June 1, 2013

My Little Bird has flown to a new nest!!!

After about a year in this dear old blogspot space, My Little Bird is making an exciting move!

Won't you join me over here from now on?: My Little Bird Blog

I'm so thankful for you following along with the journey so far, with the anticipation of our sweet little boy, a big move, job changes, big prayer requests, Emmett's struggles with acid reflux and food allergies, and maybe, what I'm most thankful for- your encouragement over this year when I needed it the most as a new mama. Thank you, thank you.

This transition to the new blog is explained in full over at the new site, and I do hope you'll come along. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making My Little Bird such a special place for me to share my heart, no matter what the URL ;)

Love,
Mama Bird

May 29, 2013

The Simple Things: Alone Time and Salsa

There are a lot of recent blessings and pictures and updates I could list here to share with you my 'simple things' gratitude list. But I'm currently nomming on a curry chicken salad sandwich and sipping some really good hazelnut iced coffee at my favorite local coffee shop and I only have a half an hour so I'm going to just stream-of-consciousness style list it all. :)

Thankful lately for:
-the goodness that counseling is for my soul -a counselor I can laugh with and who just gets me after only a few sessions -the fact that there is a Christian counseling center in Roanoke (what a huge blessing!) -the fact that my husband is so overwhelmingly supportive of me going back to counseling and getting a grip on my anxiety and perfectionism :)

-this rare bit of alone time, sans baby, to just chill at a coffee shop and eat a great late lunch and write -the homemade salsa that I'm devouring with my sandwich and chips! -hearing the coffee shop buzz that I so often miss in my current season of life -the whir of the espresso machine, the chatter of work meetings and friend catch-ups, the radio playing songs I actually love, the register accepting another purchase, the bell on the door telling of comings and goings

-a wonderful weekend that got to happen after a cancelled camping trip and rearranging of plans to go home and see my family after several months apart -watching Emmett get to know his Mom-mom and Grandpop and Auntie Linds and Uncle Bobby, and seeing them all light up over him the same way I do when I spend time with this precious child -sitting on the porch swing in our backyard with Neil at every chance we got -amazing (though quick) visits with dear friends over great food, drinks, laughter, and honest conversations/catch-ups -a heart to heart with my sister in the bathroom as we got ready for bed, the kind of talk that I miss when we're away from each other that just isn't the same as those phone calls across miles -the break my husband was able to take from work this weekend after weeks of working REALLY hard (hey three-day weekend, I'm a big fan of you!) -celebrating my dad's birthday over a relaxing and fun meal with my family, including my beloved grandparents that I've missed like crazy

-a REALLY exciting announcement coming to the blog on Friday June 1st! keep your eyes peeled. this has been coming for months and I'm pretty much bursting for the final details to be put in place so I can share this news with you!

-the fact that three-day weekends make for shorter weeks, and that we're already close to the weekend! Neil and I are helping at a Sidewalk Art Show this weekend for the Taubman, which I'm pretty excited about!

-and last but not least, I'm thankful for this little booger :)










What are you thankful for this Wednesday afternoon?

Hope you're enjoying your afternoon, dear friend.

Love,
Mama Bird

May 28, 2013

Letters from a year ago

Yesterday, my little boy turned 11 months old. He's getting to be so much fun, with his little chirpy noises, and singing and clapping along to banjo music, and his love for the outdoors, and his running around (oh yes, this kid is running). I wish I could freeze time a bit, since in just a few short weeks he'll be turning one.

We're planning the first birthday celebrations, and we just boxed up all of his clothes from the first year. It's remarkable how much he has grown and changed in just a little less than a year, but then again I'm pretty amazed at how Neil and I have grown and changed this year as well as we've settled into life here on the farm in Virginia and settled into our life as parents.

I kept a journal during most of my pregnancy full of letters and thoughts I wanted to share with Emmett. I decided to pull it out tonight and read through a few entries. I had the idea to include some of the entries and pictures from this time last year to just show how much things have changed. I'm thinking I'll try to share a few here and there leading up to the big ONE year birthday for our sweet boy!
May 17, 2012

Dear baby,

Feeling you move is the best part of my day. No matter what kind of day I have had, your little sighs and squirms and rolls and punches make me stop for a minute and look down at my growing belly and smile, and thank God that you are being knit together inside of me. I truly can't wait to hold you, to see you, to kiss your soft little cheeks and forehead and fingers, and rock you to sleep each night; to teach you, to cry with you, to love you and to learn from you each day of your life, sweet boy. Just seven more weeks until our adventure together starts.

Love Mama


May 28, 2012

Well sweetheart, six weeks and counting! We are getting more and more settled into our new life here. Your nursery is about 80% ready to go. We still need a few more things (we have all of the essentials though), and I have a few more projects to complete before you arrive (if I have time). Your crib isn't set up yet, so we actually have our mattress in your room for the time being. Can I just say, we love your room?! It's so cozy!

Today is Memorial Day, so your Papa and Grandpa have the day off. We'll probably do some more unpacking and settling in. Love you baby!




 Posts from this time last year: One of my first 'Simple Things' posts about Settling In and Permanent (exactly a year ago today!)

Hope you had fun looking at these little blasts from the past, and I'll look forward to sharing a few more letters and posts and pictures with you as we count down to June 27th!

Love,
Mama Bird

May 21, 2013

Love Yourself: In Letting Go

When I was in college, I went through a traumatic experience that shook up my world and the way I saw pretty much everything-- my faith, relationships, good and evil, sin, love, and forgiveness.

I don't think I'll ever be able to share that story in such a public forum as a blog, but the details of that story are not important here. The important thing is how that experience changed me, and ultimately helped me learn how to love myself more.

I held onto the emotional scars and the baggage of that piece of my story like they were my lot in life-- something I would carry with me forever, something that I was kind of afraid to let go of but also absolutely desperate to be freed from. The weight of it sometimes felt like it was drowning me. I had become a shell of the old version of myself, pretending it all was okay, but inside falling further into the valley of depression as a result. I had come to a place where the scar of this ugly thing made me feel unlovable- to anyone down the road who may want to spend their life with me, but most importantly to myself. After several months of holding on tight to the secret, the shame, the wounds that were still open and aching, I knew that I needed to let go. To survive. To breathe again. To find what it meant to be free.

I started climbing towards light. Literally, it felt like the slowest little turtle crawl I could fathom. But it was movement. I wasn't stuck anymore. I started seeing a counselor at my school who helped me put some of the pieces together, gave me helpful terms and resources for processing the experience, and just gave me a place every week that I could tear the walls down that I worked so hard to keep up everywhere else and just cry.

I wrote. I let words fall like tears into my journal. I wrote letters that were never sent just to get the words out. I wrote poems. I wrote short scenes and plays, letting myself relive what happened and giving myself control of the story. I made art. I made art with good friends who knew my pain and we cried together over the therapy of seeing what came out onto the page. I told my story to those few close friends and mentors around me at that time that I felt could handle it, and they poured love on me that felt like soothing balm to my aching heart. I let myself take space when I needed it. I let myself ask for prayer when I couldn't pray the prayers myself. And eventually, I felt like I could trust again.

Neil and I were reconnected towards the end of that healing process. On our third date, I did something terribly bold that I still look back in wonder at and think to myself, 'What were you thinking?' But there, on a September day walking around Boston, I heard my heart. It said, 'You need to tell him.' We sat down for coffee at a sweet little cafe on Newbury Street, and over lattes I nervously told him the deepest part of my heart. I knew that if he could stand with me through that, this was it. And he reached across the table and took my hand.

I took my final (?) step of healing with my now husband, as he encouraged me to write one more letter. It was one of forgiveness. Reading that letter aloud to Neil (and myself) was one of the hardest things we've ever had to go through in our relationship. But afterwards, a chapter had closed, and that nagging scar finally stopped aching. We were married a little more than a year later.

I don't tell you all of this to tease you with a story that I'm only giving glimmers of. Nor do I mean to worry any of my family or friends reading this (that is the farthest from my intentions!). But I do share it to give you hope and encouragement. My faith has become my rock like never before. I see forgiveness and grace and redemption as real, tangible, moving things and not just cliches anymore. I am so happy to have and to know that my dearest friends are accepting of me, scars and all, and that there is unconditional love that surpasses even our worst hurts and griefs and darknesses. But most importantly, I'm so thankful for the healing gift of self-care, and that I took the time and emotional energy to process and eventually let go of this painful piece of my life. It hasn't gone away completely, as it is part of who I am today. But I'm so very thankful to know how much stronger it makes me when I love myself enough to look for healing.

What would it take for you to let go of past hurts, present pains, nagging expectations or guilt or perfectionism or scars that you carry with you today? What would it take for you to let go and start living more fully?

In loving ourselves in the letting go,
Mama Bird 

This post is part of the Love Yourself Link-Up series with Anne the Adventurer. Won't you join us?


May 19, 2013

The Little Adventures // 4

I don't remember where I initially found this quote, but I had it hanging in my office at my last job before I became a stay-at-home mama. I find such hope and joy in it :)

'The world's favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.' -Edwin Way Teale

I can't help but feel that truth pulsing through with all of the little adventures around here lately. First Mother's Day last weekend. Emmett's first real ride on a tractor. His first time playing with crayons. My first time learning how to plant in the garden after a magical trip to a garden center to pick out flowers, tomato plants, mint, arugula, and a beautiful Hen and Chicks succulent. Gorgeous May weather on the farm, and celebrating a whole year of being here in Virginia. Captions are necessary for the following photos... just wanted to let you in on life as of late!

Love that eyebrow look and the dino shirt from his Uncle Gibby
All dressed up for Mother's Day
Oh, my heart :)
Mama and her boy
The Line-Up
Trying to teach Emmett how to color
First ride on the tractor with Grandpa
A new papercutting I'm working on!
During a walk this week. Love this view in the springtime
Seersucker pants and humidity hair ;)
Grandpa, Scooby the goat, Grandma, E and Miss Annie (the dog)
Trip to a garden center! Beautiful succulent arrangement
Emmett and his Aunt Beth
In the greenhouse
Sprite, the horse at the garden center
Thought of you when I saw this one, Ali!
He slept so hard after this! (tired and flushed, but still so cute)
A treat that my mother-in-law bought for me

With May-seasoned hope that all things are possible,
Mama Bird

May 14, 2013

Love Yourself: In Community

A few months ago we started going to a new church, and almost immediately we got plugged in with a small group on Wednesday nights with other couples of young children. It was there that I met Theresa.

She was spunky, beautiful, confident, and real. A few weeks into meeting with this group, she saw a glimmer of something in me (akin to desperation I think), and pulled me aside at the end of prayer. What are you doing tomorrow morning? she asked me. I think I mumbled 'nothing' as I held back those tired mama tears. She told me that I needed to come to a moms group at another local church. That it would change my life. That it would become my life line. We exchanged phone numbers, and in the morning when I thought of a million nervous reasons why I shouldn't go, she texted me to make sure I was coming.

So I went. I was nervous and had my huge diaper bag and a stroller, and a squirming boy who was clinging to me that I decided to keep with me, rather than put him in a nursery in a new place. I got there late. I walked into the room and met eyes with about 30 other women. And instead of judgment for my lateness, or annoyance for bringing in my child, or stifled laughter as I would have expected for all of my stuff, I was met with warmth and open arms.

The woman standing at the front of the room said in an excited voice, 'Theresa, is this your friend?' They were waiting for me. A seat had been saved for me in the front and center row of the room. Women waved and smiled those big, real kinds of smiles, as I tried to sit down as gracefully as possible without drawing too much more attention to myself. Theresa swept in and took my coffee out of my hands so that I wouldn't spill, and the girl on the other side of me helped me pull that big ole diaper bag off my left shoulder. Emmett and I settled in and I felt a huge sigh of relief sweep over my body.

Probably every other week at moms group (okay, I'll be honest, every week), when we split off into our little small groups, my eyes fill up with tears as I admit how exhausted I am. And there is no judgment. There is no pity. There are hugs. There are prayers. There is, let me hold that boy of yours so you can have five minutes to not worry about him. There are messages during the week to check on each other. There is a letting in on the real stuff of life. There are circles of prayer and there are laying of hands on a Bible being sent to an estranged family member. There are first whispers here before anyone else knows of new life on its way, and there are tears in admitting its hard when these mamas have to be strong for everyone else. This? This kind of community gives me a glimmer of the Kingdom, and it is where I can love myself more fully.

I am a deeply relational person. I think we all are, at our core. If we admit it, we need others. Not in a sense where we need clean laundry or nourishment from a meal, but there is a craving in each of our souls to be known. To be loved fully for exactly who we are. 

When I am isolated and feeling lonely, those thoughts start creeping in and they grow exponentially louder of, ugly, awkward, needy, unwanted. 

When I am surrounded by true, genuine, loving friendships, I hear and reaffirm in myself: loved, worthy, beautiful, caring, accepted.

I find it in car rides singing with girlfriends, or riding silent and content next to one another. I find it in Skype dates and phone calls and text messages where tears and encouragement and prayer requests are shared. I find it in email chains between good friends, sharing the high lights and low lights and everything in between. I find it in hearing my best friend say last night, you never have to apologize for being awkward with me. That's what brought us together in the first place (and following up with pictures of ourselves making the ugliest faces possible and admitting our quirks with laughter and that knowing of, that is why she's a lifer). I find it where there is no pressure to be anything except for the fullest version of myself.
***
Where do you find your community? Where do you feel like you can be loved for being you, quirks and realness and all
I'm so glad you stopped by, and I hope you'll join in this community for the Love Yourself Link-up with Anne the Adventurer.


May 7, 2013

Love Yourself: In Your Body

Along with all of the emotional and mental changes that come with the territory of being a new mom, it's also been a year of coming to love my new body. My friend Anne from Anne the Adventurer has invited me, along with other women, to share pieces of their journeys towards positive self-image in a new series called 'Love Yourself.' She boldly led the way, by sharing her beautiful story about working to overcome an eating disorder after ten years, and how she is coming to love her body (and herself) more now than ever before. I'm so proud of her and so excited to be a part of this series. Be sure to stop by Anne's space to leave some encouragement for being so brave, and also check out some of the other writers' stories at this link-up.

I look at pictures of her, a huge smile on her face, gorgeous blonde hair, toned, skinny arms, a tiny waist, and I hardly recognize that the girl in the picture is me, just a few years ago. But the thing is, I know her. I know her so well. And I know that that girl didn't find herself beautiful.


I see her, and I know that she found pride in this skinny body, but inside she was aching. She made sure that she never left home without her make-up and hair and outfits looking put together, but inside she felt like she was falling apart. She was so sad, but she always plastered a smile on her face, thinking that others expected her to be happy and have it all together.

I wonder what Heather a few years ago would say if she saw me now. The 'new' Heather's weight has fluctuated so much in the past two years, settling into a weight that is not controlled by her unhappiness. She may weigh 25 pounds more and her jean size is surprising compared to where it was a few years ago, but she does not allow herself to be defined as easily by how she feels she must look to other people. The new Heather is completely comfortable leaving the house without makeup, because she feels like she can be beautiful without it. The new Heather loves hearing her husband calling her beautiful, with the brown wavy hair she always thought was mousy and the curves she always tried to keep in control. The Heather now, the Heather that you'd meet today pushing a stroller through the park, or meeting other moms for lunch, or rocking her boy to sleep at night? She allows herself to smile when she feels genuinely happy, and to show pain when she is in pain, but this Heather is more real.

I think becoming a mom has saved me, as my own mama has told me so many times this year. It has taken my focus off of myself. It has taught me to be less selfish. And it has helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin.
 
These arms may not be as toned and pencil thin, but they are strong. They carry around a 23-pound baby and scoop him up into the biggest hugs.

This stomach may not be as flat, but I know it has stretched to hold the most special little boy I've ever set eyes on.

These thighs and hips are fuller, and they may be covered in pink little marks, but I know these lines are road maps to Emmett's first little home. 

I'm so thankful that I can see how the changes in my body are proof of the beautiful outward work God did to prepare me inwardly to be the woman and mother I am today.



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May 6, 2013

Purpose

In college, I studied theatre (a decision I am still 100% happy I made), and during our senior seminar class we learned how to write mission statements. One of my favorite assignments for the seminar and something that had a great impact on me long-term, was writing out my personal mission statement as an artist.

Last week, I was chatting with some amazing women from all over the world on Twitter (we 'party' over social media every Thursday night while we wait for Lisa-Jo Baker to post our Five Minute Friday prompt). I genuinely have been feeling pretty stuck recently as a writer/blogger, so I asked these other ladies how they find time to blog (knowing that some are stay-at-home mamas like me, some are full-time working moms, work from home mamas, homeschooling mamas, married and working full time, single and working full time, full time bloggers, full time students, etc. etc. etc. aka any/none of the above and we're all busy but HOW do we find time to write in our busy days??). Some of my friends offered very practical advice, and we laughed about recording our posts in the car or on walks, and people shared helpful sites and tips, but one fellow chatter shared with me the following challenge/question:
You know I really think it comes down to what yr motivation is for blogging.
I stopped in my tracks.

For almost a full year I've been writing in this little space, and I've thought about the question, but I've never sat down and forced myself to put my thoughts into clear, prayerful words. Why do I put these words down here? What is my motivation for blogging?

I process the big things (and the small) through writing. I love to write in my journal, explore poetry and play-writing, and write out my prayers whenever I'm able to take the time. But in this space, I process and share according to the following four purposes:

1. Finding joy in the simple things in life (whether that is through the simple things series, the little adventures series, my 25 in 25 bucket list, or just sharing exciting moments here on the farm with the family)
2. Storytelling and creative writing (five minute free writes on Fridays, stories about grocery shopping with my little buddy, or letters written out of love)
3. Learning ways to incorporate creativity (an essential part of who I am) into my current season (whether through adventures in cooking/baking, pictures of new papercutting projects, or a DIY project every once in a while)
4. Sharing authentic pieces of my journey with others (motherhood, faith, identity, depression, theatre, marriage, friendship, dreams, community, growth)

This was a really helpful exercise for me, as I look back on the past year as 'Mama Bird' and as I get ready to make some exciting changes in this place where we meet.

If you're a blogger/writer, have you ever asked yourself what your motivation is for blogging? If so, what are your thoughts? If you haven't written down a mission statement or purpose for your blog, I'd highly recommend it. It's been a very reaffirming exercise and has helped me to refocus and get back on track of why I really want to be writing (at least here at 'My Little Bird').

Thanks for walking through this year of me figuring out my purpose and place in the blogging world, and for following along with the adventures so far!

May 5, 2013

The Simple Things: Fresh Lemons and Baby's Best Friend

I realized that I haven't posted a list of 'the simple things' that I'm grateful for in a while, so here are some of the sweet and simple things that have made my life a little bit fuller as of late:

-a successful event that was a blessing (last weekend) after months of prayer and preparation on the part of the women at (in)courage. I was lucky enough to host the Roanoke (in)RL meet-up, where I spent a morning with other Christian women from our area over breakfast, genuine conversation, laughter, and watching a few of the webcast videos put together by the team at (in)courage. Here's a quick pic from afterwards (missing one of the ladies), but I think you can tell by our smiles how much fun we had spending the morning together!
With my friends Janan and Susan
-getting confirmation that I'll be volunteering this summer at the art museum with incorporating theatre into some of their education programing! :)
-writing a puppet show while at home with Emmett in the past week or so. I'll have to share more about this later, but I'm really excited (and am hoping to find a chance to have it performed this summer)
-my sister-in-law and her husband moving back home to Southwestern VA from Texas. It feels really nice to have everyone living on the farm right now, and to spend time hanging out with Beth and Tony and their sweet dog Winnie (P.S. Emmett and Winnie are pretty much BFF already)
Emmett and Winnie
Emmett and Aunt Eliz
-fresh lemon slices in water- so refreshing and it reminds me of summer!
-continuing to see the farm bloom right before my eyes. I've decided I really love springtime in Virginia!



-deepening relationships with our small group members
-having coffee and chatting on Thursday morning with some pretty incredible women in the mom's group I go to. So blessed by these relationships as well.
-a conversation with a French artist and an inspiring live display of her quick technique of painting at the museum yesterday
Natalie, Beth, Me, Cornelia Marin, and Drew

-a day spent with Beth and Tony, and our friends Drew and Natalie at Roanoke's chili festival and strawberry fest
-eating the best corned beef reuben I think I've ever had at an Irish pub in the area ;)
Tony and Beth (Emmett is in the highchair on the end of the table)
No picture of the Reuben, but here are our cheesy faces ;)
-wonderful time of worship, singing with my heart full and open and my hands lifted this morning in church, with my little boy and husband worshipping by my side
-a big ole Southern home cooked meal after church today at Neil's grandmother Opal's house with the whole fam. I love Charlotte's cole slaw, Opal's beef roast and truffle dessert, and just the general time spent in an afternoon surrounded by loved ones (and taking a nice little nap upstairs to recharge while Emmett entertained the troupe haha).

-a calm and slow evening with my boys tonight- a walk on the farm, packing lunches and thinking of meals for the week, washing clothes and straightening up, refocusing towards a fresh week, getting the chance to papercut.
working on a new project :)



-watching in amazement as my son continues to gain confidence and travel one step at a time across rooms into the arms of those who love him.
-really positive encouragement after choosing to be vulnerable about how my son has been teaching me to be brave
-talking to my mom and sister, and just how they still know me better than anyone since they have known me my whole life ;) Love you both!
-exciting advancements with some blog changes coming soon ;)
-the truth that has seeped into my soul as I've been memorizing Psalm 16 this week
-and finally, this:


Long list but it's been a while since I've sat down to write it all out and share! What are the simple things you've been grateful for lately? Feel free to share your list (even if it's just one or two special little things) in the comments below.

With love and a full heart,
Mama Bird