Posts in Editor's Picks
Where Have You Been? (We're Having A Baby!)
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You might have noticed recently that updates from me have been few and far between but I promise, it's all for good reason. We've been keeping a pretty big secret for the last fourteen weeks and I'm so excited to finally share with you that our family is growing! We're expecting a new addition on October 31st and we're already over the moon.

While we went back and forth about when to share, it was getting so hard to keep the news to ourselves. I found out at just four weeks and the last ten have seemed like the longest couple of months ever! We finally told Lorelai and our families on Easter (the Easter Bunny brought her the news) and shortly after, the whole island was in on the secret. We're learning just how hard it is to keep things on the down low when your doctor is your neighbor and it feels like a super small town. It's been such an exciting, tiring, wonderful, hard, emotional, happy time! 

So far, my pregnancy has been relatively easy. While I'm not a woman that's blessed with "the glow", it could have been much worse and I'm so grateful for the chance to lay low while I work on all of the different projects I have going right now. More than anything, I'm grateful to be on the tail end of the first trimester. It's been such a long time since I was pregnant with Lorelai that I had all but forgotten just how rough the first couple of months can be. Here's hoping my energy comes back during this stage!

Life on the island has presented its own unique challenges! For one, it's incredibly hard to crave things and have no access whatsoever to any of it. For a while there all I wanted in the whole world was a crisp green apple and it's been months since we've had any. We had a major milk/eggs/cheese shortage recently and that was also rough. Right now all I want is scrambled eggs and that's also a no-go. Did I mention there are no restaurants here and I cook three meals a day?! Don't even get me started on the sheer lack of anything drive-through (In N Out!) or made by someone else. Aside from food (which I could talk about forever), the healthcare situation is also unique out here. We do not have an OBGYN or the ability to deliver babies in the middle of the ocean. What does that mean for us? Lo and I will leave home behind in mid-July and make a pilgrimage back to Southern California. There will we stay, separated from Ainsworth (save for the drop-off and the baby's arrival), until mid-December. It'll be hard to be away from home (and daddy) so long but I'm also super excited to be a part of civilization again as well as spend time with my family, visit some great friends, and eat real food!! 

It's pretty safe to assume that blog content is going to shift a little (but not a ton). Over the last couple of years I've realized that this space is really more for me than anything. That said, I'm excited to share a lot of what's going on and chronicle our plans for the future but we're not going full-on mommy blog. So far I've shared Lorelai's childhood pretty sparingly and will probably do the same this time too. If you're interested in seeing things like my first-trimester essentials and routine check-ins, however, do let me know!

p.s. I just ordered my first pair of maternity jeans... lol shit's about to get real.

Reflecting on 2017...
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I've been putting this post off for a while (is February already right around the corner?!) because it seemed like a huge undertaking to look back at 2017 and honestly, a lot happened this year. This post kind of feels like one of those cheesy Christmas card inserts your embarrassing uncle always types up to share but, if you're interested in knowing what 2017 was like for me, here 'goes...

It seems like we all went through a pretty transformative year. With the current political climate being what it is, an endless stream of devastating news everywhere you look and an undercurrent of uprising afoot, how could we not?! The mood changed all over the world and, at the same time, I was going through some of the hardest stuff I've ever had to navigate in my personal life.

2017 was a period of crazy growth. Most of the year I could feel myself changing and stretching and breaking. There were high highs and even lower lows. Throughout it all, this space, and you, were there for me. Writing, sharing and snapping photos of our adventures gave me a sense of purpose and stability flickering faintly somewhere in the background.

The most obvious thing that changed for me this year was my mom's passing. It stopped me in my tracks and turned the whole world on its head. Grief and I became friends; we got to know each other well and I spent a lot of time in her company. I grappled with a sense of loss... not only the loss of someone close to me but a loss of self. I waded through a feeling of not knowing how to carry on or move forward in the world as a woman without a mother. I didn't recognize this person. I felt cheated and confused and raw. I still do. I'm someone who has always struggled with anxiety; social anxiety that felt crippling at times (like the time it caused me to drop out of college because I became so anxious about walking into the wrong class that I had to give up altogether) and anxiety about the trivial and the mundane. But this year I experienced anxiety unlike any I ever had. I lost my vision. I couldn't hear. I was catatonic. I had crippling panic attacks in mall parking lots. I was thrown off kilter. As we approach the one-year anniversary of February 10th I find myself apprehensive. Sometimes I feel weighed down by anxiousness but mostly, I just don't know how I'll feel when that date finally does come around. What will I do when the loss is no longer new? When I become the woman whose mom died two years ago? Five? Ten? Will the rest of the world move on while I'm still treading water? We'll find out together.

In 2017 my husband and I made a huge decision. On the heels of that loss, we packed up our life and moved halfway across the world. We settled into island life easily enough and although it has been a challenge, it has also been an adventure. I've talked about our move ad nauseum but for the sake of this recap, I'll say this: I'm in two minds about our little island. Part of me loves it. I revel in the quiet and marvel at the lazy breeze that rustles palm fronds during my evening walks with the dog. I'm amazed that we were given the opportunity to shake up our world like this. I'm grateful that Lorelai gets to paddle into waves and collect tropical shells on what might as well be her own private beach. The sunsets are unlike anything in the world. The other part of me is so homesick that I don't know what to do with myself. It's small, I mean REALLY small and you start to feel just how isolating it is when you need a friend or are missing the creature comforts of home. Island life can be inconvenient and simple things like dish soap are commodities to be hoarded and traded like gold among the locals. I'm also painfully aware that sometimes it feels like I'm running... running from a hard year and putting off dealing with the realities of life until later. Can I ever really heal when it doesn't feel like we're a part of the 'real world'? My two minds wrestle with each other for top billing but more than anything I take to heart how truly lucky we are to be here.

This year (not too long ago) I made a big leap of confidence in myself and I went back to school. I'm feeling empowered and fantastic about the timing. Being on our little island allows me to really put my head down and weed out all the distractions. I also feel vindicated in waiting as long as I did because I appreciate the opportunity to learn so much more now than I would have in my late teens or early twenties. I'm a big proponent of doing things in your own time and I'm happy to be doing this in mine.

In 2017 I changed the way I read blogs. Where I used to keep a pretty hefty blogroll of aspiration, I whittled down the sites that I regularly check to include only informative, inspirational and relatable content. I shifted my focus to things that really speak to my heart... blogs that share stories I connect to and are worthy of my time. Some reads, a lot of them dear friends, withstood the shift and others just didn't. I love visiting my sweet friend Natalie's blog (always inspirational and supremely real) and LaTonya Yvette (she has a way with words that I admire so much) as well as a handful of others. I tried, more toward the end of the year than ever, to make a similar shift with my own content. I opened up in a big way and wrote about a lot of really personal things this year. I began thinking of this space as an outlet to share parts of myself that have grown and matured over the last couple of years. I talked about racism (Let's Talk About Racism + 8 Ways To Help After Charlottesville), parenting after losing my mom, body insecurity, sexual assault in the wake of the #metoo movement and abortion. All of these discussions forced me to be vulnerable and I feel so much better for it.

I fell out of love with social media this year and I think a lot of you did too. I got lost in algorithms and the overwhelming illusion of it all just kind of killed Instagram for me. What started out as a fun way to snap and share pictures turned into a giant popularity contest and it got to be too much in 2017. Numbers started to matter more than ever, feeds became too curated and the pressure to post the perfect picture was deafening. I think a lot of you will agree that there's not much joy in it anymore. While I still love scrolling and keeping up with my favorite 'grammers, I'm not as into the whole thing as I once was. I recently unfollowed THOUSANDS (isn't that insane?) of people that were no longer sparking anything at all for me and I can't believe how much lighter something so simple made me feel. This year I'm committed to sharing if I want to, stepping away if I want to and, at the very least, not caring so much. It's just an app, after all. Instead, I'm much more interested in pinning lately! I like Pinterest because it feels anonymous and I don't really do it for the benefit of anyone else... just myself. If you want to, you can follow me there but I won't be checking the numbers and I think that's so freeing.

On top of all of that I took on two pretty big projects this year! I started writing for the Glitter Guide and am super excited to be a contributing lifestyle editor for a site that I've loved since the beginning. I remember following Taylor's blog (way back in the day) and being so excited when she announced her new site and I've loved following along since. It's so great to be a part of something that's run by an amazing group of strong women! In addition to that I recently started working for my absolute favorite bridal company, LOHO Bride, as an ETA and order management specialist. This new responsibility allows me to keep my feet wet in the world of bridal and again, I can't get enough of amazing female-run companies. The hustle is real right now!

At the very end of the year we took an AMAZING trip to Japan and Thailand. There's so much I want to share about it and so many pictures to pour through that I don't even know where to start. It's all a little overwhelming but the trip itself was one of those "high highs", for sure.

Looking back on the year is always a strange assignment... When you're in the thick of it, and days are flying by, your year never feels quite as grand as it does when you reflect on everything at once. 2017 was anything but boring and there's no way I could have predicted what might happen. It was only at the very end of the year that it became obvious... sometimes when things are falling apart, they're really just falling into place. This year I can happily say that I came into myself more than I ever have. I feel so unbelievably content in knowing myself better than I did prior and giving myself the freedom to have opinions and take up space. To exist as a woman in all of my glory without apologizing for myself. I've let go of a lot this year (good and bad) and I think it took some of the hardest hardship to get to a place of peace.

Here's to 2018... may it be far from boring!

The 45th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade + My Abortion Story
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Today marks 45 years since The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the historic Roe v. Wade case, granting legal abortions to women throughout all 50 states. Before that time our bodies and the freedom to choose what we do with them did not belong to us. That freedom belonged to husbands (both tangible realizations of them present in our lives and the fluid possibility of them existing sometime in the distant future), to fathers, to church leaders, to doctors, to strangers. 45 years ago a landmark court case made dangerous and life-threatening abortions obsolete (kind of) and ruled in favor of our constitutional right to agency of our own bodies.

I'm deeply aware of the polarizing effect of a post like this one. I know that I'll likely offend some of you with my words today. I know some of you will be tempted to make a stand for your own beliefs, which I welcome so long as your words are kind and respectful. If there's one thing I've been learning slowly over the last couple of years it's this: my responsibility, as someone with a small platform on which to share stories and speak truths, is to be honest. To be raw and unfiltered and to share the stories of my experience as a woman from my own perspective in the hopes that by doing so, you are less isolated in your truths. It is my job, as a human with compassion and passion for the rights of all people, to stand up for what I believe in. I truly believe that normalizing all that goes into being a woman is the way that we change the culture of shame that surrounds conversations about reproductive freedom and the stigma that follows us as we figure out the best way to live as women.

In January of 2010 I was nineteen years old. I was (and still am) in a safe, loving, supportive relationship but I was young and not ready to be a mother. When I became pregnant, despite my diligence and the luxury of having access to affordable, legal birth control (a luxury that not all women have), I knew that I was not in a place where I was equipped to bring a happy, healthy, adequately cared-for human being into the world. For days, but not too long, I turned inward and sat with my options. I consulted my family, who was supportive and reaffirmed that no matter my choice, I would be loved and understood. I included my partner who was/is amazingly caring and equally supportive. We weighed all of the options and, knowing at my core what the right decision for our family was, moved forward with the choice to terminate an early stage pregnancy. I count myself as lucky to have had access to a safe, clean Planned Parenthood clinic and honestly, the experience was rather routine. I was given medication (one pill to be taken at the clinic, in the care of a medical professional and one to take at home). I spent the evening lying on the floor in pain. I bled for weeks afterwards. Despite the pain and the process, I knew (and still know) that I made the right decision.

To say that my abortion was routine is not to take it lightly. It was simply unremarkable in all the ways that it is like so many experiences of women both before and after me. It is a part of my life not THE part of my life that defines me. It was routine healthcare in the journey to care for my own reproductive health. However, I realized then, as I do now, the gravity of a decision like that. I developed depression (not to be confused with regret) and stayed in bed for months. I got a tattoo to mark the date of the procedure because I wanted to remember, always, that on that day I made a decision about the course of my life and my future family that was mine and no one else's. I wanted to mark that I alone have the agency to decide things for MY body. A reminder to myself in times of confusion. As I climbed out of that hole of depression one thing became glaringly evident: I was (and continue to be) so unbelievably grateful that I have the freedom to decide for myself and the luxury of access to make it happen.

Right now, all over the country, legislators and State governments are creating roadblocks and hurdles (1,193 abortion restrictions in the 45 years since Roe V. Wade) for women of all kinds that make it harder, if not impossible, for them to access safe abortions and family planning tools. This reproductive oppression comes in the forms of abortion bans (like the 20 week abortion ban currently in place in Alabama, a state I lived in for three years just prior to our move to this island), hoops to jump through and stigma. Oh, the stigma. It's especially difficult to navigate when there's an illusion of free choice and access but the odds are stacked against us. This has to stop.

I know, in my heart and to my core, that my life would be 100 times different had I made a different decision in 2010. I am a mother now, a vocation that I love, to a six year old daughter that I was ready for and am thankful for every single day. I am a good mother. I know, without the abortion I decided to pursue all those years ago, that I would have a different child and a different life. That life, the one that I love and celebrate and actively chose, is mine and was my decision to make.

It's always been my feeling that women should be able to talk freely about these kinds of experiences. That we should, especially with each other, share our stories and discuss our choices and celebrate and fight for our rights openly and vocally. There's such a thick cloud of shame surrounding so much of what it means to be a woman: struggling to get pregnant, terminating pregnancies, making health decisions about our bodies for ourselves but I think you'll find, the further you delve into the stories of women in your life, that these experiences are not uncommon. I hope that with my small contribution to the conversation, I'm contributing to the move toward freedom for women to be open and expressive without shame. This is a conversation my daughter deserves to have access to, that your daughter does, that your sister and mother and friends and self do. It is my hope that one day we live and function in a world where the political issue of simply existing in our bodies no longer exists.

 

If you feel inclined, here are a few articles to read and videos to watch today:

 

Now more than ever: Why we must fight for reproductive freedom


6 Women Share Their Harrowing Stories of Illegal Abortion Before Roe v. Wade


Women Open Up About Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade