Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Love Letter to You.

Every good love story has it's peaks and valleys, but some of the best ones have highs up in the wispy white clouds, and lows in the dungeons of darkness.
My love story began almost exactly one year and ten months ago when my life was turned upside down with a flippant use of a pregnancy test (the one time in my life I was convinced it was negative). That surprise of reading "Pregnant:2-3 (weeks)" was one of God's greatest moments in my life, I for once was calm and just doing the test at Casey's request. (For the full story, go here:
Those ten months showed me what sacrifice means more than any other experience of my life. I temporarily gave up 90% of what made profesional me, me-- career, aspirations, etc especially in dance (shout out to Ken and Kelly who let me be part of a musical by choreographing a tiny part of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers...). I am forever grateful for you, my friends and family, that supported me through this incredibly trying transition. My daughter ended up being the biggest gift I could ever ask for-- and I would give it up all again (even forever) for her, but that time as a pregnant "dancer" was understandably rocky.
Then the Peanut arrived and Casey's and my heart broke wide open, expanded to be ready for the greatest love we'd ever felt. It is like your worst crush, but amplified times one thousand. You can't wait to see them when apart, and your heart beats a little faster because of them.
You who were and are there for me have become like diamonds-- incredibly valuable and prized. You brought me food, teeny tiny clothes, love and support. You sat and listened while I talked and talked about how different things were. You nodded. You hugged me. You loved me. You loved my precious Peanut.

I cannot tell you how much you mean to me. You, who were and are there for me in my most formative and trying hours. I am currently doing well in recovery for post partum depression-- yes, I said it-- and every week climbing even higher with the help of God's most unselfish Love, Casey's unending support, counseling and regular exercise/dance in my life. I learned that there is a surprisingly high percentage of women who go through this same experience, and yet it is rarely talked about. It needs to be. It is treatable and there is help. Please contact me if you are suffering, I would love to support you.
It is Peanut's first birthday soon. It is also going to be the anniversary of me becoming a Mom, and Casey's becoming a Dad for the first time. We made it. I made it. I really didn't think I would at first. Some of the lows were so low I didn't think I'd ever climb out.
But it turns out I didn't have to climb out by myself. Your love and companionship helped celebrate with me regarding my most incredible gift. In a few days it will be the anniversary of the most blessed moment of my life, when Peanut was born. Also a year since my heart became something completely other and will never be the same. I would never go back to the old heart. Ever. This last year has formed me into the person I was always meant to be, and I don't even want to think about what my life would be like without my Peanut.
So, this is my love letter to you. You who held my hand and heart through this last year. Your sacrifice of love helped me stay afloat and you are a gift from Heaven. You who sat with me in the dark and celebrated with me in the joyful light are my diamonds-- more precious to me than you will ever know.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dramatic Changes in the Dramatic

When I deeply ponder the dramatic changes to my life (pre-Peanut vs Peanut on the outside) that have happened in just a year and a half, I am floored. I was rarely at home, danced/taught all day long. I was involved in at least one show at all times (not rarely, two).
Now I am at home a good part of the time-- the kiss of death to previous Gina. I'm 24/7 taking care of a mini human being. I am even more busy if that is possible-- yet a different kind of busy. It has been a huge challenge to what I thought I could "handle" as a human being. I was the typical do-a-million-different-things-and-errands-a-day type person and thought that's what I needed to stay sane. But I didn't.
It's amazing what you find out about yourself (and how your previous beliefs are challenged and destroyed) when you go through such a fundamental change. Luckily I am able to continue dancing/performing now and will never stop as long as I'm able.
My point? I find that I really appreciate the slower pace, as well as the artistic/soul time on a whole new level. It's a deeper and richer experience. It was meant to be. It's part of my story.
Before Peanut, I would sometimes stress/worry/even cry myself sick about the quality of my performances and dancing. It was not always healthy. Now, I feel the anchor of a love that transcends anything I've ever felt for another human being. She is my greatest love, and she adds to my life in a way that grounds me. It's strange but her presence and relationship calm and relax me more than anything I've ever experienced.
Guys and Dolls with Performance Now Theatre Company (photo by RDG Photography)
The unexpected dropping of the majority of the stage anxiety has made me an infinitely better performer. More confident and more able to be in the moment. At least, that's what it feels like to me-- you can let me know if you agree next time you see me onstage, wink wink.

Peanut at 8 months.
Thanks Peanut. And thanks God for the precious gift of this little life next to mine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Say It To Her Face

Facebook has become a prime place for rudeness.
Maybe it's always been that way. But more and more I notice just plain old jerkery as I scroll through my newsfeed. I notice it in comments when friends share their hard days, I notice it in political posts, I notice it in plain old boring status updates.
What I want to say is, would you say that to this person's face? What if you ran into them in Starbucks and you saw how tired and haggard they looked? Then they shared about how they stayed up all night cleaning up after two young children vomiting and crying. Would you say flippantly, "It's amazing to me how you moms flip out when your husbands are gone for a week. Just be glad you aren't a single mother." That was an actual comment I read off my friend's page a while ago.
Most times these people are not ones you are close to in actual life. They are just your "Facebook friends" who are privy to your pictures, and life events that you share with your Facebook community.
Why do we feel the need to lash out (even passive aggressively)? If we spent more time connecting with people face to face and having real, vulnerable conversations with people we trust maybe we wouldn't feel the need to let off steam in a place where there are seemingly fewer consequences. In actuality the ripples felt from the rocks of your words are very real.
Let's not go back to elementary school, let's be adults. Let's be kind. Let's think through what our words might make another person feel. If you wouldn't say it to their face... Don't say it to them on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Love Pains

Have you ever loved someone so much it physically hurt?
I'm not talking about those teeny-bopper crushes you had as a preteen. I'm not even talking about what some jerk guy or girl that dumped you by text does to your heart, and being in the middle of those tough post break up moments.
I'm talking about the moments your love puts their arms around you, or laughs with you, or just sits there smiling at you and being the most amazing human you've ever set your eyes on.

I'm talking about the moment you realize how huge your feelings and love are for this person, and the thought of any harm coming to them causes you the most pain and fear you've ever felt in all your moments on earth so far. I'm talking about seeing them after being separated for a while and it literally feels like your heart is going to explode with an ache that can only be described as a love pain.
It feels like your heart is going to physically break because it is so full of love.

6.5 months old
It's an enchanting love pain that, incredibly, continues to grow as the days tick by. The material of the heart, intentionally designed to be of the most elastic quality in the universe, stretches to what feels like it's very end every day. It's a miracle it doesn't break. But then again, this miracle is nothing compared to the little human sitting before me every day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Leaving the Drizzle

It's super cloudy out today. A big difference from yesterday, when the sun was out and about, reminding me of beach weather due to the breeze flying around. I miss the beach. I grew up about forty five minutes from Bodega Bay, California. And although we didn't go often, I still feel there's a tiny ocean living in my heart constantly calling me back to the big ocean.
Isn't it true that certain weather, smells, even temperatures can bring a person back to past experiences in a nanosecond? This is especially true for me when I'm tired. I always feel more vulnerable on days like today. The Peanut woke up at four a.m. this morning, FOUR A.M. It's amazing what a few months will do. When she was a newborn that would have been a dream night for me. As for the me of today... I am exhausted. Just goes to show that little people are just like big people, sometimes they just wake up for no reason at all or  have trouble sleeping. I've had a hard time lately in general, feeling more deeply the fundamental changes to my life that she brings. So today is feeling a bit more raw than usual.
The gray sky outside brings me back to Portland. I lived there for several years after I moved back from Florence (another veritable storm of emotionally charged memories). It was there I met my love Casey and the direction of my life changed totally.
One of our first dates. We were clearly a good match as far as weirdness went.
 It was there I took a chance and thought, if I was ever to audition for ballet companies again, it would be now (professional ballet dancers retire at a surprisingly young age). It was there I experienced what felt like a miracle, when a ballet director named James hired me (after training my butt off after a years-long break from the daily grind of ballet). So we moved to Denver, where my new job at David Taylor Dance Theatre (and totally different lifestyle) was waiting.
The cool bite in the air in Denver today reminds me of darkish coffee shops, the drizzle on my face, and Powell's (one of the best bookstores ever) in my previous home-- Portland. It makes me feel the excitement, newness and naivete of my then new marriage. It brings me back to learning New Testament Greek at George Fox Seminary, and while there realizing that I was a whole lot more competent and intelligent than I ever gave myself credit for. I remember the exact moment my professor Mary Kate Morse gave me that gift of confidence by telling me I was actually very good at it. I think she knew I needed to hear it.
When you are in the process of making a place your home, you never really think about how hard it would be to leave, even if it is really the right decision. I left a huge part of my heart in Santa Rosa, in Salt Lake City, in Florence, and in Portland. Each place equally beautiful. Each place gave me some of the most amazing gifts, that I will carry in my heart forever.
What places are you carrying with you today?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mini's Minis

You learn a lot of things when you have a baby. Some lessons are from the school of hard knocks, like learning how to hold your breath until that dirty diaper is safely in the diaper pail. Or how to keep yourself from running full speed into the nursery (and crying yourself) when your baby is wailing, for the 100th time.
Others are fun lessons. I never knew how much I'd love dressing Mini up. I love the tiny socks, the little hats, and the bows covering everything.

My favorite pair of shoes I've ever seen, baby or otherwise.
People constantly warned me, when I was pregnant and telling them that I was feeling tired, that I should just wait till Mini arrived. That I'd be infinitely more tired (by the way, for any of my first time pregnant friends hearing the same thing--- there are days this is true, but mostly I have found that this is a false statement. That's only me personally, of course. I was a very tired pregnant apparently). Instead, they should have warned me how much fun I'd have putting mini clothes on my very own Mini.
It rivals eating tiramisu while sipping a delightful glass of Pinot Grigio. And if you know me, that is saying quite a lot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

White as Snow

I'm looking out the window today at the fairly sizable amount of snow still on the ground from the winter storm we had about a week ago. Not surprised it hasn't melted yet. Today's high is supposed to be twenty degrees fahrenheit.

Snow outside our window

Casey and I are used to the cold and snow now, even driving in what others (ahem, MOM) would consider dangerous. My technique is just to go super slow until I'm used to the feel. Annoys the big shots in huge trucks behind me but hey-- sliding is terrifying, and now I have a baby to take care of, so they can deal with it.
The pure white of the snow is striking. Brings to mind the saying "white as snow." Jogs my memory to the lyrics we sometimes sing in church and sang in college ministry meetings in Utah. As a lover of God I yearn to be close to Him (even when I am not aware of that need) and to have a heart white as snow and to be a good, kind person. To not hurt others' feelings, to be a good friend. To always love Adeline as God loves her, perfectly and without failing her in anything. Seems an impossible task, to be like snow.
Deep thoughts for what seems like an early morning. I want to float free of the guilt I feel when living out my worst tendencies, but I am not capable of changing myself at a heart level. The moment I decided that God was going to be the most important thing in my life, He moved in and became my official heart changer.
Years of trying proved to me that I can't change it myself. But He can, and has, and will continue to. It's so much like a marriage-- building into my closeness with Him causes me to be more like Him. You always become most like the people most intimately in your life.
It's pretty miraculous. It's not necessary to depend on myself. As crazy as it sounds, the insanely huge power of God is alive in me, and as I lean into Him I become more of the person I want to be, and the more peace with all things in my world I have.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Prunes and Green Beans

I used to take care of babies for a living. Back in Oregon, one of the few jobs that fit my Human Development/Family Studies degree was to work in daycare. It wasn't the first time I'd worked with kids professionally, in fact I had many years of daycare under my belt before I took the job in the infant room at the Goddard School. There had even been a time in Utah (where I went to college) when I worked in a small room taking care of up to four babies at once. It's always better to work with a buddy, and I was grateful for the company in this new job.
My co-worker was a former traditional stay at home mother and the best baby caretaker I have ever seen. She was gentle yet strong, never lost her temper, and appeared to be a human encyclopedia about all things infant. She was the perfect person to learn about babies from, as well as a very calming presence. This was important because I had just moved back from Italy a few months prior, and my world was in a tailspin. I was also in the process of trying to climb out of a significant depression, something I'd likened to a dark hole many times in my journaling. Her gentle spirit coupled with the healing presence of babies-- have you ever heard of the term baby therapy? It's a real thing-- was, looking back, exactly what I needed. Especially after a difficult break up that came a few months after beginning the job.
A couple days after the break up, I remember standing over my favorite baby Jackson's (yes, I had favorites) crib as he dozed off to sleep. I struggled to hold back the sobs as they rose up in my chest and tightened my throat. Perspective is everything, and looking back on this moment I want to give myself a hug and say, you will be glad this happened because something wonderful, something so much more fitting, is coming. Very soon.
Jackson was a delightfully joyful, blonde and blue eyed little boy. I bonded to him more than any of the other babies for some reason, and I adored taking care of him. I loved feeding him his prunes and green beans. I loved picking him up when he cried and comforting him. I especially loved giving him his bottle. There's something amazing about nourishing a person you care about. This was my first experience of baby love.
I often wondered, as I spooned the puree into his tiny mouth, if this is how it would be when (if? I didn't know if God would give me the opportunity to have my own) I had my own baby. Yawning and tired, wishing for more coffee, yet pulling out the strength to make sure he and the seven others had all they needed for eight hours straight. Some days I just plain didn't want to be there. But every day, God warmed me with His love through Jackson's smile. I learned pretty quick He loves to use babies this way. This the only thing that got me through some of those exhausted or sad days.

Today as I fed my own little peanut her oatmeal and prunes, the feel of the morning and my tiredness pulled me all the way back to those cool damp days in Oregon. Feeding someone else's baby and yet loving him all the same. But now I look at Mini and cannot believe how much more I love her than I thought I ever would, and so much more than any of those other babies. Every bite I feed her gives me the infinite satisfaction that she is getting nourished. God is giving her strength through the mush and I am the person delivering it to her. As much of a privilege it was to take care of Jackson and the other babies more than ten years ago, my own special gift comes with the most deeply felt joy I have ever experienced. Her laughter is my happiness. Her health and wellness is my peace.

Mini in her crib at 5.5 months old.
God is shining through her to me. Even when I don't think about it or see it. Every morning as I go to pick her up, yawning and wanting my coffee, she is happy to see me and giggles. Back in Oregon, I was single and able to spend much more "alone" time with God and concentrate only on Him. Now it is harder. But I want to experience these moments with my baby as much as I did back then. He is looking at me through her eyes, embracing me through her little arms, and filling my heart with laughter through her little voice.
It is a gift never to be taken for granted. And if I could tell my 24 year old self anything, I would tell her, "Enjoy this time, even through your pain. Because these moments are fleeting. But something even better is coming. So have hope."

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Dress is... White? Blue? PLEASE DON'T HURT ME!

I personally can't see the black and blue. Actually I can kind of see a blue tint, but the black is one hundred percent elusive. And that bothers me. Here's the image if you haven't seen it and don't know what the deal is with this whole thing:

Some people see white and gold. Some people see blue and black. And this is a "problem." I have to admit it bothers me a bit that I can't see black and blue.
Apparently it's the same with everyone else, whether they can see one color or another. Why does such a small insignificant issue cause this kind of unhealthy conflict between people online?
Seriously. It's just a dress (I say to myself as I stare at it with both eyes, with one eye, out of the corner of my eye)... Nope. Still white and gold.
Do we need to agree on everything? Does everyone else need to agree with us?
It just makes me think about how much time we spend online. Here I go being Captain Obvious, but these days we see everything that is going on in the world instantaneously. We get news immediately and hear about our friends' dinners seconds after they post a picture of it on Facebook (and before they may have even taken a bite).
And I am one of the worse offenders of this, so please don't feel I am pointing a finger. I'm just observing.
To quote Leslie Knope, "Are you better off?" I'm SO grateful for the ability to stay in touch with people over social media in this time of my life when I can't be as "face to face" social with my friends. But am I better off? My personal goal is to spend more of my free moments on my Kindle rather than Facebook.
Here's my main issue with this whole dress thing. It makes me sad to hear of vitriol being tossed back and forth online over it. I see it all the time when I'm dumb enough to read the comments for internet articles. I think this instant communication has made it easier to do this kind of thing to each other, to people we don't even know. Yes, people are going to be mean sometimes no matter what the context (ie, you can be mean over a handwritten letter to strangers).
And if you've made it this far into my seemingly random dress babble, you will now be rewarded with my point. What's the root cause behind this meanness? Why do we need to be mean to each other over this issue? Why do we need to be RIGHT all the time?
We don't. Period. If you feel the need to berate someone over the color of a damn dress then I have a feeling you have some deeper emotional issues to address.
Yes. People are mean. Over petty things. I have learned (or been forced to learn) to let things roll off my back out of necessity. But I have no time to dwell on things that don't matter anymore. That's one thing a baby cured me of. The time and energy to hold onto things that don't matter.
Finally, I have to wonder at the millions of mean comments flying back and forth over social media over this not very attractive dress: Where are the people getting the time? And can they come over and do some of my laundry?

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Sometimes, I feel guilty.
I know I shouldn't, I've had people tell me over and over I shouldn't. I have told MYSELF over and over I shouldn't. If you tell me I shouldn't, I will say, "I know, I know, I know, I know I shouldn't." And this would be true. I really do know. But! Yes, there's a but! Here's how I kicked guilt's ass (pardon my French).
Right now I'm staring at my beautiful, precious baby on the monitor. She is asleep. This is a great, good, AMAZING thing-- for one, because she really really needs the sleep today. Also it means I can do other things in the house, relax, and generally take a deep breath. I could even sit and watch an episode of Friends on Netflix (if I wanted to ignore the baskets of laundry lounging around my living room) and I just might, if I wasn't writing this post right now. But I digress.
Earlier today we made plans to leave the house at 3:30 pm. We talked about feeding her at 3 and therefore would be ready to go at 3:30, diaper bag and car seat (with the Peanut inside it) in hand and jackets on. She fell asleep around 2:30 (which is not exactly the plan or her normal schedule), and is still asleep, because we've decided to not wake her.

And now it's 3:16 pm, and she's still slumbering peacefully. This means I will not be making the event I "should" be going to. We made the choice to let her sleep instead.
It seems like this is my life a lot lately. So many "shoulds," so many daily choices-- beginning with pregnancy and continuing now, I could either choose what I would like to do/eat/etc, or do what's best for her. What is best for her is a lot of times, to stay sleeping in her crib. I know I could wake her up and plop her in the car seat. I have done it before. But more and more I lean toward leaving her sleeping. Or at home, playing quietly with us because she is acting like she is getting sick. Or a number of other reasons.
I realize I've had a certain expectation of what my life "should" look like at this juncture, with a five month old baby. Being without children for so many years, I expected it to look perhaps exactly like my pre-Mini life (ie, crazy busy), add cute baby. I felt I "should" be able to do everything I was able to do before (job-wise, social-wise, and every other aspect of my life-wise), and just add a baby to it. I "should" be able to do it all, right???
Enter Mini. Caring for an infant is a full time job and even though that is a grossly overused phrase, it is true. And she is my priority. I surprise myself most times by taking so much joy in forgoing something I want for her. Yes, I could ignore her needs and bring her out anyway for fear of looking like a "flake." Or I could put her first instead. That's the real "should" in my opinion. Forgive the crassness, but this false guilt can kiss my ass because she is more important than making the event. Or missing something I had wanted to do. Bottom line is God will provide for my (and her) needs, felt and unfelt, no matter what my "shoulds" are.
So as I gaze at her through the small screen of the monitor, seeing her so peaceful and happy more than makes up for anything I might have missed. It stamps out any false guilt I might have felt. Because when she needs me, I will be there. I will fight for her, in these small moments and also in the big ones.
She is my precious priority and I will always be happy to carry her and protect her through whatever she needs.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I'm learning a new sort of flexibility. Not just involving putting my foot up to my head or bending in half, but also having flexible plans. Mini is a great sleeper normally but I think her shots have thrown her off. She woke up almost literally EVERY. SINGLE. HOUR last night. Guess my plans to go to the gym are not happening unless I want an injury. Flexibility. Coffee.

There's a reason I refused to pull all nighters in college, people! (Other than the fact I was a ballet major for two years and we knew that sleep was sorta part of our homework and needed to do our daytime dancing). No worky worky with this girl! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Things Have Changed.

So that's the understatement of the year.
The mini human is four months old on the 14th... I am now back in the semi-regular swing of ballet class (usually without wanting to cry at how out of shape I am afterwards), and have kinda sorta gotten the hang of Mini's daily schedule. Things are different, however. It's challenging to my time-organizing nature when I "plan" to go to class, or the store, etc and then find that she has another opinion on the matter. Babies, apparently, are not really into staying on your schedule.
I had a shock a few weeks ago when I tried to put the Peanut into one of her newborn (NB) sized onesies. It didn't fit. For so long we struggled to find things that would not swallow up her tiny 6 pound body, and now she is fully in 0-3 month old clothes. It hit me then that she was going to grow. And keep growing. And as much as I welcomed the departure of the slight colic she had the first three months (and the night feedings), a part of me-- the very same part that loved taking care of babies as a career years ago-- wants her to stay a newborn.

Mini, 2 days old.

Before Mini got here I often wondered what made mothers wish that. Did they want to stay chained to the house all day on the 2 hour feeding schedule? Did they just have nothing better to do? Did they need a hobby?
But now I get it. If she's going to grow out of her newborn stuff, she's going to grow out of her 0-3 month old stuff. Then she'll grow out of her 6 month stuff. Then, she'll be going to high school and wanting to borrow the car.
And I'm not quite sure I'm ready for that!
Before Mini came, I silently calculated how long it would take to get back into "ballet" shape. I researched when most babies got on a 3.5-4 hour schedule which would allow me freedom to do so much more. I carefully folded my smaller leotards, thinking about when I'd be able to fit into them again. But now I find myself observing her growing up in small, precious ways every day and treasuring my time with her (even when, frustratingly, we don't leave the house all day). Nothing about being a mom spoke "freedom" to me before she arrived.
Guess what, future moms who also may mentally/emotionally struggle with these issues? Don't worry. The freedom I feel being her caretaker has definitely taken me by surprise.
We belong together, her and I. I can be all I was before, and also be her mom. Yes-- it does, and will continue to look different than my pre-Mini life. She has changed my life drastically from what it was before but I'd never, ever take it back even if I could.

Casey, Mini and I on  her first Christmas (2014).