Finding Joy…What this Blog is All About…

11 Feb

So I originally started this blog with the intent of revealing, exploring, and continuing my journey toward joy. I think I’ve learned a few really important lessons along the way, but here’s one I’ve come to realize recently.

Life is so much easier and more beautiful when you feel fully supported by your spouse. In many ways, this year could have been super stressful for me, and there have been moments. Adjusting to a new place to live, a new job (with a much more challenging assignment than I’ve had in the past), being pregnant (and not getting much sleep as a result), being far away from my family, and so forth, are all things that I know in the past might have really brought me down or made it difficult for me to be happy. I’ve also started taking an online class because I need to take 9 graduate units in order to renew my credential in Oregon. But there is one thing that has made the last few months in many ways easier than ever before and that is Ben.

Ben has been so supportive and loving, and one of the things I’ve been most appreciative of is that he has started to cook. Just having one less responsibility amidst all my other stresses and challenges has made a HUGE difference. I think he knows I’m appreciative, but I don’t think he realizes how big of a difference the small things he does for me actually does for me. It’s not just about not having to cook as often.  It’s not just about the fact that I’m always hungry now that I’m 25 weeks pregnant. It’s because whenever he does something like this for me, I FEEL loved, and that gets me through the stress of everything else. It gets me through the day when I’ve only had 3 hours of sleep. It helps me feel joy even when I’m tired.

So basically, what I’m saying is…LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOUR SPOUSE. It will make all the difference in the world for their happiness and ability to cope with stress.

Fried plantains with a creamy chipotle sauce, avocados, and cilantro! Made as a side dish with tacos for dinner tonight. Thank you sweetie!

Fried plantains with a creamy chipotle sauce, avocados, and cilantro! Made as a side dish with tacos for dinner tonight. Thank you sweetie!

My 1st Baby Shower

1 Feb

On December 28th, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw me a beautiful baby shower at Sister’s Tea House in Fenton, Missouri. It was such a beautiful day. Over 30 of my husband’s family members (women only!) were there to celebrate Baby Medley. I was nearly 19 wks pregnant at the time, and that evening Ben felt the baby kick for this first time.

My sister-in-law made some really cute decorations (all turtle themed!) and my mother-in-law organized and planned the event. We had a delicious lunch and spent some fun times together in addition to opening presents. Ben didn’t tell me anything about the shower, so I didn’t know it was at a tea house. Everything about it was a surprise. I feel so grateful to have such wonderful in-laws. I’m super lucky and so is our little boy. Whenever we visit Missouri he’ll have so many wonderful family members to spend time with!

Turtle and diaper centerpieces made by Melissa, my sister-in-law.

Turtle and diaper centerpieces made by Melissa, my sister-in-law.

Me and Ben's grandma

Me and Ben’s grandma

Me and my sister-in-law, Melissa

Me and my sister-in-law, Melissa

A view of the room and all the guests!

A view of the room and all the guests!

Tasty treats! Super cute turtle cake! :)

Tasty treats! Super cute turtle cake! :)

I love this pic...don't know what we were laughing about!

I love this pic…don’t know what we were laughing about!

Me and my mother-in-law, Laurie

It’s been a while

31 Jan

Well, it’s been quite a hiatus from my blog life. I’m pretty sure everyone (or almost everyone) who reads my blog also follows me on Facebook, but for the few readers who don’t know me personally, the reason I’ve been away is that I’m pregnant! The first trimester was really rough because I was still adjusting to my new job and new life in a new state and just being pregnant and working full time took everything I had.

I’m now 23 weeks along and am fairly well settled into my new job. It’s still challenging but much more reasonable than it was in September. In October, I flew to my friend Shannon’s wedding when I was only 6 wks preggers. It was a gorgeous wedding, but can I tell you…the first trimester is EXHAUSTING. I’ve never felt that kind of exhaustion in my life. I guess some women don’t get it. I was lucky not to ever get bad morning sickness (only threw up once), so I dodged that bullet. But I literally felt like I could have slept 24-7 that first 12-14 weeks!

Just last weekend my sister got married to her husband Jeremy. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. I had seen her for a couple days in December for her shower, but other than that I hadn’t seen her since May because of our move. It’s been hard not being able to see her. We’ve never been a part for more than a month before this year. I’m glad she’s planning to come out sometime over the summer to meet our little GUY…yes, we’re having a BOY!

My hope is to blog a little more regularly now that I’m feeling better and am more adjusted to pregnancy, my job, and my new life. I will say, I have been so happy the last few months. I must have some happy preggers hormones. Ben has been absolutely wonderful since I’ve been pregnant. He cooks, helps more with the cleaning, and drives me everyone (I hate driving…hehe). And he’s so cute with my belly…always talking to our little “Squirt” (our nickname for him). He talks to my belly and loves feeling him kick. He felt him for the first time on Dec. 28th, the day of my first baby shower!

I’ve been so blessed with wonderful friends and family through my pregnancy. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law threw me a shower in December when we visited them in Missouri. It was at a tea house…I will do a blog post on this soon. :)

For now, here are a few preggo pictures!

Meet at 5 weeks pregnant (about a week after we found out)

Me at 5 weeks pregnant (about a week after we found out)

Look at that cute nose and lips! :)

Look at that cute nose and lips! :)

22 weeks along! Hard to believe I ever was as thin as I was in that first pic. It feels natural to be this big yet it's by far the biggest I've ever been!

22 weeks along! Hard to believe I ever was as thin as I was in that first pic. It feels natural to be this big yet it’s by far the biggest I’ve ever been!

Our little guy at 20 wks (anatomy scan).

Struggling a Bit

14 Sep

The last few weeks have been tough for me. Adjusting to a new job is being harder than I thought. It’s been over 5 years since I’ve had to make a transition, and my assignment is certainly a lot more challenging that it was at my last school. Compound that with Ben only being home 1.5 days a week, and the fact that I’m still adjusting to living in a new town without my family, and I’ll be honest. It’s being really hard for me. It was a tough summer in so many ways. My uncle passed away after a short 7 week battle with cancer, my sister’s fiance was in the hospital for 3 weeks, my dad had a staff infection, and now my parents might have to be evacuated from their home because of the fire. Ben’s been away from me since the end of July working at a job, and I’ll admit, I’m not the greatest when it comes to stress. I think I do handle things better than I used to but this last week, I was so incredibly emotional. I got to work at 6:30 each day and graded till I went to bed three nights last week. This week I have Open House tomorrow, and a 2 hour meeting after school Tuesday. And that’s all on top of getting adjusted to my new school, lesson planning, grading, teaching, and attending various meetings. I guess I just have to take it one day at a time. Ben will be done with this job in a couple weeks, and hopefully once he’s home, I’ll cope better with all of this. It’s just hard, and while I wish I could be inspiring, I guess right now what I need is some prayers and support. Thanks to all my readers. Thanks for listening.

And with that, summer is over

24 Aug

It’s hard to believe that the longest summer of my life is over. Tomorrow I attend the first of many meetings at my new school and district. I wish I wasn’t nervous but I am. You would think after 8 years of teaching, I would feel calm, cool, and collected, but even at my last school where I worked for five years, I would still get a little nervous on my first week back. That said, I was fully used to my last school. I knew the routines, expectations, and little ins and outs of the school. And now I start all over again with my 3rd school, Mountain View. I’m excited but the little things make me nervous. Little things like will my computer equipment work, will I figure out how to get all my copies made, will I have the right keys, and will everything work properly when I need it to. And then there’s the big things, like how I’ll connect with the kids and so forth. I guess I can only hope that everything will go as smoothly as possible. I don’t think parents who aren’t teachers realize just how much time and effort teachers put into the little details. I assume most teachers are like me, and I assume we all work hard. I’m sure there are a few exceptions, but most teachers I know work very hard to do a good job for the kids. This summer, I attended a week long conference and a week long class. There were many days where I did little else but lesson plan or read up on teaching related materials. Granted, I haven’t had a summer like this in a while. Usually, I relax more, but starting a new job, in a new state is stressful.

It’s been such a mixed summer. I moved here to Bend, Oregon and it’s truly a beautiful place. My husband and I had a wonderful time exploring in June and July. We went to so many new places and discovered things we didn’t even know were here when we moved. We’ve made a few new friends, and our parents came and checked out our new pad. Our house is lovely…it’s about 500% better than the last place we were in.  But on the flip side, my uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on my last day of school at Chaminade (May 29) and he died just 7 weeks later on July 18. My sister’s fiance has been severely ill and in the hospital for the last 3 weeks. Ben’s job has taken him 3 hours away from me 5 days a week, and I’ve been stressing about work off and on for the entire summer.


So while I do feel very blessed in many ways, I have also been dealing with grief, stress, and a general unease. Especially with Ben gone, I find myself missing friends and family. I miss my sister who I haven’t seen since May. This is the longest we have ever been a part, ever. I miss my friends and my former co-workers at Chaminade. And I miss good Mexican food…LOL! But most of all, I miss my uncle and I feel sad that my sister and her fiance have to battle his Crohns disease again this summer. Last summer, he went through the same thing he’s going through now.

I guess life is always going to be filled with challenges. My prayer is that we can all find strength and the faith to push on even when we are discouraged, sad, grieving, or stressed. It’s been a rather emotional day for me, and I hope there will be good times ahead. Here’s to my 9th year of teaching. I really hope and pray that I can do the very best job possible for each and every one of my students this year, because believe it or not, teachers really do care.

The Title of My Blog

11 Aug

I don’t usually write anything about a celebrity’s death, but my blog is titled after the poem, “O me, O life” by Walt Whitman. The first time I heard this poem was in the 9th grade when my English class watched Dead Poet’s Society. I remember being inspired by the film, but always left uneasy by the suicide. I felt conflicted about the message of the film. Was the writer saying that some people cannot handle the kind of intellectual freedom that Williams’ character was espousing to his students? Was his passion for literature too avant garde for 16 year olds? His “sucking the marrow out of life” philosophy seemed pretty appealing to me at age 14, and it certainly didn’t make me suicidal; if anything it made me more hopeful that life was full of mystery and beauty.

I suppose I also found the suicide in the film especially unsettling because in 9th grade someone I knew personally committed suicide. It was the first time I had known someone who took his own life. His name was RJ, and he sat next to me in almost all my classes from 6th-8th grade because his last name started with “L” and mine with “M.” Somehow we had most of our classes together in middle school. He signed my yearbook in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I still think of him from time to time, but mostly I think about his parents, especially on April 3 (his birthday) and April 19 (the day he took his own life). Don’t ask me why I remember the dates; we weren’t even close friends. His death just impacted me that much. It also happened to be the day before the Columbine shooting.

Come to think of it, my high school years were filled with moments like this. This was just the first one. There were several other notable high school suicides throughout the valley that year, and when I was a senior, a peer of mine was murdered. I realize now that I encountered a very dark world in high school, and I myself struggled with depression from the time I was in high school until I was about 23.

Thankfully, I was never suicidal…I think the reason I was able to have hope and eventually break free from my depression was because of my family and my faith. But also because I held on to beauty and truth. Lines of poetry from Whitman, and maxims from Emerson and Thoreau, fed my need to find transcendence in a world that often felt very dark.

It saddens me that in his time of crisis, that Williams could not hold on to the words he brought to life so many years ago.


Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

In Memory of my Uncle Dwayne

30 Jul

It is with great sadness that I share a little about my Uncle Dwayne, who passed on July 18th this year from pancreatic cancer. I can hardly believe it, even after attending his funeral, because he was only diagnosed on May 29th, the day Ben and I moved from Los Angeles and headed north for Bend. I found out late in the evening on the 29th when we arrived at my parent’s house (we were staying there for a week before moving to Bend). I was in utter shock and disbelief when my mom told me. You see, my uncle was only 61 years old, and of all my relatives, he was one who was in the best shape. He canoed almost every morning at dawn on Whiskeytown Lake, and he was thin and ate healthy, because my aunt has a background in nutrition. Both of them are shining examples of how to age gracefully and live a healthy lifestyle, and I especially admired Dwayne for getting up so early in the morning to pursue his passion.

Dwayne was truly a man of God. He was a good father, husband, son, and uncle. I never heard Dwayne raise his voice…he was truly one of the gentlest men I’ve ever met, yet under the gentleness was a solid rock of faith and conviction which motivated him to be a good man. He was an architect who owned his own business for over 30 years, and he built the home that he and my aunt raised my cousins in. It sits on the top of a hill in Old Shasta overlooking Mt. Lassen. Growing up, my family would go there almost every summer for about 5 days, and those days were ones I looked forward to the most every year. My parents’ friends had children who were younger than me, and on my dad’s side, my cousins were a lot older than me, so I always looked forward to the trip, because my cousins, Katie and Amber, are one year younger and one year older than me, respectively. And my cousin, Jeff, is my sister’s age, so it was always nice for our parents that their kids were the same age and could relate to each other. Despite the distance, I always considered my cousins to be some of my best friends, and though it’s hard to stay in touch because of the distance, I am so grateful that we have.

Last month, just two weeks after my uncle’s diagnosis, my cousin, Jeff, got married to his beautiful wife, Michelle. My uncle was determined that no matter what, he would be there at his son’s wedding. My parents helped my aunt to get him there, and we are so very glad that he had such a beautiful time. That was the last time I saw my uncle, and I’m grateful that my last memories of him are joyful. They were bittersweet, but joyful nonetheless.

The one thing that struck me through all of this, was that my uncle never complained. He never asked, Why me? He remained strong and kind to the end. My cousin Katie told me in his last days how he was just as sweet as ever. I hope that I have that kind of courage when my time comes.

And so, I pray for healing for my aunt and my three cousins, because I am confident that Dwayne is fine. He fought the good fight and is receiving his eternal reward, but the hole he leaves behind in all our hearts, is one that will take time to heal. And I’m sure there will always be a hole, because when you love someone that’s just how it is. I only hope that my family knows I am there for them, and I am so grateful to have had Dwayne as my uncle. I am uniquely blessed to have had so many strong, positive male role models in my life. My dad and I are so close, and it is because of that closeness that my empathy is so great for Dwayne’s children. And it is because I have such a good, loving husband, that my empathy is so great for my aunt. Tomorrow would have been their 38th wedding anniversary and Dwayne’s 62nd birthday, and so I wish them both a happy anniversary and birthday, because I don’t think relationships end in death, not ones that are that strong and that beautiful.

Thank you, Dwayne, for always making your home a place I wanted to be.  I love you and I will miss you.


Your niece,



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