Guest Post

Guest Post: Thoughts on Fatherhood

I sat down with Ash and asked him to write about fatherhood. Questions ranged from his thoughts on fatherhood before we considered starting a family to how much they changed after Jai was born.

Read his perspective below.


I didn’t really have any idea of what fatherhood would look like.

I was more afraid of the amount of responsibility that being a parent entailed and I was concerned with what I could mess up than with any real ideas about being a parent. So before I talked with my partner, I hadn’t really been thinking about fatherhood.

After some conversations, once the idea of being a father cemented itself and I started really talking to other people about it, I really only had the expectation that everything would change once I saw my child.

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Parenting

Celebrating Fatherhood

I am lucky to have three important men in my life: my dad, my husband, and my son.

Two of those men are fathers, the third may become one someday. That’s his choice when he’s ready.

I wanted to spend a post talking about how much I love and respect these two fathers in honor of Father’s Day yesterday.

My Father

I could list all the things my father did like many Father’s Day posts do: sitting with me when I was sick, teaching me something important, or dispensing sage life advice when necessary. All of which he’s done.

Or I can write about two formative lessons he passed on to me. One was an individual incident and the other was taught my entire life.

While I was “daddy’s little girl,” that didn’t mean I had to be girly-girl. In fact, I was more like “daddy’s little tomboy” growing up. He taught me how to climb trees, build a tree house, shoot a bow, ride a bike, scare my mom, and not allow boys to push me around because I was a girl.

Never once growing up did I ever feel the need to adhere to a specific gender role from my father. He never told me “no” because it was unladylike, nor did he expect me to behave a certain way because that’s how it’s done according to gender.

He made sure I understood one thing: don’t be what other’s want you to be. Only be yourself.

One of the best examples of this in my life happened when I was around 11/12 years old:

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Personal Motivation

Someday Wish: Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Last weekend we went camping by the approach trail for the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the North Georgia mountains.

It was my first time at the approach after hearing so much about this place for twenty+ years. Growing up in New England, particularly next to the AT, you were familiar with the six-month journey from Georgia to Maine. As a child, it was this nebulous start point in the state of Georgia which was a place you didn’t want to spend a lot of time in for various reasons.

For almost ten years to the day I’ve been living in Georgia, but I hadn’t made it close to the start of the AT until now. It was a goal to visit the trailhead (in some capacity) while living in the Southeast.

Growing Up Next to the Trail

As a child, seeing AT hikers was a frequent occurrence in the late-spring into mid-fall. When I was in high school I would see them walking along the road across the street on their way to the next section of trail. Sometimes they would stop on the embankment for a railroad line and some students would shout out the window at them.

Teenagers.

As I got older, I would see them along the road on my way to work. They would come into my place of employment to clean up in the bathroom and re-up their food supplies (it was a great place to shop for the vegan hikers). I never really got into much of a conversation with them as they came through my line, mainly because I didn’t even know what to say. Most left their packs outside, but you could always tell given the tired, dusty look on their faces.

I also hiked sections of the trail, but no more than a few miles at a time. I always enjoyed my time on the trail, but couldn’t imagine what it was like to hike over two thousand miles of the trail.

Someday…

When I found out what these hikers were doing, hiking from Georgia to Maine, I always wanted to try the journey myself. But I always thought myself incapable due to lack of physical fitness. As I got older, I found the idea of exerting myself every day for an extended period of time fatiguing (I blame my undiagnosed MS at the time).

Now that I’ve made significant lifestyle changes and feel better – the idea of going six months of hard physical labor every day no longer seems impossible. I understand there’s a lot of planning and prepping that goes into hiking the entirety of the trail, but I finally have the confidence that one day I will be able to do it.

I have built up my fitness goals. I completed a half-marathon, but I have the following “someday goals”:

  • Run a marathon
  • Compete in a Triathlon
  • Hike the AT
  • Stretch someday: Climb Mount Everest

Having my MS under control will also help my ability to hike the trail. It might take me a little longer than most people, but the more active I get and aware of my daily limitations, I think I could do it. I will have to wait until Jai is older either to take him with me, or he’s out of the house so he can go six-months without needing to see me. Either way, I will need to wait to go with a partner as the trail isn’t safe for a woman to go it alone. I don’t think I could convince Ash to go with me…

In the meantime…

Because it’s going to be several years before I am ready to hike the AT, but I know someone who is currently part of the 2018 AT Class: A Worthwhile Adventure. She’s blogging her journey fairly frequently so it’s enjoyable to see the pictures and read all about the literal ups and downs of her journey. I highly recommend subscribing to her blog to follow her exciting adventure through Appalachia.

What are some of your personal fitness or adventure goals? Would you ever spend six months on such a goal? Leave a comment below.


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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton Photography

Information Huddle

Outdoors for Urban-Dwellers

Living in a major metropolitan area makes having daily access to nature a challenge. While we’re lucky enough to have a wooded area near our house, but I know that not everyone is so lucky and wanted to compile ways to increase one’s exposure to nature.

Growing up in a rural area I learned to appreciate all that nature had to offer, but because Jai is going to grow up either in an urban or suburban location (unless something drastically changes), he’s not going to have the same amount of exposure I did. So bringing nature inside will be one task I will want to do as much as possible for his sake.

Bring Nature to You

Here are some simple and easy ways to bring nature to you to help you with reconnection. I didn’t want to limit it to adults with children, so you’ll find all of these suggestions work for adult-only households:

  • Container Gardening: a great way to create your own produce, especially if you live in a food desert or want to know the origin of your fresh vegetables. You don’t need a yard to have a container garden, as a window or balcony can afford you enough space.
  • Potted Plants: you don’t have to have a green thumb to grow and maintain potted plants. If you are worried that you’ll kill a plant, buy a succulent. They tend to be really difficult to kill.
  • Nature walks & classes: find a local nature preserve and check their class schedule. Most have outdoor classes for adults and children on the weekends with a suggested donation fee. Learn a new skill and get yourself out in the wild.
  • Remove the blinds and curtains: if you can, keep your blinds/curtains up all the time to allow for maximum sunlight in your space. Choosing to use the sun for light sources can also be soothing.
  • Picnics in the park: have a park nearby? Why not bring some food and blanket for a quick picnic. Perfect for any day, especially if you work on the weekends or have a tight schedule.
  • Wading pool: For adults and children. Nothing feels better than filling a wading pool in the heat of summer and dipping your feet in.
  • Centerpieces and home decor: If you spend enough time outdoors, consider creating a centerpiece for your table of the interesting sticks, rocks, or leaves you find interesting. Dry flowers and arrange them according to the season with found river rocks in the vase bottom.
  • Companion animal: this is pricier and more time intensive AND dependant on allergies, but consider adopting a companion animal. Animals are known stress-reducers and their wild natures can bring the outside in for you (especially walking the dog). Reptiles are great for places that might have pet fees or those with allergies.
  • Fruit picking trips: If you can, look to see if there is a local farm where you can pick-you-own fruit. It’s a fun experience and a great way to discover fun recipes with the leftovers.
  • Nature Arts & Crafts: I have a flower press that my dad made me when I was a child. I used to press the flowers and leaves I found to make cards or bookmarks. Finding a cheap flower press and making art with dried pieces is a great way to reconnect with nature and a fun gift for a friend.

What do you do to bring nature to you when it’s hard? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments.


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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton Photography

Personal Motivation

Recovering with Nature

When I began my health journey nearly a year ago, I wasn’t sure what direction I would take. Honestly, I thought I would give up, go back to my old habits, and be on MS medication by now.

In the back of my mind, I had very few pleasures: eating sugar, fried foods, and not exercising.  These were things I did to self-sooth and help me cope with stress and my diagnosis.

It was my pattern. To try something new, get discouraged, and then give up on it.

This particular venture worked out differently. I think because I am blogging it allows for a level of accountability, perhaps if I didn’t maintain this blog I would have given up sooner. Back in November, I went through a period where I didn’t post as often as I wanted. It may have been discouragement (“is this something really worth doing? I am putting a lot of time into something with little to no feedback”), but I think I was also just busy with life and not sure if I wanted to continue regardless.

Somehow I stuck through it and I’ve continued to notice positive changes. I’ve lost weight, I feel happier, I feel more balanced, and I think I’ve fully accepted my diagnosis. I was on the path of acceptance several years ago, but I really embodied the “things I cannot change” attitude since August.

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