Happy Secret Anniversary, Babe

Eight years ago today, Reid and I got married at the Guilford County Courthouse. We invited my great-grandparents, our grandparents and parents as witnesses.

A wedding date was set for 3/11/11 in Riviera Maya, Mexico. (Anyone who knows my husband can deduce that choosing to be married on 3/11/11 was quite intentional. 311 is his favorite band and I figured he’d never forget our anniversary with a date like that. True story.)

We told very few people about our November 4th nuptials. I don’t even think my brother and sister knew this. We chose this date because it also happened to be Reid’s grandmothers birthday. Cecilia passed when he was a teenager and with his own birthday being the day before, we knew it would be a day we’d never forget.

We have pictures somewhere, but I couldn’t find them today when I briefly looked for them. Mind you, this was before the iPhone and someone actually took film to the store to be developed, which seems unfathomable nowadays. I’m sure my heart will swell when I find them one day.

I’m grateful for everyone who was there to witness our marriage that afternoon, but my heart is extra-grateful for the presence of my great-grandparents. Mama Dot and Papa Fred were precious to me. Mama Dot was “my person”. They showed up in their Sunday’s best and I could see the joy on their faces as they watched us marry one another. They really did love my husband.

Papa Fred gave us this as a wedding gift. I’m pretty sure he cut it out of the Readers Digest. And I’m also pretty sure it was the only gift he ever gave me all on his own. He loved Reid, and he was happy that I was happy. He was happy that I was starting a life with someone he knew would love and cherish me as he had for my whole life. He was proud to stand with us on that day eight years ago.

We knew they’d never be able to travel to Mexico. But what we didn’t know was that they’d both pass before our Mexico wedding ever took place. Papa died on December 15th and just 18 days later on January 2nd, Mama Dot followed behind.

I put their photos in a locket given to me by Mama Dot a year or so before she passed. My Dad had it in his pocket as he walked me down the aisle and handed it to Reid, who clasped it around my neck. They were there with me that day, and it couldn’t have been anymore special.

So, Happy Anniversary to you, babe. I’m sure Mama Dot is eating watermelon and watching “wrasslin'” today as she smiles down on us. And Papa is telling stories to someone and cracking jokes I’m sure.

What I wouldn’t give for one more meal around their supper table.

Counting blessings never seemed to come easy when you were only a phone call away. I sure do miss y’all. But I know that you know, Reid’s doing a fine job taking care of me. And you sure would love our girls.

Peace, be still.

Ever wondered what it’d be like to sit on a beach alone at 5:30 in the morning? It’s so dark that the white crests of the waves are the only way to tell where the sand stops and just becomes water. Every few seconds, the Bald Head Island lighthouse flickers white. The Big Dipper and Small Dipper, both above me in the big, dark sky – they are getting fainter now as the lavender light of the morning sun creeps in over the horizon. The tide is low and rough, and I can hear the swell and crash of every wave. The breeze is perfect and the air smells warm and salty. I wonder if there is anyone else out here.

Yesterday on my sunrise walk, I saw a woman sleeping. Pillow, beach towel, and peace are the three things I noticed. A few yards further, I saw a man meditating, his fingers connected to make a circle at the fronts of his shins, his eyes closed and his legs crossed. Again, peace.

It’s 6:09 now and much easier to see. I can read the words in my Bible without a flashlight. The sky looks like cotton candy and every time I pause from writing to look up, I see a new cloud.

I smile. Peace, once more.

I spot an animal down the beach and notice tracks beside me. Did this little guy walk past me and I missed him?

I see more people. Mostly alone. Some couples. Two parents with their young children. And then, they all stop to stare.

“Sonder” – the realization that each random passerby is living a live as vivid and complex as your own.

The same man I saw meditating yesterday was out again today, and I saw him walk closer to the shore to take a picture.

Being fully surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation…

Connecting all of the senses simultaneously in wonder and awe…

Just being still, knowing that a new day is beginning and having gratitude for the breath just taken…

That’s p e a c e.

Realizing that we have choices each day, the ability to choose joy and peace and love rather than sadness or anger or hate. Realizing that we can choose to be kind, no matter how others treat us, because negative people are suffering. Realizing that maybe a smile or kind word is what they need to turn their gaze the other way.

The choices we make craft our life, and if we aren’t careful we will spend our lives focusing on all that’s wrong and miss all that’s available, all that’s peaceful and all that’s beautiful.

May peace be with you today, and always.

#BeTheChange

Happy Mother’s Day

Life is profound. I’ve found myself using the word profound a lot lately. It perfectly describes too many situations for us these days.

Like the other night when Reid and I were fighting and everything around the room felt tense and impossible, my Amazon radio station that randomly shuffles over 200 songs, played 7 songs in a row that happen to be my favorite worship songs. They’re my favorites because for they’ve each spoken to my heart one or more times and I’m moved even still when I hear them. There are no coincidences in this life. God had my back (and my heart) in those moments.

Like the profound difference in my day I’ve noticed if I start it early. And in a place of praise and prayer. If I spend a few minutes outside inhaling Spring and watching the sun peek over the tops of the trees. If I read my Bible. If I journal. If I meditate. If I’m still. Those days — those days are different. Those days pay off for me and have a profound effect on what happens as the day goes on. On mornings when I rush through and get too wrapped up in my self, I lose my footing. I raise my voice. I cry.

When I started to see my prayers be answered, I had a profound sense of trust in God envelop me. When I hear the Holy Spirit tell me how to specifically pray for challenges I may be facing, I obey. I’ve seen a profound difference in my ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers from speaking my prayers out loud. Every morning in the shower, I talk to God. I thank him for giving me another morning. For the breath I just took and for the opportunity to be alive another day. I pray fervently for my husband. For my children. For the people in my life who I know are hurting. For healing. For comfort. For discernment. For wisdom. For strength. For JOY to fill my cup.

I’ve prayed for brokenhearted friends. I’ve prayed for strangers. I’ve prayed for broken marriages. I’ve prayed against generational curses and decades of sin and shame and unforgiveness that so many of us are suffering through. I’ve prayed for God to show me my spiritual gifts and how to use them. And I’ve prayed for those who need salvation to hear the gospel before this all ends.

I’ve prayed that I can see others as God sees them, and to just love no matter what. I’ve prayed that those around me could do the same.

God’s been doing profound work in our lives.

But yesterday, I had a moment with Everly that may take the cake. Reid and Sadler were out shopping for Mother’s Day gifts, and we were in Everly’s room putting away laundry. She was playing with her doll and spinning around and singing. And all of a sudden she stopped and asked me to open her PlayDo. And as I watched her from the rocking chair, it hit me. The profound realization that my baby was no longer a baby. But bigger than that, we were done having babies.

I’d rocked my last to sleep.

No more Onesies. Or diapers.

No more breastfeeding…

After 29 months, she finally weaned. We were finished nursing. The “boombas” have been given back to mommy.

The profound realization that I had seen the last of mothering a baby. I began to weep. I immediately grabbed her, picked her up and held her tight. I sat in the rocker as she fought me to get down. I asked her to please let me hold her, for just one minute as we rocked. She reached up and grabbed my face and said, “Mommy, are you OK?”

I lost it. My baby just asked me a question in a complete sentence. I sobbed and sobbed and kissed her and it seemed that every blinking moment with my babies that I have ever had passed through my lens. I saw all the good moments, all the challenging moments, all the times when I thought parenting couldn’t be any harder. All the times when I felt less engaged that I could have been, or the times I was frustrated and wished myself anywhere but in that given moment.

I didn’t want to put her down. What was only about 5 minutes seemed as long as two nap times. I imagined every afternoon I had in that rocking chair with her, burying my face in her neck as she drifted off to sleep. I remembered the evening standing in the laundry room, when I was about 6 months pregnant with her, that I told Reid we had made a mistake bringing another child into the world. That our marriage wasn’t strong enough and that it would be unfair for her to come into the world.

Little did I know that giving birth to her would be the start of a journey I’d been viewing from the sidelines. I didn’t get in the game with my spirituality until she was born. That in her two short years here, our marriage would crumble and then strengthen. God has had his hand on our marriage. Realizing and seeing and trusting that has been profound.

Motherhood started for me with a scapula and lots of tugging and pulling. That was how Sadler came along Earth side. With Everly, it was different. She blessed me with the ultimate gift of motherhood being born vaginally. She opened something spiritual within me and awakened my soul. And what a profound blessing from God she is.

These girls are amazing wonders to me. I look at them in deep, profound wonder on most days. But it will never be enough. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to think you aren’t doing it good enough when there is a giant comparison trap in society. I’d rather they have good hearts than snobby attitudes. I’d rather they be giving than selfish, and I’d rather they be kind than cruel. I pray they always see the good in people and that they will find their passions and what calls them. I pray they will live. I pray they will love. I pray that Reid and I can speak life into them every day that they are breathing, and I pray that they will grow up to be the best of friends.

I’ve got a profound gratitude for all of the mothers out there. Mothers make new mothers, and even if it’s the hardest job we’ll ever love, motherhood should be cherished. When the days seem harder than they should, and nothing goes the way we’d planned, may we all just surrender and thank God he gave us the chance to be a mother in the first place.

Happy Birthday. Welcome to Now.

One year ago yesterday, I shared my very first blog post on this site. I actually bought this laptop for the sole purpose of starting this blog.

It wasn’t the first time I had written on the internet; I had a Tumblr account that I piddled with once-upon-a-time. But, when this site was born last February, it was different.

I’d been pulled in a direction that led me to write again, but this time, it’d be different. I had recently made the decision to leave my career to stay at home and be a mom. I felt God telling me to be patient and not to worry, but to slow down. I knew I’d have to find ways to make money from home and did a little bit of research on making money through blogging. But that wasn’t what was important to me. I was eager to walk in my truth and tell my story.

I felt called to put my creative gifts and love for communication and passion for inspiring others to the test, creating the ultimate trifecta. Writing gave me life and fulfillment and sprinkled pure joy in my days. (I pray it always will.)

What may come as a surprise, however, is that when I get the urge to write, it stops me in my tracks. My blog post ideas l i t e r a l l y come out of nowhere, and I usually have to stop what I am doing and go write. And the not-so-cool part about it is: I can’t stand writing from my phone or tablet. It MUST be on a laptop or something with keys. That I can aggressively and quickly bang (ask my new co-workers/roommates or darling husband, they will attest to my annoyingly loud typing. Bless them all for their tolerance.) But my point is, I have to get to my computer, dial up my diffuser and get busy. I’m not much of a mobile blogger much at all. Ever, really.

But y’all. I can’t help it. I just get moved to say stuffAll the feels. ALL THE JOY.

When I opened my laptop to pull up WordPress to write this post tonight, I noticed a folder on my desktop that I created a few months ago: “Things That Move Me”.

I only saved one thing in it…

Hugh Laurie

This quote says so much about my journey last year. There was so much uncertainty and many faith-based decisions. I had no idea when I started this blog what it’d lead to. I just figured I’d inconsistently write when I felt the urge. I wrote each post from the heart and was sincerely moved by each opportunity to share my journey with a friend or stranger.

Writing became my safe space. My release. My peace.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 2,220 people would view my site 3,288 times in 27 countries all over the world in just one year. Goodness gracious, am I grateful.

I’m deeply touched for each blink of an eye that my words sit between. I appreciate each kind remark and comment. It’s been an honor to share my heart with you.

To think about all that’s happened since this blog began brings me back to grace, and gratitude, and awestruck wonder. God’s led me into deeper waters. I never want to feel like I’ve arrived, but I sure do long for more.

If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that this time of year is just not my best. I battle darkness during this season each year of my life. I’m certain lots of us do. I’m thankful that things like writing and hot yoga and coffee and worship music bring me back to life on tough days.

Here is to Spring being around the corner.  But for now, may we ride the wave of this season together and keep our eyes on what we can’t see. There’s beauty there.

Why Yoga is Life

Today was hard. This week has been hard. This month has been hard.

Life has seemed hard.

I will be the first to admit, unabashedly so, that being a stay-at-home mom is HARD.

It is everything more than I ever imagined it could be, and nothing like I imagined it would be.

I’m waking up earlier today than I ever have before — intentionally. And it feels like Christmas  morning, every day. I cherish my time, my space, my quiet, my stillness. I need that time.

I’ve been going to Revolution Hot Yoga since the last day of my maternity leave with Everly. I’ve never stayed so consistently loyal to a place like this, and have felt comfortable in my own skin inside those walls since my very first visit.

Anytime life gets really hard, I want to practice hot yoga. I crave it.

I’ve become addicted to the heat and the sweat and the release. It’s an hour of space amidst the chaos of life where I truly let go, something I don’t do in real life much at all it seems.

My body has become supple. It has become strong. I feel beautiful.

Tonight’s class was the best, most intimate and sacred class I have ever had. Hands down, in all of the yoga practice I’ve had in all of my years, tonight was bigger.

Rebecca felt us. Not just me, she felt us.

She felt all the junk we were carrying, and the loads we beared, as we all walked through the doors with smiles on our faces and all pretended to be okay.

She brought an awareness to the room of all the color, and talked us through releasing energy and letting go. She talked real talk, but in the most beautifully woven song of words that forced us not to force, but to really let go.

For the first time ever in my practice, sweat came out of my eyeballs. It felt peaceful, and literally washed away some of the weight I brought in with me.

“Find your tribe, lightly. Follow your heart, lightly. Let your voice be heard, lightly.”

Eyes closed. Music soft. The room was still as she guided us.

Deep breaths in…deep breaths out.

Yoga is breathing.

Breathing is life.

Yoga is life.

photo credit: scullyfit.com
I’m so thankful that yoga has led me to meditation. (I read somewhere recently that meditation may truly be more effective than medication. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.)

I truly believe, that our mind and body and spirit, they are all ONE. They are all connected, and they are affected by each other, and they move through one other.

We impose limitations on ourselves in life based on our past experiences, fears, self-doubt and judgments of others. These limitations keep us from being our best. They keep us in boxes, under the bed. They dim our lights, and feed our ego.

Yoga is my way of releasing those limitations, even if for just sixty minutes; but for those sixty minutes, I feel myself being gentle with myself. And I trust my body. And I don’t care what anyone thinks about how I look in my pose or how deep my stretch is.

I go inward. 

As the within, so the without, right? What lies inside is what lives outside. The answers aren’t out in the material world; for the best teacher we have is our self. Look in the mirror, you’ll see.

I’m no master, but self-discovery is tasty. Life’s color is brighter when you take a little time to be still. I know I have so many more layers to peel.

I turn 36 in January and have decided that I want to go on a yoga retreat for my birthday. A long weekend of peace, tranquility, stillness and lots of yoga is just what I want most as I enter a new year of life.

I am open to suggestions of places to visit, do you have a favorite?

 

And So It Is

I’ve debated deleting my Facebook account. It’s too painful.

You think that sounds silly. Roll eyes. Think to yourself, get over it Candice. 

But that’s just the thing, I can’t help it. I feel EVERYTHING.

I feel it when people talk nasty to one another. I feel it when people bash the President (any of them). I feel it when people take jabs at each other over differing views about racism or politics or what color a dress is.

When I am in the presence of others, I feel things, too.

I feel when people are sad. I feel when people are embarrassed. I feel when people are angry.

I recently saw a lady belly dancing at the park in front of hundreds of people, many who were making fun of her. I could feel her joy and passion as she danced, and it made me cry (looking back, it was a bizarre experience because my tears came out of nowhere).

I feel when people are lying to me, and that’s one of the toughest to withstand. Having someone you genuinely care for tell a flat out lie to your face, and you just know that they are lying, because you just know…well, it sucks.

This shift has brought some people on my path closer to my heart, and into my life with deeper meaning. It has also repelled several people in my life away from me. They don’t think I can tell, but I can feel it, too.

Being able to feel  everything isn’t anything new to me. I just didn’t know what it was before. I chalked it up as tingly legs, or a lump in my throat, or a migraine. I’d reach for medicine or take a warm bath or go home from work, because I felt physically ill.

My throat has a lump right this very second, and I’m sure it’s because my ego is trying to tell my brain to tell my hands to stop typing. Stop telling these things about myself, so as to not risk the ridicule from those who lack the ability to understand. Don’t risk putting yourself out there on the internet for the world to see and talk about you behind your back.c288cb1769375e3fa6264d51f15a902b

You see, I don’t write things like this for recognition or for likes. It’s truly none of my business what anyone thinks about my writing. Don’t mishear me, I am eternally grateful for the unexpected following I’ve gained, and for the overwhelming gratitude I’ve received from so many of you who read my story. It’s a deep honor to be a part of the space in your day.

Writing is my calling. I have enjoyed writing since I was a small child, and it has been a part of me all throughout my life.

Even down to the name of this website, every part of this blog has been driven by my inner voice, or intuition, or the Holy Spirit. Each time I’ve sat down to type, it’s been in response to something that’s moved inside of me. Something I’ve prayed about and waited to hear an answer to. Lots of times, something bubbles up and the urge to write is powerful! Urges that I don’t question, because they feel 100% energetically aligned with where I am that day. I have to usually stop whatever I’m doing to get my words out.

I truly believe that there is a worldwide shift taking place right this very minute, and people around the world are learning about themselves what I’ve learned about myself. This month marks a year since I “woke up”. And since then, the rest has happened rapidly. I’m still peeling back layers of self-discovery.

And I have been called to tell my story.

To make sure that if there is even one lonely soul out there who feels that something in life is maybe just a touch off kilter, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. There are so many of us out there, and I believe we are called to shine our light bright into the world so that we may light up the path for others. For those who cannot yet see.

In all of my life, I have never felt so sure of who I am as an individual. My body has never been so supple and so strong. I am whole, in mind and body and spirit. Because it’s all ONE. And we are all ONE.

Here is an interesting thought to ponder. Look at these two words:

Is it ALONE?

Or ALLONE?

What if we’ve become so programmed and brainwashed and fear-mongered that we’ve lost our sense of ONENESS along the way?

We are all one. We are all energy, and all flow through the universe.

I used to hear “energy” and think only about physical movement. If someone was “high energy” they were just hyper. Couldn’t sit still.

In reality, high energy means high vibrations – GOOD VIBES. Low energy, or low vibrations are typically not good vibes (not for me, at least). Every person and thing on this planet is made of energy and we “vibe” with frequencies that are similar to our own. Hence, the icky feeling you get when certain people come around, and the amazing sense of still waters you get when you certain others come around. Your vibration won’t lie to you.

There are days in which I question the process, but I’m learning that questioning things is part of the process. Gone are they days where we can walk blindly through life with our heads in the sand. We should be questioning everything.

Thinking for ourselves. Loving FIERCELY. Forgiving quickly.

It’s what’s lies inside each of us that we are looking for. We are the teacher, and the best one at that.

I am thankful for my yoga practice, as it keeps me reminded of the importance of just breathing. I notice my breathing throughout the day in a satisfying way that fills my soul with joy. To know that my practice is seeping into my daily life reminds me that I’m on the right path. I will forever be grateful for the art of yoga and for the amazing instructors I am guided by. Yoga is life for me, because it’s taught me how to meditate and how to be still.

Being still lets me listen. Not only to those around me, but to my body. And my mind. And to the Holy Spirit when it speaks to me.

Let us hear the callings of our soul.

Let us LOVE.

Let us be ALL ONE.

And let us fly high, lifting one another up with grace and courage.

This is my story. May yours be written, too. Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Mama Dot

You didn’t like to make a big deal about your birthday. Looking back now, I realize that’s only because you never made things much about yourself in the first place.

I’ve needed to look into your eyes a lot of times lately. Looking there always kept me honest. Your eyes were soft and they cradled me. You wept behind your glasses as you’d take in my words.

We’d sit for hours around that table; you’d fidget with your leftover lunch napkin, rolling and twirling it through your hands. But you’d never take your eyes off me. Sometimes you’d close them, but I know now you were only trying to take my pain away.

There’s a picture of you in our house that I tend to go to when I need you. You were young, holding a guitar, in the middle of a field. And you almost smiled. You didn’t like to smile for pictures, and you didn’t play the guitar as far as I know. That’s what makes this picture so amazing. Someone captured you out of your comfort zone, a place you didn’t go often.

But that picture, it saves me. Something about it allows me to connect with you unlike the others. To have known you at such a young age in your life, at a time when you were so wild and free and innocent. I imagine what you did on the day you took this picture. Who was behind the camera? And what you did after you posed for this one photo?

You were the safest space I ever knew. I’d give anything to be around that table with you again and to share just one more tomato sandwich, one more bowl of vegetable soup, play one more hand of Uno, wrap one more Christmas present, send one more sympathy card, or hold your precious hands just once more.
You saved me. And you still do.

I’m so grateful you got a wild hair that day and decided to pose for this picture, and I’m so glad you were born. I’m sending you the biggest “wowee” kiss in heaven today and appreciate you staying with me over the years. I feel you here, and I like it.

Happy birthday, Mama Dot. I love you a bushel and a peck.