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To be married.

The hardest and the most fulfilling thing you can do, would you agree wives?

I hope to write a lot here on this subject. It is in fact, something that is part of my life every day. It is something I work at every day, live as a part of every day, fail at every day, celebrate every day, and it’s certainly something that humbles me every day. I should for sure write more about things that are humbling and true, even if I tremble as I type.

Marriage is something that I will work at until I am no longer on this earth. My thoughts on it and observations within it are not finite truth or fail safe’s and my opinions certainly shouldn’t determine how you should view your marriage. I learn little things along the way. I fall flat on my face so much, that it forces me to find out how to stay on my feet next time.

I was recently listening to an online google chat class on intimacy. The speaker is a godly woman whom I greatly respect, even while only knowing her via social media. There were many things I jotted down while listening to her wisdom, but one thing really stuck with me. It’s something I already know. Isn’t that the funniest thing about lightbulbs that go off in our heads? Often times it’s an aha moment about something that we already know. We’ve probably written it down before.

“My husband should not have anything to do with my identity.”

Now, before some of you start throwing tomatoes at me…read that again. Stew on that for a minute.

Before you were married, who were you? What were you made of? What were all the passions and intricacies and idiosyncrasies that formed in you over the years and made you the person you were? Where did you find your identity then?

I am positive I know you all have answers to this. And I am equally as sure that as you have navigated through your marriage, you’ve lost some of yourself. We all have.

I am encouraged as I type this. Because at any point in your identity loss, you and I have the option and the inner strength to decide that we won’t find our identity in anyone else anymore. I know for me, being a Christian, I HAVE to find my identity in God. If I listen to what anyone else says I should be, what others say I should do, what the world tells me I should be identified by, even what my girlfriends think I should be…then I am screwed. I’ll never measure up to what others expect of me, and that is perfectly alright by me. I have learned something about identity in my almost 10 years of marriage, and that is this: there are ways in which I desire for Ben to see me. There are things about me that I want him to notice and there are attributes of my personality, that identify me, that I want for him to love and accept and desire. But if he doesn’t, I am still enough. This is not me speaking ill of Ben. There are parts of our souls that are still untouched by the other. Even after 12 years of being together, there are tender and life-giving areas of my heart that he still may not “get” yet. He may not fully appreciate them yet. He may see them but not recognize their importance yet.

And yet, I am still enough.

What does God say about me? He says that I am lovely. That I was made perfect, fearfully and wonderfully made at that. That if I surround myself with His presence and guard my heart and my life with His truth, that I will live abundantly. That my heart can overflow with peace about my identity and my body image and my insecurities if I live a life of prayer and release all my burdens to Him (because He has already bore those burdens, He has told us He has conquered those fears, and for us to doubt this is lunacy. That is truth)

I hope this encouraged some of you today, and I’m excited to write more and marriage in the coming weeks. I find that if I plan my blogs, that I lose passion about what I previously decided to write about. I have to write what is in my now. What is my today. What I’m living with at the moment. And in this season, my marriage is of the utmost importance. 10 years of marriage comes up in like 2 weeks, it’s truly humbling to think about. I am so thankful for these last ten years and so hopeful for the ones to come.

xoxo,
Bek

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So we have a bi-polar tree in our backyard.

I wish I could do a year long time-lapse of this crazy tree. It goes through all of these stages, all in the wrong order and wrong season, completely backwards. This tree struggles with ridiculous identity issues.

Every year in the spring, late spring even…it sheds all it’s leaves. The last 2 years we’ve left for a weekend or a wedding, and we’ve come home to a bare tree. All of the leaves turn brown and red and yellow and they fall and my green grass is covered in the colors of fall. This morning I noticed it happening and I’m wondering if by this time next week, all of the lovely shade in my backyard will perish.

Happy 1st day of May. This month for me is like anxiety city. My normal worry-ridden personality is just dying to take over any calm thoughts I may have about keeping it all together the next 30 days. I am trying so very hard not to freak.

I’m traveling alone to Washington, DC for 3 days this weekend.

Next week my brother visits for 2 days before leaving to spend a summer interning in Vermont.

My other brother comes next week to live with us for the summer. (SO excited about this.)

Then there’s Mother’s Day.

The next weekend I shoot a two day wedding celebration out of town.

The Thursday after that I leave for the Bahamas for 5 days for another wedding and time spent with Ben for our upcoming 10 Year wedding anniversary.

The next weekend after that I’m gone to Central Florida for 3 days shooting another wedding.

The weekend after that I have a huge event planned, that I have a million things to do for.

There’s Josiah’s last day of school, playdates, about 8 wedding deadlines to tackle, a few engagement shoots to shoot, lots of training to do for a CrossFit competition next month, and somehow some way time in all of this for standing every day things like shuttling Josiah back and forth to school and going to the gym and going to counseling and having time for friends and date nights and and and and…

BREATHE.

Jesus Calling, today.

“You are on the path of My choosing. There is no randomness about your life. Here and Now comprise the coordinates of your daily life. Most people let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived. They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place. They forget that they are creatures who are subject to the limitations of time and space. They forget their Creator, who walks with them only in the present.

Every moment is alive with My glorious Presence, to those whose hearts are intimately connected with Mine. As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communication with Me, you will find that you simply have no time for worry. Thus, you are freed to let My Spirit direct your steps, enabling you to walk along the path of peace.”

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Luke 12:25

Some days I feel like this tree in my back yard. Going through seasons late or early or just at the wrong time altogether. Waiting too long to shed it all and give it to God so I can start growing again. Today I am praying for me, and for you, that the start of another month is something we’re all incredibly thankful for….for it means we get the opportunity to truly be present in life’s short sweet moments. Happy May 1st!

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I went to a baby shower on Sunday, and ran into a lovely girl I haven’t seen or spoken to in ages. Since we’d talked, she had gotten married and now had an 11 month old. As she was showing me pictures on her iPhone, my little ones both ran up to me simultaneously and starting talking a million miles a second…at the same time. (yea, my kiddos were at this shower at the beginning and the end..Ben was shooting it and I was a guest, and my friends husband took all the kiddos to the park for most of our time there. I’ll talk a little bit more about why I love this and why its been important to our parenting a little bit later in this post.)

They hadn’t seen me in a few hours and oddly enough, they do miss me when I’m not around. (glory be!) They had lots to tell me and a few little presents they’d received to show off to me, and as they both chatted away I tried to quiet one and listen to the other…pay close attention to Darby then give Josiah the opportunity to talk, then back and forth again and again. They both asked me for cupcakes and sugar and I quietly and calmly explained why we were not eating cupcakes and sugar. Then back to talking incessantly at the same time…this went on for a few minutes.

The lovely girl I had been talking to watched me and at the end of the exchange said to me, “Wow. I love the way you parent.” I thought…me? this? what?

Ya’ll. Parenting is hard.

There is no other way to say it, it’s just hard.

First off, this little 3 foot tall person talks back at you. Gives you lip. Attitude. And your first reaction is, what the wha? Hey little mini human I am MUCH taller than you…who the heck do you think you are. Try that again. TRY IT. One more time. Watch what happens. I dare you.

Tell me this is not your reaction when your kid acts up and I’ll send you chocolates via snail mail. You deserve medals of gold and honor. And all the chocolates.

I have a few ideas about why people tell me my kids are good. About why my babysitters keep coming back and really truly love being with my kids. About why our kids can come with us wherever we go and be well-behaved  for the most part. About why they can accompany us to “adult” places and “adult” activities and still have a good time hanging with all the ‘dults as Josiah calls them.

And hey parents. We all mess up. I mess up parenting every day. I raise my voice with my kids. I get exasperated with my kids. I get so frustrated with my kids that I lock myself in my bedroom, hello. We all mess this up. All I want to do today is talk about parenting and my heart. It weighs heavy on me a lot, seeing kids treated badly and parents looking the other way when misbehavior happens instead of  forming who their kids turn out to be. So I’m sharing my heart here, and sharing what works for us and some of the smartest things we did as parents (largely because some other older wiser parents clued us in. so thanks older wiser’s out there.)

 

When we get attitude, disobedience, name-calling, disrespect

-We give immediate disciplinary face-time; Conversation about what just happened and why we will not tolerate it. We are also really big on eye contact. If we’re talking to them, they need to be looking into our eyes. Honestly, they hear and absorb what we’re saying so much better if they’re looking into our eyes. (that and I’m convinced my ‘do that again and you’re a dead mini-human’ look is pretty spot on. practice makes perfect). Guys, children have short term memory. The reason addressing the misbehavior or what have you IMMEDIATELY is because if you wait and try to punish them later, chances are they’ve forgotten their little episode and it honestly confuses them. Why am I being disciplined? What is this punishment for? The other reason immediate discipline is key is because I want the the next time they misbehave to be an “oh crap” moment for them…and this has happened…they’ll do something they shouldn’t, and immediately have a guilty look on their face and will come out with an “I’m sorry” before I have time to address is. I want them to know from the get go that that, was not ok and will not be tolerated.

-Ya know those keep calm posters you see everywhere? Totally agree, they’re annoying. Experiment though. Speak calmly to your kids…voice under control. Then raise your voice and act erratic. Watch what happens…its kind of amazing. When we’re loud we aren’t exhibiting control. Our kids do not respond to this. They stop listening…because they cannot take you seriously when you act like a crazy person. (do you take some seriously when they’re acting like a crazy person?) Sit down. Take their hands. Make eye contact. Speak calmly. Their entire demeanor will change and they’ll hear what your saying. Also, when I speak calmly to them, they react in a soft calm voice to me. Our children are looking to us to show them how to act. They’ll mimic what you do. (its awesome and also terrifying, this truth.)

-Speaking of speech, a big thing we required from the beginning is that they respond to us and all other adults with yes ma’am and no ma’am, yes sir and no sir. We make sure they say Thank you when its needed. Its especially important to us that they respond this way in the disciplinary moments. “Yea” or “ok fine”, or even just “ok” are not acceptable answers in our house.

-Quality time plays a huge roll in our parenting. We both work from home, so we’re able to give this in large amounts. I know so many of you work full time, your spouse works full time, you’re single moms or dads, you’ve got school and sports and activities and church, the list goes on. I truly feel that if you’re wanting some behaviors to change in your house, you cut some things out and replace those things with one on one time with your kids. They feel important and heard, and you can spend that time instilling good behaviors in them.

-The last thing I will say here, is that consistency works for us. Its incredibly easy to disregard and turn a blind eye to bad behavior when you’re at Publix or Target or out to dinner or at your friends house. Leave me alone kid, I’m trying to do this..i’m trying to relax..I’m trying to hang out..I’m trying to have a conversation here, duh…No. I have to stop what I’m doing every time and address the issue, right then and there wherever we are. I’ve taken my kids clear out of restaurants and down the street, in the middle of a meal, if we need to talk and correct an attitude. We’ve left grocery carts full and gone to the bathroom if a spanking was in order. We’ve left friends houses if attitudes were poor and the kids needed to go straight home and to bed. Stay at it, stay consistent. It works for us.

 

Two other areas I want to talk about are media and bed time. (#realtalk, #sorrybutidontholdback)

MEDIA – guys and gals. What they see on TV and in Movies directly affects their behavior. We are pretty strict on what they watch and how much time they spend watching a day. No Spongebob. (he shows SUCH DISRESPECT for authority) No Scooby Doo. (ghosts and scary monsters equal bad dreams and my kids believing in things that are not real) I find that PBS kids is probably the safest channel on television, so if we’re on TV thats what they are allowed to see. If we’re tuned to movies, we stick to disney classics, selected pixar, and veggie tales. If I hear them say a word or a phrase that I’ve never heard them say before, I can make an estimated guess that they heard it on TV or a movie, and I can re-evaluate what they’ve watched recently and eliminate. I realize its near impossible to find something that doesn’t say butt, or shut-up, or stupid. My kids hear those things, and knowing they’re not ok will say “Hey we’re not allowed to say that are we?” They know, and they remember what they hear, so we are pretty careful in this area.

BEDTIME – Ahhh, bed time. I know people who’s children don’t really have one. I’ve met people who tell me their kids go to bed “whenever they decide they’re tired”. I’ve come across parents who put their kids to bed at 11pm.

I do not understand this. 

From the time my kids were 3-4 months old, they were on a schedule. And not because I’m a crazy person, but because I have a life. Yes, a life….I had one before kids and I continue to have one with them. (keep reading for more on my feelings about this). From early on until last year, bed time was 7pm. That required that I had dinner ready around 5:30p, and they were bathed by 6:30p. It made those hours during my day harried and stressful at times, but then 7pm came around and I knew I had my evening. My time. Our time. Date time. Work time. Free time. Conversation time. Clean time. Create time. Girl time. Read time. BE WITHOUT MY KIDS time.

When they got a bit older, I decided to be super lenient and make bedtime 30 minutes later. (what can I say I’m a drill sergeant). At 7:30p every night, (ya sometimes its 8p, but hey, life happens) its peace out kiddos I love you. Time for us.

When I hear the no bed time thing, I think…when in the world do you talk to your husband? When the heck do you do the laundry? Honestly, WHEN do you take care of yourself and your marriage?

When I hear the no bed time thing, its usually followed by something like “We havent been on a date in 5 months.” Or “I cant find the time to keep my house in order”. Or “shave? when would I have time to shave?”. Or “the last girls night I had was in college.”

Put your kids to bed. You are the parent. You rule their life. You make the rules. Your children do not control you. “I’m an ADULT” as Adam Samberg would say. (ok if you’re tired of reading this, watch this. Omgreatness. Hilariousness. Threw it on the Ground. You cant buy me, hot dog man.) Plus, your kids are tired. They’ve had a packed day. They need their sleep….they’re happier. You’re happier.

 

There are a few things Ben and I did from the beginning that we have stuck with that have truly helped us parent better and have made our kids pretty well rounded, even as toddlers.

When we were pregnant, we made a decision that we were not going to change how we lived to accommodate our children. We had lives we loved, things we loved to do…passions. Places we went on the regular, adult places. Travel schedules and a job that took us away a lot.

We decided that our children were going to conform to the life we already lived. Yes, things would change a bit…we would have to be more disciplined, and more open to trial and error experimentation and the possibility for an end result we didn’t love or expect. We had a baby to care for and with that come change and sacrifice. But we decided to take all of that responsibility and make it mesh with what we already did and how we already lived.

That meant from the time Josiah was 3 days old, he went everywhere with us. I had him at church when he was 5 days old and I was giving him away to everyone I knew. Yes, please hold him. Yes, take him so I can have a minute. I wanted him to get used to people, being around adults, and being able to be watched so that Ben and I could leave and there would be no separation anxiety.

From day 1, Josiah became acclimated to OUR life. We took the same approach with Darby. And even though I sometimes lost my mind taking a newborn and a 15 month old with me to Target, they learned that this is the life we live and we’re going to be a part of it just like Mommy and Daddy.

Touching on the adult thing for a moment, I am so glad we started out lugging them along with us wherever we went. My children are around adults so much, and have been from the beginning, that they can have legit conversations with them. They can behave and hold themselves together and entertain themselves while we’re at a baby shower with no other children. When we have friends with no kids over to eat or hang out, they’re normal and fun and do their own thing. They’re not hanging out at my heels, shying away from anyone that says hello, refusing to speak to anyone else and clutching my legs for dear life. They can hang. They can have a good time. This is what I always wanted and I’m so glad Ben and I stuck it out and made this a precedent from the beginning.

To end, lets get real about a topic I feel is a sensitive one for lots of mamas out there. We struggle with this. We want to be the only influence on our babies lives and we want to know everything they’re doing at all times and we want to make absolutely sure that they’re safe and sound at every second.

Leave.

Leave your kids. Get away from your children. Leave them with babysitters. Take trips for days at a time. Leave them for a week. Take them to the grandparents. Go on weekly dates. Take girls nights on the regular.

I think a lot of times we blame our inability to leave our children on them. Oh, they’ll miss us too much or I don’t think its good for them for me to be away for a few days. In reality, its us that are scared to leave.

I know how hard it is. I have to leave my kids all the time, its my job. But leaving them is so good for me, and so good for them!

1) it gives them the opportunity to learn about someone else, to be corrected by someone who is not their parent, to build relationship with someone who they don’t have to live with every day, to do fun things unique to that nanny/babysitter (example: Chloe makes them breadsticks and marinara out of pita bread every time she is here. They look forward to it every time and Ben and I wont do it even when we’re asked, because its a special thing they get to do with Chloe. I LOVE stuff like this)

2) It gives you time to breathe deeply, without spending all of your breath on yes and no and uh-uh and don’t do that. It allows you to have uninterrupted intentional time with your spouse. It teaches you that you don’t have control of your life and that letting go and letting God is a REAL thing and a hard thing but a necessary thing.

 

I am so thankful for this medium. I am so thankful I can write. I am so thankful that you’re here to read it, and again want to stress that everything you read above is just what has worked for us in this insane parenting journey. I would love to hear your thoughts and things that have worked or not worked for you.

I read something in Jesus Calling today that encouraged me and that I will hold onto when I feel like I’m not cut out for this, like I’m not enough…like this parenting this is too hard and I want to quit.

“Awareness of your inadequacy is a rich blessing, training you to rely wholeheartedly on Me.”

xoxo,

bek

 

 

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Why I CrossFit

When I thought about this post, I knew what I was going to write and it was basically just going to be about how cool CrossFit was. How much I loved it, how much fun it was, etc.

As I looked through the pictures my mom and Ben took of me competing in this years Battle of the Boxes (a Hard Exercise Works competition between all the “boxes” from Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina), I became unexpectedly emotional…really emotional. I cannot believe I thought I could get by this post without going into the body battle. The battle every woman goes through, but especially the one I went through…and not because its unique in itself, but its unique to me…its my story. Its my battle. Its my struggle.

Rewind. High School. I was skinny skinny, in shape…so in shape. I loved sports. I played Basketball all throughout high school, traveled to play, competed in State multiple years in a row. I ate whatever I wanted. I never thought about food. (except for that one fall in 1999 after my sister Sarah left for college and I was so depressed that I ate one yogurt a day for a few weeks…and I felt like I was going to die so I stopped that.) (oh by the way Sarah, I may have never told you the above haha. if ya didnt know, now ya know!)

College. First 2 years I gained like a freshman 20 for sure…maybe 25. I wasn’t overweight, just out of shape and out of sorts. I went through ALL KINDS of battles in college with body issues and identity issues and relationship issues..all kinds. I met Ben the summer after my freshman year and fell in love instantly. I mean instantly. He literally stole my heart from my chest and claimed it for life. For a while in our dating relationship, I didnt worry about my body…he loved me. I was ok.

Engaged. I was so stressed out you guys…I was working full time at Publix, going to school full time, nannying for two families, and planning a destination wedding full time, all the while dating my fiance long distance. I lost like 20 pounds easy, I could pull my jeans on and off of me without unbuttoning them…couldnt figure out why. MY doctor asks me whats going on in my life, I tell him, he tells me not so gently that there was my answer.

 

Me on my wedding day, a skinny minny.

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Marriage. Year 1, I struggled with deep depression after moving away from Florida and everything I’d ever known. My weight was normal but I felt awful about myself because I wasnt working out, and I love working out. Year 2, transition and moving all over..job changes, HUGE life direction change, back to college for both of us. But, this meant back to a gym for me, and that paired with intramural sports kept me in shape and feeling fine.

Me with my sissie Allison, somewhere in year 1 and 2 and still a small little thing.

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Year 3 and 4, fell into amazing community and moved to West Palm Beach and my life and my body image struggles started to even out. I was happy with myself for the first time in a long while, and Ben and I even trained for a half marathon.

Injury. I got a stress fracture from running and couldnt even go through with the half marathon. I didnt have a gym and I had to stop running.

Year 4-5. I became pregnant with Josiah and ladies…I blew up. I mean, I became a house. (granted, a small maybe studio apartment but a HOUSE nonetheless.) I am a small person but I didnt really know how to handle my body and my eating habits BEFORE I got pregnant, so once I was pregnant I just went with whatever I wanted.

I gained 60 lbs with Josiah. You read right. I was praying breastfeeding and going back to eating normally would help me shed the 60 pounds. Well, this is when Ben became incredibly ill….was in the hospital for 2 months, again for another week, and then a third time for 3-4 days. He almost died. I had to stop breastfeeding. I was still shooting weddings, raising an infant and running our business and our finances alone. My husband was completely out of commission from the time Josiah was 4 weeks old until around January 2010. By this time Josiah was 6 months old.

Oh, and when Josiah was 5 1/2 months old, we found out quite unexpectedly that I was pregnant with Darby. With all the stress of Ben’s illness and quite literally being a single mother for a long while, (oh and we were kicked out of our place and had to move, again…quite unexpectedly…all while Ben was in the hospital..) I had only lost about 30 pounds of the 60 I had gained. And, I was expecting again. MY first thought with my second pregnancy was…I JUST gained 60 pounds. I havent lost that 60 pounds. I JUST had a baby. I JUST did this. Jesus, I JUST DID THIS. My self-hate continued throughout my pregnancy and I gained 58 more lbs with Darby.

 

These were taken soon after Darby was born, and then when she was almost a year old.

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After she was born, my marriage went through a really hard time. At around her 8 month mark, it took a hard hard hit. I went through a year of negativity and depression, worked out when I could and my eating habits were unhealthy, meaning lots of times, I just didnt eat a lot. I lost a lot of the weight, but after not really exercising for 7 years I was in bad bad shape. I had lost all muscle and gravity and children had ruined me, so I thought.

January 2012, Ben started CrossFit at the Hard Exercise Works Gym in Palm Beach Gardens. I was curious about it but at that time, we couldnt afford for both of us to go and I had the kids so, without having someone to watch them, I was stuck.

June 2012, we figured out a way to afford for both of us to go. I went in the mornings when childcare was provided. I became obsessed with CrossFit from day one.

Now, a little about me. Like I said, I play sports. I’m a tomboy. I am incredibly competitive. I love being on teams…camaraderie…people pulling together for a common goal…people pushing one another to their limits…I love it all. I was a point guard on the basketball court, and quarterback for my intramural football team. I was never afraid of contact sports. I love the fight, the ability I saw in myself to PUSH and push some more.

Gyms? They were lame. So lame…I hated this kind of competition. The kind where you’re always trying to run faster than or longer than the super skinny girl on the treadmill next to you. Plus, gyms werent fun. I could never find a good enough excuse to go….I was bored there. No one was yelling at me telling me to suck it up and finish. I would quit…leave.

My HEW gym? CrossFit? It saved me. It works for me. I need someone on me, at all times…to do it. To finish. To not give up. And lets be honest, the first 6 months at HEW all I was doing was trying every day to NOT quit. I need to be exercising with an end goal, which is why weightlifting makes sense to me. I need something different every day, and I get that. I need something that is hard and challenging and that pushes me to the very limits of my physical and mental capabilities…and I get that with CrossFit.

Now, I asked a question of you ladies today and some of you responded saying you love to be alone while working out. You love quiet. Yoga. Solo activities. You dont love physical competition. So, this probably wont be for you..and thats ok:) Some of you are scared to bulk up, and if you’re like me you put on muscle fairly easily and quickly. I get that worry, but it really does depend on your body type. I have kept my womanly shape even with my muscles…it can be done :) You cant dismiss CrossFit because you watched the CrossFit games on ESPN and saw all the beast mode ladies killin’ it on screen…that is not the norm! I hear a lot about not having the motivation, the get up and go to actually do it. If your personality is not conducive to something this hard core, then find something else you love. But if you think you’d love it, and just cant get up the motivation to go, my advice is to sign up now. Go to a Saturday class, they’re usually free and you can get the lay of the land. One lovely lady I know said she didnt think she had the mental strength, that she’d told herself lies about that part her for years…and she believed the lies. She saw people doing what I do and thought, I can’d do that, no way. This particular girl? She’s been doing CrossFit for a while now and I know she loves it, AND she’s good at it. All she did was make a decision to try.

But women ask me ALL the time why I CrossFit, and I tell them because it works for me. Because of all of the above. But thats the short answer.

The real nitty gritty…the REAL reason why I continue to CrossFit and continue to love it?

1) It is something that I put my mind to and started, and didnt quit. This is big for me because I am an eternal self-defeatist. I repeat…this is big for me. Huge. I can probably count on 2 fingers the things that I’ve started and NOT given up on in this life.

2) It saved my mind when it came to my body.   Let me explain number two. Yes, I eat well. I eat healthy for the most part, and we eat about 90% paleo. I do this not to keep a figure, but because it makes me feel good. In and out. I kept going back to HEW day after day not because I was seeing all these “results” and “inches melting away”, but because it made me feel good. In and out. Then suddenly one day, literally this is how it happened….I just happened to be looking into the mirror before my shower. And I said…what in the world. What am I looking at. WHO am I looking at. All this time I was just trying not to quit CrossFit, trying to eat things that made me feel good, and during that time my body had completely transformed. I was in shape. Heck, I was more than in shape. I was buff. And that was it for me. I stopped focusing on how I looked and now, I gauge where I am by how I’m FEELING. And I feel strong. I feel capable. I feel, quite honestly, like a baller. And I’m not saying that to boost myself up at all…I’m saying that because its taken me 30 years to feel like I could do something stupid hard and actually ACCOMPLISH it. Without stopping or quitting, without giving up halfway through, without obsessing about it….I am strong and fit and healthy. And I FEEL good. That is now what is important to me.

3) the only competition that is important at my gym is the battle I wage with myself. It doesnt matter what shes lifting, and she doesnt care what you’re lifting. Shes cheering you on and you’re yelling at her to keep going..to finish..dont quit girl. You’re not caring about one upping anyone. The family you form when you do really hard things together, is one that encourages growth and strengthens character…one where you spur each other on to greatness.

Fast forward to now. This January, I competed RX in a CrossFit competition here in West Palm Beach. After going through 3 really hard qualifying workouts and placing 3rd in my gym, I qualified to go to Battle. Out of 18 girls competing in RX, I made it to the final 8 and technically came in 5th place. The woman who blew me out of the water? A 40 year old mom from North Carolina, who was AMAZING and the nicest person ever. Ladies. Anyone can do this.

Do not count yourself out. If you’ve even entertained the thought in your head..even once…try it.

These images below are super personal to me. They are symbols of my struggle with my self image, the years of self-hatred, THATS what’s melting away….defeatism. Not inches, but more importantly…my disdain for myself. I am so thankful Ben was there to yell at me and keep me going, and take a few pics here and there. I am SO thankful my parents came to watch me…I mean, I cannot explain what that meant to me. It brings me to tears. And my mama, my mama. (*sigh* *wahhhh*) I see the pictures she took of me and I know, I KNOW on the other side of that lens, what she must have been feeling…love, pride, anguish watching her daughter do really hard things… I can imagine, because I have my own daughter now. I am so thankful for these pictures. They represent struggle and victory….as you’ll see, this was one of the hardest days of my life. But I never quit. And that, is how I won my battle.

 

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How community is cultivated and how it grows has always been something that interests me.

For years, Ben and I have toyed with the notion of opening up a venue or a community work space, and the main reason really is because we know it will cultivate community; bring people together in a comfortable space where relationships can be forged. I’ve always wanted to have a place that makes you forget time for a while, and the only place until recently that I’d found that does that is Vegas (Vegas I love and hate ya.)

But now, there’s a place. A space. A spot. A home. From the moment we walked into Subculture Coffee for the first time, this overwhelming and overpowering sense of home enveloped me. Once Habatat Coffee and always owned by our rad friend Sean, now Subculture Coffee on Clematis and the best place to go in West Palm Beach. Coffee, on point. Craft beers and CAB SAV, yes Lord. COCONUT CAKE….if you don’t know, now you know. Healthy and yummy foods from Field of Greens.

All that is rad and it should be the draw, yes? But I’d argue, nay I’d insist that the draw for most people is the desire to cultivate community.

If you can build relationship while having literally the best coffee in town, all the better. And though I am a huge coffee snob and you’ll never catch me anywhere at any time drinking bad coffee, OF ANY KIND, I love coming back because this place gives the promise that relationship is out there. Sounds lame, maybe. But I know for me, I’ve met with people I haven’t connected with in ages, all because there was a place to. I’ve met people for the first time and had real conversations with them (ahh! What! Terrifying!) all because there was a place to.

Seeing community unfold before your very eyes is truly one of the coolest things to witness. You need to come by Subculture. I’ll probably be there so if I am, let’s talk soon.

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xoxo,
Bek

Uncategorized

Women.

I am really close to starting legit research on the subject of women and why we alienate ourselves and avoid real relationship with one another.

I am about to get real, girls.

We are ALL guilty of this. I used to be the worst offender. [some days I still am] I’ve technically already started my research, I mean I’ve been living with myself for 30 years now. Ladies, it’s silly to pretend. We base everywhere we go on whether or not this person or that person may or may not be there, we avoid each other when we run into one another in public, we whisper gossip about one another in the parks and at the gym, we laugh and poke jabs at one another when we are around our “circle of trust” friends. If you are different than me, chances are you’ll get talked about. If you parent differently than her, chances are you’ll get talked about. If you’re not a pro conversationalist, I’ll avoid meeting up with you. If there is even the slightest possibility of an awkward silence when we get together for coffee, I’ll keep saying no to that coffee meeting. If you’re “that mom”, there’s no chance in heck we will be close friends. If there is lots of work involved in getting to know you, I’ll throw in the towel from the start and move on the someone who’s easier to love.

We all know how short life is. We all know how difficult it is to live in the moment and we all know relationships are literally how we survive this life. We recognize without other Godly women in our every day that we potentially alienate ourselves, stunt our growth and maturity and risk spending most of this life alone and without meaningful relationships. We are the first to talk about how “she is so hard to get to know”, ignoring the fact that “we” are “she” and someone is saying the same thing about “us”. We blame our inability to like each other on “her” insecurities when the real reason we don’t like her is because WE are insecure.

I get tired of seeing it, literally unfold in front of me every day. But I get more tired of seeing this ugliness in myself.

I asked a friend, a husband and father, his take on this. Why do women avoid real relationships with one another?
His answer definitely held up to what I believe to be true about most women and relationships, but he mentioned a few things that even I hadn’t thought about. He spoke of women wanting to find their passions and purpose and feeling like they don’t know quite yet what that is. Of women knowing full well their insecurities, and being terrified of them being pointed out by other women. The end result here is the same in both instances: we just don’t let ourselves into other women’s lives. If they don’t know me, they don’t know that I feel like I haven’t found my calling yet. If they don’t know me they can’t hit all my buttons and point to all my insecurities, intentionally or unintentionally.

I challenge you, and I’m challenging myself here. Ladies we are letting fear practically determine our closeness to other people in this life. And yes, we only get one. Fear decides our friends. Fear gets to rule our conversations and fear determines our intimacy levels. Do you want to let fear have the say? Do I want to let fear tell me how fulfilling my relationships can be?

I am making slow strides here, I promise ladies. I am purposefully putting myself into situations where I am confronted head on with conversation, without any time to mentally prepare myself beforehand. Meetings and conversations that are just allowed to happen, without much of a set agenda, and words that flow freely instead of ones that feel forced…isn’t this what makes life so sweet? What makes relationships so life-giving? The unknown? Not knowing what someone will say next or the direction our conversations will take us? If we all knew each other inside and out, top to bottom, knew all of each other’s life stories or secrets or struggles or victories, relationships would cease to be inspiring or challenging.

And can we touch on small talk for a hot second? Let’s stop it. Chit chat about nothing, about weather or where you’ve been recently, etc…let’s skip it. When I ask someone “how is life?” I fully welcome hearing that it’s been hard at times or that it’s completely sucked lately. I want to know. The muck and the mire. The ugly and likewise, the beauty of ALL of it even in the valleys. Let’s skip the formalities and just get to it. Knowing each other’s lives aren’t perfect allows us to be ok…it makes us feel like home. It AUTOMATICALLY brings us closer.

So, how is life?

The challenge if you’re up to it? Reach out to that girl this week. You know the girl and you know what to do. You could call, or if you’re like me and despise the telephone you can text. Have a legit conversation. Commit to at least meeting and hanging out. Start a dialogue. Get real with each other. Get weird if you have to. Just get over yourself (I’m speaking to myself just as adamantly as I am to you, ladies).

As I navigate my personal journey into getting over myself, letting God have control of my relationships and not fear, I am thankful for these two ladies below. For being real, for being yourselves, for spurring me on to greatness and encouraging me, for loving me when I’m not lovable, for calling me out when I’m out of line, for challenging me and inspiring me to be better…I love ya.

And ps. A few posts back I gave my email as imaradmom@gmail.com…that is wrong and I’ll be updating today. I’ll share it all with you tomorrow!

xoxo,
Bek

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I am sure some of you have heard me say this, but I am not creative in anything other than what I do for a living. I mean, seriously…I cannot craft. I am not great making my home look like you stepped into an Anthropologie, although this is always the goal. I love Pinterest because it doesn’t require me to come up with my own “stuff”…sometimes I can just go off of the ideas of others when it comes to home design, things for my kids, recipes, etc.

Last week though, I surprised even myself. I was looking for a new storage idea for all my pretties, all my necklaces I wear on the regular and my fancy ones that I wear on date nights or out dancing. I wanted to also make it a focal point, a piece of art for my bedroom wall.

I roamed Target and saw all the usual suspects for jewelry storage…tiny ceramic bowls and gold painted tree necklace holders with birdies on the end of the branches…so cute yea? so not me, ick.

I needed some pushpins also, so I went into the Post it note aisle (is this dangerous for anyone else? I have to limit my time here…post it notes feed my insane list habit oh so nicely.) And there I found this, and I used those pushpins to hang all my pretties in the cork. I hung it on my wall and called it a day.

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I am going to try to be lots more creative than this with the rad mom blog, I promise. But this is all I’ve got for now.

Happy Easter!

 

xoxo,

bek

 

Uncategorized

A Good Friday.

The cross and what He did took on a whole new meaning when I became a parent.

We all know we are capable of absolutely anything…and without Jesus and a lot of people who love me who knows where I would be. But you honestly don’t understand just how capable of malice you are until you become a parent, and someone hurts your child. Or threatens to. Even a sideways look at my kid, seriously. My stomach turns upside down when I see someone treating a child badly. My heart drops and I get weak in my knees and I pray for that child, right then and there.

Lord, how did you do it? How did you allow Him to be beaten and whipped and flogged and then, killed? Father, I know why you allowed it. And I can’t understand what makes you and I so worth it, we are so human and so flawed. I am thankful, so thankful. But how did you just sit by and witness it all, God?

“In a moment of glorious surrender, You were broken for all the world to see. Lifted out of the ashes, I am found in the aftermath.” (Hillsong, Aftermath)

You allowed it, knowing the pain and the torment….He endured it, knowing the end result and knowing He would save us. Save me.

What makes a person endure awful things, for love of another? Father, teach me to feel sacrifice. I want to feel it in my bones, I want the ache it should bring me. I want to know the feeling of sacrifice, because I want to know YOU more. We will be closer. I’ll feel your presence, hear your voice…in sacrifice. Thank you for giving Him up, even if only for a time. Thank you for allowing the cross to happen, I am positive that was the hardest thing to watch. But You did, and I am alive because of it.

“So let me go like a leaf upon the water…Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea…And I will disappear into a deeper beauty…
But for now just stay with me.
God, for now just stay with me.”
(Audrey Assad)

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I have a lot of dreams for this blog. When I write I tend to think long term and I hope this blog serves a much greater purpose in the future. I desire to be heard, sure, but more than that I’d love to be influential, and encouraging. I’d love to see some future family goals flow through this blog and I dream of it becoming a shop one day. I’d love to be able to help support my family with this blog. I am excited for what it could potentially become. I want so badly for this to be more than just something I write and something you read. I want it to start something. I want movements to be formed. I want moms to buck the system and the expectations put on them to be like everyone else, and I want them to stay rad and stay true to themselves…to value what God says about them and place no importance on what the world says they should be.

I say the above to say, I am so thankful to have all of you here with me. I want this space to be like an ongoing conversation with a friend. I welcome your feedback and your comments, I desire for you to share your hearts and your thoughts. If you feel like your words are going to explode out of your head and heart if you don’t simply get them out, I welcome an email. (I can’t promise I can answer every email but I’d love to read and pray for you!) I want conversations to start online here and infiltrate into your conversations within your physical relationships. I want unity and community. (So sorry for the super lame rhyme)

In order for you to stay close, lean in, and start conversations with me and with others, you must be present with me. I am on Instagram, Facebook (but very limited there! I found it to be a huge time sucker for me personally), twitter, here obviously, and you can also email me.

imaradmom@gmail.com
Twitter: @kallimap
www.facebook.com/rebekahmhood
Instagram: kallimap

I am also on Pinterest, and this goes without saying, but as an artist I’m obsessed with Pinterest and all things pretty. I have shared some of my favorite boards below, and I’ll be writing lots more about Pinterest in the future.

Me favorite board that I’m very picky about adding to, is my photography board. I have fallen in love with portraits over and over again looking through this board.

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Another board I love adding to is my wish list. Here I pin all things that I dream of having, knowing and accepting fully that I’ll never own most of what you see here:)

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Last one for now, my fashion board. It’s probably no secret that I love fashion and styling.

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So glad you’re all here with me.

*and yea, I wrote this from my phone ladies, hence the screen shots of my boards above! I love the WordPress app and am happy and thankful to be able to write whenever and wherever I am!

xoxo,
bek

I used to make Shake and Bake pancakes.

Just the act of writing of it, the thought of it, I despise myself. Shake and Bake. Break and Bake. Eat and Die. Ok, a bit dramatic but when I dwell on the things I used to eat and worse, FEED MY FAMILY, I cringe.

My sister Sarah and I were sitting around her breakfast table, drinking tea and coffee and talking life and food, and she says to me…SHE SAYS… “Bek, just start reading the ingredient list. It’ll change everything.”. Pfft. Who has time for this. So naturally the very next time I was at Publix I read the ingredient list of everything I would normally pick up because LESBEREAL I’ve got all the time in the world.

I either left with nothing or I left with a grocery bill the cost of a small country….I can’t even remember.

This did in fact, change everything for me. We started eating strict Paleo. This has evolved to mostly grain free (except for the life size bags of rice chips we devour from Costco) and dairy free (save for when I want a “real” coffee from Subculture with “real” cream. Oh. and the occasional piece of Coconut Cake Subculture also forces me to consume…every time I am there. Really, I have no choice in the matter.) Our dinners are mostly Paleo and all my baking is Paleo. We still eat lots of Hummus and lots of Peanut Butter, but those are staples in this house and relatively healthy. Most everything we buy is organic and natural. I’ve recently come across the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15, so I buy my organic produce according to what this says and buy the rest at Publix. My shopping list takes me to Publix, Whole Foods, and Costco. Its a lot of driving and yes, we spend more money on good healthy foods, but this is just a non negotiable in our lives now that we care to know what is in the foods that we eat.

So, our schedule every day includes a 4pm class at Hard Exercise Works. (A Crossfit gym) This takes me away from home during prime dinner cooking hours, so I do a lot of prep before the gym and I also have fallen deeply in love with my crockpot.

CROCKPOT. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN CHOCOLATE. You’re my everything, its true. Prep, throw it in, come home, finish it up, eat it. Boom. I can put a sick dinner on the table, bathe my children, read to them, EVEN BRUSH THEIR TEETH…and still get them to bed on time by 7:30p. (i’ll be posting on this soon, people. put your kids to bed so you have a life.)

My favorite crockpot recipe as of late is Honey Sesame Chicken. I substitute a few things to make it strict Paleo.

image and recipe from the comfort of cooking

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You’ll Need:

4 chicken breasts, organic boneless skinless

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves garlic chopped

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup ketchup (brand with no added sugar)

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (for families with kiddos, I use 1/8 teaspoon or less)

4 teaspoons almond flour (calls for cornstarch but I wanted the recipe Paleo)

1/3 cup water

1/2 tablespoon (or more) sesame seeds

3 scallions, chopped

Directions:

Place chicken in Crock Pot and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or high for 2 hours.

Remove chicken to a cutting board, leaving sauce. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside and cover to keep moisture in.

In a small bowl, dissolve 4 teaspoons of almond flour in 1/3 cup water; add to crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Cover and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Add cauliflower rice to 4 plates, top with chicken and spoon sauce over top. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

 

I make cauliflower rice as opposed to using traditional rice. I actually prefer the consistency and I think it tastes much better with the chicken (I’ve tried white rice, brown rice, and then cauliflower)

recipe from the paleo cupboard

Cauliflower Rice

(prep time 10 mins, cook time 10 minutes, 4 servings)

You’ll Need:

1 head of cauliflower
1/2 white onion, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
4 Tbsp. chicken broth
Dash sea salt
Dash ground pepper
Directions:
Cut Cauliflower into florets and place in food processor until its rice shaped. (dont over do it, or it’ll turn to mush)
Heat coconut oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic for about 3 minutes
Add cauliflower, stir well.
Add chicken broth, sea salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes until cauliflower is slightly tender.
Dunzo.

I wanna know how you ladies like this! I’ll be posting lots more recipes as I stumble across more that I love.

xoxo,

bek