Life Around The Internet

Elated Exhaustion has been missing some love lately, but I’ve been busy all over the internet.

For Valentine’s Day, a friend and I saw The Richmond Ballet’s production of Cinderella, and it was beautiful! I wrote about it here. 

I was also incredibly honored to be featured as a guest poster on Dancing in The Rain with this post: The Lens of Motherhood. 

Have you read Dancing In The Rain? Jennifer writes an amazing blog you must read.

Jennifer and I were both pleased to be featured today on What To Expect.com! My guest post on her site was featured in this post: 5 Things To Do on February 18th. I would be so honored if you went to read (or comment!) And find out the other 4 things. :) Photo credit goes to the amazing Amy Robinson of Amy Robinson Photography. 

A huge thank you to everyone who entered Elated Exhaustion’s two year blogiversary contest! The winner was Kimberly of All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something, and I’m telling you, if you read even one of her posts you will fall in love.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

 

All The Things

Confession: I have been terrible about blogging lately.

Not that this comes as a surprise to those of you that are sweet enough to read this little blog of mine.

But don’t worry, I have been busy other places.

On Richmondmom.com I have an article about a humbling experience I had that reminds us all to be thankful for everything we have. And I LOVE this guest post by my sweet friend.

I have a lot of reviews up on 5MinutesForMom.com. They are doing some great Christmas giveaways so head over and enter some!

I am the new calendar editor at Richmondmom.com and have been trying to keep up with all of the events which is super exciting and hard because my goodness does Richmond, VA know how to host a lot of events.

And my husband has been working 30 hour shifts, hasn’t had a day off since October, and the little one has been sick. You do not even want to see how messy my house is right now.

BUT…in the midst of all of the rest of life I have been honored to be a part of a big Christmas show again this year after I got my performance legs back last year.

We open tonight (actually in just 3 hours…eek!) I just wrote an article about it on Richmondmom.com that you should go read. (I’m the one in that red dress in the top picture.)

And of course, if you are in Richmond, you should come see. I would love to meet you!

Hopefully more writing will come later, but for now, I’m off to a show!

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About Being Honest

The thing about being honest and vulnerable is, you don’t know where it will take you.

It took a lot of courage and time for me to summon up the strength to write about what happened on my 30th birthday. After I told the story, even the hard parts, I felt a sense of relief.

And then, the next morning, I felt immediate dread and a bit of regret for publishing one of my most intimate moments on the internet.

This little blog of mine is not so private anymore. Since I’ve started freelance writing my bio with links to my blog has become public, and I have blurred the lines between writing for just my small community of blogging friends and myself to writing to an audience that is very public and not at all intimate. My blog no longer became my safe space, because anything I write here could be read by anyone in my life, including people that in real life I would never share such details with. And that, is a scary thought.

But I didn’t start this blog to write about only the good things in my life or to paint a pretty picture about motherhood. I started this blog to tell the tough stuff. I started this blog to be honest.

And the truth is, I was finding it more and more impossible NOT to tell the story. I couldn’t come to my blog and posts pictures of Halloween (which I will do, though, because we went all out and it was awesome :) ) and pretend that nothing had happened because a major thing had happened. And it was the only story weighing on my mind.

Not very many people commented on that post, but I have received countless emails and private Facebook messages. I have received phone calls from people in real life who didn’t know. And it is both terrifying and amazing to see what happens when you are honest with your story, even in a terrifyingly public way.

There were people who had gone through the same thing and never told anyone, carrying around a small secret of pain on their own because it’s too hard and too personal to let it out.

And there were people who have never been through a miscarriage, who don’t know what to say, but want you to know that it’s ok to talk about it and to reach out and tell you how much they care about you. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

There’s a fine line between regretting the blunt honesty of letting you into the most intimate details of my life and then feeling the rush of relief that comes with telling a story that had been weighing on me. And if I had never told my story, I never would have gotten to share in the beautiful and comforting email exchanges and phone calls in which you told me yours.

For me, it was never even really just my story. It happened to me, but if I never told anyone about it, it would be like that baby never existed. And it did. If even for a very short time. I don’t want that baby’s story to have never been written just because it ended so early.

So I want to thank you for letting me tell my story and for those of you that shared pieces of yours, I am incredibly honored.

That’s the thing about being honest. It takes you to beautiful places. You may never know who you are touching with your words and who needs to read them, but you must believe that the events in your life, even the hard ones, are worth telling.

(image credit: www.leahfruthblog.com)

 

Becoming Real

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day…

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you…

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept… Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

~Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit 

“I think that when I go back to work, I’d like to be a writer,” I said to my husband two years ago on a quiet afternoon.

“Ok,” he said. “Then do it!”

I started blogging in December of 2011 but didn’t tell anyone in “real life”. They discovered it slowly, because as it turns out, the internet is not all that private of a medium.

If I’m ever asked what I do, I still refer to the title Stay At Home Mom. I have never uttered the phrase “I’m a writer.”

I have a friend whose been blogging for a long time, and has a magical way of weaving words. I consider her a writer, though it is still not a term I would extend to myself.

In January of 2013 I was honored to join the writing team at Moonfrye.com and 5minutesformom.com. But that just meant I was lucky.

Then I started to notice requests in my inbox for product reviews and people wanting to guest post. “That’s weird,” I thought. “Why would anyone want to work with me and this small little blog?”

There is a large annual blogging conference called BlogHer coming up in just a few weeks. This year, it will be held in Chicago. I have never ever considered going, because that’s for “real bloggers” and “real writers” and I am definitely not one of those.

Then I received an email from my wonderful content editor at Moonfrye asking who would be attending BlogHer so we could all meet. I won’t be, but isn’t that amazing that I am a part of something like that? Maybe I belong a bit more than I thought I did.

And then an amazing thing happened.

Late one night last week, I was just browsing the internet, as I tend to do when the house is quiet. I found a job posting for a local Richmond business. I wrote a cover letter, made a resume, and submitted my application. Which was strange, because I wasn’t really looking to go back to work, but something about this felt right.

I got an interview, and it just happened to work out that my mom was here to watch my son so I could go. I met with an amazing lady who I adored right from the start and the job opportunity couldn’t have been more of a perfect fit. Isn’t it amazing when things just fall perfectly into place like that?

I am so pleased and honored to announce that I am joining the team of writers on RichmondMom.com, a writing position I have long coveted. I am beyond amazed to think I will be on the same writing team as Alex from Late Enough and Kristin from What She Said, two writers I have always greatly admired. (And Kristin was just selected as a BlogHer Voice of The Year, a huge honor! So proud of her!)

Starting in the fall, I will be able to help with sales and marketing at an adorable Richmond boutique in my very favorite part of town.

I’m still trying to process that this is all real, because I feel like I have the opportunity to step into my absolute dream job and still have flexibility to stay home with my son.

And it just may be, that in the midst of processing that this is real, I am actually becoming a writer after all.

Bit by bit, I may be becoming real.

 

The Noise of Silence

I can only write in the quiet, in stolen moments of peace from the often chaotic pace of my life.

My words come alive when I sip coffee in the quiet of a house granted when my husband is at work and my son goes to the few cherished hours of school he attends each week.

They dance onto the computer with a late night cup of tea to the symphony of snores that parade around the upstairs in the darkness of nightfall.

“Hey babe, I need you to look this over,” my husband asked/demanded in his stress of gathering materials to apply to a fellowship.

I sat down at the desk cluttered with test scores and resume drafts and felt overwhelmed.

“How do you turn this noise off? What window do you have open?” I asked in a flustered way.

“Hang on, I’ll fix it,” he said, reaching over to close the many tabs that helped him find his way around this project and the one that played music.

“I can’t write with noise,” I explained matter-of-factly and determinedly.

My husband’s face was incredulous. He is a lover of background noise; music on his phone or the computer, the TV always on when he’s home, a game on the x-box on just to be on. “I can’t do anything without noise,” he replied.

This, I know about him. I’ve learned it through years of living with him and his background noise. Add in a loud three year old and I feel constantly on the verge of over stimulation.

I am a lover of the silence. I find it peaceful and reflective; a chance to listen to the things in our minds we often shut out through out the business of the day.

I can only blog when I have the time to meditate in the silence of life, moments that are rare and treasured to me.

And so I write, think, and dream in stolen silent moments, welcoming my rare background noise of silence.

 

What I Know About Writing

What I know about writing is that it’s a complex simplicity of time and effort.

Sometimes the words flow easily and sometimes they are impossible to find.

What I know about writing is that it is soothing and frustrating all at the same time. It is healing and thought-provoking and time-consuming.

What I know about writing is it is isolating and connecting. It is a solitary activity but once shared it becomes part of someone else’s awareness; someone else’s story.

What I know about writing is that it is intangible, and yet printed words hold a magical power. You can not see words, or hear them, or touch them, but when placed together in an article or a book or a story they come to life.

What I know about writing is it is too heavy and too light and sometimes just right. My silly inconsequential posts seem so insignificant when I go read an article written so beautifully that it moves my thoughts; changes my perspective.

What I know about writing is it is powerful, necessary, and, to me, the very essence of all-encompassing simple complexity.

Elated Exhaustion’s One Year Blogiversary!

Guess what? Today is Elated Exhaustion’s one year anniversary!

 

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

Don’t worry, I forgot too, because in my mind it was December 27th and I had this whole post outlined for you to celebrate one year and as it turns out, I wrote my very first blog post on December 26th last year.

December 26th. Why did I do that? So now it’s like Christmas and a birthday all at the same time.

But anyway, on the day after Christmas last year, I started a small little blog called Elated Exhaustion.

Newly opened presents still decorated the living room and the Christmas tree and other lights still twinkled around the house, making our home feel much more cozy than usual.

Much like today, it must have been a cold day that made you want to curl up in pajamas and read or watch a movie.

One year ago today (I mean, yesterday),  I wrote my first post on Elated Exhaustion, a small little post entitled Is That Chocolate or Poo? which welcomed you into my world of toddler motherhood. It got no comments, and the only person I showed it to was my husband, but there it was in writing, the beginning of my blog.

When I started this blog, I was very lost. I had struggled on and off with postpartum depression and spent hours at night crying myself to sleep after the husband and baby had drifted off.

When I started this blog, I had a two-year old still in diapers and a world that revolved solely around my role as a mother.

I felt lost from myself and isolated from a support system.

I didn’t tell anyone about my blog. Not my mom, not my family, not my friends. My husband was the only one who knew about this little space I had created, and really I only told him because it would’ve been really hard to hide it from him if I was going to spend a lot of time writing.

I didn’t tell anyone because I needed a space of my own. I needed a support system beyond those people who already loved me unconditionally but I felt at the time didn’t quite “get” me. Still struggling with my birth experience,  I started this blog because I needed a space in which to connect with other moms who had some of these same struggles, who could relate to me, who could tell me that I wasn’t terrible or crazy.

I started this blog with the intention of sharing my birth story, which a year later and three years after the actual birth I still have not found the words to do. Finding them is still a goal.

But I also started this blog to find the missing parts of myself, the parts that had become buried under the weight of my motherhood. And in doing that, I found you.

In May, I wrote a post that best summarizes why I write in a post titled, appropriately, Why I Write. My favorite  and still the most relevant line? “I started writing to find myself. I continue writing to find you.”

I had discovered the world of “mommy” blogging in the fall of 2011, a few months before I decided to start one myself. I would spend late nights pouring over words and once I found a blog I loved I would read post after post until the early morning, devouring the gift of words and stories these writers told.

The first blog I ever found was Not Super Just Mom, who I instantly loved because like me, she is a graduate from the University of Georgia and suffered a traumatic c-section experience with the birth of her first child. Her words were the ones that first saved me.

I later discovered Late Enough through Richmondmom.com, whose down-to-earth life approach I love,  and Spilled Milk and other Atrocities, whose words can weave a beautiful story that brings tears to my eyes almost every time.

I would read each of these blogs and treasure them as if they were precious jewels. I felt like they were just my own hidden discovery.

As it turns out, the blogging world is not just made of 3 blogs and they are not just my own little secret discoveries  The blogging world is huge, a whole community of people stretched across the world, writing stories and sharing glimpses into lives that make you feel not alone. And, as I discovered after I joined Twitter, they all know each other. When I started this blog, I didn’t just find a place to write, I found a place of support, a place of friendships.

If you had told me a year ago that this blogging community would come to mean so much to me, or that I would become so dependent on the comments and thoughts from other bloggers, or that I would make true friendships online, I’m not sure that I would have believed you. In the course of this year, I have discovered many more blogs that I have fallen in love with, and made blogging friends whose opinions I truly treasure and even depend on. I talk to my husband about my blogging friends and carry pieces of each of your stories around with me. (You can see some of my must read blogs in my blog roll. There are many others I keep up with in my reader.)

With every post I write, I become braver about sharing my world. Each time I hit the publish button, it is with a delicate balance of vulnerability and bravery, and each time I receive a comment on my blog my heart smiles with the contentment of knowing the love and support you have all given me.

As I’ve learned more about this blogging world, I’ve discovered so many more blogs, writers, and friends. The year of 2012 was a very big year for me in putting the pieces of my life back together post motherhood, and this blog and your friendships have been a big part of that.

This year, I potty trained my son, became the mother of a three-year old, re-discovered my performance self, decided to take blogging seriously by getting a blog redesign and move to wordpress.org, and became a “real” writer when I had the honor of joining the Moonfrye team. I have had the pleasure of sharing all of that on this blog with you, and of starting friendships with so many of you through blog comments and Twitter conversations.

This little blog that I started as a space of my own blossomed into a thing that people actually read. As it turns out, my mom and my family and friends did discover it’s existence and a few other people I know “in real life” too. Though it scares me to now actually know that people are reading this, it doesn’t change the amazing tool it has been for me in a path of growth and healing.

A few months ago, my best friend from childhood said, “You know, I think you’ve gotten a lot more confident since you started the blog.”

Another one of my best friends recently texted me, “You’re getting spunky again.”

And I received one of my most treasured compliments from a person “in real life” who found my blog and said she poured over it entry by entry until two in the morning one night, just as I had done with some treasured blogs a year before.

So I want to thank you, all of you, who have supported this blog, read a post, left a comment, talked to me on Twitter, or “liked” Elated Exhaustion on Facebook. Your support of this little online space means so very much to me, but your friendships mean even more.

And so now as I enter into my second year of blogging, I do so with a full heart and a wish that I could treat each of you to some Starbucks and chocolate where we could share hugs and conversation.

Confession: I am a huge fan of hugs.

To celebrate one year of blogging, I don’t have a big giveaway for you. I did not partner up with a sponsor or a brand.

But what I would love to do, is give one of my readers a $10 gift card to Starbucks. It is my small gift to you, to celebrate a year of this space, and to thank you for a year of support and friendship. Truth be told, I am probably going to send you some chocolate too.

If you would kind of like the Starbucks card, just leave a comment below.

If you really want the Starbucks card, you can Tweet about this giveaway or post about it on Facebook. Be sure to leave a comment below for each entry.

If I could reach through the computer and tell each of you thank you in person, I would. This, in some small way, will let us share a moment together and celebrate the space that allowed us to find each other in the first place.

I will leave the giveaway open until January 6th, because it’s the holidays and we are all busy and even I forgot what day the actual blogiversary was. Oops.

I will contact the winner and mail your gift out Monday, January 7th.

Thank you to all of you for making this little space what it is. Truly.

Updated January 7th, 2013: And the winner is… Jen Hall from Just Jennifer! Thank you to all of you who entered and who have supported this blog over the past year. You all mean so much to me.

Winner chosen using random.org:

Here are your random numbers:

13

Timestamp: 2013-01-07 15:14:29 UTC

 

Some BIG News

Do you remember how I very briefly mentioned a new writing opportunity?

I am so excited to finally tell you what it is!

I am thrilled to announce that I will be a contributing writer for the newly relaunched moonfrye.com.

I have long admired this site, and have always been moved by the words of contributors such as the sweet Katie F. Hurley and Jenny Feldon.

Jenny is the editorial director for Moonfrye, and under her kind guidance I am so pleased to say that I am joining the team!

Seeing my name among this list of such talented writers makes me so nervous, but incredibly happy.

Who knew that one day this little blog would lead to such an amazing opportunity?

So today I invite you to go check out the beautifully redesigned site and read some of the kick off posts. They are stunning.

My first post is not up yet, but look for it soon. In the mean time, you can read about me and all of the other contributors here.

My sweet blogging friend, Galit Breen, whose words always take my breath away, is also leaping into this new venture. Read her announcement post here, where she describes a bit more about the background of the site.

I am so excited to be able to call myself a “real” writer and have the chance to contribute and be a part of the voices of this site.

I can not wait to see you there!

Priority

It happened.

I missed a day of writing.

Right after I wrote about how committed I was to this.

Sigh.

But life has a way of sneaking up on you, doesn’t it?

Of changing plans and stealing hours.

And so today I just dropped my son off at school and I am burrowed in the computer room with a hot chai tea latte and some banana bread, ready to focus on writing and reading and capturing thoughts.

It’s a perfect day for it really, with a house draped in silence and rain pattering against the window. There are still some things on my to do list, a lot of things, but perhaps they can wait until I have filled my writing soul.

Perhaps, today, writing can be the first priority.

 

NaBloPoMo is Hard

What I have discovered about NaBloPoMo so far is that it’s hard.

Hard to find time to sit down and write every day.

Hard to find things that are relevant to write about.

Hard to visit and comment on other’s blogs who are taking the same time out of their schedules to compose a post each day, and my long time favorite blogs that I don’t want to miss.

It’s hard.

But like every worthwhile task, it is worth it.

Worth it to sit down and practice the art of writing every day.

Worth it to challenge myself to compose (hopefully) enjoyable posts, no matter how short they are.

Worth it to take the time to visit the blogs of others and read their hearts.

So tonight I tell you that just a week into NaBloPoMo, I have learned that it is hard.

But oh how I love being a part of it.