Arrows out: a birthday wish

Today is my 29th birthday. As I have reflected on my 20s these past couple days I’ve been filled with so much gratitude. The last 10 years of my life have been filled with many changes and life-altering decisions. Your 20s are often referred to as the “decade of decisions,” to which I shout a resounding AMEN.

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Eight years ago I was living in Orlando and heard Elder Jeffery R. Holland, an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, give an inspired talk. I sat on the stage in the very back of a very crowded church building. I could barely see him standing at the podium. But his words pierced me to my heart. He spoke about service and compared it to a tithe on our lives. If we lived to the age of 100, he said, that meant 10 years were dedicated in service to the Lord.

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Teton Valley Balloon Rally

I’m still devastated that they made the name of the event rhyme.

But I’ll look past it because of this.

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I have always wanted to attend a hot air balloon rally. Every year in Driggs, Idaho, hot air balloon enthusiasts gather at the Teton County Fair Grounds on Fourth of July Weekend for the annual Teton Valley Balloon Rally. If you ever have the chance, check it out. It’s a smaller rally, but so fun. There’s something charming about small-town events like this. I love the ambiance. It’s so fun.

Here are a few photos from the event. We woke up at 4:30 am to get there by 6:00 for the start of the event. So worth it. Link was a trooper and did so well. Bell stayed at home with a very selfless babysitter who got up at 4:00 to come sleep on our couch. Thank you, Lexy!

Seriously, don’t miss this event. It was spectacular.

 

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Here is a link to my friend Anna’s blog post from last year. She captured some amazing photos of the event. She’s one of my favorite Rexburg photographers and I would love to hire her for a family photoshoot one day. Check out her great work.

Life, intentionally

Last time I blogged, I got pretty real about my struggle with postpartum depression.

I’d like to get real again and sing the praises of my doctor and modern medicine. I started medication for my PPD over a month ago. It has been quite literally life changing. I feel like I have walked out of a haze and fog into the brilliant sunlight. It has helped my mind return to equilibrium. 

Since starting the medication, I have found so much joy in motherhood. Part of that has been the SSRIs, and part, I’d like to think, has been my resolve to live more intentionally. What you may not know is that I suffered from debilitating depression my entire second pregnancy. One day I’ll write about it. But not yet.

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Motherhood with the Monster

Motherhood has got me feeling pretty crazy these days.

Tonight, for example, I put face wash in my hair and forgot to use body wash during my shower. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened.

To be fair, I love being a mom. Bell brings me so much joy. Link brings me so much peace. I love watching them grow; love teaching them how to live a life built on joy and faith.

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A lot of days, my motherhood looks like my happy Instagram feed. But there’s another face to my motherhood. Yes, I’ve alluded to it before. Blogged about it even. But when it comes down to it, I have a hard time looking this face in the eye.

Each semester, I teach my students about writing from a brilliant feature story called Mrs. Kelly’s Monster. It won the inaugural Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1979. Mrs. Edna Kelly’s Monster is a collection of blood vessels that have grown into an abnormal mass in her brain. The story tells a detailed account of her surgery to bravely have this Monster removed, but in the end, she succumbs to it.

Though my Monster is nothing like Mrs. Kelly’s, it is just as sinister. My Monster is a shape-shifter. Sometimes it looks like anxiety. Other times deep loneliness and hopelessness. A few times, OCD behavior. More recently, it’s materialized as postpartum depression.

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Sorrow that the eye can’t see

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sad about 2016 coming to a close.

This year has been one huge sigh of exasperation for me. I don’t know what it is. Wonderful things have happened that I can’t fail to recognize. In many ways, it’s been a typical, and blessed year in the life.

And yet somehow, 2016 has still been a difficult one for me. Those closest to me have buoyed me up during some personal tragedies and setbacks, yet for most of the year, mine has been a sorrow that the eye cannot see.

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7 freezer meals from my hot mess to yours

Please enjoy this unrelated selfie of us being very attractive busy.

The other day a friend texted me about some logistics for a project we were working on for Rexburg for Refugees. Half way through, she asked me a question I’m still shaking my head over.

“You’ll have to tell me your secret for how you do all that you do.”

I felt 20 percent flattered, 80 percent FRAUD.

My life has gotten exponentially busier the last few months. Like, crazy busy. I’m talking teaching at university, developing an online course, a BUSY toddler, directing a local non profit, a busy calling in my young women’s organization in my church congregation, singing in a community choir (what was I thinking) and growing a tiny human with my body. Oh, and running a household while putting a husband through school. (Consider this our holiday letter of what’s new in the Whitlock household.)

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All my love to Orlando

When I heard about Orlando, it was dark outside.

Once again, I woke up to the news of a deadly mass shooting.

As the sunlight filled my windows, I tried to carry on like it was a normal day. That’s what you do when you hear news like this. You carry on with a prayer in your heart.

But it’s a displaced sense of normal. Because somewhere, this time in a place I once called home, hundreds of families are suffering.

I’ve offered tearful prayers for the victims and their families today. I’ve held my sweet daughter a little closer.

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