The break is not over just yet

As the lyric “to every season turn, turn, turn” spins in my mind I am back (albeit briefly) to say HELLO in here today.  My last post informed you that I’d be taking a vacation from doing this. I didn’t know when I’d return, if ever. At all. Goodbye cruel internet world! Okay that’s a bit dramatic. I needed to take time to figure out if I still wanted to do “this” and what “this” blog experience is to me.

I’m here TODAY to tell you the BIG news of what has been going on with us lately.  As well as what I’ve decided to do about blogging.  It’s all very good news. The past few months since the post on November 21st 2015 I’ve been LIVING, loving, and being with my husband again after deployment.  We’ve had to dig our heels in and do the work of figuring out how to parent our wee daughter together.

It wasn’t all a picnic, but we’ve done it.  I feel it. The resolve. The knowing that I can sort-of-kind-of relax for a minute and enjoy things. I have a terrible tendency to think the ceiling may fall through at any minute. That’s no “carpe diem” outlook so I’m working on that.  I’m working on settling in, settling down, and acknowledging that change is around the corner for us again soon (hello PCS…non military peeps that means we’re moving).  A lightbulb went off for me this week when I realized that change will always be in the air.  Our daughter changes EVERY DAY. Seriously. Sometimes she just wakes up from her nap with a new brilliant (or naughty) idea of what life is at that moment.  Change is good. It’s hard.  But it is absolutely necessary.

In my time off I realized what I missed most about “this” blog is the WRITING. I miss writing. I miss putting words out there and having them received.  When Ryan and I originally talked about this (and thank you my man for listening to me agonize over blogging like way more than you probably ever thought you signed up for in this marriage) he said, “if you miss writing, just write”.  So I did that. And then I realized whilst writing that I missed sharing.

This blog stands as a testament to three moves over five years.  It’s our time capsule. It’s our life in words/photos/and stories that I wrote in the moment. Stories that are still so fresh when I read them that I’m transported back to that precious time.  I need those words.  I need the project and the platform that gets those words out.  I could easily sit down and start working on the book of our life. But here it is. Right now. Living and breathing in it’s own little internet library.  Shareable. Ready. I think you’ve guessed now that I can’t give it up…but there is a hitch.

The BIG breakdown:  Over the past 3 months I went through EVERY SINGLE POST I HAD EVER WRITTEN.  1,277. Yup. That many.  I whittled it down to 475 posts in total (+ these last few that I’m using to tie up loose ends).  I’ve ordered a book that chronicles all of that remaining work for our family.  I look back at them and I feel the hours I spent working. Dreaming.  Telling stories.  I’ve loved reliving it.

However to move forward in this new world of internet, and move forward in my journey as a parent, change is inevitable.

I’m going to be changing this space.  I’m going to be changing the way I approach blogging. With the five-year old blog printed and published in my hands, this site is going to be shut down. See ya later. Thanks for being here.

I am opening a new site.  I’m hoping you’ll like, nay LOVE the new approach. I’m focusing on the STORIES.  I’m writing all the feelings, all of the swirly twirly emotions of motherhood down in one place, and here’s the best part…

I’m inviting others to join me. I’ll still be providing snippets of Swoboda household life along the way, but specifically tailored to protecting my daughter.  I don’t know where this crazy world is going. I don’t know who she wants to be when she grows up.  I know she deserves the best we can give her.  I know that this project is MY new creative happy place project.  But you will not be seeing her face in a photograph on the blog. You may see the back of her.  Her hand.  Little feet.  You’ll get those sweet stories that I can not let go from my mind, but always in a way that if she read it 15 years from now, it would cause no harm.  That’s how I’ve figured out I can keep writing.

I have a launch date in mind, on a calendar, written down in big sparkly letters.  I need that date because if not I may run away from this new fangled idea of mine screaming.  Are you ready for this?

On June 1st, 2016 upliftinganchor.com will go LIVE.

Join me there.

This is a new adventure, and I am nervous, excited, and ready for the change.

While I continue to build the site (hey there inner techie!) I hope you will join me on Instagram @upliftinganchor and the Facebook page is coming soon!

As for this space, it’s been a journey.  I walk away from here knowing that I have grown, and so appreciative of every single person that supported me here. Thank you.

 

5.3 Million Steps to 30: Goal ACHIEVED!

Hey guys, it’s nice to be back on the blog today.  There are BIG plans in place for a return to full-time internet writing, but I’m saving that celebration for another day.

Today is the day where I get to share with you that I DID IT.

I’m a month ahead of my goal.  I walked 5.3 million steps, and I’m not even 30 yet!  I started this journey on October 17th, 2014 and I ended it on February 20th, 2016.  I went from 0 and ended with 5, 314, 756 steps. I started this personal challenge because I needed a focal point for exercise when I was six months pregnant. I had always been active, but I needed something that would lift me up through my pregnancy and through the recovery of having a baby.  Ryan was deployed. I was still teaching dance.  Life was drastically different then. I woke up early for a walk.  I went to work.  I ended my evening with a walk. Each step was a moment of peace, where I thought of how our life would be changing forever soon.  When he returned we spent the evenings walking my normal route together.  We talked about our dreams for her.  He held my hand as my walk turned to waddle and I went into labor.

Flash forward to Evelyn’ birth, and the struggles of life with a newborn.  I didn’t walk much those days.  I remember the first time I made it all the way down our street, and it felt like a huge challenge.  Each step then was a victory.  As she turned eight weeks old, I signed myself up for a mother’s fitness group called Stroller Strides.  I sweated and pushed the stroller for miles.  More steps.  Pauses to feed the crying baby.  I was fighting a battle to slowly get my strong body back. With each placed step, I felt more empowered. The Fitbit came with me to Japan, it traveled along with me to the mainland.  My family was recruited in my challenge. My mom walked with me in the mornings, my dad ran with me at night.

No matter how tired I was or how I was feeling, I worked to get my step goal each day.  Lacing up my shoes, I would hit the road, the trail, the sand, and just go.  Evelyn was there through almost every step.  She cheered me on in her own way.  Looking down at her in the carrier or the stroller, I’d go further. I’d think to myself, “fitness has changed from wanting to be at my most svelte to not evening caring about that.  As a mom now, I just want to be my fittest so that I can do this for you. So that I can carry you anywhere and keep up with you.  We’re doing this together.”  With the walking I did drop the baby weight, it came off slowly and healthily.  I’m happy to have it gone, but I’m even happier to feel like I don’t care about skinny anymore. I care about healthy.  I care about STRENGTH and endurance.  Working on those things has given me a body I’m proud of and one that serves me everyday.

5.3 Million steps to 30 is over.  I learned during the challenge what real fitness means to me.  I still wear my fitbit daily.  I wear it and work towards new goals.  I wear it and challenge my friends and family in the fitbit community to reach their goals or to push just a little farther. I’m proud of myself for hitting my goal.  I’m proud that I stuck to it, and I’m amazed by how much my body has changed in a year.  The photo below shows me in full pregnant glory. I took it on January 23rd, 2015.  I went into labor that night.  The second photo is of me the day I completed my 5.3 Million step journey, on February 20th, 2016.  This challenge served me well during one of the greatest changes I’ve faced in my life.  I took it one step and one day at a time.  I was reminded that I do not give up.  I can do anything I put my heart and mind to.

5.3 Million Steps to 30

 

The 32 Day Blogcation

Our Growing Family

It’s been 32 days since I sat down and logged into my blog.  In those 32 days we’ve been gathering ourselves back together.  Thank you to those of you that contacted me to see if we were okay.  We are more than okay! We are good.  I just could not find it within me to write, because at the end of it all, I hit a wall.  I’ll spare you the whole nitty gritty and give you the summation: It’s been a long two years.  I was pregnant and anxiously awaiting my husband’s return.  He made it back in time to help me get our daughter here safely.  We found out 30 days after his return he was leaving again.  We said goodbye.  We said “hello” two months later as I flew baby and I across the world to meet him.  We hunkered down and met up with familiar faces and places to get through the next four months.  The whole second deployment was a weird mix of joy and sadness in raising our girl without him in-person-present, and the delight of sharing her with friends and family we would have otherwise not seen because we would have been home together as three.  Whew.  Talk about conflicting feelings.  I also always have a hard time complaining because compared to the rest of the world’s moments of tragedy, I know my problems are not unsolvable.  We were/are surrounded by love and support.  I carried my girl through 10 flights solo this year and documented her growing up.  I loved and cried and found a strength I never knew I had.

We flew home to meet daddy, only to find out he was delayed another 10+ days.  That was the beginning of my 32 day blogging hold out.  I needed to protect myself and my family as we dragged ourselves to the finish line.  That’s the thing about deployments: they hurt, and are horrible, painful, crappy…then they are over.

The reunion went better than I could have ever imagined for us.  E welcomed Daddy back without a fuss.  She was delighted to have her big playmate back.  Our first 48 hours were a pile of hugs, giggles, and tears of gratitude.  I felt happy and relieved for all of us.

The last 32 days have been a breath of fresh air.  Sitting here today, I feel the pull. I have missed writing.  I am shuddering to see all the photos I have yet to do anything with.  This blog keeps me constantly accountable for keeping our memories filed.  It has always made me feel delighted and proud to look back and see where our adventures have taken us.  But.  Yes but.

But I don’t know where I’m going now.  I don’t know if I want it all out there.  True, I’ve always carefully selected what I post.  I’ve toiled away furiously and consulted with my friends and family about if I should keep this up.  Their advice has lead me to what I always knew they would say, that the choice must come from me.  I’ll leave you today with my choice:  I hope to share my soul-searching journey with you of not just the past 32 days, but over the past 10 months.  E has shaken my world.  She’s helped me reluctantly see there’s not enough time or energy to do it all.  Leave it to a child to really help me get my priorities straight! I want to focus on my family, and then if there’s time left over, I may be able to tune back into this at some point.  I argue in my own mind that if it is important enough, I’ll make time for it.  So I hope to keep writing.  But I have to find a new way to do it.  The world is still a beautiful place to me, but it is also one that I see now with a wary mother’s eyes.  The online journaling shall continue, but in a way that makes me feel more comfortable.  I hope you can find me, meet me halfway in this journey.  I’ll be posting over the next couple of months with updates on my transition to move the blog away from such a personal beat. Until then, I hope you are all snug as bugs in a rug with your own lovies.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 39

What a surprising week! I find myself in the land of Texas yet again, celebrating a new life and soaking up quality time with my spunky nieces.

 Evelyn got her first dose of Pacha guitar time, and she loved it.

I’m dreaming and scheming to send some craft materials back to my Hawaiian home, I think it’s been a big money saver that we haven’t lived near Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, fabric stores…OH MY.  I think a few flat rates are getting stuffed to the brim.

We had an excellent time chatting with Ry-guy this week.  Hang in there babe, we’re almost through this.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

The best moment of the week has to be:

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

I adore little babies! I can not believe how much my girl has grown.  Each one is a blessing, and I’m so happy I was able to be here for this.  It has me remembering what it was like to be a family of three, and how we are getting through this to get to have that again!

C’mon Week 40…show me whatcha got!

Why I love airports

airportreunion

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

The quote above is from the movie Love Actually.  It captures the last 3 months pretty perfectly.  We’ve been in airports for countless minutes this year.  We have more ahead.  Each day we travel, I feel the dread of the hours, the question mark of how my baby may behave in the air.  Then all the sudden, it’s over and we have landed.  We are surrounded by loving arms, and I am thankful for the journey taken.

airportreunion

I sit here today pondering the alternative.  We could not have traveled at all.  We could have sat comfortably in our own home, never moving, just waiting for the deployment to end.

What fun would that have been?

None.  We are so fortunate to have had time to do this.  Time to be with those that make us smile bigger than the sea.  Time to be hugged. Time to laugh and cry.  To LIVE not just from afar, but up close.  We are fortunate that we could make the investment in tickets.  I am grateful that my guy urged me forward.  That I fought my own fear and packed up, heading out with hope.  What an unimaginable joy it has been.

airportreunion

I love airports because of the hope they promise me.  The ability to connect, move forward or back.   These photographs were snapped at the beginning of our journey.  I needed to see them today.  I needed to be reminded of what’s to come.  I’ve felt the strain of this time apart from my guy lately.  I’ve been missing him so much it’s like I’m drowning.  But then I look to my left, to my right, and I see all my anchors.  Not just my anchors, but my buoys.  I’ve been kept afloat this year by airports, by the travel that has taken me to my loves.  We’ve shared the good and the bad together.

It’s onward and back up in the air soon.  Until then, love is actually, ALL AROUND.  I’d best keep that in mind;)

4 Generations

How lucky I am to have such amazing women in my life.

Evelyn June, you were named after my mother, Doreen June, and my nana, Carlene June.  They are two of the most precious ladies I know.  You will one day know what an honor it is to share that “J”.  You will one day know how they taught me how to care for you.  They both echo in my heart daily: to raise you to respect yourself, to work hard, to honor your family.  To make things special even when you may not have a whole lot.  To set goals, to set your sails for adventure.  To keep challenging yourself and seek love.  So many lessons, in so little time! But I know we can learn them together, I know that I can teach them to you by demonstration.  I can show you how to be your best self by being my own best self.

I believe in you as these women have always believed in me.

4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations

It was an extraordinary day, to have these photographs taken.  Four generations of women, faces strong in hope, love, and determination.

4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations 4 Beautiful Generations

How lucky we are, my darling daughter, to know love this grand.

You are now apart of this amazing line of women.  May you grow to absolutely know that without a doubt.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015: 38

This week has been beautifully quiet.

There have been long hours of flipping through photo albums.  My favorite thus far is a family tree book my mom has completed for her side of the family.  I felt like I met my Great Grandparents for the very first time.  All of them had perished before I arrived, so looking at photos of them, learning their stories and seeing ways in which we are alike really stirred a deep feeling of satisfaction within me.

There were nice rainy days where tea was sipped slowly at nap time and I was lost in thought looking at the view of misty mountains.

52 Weeks of Happy 2015

I completed my best run of the year.

Mom and I have dug into our sewing projects with fervor.

Baby girl turned eight months old.

Meals were had around the table.

And I’ve allowed myself to start looking at the calendar and counting the days until the Mr. makes his way home.

Here’s to week 39, may it be merry;)

5.3 Million Steps to 30: 10 month update

As of August 31st, 2015:

I’ve been stepping it out since October 17th, 2014

217 days remain

I’ve walked 3,200,344 steps

That’s about 1,405 miles over 10 months!

I have 2,099,656 steps to go!  That means I need to average 9,675 steps a day to make my goal on time.

This month I was stepping scared at certain points.  I had 10 days where I was in ultimate vacation mode, and that meant I didn’t even make a dent in my daily step goal.  Eep.  Thankfully the steps I had put in the bank from previous workouts helped me out, and taught me a very important lesson.  When I can: DO. Go the extra step.  Go the extra mile that day, because there will definitely be days where I will not make it happen.

Our routine has been delightfully shattered by travel.  I will admit I am a creature of routine.  I like it.  It makes me feel cozy, happy, and content.  However I also crave change, spontaneity, and new challenges. How’s that for a crazy cocktail? Ev and I are on a wild ride right now of the open road, and it has been a great feat to get my workouts in each week.

5.3 Million Steps to 30

I’m learning to make the time for myself.  To carve out an hour (or even just 20 minutes) to say to myself and those around me, “I’m getting this done.” The BEST part has been when I mention my need to get moving, my family and friends jump on board with me.  I have the support of those I love right now in so many precious ways.  Together, we’ve been stepping out on the roads of Canada, blazing trails in Ohio, and claiming the hills of Arkansas.  It’s exciting to be in this chapter of my life.  It’s exciting to see my pregnancy weight peel off.  It’s awesome to know that I really WILL accomplish this goal. 5.3 million steps. What once seemed tremendous feels attainable. I’m still months away, but yet I feel closer to achieving it every day.

I’m getting there, one step at a time.

Travelin Girls

I’ve logged into the blog so many times this month hoping to write.  Then I was torn by the overwhelming amount of photos, memories, and stories I had to share.  So MANY GOOD MOMENTS.  Today I decided I had to rip off the writing band aid and do what I always do…leap forward with both feet outstretched.  Get ready for the posts over the next few months to be sporadic.  To be spontaneous and love-driven.  We’ve been on the road since the beginning of the month, and we’re not stopping anytime soon.

It will be that much sweeter when this deployment comes to an end and we become a team of three again.  But until then, we’re sucking up the sunshine and sharing this little lady’s light with the other loves of our lives.

I’m most impressed by my itty bitty travelin sidekick.  She’s taking to the roads and skies like a champion.  She’s full of wanderlust at her wee age of 7 months, and I love watching her take in every new place, face, and experience with such incredible joy.  I’ve adjusted to being a wanderer with baby.  With pacifier dangling from my shirt, bottles packed, luggage lifted, sweat on my brow and baby strapped to my body, I’ve been a one-woman show toting us from Japan this summer to Hawaii, and onward to Canada and now the mainland USA.  I’m proud of myself.  I’m doing this.  It’s possible.

Along the road we’ve encountered long flights, hugs, reunions, family meals, new friends, old friends, family, weather changes, crashing in different rooms, long walks, and clinging to one another.  We are each other’s constant.  At the start of this trip I felt nervous.  A bit petrified.  Would all this change be good for her?  Was it safe? Was it the right thing to do?  Now I can look at the road behind us and the one stretching on in front and say YES. A resounding YESSSS.  It is worth it.  Each minute we grow together.  I will look back on these crazy days with my baby girl and feel ever-thankful for taking us on this big adventure.  There are more to come of course, but this moment RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW is amazing.

travel baby travel baby travel baby

I’ll be playing storytime catch up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for some sweet photos and tales of our days thus far.  Until then, We’re sending you some love and hopes for your next big adventure;)

xoxoL&E

Arigato

In two days we will hit the halfway mark in this deployment.

We have three months left.  This time apart has been vastly different because of one cute-as-a-button reason.  I’ve written previously about deployments, and how I dealt with the separation.   Although I was not alone last time, with a growing little lady inside of me, I have to say going through a deployment with a child is vastly different than any of the others I experienced before.

It is interesting to ponder.  I’ve had people tell me (before baby) “well at least you don’t have a kid” during a deployment.  Now that I have baby lady, people tell me, “at least you have a baby, it makes it go by so much faster.”  Having done the spectrum of the big D: as girlfriend, as spouse, as pregnant, and with baby, I can say NONE are easier than the other.  As a girlfriend, I was hoping that all my waiting would someday lead to what I knew in my heart I wanted: to be married to the man.  As a spouse, I kept busy with work.  The work that paid, and the work I did on myself, using the months to grow, learn, explore.  As pregnant, I nurtured the little life within and prayed for him to get back on time for the birth.

Now I’m midway through of the dreaded deployment with my new title as Mama.
a travel thank you

What I can say about this new stage for me is that time is a giant catch 22.  The days both blaze and drag by.  Time has felt like it is flying, but yet also dragging.  I say flying because she does keep me magnificently preoccupied.  I say dragging because she has changed so much since the last time we were all together as a family.  It feels like he’s been gone longer because she has morphed from little infant to an interactive and strong six month old.

I tend to walk on the side of life that sees the glass half full.  I see silver linings.  But yes, it took me almost a month to get any posts up about Japan because looking at the photos and retelling the stories made me smile and my heart ache simultaneously.  I am jealous of families that get to be together all the time.  But we’ve never martyred ourselves out to this lifestyle we choose to live.  It could be better right now, but it could always, ALWAYS be worse.  So we push on.  We encourage each other.  We take time to communicate.

We take our blessings with gracious hearts.  I am THANKFUL we had a break to go see each other.  It was amazing.  And hard.  Hard to say goodbye.  These next three months will continue to be just that: amazing and hard.  It is hard for us to not experience this part of Evelyn’s babyhood together.  But I’ll be darned if I miss a moment of it wallowing.  E has such tenacity for life.  She has smiles and joy and a fervor that gets me up, singing songs, dancing in the living room, and living to the fullest each day.  Just as I did before her, I do with her now: we live.  We love.  We wait for the other limb of our family tree to come home so we may all root down together once more.

We’re counting the days, and yet I am conscience to remain present in them as well.  We’re halfway!