Fear: The Great Motivator

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I am only a week into sharing my heart with the world and I already feel like I have been dragged through the mud like a helpless animal, cold, damp ground beneath my limp body, branches and rocks scraping and scratching at my flesh, helpless, and out of control…you get the picture.

But why do I feel this way? I have yet to be attacked. I have yet to have anyone say, “hey your writing sucks” (it’s bound to happen eventually), I’ve encountered nothing but support and surprise from my friends that didn’t know I was hoarding this arsenal of blog content in my head.

So why in the past week have I cried? Why in the past week have I thought…what am I doing? I’ve considered multiple times deleting everything and second guessed every post I make. What is holding me back and what held me back for the last ten years since I stopped writing?

Fear.

One word. Fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of not being understood. Fear of what my husband will think. Fear of what my friends and family will think. Fear of what my children will think someday. But what do I think?

I have spent years being afraid. Years hiding within myself. Years hiding behind others. I want something that is mine.

I have a voice and I have never felt so much passion in my life than when my fingers are madly typing on a keyboard. I love to write.

I may not be the best writer in the world. I may ramble at times and take forever to get my point across. I may be misunderstood. But I can no longer let fear dictate my passion and drive.

I want something that is mine.

What Is It Like To Have A Dad?

I’ve always wondered what it’s like

To have a father tuck you in at night

Safe and sound,

He doesn’t ask

For things only a man in your bed

At 4 am after too much rum and coke

Would take from you.

A father to share hopes and dreams with,

To ask advice about boys and college,

To walk you down the aisle and give you away,

Because as a newborn you belonged to him.

I’ve always wondered what it’s like,

To have a father love you before a man could claim you as his own.

A father who loved you as a child, who taught you and worried about you as you fell in love.

I’ve always wondered what it’s like

To say ‘daddy’ and feel the truth of that word.

For him to say, “You will always be my little girl”.

I’ve always wondered what it’s like,

To feel the weight of the world fade as I rest in the safety of my father’s arms.

I’ve always wondered what it’s like, to have a dad.

Why Your Mental Health Matters

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I have struggled with depression since I was eleven years old. It is not something I felt comfortable admitting to anyone. As a teenager when I would have a depressive episode I would stay up all hours of the night pouring my heart into this huge purple diary. There were times I was in so much emotional pain that I felt utterly alone.

Then, when I was sixteen, I made the decision to try going to church more regularly and not long after entered my first relationship. I found a new sense of peace and my depression quickly faded into a small corner of my existence, like a wolf at bay waiting for the right moment to strike.

And strike it did. Many times over the years I battled my thoughts and feelings. The people closest to me at that time firmly believed anything could be solved by prayer (not to negate the power of prayer) or I was told that I simply wasn’t thinking positively enough. I had control over my thoughts and therefore my emotions and so any depression I was feeling was of my own doing and I could easily fix it.

I bought into the lie. I allowed my thoughts and feelings to be minimized and dismissed and I felt shame for not being able to just turn it off.

The truth is we all struggle, some of us more than the average person. You should not be made to feel ashamed for not thinking ‘positively’ enough, or for needing therapy, or perhaps medication. There should not be shame in admitting you need help. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Isn’t it true in life that the more we try to run and hide from something the more it seems to keep coming back at us? How exhausting. Isn’t it better (not to mention braver) to face it head on?

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life (and I hope to teach my children sooner than later) is that the choices you make affect other people. My mental health is important to me and has an impact on my children. I want to be the best mother I can be for them and in order to do that I need to be healthy physically and mentally.

I believe if you are aware of your own personal areas of struggle and you are actively taking steps to take care of yourself whether it be church, meditation, therapy, medication, or exercise, then you are taking a step in the right direction. Remember there is no shame in admitting you struggle or need help. You deserve to be at your best and others deserve you at your best.

We experience terrible things in life and our instinct is to compartementalize them, pretending something that happened ten years ago, maybe twenty years ago has no affect on our life now. Sometimes we need to look back and admit that maybe it does. Maybe there is some undealt with hurt and pain and it keeps circling back.

My hope is that you can be aware to face your pain, that way you are prepared for the next time the wolf will strike.

No shame. Only self awareness and strength.

5 Reasons To Visit Tangaroa Terrace With Your Kids

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My husband and I love Disneyland Resort. We go most weekends, even for just the day to enjoy a few rides, the ambiance, and the great food it offers. One of our favorite places to take the kids is Tangaroa Terrace. Here are a few reasons why we love it so much.

The Food

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Tangaroa Terrace was recently remodeled and the menu was revamped. They offer a great variety of food from a Hawaiian cheeseburger to edamame. They also offer kid friendly options; my kids personally love the chicken nugget platter.  I am a fan of the burger and the gyoza. The sauce is amazing; a perfect mix of tangy and sweet.

The Walk Up Drink Window

One of our favorite changes is the new walk up window for drink orders. This is a perfect place to order a dole whip (also with an alcoholic option), specialty coffee, or a libation previously only offered by entering Trader Sam’s or sitting on a specific side of the outdoor dining area. While you are able to take your kids into Trader Sam’s to order a drink (before the evening), the convenience of being able to order a drink in closer proximity (and with a much shorter wait time) to where you order your food is a welcome change.

The Location

Tangaroa Terrace is located in the middle of the Disneyland Hotel.  It is a great place to stop either upon just getting to the park (a short walk from the parking garage), or at the end of the day when we are preparing to head home.  When arriving you can head over to grab a bite and take a break before going through security (if you walk instead of taking the tram).

We also enjoy the proximity to the Disneyland Hotel. It is a relaxing place where you can take a stroll through the hotel and enjoy the classic ambiance it has to offer.  While enjoying a meal at Tangaroa Terrace you have a nice view of the hotel or guests relaxing at the pool.  The location is also much quieter and slower paced than eating in the park, which can sometimes feel like a chaotic experience, especially with children.

The Ambiance

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  Tangaroa Terrace is a fun and beautiful place to hang out. From the tropical setting to the creative and fun menu and drinks you will imagine yourself on an island getaway. The outdoor seating, coupled with the tiki torches and live music at night creates a calm and cool hangout.

Family and Kid Friendly

When we visit Disneyland we are happiest when we are experiencing something that both we and our kids can enjoy. Tangaroa Terrace offers comfort and convenience for everyone. The kids enjoy the food, sights, and sounds just as much as we do. The outdoor setting has more of a casual vibe, a welcome place for  kids, but also encompasses the ambiance of somewhere you could enjoy a late night drink with friends or your significant other.  While most places at Disneyland Resort are fortunately kid friendly, Tangaroa Terrace remains one of our favorite family hang outs.

I hope the next time your family visits Disneyland Resort that you will check out Tangaroa Terrace.  If you do please share your experience here.

 

 

 

 

Slow Days and Sickness

I am a creature of habit. I like to know what comes next, what is expected of me. The kids and I have a pretty regular routine now; Cam goes to school during the week and Emma has preschool classes or we run our errands, sometimes we have a play date thrown in the mix.

Every day is dishes. Take out the trash. Vacuum. On the weekends when Jason is home we are usually at Disneyland or finding something fun to do in LA. I look forward to these weekend excursions all week.

There is always one thing that throws a wrench in my carefully laid routine: when the kids are sick. And when it is flu season and you have three kids you are in for a beat down. It is a constant of fevers, laying on the couch all day, ibuprofen, urgent care visits, ER visits, and always needing water, cuddles, blankets, all the things that provide comfort, but can be draining to a mama.

In the midst of needy children, the house falls apart. It is hard to keep up on the daily tasks, the extra tasks (laundry I’m looking at you). Your child is probably missing school, you are stuck in the house all day, your weekend plans are probably shot. Your nerves are frayed and you feel like you are not measuring up.

The past two weeks have been a reminder for me: when my kids are sick, they need ME. Only me. My comfort, love, and care of them is all that matters when they are hurt and unwell.

We may spend all day at home watching tv and cuddling on the couch. In our case, you might spend three days of the week at urgent care and the ER. The dishes may build up in the sink. The laundry is still NOT done. We may end up eating pizza or Taco Bell AGAIN for dinner.

Who cares? My kids certainly don’t. In these moment I am forced to put aside my anxiety and need for routine and control to fulfill my job as a mother: to put my kid’s needs first and worry about the rest later.

The daily tasks will ALWAYS be there waiting. My kids will not be sick every day. The routine will return. So in this moment I will sit, still in my pajamas, cuddling my sick daughter in my arms, focused solely on her.

Miscarriage: An Unspoken Wound

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Chances are you have experienced this cruel trick of pregnancy. Chances are you know someone who has. Chances are someone close to you has experienced one and not even opened up about their pain. Statistically between 10-20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of those being in the first trimester.

The despair you feel when you lose something you desperately longed for cannot be measured. When I experienced my miscarriage it felt like the rug had been ripped out from under me. I was twenty three, in a new, but highly committed relationship with my now husband. We were young, both in college, and (in hindsight) a tad bit impulsive, but we both wanted to start a family together. This baby was wanted and loved from the moment we saw the pregnant reading on that digital test.

In my excitement I found myself immediately envisioning the new life that would be joining us. Would we have a boy or a girl? What would we name our baby? What would our baby look like? I started daydreaming about hearing my baby say mama, seeing their first smile, holding a conversation, teaching them everything I knew, playing with them, watching them graduate, watching them get married and have children of their own.

It was literally a whirl wind of emotion, hopes, and dreams that flooded my mind coupled with immense joy. The kind of joy where you don’t know what to do with yourself and you want to tell everyone you know how ecstatic you are. Naturally, the first person I shared the news with is my mom.

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My mom (bless her heart) is always great about giving me support and saving her judgement. When I excitedly called her up and told her I was pregnant she simply asked, “Do you want me to make you an appointment to Planned Parenthood?”

A few days later we went, my pregnancy was confirmed, and I giddily went to Jason’s work to share the news with him. I will never forget the look on his face when I came through that door and the way his eyes lit up with joy. We embraced and felt wonder at the new little life we created together.

Not even a week later our newfound joy was destroyed. Every woman’s fear when she is pregnant is to see blood. Blood and cramping are doubly disturbing, although both these things CAN be normal in a pregnancy, for a first pregnancy it’s all the more alarming.

Jason and I quickly made our way to the ER. At this point I still held onto hope that we would have an ultrasound and everything would be fine. I was still clinging to the future I already created in my mind of the life this baby was going to live and I was not so quickly going to let it slip away.

Our ER experience was not pleasant. We were met with an insensitive doctor who claimed my HCG levels were too low so I couldn’t possibly be seven weeks along. A nurse gave me an ultrasound and while she could see the sac there was no visible heartbeat. The doctor was dismissive and discharged us with a threatened miscarriage.

At the time it was an incredibly disheartening and confusing term; was I losing my baby or was I not? All that was left to do was go home and wait until later that night when I passed what was my pregnancy and I knew for sure our baby was gone.

Jason and I were devastated that night. I remember crying and wondering why? I felt immense guilt. I wondered what did I do wrong? How could I already love someone so much that I never even met? How could I endure such a loss?

My healing began when a month later we were once again graced with that elusive pregnant reading. We went into the second pregnancy with joy, but also a great sense of caution. The innocence we experienced the first time was replaced with the fear that it could happen again. Every week that passed was a milestone for us. When we went to our first ultrasound and saw Camden’s beating heart it became real and our hope increased.

Near the end of my pregnancy with Camden in 2013

While I was devastated at the time, I am now grateful for my miscarriage. Without it I would not have my handsome, smart, amazing son. He is the best gift after such a gut wrenching loss.

If you are experiencing a miscarriage know that you are not alone. There are countless women who have gone before you and are prepared to listen, or cry with you. Know that it is NOT your fault.

Know that it does not matter how far along you are, be it five weeks, or ten weeks, a loss is a loss.

Know that not everyone will know how to respond when you have a miscarriage; some of the best intentioned people have said hurtful things in an effort to be helpful; they do not intend to minimize your pain.

Know that there is no timeline for your grief; it is your own and you have the right to work through it in your own time.

Lastly, hold onto hope. Hope that you will experience pregnancy again and that it will be just as you envisioned it to be.

If you have any additional words of wisdom for a mama experiencing a miscarriage please share them in the comments below.

Have you experienced a miscarriage? Why do you think there is such a stigma around sharing your loss?

Making The Move…

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Moving. The word alone elicits the image of cardboard boxes, endless hours of packing, heavy lifting, disorganization, inconvenience, change. Add on having to manage children and your stress levels are peaked.

But…moving means something entirely different to me. The word conjures feelings of excitement, adventure, growth, new friends, new places, and new beginnings. If I put aside the stress (the packing and the children portion of the equation) then moving is something I have come to expect and accept in my life.

I am no stranger to moving. My childhood was spent mostly in Northern California, but included San Jose, Fortuna, Forest Ranch, and Chico as my home. I attended six different schools growing up, each move facilitating the change. I also spent a few years in North Dakota, a place that holds fond memories for me.

With each move came new opportunities, new friends, and new experiences. I have compiled a list of reasons of why I am grateful for the places I have been and what I have learned to appreciate from moving.

A FRIEND CAN BE FOUND ANYWHERE

Making new friends and meeting new people is not a challenge for me. I would consider myself reserved, but I can hold a conversation easily enough and I feel confident in my relationships. Moving around as a kid forced me out of my comfort zone and I was forced to make new friends at every school I attended.

It taught me to be proactive in meeting people and expanded my social circle to those with different life experiences and beliefs than me, something I attribute to my ability to empathize with others. I may not keep in touch with all the friends I have made over the years, but they remain in my thoughts and had a deep impact on my life. A new friend gives us an opportunity to grow and learn something new about ourselves.

EVERY PLACE HAS POTENTIAL

Experiencing the vast differences between Northern and Southern California has given me an appreciation for both. I used to be terrified of coming south. I was afraid of the sprawling landscape of LA, I was afraid of traffic, I was afraid of the enormous amount of people. I’m no longer afraid and I appreciate it in small doses (haha I am grateful to be living outside of LA).

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When I am in Southern California it makes me appreciate the quietness of Forest Ranch and miss the way I felt like I could hide away in the trees. It makes me miss the pitch blackness of a starry night; the quiet solitude of a walk. It makes me miss the cool rainy days I spent in Fortuna and the smell of the ocean breeze. It makes me miss the small town feel of Valley City, ND. Most of all when I am here I miss the comfort of my family. The distance between us is paved with endless highway and time.

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On the other hand…when I am in Northern California visiting my family I find myself missing the familiarity of my new home. I miss the constant of beautiful weather, the palm trees that line the streets, a quick drive to the beach, or a weekend at Disneyland. I have come to love the place I feared. Fear can sometimes hold us back from where we are meant to be.

Family picture at Point Mugu Beach 2015

CHANGE LEADS TO GROWTH

Most importantly, moving has forced me reach deep within myself and face my fears. Moving has forced me to become more independent and proactive. Moving away from family with my husband and a nine month old did not scare me. I was excited that we would be on our own and that my husband took a great job.

When we came down here I very quickly realized that my old habit of never wanting to go anywhere or do anything by myself was not going to fly. I needed to learn the layout of my new town and I needed to venture out and establish a new village in this foreign place or else I was not going to make it.

In the nearly five years we have lived here I have become more independent, confident, and capable than I knew I could be. Moving here also strengthened my marriage as my husband and I have come to rely on one another. We are united in whatever comes our way and we are both open to new adventures.

The early days at our favorite hangout

I know there are the rare few out there that have lived in the same place their entire lives with lifelong friends and their family just a short drive away. For those folks…I used to envy you. But not anymore. If you have ever considered a move and hesitated, I would say to you: do not let fear dictate your life.

There is a big wide world out there to experience full of new people to meet and new lessons to learn.

What could you be missing out on by staying in the same place?