Shine

Writing a chapter for the One Word book certainly gave me a new perspective on the importance of focusing on powerful words, but listening to my daughter’s vocabulary begin to form has given this first time mommy an even bigger appreciation of focusing on words that inspire. Amelia’s first words were the typical, “mommy, daddy, baby” basics, but the ones she has added lately are quite telling on what her focus is on. Her favorite DVD to watch is Sesame Street’s Singing with the Stars1. I started singing along to Destiny’s Child’s “I’ve Got a New Way to Walk” song to encourage her to start taking her first steps. It’s now her favorite song, and she starts saying “walk, walk” when she knows that song is about to start. She started saying the word “walk” as she mastered the act of walking. It was crystal clear where her focus was… walk, walk.

Recently she’s been saying a new word and it took me longer than I should admit to figure out what she was trying to say. It sounded kind of like “shy.” Amelia’s anything but shy, and it’s not even a word we have occasion to say very often, so I was a bit stumped. I finally heard her say, “walk, walk, shy” and I realized that she was trying to say, “walk, walk, shine.” Of course! That’s one of the lyrics to the Walk song that I sing to her all the time. “I’ve got a new way to walk, and it makes my spirit shine.” Now that I know what she is trying to say, I’m coaching her to pronounce it a little clearer, but the important thing is that shine is a word she is focusing on and I couldn’t be more proud.

When I found out I was pregnant with her I began to pray that she would be a light in this world. I spoke this over her every day of my pregnancy and continue to do so. One of my favorite shows my husband and I binged watched while I was pregnant was Firefly2. My favorite character from the show is Kaylee Frye, the ever optimistic mechanic who can often be heard saying, “Everything’s shiny, Cap’n!”  I would rub my belly when we watched the show and tell my husband that Amelia would be like Kaylee, sweet, smart, tough… a light. Speaking this over her has certainly paid off because she does shine, she is indeed a light. She’s such a happy little girl who has a way of lifting everyone’s spirits. She can also commonly be found in her room playing with her mechanic’s car3. The sound of her toy screwdriver humming away tells me that she is going to be our little Kaylee Frye in more ways than one.

The words you speak over yourself and your family are so important. Typically, if someone tells a new parent that they will have to start being careful about what they say in front of their baby, they mean to be careful not to say a swear word. While that is true, it’s not just about what not to say, it’s about choosing the right words to say, choosing the right words to add to your baby’s vocabulary and your own. I know I’ll be consciously using the word “shine” more often. I want to shine in my roles as wife and mother. I want to shine in my career and in my hobbies. I want to shine as a light to encourage others but most importantly, I want my daughter to shine in all that she does, and I know that she will. She makes my spirit shine!

Journal questions: What words are in your child’s vocabulary? Do the words your child speaks match what they should be focused on? Do the words you speak reflect what you want for your family?

 

1 Disclaimer: I hate to admit it, but I now only know the Sesame Street versions of songs.

2 Yes, I’m still bitter it was cancelled after one season.

3 My Dad loved to wrench on some old cars, so I know he’d be proud of this, too.

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Curves, a Baby, and a Weight Loss Journey

As of this weekend I have lost 20 pounds of “baby weight” with just a few pounds to go to reach my pre-pregnancy weight goal before Amelia’s first birthday.1 Then there’s the matter of losing the weight I needed to lose before I was pregnant, but that’s a goal for next year. So, why did I write a chapter for the 1 Word Book celebrating my curves while I was in the middle of my own personal weight loss journey? I’ll tell you…

I’m thankful for where the curves of my life have led me. All the twists and turns in my life’s story have led me to being a first time wife and mom after 40. The curves of my belly, the curves I seem spend the most time obsessing about, are at the core of my femininity. From weight loss to weight gain, these curves are constantly adapting. It was truly a miracle that my curves adapted to make room in my belly for a tiny fetus we could barely see in the first ultrasound to grow into an eight pound baby. Not only did my body have to adapt to make room for Amelia to grow, but it had to make room for her to grow while taking up the most room possible. Instead of curling up in the fetal position,2 she comfortably stretched out across my belly for the entire pregnancy. My body even produced extra amniotic fluid for me to carry around just so she would have plenty of lounging room.3

It is probably taking me more time to lose the baby weight than a lot of women but I know it isn’t fair to compare myself or my situation with “most women.” While we all have some things in common, our bodies, pregnancies, and experiences are all different. I keep reminding myself that I’m going through this in my forties not my twenties so it’s taking a little more time for my body to bounce back, but slowly and surely I’m getting there. The most important thing is that I’m enjoying life while I’m getting there.

Just like any road trip, this weight loss journey has had straightaways, curves, ups and downs, and detours along the way. I started out with the goal in sight. I didn’t want to stop because I was making good time. Then, I got distracted by a few road side attractions that always make a trip more fun – holidays, family dinners, celebrations, and late night drive-through trips. I got back on a straight path but ran into a curve here and there. There were times I felt like I was going uphill the whole way and making no progress.4 Now, I’m back on the straightway with the destination in sight and, though it will feel good to get there, I’ve made precious memories along the way.

I chose “Curves” as my word for the 1 Word Book because, during this journey, as I strive for good health, I still love and appreciate my body as it is.  I continue to be amazed at how my curves have adapted to the changes in my life. While I am focusing on better food choices and chasing a soon to be toddler around, the weight is coming off, my belly shape is changing, and stretch marks are slowly fading.  I’m still a curvy girl, but as I’m losing the baby weight, I’m getting more comfortable wearing slinkier dresses and tighter jeans. I’m more confident showing off my hips and booty.5 I bend over to pick things up off the floor just to see if my husband notices.6 We are both enjoying the curves!

Read more about how to enjoy the curves of life in the 1 Word Book available November 12, 2016. Pre-order your copy today at: http://1wordbook.com/meet-the-authors/aimee-camper/

 1 After her first birthday, I figure I can’t keep calling it “baby weight.”

2 The position most babies enjoy in the womb, hence the term “fetal position.”

3 Honestly, she will hear about this for the rest of my life. When I see her sleeping in the fetal position in her crib, I have to resist the urge to poke her.

4 You know those times when you are trying to do everything right and the scale doesn’t budge.

5 I just bought a new pair of “Great Butt Jeans.” You know the ones that make you smile when you look over your shoulder in the mirror?

6 He always notices.

Amelia’s First Hobby

I grew up in a car club going to car shows and cruise-ins with my parents. It was an activity we enjoyed as a family and provided great opportunities for quality family time, family vacations, and time spent with friends. Last weekend was the club’s annual show at Tannehill and my husband and I brought Amelia with us. She helped greet participants, learned to clap during the awards, and I’m pretty sure thought the whole day was all about her. But the most important thing was that we spent the day together as a family and included Amelia in a hobby we enjoy. My husband and I spend much time talking about what hobbies we think she may like. We will continue to take her to car shows and races. Her Grandpa will, undoubtedly, get her in a go-cart as soon as her feet can reach the pedals1.  Her Nanny will teach her to dance. Her Daddy will show her how to fly model airplanes and how to play video games. I’ll try to get her interested in music. I don’t know which, if any, of these things she will take a lifelong interest in, but one thing I am sure of is that she’s a free spirit like her Daddy and me so she will make her own mind up about the activities she wants to be involved in.

Our friends with older kids give us a glimpse into our future – school drop off lines, sports, gymnastics, recitals, practices, practices, practices. There seems to be an endless hustle of parents trying to get to work while chauffeuring kids to school and after school activities. The activities that were labeled “extracurricular” in my school days2, now seem more like daily demands rather than anything “extra.” I hear parents and grandparents talking about the stress of rushing from work to soccer games to band practice.

As soon as my husband and I found out we were expecting, we committed that we would support our baby in the hobbies she takes an interest in – even sports. So if she wants to play softball, we will be the biggest softball cheerleaders3 ever. We do share the hope that she will take an interest in the things we enjoy but we understand that once she starts school, she may take interest in things her friends like instead. She might prefer playing flute in the school band instead of playing drums in a garage band. She might prefer gymnastics instead of racing. Whichever hobbies she chooses, we will do our best to make it a hobby we can all enjoy as a family.

While we want to support her in the talents she develops we also want to make sure we balance our time devoted to her hobbies with quality family time we all enjoy. Parents, how do you find quality family time around your children’s hobbies? Does family time always revolve around the child’s hobby? Do you set limits on the number of after school activities your child is involved in?4 Does it count as family time when you are all in the car going from school to practice? Does it count as family time as the kids are on the field, one parent cheering from the stands, and the other parent working in the concession stand? Does family time occur on the ride home, around the dinner table, during bedtime rituals? How do you find balance?

My husband and I will learn as we go along. Juggling work and family is enough to worry about for now. Juggling between, work, family, and extracurriculars can wait. Right now, while she’s still little, we will continue to keep her involved in the activities we enjoy. She will go to lots of car shows and races. She will sit with us at the dinner table, go with us to run errands, TV time will be more and more devoted to Sesame Street and Beat Bugs,5 we will keep reading Harry Potter at bedtime, we will savor every moment she enjoys spending time with us, whatever it is we are doing. We will always keep it in our hearts that we introduced her to the car hobby first, no matter what other adventures she gets into.

 

 

 

1 Her Grandpa has already admitted to having dreams about us having to cut her hair short so it will fit under a helmet when she’s racing.

2 My parents had it easy; I wasn’t a joiner.

3 We aren’t sports people so I don’t know if softball has cheerleaders. We may be the firsts.

4 How do you say no?

5 Beat Bugs is a cartoon that uses Beatles songs to teach life lessons. Check it out if you are a Beatles fan, with or without kids.

Baby Germs, Comfort Zones, and Growth

As I recovered from the cold I caught from the baby’s first round of the sniffles1, boredom set in. I spent too much time on Facebook and found a personality quiz that told me I was an Introvert. I knew this already. Did you? I seem outgoing, I’m very active socially, and I’m happiest when I have about five projects going at the same time. The reality is that, though I really am an Introvert, I challenge myself to push out of my comfort zone every day and I truly enjoy that challenge. I could easily curl up at home in the nursery and read all day, but too much of that just isn’t good for my spirit.

I took a lengthy maternity leave when I had my daughter. I stopped working about three weeks before my due date because I was just too miserable to keep driving in to the office and sitting at my desk (or as close to my desk as my belly would let me) for forty hours a week. I then took the full eight weeks to recover from my planned C-Section2. While I enjoyed the time at home bonding with my baby and husband, it became too easy to be a homebody. The baby was the perfect excuse to stay at home and eliminate extracurricular activities. I nested, I dedicated myself to my family, and I even pondered whether or not I should return to work. I contemplated working only part time or getting involved in a MLM geared toward stay at home mommies. I was content, I was a devoted wife and mother, and I didn’t need to leave home… ever.

Then, about mid-way through my leave time, cabin fever hit – hard. Something was missing; I began to miss my social circles. I felt as awkward as a teenager as I tried to reconnect with friends, and questions swirled in my mind, “Should I call them or wait for them to call me? Are they giving me space or avoiding hearing me prattle about the baby?”3 Something else was  missing. While I was being challenged as I developed skills as a new mom, I began to miss the challenges of career, volunteer work, and networking. More questions swirled as well as guilt, “Why am I thinking about work and socializing when I should be focused on my family?” Here I was, at home, deep in my introverted comfort zone and was suddenly… well…uncomfortable. How does that even make sense?

What I was really missing was the challenge, the stretching, the growth. Though returning to work after maternity leave was tough, it was the best thing I could have done. A few weeks after I returned to work, departments were reorganized and I found myself in a position I enjoyed more than ever. I enjoyed my days and came home fulfilled and happy. I found balance with plenty of time in the mornings and evenings reading in the nursery and snuggled up to my husband on the couch. As I found a routine and regained a comfort level, I began to make time for more activities: double dates with friends, girl days with my Bestie, the 1 Word Book Collaboration, my blog, fundraisers, etc. Every time I got comfortable, I stretched.

Then, the baby gave me (and everyone else) her cold. I took a few extra days off of work to take care of myself and the family. I felt lousy. I drank broth. (Yuck!) I lazed around. I read.  I scrolled through social media news feeds until my angst level was at the maximum.4  Within five days I was moody, bored, and emotional. I have no idea how I got through three months of maternity leave. Now, I’m thankfully back to going full steam ahead. I’m back to challenging myself to do more and to share more.

Whether you are an Introvert or not, don’t get so deep in your comfort zone that you avoid the challenges. Don’t let a personality type define you or give you the excuse to wallow in it. Do something hard. Stretch. Grow. Get back in the game!

Footnotes:

1 Important New Mommy Lesson: When germs pass through a baby, or small child, they apparently turn into mutant super powered weapons of mass destruction aimed at taking out all adults in their vicinity. Seriously, her cold took down me, my husband, and both my in-laws.

2 Yes, PLANNED C-Section – one of the best decisions my husband and I made, but that’s a subject for another blog post.

3Annoying, right? But even for someone who never considered herself a “baby person,” my baby does something new and cute and wonderful every day and I inevitably talk about. No apologies.

4Never get sick this close to an election.

When All You Have to Offer is Your Smile

The curves of your lips tell volumes about you, from a fleeting emotional response to the hint of deep secrets lying beneath the surface – a sly crooked sneer or a warm, friendly smile. Sometimes a smile is all you have to offer, and if that’s all you have, it’s more than enough. As a new wife and mother, I find myself balancing family life with a career I enjoy, hobbies, and writing. Some days I reflect on what I’m doing and I feel like Superwoman, other days I feel pulled so thin I don’t think I’m doing a good job with any of it – but I keep on doing the best that I can.

In a recent church service during Missions Month, Grady White shared on the topic, Leaving Comfort for Change. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and take comfort in routines. Our comfort zone and routines make it easy to come up with excuses not to share enough of ourselves with others. The comfort zone keeps us from growing to our full potential and keeps us from reaching people we could inspire. During the service Grady encouraged us to: 1. Make a change; 2. Make a move; and 3. Make a difference. He told us that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.

I began reflecting on how much of an inspiration my baby has been, even to people who don’t know the story of how amazing it is that she is in the world. I thought about how her smile brings so much joy to everyone she meets. It struck me that if she can bring joy to people at just a few months old, how much more could we as adults do to bring joy to others. Amelia is not worried about whether or not she is qualified to reach out to people, she simple sees someone and smiles.

Even when I think that I’m the biggest mess, when nothing seems to be going right, when I’m overwhelmed, when I have to walk out of church service (like I did today) because Amelia wouldn’t stop doing raspberries and giggling loudly, I have her as a reminder, that as long as I have a smile to offer, I can help someone. I don’t need to worry about whether or not I’m worthy to help someone in need, I don’t have to have it all together to volunteer at an outreach mission, I don’t have to be perfect to just be a friend. I’m equipped; I just need to be willing to step out of my comfort zone.

When we don’t feel like we have the time, money, or emotional strength to offer, a smile is enough. When we can’t find the right words to encourage someone, a smile is plenty. Sometimes it’s our biggest grin that is called for and sometimes it’s just a little crooked smirk of understanding – the faint, little smile that says, “I’ve been there.”

I received several of those “I’ve been there” smiles today as I walked the hall with Amelia at church. Each smile helped me feel better and encouraged me to keep my sense of humor. I don’t have to be perfect to encourage someone else, I don’t have to be Superwoman to write a blog about motherhood. I just need to keep breaking out of comfort zones, continue challenging myself, and try to reach whoever I can, even when all I have to give is my smile.

The Tale of the Worrisome Wifey

After reading a chapter of Harry Potter, helping Amelia put up her toys, and getting her ready for bed, my typical bedtime routine includes settling down with a cup of chamomile or valerian tea. I don’t always sleep well. My mind tends to race with thoughts – replaying the day in my mind, thinking about putting up another baby gate to keep our new little crawler out of trouble, planning the baby’s Harry Potter themed birthday party (Only several months away!)  In my single days, I could flip on the television, turn on the bedside lamp and read a book, or pick up my phone and scroll through my newsfeed until I drifted off to sleep. Now as a wife and mother, I try to keep quiet during restless nights so as not to wake the baby and husband. The calming tea helps… sometimes.

Occasionally, as many of us do, I let worry keep me up. Before I met my husband, I was so used to having to take care of everything myself that it has been an adjustment to learn to rely on a partner, but I’m making breakthroughs. A few weeks ago I asked my husband about an issue I was struggling with, and after a brief discussion, he casually told me not to worry about it. Here’s where I failed; I kept worrying about it. And it wasn’t even just my husband who had told me not to worry about it. This was something I had prayed about and I had God’s word telling me not to worry about it. (See Matthew 6). I had supposedly given it to God, but I was still trying to keep my messy hands on it.

As we were getting in the bed that night, I brought it up again. This time my husband said calmly, but firmly, “I told you not to worry about it.” Maybe it was the confidence in his voice, or maybe it was the security of feeling him next to me, but something clicked that time. I understood. He had my back. It was handled. There was nothing for me to worry about. Breakthrough!

How often are we all guilty of continuing to worry about something after we have been told not to by a spouse, parent, bestie, or even God? It happens to the best of  us. The important thing is to learn to trust that it’s taken care of, dust off our hands, and keep moving forward. Let go. Breathe. Rest.

That night, curled up under the covers with my husband, I didn’t need a cup of tea to help me sleep. I knew I wasn’t alone and everything was handled. No worries to keep me up. Just a few thoughts of what games to play at Amelia’s birthday party – Pin the Sock on Dobby or Quidditch Pong? – I drifted off to sleep.

Re-learning How to Be Me: The Curves of the Road Continue

I recently ran across an article I wrote as a guest writer on the Renew Refresh Reset Your Life web site. It was written two years ago and was titled Re-learning How To Be Me. In the article, I discussed the drastic changes I had experienced in my life including the losses of parents, career, and relationships. I shared about the “aha” moment I experienced  when I realized I had the opportunity for a new start on my life and the chance to redefine myself. I started a new career, built new relationships, found new hobbies, and began devoting time to volunteer work.

After the article published, I began thinking of starting my own blog. I imagined it would be something inspirational and I would pull from my background in natural health, herbs, and the mind/body/spirit connection – Aimee’s Thyme. Then my life began changing again and I never started the blog.

After years of defining myself as an independent, single woman, I met a wonderful man who I wanted to make room for in my life. As our relationship grew, priorities changed and we began planning a marriage. As neither of us had children, or planned to, we began planning a life full of fun and adventures.

Then, plans changed… again. I was pregnant. Neither of us thought it possible, but we were excited to include a baby into our adventures. With age as a factor, it was a high risk pregnancy but we focused on health, nutrition, and spiritual wellness and brought a healthy baby girl into the world.

As a wife and mother, priorities changed for me again, and so did friendships, career paths, and hobbies. With new priorities, came new opportunities – partnership with my husband, bonding time with the baby, richer friendships, and even a book collaboration project.

Now, just two years after I wrote the Re-learning How to Be Me article, I find myself once again redefining myself – wife, mom, career woman, volunteer, writer. Two years ago, I never imagined that the focus of my blog would be about being a first time mom after 40, but I truly hope the experiences I will share here will serve as inspiration for people (whether they are single, married, with or without kids) to enjoy the curves in the road through life’s many changing landscapes.