light in august.

A lot has happened since my last real blog post.

Well, really, ONE thing has changed, but the change is so huge that it has been the catalyst to several other changes.

Just over two months ago, at 4:12pm on June 6th, Case Daniel came into my arms for the first time after a swift and smooth six-hour labor two weeks before his due date. (Considering he was 8 lbs 1 oz and 20 inches, I’m so glad he didn’t stay in there growing for another two weeks.) And so, we’ve been adjusting to life as a family of four.

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Apart from physically (he is almost a carbon-copy of his brother) Case is such a different baby than Dax was. Poor Dax was plagued by colic, reflux, and a severe dairy intolerance, so I distinctly remember that he spent the first three-ish months of his life screaming bloody murder which, for a first-time mother, was something I never thought I would live through. Case, on the other hand, is quite the easy going little one. He fusses when he’s hungry or tired or gassy, but otherwise he is absolutely peaceful. And he was born knowing exactly how to nurse and sleep at night. He’s one of those dangerous babies who make you think you could have a hundred of them.

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He was born right after the school year ended, so I’ve been trying my best to figure out how to work from home with a newborn and toddler in tow all day everyday. It means pulling a lot of weird hours, enlisting help from whomever can offer it, and stopping mid-project to nurse or accompany Dax to the potty, but all the hardest things about my current situation pale in comparison to the hardships I faced when working outside the home. It is a challenge to hit all my hours each week (and, you know, get a decent amount of sleep) but I am so grateful to have the job I do that not only fulfills me vocationally but also affords me this precious time with my babies. They are only this small once and, as someone who is getting ready to send her eldest to Pre-K 3, I know firsthand how quickly these years fly by.

A month after Case was born the Cases (the family after whom he is named) drove six hours to come visit us and meet him. And I have to tell you, that was one of the best (and heaviest) things I’ve ever gotten to experience. Dan was in the shower and so I was holding Case when they arrived, so when we heard them knocking Dax ran to answer the door and let them in. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty while I tried to keep my composure. But in that moment, while I held this precious little gift in my arms and then laid eyes on four people that have bestowed countless gifts upon my husband and me, I was incredulous. Here I was, surrounded by the deepest love I could comprehend, and why?

How did I deserve all of it? Two precious babies, and a group of people who love us enough to drive basically to the end of the earth to come see us? It just felt too good to be true.

So we took a picture with a selfie stick to make sure we had proof that it really happened.

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(If you use your imagination, it’s like a human Venn Diagram!)

July brought with it stifling heat that, thankfully, I rarely encountered since I work from home, and Dax’s third birthday. And just a few days before that joyous day, my father, whom I haven’t seen in 20 years, died suddenly. I might blog more about that later but, for purposes of this post, know that the death of my father has stirred up some darkness within me that I wasn’t really aware of until now.

Granted, I did just have a baby. And the newborn fade makes life in general a lot harder to cope with, even without a sudden passing. But in conversations with my husband and spiritual mentor during this time, I’ve discovered some pretty disturbing things about my spirit and the way I view the world that, now that I’m aware of them, I hope I can now begin to grow and change.

And so, here we are. August. Heavy with heat but with it, light.

The house does not stay clean. The laundry does not end. My patience wears thin and I fail to meet my self-made standards on the daily. At this very moment I am blinking sleepiness away, feeling always-tired and yet at peace, because while I am certainly drowning in diapers and dishes, I am also held afloat by a bewildering grace.

open letter to my firstborn son on his third birthday.

Dear Dax,

Few things can drag a group of people outside in South Florida in mid-July, but a year ago, friends and family gathered under the weight of the bullying heat and humidity to celebrate your birthday.

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We swam in the pool (though you kind of hated it), ate Chick-fil-A and cupcakes, and showered you with presents (mostly Spider-Man themed).

And just like that, you were two.

We finished out the summer by doing what you do; staying up way too late to catch the sunset on the gulf and splashing in the waves.

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And as summer made a way for the fall, we started a year that was going to be full of crazy changes. And you took them all in stride.

First, a month after your birthday, we took you to Open House at your new school, The Village School. You were starting Pre-K 2 in the fall for two days a week and so we took you to meet your teacher, Ms. Amy.

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I felt like my heart was in a vise the entire time, but you had a blast. You loved Ms. Amy and her puzzles that day and you loved them every day afterward.

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You and I were both a bit nervous at first. As a matter of fact, the first few months, you cried whenever I would drop you off. But before long, you couldn’t wait to get to school to play with your friends Annabelle, Drake, and Zion.

You got your first big boy haircut a few weeks later in preparation for your school pictures. I was a bit worried you would squirm too much, but you did so well! Everyone in the hair salon said you were such a good two-year-old.

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I think it turned out pretty good, don’t you?

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A month after you started school, you and I went to Target by ourselves to get a pregnancy test while Dada was napping. After I put you down for a nap, I took the test, and we found out that you were going to be a big brother! You were so excited, and so were we!

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You loved going to the doctor to hear the heartbeat (or “heartbeep” as you called it) of the “baby in Mama’s belly” and whenever we would visit my OB, you would crack up the entire office because you loved to talk to everyone. You also insisted that you be weighed every visit just like Mama. You loved to see the numbers on the scale pop up whenever you would step on, and we loved watching you grow right alongside me.

With pregnancy, my milk supply began to finally diminish so my body could put forth all of its energy into carrying your younger sibling. So it came time to wean you. On my birthday (because I’m a masochist, I guess) we snuggled right before bedtime and you asked to nurse. And I told you that Mama’s milk was all gone, and you said okay, and then you lay your head on my chest. I put my arms around you and heaved silent sobs into your blonde hair, mourning the last real component of your baby phase. But after it’s all said and done, I’m so proud that I nursed you until you were well over two. I wanted to make sure you got as much of that liquid gold as possible.

This year was the first year you really understood holidays. First was Halloween, and when you figured out that all you had to do was dress like Spider-Man and people would give you candy, you were hooked. We took you to a Trunk-Or-Treat at your school and saw so many other superheroes, but none of them owned it like you did.

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You kept the entire costume — including the mask — on until we had to peel it off of you at bedtime. You were COMMITTED. Other kids were tearing their costumes off in the parking lot, but not you.

Thanksgiving was impressive because, despite being an extremely picky toddler, you actually ate pretty much everything on your plate. And then came Christmas…

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Christmas this year was nothing short of magical. You had sparked an interest in Thomas the Train, asking to watch him everyday, so your dada and I got you some train tracks and some Thomas toys to open on Christmas morning and You. Were. OBSESSED.

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For a week and a half, you wouldn’t eat or sleep. You just wanted to play with your trains and nothing could take you away from them. It resulted in some pretty epic meltdowns, but we eventually settled into a rhythm with Thomas.

To this day, you will play with your trains all day. Everyday. And your collection has expanded, thanks to your father’s inability to restrain himself whenever he stops by Walmart, Target, or Toys-R-Us. Just a few weeks ago, he moved all your toys into your room because our living room had all but turned into the Isle of Sodor.

It is so fun to watch you experience the world for the first time. We took you to the zoo this year, and to this day, you still remember watching kids feed the giraffe lettuce. You always remark about how you ALSO eat lettuce, but when you do, you eat it with ranch. (Maybe the giraffe could take a few pointers from you.)

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You also love the Children’s Museum and if I had more money I’d take you there more often.

Soon, we found out who was growing my belly. It was a baby brother for you! And we named him Case!

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We let you be the one to tell everyone on social media all about your baby brother because you were just so excited. I wasn’t sure how you would be once the baby was actually born, but while I was pregnant, it was so fun to see you fawn over the baby in my belly.

As the year progressed, so did your independence. You wanted to do everything yourself. And as I got rounder and rounder with your baby brother in my belly, I wanted to pull you even closer. You were my first, and the old adage is true that there is just something different about your first. So I would take you out on dates, just the two of us, so you would know how much I loved you and how that wouldn’t change, even with the introduction of another baby. A typical two-year-old, you were no stranger to time outs and reprimands, but on our special dates when it was just the two of us, you were polite. You obeyed. You stayed close. You listened. I think you appreciated the time as much as I did.

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Your last day of Pre-K Two was an eventful day. Not only did you get to celebrate Water Day, and not only did we find that you grew what seems like a whole foot, but I also went to the hospital with contractions as I was in early labor with your brother.

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A few days later, on June 6th, your brother Case Daniel came into this world and, let me tell you, I was so nervous. I felt so guilty making you share me and your father with a sibling. I had prepared myself for you to act out, be jealous, and to turn into a terror. But none of that happened. Dax, you were made to be a big brother. Watching you love on Case has been one of the biggest blessings I’ve received as a mother.

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Your dad was feeling a bit ambitious when we brought Case home from the hospital because he decided that was when he was going to potty train you. I think you loved the extra attention it got you, especially since I was basically out of commission with a new baby, but man. Talk about stress.

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Oh and potty training killed your naps. And it makes me so sad. As cute as you look in big boy undies, I’m not sure they’re worth this casualty.

Yesterday, a day before your actual birthday, all of us took you to the Naples Train Museum to celebrate. GG even came down for the occasion! We also met up with your best friend Evelyn and her family and had a blast watching you play and ride a real train! The museum even had a Thomas train which, of course, is what you loved most.

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After the train museum, we took you to Chick-fil-A so you and Evelyn could play. When it got too overcrowded with kids, we took you home where you opened up all your presents (all Thomas-related, except the super sweet BIKE you got from JJ, Uncle Marc, Aunt Katie, and Uncle Brian) and then played with them until dinner time. We had your favorite (Mac and Cheese) and then capped off the night with (of course) a Thomas birthday cake.

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When I took social psychology in college, I learned that humans’ personalities are pretty much solidified once they turn three. If that is the case, I’m so happy with the person you’ve become. You’re sweet, compassionate, and empathetic, but also strong-willed, stubborn, and independent. A beautiful combination of your father and I.

Dax, every year with you gets better. It is such a joy to watch you come into your own. I can’t wait to see what this fourth year has in store for you.

I love you so much! Happy birthday!

Love,

Mama.

mothers and moms and sheep and goats.

The other day I was working at a Starbucks instead of at home (it’s nice to get out, you know?) and this particular Starbucks has its bathroom located outside between it and another store.

When my phone buzzed to remind me that it was time to go pick up Dax from school (do NOT judge; sometimes I’m so engrossed in my work that I don’t notice what time it is) I packed up my things and headed to use the bathroom before I left.

While waiting my turn, I noticed a young couple — probably not much older than Dan and me — sitting at one of the outdoor cafe tables. The woman was carefully holding a brand new sleeping baby girl, obviously their first and only one. They had the words, “BRAND NEW PARENTS” written all over them in that they were accompanied by a huge, new stroller adorned in countless baby toys and teethers and an obnoxiously overflowing diaper bag. And they looked tired. Happy, but tired.

I just gawked at them. That time in my life seems like it was forever ago, but it really wasn’t. It was only just a little bit shy of three years ago.

My mind was reeling. That Baby Girl was so impossibly tiny. “Are babies really that tiny when they first come out?” I thought to myself. “I mean I guess they are, right?” But I can barely remember a time where it didn’t almost break my back and tear my biceps to shreds when I go to pick up my solid-as-a-rock toddler boy.

Finally the bathroom door swung open indicating it was my turn. I went inside, did my thing, washed my hands, and zoomed out of there. I had to pass the couple again on my way to my car. I wanted so badly to stop and talk to them, but I was already almost late picking up Dax. So I just thought about what I wanted to say to them in my head really hard, hoping that by some chance they were mind readers and could hear me through my skull.

“I just want you both to know,” I furrowed my brow hard as I thought these words, “in case no one has told you, that you’re doing a really great job.”

That’s it. That’s what I wanted to tell them.

I remember the first three months of my son’s life nearly killed me. The sleep-deprivation, the incessant colicky screams, the bleeding nipples, everything. It all sent me to the edge of my limits and I remember thinking at more than one point that I was doing a terrible job and that motherhood must not come as easily to me as it does every other woman and that I was doomed to fail. In those early months, all I wanted to hear from someone was just a small, quiet, unprompted, and sincere, “Hey, you’re doing a really great job with that boy. I’m proud of you.”

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Two weeks ago was Mother’s Day. The night before, appropriately I guess, I couldn’t get much sleep because, well, that’s what happens when you’re 30+ weeks pregnant and it hurts to sit and also hurts to lie down and also hurts to stand. I had spent the night tossing and turning in our guest bed trying and failing to get some rest. (Our actual bed is a 20-year-old broken hand-me-down mattress and it has screwed my back up in ways I never knew possible, and our guest bed is newer so that’s why I was giving it a try.)

When my alarm went off to tell me to get up and get ready to go to church, I was already awake and angry about it. I shut off the alarm and went into our bedroom feeling quite defeated. I turned on the shower to begin getting ready and heard my husband stir.

“Hey! Happy Mother’s Day!”

My eyes filled with tears and I just flopped down on the bed and told him that no, I did NOT want him to tell me Happy Mother’s Day because I don’t deserve it because I’m not a good mother and you should only say those words to people who are good mothers.

“I feel like just a mom,” I went on to explain. “Not a mother. Mothers have their junk together. Mothers meal plan. Mothers pick out matching, cute clothes for their kids. Mothers actually, you know, clean their houses. Mothers know what they’re doing. I never know what I’m doing. I’m always flying by the seat of my pants. I’m just a mom; I’m not a mother.”

Ahem. Mothers don’t wait two weeks to write blog posts about their Mother’s Day. They sit down and write about them, you know, the day they happen. But here I am, writing about Mother’s Day two weeks later, because I’m just a mom. Not a mother.

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I realize this is a ridiculous assertion. I am obviously a mother in the most basic, biological sense. I grew, birthed, and then fed another person with my body. And I’m working on doing that a second time. But while sleep-deprived and hormonal, it made perfect sense to me at the time. I was separating the sheep from the goats in my own head, the sheep being the mothers who make DIY presents for their sons’ preschool teachers and the goats being the moms who pick up a Starbucks gift card with their morning lattes because oh crap, is Teacher Appreciation Week THIS WEEK?

One of the earliest memories I have with my own mother is her chasing me around the house with a hairbrush while I dramatically hid from her with my hands covering my head, screaming. Yes, actually screaming. I hated to have my hair brushed. And teeth brushed. And I didn’t really bathe. I was kind of gross, actually.

Another vivid memory I have of my own mother is sitting with her on this bright orange velour chair we used to have (thanks, late 80s trends) and listening to her read a book to me. I can’t remember what book it was, but I remember it was one that I basically had memorized. I knew the story backward and forward but still insisted that she read it to me. And she did, because she loved me and was usually really good at hiding how annoyed with me she must have been.

My mom was (is) a single mom. And I’m sure she could have used a positive affirmation every now and again. I’m sure there were days when her drama queen of a daughter fought vehemently against the evils of, you know, basic hygiene and made her feel like she was failing, too.

I don’t really have a resolution for this post, but I’ll just end it with this:

Mothers — sheep and goats alike — you’re doing a really great job. I know it’s hard, and I know it’s thankless. And I know it isn’t glamorous. And it isn’t all Pinterest DIY projects and home-cooked meals. Sometimes it’s late birthday cards and pizza three nights in a row. But you’re doing a good job.

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calm after the storm.

Just a few moments ago, as I was putting Dax to bed, I heard the tell-tale sound of summer.

Thunder.

Next month it will be two years since my family moved to Naples; we relocated just as the hot, rainy season was ramping up, and I remember that not a day went by in those first weird months that I didn’t hear that throaty rumble of the angry, humid skies.

And I heard it again today for the first time this year and it sent me into a spiral of nostalgia.

When we first moved here, we didn’t have any friends. We didn’t know a soul. And Dan was out of town for work a lot, so many nights I would sit by myself on our lanai and watch the lightning and listen to the thunder. It was lonely, sure. But it was also peaceful. I didn’t know much of anything about my new town but, being a native Floridian, I knew that sky and I knew those sights and sounds enough to not feel completely out of place. Being naturally extroverted, however, it was a whole new challenge to find so much time to myself. To be silent. To listen and to not speak.

To anyone.

Today was one of those days I wish could have been struck by some of the lightning I saw tonight; both Dax and I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, each of us already counting down the minutes to nap time before the last bite of breakfast was swallowed. I’m hormonal, and he’s two. And then a massive poop cut off a huge chunk of nap time, causing the rest of the afternoon to go just as poorly as the morning. He tested one too many boundaries and I lost my temper in an embarrassing way one too many times. And when I didn’t think I could possibly handle any more, I got a phone call from a debt collector wondering why we haven’t paid the nearly $3,000 still owed to the emergency room for last year’s miscarriage.

Seriously, Wednesday?

The storm is over now. Rain is no longer falling and thunder is no longer rumbling, but the ground is still sopping wet. Similarly, Dax is no longer raging against the Mom Machine but is soundly asleep in his crib. I’m no longer yelling at him, but am sitting on the couch in a funk so intense it almost has a color, contemplating eating cookie dough ice cream straight out of the carton (BECAUSE WHY THE HECK NOT, I’M 30 WEEKS PREGNANT) feeling both relieved to finally be done and ashamed at the ways I missed the mark today.

And Dan is away at work and I’m home by myself.

The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar.

where we are.

Over the past month, our family has experienced a lot of change. And from what I understand, the saying goes that change is hard. Regardless of what change is taking place, there is an adjustment period and, in case you’ve never experienced it, it can be hard.

But, as I was discussing with a friend yesterday, there is “good hard” and “bad hard”. And I am grateful that, for us, all of this change has been “good hard”.

I’m currently 28 weeks pregnant with this new little life (who we recently found out is another sweet BOY whom we have named Case Daniel) and my pregnancy is going faster than I’m really prepared to acknowledge. Baby shower dates are being finalized and I passed my glucose test and now I have a stack of bins of clothes to go through, but we are treading water in this house, making barely any forward progress. We have no plans currently in place to redesign Dax’s room to be a shared room, and we have yet to reorganize our own bedroom to allow for a newborn. But there is still time and we are enjoying where we are.

One thing we have done in preparation for a growing family is take a serious leap of faith; facing the reality of no paid maternity leave or short-term disability, Dan and I (with the help of a very dear friend) made the decision for me to quit my job to work full time as a freelancer. (That’s a lot of reason for my blog silence; finding time to work on my own blog has taken a backseat to the blogs of my clients. In related news, I LOVE MY NEW JOB!) Since making that transition, I’ve fully embraced the idea of “good hard” change. For instance, now that I work from home, the hardest thing I deal with is not working too much, and slotting out dedicated times throughout my day where I am 100% focused on being with Dax. Since Dax is such an independent little soul (who still takes 4-hour naps in the afternoon!) I could easily spend my entire day at my laptop plowing away at my work while he plays, pausing briefly to have short conversations (usually about trains) and to throw together a little lunch or a snack. But I prefer to give him my undivided attention for good portions of the day when he’s awake, so finding that balance is a bit of a challenge.

Compared with the “bad hard” Dan and I both dealt with while I was working full time outside the home, this is certainly preferable.

Dax, being the fierce introvert that he is, absolutely loves our new routine where he is home with me more. Every morning he tells me that he wants to “stay home with Mama and wear Spiderman jammies and play with trains!” And maybe it’s a coincidence, but I feel like the number of time outs he earns has dwindled a bit (not that he isn’t being very two and pushing a lot of boundaries lately).

Lots of change. But lots of “good hard” change, resulting in higher spirits around our house and increased sense of gratitude for this precious little life we get to live together.

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things i love thursday: a blog for cameron.

Monday evening, right after I posted my latest blog, I received the news that Cameron, a dear friend of mine whom I’ve known since childhood, passed away. After a long battle against Leukemia, a bone marrow transplant, then Graft-Versus-Host disease, she finally fell ill with a fungal infection in her lungs and then she was gone from our midst.

The news shot through my core like an ice-cold sword. I burst into tears and spent the rest of the night angrily crying out to God.

Why her? Why? Why, one of the sweetest, most talented, most precious souls to ever walk this earth? I know so many other terrible people who get to live. Why doesn’t she get to stay with us?

(I’m one of those terrible people, by the way, as is evidenced by the horrible prayers I’ve been praying since her passing.)

I felt especially bad for posting a blog link on my Facebook right around the time the rest of my hometown started posting about Cameron’s death. I felt so tacky, so self-serving. I felt like a total ass.

But there is something many people from our hometown didn’t know about Cameron.

They all knew she was sweet. And hilarious. And fiercely intelligent. And crazy talented. Anyone who’s spent five minutes with Cameron can tell you any of those things.

But one thing no one but me knew about her: Cameron loved this blog. 

She did. She loved it so much. She loved my writing. And I can’t even tell you why someone so great, someone so smart, and someone so incredible, would even read my (sometimes nonsensical and always emotional) ramblings, let alone love them. But she did.

She would always message me the minute after I posted a blog and thank me for speaking to her heart. She, just like me and many other women out there, fought the same body image ideals of our twisted society. And my writing gave her hope and peace and encouraged her to love her body (even when, in the end, it didn’t seem to love her back).

And so today’s TILT is dedicated to Cameron. To the person she was, and the person she made me to be.

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I first met Cameron Huster at our church when we were little. She played the harp and I burped on purpose. She was small and sweet and I was tall and loud and wild. She made friends with the other girls in our children’s ministry and I climbed kumquat trees and pouted. And that’s how we grew up.

When we got to high school and I went astray, she was the only person from my churched upbringing that remained my real friend. And never in a “man I hope I can rub off on Lindsay and be a good influence because OOOH BOY is she awful” way. But in a genuine, “I care about you because you are worth caring about” way.

When I learned that I was going to Florida State University for college, she reached out to me because she was dual enrolling at FSU our senior year (because I wasn’t kidding about her being a freaking genius) and made plans to meet up with me and show me around. She was the one who told me that I had to go to MoMo’s and try “pizza as big as your head”, a pizza place that ended up being integral to my quality of life during my nine years of living in Tallahassee.

When I got pregnant and then had Dax, she was one of the people who was SO excited and grateful for my new journey. She came by to snuggle him and brought him toys (a music instrument puzzle and an orchestra music box, complete with — of course — a harp) because she loved Dax so very much. She loved him so, not just because he was cute and tiny and a baby, but because he was mine. And she loved me. For some reason this smart, talented, sweet, incredible person loved meMy whole self. My opinionated, aggressive, stand-offish self. She loved me and she loved Dax because we were just the way we were.

Cameron Huster believed the best about everyone. And that included me. She believed that, even though I had my demons, I was worth a damn. She always treated me as such. Even when I was falling asleep in the pews during the church services in which she played that harp, she always loved me and made me feel worthy of love. And I never wanted to fight her on it, to tell her, “No, actually, you’re way too good for me.”

Because even more than all that, she made me actually believe that I was worth a damn.

This morning while I was eating my breakfast and trying to organize my thoughts for this blog post, I kept saying in my head that this world will be a much crappier place now that Cameron is gone. But you know what? That’s a lie.

Because of all the people she touched — like me — this world is going to be a better place because she was in it. She left a piece of herself in me, and in everyone around her. And while her body may not be with us, her spirit permeates the air in things like the words I write in this blog and in the conversations we have with those around us.

She may not be breathing anymore, but she is alive. And I am grateful that she is alive in me.

Love you, Cam.

how to physically love your body even when you mentally can’t.

For those of you who don’t know, back in 2007, I was diagnosed with an ED-NOS, or eating disorder not otherwise specified. I was taken aback by the diagnosis, but before I could argue I was flung into therapy, nutritional counseling, and was prescribed some anti-depressants to treat the disorder.

I’m happy to say that this diagnosis was seven years ago and I have yet to relapse. Huzzah! However, that said, I don’t really like to say I’m “recovered”. I know full well that, out of nowhere, dark thoughts can sneak into my brain and make me adverse to eating. Just a few months ago, before I got pregnant, I was having a really hard time at work and my go-to solution for it was to not eat dinner. This sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t struggled with disordered eating, but it hit me like a freight train in the dark.

Even though I didn’t want to, I immediately told my husband how I was feeling, so I could have someone in the room speak some reason into me. It worked, but it felt uncomfortable and wrong. Like I was faking it.

But here’s the thing — the majority of my ED recovery was exactly that: me faking it. I’d been eating in a disordered manner for so many years (12 years at the time of diagnosis) that anything other than that seemed wrong. But after faking it for a while, it became more natural, and now, I fake it less.

I might almost say I’ve made it. (Almost.)

I’m 20 weeks pregnant right now, and just like I experienced with my first pregnancy, my mind swings back and forth between feeling beautiful and proud of my round belly, and horrified at the changes and the lack of control I have over my expanding frame. And this would happen to me throughout my ED recovery, too. I would swing back and forth between happy to be healing and terrified of relinquishing control.

And now, halfway through my pregnancy, I sometimes feel the need to physically fake loving my body when my brain can’t, in hopes that it will eventually catch up.

If you ever find yourself in a position like that, here are some ways to fake it until you make it. (And you WILL make it, I promise.)

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1. Exercise

I know. Sounds gross, especially when you look down and aren’t happy with your body. But seriously, exercise not only releases endorphins and other happy hormones in your body, thus making you a more pleasant person in general, but I always feel more confident in my own skin when I’ve gone for a jog or tackled the yoga mat.

2.  Shower/Bathe in the Dark, But Not For That Reason

I’ve bathed in the dark because the sheer thought of laying eyes on my naked body has repulsed me. But lately, instead, I’ve been showering in the dark so I can’t focus on how my body looks at all, but how it feels. I turn the water just the temperature I like it (scalding, actually) and close my eyes, and allow my body to feel good. And then I say a prayer of thanks for legs to hold me up and skin to feel the hot water. (And, at this time, a body that is strong and healthy enough to build/care for another human life. Regardless of how unattractive I might feel, that is an incredible gift for which I am so very thankful.)

3. Stay Naked

I had a roommate in college (whom I lived with when I was diagnosed) who always had “naked time” after her shower when she would just lay in bed and relax. It sounded weird to me at the time, but I gave it a try, and there is something sweet about letting your clean body be just the way it was created for a few minutes without rushing to cover it back up again.

4. Apply Lotion Everyday

The sheer act of applying lotion to your body is a very practical way to love yourself. Check out this post about the lotion challenge and give it a try for yourself. Pick out something that smells divine and commit to putting it on everyday and evaluate how you feel about your body after a day, a week, a month.

5. Open Yourself Up to The Love of Others

This one is always the hardest for me, but is ultimately the most rewarding. Whenever I’m feeling particularly down on myself, I will ask someone close to me why they love me and then listen to their whole answer without responding. When they are done, I won’t argue with them. I won’t try and dilute their words. I just say a very heartfelt, “Thank you.” And let their words be true. Because they are, even if they don’t feel true to me.

Those are just a handful of things I’ve thought of over the past week. What do YOU do to love your body, even when it’s hard?