the power of a fresh start

Fresh starts, clean slates, new beginnings and do overs: these are powerful things. Whether it’s a move, a break up, a brand new morning, or a vow renewal. We all need a cleansing Fresh Start sometimes.

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I’m at the starting over place. The need for starting over has been a few months in the making- the slippery slope of poor choices: eating whatever I wanted, smoking too much and generally not taking care of myself. I’ve tried a few times to start over by quitting smoking and making better choices with food and every time I’ve ended up right where I began: full of self loathing and making the same shitty choices. I’ll be honest, it’s been a pretty disappointing time, but not disappointing enough for me to quit starting over. The thing about this disappointing time is that I determined that one of my Fresh Starts was eventually going to stick. So I didn’t quit trying and I gave every attempt at a Fresh Start all I had.

So, I started over. Again.

Last week I quit smoking cigarettes (I can hear the angels singing the hallelujah chorus. Never mind, that’s just the sound of my mom not nagging me) which was the first thing I needed to do in order to get to the true Fresh Start. And a few days ago, I started (for the 10th time) a Whole30. I’ve only actually completed only one Whole30, even though I’ve started 10 of them, but I started my second (11th?) Whole30.

This particular Fresh Start is actually about returning to the place where I felt the best about myself in the past couple of years and the best I’ve felt about myself is during and immediately after my (only) Whole30 in March 2013. Whole30 was so powerful for me because I had to have a set apart time where I could not use food (sweets especially) as a coping mechanism. I’ve come to the place where I realize all the sneaky things that I use to cope with my emotions- instead of actually coping with my emotions. Food and cigarettes are two of those things, so starting over this time looked like me not using either of those things to manage my emotions.60533f0be108d985df849bc4608fb4c3

I humbly start again believing with everything in me that the power of a Fresh Start is that there’s new power every single time I try. Whether I’ve failed at 2000 Whole30’s or I’ve quit smoking 790 times, there’s new power every. single.time. And today, I’ll take the power of that and use it to get through today. I’ll keep believing in myself even when my history doesn’t reflect perfection. I’ll keep trying to succeed even when I fall flat. 59194_full

For my birthday, my BFF got me an item almost everything from my wishlist. My favorite gift from her though, was this giving key. The word she chose was “BELIEVE” and her amazing card explained why (which I have kept in the spirit of keeping only things that bring me joy). Anyway, one line of the card said, “and believing that you will win whatever battle you are currently facing”.  I wear that key almost everyday as a reminder that I need to believe in myself and keep trying.

RSFinal3D640X640-1640My Fresh Start has brought lovely things already. I’m reading my new best friend Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong (how, seriously HOW did I live without Brene?) and in it she mentions Paulo Coelho who says in his book The Alchemist, “when you are on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.” In the mail on the day I started my Whole30 we received our  favorite Whole30 snack from my friend Pam. And I just smiled and thought to myself, “I’m on my path. Fresh Start and all. I’m on my path.”

#blessed

I recently read somewhere that the hashtag #blessed should only be used ironically. Like a mustache. They should only be worn for irony. So the irony here is this: you know how my last post was about how getting everything I ever wanted didn’t save me? Well, I wanted to be sure that I was clear that parenting these three children does in fact, bring me joy. So I am actually #blessed. Is that ironic? It doesn’t matter because I couldn’t come up with a better title and I know my friends and family want to see pictures and videos of the kids….If you read this blog for actual content you can skip this one and call yourself #blessed for saving the five minutes it will take to read this.

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One of the greatest surprises in parenthood for me is how much our kids mirror us. They reflect back to us our attitudes, our expressions and our values. Avett recently surprised me by repeating a little expression.

In case you don’t understand baby talk, he is saying, “what the hell”. “What the hell”. I have NO idea where he heard that expression enough to be have it on repeat in his own head. But whatever. I’ll talk to Andy.

And just while were on Avett, here is a video of Avett saying “marshmallow”. I know everyone has cute videos of their kids doing cute things and we’re all biased that our kids are the funniest, cutest and best, but we’re all right.

As you know, Avett was a total surprise to us. Side note: his name is Avett, like the way you say the “a” when you are saying your ABC’s. We wanted to make his first introductions to people really hard (SUCCESS!). But it doesn’t matter because this kid wins everybody over in a matter of seconds. He says “hi” to all of our neighbors- by name, thanks everyone who gives him something by saying “thank you”, says “God bless you” to someone who sneezes and on and on the things that little kids do to win adults over and make strangers say “how cute is he!”. Anyway, the point is, after Avett was born and we gave him a name we basically made up (it’s a band name but we didn’t name him because we are huge fans of the band, though we do love them) God showed me what his name means. It means bringer of joy and with it God gave me this scripture:

How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

When Avett was a tiny infant and God dropped that into my spirit, I was so amazed at the accuracy. Now that he is a child, I see even more how accurate it is. I love that this boy brings such delight to so many people. Please, please don’t get me wrong. He is a toddler and sometimes the only joy he brings me is at nap time; parenting toddlers is hard work.

Speaking of delight and hard work, Vaughn is a total delight to me. He is the kid that is hardest and easiest to parent. He knows what he wants, but sometimes its a little tough to meet his needs. However, he is the kindest and most considerate kid on the planet. He always offers a sincere apology when he has done wrong. I love his humility and I learn from him everyday. He is sensitive and inquisitive. He is an amazing soccer player and my bet is that his natural skill will take him far in life.

This is a picture of us on a bike ride. I asked him on a date anIMG_0624d we rode 7 miles together. If you can imagine, he talked the whole time. Or rather he asked questions the whole time 🙂 The main problem with Vaughn is that if he were my only child, I would have no problems at all with him. He just has a lot of energy and for a lazy person, that is a lot of work in parenting. I love one on one time with Vaughn. He gets a little lost in the crowd of three because I get overwhelmed with all I have to going on. Anyway, Vaughn really is the best. I know when Vaughn is a young man- we will be friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those loosey-goosey “I just want my kids to like me and be best friends with my kids” kind of moms. I am the mom. But I’ve learned to share power with my kids and let them be kids without penalizing every wrong-doing. But Vaughn and I both work on our relationship very intentionally in a way that is sowing seeds for years to come. Recently, I shared something personal with a group of my closest friends (which I will tell you about soon) but after I did it, Vaughn said, “Mom, that was really brave of you. I’m proud of you.” I am crying just typing his words. I will never forget them. He is an amazing boy and he will do amazing things in this life. I’m so glad God chose him to mirror things in me that need reflecting.

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Eloise Jolie…. this little rambler. She got these roller skates for her birthday and she has hardly taken them off. This little girl decides she wants to do something and suddenly it’s done. “Mom, I tied my shoes.” WHAT? I didn’t even know you wanted to learn that! “Mom, look, I pulled out my own tooth.” WHAT! You did WHAT?! Maybe this is a middle child thing? If you want it done, you just do it? I feel bad because I would have liked to have taught her something in this life. But I guess celebrating what you teach yourself to do will have to be enough…?

This girl and I are similar in ways that make it impossible to believe she is adopted sometimes. Her humor is unbelievable. Not that I’m boasting about my own sense of humor, though it is excellent, it’s just shocking how similar we are in this area. She gets adult humor. I’ve never told a joke she didn’t get. She is an excellent big sister. I LOVE how she plays with Avett. I love seeing her personality, likes, and dislikes blossom. She loves to be outside (sans shoes) and she loves to play with animals and dirt. I told her one day that she was my little nature girl and the next day she said, “you know how you said I was a natural girl?” I cracked up and so did she. She can laugh at herself, which is a quality I really appreciate in a person.

Eloise is beautiful and I tell her that often, but I want to celebrate who she is inside. She is amazing and I want her to know that more than I want her to know how beautiful she is.

So, there you have it- the joy of my life. These three miracles. I’m celebrating today the gift that they are and recognizing that although they didn’t save me, they do bring me joy. #blessed

Anti-depressants

Through a series of events which I am unable to detail here (but let’s just say it involved crying and asking my doctor for a hug), I was prescribed a low dose anti-depressant. This drug was not prescribed to me for depression, but for a lingering, taunting anxiety. Even though I’ve been plagued with anxiety for a long time, I never considered medicine as a solution for this issue. This is probably because I started my Christian journey on the far right side of things (in terms of left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative) I’ve since moved much closer to center. In moving closer to the center I’ve uncovered whole heaps of judgement I’ve shoveled on others. Because of what I believed for myself, I was both afraid of what other Christians would think and afraid that there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t use my Christian superpowers and connection to God to heal my mind and stop being anxious. Why couldn’t I just pray this away? Was my faith so frail?

As my mindset has shifted, one of the things that has changed is that I have stopped being so hard on myself and others. I came to realize that I was not going to be able to get rid of this plaguing anxiety issue on my own. When my doctor suggested taking pills, I didn’t really even consider it -or even register his suggestion. A week after I cried to my doctor and asked for a hug, as I was reflecting about my situation, a light clicked on in my head and I thought, “Anti-depressants! That’s what I need!” Duh. That is actually what the doctor suggested but I was too busy crying to hear it.

Since I started taking anti-depressants, my mindset is completely different. Instead of being a “1” on the big deal scale, the things that set me off are now are things that are a “4” on the big deal scale. I am more easy going and my brain is clearer. The fog of anxiety has lifted just enough for me to function in a more healthy way. And also, I really am much happier. It’s not like all my problems are gone or I live on cloud 9. But I feel like I can deal with everything better. And that feels good!

If you are a Christian you are probably thinking one of two things. Either, “who cares? this is not an issue.” or “Oh my God. How could she?” Regardless of where you stand, right or left, liberal or conservative in your thinking, here are three truths.

First of all: I don’t love God less because I use modern medicine to help me deal with mental issues.

Second of all: Taking drugs of any kind doesn’t make me a worse Christian.

Third of all: God doesn’t love me any less because of my choices.

These are three solid mindset changes I had to make in order to come to terms with the fact that as a Christian who loved God, I needed medicine to help heal my mind. And here is what else I have come to: it’s time for me to stop making sweeping judgements about behavior and the choices of others. What if someone was on anti-depressants as a suicide prevention strategy? Are they wrong for using drugs to prevent harming themselves while they work on healing? And regarding my own situation I just want to say- I am not just taking anti-depressants as a cure-all, I am working hard at healing so that maybe one day I won’t need the boost that medicine gives me.

In learning to be less judgmental, I’ve realized another powerful truth. If I truly love God like I say I do then my job is to do just that: love God and love others. I have to ask myself: what do I know about someone else’s life, behavior motives or choices?  My job is not to decide all that is right and wrong for everyone. I need to make decisions for myself. But I need to be careful with the hearts of others and incline myself less toward judgement. Neighbors, Jesus loved everyone and he did point out sin in people’s lives, but that’s not what he asked us to do.

My wise new friend Andy Landers recently said to me: “the message of the gospel isn’t ‘Love the sinner; hate the sin’, the message of the gospel is this: ‘love the sinner; hate your sin’. Let me say it more clearly he said to me, while he punched me in the gut a second time: ‘Love the sinner; hate your own damn sin.’ In other words, love everyone just how they are and worry about your own self. This is the message of the gospel and the message I need to remember when I’m inclined to judge others for their behavior. In learning to love others and worry about my own self, I am free to make choices that someone else may or may not agree with because if I’m not busy judging you, I also don’t have to worry about if you are busy judging me. #freedom #antidpressants

Here is a great article that deals with the church and anti-depressants.

http://momastery.com/blog/2015/08/12/ministers-depression/

XO,

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Crazy for cats!

I don’t often get obsessed about things. 

I find myself obsessing about things. Sometimes important things and sometimes things that are really not that important at all. Take for example, our new kitten Eleanor. I’m obsessed with her. In fact, I have recently titled her “Most Favorite Animal I Have Ever Owned”. If you know me, you know most of my animals receive this title for a short time and then are moved to the “What the Hell is Wrong with This Animal?” title, but Eleanor, I think she’s in it to win it.

Here is the history from my web browser on my phone. It should become obvious to you that I probably spent 2-4 hours reading articles about cats and searching for other cats with cool markings. 2-4 HOURS. I have three kids, people. And I spent HOURS doing this.


  
Before your judge me (and it’s fine if you do) let me tell you why this cat has won my heart.

  1. Two words: hipster cat. She has glasses and elbow patches. Hipster. IMG_9662
  2. Loves Avett. And Avett loves her. I mean look at this video.  
  3. Loves everyone. I really mean everyone. She loves all of us equally and she even loves babysitters, the mailman and every visitor including children who just want to hold her close.
  4. Not like a cat at all. I would have never called myself a cat person. Even when I owned 3 cats (true story) I wouldn’t have let you say I was a cat person. Cats are jerks. Eleanor is not a jerk. 
  5. Super soft. Petting her is like therapy. Free therapy.
  6. Cuddles. She loves to nap with me. (Full disclosure: I have been known to take famous two-hour naps which this cat will quietly and not annoyingly sleep beside me for.) 
  7. Follows me around like a dog. A simple “Come Eleanor” usually brings the cat running to me.
  8. Isn’t annoying. This is really the crux of it with cats. If you do find yourself with an affectionate cat, they tend to be super annoying. Clingy. Eleanor is the perfect balance of loving us and leaving us alone. 
  9. Risk-taker. This bag is clearly labeled “not a toy” and yet she says, “to hell with the rules! this bag is a toy!” I love that quality in a cat.

Final proof that I am obsessed is a recent photo shoot I did with my cat at midnight in the basement studio. Midnight. With the cat. #obsessed

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XO,

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P.S You can follow me on instagram if you are dying to see more cat photos.

www.instagram.com/celinabaldwin

The Swirl

I am infamously behind when it comes to pop culture. Take for example the fact that just last week was the first time I ever watched the Watch Me video. As in, the first time I ever heard the song was when I googled it because Amanda referenced it and I had no idea what she was talking about. Last. week. If you happen to be my grandmother who has no access to internet or a computer and you haven’t seen this video, please go ahead and watch it. It’s super clean and all my kids love it. Avett once requested “break yo legs” while I was singing lullabies.

I’m just not in touch. I don’t know what’s cool when it comes to clothes, music, or anything else relevant. My best friend had to tell me years ago that it was time for me to stop wearing overalls. I believe the year was 2009, but jokes on her! Just a few more years and I actually would have been good to go because they are BACK in style.

“How does one get so out of touch with the real world?” you might ask. Well, I don’t watch live TV. Ever. I only listen to 97.3 KBCO. I don’t have Twitter and I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook so I am off it a lot. I don’t read the paper or the news online and I live in a small town in Colorado. In short, I am insulated and I really don’t care about most of that stuff. Also  could be called ‘ignorant’, but whatever.

Anyway, I was in NYC (doesn’t that sound cool?) and my #bff and I got tickets to the Wendy Williams Show. Little did we know we’d be falling in love. No, not with Wendy. She’s gross. With this guy.

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Yes. That’s me under there.

So what had happened was this: Marco Glorious (real name) is one of the producers for the Wendy show. His job is basically to look hot get the audience all riled up, dancing, and excited for the show. He runs around with a mic asking questions like, “Who’s from Jersey?” and all the Jersey housewives jump up and down and he goes over to them and asks lame questions or makes them dance or tell their real hair color or whatever. Whenever Wendy isn’t talking and the cameras aren’t rolling, Marco Glorious is running around the audience all fit and trim and smelling like a millionaire (real story).

Anyhow, one of the segments during the show was about tattoos and Wendy. When we went to commercial, Marco Glorious (real name), asked something like, “Whose got tattoos?”. I do not think I raised my hand, but everything is a blur now. Anyway, he finds us in the front of the audience. He probably sensed us staring at him. And he says to me, “Oh! Is that Africa on your shoulder? You got the motherland. Oh girl! Your down with the swirl!” And I sit and nod my head dumbly while smiling and blushing from embarrassment. On the way back to the hotel, I ask Amanda what “the swirl” means because as we know, I am out of touch. She wisely tells me that she thinks he was referring to my hairstyle and that it’s called the swirl. “Oh. Ok. Makes sense.”

Days later, I am for some reason still wondering what it meant, so I wisely google “the swirl”.

Here is my text to Amanda. So much for her being in the know….just like my friend who told me to get rid of my overalls.

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P.S Here we are on live TV. Ironically, this is how we looked when we found out what the swirl really was.

P.S.S Let me be clear here that I have NO problem with “The Swirl”. I was just shocked at the context in which I came to learn what it was.

11713917_10207331661519780_7617430958087634467_oXO,

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