human connections

my fractured fairy tale

… and they lived happily ever after. 

as long as I can remember, those words filled my eyes with hearts and my stomach with butterflies. disney movies, romantic comedies, and love songs created a foundation for what I expected from a relationship. add to that the religious teachings of purity culture and I felt like I had my fool proof plan to earn my happily ever after. I just had to put in my time, right? I had to earn it.

at 16, I found myself in my first relationship, it lasted a month or two before I felt “convicted” about the relationship distracting me from my summer missions trips and plans to spend the years after high school at a christian internship. I loved him and he made me feel so very special, but I was filled with guilt and shame because I had “kissed dating goodbye” and my body wanted more from him than my guilt and fear would let me explore. I didn’t want to mess up my chance to earn that happily ever after and I knew if I spent much more time with him I would give him more than just my first kiss. And in the moment, the guilt of wanting that as bad as I did weighed heavier than my teenage hormones and I wrote him a break up letter and left it for him at work. I think I told him I would pray for him or something terribly self righteous. I buried my heart break in bible verses and youth group meetings.

at 20, while at that christian internship, I met a boy. My eyes filled with hearts and my stomach filled with butterflies. this had to be it. i followed all the rules, did everything i was supposed to. this was it, it was time for my happily ever after. i’d earned it. Our long distance dating turned into a quick engagement. because we were so “desperately in love” (or incredibly co-dependent) we cancelled our wedding plans and eloped, less than 6 months after we met. for nearly a decade I clung to the belief that I earned my happily ever after and convinced myself (and everyone else) I was living it. and for awhile, I think I was. I thought that happily ever after was something you reached and then just kept it. I thought those hearty eyes and butterflies were permanent.

and then… at 30, I was divorced… my perfect fairy tale had been fractured and my happily ever after had shattered to pieces. I lost hope that I would ever experience that hearty eye, butterfly filled stomach kind of love again.

Since then I have dated a few different guys, allowing each one to occupy some space in my life while simultaneously suppressing that lifelong desire to find my happily (and healthily) ever after. I made one guy I dated, the pastor with that amazing voice made especially for Disney songs, promise he wouldn’t fall in love with me… we were just going to be casual because he had been heartbroken by divorce as well. of course, we connected over our heartbreak and when our feelings got too big, we ran. And the dapper fellow, with whom I shared a love of bourbon and cozy sweaters. By the time I met him I had done enough healing to be open to catching feelings for him, but due to our life circumstances we had very defined boundaries that my heart struggled to stay within so I knew it had an expiration date. But he made me feel like maybe, just maybe, hearty eyes, butterflies, and good guys could all co-exist.

I had a wonderful long term boyfriend, the viking, who was my rock throughout the hardest times of my life. He too was divorced and older and very much content with the type of relationship we had built over time. and so was I. He was safe and exactly what I needed for that season. I found him when I needed someone to protect me from myself and he was that. But little by little, I realized I wasn’t broken like I used to be. I wondered if I could ever be anything but his little broken girl in need of his fixing and protecting. We also had built a life that was intentionally separate at times and it had become increasingly difficult for me. As the realization that I wasn’t in the same place I was when we met began to stir, that desire to have a life partner that wasn’t so loosely woven into my story was growing within me. but I couldn’t be honest about any of that. Not to him and certainly not to myself. I held on to that relationship, that safety and security, for as long as my terrified soul could muster. I tried every way I knew how to convince myself (and everyone else) that I didn’t want what my heart was asking for.

“I’m not interested.”
” I just need me time.”
“Never again, it’s too much hassle when it inevitably ends”
“I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man.”

And every other reason in the book to deny the fact that I truly desire a partner to share life with. Because I was terrified of the pain… the pain of those shattered pieces of my life crumbling around me. Because I wasn’t sure I could handle another loss. I couldn’t start to get used to sharing life with someone again because when it ended, I’d become even more broken. You see, in all this … I’d chosen what I perceived to be safety. I’d chosen loyalty over my own desires. because I was terrified of change, of loss, of rejection, of abandonment. of not being chosen. and what I didn’t see was my fear of not being chosen by others was keeping me from choosing myself. because I thought I was just too broken for someone to choose.

but isn’t that where my strength blossomed and I found my warrior? in that brokenness. isn’t that where I learned to be honest with myself and those around me and embrace my imperfection? in that pain. Isn’t that where I finally found myself? In that darkness. isn’t that where I learned that happily ever after is really just a bunch of right nows stacked on top of each other? Yes. It was. and isn’t it in the midst of that brokenness that I learned what I was capable of? absolutely, it was. and so, despite my fear, instead of choosing the safe path that had become so familiar – I chose to swipe right on myself and follow my strong, independent heart down it’s own wonderful path.

and in doing so I swiped right on the greatest adventure my heart could have dreamt up.

and now, here I am… nearing 33, finding myself in the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life. it was unexpected… something neither of us were looking for (I used to hate when everyone would tell me you’d find exactly what you needed as soon as you stopped looking for it, but they apparently were right)… It was a fluke really. You see the artist was in one of the busiest seasons of his life and “didn’t really have time for something serious” and I was…. a mess, honestly. I don’t know what I was looking for… maybe I was looking for someone to who saw me as my over the top, messy, broken, and independent but needy self and didn’t try to fix me or try to come to my rescue or change me. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful people to ever exist. He didn’t certainly didn’t try to fix me or change me. He has simply just been with me. I don’t feel like a project or someone who needs protected. I just feel like me. Our relationship is truly a give and take. see, in the past I would give and the other party would take. but not with him, he pushes me past my comfort in all the best ways.

and yes, there are hearty eyes and butterflies. and laughing until we cry. and forehead kisses. and all night long conversations that are both refreshing and uncomfortable and exciting and terrifying. and the safest, most home like home I have known. we respect and challenge each other in appropriate ways. we respect each others autonomy while collaboratively creating our beautiful little world. creating those moments of choosing each other and supporting each other and just being present with each other. he absolutely is my happily right now and has been for the last year. and I plan to continue to stack those right nows on top of one another day after day and year after year. together we will create our happily ever after by choosing to live it right now.

I thought my fairy tale was forever fractured and that happily ever after didn’t exist. I guess I just needed to learn that happily ever after isn’t just an ending to a fairy tale, it’s a choice I get to make every day. embracing my brokenness, choosing myself instead of begging others choose me, allowing people to love me where I am, loving others exactly where they are… those are choices I get to make every day. And damn, I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful partner to stand with as we both strive to get better at choosing to live our happily right now 🙂

divorce, writing

recovering perfectionist.

Guys! There are exactly 28 days left until the end of the term. Twenty-eight. Also, this is my LAST TERM of grad school. Coincidentally, in the same month I graduate – I turn 32 AND it marks 2 years since the end of my nearly decade long marriage. WHEW. To say I’m ready for a new season is an understatement. It’s been over 2 years of late night classes, weekends of homework, recordings of sessions… right along side two years of being a newly single mom, recovering from heartbreak I thought would kill me, and getting to know my genuine self for the first time in a long time.

Going to school to get a masters in counseling isn’t just learning how to let someone lay on your couch and tell you their problems… it is about looking at your own issues closer than you ever wanted to. Instead of writing papers about the history of counseling or the theories used I wrote papers detailing my own personal developmental issues like identity foreclosure in adolescence, how I came to understand my race and my sexuality, and my own biases and shortcomings. I understand myself so much more now. But the one thing that has changed the most… I’ve learned it’s ok to be imperfect.

See, the thing about being a “helper” (Enneagram 2, anyone?) is that I am so quick to give love, acceptance, safety, and encouragement to everyone… but myself. Throughout the last two years of school and personal work (ya’ll – GO TO THERAPY. *end rant*) I discovered that somewhere early on in life my brain correlated the idea that perfectionism leads to love, acceptance, and attention and anything less than perfection is unacceptable and will lead to loneliness and disappointment.

I spent 30 years of my life chasing perfection.

I was raised in church and was the textbook church kid… missions trips, small group leader, bible memory verse champion. I never drank, smoked, did drugs and of course “I kissed dating goodbye.”

I went into JROTC in high school and earned every award possible, becoming the Commanding Officer my senior year.

Despite graduating in the top 10 of my class of 400 and having multiple scholarship opportunities and military recruiters offering me amazing opportunities I decided to go to a church internship program after high school. I fundraised an outrageous amount of money because I felt called to this program where I worked insane hours (yes, I PAID to work…) and despite my best efforts felt like I was never “good enough” for their standards. So, of course, I stayed a second year. I travelled the country putting on weekend youth conventions. I made the drama team and was one of the actors on the big stage. I checked all the boxes I was supposed to.

While on the road I met the guy. You know, THE GUY. We dated long distance for a short time and then eloped. We didn’t have sex until our wedding night. Because that was what we were “supposed” to do. I followed the rules.

I then spent the next 10 years attempting to become what I perceived was the “perfect” wife. We had a kid, a few businesses, bought a house, had the dogs and everything but the white picket fence. We were supposedly living the American Dream.

But instead of feeling proud of myself, grateful, content, or accomplished I was constantly terrified. I lived in a cyclone of anxiety. That thing my brain learned at a young age? Perfection is the only thing that leads to love, acceptance, and attention… that core belief sat like an anvil on my chest.

accepting imperfection was nearly impossible in the smallest instances, so when my marriage of almost a decade fell apart almost overnight… i was completely shattered. I had been holding on to the shards of imperfection trying to hide them from everyone, including myself. The tighter I held on to them the deeper they cut me.

When my marriage ended I had no choice but to stop trying to hold it all together. The sound of my world crashing around me was so loud. I simply couldn’t go on living the way I was. I was a tightly wound, insanely anxious, deeply wounded, and completely exhausted shell of a human.

I had to learn (and i’m still learning) that it is ok to simply exist, to just be. Not to try to try to be perfect or good enough or anything enough…. but to embrace myself exactly as I am in this moment. So when it came time to change my online names @imperfectlycourtney was the most authentic, genuine expression of who I have learned to be over the past two years. It also embodied the message I feel inspired to live out and share with my clients, my readers, and ultimately the world. Borrowing the wording from my ultimate career crush and inspiration, Brene Brown… that YOU, in all your imperfections and struggles, are worthy of love and belonging.

so, welcome to imperfectlycourtney.com. Here i’ll be sharing the lessons I am learning on my journey to become a recovering perfectionist. You can also find me on instagram, facebook, and pinterest … I always love connecting with other imperfectionists!

Life, parenting

it takes a village

Today is my last “first day” of a new term in Graduate school.

Today I walked on to campus, one of the few places that has remained familiar to me throughout the hurricanes of change that life seems to enjoy throwing at me, and reflected on how different I am from the girl who walked on to this campus two years ago. Today I am strong, confident, and comfortable knowing exactly who I am – faults and all.

January of 2017 I sheepishly walked on to campus so quiet and insecure, unsure of myself. I was determined to be the perfect student. I had what I thought was a great support system with my husband nearing the end of his Masters program, I determined to use this program to make our life better.  We were going to be an unstoppable force together, another version of the power couple I thought we had always been. I was so wrong.

Just 2 months later in March of 2017 (on my 30th birthday) my husband, and the foundation of my support system, told me he was done. While we had some struggles I was always willing to do whatever it took to work through them. I was unaware then how toxic and co-dependent our relationship was, I subconsciously refused to acknowledge the level of dysfunction we had lived with for most of our relationship. With those blinders on I was SO sure we could make it work, but our almost 10 year marriage seemed to crumble overnight.

I was left with apartment and car leases that were both about to expire, a decade of jointly accumulated possessions to sort through mostly on my own, grad school classes to attend, an assistant job that barely paid enough to make ends meet on my own, and a then 7 year old to parent while trying to hold it together myself. Happy 30th Birthday, right?

I continued to show up… to my classes, to my job, and for my daughter. Some days showing up was all I could do. I was so unprepared for this. For life. At 30 years old I had never found a place to live on my own, never bought my own car, never fully supported myself financially. I was so overwhelmed with the process of buying a car, finding a place to live, and figuring out how to make ends meet all while negotiating a divorce and custody agreement. The feeling of helplessness I had the first year of being alone was incredibly motivating. I became determined to make it on my own. I bought my own car, found my own place, and managed a budget largely on my own. I had help from some amazing people who were already in my life, made some amazing new friends that showed up for me when they didn’t have to, but largely – I was, scratch that… I am – scared to let people in, to let people help me. ….Because if I let them help me I’d get used to it and when they decided to leave…. I’d end up even more wounded. So I built up walls and insisted on doing almost everything for myself. Need a set of blinds replaced? Buy my own power tools and learn how to do it on my own. Need a babysitter? Don’t ask friends or loved ones close buy – hire your own sitter. People have asked how they can help and my answer is always “I’m fine, I’ll figure it out.” I refused to let people in. I was there for everyone but rarely let someone be there for me. Call it pride, ego, bitterness, fear… Whatever you call it – It was lonely.

Brene Brown is my career crush. She is a vulnerability and shame researcher. I have adored (ok… mildly obsessed) over all of her ted talks, books, podcasts. She is ultimate #careergoals. She insists that we were made for love and belonging, but that requires vulnerability. Again, something I preach to my clients and attempt to make it look like I’m living well. But I kept my walls high. Those who were inside my walls before they closed stayed there, but letting new people in… Nope, I couldn’t risk it. I’d maybe let people help here or there but never really let people in. I walked around in heavy, clunky armor determined to protect myself from pain or disappointment. But you can’t selectively numb feelings. I was blocking out the pain – but I was also losing out on the joy of connection, love, and belonging. It wasn’t until recently I was shown how ridiculous my inability to accept help was… it was a literal light bulb moment. I brushed off my boyfriend’s offer to help me change a lightbulb – something that takes a lot of effort for a girl with the nick name “Shortney” – and he got frustrated with my inability to accept even the smallest amount of help. And he called me out on it. He was right (yes, I said it). So, I (reluctantly) let him change my lightbulb.

I lost my job of almost 8 years in October. I’ve been on unemployment since then looking for a job that will allow me to finish grad school, including 20 hours a week of unpaid internship. I’m now 9 weeks away and filling up my free time with interviews for jobs that pay (like actual money, not just “experience”) but I’ve been cutting it close in a lot of ways – specifically financially. Along with losing my job I also racked up an outrageous amount of legal fees trying to fight for what I believe was best for my daughter, only to be disappointed by the system.  I’ve hid the depth of the struggle even from those close to me for a long time, but the weight got too heavy to carry myself. Because we were made for community and connection. It truly does take a village – and I was doing myself and others a huge disservice by keeping my village locked outside my walls.

I made a status on facebook in passing today about yet another outrageous expense that popped up – a $335 licensure test that I have to apply for by Wednesday – and how crazy it was that they expected a last term grad student to just come up with that kind of money. It was just minutes after that I had people telling me how much they believed in me and how they would help where they could. One of my friends sent me some money through facebook messenger payments and said “you’ve got friends out there. they will step up” and I honestly cried. Others asked for my Cash App name or popped up on my venmo saying they believed in me and wanted to invest in making my dreams a reality. I have been overwhelmed with the magic that happens when you choose vulnerability over fear and shame… true love, connection, and community show up. And many of you showed up for me today. I know how much everyone struggles and to see them choose to invest in me is so incredibly humbling and inspiring.

it truly does take a village, and today I’m reminded that I have a wonderful village full of amazing people.

divorce, Life

Happily ever after is right now.

What a year 2018 was. It was my first “full” year as a divorced woman. Wow, never thought that would ever be anything I would be. I would like to think that I have handled it well. I guess when I am writing for it to be read I want to put forward my best side. The ever optimistic “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” and “look at all the lessons I’ve learned” and the “I’m so much stronger for having survived this” and all the other beautifully penned cliches. I oftentimes tell my clients that I don’t want to hear their regurgitated therapeutic cliches and other bullshit. I tell them I want the reality of where they are right now. If it’s angry they have to be in my program, I want it. I just want them present and expressing themselves. But then I sit here like some polished piece of shit doing the same things they try to get away with. Maybe that’s why it irritates me when I see it in them, because I see what I try to convince myself of every day. That I have this flowery optimistic point of view. That I joyfully choose to look at every challenge as a “opportunity for growth”… The reality isn’t that pretty. Not by a long shot.

This year has been hell. That is not me being negative, that is my bloody and bruised soul looking at you with eyes of fire saying I’ve seen the darkness… I lived there. And I am fighting with everything within me to embrace the light. I have great days. This year was filled with more beauty and adventure and LIFE than I can explain. I felt every heartbeat, every smile, every beautiful moment. And I felt every disappointment, every gut punch, every failure, every tear. I felt it all with every fiber of my being. I’ve felt unstoppable and I’ve felt hopeless. And through it all, I held on. I held on to the hope that it gets better, some days just by a thread.

Oftentimes people only want to share the struggles once they have achieved the success. We hide the struggles as we live them, we will tell our story when we have a happy ending. We don’t share our before until we have an after that seems “good enough” for us to justify the struggle we have survived. But fuck that. When I’m in the darkness bracing for the next deathly blow I don’t want a success story, I just want to know I’m not alone. I don’t want the happily ever after to tell me how much better it gets. My eyes, having adjusted to darkness, are searching for others like me. Those who don’t have it all together, so we can all struggle together – helping each other where we can. But so many of us are afraid to admit that we don’t have it together. Or if we do, those who have it all together just want to give us the lectures of what we need to do to get where they are. I don’t want that. I don’t need that. I don’t need to be fixed. I’m not some success story to add to your repertoire to impress those above you so you can “level up.” I don’t want your advice or “3 easy steps to fill in the blank.” I don’t even want someone to fight for me. I just want someone to take my hand and say “You got this” and stand by me as I embrace the struggle. So, here I am promising to be that person for you. I will stand with you in the messy, dirty, dark struggle and look you in the eyes and say “beautiful soul, you got this. fight when you can, rest when you must. you are not alone. don’t look away… I see you. I see your soul, every part of it. and I will not look away. I see you and I am with you, always”

Today I dropped my daughter off at school after one of the most emotionally draining winter breaks I’ve had with her. Not for any fault of hers, she is perfection, but because life is heavy. I have unhealed wounds from my relationship with her father and sending her away to spend the week with him still stings. I am struggling in every area of life. I am entering my last 9 weeks of grad school in a few days, searching desperately for a job – I’ve been getting by on hope, charity, and public aid – and while I’m grateful, so grateful – it still isn’t enough and the bills are piling up. This past year I’ve lost my stable job of almost 8 years, lost people so incredibly important to me, and lost a year long court battle. Each one of those deserve a time of grieving that I am not able to provide. I go to bed exhausted, but I can’t sleep. This is my darkness, my struggle, my reality. The weight of it all disappears when I keep myself busy. I find myself falling back into that place I lived for years. The numbing buzz of keeping busy. A million lists. So many projects. Check it off and move on. If I’m moving I can’t feel how heavy it is. But that isn’t living. Those are the moments I need you to show up for me. It’s like a trance, I’m asleep – not alive. I miss out on the weight of it all for those moments. But I miss out on the joy of it all. And I am so incredibly lucky to have a few great people who know me well and love me enough to remind to me stop… breathe… live. And I feel the weight of the struggle, but I also start to see the joy of it too. Those moments when the little voice says out of no where “I love you mom, you’re the best” … I stop and I live. Those moments when you make me laugh when I don’t want to… Those moments when you walk up behind me and hug me tight and tell me you love me… Those moments when you text me just the right thing at just the right time because we have BFF ESP…. Those moments are the ones I don’t want to miss. Because that… that is what living is. The weight of the struggle will always be there. I hope someday it won’t be this heavy, but I know it will never go away. If I try to avoid it I miss those things. Those little things that make life so sweet. It’s not the “happily ever after” … It’s the right now. Happily ever after is just a lot of right nows put together day after day after day. Happily ever after is right now… and i’m going to live it with purpose.

divorce, Life, parenting

what i didn’t know six months ago

six months ago my life as i thought i knew it flipped upside down. it was my 30th birthday, that life milestone you spend your twenties simultaneously dreading and looking forward to. on one hand it is that “omg i’m so old” freak out moment… and on the other it is this unspoken life milestone i pictured as a marker of ending the uncertainty and panic that your twenties are known for.

oh how unbelievably naive of me.

instead of having the coveted “dirty thirty” celebration i spent my actual birthday telling my seven year old daughter her father and i were going to be “taking a break” and living in separate houses. and thus began the roller coaster of the last six months.

it’s easy to see snapshots of someone’s life on social media and assume all is well. and for the most part, it is. but some days it’s not. some days are heavy, sad, confusing, overwhelming. the first few months i was a mess. i was in shock. i spent a long time trying to live up to the expectations of myself and others and when those expectations shattered in my hands i struggled. i was disappointed in myself and terrified of disappointing others. mourning the loss of the marriage i thought i had, the future we had planned, the family we had created… it was (it still is) a hard and painful process. this is the ultimate “embracing imperfection” challenge for me. failing at marriage – one of the foundational blocks i’ve built my life on – has created cracks in a lot of my expectations and ways of viewing the world. and i don’t think that’s a bad thing. if i can learn to thrive after what i would classify as one of the biggest disappointments i could face there isn’t much else i couldn’t handle. it has been a catalyst for freeing myself from the cage of people pleasing i’ve felt locked in for most of my life. which i’m thankful for. i’m getting to know myself for the first time in a long time, without the panic of wondering if who i am is enough or acceptable. while this entire process exhausting and painful at times, it’s been refreshing in a lot of ways too. i have to continually be reminded to look for the positive in even the most challenging, frustrating situations.

but… i never wanted this. this wasn’t supposed to be me. it happened so fast. the first few months of living on my own was scary. there is just so much i had never done on my own before… so much you just don’t realize changes with divorce…

  • i never expected to be a “part time” mom (i know i am always her mom… even when she’s not with me… that’s not what i mean). i never wanted to spend long stretches of time apart from my daughter. i didn’t want to miss getting her ready and sending her off for her last day of school. i didn’t want to miss tucking her in every night. the first weekend she was away i had so many mini panic attacks trying to figure out where she was because i was so used to her always being around…. BUT it has made me far more aware of making the most of every moment we have together. we made memories this summer out of moments that would have never happened otherwise.

  • i didn’t realize how heavy simple life decisions were when you had to make them on your own. in the first month of being separated i had to buy a new car and find a new place to live on my own. i moved from the suburbs to right smack dab in the middle of downtown stl. ya’ll – for most of the ten years i’ve lived in this area i refused to drive downtown at all. it induced a high level of anxiety. now it’s just another day. i’m braver, stronger, and more aware of my personal taste and desires. making decisions on my own is still scary sometimes, but rewarding.

  • untangling nearly ten years of physical and emotional connection is messy. he moved out of the apartment that we shared with just what he needed to get by the weekend after my birthday. the lease on that apartment was expiring in a month so i had to move too. that meant the whole apartment and storage unit had to be sorted. packing up a decade of accumulated belongings is exhausting, emotionally and physically. i had to decide what i wanted to keep, what was his, and what to get rid of. our lives were completely intertwined so separating them has been difficult financially, socially, and legally. just when you think you have it figured out something else you forgot about pops up.

this weekend marked the end of the thirty day waiting period that the state of missouri requires when you file for divorce, so it could be legally finalized any day now. this coming sunday would have been our ten year anniversary. so, to say this week has felt exceptionally heavy would be an accurate assessment. but, i’m stronger than i’ve ever been. and i have a healthy support system to hold me up when i don’t feel strong enough to do it on my own.

if you’re struggling through any type of challenging situation, know that you are far more capable than you ever thought you could be. look for the positive. be honest with yourself about your struggles. and find a community of people to be the healthy support system you will inevitably need… because we were never meant to do life alone.

 

Family Life

Five.

Today is a pretty special day around here…

birthdaygirl

Today this little lady turns five. She is one whole hand old!

I remember being pregnant and wondering what she would be like as a 5 year old. I was so curious what her personality would be like. And you know what? It’s even better than I could have imagined. She is such a blessing in our lives.

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One of her biggest strengths, and quite possibility her biggest downfall, is her huge heart. Seriously, she is so sensitive and tender and loving. One of her very favorite things cuddling. With me, with daddy, or with the dogs or her stuffed animals. Every night she asks if we can cuddle. You can’t say no to that! Because she is so loving and her heart is so tender she does get her feelings hurt pretty easily. I hate knowing that she hurts so easily. I still want to protect her from as much pain as I can.

sassytoddler

As sweet as she is, she is equally sassy. She isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions and press you to get the answers. When she believes in something she believes in it fiercely. She is absolutely your classic girly girl. She oohs and aahs at every diamond commercial. She already talks about getting married and having babies and weddings and all those fancy things. She is currently in a phase where she loves talking about going to Paris or Yew Nork (thats how she says New York… it’s adorable)

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Oh my little Payt, I am so thankful for the joy you are to our family. I’m SO proud of the big girl you are becoming.
I can’t wait to see what this next year holds for you. I know it will be filled with fun and exciting adventures. It will also be filled with just as many challenging and intimidating moments. Know that whatever happens Daddy and I will be right here with you.

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We love you to the moon and back.
Happy Birthday baby girl.

human connections

Lucky Number Seven

October 1, 2007.

It was a Monday. I was sitting in the house my hubs (then Fiancé) shared with his 2 friends waiting for him to get home. He was at work. We were chatting, probably on skype or MSN Messenger (remember that?!)

I had flown to Missouri to go with his family on a weekend vacation to Branson. I met his Ree & Pa, spent time with his family, and was scheduled to fly home to Florida that Tuesday. We had been engaged a little less than 2 months and were knee deep in planning a wedding for December 29th. We didn’t know when we’d be able to see each other again after this trip. Heck, we really didn’t even know how the logisitcs of me moving to Missouri after the wedding would work out.

That Monday morning as we typed back and forth, me sitting on his couch “borrowing” wifi from his neighbor “Steve”…. We decided we couldn’t say goodbye again. With his job at a ministry we couldn’t live together without being married so if I was going to stay we would have to get married right away. So that’s what we did. With a handful of friends and a guy we found online we met at the St Peters Rec Plex and got married. We had no real rings, I used my engagement ring and he used my Honor Ring. We had no fancy dresses or tuxes (though he did wear a button up shirt at the request of his bestie). We had nothing, but we had everything.


I had no idea what marriage was going to be like. Heck, I had hardly any idea what “real life” was like. Looking back we really grew up together. We have been through so much in the last 7 years. Lots of travel, jobs, buying a house, starting businesses, selling businesses, and our most amazing accomplishment… Creating a Family.


I’m blessed beyond measure to share life with my best friend. Seven years feels like forever and just a moment all at the same time. People often ask if we regret eloping… Nope. Not for a second. Our wedding cost $140 and is still one of our best memories. I’m sure people thought I was knocked up (NOPE) and that we wouldn’t make it (I’d say we are doing good so far…) but we are proof that when you know, you know.

Happy Anniversary, Babe. Thanks for the best seven years. Let’s make the next seven even better!

Several years ago I wrote out the story of how we met, fell in love, and got married. Check it out if you want to know more of our story.
The Story of Us – Part 1
The Story of Us – Part 2

The Story of Us – Part 3
The Story of Us – Part 4
The Story of Us – Part 5
The Story of Us – Finale (The “Wedding” Post)

Tell me something unique about your love story!

EAT, Family Life, Life, STL

Out of the Ordinary Day

Hey Guys!

How is your week going so far? Seems like my week has been SO long. How is it only Wednesday? Today is a super special day… It’s my husbands 29th birthday! So we decided to take the day off. Payton had school so after working out this morning we went to breakfast with some friends then headed home to clean up before making the trip out to Sump Coffee… Mid-Week Coffee Date for the win!

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Obviously I love coffee, so a new coffee experience is always welcomed. It was a great ambiance. It was really all about the coffee. They buy their beans green and roast them. The flavors are out of this world. It is not a frilly coffee shop. They carry only whole milk and soy milk and have no syrups or cream. Coffee truly is an art to them and I enjoyed it.

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After that we went down to the Central West End and found a cool place for lunch. I forgot to take a picture, what kind of blogger am I?! I had a great Chipotle Chicken Salad and lots of chips and salsa. After we picked Payton up we went to get cupcakes. Because every birthday deserves a good cupcake!

When we arrived home I was super excited to see that my text book arrived for my Precision Nutrition Certification Course!!

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I have been wanting to do some sort of nutrition certification for a long time now. I’ve looked into lots of different options but when I found this one I knew it was the one. It is not just about nutrition in general, but sports and exercise nutrition. I love that it combines the science and the application. They have a Level 1 and a Level 2 certification. I’m doing the Level 1 now and plan on getting the Level 2 next spring. I’ll share the journey with you along the way, of course.

After sneaking in a little bit of work we decided to go out and celebrate some more. We ended up at the local kids party place. I am not usually a big fan, mostly because lots of small children make me feel stressed… but on a Wednesday evening it was empty! Score!

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We played lots of Ski Ball

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Chris won the jackpot on Deal or No Deal

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And I beat Chris twice in the Sink It game.

It was such a fun spontaneous day! I love spending time with the hubs and kiddo. And I love being able to celebrate another birthday with the man I am lucky to call mine. He is my best friend and biggest supporter. He is my sanity and keeps me grounded. Plus he has a pretty epic beard. I mean, look at it…

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Can’t argue with that, can ya? #BeardStrong

Happy Birthday!

How do you celebrate birthdays?
Are you Pro or Anti beard?

Life, parenting

Alpha-Bits Snactivities {sponsored post}

Life with a 4 year old is like a life stuck in fast forward. It goes by so fast! In this crazy tech driven world it is, unfortunately, far too easy for me to forget the importance of hands on learning time. In the world of “there’s an app for that” I often forget the value of getting down and dirty in some old fashion hands on learning. What is better than mixing together learning and eating? That is what Alpha-Bits does!

Alpha-Bits is a delicious, nutritious and wholesome breakfast for children (adults enjoy it too!) with 20g of whole grains and 12 essential vitamins and nutrients per serving, including zinc and iron to support healthy brain development. In one serving, eating and reading becomes a fun way to feed our bodies while feeding our brains.

While Alpha-Bits has been around since 1958 they just recently partnered with the PBS Show “Super Why” and they are now the mascots for the cereal. Payton loves the show so the colorful characters quickly caught her attention! We decided to make some Crispy Treats out of our Alpha-Bits.

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She was so excited to get to help me cook. I even let her stir the marshmallows as they melted (with a very long spoon)

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She was slightly impatient waiting for them to melt. So she went over to the big bowl of Alpha-Bits and started looking for all the letters to her name. She was also moving so fast I couldn’t even get a good picture!

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Once the marshmallows melted we mixed it up, She was surprised at how sticky it was! We pressed them into a pan and then came the hard part: Waiting! When it was time to chow down she was yelling out all the letters as she was eating them “Look Mom, it’s P like in my name!”

It was great to spend some time together learning and having fun! In a world full of screens it’s nice to take a break and enjoy some real hands on learning… and eating!

How do you get hands on learning experience with your kids?

Disclaimer- I received product as a part of a campaign with Alpha-Bits and My Little Free Library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Family Life, workouts

A little bit of everything…

Oh Hey there.

Remember me? I almost forgot how to write. Seriously, Life has been crazy. Let’s try to do a quick update here…

CrossFit 70 is growing! We have a tiny space, like 700 square feet. So as the classes grow the space seems smaller and smaller. Well, we are moving! Just down to the other end of the building but it is over double the size! We are going to be building a second bathroom and… A SHOWER! We will have so much more space, a lobby and front entrance (we were previously just in the back bay instead of having a storefront). This means we are going to have A LOT of work to do. The good news is now we have a whole bunch of people who love to lift heavy and work hard to help us. We start painting/moving in the next few weeks after they finish building out the bathroom and shower. It will be sad to leave the area we worked so hard to build, but exciting to grow!! We need the space for sure, we had our Thanksgiving Day WOD and we were pretty packed. It was fun though. If you consider a 5 round Partner Fight Gone Bad Fun… Which most of us did. ha. I love these guys.

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I was selected to be a part of the #HolidayFitList with Lorna Jane and Sweat Pink! Later this week I’ll be showing off some awesome Lorna Jane clothing, sharing some recipes from their Move Over Sugar Recipe book, and telling you how you can enter to win an outfit of your own from Lorna Jane. Their stuff is adorbs. (PS- If you shop Lorna Jane today you get 20% off all regular and sale priced items!!)

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Remember how I told you awhile back we were getting family pictures done? We got some back and they are amazing. Here are a few of my favorites…

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My family was in town for Thanksgiving, but we really didn’t take too many pictures. I cooked a simple meal and used short cuts like Stove Top… It was good to have them in town and Payton loved being the center of attention. We also went and cut down our own tree and decorated it. It seems to be our tradition to do that. I’ve always had a live tree and love how it smells. Although, I’m not opposed to a really nice fake tree if a good deal pops up… just sayin.

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I have also decided that I want to have a completely Disney themed Christmas set up… eventually. This year we have a Disney Themed Mantel, but I want the whole tree to be covered in Disney Ornaments and even have some fun outdoor disney decor. Here is a shot of the mantel

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Ah, It makes me so happy! Speaking of Disney… Only 46 more days until our cruise. I bought a dress from ModCloth for the Formal Dinner and I bought a Bathing Suit from Athleta (both on Sale!!) now I just need some shoes and cover ups and I think I’m good to go. Ahhh Vacation, I can’t wait.

We have a crossfit competition coming up this weekend. I’m looking forward to it! It’s teams of 2 and we have 3 teams going. It’s a small local competition, so low pressure and just for fun. Bring on the Tag Team Throwdown!

What’s been going on with you? Do you do themed decorations?