A new perspective

Today is my thirty-eighth birthday. I woke up early this morning intending to spend time setting new goals and dreaming big for the year ahead. This is a yearly tradition for myself; I like to think about where I am, where I want to go, who I want to become, think big for our future and then figure out the steps I need to take to move closer towards seeing those dreams come to fruition. It’s no secret that I am a dreamer… Jamie would probably tell you that sitting down and dreaming about the future is one of my love languages and the way to my heart.

But something different happened this morning. As I started thinking to the future and worked to define new goals, something inside of me told me to just stop, reflect and give thanks. As my mind wandered through the blessings in my life, my heart nearly exploded as I thought through the people who fill my life with greater joy than any accomplishment, dream, wedding or project ever will. My family… my tribe… my people. They are my dream and the best part of life.

Dreaming big is a beautiful thing… but sometimes it causes you to rush past the beautiful life you might already have. It can be a struggle to find the balance of wanting more for your future while just being content in the moment. In the past I’ve feared that contentment would lead to complacency, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that contentment leads to greater joy.

So this morning I am going to hit the pause button on all my dreaming and scheming to be still, give thanks and enjoy the people I get to call “mine”.

And… of course I walked away with a few new goals for this beautiful year ahead. What are they? To love more fiercely, to give thanks more often, to choose joy and to be content through whatever my circumstances may be. Something tells me these new goals will give me the strength to soar to even greater heights.

Thirty-eight… you might be the best year yet.

photography: Alanna Maria Photography 

Reflections

It’s Christmas Eve… which also means it is the eve of Jamie’s due date. Christmas hasn’t felt as magical this year as it has in the past. Instead of shopping for gifts, we have shopped for baby clothes, diapers, a stroller and a crib. Although we minimally decorated our house for the holidays, we mostly focused our efforts towards preparing our home and decorating the nursery. The anticipation that typically precedes Christmas has been replaced with the excitement of waiting for our little one to decide they are ready to join the world.

So now we have made it to Christmas Eve, the eve of our official due date. It is finally here. And like a child waiting to open gifts and discover all that will unfold, we too wait with anticipation.

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In just a few short days, our lives are going to change forever. The weight of that truth causes a rush of feelings and emotions to fall over me. In my attempt to truly savor and remember our life before we have our child, I thought I would write out a few of them.

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Ready The diapers are stocked. The family of stuffed animals is waiting. I even have a daddy diaper bag. I ‘m ready to get this show on the road. Ready to meet our baby. Ready to face this learning curve and the challenges of being a parent as we experience what life with a newborn is going to be like. I’m just ready to start this next season of life.

Curious We don’t even know if we are having a boy or a girl! I’m so curious if we’ll have a son or a daughter. What will their personality be like? Who will he or she look like? What will their hair texture be? Blue, green or brown eyes? I’m so curious it’s killing me to have to wait!

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Awe With every kick to Jamie’s belly and every visible roll, I am in awe of the creation growing within her body. That is a little human actually inside of her. My mind can’t grasp this surreal truth. I am also in awe of the strength and grace with which my wife has carried our child.

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Scared I’m kind of scared. Scared of the unknown. Scared to see the pain my wife will inevitably feel. Scared to journey into fatherhood. What if our baby doesn’t like me? What if I’m not a good dad? What if something happens to our child? If I let it, my mind can run wild with scenarios that induce fear. I hear this is normal?

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Intimidation I can picture going to the hospital… seeing our baby for the first time… introducing our new love to our family… texting photos to our close friends… leaving the hospital and driving home for the first time…. But then what? Do we walk into our house and just put the baby in the crib? I’m kind of intimidated. Birth class didn’t really prepare me for life after the birth. I swaddled a doll and put a diaper on a stuffed animal. I’m kind of intimidated about taking care of a newborn. Clipping little fingernails?  What if I cut off the tip of the finger by mistake? This little life is going to be looking to us for everything… completely dependent. I once had to get a license to serve food at a restaurant. Shouldn’t they require a license for parenting? Should they really let us leave the hospital with a baby?  I feel intimidated.

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Sadness Is it ok to be this honest? I feel a bit of sadness knowing that everything is about to change, and nothing will ever be the same again. I have loved this season of our marriage and that it has just been Jamie and me. I love just getting in the car and going somewhere whenever we feel like it. I love not having a schedule. I love always being together. There are things about this season I am going to miss… simple things like going to the gym together and giving a little wave and smile across the room. I know we will still have date nights, vacations and other moments without our kids, but I also know life will never be the same and I’m sad to say goodbye to this very special season of life I have thoroughly loved. I am clinging to and cherishing these last few special days of ‘just us’.  Please don’t read this as I’m sad to have a baby, because that is not the case.

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Happiness Ok, so maybe this makes me have a split personality, but I simultaneously feel happiness. It is an indescribably kind of joy and I couldn’t be happier to become a dad. I feel happiness at the thought of welcoming this new season of life.  I feel happiness every time I get to hear that strong heart beat. I feel happiness when I see all the stuffed animals in the crib just waiting to meet their new friend. I feel happiness picturing neighborhood walks with the stroller, making new parent friends and just the thought of watching our baby develop a personality.

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Thankful I’m thankful that Jamie is my wife and mother of my child. I’m thankful she has had such a healthy pregnancy. This growing belly hasn’t slowed her down at all! Just this morning she was on the elliptical machine for forty five minutes. I’m thankful for her incredible energy.  I’m thankful for our amazing doctor who puts us at ease and finding a fantastic doula we feel so comfortable with. I’m thankful for all of the love our baby has already been shown and the generosity of our families, friends and clients who have shared in our excitement. I’m thankful that our business has not suffered, and our year is filled with amazing clients who didn’t let our pregnancy and growing family stop them from hiring us to create an incredible event for them. Most of all I’m just thankful for the blessing of this new little life and the all responsibilities that will accompany it.

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Peace My heart is full of peace. There is no perfect time to start a family. We could have waited until we had grown our business further, saved more money, had a bigger house or… you name it. The list would have kept growing though, and I could have easily always thought of why the timing was not right. We decided this time last year that this is what we both wanted. Life isn’t perfect. We still have dreams that have yet to come to fruition. I wish our savings account was bigger. I wish we had moved to a quieter street. None of this matters though. I have complete and utter peace that this was the moment God intended for us to become parents. We were created for such a time as this.  My heart feels the deep sense of peace that surpasses all understanding, and all is well with my soul.

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Love  My heart is full with an immense amount of love. Love for my wife who carries our child within her. Love for our unborn child, whom I can’t wait to hold in my arms. Love for our God, who has created all of the above. My cup runs over.

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I hope that wherever you find yourself this holiday season, that you too have something to be excited about… something joyful to anticipate… something to hope for. From our growing family to yours, we wish you the merriest of Christmases, and a happy New Year.

photography: Matthew Land Studios 

After the Wedding: lessons from a little red vespa

This past weekend we had the most perfect weather for a winter day in Seattle.  The sun was shining bright, and there was not a cloud in the clear blue sky.  It felt like spring had arrived  a few months early, and so we decided the best way to cap off a long week was to take our red Vespa out for its first spin of the year.

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While Jamie zipped around our Queen Anne neighborhood, leading the adventure, I closed my eyes and welcomed the cool wind on my face.  These rides are good for my soul. They quickly clear my mind, fill my heart with peace, and I find myself lost in the moment, dreaming about our future and feeling inspired again.  Although getting a moped was 100% Jamie’s idea, this recreational toy is probably the best gift I’ve ever surprised her with.  It’s been a source of joy, laughter and adventure in addition to teaching me a few lessons about marriage.

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1. Listen for the things that your partner dreams about, their wishes, and the desires of their heart, and then look for opportunities to make those things happen

When we moved to Seattle last spring, Jamie casually mentioned how fun it would be to have a Vespa.  Initially I chalked this up to just a day dream,  but then I quickly realized how serious she was.  It’s not that she continuously talked about it… I just saw her head turning every time a moped passed us.  I often found her looking at Craig’s List to see if they had any Vespas listed. The thought of scooting around town on a moped made her light up and come alive, and I couldn’t ignore it. I knew I needed to make it happen.

I’ve come to learn that if I listen carefully and if I am attentive to the little things, I will know my wife’s heart without her needing to spell it our for me.  It brings me joy and shows her love when I can then  find tangible ways to let her know I’ve listened to her heart and I’ve heard her dreams.

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2. Don’t be selfish

I had been saving  some money to buy a new piece of furniture I really wanted.  I love buying furniture for our home.  It gives me a rush. Although Jamie loves having a beautiful home, she doesn’t get giddy with furniture purchases like I do.  I think her joy in those moments comes from seeing how excited I get with each new piece for our home.  Once, when Jamie was trying to relate to the kind of rush I get, she speculated that owning a Vespa would probably be the type of thing that would give her the equivalent sort of rush.  I knew instantly that it was Jamie’s turn to feel a rush, and I needed to put aside my own plans and wants and use my furniture fund on this Vespa.  Any other decision would have been selfish.

It’s easy to focus on your own needs, wants and desires, but true love is selfless and makes an intentional effort to choose to put your partner first.

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3. Take turns leading and teaching each other.

I am always the passenger on our Vespa. Always. We often get looks of shock, smiles and comments when we pull up somewhere by people that are surprised that I “let” Jamie drive.  A few people have even gone as far to comment about how brave and trusting I am.  Our culture says that Jamie should be the passenger and I should be driving. (This is where I could go on my rant about traditional gender roles, and how they irritate me, but I’ll save that for another day)

Our vespa provided an opportunity for Jamie to be in control and to take charge using her natural strengths and gifts. Jamie is a better driver, bigger adventurer and greater risk taker than I am.  Her strengths are different than mine and it only makes sense that we take turns being the leader.

I love it when Jamie leads and I take a back seat to her.  When Jamie leads (on and off the Vespa) I have the opportunity to see the world around me.  It gives me a chance to take a break, see the world from her perspective and learn from her.  It also gives her the opportunity to further develop her natural strengths.

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4. Participate in activities that your partner loves, even when they are outside of your comfort zone.  

I’m not the adventurous one in our relationship.  I like doing things that are safe and comfortable, usually within the confines of our home, a really good restaurant or Nordstroms.   Jamie loves experiencing life, trying new things, exploring and just being adventurous.  I am often inwardly reluctant when Jamie brings up a new idea to try; Kayaking… flying on a trapeze, swimming… ice skating… bowling… moped riding…  all of these things initially sounded like horrible ideas to me, but somehow in the end I am (almost) always surprised at how much fun I had.  Every new activity pushes me to new limits, and teaches me I am capable of more things than I thought.

More importantly, doing the things that are of interest to Jamie communicates  to her, that her ideas and dreams are important to me. It also teaches me more about who Jamie is, how she is wired and about the things she loves.  The best part is I get to see her come alive in new ways.  I love every opportunity that allows me to discover more of who she is.

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5. Splurge

The Vespa was a bit of a financial stretch, and I debated if I was being foolish with our money.  I used the money I had personally set aside, but then I also had to dip into a bit of our savings to make it happen.  I decided this purchase was an investment into our marriage, and worth every penny.  I made the decision to move forward, and I’ve never regretted it.

I know this goes against all the books out there that advise you to save your money, be frugal and make conservative spending decisions, but I say splurge!  Devote some of your finances to being generous to your partner.   Craft  surprises and create experiences: Buy those concert tickets… plan that weekend excursion… eat dinner at that expensive restaurant.  It’s worth it.  Obviously be wise in how much or how often you do this, but I think some of my best investments in life have been financial splurges that have created lifelong memories.

Find ways to bless your spouse with something extraordinary.

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6. Have a bit of  fun

I might be the one on the back of the Vespa occasionally saying things like “slow down!” or  “We’re going too fast!”  and “This isn’t safe!”  But really… we have so much fun zipping around town laughing together.  The first time we ventured out of our neighborhood and crossed a bridge to another part of Seattle, we both erupted with so much laughter that I thought we might fall off the bike!  I think we felt like the whole world had just opened up to us, and it was so much fun.

In my opinion, simply having fun, laughing together and just being silly are some of the most important parts of marriage.  It helps you avoid taking life (or yourself) too seriously. It keeps you from being weighed down by the stress of life and the worries of your day.  It makes you feel like you are still kids, and it keeps your relationship fresh.  Some of my favorite moments in life have just been laughing with Jamie.

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I hope when we are gray haired and old that Jamie will still be zipping us around town on our little red Vespa.  I also hope I never forget these lessons and that our marriage continues to strengthen as I put them into practice.

And… these photos were taken last summer by Matthew Land Studios ; we were a bit more layered and bundled up this past weekend for our January ride.  We know some of you will be wondering.