those in 2015. Part of the problem for a handful of them was that we didn’t expect to move suddenly to Utah to be students again. So the reality of our goal of saving $5,000 for a house for example, turned into going $5,000 in debt to help Landon pursue higher education.

Another problem with some of our goals was that they were too concrete: “ready + pray 365 together” “ready and study 52 talks” with the idea that they would magically become daily and weekly things. When they didn’t, we pushed the goal out of our minds instead of rethinking the goal in monthly increments with a fresh start every first of the month.

So learn from us! And be kind to yourself with your goals. Maybe 2014 didn’t go how you thought it would, but that’s ok. Take some time this week to consider why you didn’t accomplish certain goals, and then join in with me with setting a long list for 2015!landonkyra27



“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential.” M. Russell Ballard 

photos from our Growing Love Series, taken by Andrew Faulkner

Making 2014 Count: November Update

November is officially over, but oh it was a good one for our family. We saw our first snowfall then proceeded to play in the snow every Sunday since, Landon was an awesome sport with celebrating my birthday all week long and for Thanksgiving break we got to head out to Nevada to spend a few days with his family. This was also the month that I finally really started to feel like myself again with this pregnancy, which made focusing on goals for the year so much easier. Here’s how things went this month:

Invest in a DSLR camera

Towards the end of the month I finally decided on a Canon Rebel SL1 and I couldn’t be more excited to have it. I made the decision for this camera for a few reasons —

  • I have an unexplained positive bias for Canon, so I didn’t fight it.
  • The price was right. Once we have life figured out and finances in order I’d love to grab a full frame camera, but for now I can start from the beginning of learning photography and my way around a DSLR.
  • It just felt right in my hands. And I did try to fight that for awhile, thinking a T3i, T4i or T5i was the more acceptable way to go. But after looking at stats between the SL1 and her older sisters (cousins?) I realized I wouldn’t be missing out on anything by going with the smaller body.
  • Bonus that I love already but didn’t expect to : a touchscreen LCD on the back.

The plan from here is to grab a lens and get to work with practicing! After reading what other photographers prefer with lens I found the idea of sticking with prime, or fixed focal length, lenses resonating with me the most. The 50mm f/1.8 is the most painless to pick up and comes with raving reviews, despite it’s low cost. Here’s a post from a Beautiful Mess + one from Jasmine Star, about prime lenses if you wanted to read a little more.

Moving forward and looking into 2015 once I get settled in with this new camera and lens I’d love to look into taking an Ecourse or live class here in Utah about photography. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

DSLR Photography Class

Read a New Book a Month

After my frustrating experience earlier this fall with picking up books with content I didn’t want to invest time on reading I needed something light and fun to read. Though some might disagree with me on the adjectives of “light” and “fun to read” when it comes to this book, Me Before You was exactly that for me. It wasn’t moving, life changing, or even terribly though provoking. But I needed that.

Me Before You is a younger read, I’d put it in a 25 years or under audience category. It’s focused around topics that can be a trigger for some like degenerative disease and the right to death with dignity laws. Because I haven no personal experience with either I was able to curl up with a comfy blanket, relax and casually read. You might not feel the same, so I wanted to included that warning to help save you some time. Landon, for example, just couldn’t stand me sharing anything about the book. It literally made him feel sick.

Finish the Book of Mormon [a 2nd time]

This has become an especially meaningful goal as the end of the year has drawn close. The Book of Mormon is a key part of my faith and yet before this year I had only read it once cover to cover. I believe that spiritual strength and peace comes from reading scripture. So for 11 months I’ve marked in yellow every time the Father, Son or Holy Ghost has been mentioned, marked anything that could apply to my life in red, and marked notes in the margins and on Post-It notes.

I had hoped that I’d have time to read the New Testament this year as well, but I just took too long getting through some of the longer parts in the Book of Mormon, so I’ll be saving that for next year to make that a more meaningful study as well.

Become More Athletic: Lifting, Running and Yoga

When a friend is there for you for different seasons of your life, that friendship is strengthened like no other. Going through this second pregnancy with focusing on staying active has helped to make exercise feel like a constant in my life that I can always rely on. This month has taken a little adjusting for figuring out how to fit in me lifting, along with Landon running up in the mountains before or after he gets home from work (we share a car) but it has been so worth it when we make it work.

Because this pregnancy has been complication free as well I’m able to keep up with everything I was doing before I was pregnant, and trying to increase the weight on my lifts as often as possible. The only change I’ve had to make thus far is switching from the flat bench to the incline for bench pressing, and that’s just to play it safe.

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Publish 52 Blog Posts a Year

And that’s how November went as I tried to focus on my 2014 goals. I’m excited to have 30 more days in December to finish the year off and then to write a whole new long list of things to focus on in 2015!

Making 2014 Count: October Update

Happy Halloween! After a workout this morning I’ve had a relaxing Friday afternoon which has been perfect to think over how this month has gone and how I feel about the progress I’ve made with my yearly goals.

When some of my favorite blogging women from Kelli Murray to Jessica Garvin came together at the start of the year and asked their readers to choose a word to live by in 2014, I knew exactly what I needed: growth. I was happy with how my life was going, but I needed more. I had untapped energy and wanted to stretch, to be stretched and to thrive.f632aba606c08e6b2ee291b19b8edef2

This month more than ever, I feel that my efforts have been successful and that this has been such a good thing for me. I can’t imagine this year or a future year without specific goals aimed at achieving a larger idea. My marriage has been strengthened, my inner confidence has grown tenfold, things that used to occupy by time (beauty youtube videos, say what?) have been replaced by things that make my life feel meaningful.

Here are a few of my success from this month:

Being More Independent + Confident with Driving

The day that we drove to our new condo to move in, I followed behind Landon in the car with Paityn in the back seat. The sun was shining, a good song was on, and I felt like I was home for the first time in a few years. It felt good to be behind the wheel and feeling like I was somehow a more truer version of myself now that we were back in Utah.

Since then I’ve made more of an effort to offer to drive when Landon and I are together, and to be more confident offering to to go pick something up by myself. I’m known for saying how much I’d rather walk or ride a bike somewhere than drive, but I get that driving has its perks. So I keep working to be more confident behind the wheel, even on the freeway home from Salt Lake, by myself. Which was a complete success, by the way.

Read a New Book a Month

Last month I attempted to read three different books, and wasn’t able to finish a single one of them. I had found myself back in a rut of somehow choosing books about abuse or similar issues, and that wasn’t something I wanted to invest my time in. So heartbroken I closed each book, one by one, before getting to turn the final page. Which is so unsatisfying. Being in an already transitionary phase of life, I had a few days there where I wondered if I just needed to take this as a sign and move on away from my blog and even from these goals.

Looking back, it was a ridiculous thought, but I took a break from doing an August update and it was just what I needed. Now I can admit, what was I thinking when I choose books based off of the cover alone? A quick scan on Amazon reviews for books in the future probably wouldn’t hurt.

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I’ve found myself absolutely loving and excited about the three books that I mentioned in my 16 Week Update: Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May and Hypnobirth: The Mongan Method. I’ll post my full thoughts of the three and my hopes and goals for my second experience with birth once I’ve finished all three.

Become More Athletic: Lifting, Running and Yoga

I may not be at my lowest body fat percentage or level of fitness for the year, but any workout that I make the time for while pregnant feels like it counts for so much more. First trimester nausea did something magical for me: no longer am I (nearly as) concerned about my growing and changing body and suddenly I’m excited to just not be sick all the time and to have energy again.

Landon and I have kept up on our rock climbing double dates with Josh and Chelsea and they’ve quickly become my favorite. I’m not quite sure how long the harness will work with my growing belly, but I’m soaking up all the climbs we can get! I try to make time for yoga and a lifting sesh or two a few times a week and can’t wait to start running with Landon in the evenings again once his knee heals.

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Every workout that I get to do now has a greater purpose than before. It benefits the growing little one that I’m sharing my body with, it helps keep pregnancy complications and aches and pains at bay, and prepares me to have the birth experience that I want.

Invest in a DSLR camera

I have been researching and asking around about DSLR cameras the past few months and am eager to have one show up at my doorstop so that I can get started with learning my away around one! I have fallen in love with the idea of prime lenses. I have Photoshop + Photoshop actions just begging to be put to use. And I have goals and a vision of what I want my blog and social media photos to look like, and the iPhone just isn’t quite cutting it. Fingers crossed for some amazing Black Friday deals and an exciting update next month! Canon Rebel, I’ve got my eye on you.

Growth With the Blog

This goal had begun at the beginning as simply registering my URL from heykyra.wordpress.com to kyrafaulkner.com. From there, and after getting to attend the Outdoor Retailer Show I realized that I had larger goals for this space. From time to time, and when I felt like it could be successful, I contacted brands that I was passionate about and felt that we could collaborate. Those relationships have been such a source of confidence and growth for me. So towards the end of this month I sat down with a notebook and brainstormed a few new brands that I’d love to work with moving forward and how each collaboration could be successful. I may not hear back from everyone, but I really think there’s power in putting yourself out there and in being a bit more brave than you were before.

Publish 52 Blogposts a Year

Which puts me at a total of 94 posts for the year so far once this goes live! Hiatus during the first trimester and everything.

I hope your October felt like it was a major success + that tonight involves a steady supply of sugar! Feel free to check out my past updates from the year HERE. And let me know what goals you’re currently working on or crossing off your list as complete!



Making 2014 Count | August Update

I’m excited to document the significance of August for our family as we are striving to focus on growth as much as possible. This was a big month of accomplishing goals that I honestly didn’t know if they were going to happen this year. Here are a few goals we focused on or got to cross off from our list of goals for the year:

Move Into a Cute New Place 

I have had the moving bug since the year began, at least. But knowing it’d be insane to move just for moving’s sake in the same city we stayed put and waited for the right time. Which turned out to be mid August, where Landon’s new job ended up being a full-time student again. We love our new place — a condo that we’re renting, the area, and all of the fun things we’ve done since being back in Utah already. This world is a big place, so I know we’re not all supposed to feel like the same place is what we consider home. But for me, Utah has my heart. And feels a bit like heaven.

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Start Career in the Outdoor Industry (Landon)

For the past two years I’ve been married to a handsome man who works as a Social Worker with foster children and their parents. This handsome man of mine has a heart of gold but he just was not thriving in that career. What was supposed to be a year off from school before returning to focus on additional schooling in the psychology field turned into an extra year after that while he tried to discover what would be the best fit for him. Teton Sports2

I cannot emphasize enough how amazing it is to be the wife now of a man who is happy with where his career is going. This transition back to student life has come with a significant pay cut, partially due to the cut in hours to make everything fit, but we’re investing in our future at this point. And that feels so much better than having extra money in our bank account.

Love Paityn More

My relationship with my sweet toddler feels like it’s gotten just the fresh start that I needed. While the 9-5pm life had its perks, like seeing Landon more often and regularly, it made me fall into a routine that just wasn’t completely working. With a new schedule, a new place and fresh mountain air we are just thriving.

It also helps immensely that our ability to communicate and understand each other has just skyrocketed, and that feels amazing.IMG_2110

Revisit Becoming NASM CPT Certified

Since returning to Utah the land of Universities I have felt eager to return to school. But before I jump into paying tuition it only made sense to revisit the option that I had already paid for — my personal training program. Where I’ve gotten into trouble in the past is remembering that there are multiple paths that can come from being a certified trainer and that I can make the route that I’m passionate about work.

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The problem is that I have almost over a year to complete the course still, which isn’t helpful. But I hope that as I begin to dive into the textbook this time that I can start to make sense of it all, at to be certified by this December.

Publish 52 blog posts a year

PS, I’m killing it with the no diet coke goal this month.

Making 2014 Count | July Update

I can’t believe that when we wake up tomorrow it’ll be August! Here in Northern California it looks like that still means 106 outside, but still you guys, August.

I don’t know about you but I didn’t feel lit on fire about my 2014 goals this month. July is just such a sleepy, odd-numbered, middle of the year month, and I just don’t thrive in the month of July. It was a great month! But I wasn’t thriving. I got to spend a week with my family, up my workout routine, go on adventures with Landon, and a few other successes so we’re totally doing an update still.

I also wanted to take a second to share that this month is taking an interesting and special turn where it comes to our future. Landon has been all in with one path for his future career and hustling til something came together. We had complete faith that something would happen. Every disappointment was followed with a “that’s ok! we’ve got this! all learning opportunities! we’ll get the next one.”

And then early this week, Landon felt led to change his approach, and quickly. I won’t say too much more because there are a lot of details to figure our in the next few weeks but once we can share we will! But please send good vibes our way, we need the extra help. Change is good! But also a bit nerve-wracking.

On Being More Knowledgeable of Current Events

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When I came up with my goals in January I felt disappointed that I was so out of touch with current events, topics and news. In school I had a professor who felt strongly that we needed to be interesting individuals, and that included opening the newspaper in the morning and having things of worth to discuss.

Earlier this summer I had a friend post on Facebook that he had a pageant participant who needed a little brushing up on her current affairs knowledge. When a few friends suggested she signed up for the Skimm, I decided to hop on board too. Though it helps takes the stressful edge off that the traditional news has it’s a bit too cavalier for me. An example headline reads “What to Say When Picking Your Next Vacation” and the next 8 sentences will explain why North Korea is still out of the running. Let me know if there’s a similar app or site that you use and love.

On Reading a Book a Month

This month I stepped away from the book section at target and joined the social media book club on Instagram with reading: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It was this quote that convinced me to join in with reading instantly:

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough — that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing. I was afraid to walk on stage and show the audience my kitchen-table self — these people were too important, too successful, too famous. My kitchen-table self is too messy, to imperfect, too unpredictable.

Here’s the crux of the struggle: I want to experience your vulnerability but I don’t want to be vulnerable.”

IMG_1485Brene Brown, with a PhD in Social Work took a research route after earning her doctorate. She draws on extensive (12+ years) research on shame, worthiness, courage, vulnerability and the path to wholehearted living. I can’t praise this book enough. I feel recharged in my belief of being vulnerable, reminded of what vulnerability is not, enlightened on types of armor or masks that we put on, and determined to be shame resilient.

To bring this home, here are common replies from participants when asked what vulnerability is to them: sharing an unpopular opinion, standing up for myself, asking for help, saying no, starting my own business, helping my 37-year-old wife with stage 4 cancer make decisions about her will, initiating sex with my spouse, hearing how much my son wants to make first chair in orchestra and encouraging him while knowing that it’s probably not going to happen, calling a friend whose child just died, signing up my mom for hospice care, the first date after my discover, saying “I love you”  first and not knowing if I’m going to be loved back, and getting pregnant after three miscarriages.

Vulnerability is so much more that owning and sharing our stories, it’s a key part of healthy living. She shares, “Do these sound like weakness? “Does showing up to be with someone in deep struggle sound like weakness? Is accepting accountability weak? Is stepping up to the plate after striking out a sign of weakness? NO. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.

So seriously, go get this book. I promise you won’t regret it.

On Eliminating All Forms of Debt

I’m excited to share that we attacked our debt in a big way this month. Between the two of us Landon and I have 3 bank credit cards that serve different purposes, and two of them had accumulated balances that were really causing us stress. We’ve been on a rollercoaster with those cards and had all three at $0.00 before we left for Alaska last summer, and then they went right back up, one tiny purchase at a time. So we have all three of those cards once again at $0.00 which just feels good. We have less that $1000 left of personal consumer debt left to pay off + less that $5000 on our car.

I’m hesitant to share this, because things may quickly change. I am very anti debt at this point, and even feel strongly about this when it comes to homes. But like I mentioned before we’re feeling led to look at another option for our future, and it’ll include debt. And that scares the heck out of me. But I’m relying on faith with this one and excited to live a life free of the burden of carrying around credit card debt.

On Sending Birthday Cards

Do phone calls + blog shout-outs count? No, no they do not. But it was my sweet sister Kelsey’s birthday yesterday and it was fun to talk to her for a few minutes last night. Kyndra’s birthday is in 5 days, I’ll see if I can get it together for hers ;)

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On Publishing 52 blog posts a year

This month was more of a month of introspection than anything, which was reflected in what I was posting. Here are my posts from the month of July:

I have jitters in my stomach just thinking about what next month’s update could possible say + where we could possibly be. But we’re going to take this journey one day at a time and see where it leads us. As my mom says after a lot of our phone calls, “never a dull moment!”

 

Making 2014 Count | June Update

I can’t believe in just a few days 2014 will be more than halfway over. June is one of my favorite months and it sure didn’t let me down this go round. I started the month focused on my blog, on ideas, getting our Growing Love Series set up, and just enjoying each day. Then about halfway through the month I realized I needed to get going on my goals. When I look at my list for the year, this month was the first time I really felt like I could do it all. What started as a beautiful list of things that in an ideal world would all get done, I felt that if I could only stick to a fraction I’d be happy. Then getting our iMac happened last month, Photoshop was added this month, and other exciting successes all surrounding the idea of fostering growth in my life.

Have a gym membership all year
The other night, laying in bed with Landon, I asked what are a few things he thought we were taking for granted? One of the things I listed was the free 6 month membership to my gym that was won earlier this spring by my sweet cousin in law. This has been such a nice break from having to budget that in, and of having half of a year taken care of.

Become more athletic: lifting, running and yoga
I’ve set fitness goals each week as a way to stay accountable. Most weeks I shoot for four 60 minute days at the gym + 2 yoga classes a week. That would be my ideal week and when my soul is the happiest. I want to work on setting myself up for success with these weekly goals by starting things off earlier in the week with a Monday or Tuesday session. Normally I start with Wednesday, which doesn’t leave much room for error.

Other ways that I thought of when setting this goal was to think like an athlete in terms of nutrition and supplementation. So slow and steadily I’ve tried to read and learn more this year of what my body needs. I can now gladly shrug off all the radio nutrition advice, listen to your diet philosophies without getting confused, and have a game plan for moving forward. I ordered Cellucor Protein to switch things up this month as well as trying out BCAAs for the first time — for mornings when I lift fasted.

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The third thing I’ve focused on with this goal is to do my best to not join in on conversations complaining about my physique. I have felt such a feeling of lightness from finding personal solutions and being able to help others where possible. Feel free to join in, stop the body bashing and love what you’re working with more.

Read a Book a Month

This month I read + fell in love with The Opposite of Loneliness, essays and stories by Marina Keegan. Marina graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 2012 and died in a car crash five days later at age 22. The book starts with a beautifully + personality fill introduction from her professor Anne Fadiman. I couldn’t get over the clearly apparent and amazing relationship between professor and student, and I found myself wishing someone knew me the way she knew Marina. Included were lists of Personal Pitfalls Marina wanted to work on with her writing, (“Too much polysyndeton. Watch it!”) memories and notes for future writers.

“Many of my students sound forty years old. They are articulate but derivative, their own voices muffled by their desire to skip over their current age and experience which they fear trivial, and land on some version of polished adulthood without passing Go. Marina was twenty-one and sounded twenty-one: a brainy twenty-one, a twenty-one who knew her way around the English language, a twenty-one who understood that there were few better subjects than being young and uncertain and starry-eyed and frustrated and hopeful.”

What follows were essays in the most final version that they could find. Split up into fiction and nonfiction, I couldn’t get over her ability to write. If you find yourself with a few minutes in Barnes and Noble I’d suggest sitting down and reading any of the short stories, but “Why We Care About Whales” especially.

Prepare emotionally + physically to have another little one 
+ Give Up Diet Coke

Not to go on and on about The Opposite of Loneliness, but, just a bit more. In her essay, “Against the Grain” Marina shared her experience growing up with celiac disease and a mother who was vigilant about staying clear of the tiniest crumb as “failure to follow a gluten-free diet grossly increases one’s chance of developing thyroid cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.”

Sometime during her Junior Year of college, while searching for types of vodka that were gluten-free she instead found a study on pregnancy and the gluten-free diet. She read how gluten, even the tiniest presence, can affect an unborn celiac’s child and its ability to absorb enough nutrients. She says she read the article twice and turned down her iTunes, struck with the absolute conviction that someday when pregnant she’d be insanely careful.

I was then hit with the realization that I can do better. Some things may be easier to say at 21 while searching for a type of drink you can grab on your way out with friends, but no part of me doubts her conviction and that it was exactly what she was going to do. So in that moment I realized I needed to step it up, being in a position of preparing for a second little one. I dumped out the C4 preworkout that felt so important to try at the time and committed to cut the caffeine once and for all.

Later that night, still a little disappointed that I can’t get it together, I realized part of the problem. We live in a soda obsessed world. Rarely can I go somewhere without seeing Diet Coke somewhere. I decided, as I was falling asleep, that I’d open a restaurant called “Just Water.” Where the food would be so good we wouldn’t need soda running through our veins to love the food.

Learn beginner Photoshop techniques and/or InDesign

This is one the goals I’m the most excited about. When I set this goal in January I wanted to have higher quality photos with a specific look to them, but had no idea when we’d come up with $2000 to purchase the software. Then, remembering that my mother in law, an interior designer, was loving using the entire suite of Adobe products for $50 a month, I started to investigate what my options were.

In doing so, I found something else that was the missing piece for my story with starting with Photoshop: Photoshop Actions. “An action is a shortcut in editing your images. Each action has a different look, and after you press “play,” it will apply the look to your image. Once you’ve run the action, you can still make tweaks to the edits and create your own look from there, or you can simply save and be done!”

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So for $10 a month I now have access to Photoshop + Lightroom, and stepped into Photoshop Actions from a Beautiful Mess [just one option out of many] with their Mini Collection. I love them! Their Mini Collection comes with a $10 coupon to apply to any of their other sets, which I plan to use on their Signature Collection next.

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I mentioned photos were my love language, yes? ;)

Publish 52 blogposts a year

This month was a great month for this site. I was able to do a lot of behind the scenes work, from taking an online class with Alt Summit about working with brands, to putting the advice to good use, to creating lists of ideas and suggestions and hanging them above our workspace. Here are a few posts that happened this month:

Not mentioned or pictured above, but should be mentioned for this month: a new routine of running with Landon in the evenings, almost finishing Alma in my second time through the Book of Mormon, frustrations with debt but optimism of eliminating it all by the year’s end,  moving forward with talk of climbing Mt. Shasta together, and starting to sketch in the afternoons.