Category: lifestyle

Your Baby Is a Good Baby

Your Baby is a GOOD Babyhttp://chasingayden.com/your-baby-is-a-good-baby

Motherhood is a strange place, (yes place), that truly cannot fully be described to someone who hasn’t experienced it. You cross over, not only in to this incredibly life-altering new role, but also in to an alternate Universe. In this Universe there are all sorts of opinions and ideas and expectations orbiting around you. This isn’t like a gradual immersion in to a new lifestyle, either; oh no. The moment that baby is birthed, there is a shift and you are now a permanent resident in this new world.

A protective, mama-bear-esque instinct accompanies this new territory, and your baby cub is instantly the most beautiful, incredible and precious creature you have ever laid your eyes on. So naturally, you want the world to receive this tiny being with the same adoration.  I think this is especially true for first-time moms.

After I had Ayden, I remember people asking me almost immediately, ‘Is she a good baby?’ My knee-jerk response was, ‘yes, she’s soo good’, subconsciously validating myself via my newborn.  I then started to notice more and more, other moms praising the ‘goodness’ of their babies, but not talking so much about common hardships that accompany the arrival of a newborn.

I struggled with postpartum anxiety, and found myself often comparing me (and even my baby) to others, especially via social media. I started to experience the woes of a baby that liked to party throughout the night, and who almost instantly fell asleep while nursing, thus rendering me a human pacifier. Sleep deprivation had me in its death-grip, and slowly but surely, I started questioning the ‘good-ness’ of my baby, and in turn myself. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s what my truth looked like.

6 weeks post-baby, I finally had enough of my noisy head, and called my OB, who without hesitation offered a remedy for my PPA (postpartum anxiety), and almost instantly, sanity returned to me. This is when I had an ‘a-ha’ moment that would shift my perspective in a much-needed way.

All babies are inherently good. The idea that a baby could not be ‘good’, (regardless of how much or little they sleep, cry, nurse, barf, fuss, fart, spit up, etc), is absurd. The question itself, ‘is she a good baby?’, is kind of ridiculous if you stop and really think about it. Does anyone really ever answer, ‘no! She’s a terrible, bad baby!’ So why then do we continue to ask and answer this question?

I am not even sure I have an answer to this question other than humans really like to categorize things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. And I am not in the business of making people wrong for being human. All I am saying is that language is a powerful thing, and whether you are on the asking or receiving end of this question, it’s something to consider. You don’t have to take in and digest things that don’t fit for you. You do not have to categorize your baby, unless you want to. This is something I think I might have appreciate hearing when I was a new, first-time mom, so here I am passing it on.

This post felt important for me to write for the new mom out there, who maybe feels less-than, because her baby isn’t living up to the unrealistic, (often posed/staged) baby photos that flood our social media feeds. This is for the mom who when asked, ‘is he/she a good baby?’, thinks about her sleepless nights and fussy baby, and begins to question the very good-ness of her baby and herself. I want you to know, deep down in the pit of your soul,

your baby is a GOOD baby. 

 I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this; your comments and feedback are always welcome and appreciated!

xo, Em

Things You Might Learn About Your First Child, After Having Your Second Child

Hello my beautiful friends! As most of you know by now, we welcomed our sweet baby girl in to the world on March 30, 2017. Frankie Grace is made up of the purest form of sweetness you could ever imagine. We are all so very smitten with her; no one more so than her wonderful big sister, Ayden.

I knew that adding another member to our family would come with some changes and even some growing pains, but all of the anticipation in the world couldn’t have possibly prepared me for the explosion of love that has happened in our family. It’s seriously a beautiful thing. However, and this is an AND statement, bringing a new child in to the mix, definitely came with some fun(ny) discoveries about our first child. Maybe you can relate:

Child #1 Suddenly Has an Instant Growth Spurt

My first born baby-child was a cute little 5 year old the day before I gave birth to #2. But somehow in the span of 24 hours, she became a Giant KID. I am being 100% serious. Her face changed, her eyebrows changed, her hands grew–everything! 2 months later, and I am still staring at her trying to figure out who she is.

Child #1 Becomes Louder than LOUD

Have you always been this loud?! Seriously, child. Why must you YELL when you speak? Why must you speak at such volumes when the itty bitty baby is asleep? In fact, why must you speak at all? Just kidding… sort of.

Child #1 Does Not Know Her Own Strength

Do you remember Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’, when he loved the baby mouse so much that he actually squeezed it to death? Yeah… Fortunately my first child loves (and I mean LOVES), the new baby. Unfortunately, she hasn’t quite figured out that she’s got a good 35 pounds on her baby sis. Can you say aggressive hugging?

Child #1 Has an Incredible Capacity For Love

I knew this kid was a lover, but this new baby sister unlocked an entire new world of feelings for our first. It is quite miraculous to see the instant love and care that our oldest had for her baby sis. Cue allllll the feelings.

Child #1 Wants to Help with Everything

And I mean EVERYTHING. Only it’s not exactly helpful to have an extra little body and set of grabby hands, trying to assist in every little task.

Child #1 Becomes a Monkey Gymnast

Suddenly, every baby contraption and piece of furniture in our home has become a potential jungle gym. I honestly don’t remember if my first born was climbing the walls (quite literally) prior to the arrival of numero dos, but I am sure as heck aware of it now.

Child #1 Has Way too Many Dolls

Speaking of baby contraptions… I am pretty sure that my oldest thinks that all of the baby equipment and swag is for her baby dolls. In fact, I did not realize just how many dolls this child even had in her possession. I can tell you that there are enough to occupy every single baby chair, swing, car seat, basket, bassinet, carrier and changing table, simultaneously.

Child #1 is Incredibly Resilient

As with most things in life, no one can really prepare you for monumental changes, like adding another human to your family dynamic. There will be a transitional period, and it will  make you question your life choices. The good news is, it passes. Child number one will not only survive it, but might just knock your socks off with her resilience through it all.

Does any of this ring true for you? I’d love to hear about your experience!

xo, Em

The One Word That Changed My Parenting, (And Could Change Yours Too)

Isn’t parenting a trip? I find myself constantly evaluating and re-evaluating myself and thinking about how I might have handled things better or differently. There are also little victories along the way that leave me feeling like a mama-boss. But for the most part, this journey is all about learning what works best for our family, and learning from others.

The one word that changed my parenting

About a year ago I completed a life-changing, personal development course. It gave me plenty to reflect on in regards to how I communicate with myself and in turn, others. I realized that I had created a world of ultimatums and limitations (both personally and in parenting), using just one common word; ‘but‘.

For example, I might say to Ayden: “I love you, but you cannot stay up all night”.

This statement creates limits and also implies that one thing is mutually exclusive of the other. And in this instance, it unintentionally puts a condition on my love for my child. Obviously the latter is far from the truth, but our words are oh-so powerful, and being the word-nerd that I am, I like to be very clear with my kiddo in my parenting communications.

Instead, if I said: “I love you, and you cannot stay up all night”, the entire meaning of that statement changes in to something more loving. I have now created a dialogue that expresses that my love is unconditional to her behavior, and desire to stay up all night. For me, this realization was a ‘light-bulb’, a-ha moment.

Here’s an example of how you might try applying it in the way you speak to yourself:

“I want to go to the gym, but I am tired”.

In this statement, I have pretty much decided I am not going to the gym, because I am tired. (At least that would most likely be my reality.) 😉 Let’s try it as an ‘and statement’;

‘I want to go to the gym, and I am tired”.

To me, this statement feels more empowering. It leaves space to go to the gym despite being tired.

If you allow yourself to be a non-judgmental observer of your own life and dialogue, you might uncover ways and places that you can replace ‘but’, with ‘and’. The way we speak to others always starts with the way we speak to ourselves, so the best place to practice this is with yourself.

As for parenting, I know it sounds a bit subliminal, but it is my belief that our children are subliminal creatures, always reading between the lines and always drawing their own conclusions when they don’t fully understand things. When I use ‘and statements’ with my daughter, I feel better about what I am saying and how I am saying it. I typically gauge my own behavior on how it makes me feel.

I hope you will give this a try and let me know if it had the powerful impact on you, that it had on me. I am all about easy and simple ways to improve my relationships, and I love when I can pass these little gems along.

Thank you for reading, AND please feel free to share it if it spoke to you.

xo, Em

30 Day No-Yell Challenge

Recently, my husband (gently) let me know that I am ‘a yeller’. I don’t like admitting this or sharing it publicly because who wants to be a yeller?! (Not me). But the fact remains that sometimes, when I feel frustrated or unheard or backed in to a corner by my opinionated 5 year old, I raise my voice. It is effective in that she typically submits when I reach that point, however, it is also met with fear. And then her fear is met with my own guilt. Kind of an ugly cycle.

If you struggle with yelling at your children, take on this 30-day, No-Yell Challenge with a community of other mamas. http://chasingayden.com/30-day-no-yell-challenge

I grew up in a loud house. There were 4 of us, and we are all talkers. Things often got loud-very loud. It was almost as if in order to be ‘heard’, you had to be loud. No one is to blame for this, it is just the way things were. After Mike pointed out my yell-y ways, I started reflecting on this. I am not in the business of pointing fingers and placing blame, but I do have a genuine interest in understanding why things are the way they are. I find it to be helpful in breaking less-than-desirable habits or patterns.

At a baby shower on Sunday, I sat with a friend I trust, and admitted to her that I am a yeller, but that I no longer want to be a yeller. To my surprise, she disclosed that she too is a yeller. I was kind of relieved, because this is a fellow mama who I admire and respect. I felt like less of a schmuck to be in such good company. It didn’t change the fact that I still had this character defect to sort out, but it did remind me that I am not alone in this. We pinky-promised that ‘just for today’, we would not yell at our children.

On Monday I realized I hadn’t raised my voice once, on Sunday. It got me thinking about the power of accountability. It also got me thinking about how I was going to potentially break myself of this yelling business. I started thinking of ways I could divert myself from yelling. Here are a few ideas I have come up with:

  • When I feel like yelling, I could actually say “I feel like yelling”. Sometimes labeling the behavior takes the power out of it.
  • I could find ways to be accountable to my family, by letting them know that I don’t want to be a yeller anymore. I could employ them to help me break the habit.
  • I could sing out instead of yelling–like literally sing. (A suggestion from my fellow yeller mama on Sunday).
  • Instead of repeating myself to the point of anger, I could set an immediate consequence for my child, thus averting the need to yell.
  • I could employ other mamas to take on a 30 day, no-yell challenge with me. 😉

So this brings me to that final idea… After learning that a mama who I have often placed on a pedestal, was actually struggling with the same issues as me, it made me realize there are probably a lot of us who don’t like how we feel when we raise our voices in anger. I heavily rely on my mama community for so many other areas of support; why not this too?

‘They’ say it takes 30 days to create a good habit, so I have decided to challenge myself to a 30 day no-yell challenge. And I am inviting anyone who wants to, to join this challenge. My only rule for myself in taking on this challenge, is to forgive myself when I fall short (because it is bound to happen), and to continue with the 30 days no matter what. Awareness leads to willingness, and willingness leads to the ability to change. If this speaks to you at all, I hope you will join me!

See you on the quiet-side!

xo, Em

 

Fall Giveaway!

Hey friends!

I am really excited to be hosting this super sweet, Fall Giveaway featuring some of my very favorite small shops. These fabulous mama-makers have been kind enough to offer you some free swag for your minis.

Fall Giveaway! Easy to enter, win all sorts of cute stuff for your mini: http://chasingayden.com/fall-giveaway

Lets get to the good stuff; the loot:

Freshly Picked Moccasins

http://chasingayden.com/fall-giveaway

Freshly Picked has been kind enough to supply me with a pair of their flawless, leather mocs (winner chooses color), to gift our lucky winner. Freshly Picked needs no introduction, as they are a household name as the number one leather moccasin company. We all know and love the grass-roots story behind Freshly Picked, and their amazing boss-babe Susan Peterson.

Feather 4 Arrow T-shirt or Onesie

http://chasingayden.com/fall-giveaway

Feather 4 Arrow is a collection of unique printed tees that blend easy comfort with rebellious style. Inspired by the southern California beach culture, the collection is both free spirited and chic with just a touch of tomboy. These rad shirts have become a staple in Ayden’s wardrobe. Bad-ass mompreneur-owner, Jaime, is offering one lucky person a t-shirt or onesie, winners choice.

Little Arrows Leggings

http://chasingayden.com/fall-giveaway

Little Arrows is a collection of handmade pieces made in southern CA. Each piece is individually and carefully crafted with reinforced stitching to keep garments long lasting. Little Arrows has partnered with GoGo Grandmothers, a ministry that provides for orphans in Malawi, to donate 15% of their profits to their foundation. This socially conscious, mama-owned shop is offering the winner a pair of their beautiful leggings.

Little Messengers Shop Credit

http://chasingayden.com/fall-giveaway

Little Messengers has one of my very favorite stories behind its products. Originally, mama-owner, Mercedes opened shop to fund the adoption fees for her sweet little girl Sunflower. After a year hiatus, she re-opened the doors, to begin selling gorgeous, Mexican serape baby blankets. Little Messengers is offering the winner a $20 shop credit.

Smash Company Shop Credit

http://chasingayden.com/fall-giveaway

Smash Company is mama-owned and run by Amber Ash. Amber’s shop was inspired by her spitfire daughter, Sadie Mae, (Sadie Mae Ash = Smash). Smash Company offers chic and modern crib sheets, minky baby blankets and handmade leather pacifier clips. Basically, you can dress your entire nursery in this one-stop-shop. Amber is offering the winner a $20 shop credit.

How to enter:

  1. Go to instagram, and find the contest post on my feed. Like the post, follow each shop and tag friends (one friend per line), to enter. Each tag is an entry.
  2. Subscribe to my newsletter (so you can be the first to know about my next giveaway), for another 5 entries.

Good luck! Contest closes Sunday September 18 at 12pm PST. Winner announced on Monday am on my instagram page!

xo, Em

 

My Daughter; My Greatest Teacher

I wrote this post about my daughter many weeks ago, because I felt absolutely called to write about this topic, and then never posted it. I do this sometimes. I start writing a post, only to abandon it, leaving it in the dugout of the blog-o-sphere among the other would-be posts. This morning I finally pulled it out of my saved drafts, put some finishing touches on it and here I am sharing with you.

My Daughter; My Greatest Teacher   A blog post about teaching our daughters to have self esteeem, through practicing to love ourselves http://chasingayden.com/my-daughter-my-greatest-teacher

When something becomes undeniably clear to me (especially in my motherhood journey), I just know that there is another mother or father or person who can probably relate. I know these things because you’ve told me this, which has me inspired to continue to write from a truthful space. So thank you, for relating to me and letting me know when you relate to me. Without that, I may not be brave enough to ever hit the ‘publish’ button.

When it comes to motherhood, I am literally learning more about learning more, on a daily basis. I always think the lessons are going to be about about my child or her age or her stage or her season. But the deeper in I get in to this mama business, the more I seem to uncover and learn about myself.

What I continue to discover is that most important thing I can do for my daughter, is to make peace with myself. Maybe that sounds obvious or simplistic to you. Maybe it sounds unrelated to parenting. But here is what I know. Our children are watching us when we don’t think they are watching us. They view themselves as extensions of us. This means that they don’t fully understand the difference between us and them as separate human beings. I have always been intentional and cautious about the way I speak to myself in front of my daughter, because I have battled my way out of the nasty habit of negative self-talk. And if I am being honest, (and you know I am), I still have to battle that mean, little inner-critic, from time to time. It is important to me as a mother of a girl especially, that I empower her with a kind view of herself and equip her with self-esteem.

Here is what has become true for me though, my actions toward myself speak just as loudly as my words–sometimes even louder. My actions toward myself, are a direct result of my thoughts of and toward myself. You simply cannot fake self-love or self-care, which both have everything to do with self-esteem. In essence, my sweet daughter is learning how to treat herself, by watching how I treat myself.

What I have also noticed, and don’t particularly like to admit, is that the behaviors that get under my skin the most when it comes to my daughter, are the very things that I am not quite ‘ok’ with, in myself.

Example: I was always labeled a ‘hyper’ kid. I was told I talked too much, I was too distract-able and I was too loud. What I ‘heard’ as a child was, “you are too much, something is wrong with you and you are not good enough as you are.” No one said these things to me directly, but this is how I internalized it. So I spent many years feeling this way, and I did destructive things to myself to try to become ‘smaller’, and to have less of a presence. Only in my adulthood, have I come to realize that these things that I believed about myself, were never true. I was perfect in the exact way that I was created, chattiness and all. I have worked very hard to have this simple realization and to overcome those old ideas, and self-destructive behaviors that accompanied them.

When my 4 year old acts like a 4 year old, (distract-able, hyper and chatty), I tend to lose my patience much quicker. I immediately hone in on her ‘me-like’ behaviors, and I am quick to shut it down. Specifically when this happened recently and my daughter wouldn’t–actually, couldn’t sit still, I felt my frustration grow quicker than it should have. I was having a physiological reaction to her behavior, and my emotions felt disproportionate to what she was doing. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t want her to be like me.

But here is the flip-side to this. My sweet Ayden thinks I am “the most perfect, ‘bestest’ mommy in the whole world”. (She’s told me, so I know it’s true!) She is quick to forgive me. Always. She is quick to tell me wonderful things about myself. She is my greatest champion, as I am hers. And in that moment of realization that I was battling myself via my daughter, I made a decision to embrace her ‘me-like’ behaviors. In fact, I think they should be celebrated.

 The love I have for my daughter, challenges me to love myself in ways that I didn’t know I wasn’t loving myself. And more so than anything I could provide for her materially, this might perhaps be the most valuable and lasting gift I could ever bestow upon this child. My actions and attitude toward myself will ultimately dictate how she learns to treat herself. My commitment to her, to myself and now to you, is to practice seeing myself through the eyes that she sees me with. I am openly inviting you to do the same in your own life. Even if you aren’t a mother or a parent, you can practice seeing yourself as your loved ones do.

Your comments, thoughts and realizations are always welcomed and appreciated.

xo, Em

Discovering I Am Not Less of a Mom; PART 2

Hello my friends! I had to write this post not only as a necessary update to you, but also so I never forget this special time in my life!

Let’s see… last we left off, I was discovering that I am not less of a mom raising an only child. I was totally blown away by the incredibly loving and overwhelming response to that blog post. Writing about such a vulnerable subject left me feeling a bit exposed, and open for judgement. However, your comments, feedback, re-pins and all around support made me feel like that post–my story, had a real purpose. You reminded me that I am not alone, and reading your stories in response to mine, left me feeling totally connected and inspired. So THANK YOU for receiving my truth so lovingly.

Discovering I Am Not Less of A Mom; Part 2 http://chasingayden.com/part2

Writing that blog post was therapeutic for me. At times I have gone back to re-read my own words. Not in a self-obsessed kind of way, but so that I could remind myself of my own strength (and yours), in a sometimes challenging situation. But since then, some things have shifted and changed, and I just couldn’t keep this to myself, after you replied with so much of your own beautiful honesty. So here is the next chapter of that story, and a reminder that there is almost always a next chapter, even when it seems like you’re at a dead-end.

In regards to coming to terms with having an only child, where I landed was in a place of acceptance, (for the most part). This may have not been ‘my plan’, but I have come to learn and know that life unfolds in unexpected ways, and often results in better outcomes than I could have imagined in the first place. So I backed off of the argument with my sweet husband, and refocused my energies on creating a beautiful, fun and meaningful childhood for our Ayden-girl. I looked for opportunities to be grateful for our little trio. And life sort of just resumed.

A year and several months passed, when (literally) suddenly in one week, I found out 10! – Yes, 10! friends were newly pregnant. Some with their first, others with their 2nd and a few with their 3rd. This put the count of currently pregnant friends up to 14, and counting. I was genuinely happy for each friend, however many of the feelings I had struggled with before, resurfaced. I did not want these feelings to resurface, in fact I tried to push them back down. But there they were, staring me square in the face. It felt very selfish to make anyone else’s pregnancy mean anything about ME, and I tried not to judge myself for it. But, I am human. And sometimes I am selfish and self-centered, and I knew I needed to address these feelings once again. (Cue eye roll).

A friend suggested I write my feelings down in the form of a letter, to my husband. It was a great solution and really took the drama out of an emotional situation. It had been a long while since we had even discussed the possibility of having another baby, and at this point I just wanted to share my truth that deep down, buried under a lot of soul-searching, I couldn’t deny my heart’s true desire. I typed the letter out, without trying to make it sound ‘good’. I didn’t care if it was well written, even though I am a total word-nerd. It just had to be honest and loving. I hit the ‘save’ button, and decided not to read it to him for a few weeks; when my emotions weren’t so intense.

Here is where the magic happens. Mind you, I never read that letter to Mike. I never even mentioned that I wrote it. The following week, on a Tuesday night, he came home from work bearing flowers for both me and Ayden, (he’s a keeper!). One of my love-languages I have discovered, is gifts, so this token of thoughtfulness was beyond appreciated. At dinner he made a strange comment to Ayden about becoming a big sister. I teared up, because my husband is not careless with his words. In fact, he is quite intentional, and wouldn’t dare to bring up such a sensitive topic if he couldn’t back it up with some action. Coupled with some other non-blog-appropriate actions earlier in the week, I knew something was up. I decided to let him broach the topic, in fear that perhaps I was imagining it all. Later that night, my amazing husband went on to tell me.. “So, I have been thinking…” I immediately interrupted, replying, “–Are we trying to have a baby!?”  And you guessed it, ladies and gents, after all of this time, something–God; the Universe; All that is, had changed his heart. Prayers that I was afraid to say out-loud, had been answered.

I almost didn’t want to write this post, because I didn’t want to take away from my original post. I still firmly believe that even if Mike hadn’t had a change of heart, I wouldn’t be any less of a mom. But my hope is that this post–our story, might give someone else hope, who is struggling to trust that there is a bigger plan for them in life, than merely what is in front of them at this moment. What I have learned from this journey, is that while I claim to be a spiritual person, I had created a limit on the capabilities of my god / higher power. I trusted in some areas, but not in the area of growing our family. It’s been very humbling, actually. It has forced me to go back and re-examine my relationship to my spirituality.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that we are expecting baby # 2 in March of 2017, and I can’t wait to document this epic journey, (morning sickness and all).

Discovering I am not less of a mom, PART 2: Our journey from being a family of 3 to a family of 4

Your thoughts and feedback are always so very appreciated, and welcomed. Join the convo below!

xo, Em

 

The Voice

My Day at 'The Voice' Auditions http://chasingayden.com/the_voice

I have been meaning to write this blog post for weeks, but we have been in the middle of a big move, end of school year, dance recitals, swim lessons, a visit from my mom (and that was just last week!) Needless to say, I am happy to be sitting down in one spot for long enough to type this post!

Some of you know that I recently wrapped a 10 week seminar course on Commitment. It was pretty eye-opening, but I think most importantly, it allowed me to once again, reconnect with parts of myself that I have kept hidden from the world. It always seems to boil down to the fear/doubt/question, ‘who am I to… (__fill-in-the-blank__)? Thankfully I have started to talk back to that voice, (yes, I talk to myself), and answer with, ‘who am I not to?’

I grew up in a music house. My mother being a trained opera singer, music major and music teacher, was constantly singing and playing the piano. We almost always found ourselves gathered around the piano having a sing-along, (if you came over to our house in the 80’s – 90’s, you know this to be true.) Music was our love-language, and there was lots of it to go around.

But something happened as I got older. I became inhibited, and afraid of what you might think about my singing. I knew I could carry a tune and even harmonize at times, but at some point letting you hear my voice just felt way too vulnerable. I developed a ‘stage-fright’, that co-signed a story that I shouldn’t sing for people. And I definitely shouldn’t tell people that I sing, because then they might want to hear me do it, and then they might think I suck.

So what happened? What happened is, I recently grew a (figurative) pair, said ‘eff it’ to the booing crowd in my head, and signed up to audition for ‘The Voice’. I told no one, (not even my husband), for weeks. I think I needed that incubation period to let my impulsive choice set in. With every person I told, I anxiously awaited their judgmental laughter, but it never came. Instead, I was met with encouragement and support. And with each person I told, I felt a little braver and took more ownership of my choice, (and my voice).

The day before the audition, I ‘decided’ not to go about 50 times, each time coming up with a different excuse as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t go. I waited until the very last minute to print my pass. I told my close group of girlfriends at the eleventh hour. It hit me. Once I told everyone in my life, I would be held accountable to show up for myself. With my pass in my hand, and nothing left standing in my way, I set my alarm for 4am.

The day-of was exhilarating. I pulled in to the LA Convention Center at 6am. The line of musical hopefuls wrapped around the building. At each turn, there were guitars playing, groups of people humming and singing, and lots of nervous chatter. It. Was. Awesome. All of these people had woken up before the sun, and showed up to their lives, that morning. I was already inspired.

Throughout the morning, we were moved in to several different waiting areas, each one filled with more and more electric energy. By this time, our neighbors were our friends. And once we were seated in the largest waiting room with hundreds of chairs, it was a full-blown party. The room would spontaneously and consistently break out in collective song. It was beautiful. It was the morning-sing-alongs from my childhood, a thousand fold. We sang ‘Journey’ classics, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Adele’, and everything in between. It was a collective of fully self-expressed Artists, and it was one of the most moving experiences I have had the honor of being a part of.

To be honest, the audition part of the process felt secondary to everything else. 10 of us waited outside of a room. When we entered the large, empty space, a small Asian man with glasses sat behind a large foldout table. In front of him was a semi-circle of 10 chairs, and a masking tape ‘x’  on the floor in the center of the seats. Enter: every single nerve in my body. I was filled with the feeling of “I don’t wanna’. I had practically forgotten that this is why we were here. I became very present to the fact that I was completely untrained and barely prepared for this. But it was too late, and as he pulled our names lottery-style, I awaited my fate.

After several vocally choreographed and incredible performances, it was my turn. Little old me, who’s recent vocal training consisted of a YouTube warm up tutorial. (Seriously). I got up. I sang (imperfectly), and I sat back down. It was done. I had completed my mission. I knew this wasn’t my best performance, and I didn’t care. The victory was in showing up, staring my fear down in the face and making it my Bitch. No one in my group passed through to the next round, not even the guy who had made it through the two previous years.

Walking back through the convention center, past all the hopeful artists I could not wipe the smile off my face. I felt a sense of pride in myself–in all of us, that I can’t properly put in to words. I think being surrounded by thousands of people honoring their artistic gifts, and choosing to live out loud for that day, filled me with the most beautiful sense of adventure. I wish this feeling for everyone, because it is an unparalleled feeling.

So here is what I am proposing. I am proposing that just for today, you honor that secret gift that no one knows you have been hiding from the world, (we all have them). I propose you affirm to yourself “I am an artist”, and allow yourself to play. I am proposing that you make your fear(s) your Bitch, just for today. Sometimes we feel like we need permission to live from this space, so here it is, I am giving you permission to Play Big, today. And I hope that you will report back to let me know how it goes.

xo, Em

Be Responsible For Your Greatness

Yesterday morning I was on a conference call in correspondence with a 10 week seminar I am in the middle of. It is a course on commitment, but really it is a course on self-discovery. I was working out some ‘stuff’ (I will get to this later) with our seminar leader, when she said something that struck me inspired; “Be responsible for your greatness.”

Be responsoble for your greatness

You see, we were discussing the filters in which we view our worlds; the limitations that our life-long beliefs about ourselves create. I have been working on identifying my hidden motives in life, and even more so, asking myself if they are in line with my true goals and desires and commitments. Many times the answer is ‘no’.

Confused? (I was). Here is an example: I have a desire, a goal, a commitment to being physically fit. Not an uncommon one. But I also have an inclination to Netflix and chill… with a bowl of cereal. Or ice cream. Late at night.

This isn’t exactly in line with my initial intent to be physically fit. Hidden commitment: 1; Actual commitment: 0.

The power is in taking ownership of all of this. To recognize where we are falling short without putting a ‘bad’ label on it. Let’s call it collecting data. If I can identify my hidden commitments, admit that I CHOSE the hidden commitment (taking ownership of it), then I become empowered to make some Real changes that are more in line with my actual commitment.

So back to our conference call, and back to my ‘stuff’ that I promised to tell you about. I have a secret. It’s a doozy–maybe even the biggest secret I have ever kept. Are you ready? Here it is…  Most of my life, I have been playing small. In reality, I have an entire UNIVERSE inside of me that is dying to be seen and heard. I have been holding back and trying not to take up too much Universal space. I have been inauthentic, because I haven’t allowed myself to be fully self-expressed. I have given you a sliver of ME, in fear that the Whole and Real me might be ‘too much’.

The impact of living this way is that I sometimes walk around feeling limited in my relationships, limited creatively, feeling resentful, jealous, envious, self-doubting, angry and aimless.

But. I am deciding–declaring, that it stops today–right now. The new possibility I am inventing and creating for myself and my life, is to Live out Loud, fully self-expressed. I am letting my freak-flag fly high and proud, and I am inviting you to join me. Even more so, I am asking you to hold me accountable to my commitment. I am asking you to hold me to my Greatness.

I am brilliant. I am dynamic. I am an artist. I am empowered. Go on, say it with me… If it makes you uncomfortable, good. But in reality, who is someone as fantastically talented, inspired and GREAT as YOU, to be living an ordinary life?  Live in your greatness, today. Be responsible for your greatness, today.

xo, Em

 

The Truth About Marriage

Marriage is everything and nothing like what I expected it to be. Some people will tell you nothing changes, and some will tell you everything changes; in my experience, they are all correct.

The Truth About Marriage in all of its glory and growing pains. Read the full article at: http://chasingayden.com/marriage

When I married Mike, we had been together nearly 6 years off and on, (but mostly on). We had been through our fair share of ups and downs like any other couple, although ours might have been a bit more unconventional. We had brought a beautiful baby girl in to the world together, lived together, shared bank accounts, shared bills and lived a life similar to that of a married couple. In that way, indeed nothing changed. After marriage, all of those same responsibilities existed and we continued along, business-as-usual.

But what I was unprepared for, was the unspoken shift. Because after we said our ‘I-do;s’, and returned home from our Mini-moon™, our relationship went through some growing pains. I was literally blind-sided by this, as most of my friends at the time were not yet married. And if they were, they failed to mention the challenges that can accompany being a newly-wed. I think maybe the idea of ‘forever’ sunk in, which was both awesome and terrifying.

Check out this Google search of ‘first year of marriage’. Pretty wild, right? Who knew?! I didn’t, that’s for sure. (I will say, that a couple of months in to our marriage when I originally searched the Googles on this topic, I was quite relieved to learn that everything we were going through was completely normal).

I think that there is a misconception that you get married, and then you can finally relax and rest on your laurels (for lack of better words). What I have found is quite the opposite. Marriage does offer a certain feeling of comfort and relaxation, but it is also the marker of the beginning of a whole new journey of growth and discovery and compromise. Marriage is a daily choice. It doesn’t feed itself and it certainly doesn’t evolve or flourish without diligent care and attention.

At the risk of losing your (my) attention span, I have summed up a few things I have learned about marriage, over the last 3 years. Or I guess more specifically, what I have learned about my marriage. (As always, this is my experience, and I am definitely not claiming to be any type of expert in anyone else’s life but my own. And I use the term ‘expert’, very loosely.)

Expect to have the  same conversation over and over

This is in the number one position for a reason. Mike and I used to argue about our arguments. Seriously. Because one of us or both of us believed we shouldn’t have to have this conversation again. Wrong and wrong. What I have learned is, we will revisit many a ‘talk’, because we are human, and talking about something once doesn’t typically fix it or permanently change it. When we both finally reached this understanding, (took about 2.5 years), things got a lot more light-hearted in our home. (cue: ‘why didn’t we think of this sooner!?’)

Date Nights Are Mandatory

The power of a date night with my hub, still amazes me. Nothing kills your mojo like kids. Or bills. Or financial stress. Or piles of laundry. Or looming ‘honey-do’ lists. Or picking up dog poo. Catch my drift? It is very easy to become glorified roommates with your spouse, and taking a couple hours out of the routine to reconnect (over sushi), does wonders for a relationship. Date nights often remind me that I actually like my husband. They remind me that I chose him. Pro-tip: I have also found that the times that I feel like I don’t even want a date night with my hub, are the best times to plan one.

Sleep on it

I used to really believe that you shouldn’t go to bed angry, because isn’t that what everyone writes on those cheesy little suggestion cards at bridal showers? It’s total bull-sh*t, in my opinion. You know what is worse than going to bed pissed? Staying up late, arguing in a delirious state of mind and going to bed even more pissed. Sleep is golden, people. Sleep makes us sane. Learning to go to bed pissed has saved me from saying things that I would have surely regretted saying, by morning. There is a reason that people say ‘sleep on it’, when making a big decision. Sleep = perspective.

Ask for what you want

Hey so guess what? Your spouse isn’t a mind-reader. (Even if you believe that by now, he/she should be.) I have spent a lot of time in past relationships, upset that my significant other didn’t live up to my expectation of what my birthday/anniversary/valentines day/xmas/Saturday should look like. The thought process goes something like this:

‘I hope he gets me flowers. He should know that I love getting flowers. He better get me flowers. Of course he will get me flowers–he KNOWS I love flowers. Wait, he didn’t get me flowers? This whole day sucks. I hate my Birthday and I hate him because he didn’t get me flowers. The day is ruined.’

Insanity, I tell ya! Maybe you can’t relate to that at all, maybe you had this conversation with yourself recently. All I know is, when I set my husband up for success, ‘Our anniversary is coming up and I just want to remind you that I love getting flowers’, everyone wins. Expectations are ridiculous, most of the time. Life is not a John Hughes movie (unfortunately), and Jake Ryan is not going to show up with a Birthday cake at the end of the ‘movie’. (Jake Ryan, le sigh.)

It takes two, baby

I think the craziest thing about marriage is that two people from completely different back-stories and life-experiences, decide that they are going to share a life together and find a middle ground to live upon.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

It is the ultimate compromise, and everything that you have learned about survival and decision-making and adulting, is now in question. It’s not just about what exists in your own comfort zone, anymore. Marriage forces you to take an entirely different perspective in to consideration. It challenges you to consider new ideas and foreign thought processes. It asks you to set what you thought you knew aside, and consider another persons viewpoint and feelings. (Ew. Just kidding.)

The truth is, I am learning how to be a wife and how to be married, every day. I could write an entire book on the topic, but then I would probably have to go back and re-write it in a few years. So for now, I will leave you with this blog post, and some photos from our wedding day.

*Photography Credit: Sarah Field Photo

xo, Em

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