Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Grief That Follows Cancer

Do you read QuietLikeHorses? If not, you should. It is so beautifully written and raw. My dear friend, Sobrina, writes about the beauty and inspiration life throws our way, as well as the heartbreaking sadness that life thrusts into our lives.

Sobrina lost her husband, Alan, just over two months ago. They are both dear friends of mine and I have been processing his death alongside her. In absolutely no way am I living through it in the same way (honestly, I cannot imagine what the tremendous grief she is experiencing must feel like), but I am doing my best to love and support her, while allowing her to really experience her sadness. As much as I want to take her pain away and "fix" this for her, I cannot.

I've been trying to read as much as I can about the grieving process in hopes of being a better support to my friend. I came across an article written for the New York Times by David Brooks. In it, he describes lessons that can be learned by one family's trauma. The part that really stuck out to me was when he talked about the difference between people who are fire fighters and builders in a time of tragedy. "Firefighters drop everything and arrive at the moment of crisis. Builders are there for years and years, walking alongside as the victims live out in the world... Be a builder."

I've been wrestling with this idea for the last few weeks. I think I make a great fire fighter for the people around me. I know how to be sensitive to needs in crisis situations, I am not afraid to step up when people can't find it in themselves to make decisions, and I'm not afraid to be a buffer for awkward conversations or relaying messages. Doing this allows me a tangible way to support someone I love. But am I builder? Do I have it in me? I sure hope so.

It's not a new thing for me to live life next to people; we've modeled our church community in that way for the last several years. However, I've never had to see a friend through this kind of tragedy. It's not that I'm finding myself tempted to run away from this kind of commitment, I'm afraid I won't be good at it. How do you know what to say? Is there ever a "right" thing to say? "No. Because nothing you say can bring Alan back. You just need to be present and love Sobrina in that presence."

Those are the words a dear friend, and mentor, provided when I expressed my doubts. She's right. There's nothing I can do to take away her pain, speed up her process, or bring Alan back. That's scary. It's scary to think about helping my friend in a way that is so unfamiliar and undefined. Do I know what I'm doing? No. All I can do is love my friend and not be afraid of what Alan's memory brings.

Man, I sure do miss my friend though.

(Photo of Alan by QuietLikeHorses)
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Can't Let Go

Hello. It's been a while; I realize that. When friends ask why I haven't written anything in months, I describe my feelings around this blogging break as a "divorce" from the blogging world. I haven't written a post, I haven't been reading other blogs (regularly), I haven't been checking out my stats, nothing. Yes, my break was sudden and fairly extreme, but I'm not sure that I can call it a divorce. A divorce is ugly, painful, and final. While I experienced disappointment and frustration I'm not ready to say that I am done forever.

What does this mean? Who knows! I sure don't. I'm not ready to commit to updating regularly and I still have no idea what my "niche" would be. Maybe I do need to throw in the towel and say goodbye.

I'll think about some things and keep you posted. ;)
Friday, March 15, 2013

Travel Fantasy – Tropical Beaches

This week I’ve been sharing a lot of what I’ve been wrestling with the past couple of months, and I really appreciate the encouraging comments I’ve received! As we head into the weekend, I thought it would be fun to lighten things up a bit around here.

Although the weather in my area has been unseasonably warm, I have been absolutely daydreaming about being on a tropical beach all winter. I want to feel the toasty sun on my skin and dive into warm water breaking on the shore. My dad lived on the island of Maui for almost 6 years and I loved being able to visit him. All I really had to worry about was my plane ticket and how much I should pack. He lives much closer now (which I’m happy about), but I’ll always cherish that time and the experiences I was able to have while he was there.

So, if you want to make my dreams come true. Buy my a roundtrip ticket to a beautiful island paradise, set me up in a sweet ocean view room, and send me down to the sand to watch the sunset. We’ll be friends forever. ;)

What travel fantasies are you having a hard time kicking?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Motherhood Guilt

Motherhood guilt has already started to settle in for me. I feel like I haven’t been documenting my pregnancy enough. I have a personal journal that I have (inconsistently) been writing notes and experiences in, but I feel like it’s not enough. There’s no week-by-week record of how my body is changing or how I am feeling. A part of me really wants to have that, but another part of me realizes that that is just not who I am (remember the sunrise example).

I also have this weird hesitation about being classified as a “mommy blogger”. I think being a mom automatically places me in this amazing group of women who have lead the way before me. However, I also realize that there are tons of women who are not yet in that season of life, or desperately want to be but haven’t had the opportunity. I have been reluctant to post motherhood-focused topics because I don’t want to isolate those without children.

I hear that this penchant for guilt only continues as your children grow. One unfortunate quote that someone said to me was, “A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child”. What a bummer that is! However, I completely understand where that comes from. My child is not even in this world yet and I already want what is best for him; I can only imagine what it will be once he is actually here, making life-altering decisions.

How do you deal with guilt (of any kind)? What do you think about “mommy bloggers”?
Monday, March 11, 2013

My Trouble with Blogging

It's obvious that I haven't been posting much here on the blog. There are many reasons for that (some of which I've already shared):
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Lack of support 
  • Unclear vision 
  • Guilt 
Today I want share some of my thoughts and feelings on my lack of motivation and support. 

Blogging can be a tricky world because the blogging community has built a reputation as being super friendly and supportive, but it's really hard to break into that community. Sure, there are bloggers all over the world who are friends with one another but it’s almost as though they’ve reached their friend capacity.

Maybe it's me, maybe I'm not participating in the community with a genuine blog focused attitude. I mean, I love to read blogs, but many of them are already well established and successful in the field. Becoming friends with me doesn't necessarily matter because they've already made a name for themselves, have thousands of followers, and created a trusted circle of creatives around them. 

This leads me to the question, should I be searching for more up and coming, unknown blogs out there? Yes, I definitely should. But where to start? How do I find them? Do I do random topic searches? Should I look to see who other blogs are linking to? How do people find me? A person only has so many hours in a day to focus on so many people and posts. 

When Vine came out (a new social media platform), Bri Emery of Designlovefest said that she wanted to try it, but when you add a new platform a previous one suffers. I think that this is also true of the blogs you read. I think people reach a capacity for how much they can read and take in. When they find a new blog to follow, it usually distracts them from a previous one.

Finally, I wonder if blogging is on the way out. When you’re in the blogging community, it is huge. When you’re outside of it (or trying to tell friends and family about it), it is actually feels pretty tiny. If it is running it’s course, then what will take it’s place? What platform or tool will take it’s place?

I feel a little bit like a negative nancy with this post. This community needs positivity and encouragement, and my goal is not to take away from that. I’ve been in a blogging slump and I’m trying to figure out if I should throw in the towel or work through this time in order to come out on the other side.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baking Bread - Help!

I've decided I would like to venture into the world of bread baking. I've never done it before and, quite frankly, the idea intimidates me. I think I'm nervous because so much precision is required. What if I put too much water in? Or don't knead the dough long enough? Ugh, these are all questions that have kept me out of the game until now.

I have faced intimidation before (it took me weeks to get over the idea of roasting tomatoes), but I can't let it stop me anymore. As I mentioned last week, preparing different meals more regularly has really helped me feel more confident, even when I mess up. It's with this new found confidence that I'll be trying something new, but I would still LOVE your tips, suggestions, recommendations, or warnings. :)

(Photos from Quiet Like Horses. Sobrina makes bread making look like nothing! Check out her recipes here)
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vanilla Buttercream to the Rescue!

Each week our church family comes together, makes a meal together, and shares a discussion over that meal. Each person signs up for a different course or ingredient so that the burden doesn't fall onto one person. It's possible because we're a small group that meets in a house (also, we're part of a larger church network for anyone who may be feeling freaked out by the idea of a "home church" :). However, the point of this post is not about my church or it's logistics, rather it is about food. 

Since we've begun making a meal together each week, my confidence in the kitchen has grown. We've had food themes that push me outside of my comfort zone; sometimes I fail and sometimes I nail it. Luckily for me, everyone is gracious and loving in my attempts at new dishes.

This confidence has encouraged me to branch out and try all kinds of recipes. I found a fun homemade Ding Dong recipe via Pinterest and wanted to give it a shot. I followed the directions well, but ran into some serious trouble with the whipped cream filling. I just could NOT get it to whip and create "stiff peaks". In fact, I was able to achieve a nice top layer of whipped cream, but hidden beneath was a liquidy bummer.

After a brief emotional breakdown (I blame pregnancy hormones), I resolved to find a solution. This lead me to buttercream frosting. My friend Ali has a super delicious homemade recipe and it was the first thing that came to my mind. Hers is pretty fancy (she is a professional baker, after all), so I Googled, "vanilla buttercream frosting". A simple recipe from Savory Sweet Life came up and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry (bonus!).

The frosting was SUPER easy to make and it was really delicious. I was so satisfied with the way that it turned out, and stoked by the fact that my Ding Dongs were not ruined! I filled my little cocoa cakes with this buttery goodness and proceeded to cover them with chocolate. More than just making a yummy dessert, I'm proud that I was able to overcome adversity in the kitchen. It may sound lame, but I thought I wasn't going to be able to save the cakes when the cream wouldn't whip.

Here are some things I learned from both recipes:

Ding Dongs
  • I feel like there was a funny after taste and I can't tell if it was the pureed dates or if my vanilla extract went bad. 
  • Make sure you have ALL of the ingredients before you begin. I had to go to the store several times because I missed a few things.

Buttercream Frosting
  • Follow the instructions - they are easy and it pays off in the end. 

You can find the full recipes and all photos from the links above. 
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The News!

Do I look bloated in the picture above? Well, I'm not! I'm pregnant!!!

Rob and I are beyond stoked for our sweet potato-sized lovie, set to arrive in July. I am currently 18 weeks pregnant (about 4 months) and I feel great. Sometimes I still can't believe that it's happening, and sometimes I'm even afraid of what my life is going to be like once the baby is born. Maybe that's a part of the reason you're pregnant for 9 months? To get used to the idea? Who knows!

What has been really amazing for me is to see how quickly my body began changing to prepare for this little life. Almost right away, I noticed subtle changes in how my body carried itself and how I was feeling (mainly exhausted). It really is incredible what our bodies can do.

As my pregnancy progresses, expect some updates on here. I haven't been posting regularly (which is obvious), so I don't want to commit to daily posts. Saying that, I do want some kind of record of my experience to share with my kidlet later on in life.

So, be sure to stop by!

(Photo taken by Daniel Garcia at 14 weeks) 
Thursday, January 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mama-bear, I love you. You are extremely generous and loving. I admire how hard you work to make us all happy and to make sure we are taken care of. I hope you are spoiled rotten today. Happy birthday!

(Photo taken in Disneyland in 2010)
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Powerful, Yet Peaceful

I love how powerful, yet peaceful this image is. 

How are you today? I'm fighting a cold, listening to some rainy day music on this very gray day, and catching up on some to-do items (I sure do love checking them off!). A good friend is taking me to dinner for my birthday tonight. Things are good for me and that feels really nice.

(Photo courtesy of A Well Traveled Woman)
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