Embracing Winter.

IMG_0687As you probably know by now, I am not a fan of Winter. I can usually endure it for a minute when it’s Christmas time, but come December 26, I need it to be Spring again. I usually enjoy about the first twenty snowflakes before I need to find a sunny beach somewhere.

Yeah, weakling, I know. But I’ve never really enjoyed having my fingers stuck together by frozen particles of the Antartic or subzero icicles hanging from my nose. Ok, so maybe when I was TWO, but you get my ‘drift’. It’s been a while.

I’ve never been a fan of cold weather, and it seems no matter how positive I am about the situation, going into it, usually by the end of January, I end up hating myself and my knee high boots, and swearing that I will live in the tropics by next Winter. No matter how determined I am to stay happy and to rock my fabulous faux fur, usually by February, I am pretty much lying curled up in a fetal position somewhere in the corner of my house. The warmest corner, that is, aproximately three inches from the front of my little electric heater, which stays permanently attached to the wall in our master closet.

(Yep. If you ever can’t find me, and it’s February and my two year old hasn’t burned the house down, this is where I’ll be.)

Usually by Valentine’s day, I’m not even trying anymore. By then I’ve given up on every single positive mantra I’ve ever chanted to myself, and I’m just straight up bitching and moaning about my frozen state. By that point, the fabulous faux fur is stuck to my face and I’m feeling like a flattened-out pancake at the bottom of a snow drift, wishing for Spring.

Welll…except for…are you ready for this??? I really don’t know what’s happening with me, but somehow I think I might be enjoying Winter (go ahead and gasp, it’s ok) just a teensy tiny, weensy little bit this year. I don’t know why, but so far (fingers crossed) I have found a new appreciation-cough-I-mean-understanding for that ghastly sham of the four seasons and I’m actually a wee bit happy, amidst the icicles.

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So when my husband said he wanted to try out his new camera and it was the coldest day in history, I said “YES! Of course, we should do THAT!” Ok, so I wasn’t quite that excited, but I had recently changed my attitude and my hair color and I decided, “why not? Why not celebrate the things I don’t love and perhaps trick my brain into loving them? Why not just embrace the moment, accept what is, and find some value (aka FUN) in it?

And so I did. These photos are about that. This photo shoot, however impromptu, was not about me being some kind of weird alien human who just simply loves the cold. And yes, there ARE people like that! This was about focusing my energy on having fun, no matter what. It was about living life, wide open, no matter the obstacles, or the difficulties.

And you know what? It was actually kind of amazing! I had way more fun than I would have ever anticipated and my fingers didn’t even freeze together!

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At one point, I grabbed a handful of snow with my bare hands, threw it up into the air and then felt it softly land on my face, and for a moment, I actually thought I was Cinderella.

It was so beautiful and romantic.

Before long, I found myself laying in the snow, making snow angels, and remembering my childhood winters in Ohio, and how fun they were and how we would huddle together with the neighbor kids to warm up and watch our breath make shapes in the cold damp air.

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Suddenly I was that kid again.

The kid that always looked for the fun. The one that never missed an opportunity to get out into the middle of the ice and the friends and have a good time. I was that girl, and I was having a blast!

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So much so, that eventually I threw off my faux fur and began to waltz down the road, not even caring that the sun had gone down and it was zero degrees. I got so lost in the beauty and the magic of the moment, that I forgot all about my little electric heater and the hot chocolate that I would surely need immediately thereafter.

Isn’t that the way it goes when we throw off our fears and just simply get lost in the moment we’re in?

The older I get the more I realize that so much of my art depicts my life. This is probably why I love acting and modeling so much. There is always so much meaning to be found in the characters that I play, whether in front of the camera, or behind it. The camera of life, that is.

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I see the joy and the fun behind these pictures and it honestly makes me wonder why I haven’t embraced the Winter before? Why did it take me so long to accept it and appreciate-ahem-understand it?

But this is the process I’m in, and little by little, I’m letting go of my hang-ups about it. Little by little, I’m practicing what I preach and I’m truly finding beauty in everything. Even the fur that’s stuck to my face.

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This is why I say yes when it’s freezing and my husband wants to try out his new camera. And this why I have hope that perhaps someday I will fully enjoy Winter.

 

Suicide and Dying With No Regrets.

I’m going to do the unthinkable and talk about suicide today. Yes, that dark evasive thing called death that no one wants to talk about, much less to acknowledge or admit to, much LESS around the holidays. Yes I know this is a “happy” blog, and yes I know this is not a feel good subject. But the truth is, this is part of my story and it’s part of so many other precious souls that I know, I think it’s time we talk about it.

Like this guy did.

I think he’s pretty friggin’ brave. What strikes me about this story is what I will call suicide regret, and I believe everyone who’s ever attempted to end their life, successfully or not, has felt it to some degree.

I know I did.

When I first stood there outside my car and looked down over the crevices of that Tennessee mountain, I felt only fear and despair. I knew something had to change and I thought the only way it would is if I would take myself out of it. I was sure that the only chance my husband and baby had at a better life was if I got into my car and gunned it over the edge.

Nothing could convince me otherwise. I was so mad that I had believed the lies. Mad that I had walked into yet another situation/relationship that had been so hard and so hurtful, and my mind was made up.

It was eerily quiet as I stood there, thinking long and deep into the abyss that threatened to squelch my life, to still my beating heart, once and for all. The phone rang. I let it go. “I can’t.” I thought. If I answer it, he will convince me not to do it.

It was my husband. I was too angry, too afraid to talk and so I just stood there, numb and yet knowing what I had to do. It was the only way out.

The phone rang again. And again…and again. It was destroying the quiet, disrupting my plan and forcing me to start thinking…rationally, perhaps? “What if? What if I picked up that phone and everything WOULD change? What if this was the one time that things would be different? But I would never know if I was lying flat at the bottom of that hill in a pile of steel and metal…”

I got into the car and revved up the motor. I fiddled with the radio. I looked over again at the sides of that steep hillside, and wondered how fast I would need to go to make sure I did not survive. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. My hands shook. My whole body shook. I HAD to do it.

But, then…”what if? What if I regret it the second I do it? My daughter would never know..”

Ah, my daughter!

And that’s when the text message came. “Your daughter needs you. Please come home.”

Suddenly out of nowhere, I snapped out of my rage and picked up the phone. What was I doing? My daughter needs me!

I burst into tears when I heard my husband’s voice. It felt both terrifying and amazing to hear it. I was relieved in the most unexpected way. Thing is, I knew I would have regretted it as soon as my car would have left the road. I knew I would have thought about my baby girl and I would have had the same thought that this man did…

“the millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret.”

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I know now that this is true. There is nothing pretty about that moment. There is nothing heroic about that millisecond where your brain has overruled your heart, where the lies have overwhelmed the truth and convinced you to take that leap.

It’s only instant regret.

I know because that’s what I felt in that moment and my hands hadn’t even left the steering wheel yet. I’m so thankful for that. I’m so grateful that I felt that tinge BEFORE it was too late.

I’m so glad I decided not to die that day. Because as God and destiny would have it, I went on to live the best and happiest life I’ve ever lived, after that. Today I live a full life, one that has sadness and joy and misery and yes,  ‘happy little surprises.’ But through it all, I’ve made it my mission to live AND die, with no regrets.

The truth is I would rather go unexpectedly and completely out of control, with fullness of heart and life, than to go being in control with even one regret, if that was the only regret I ever had, and if that was the ONE that took my life.

Truth is, I don’t want my daughter (or my son) to ever wonder if I “wanted to” die or not. I want my children to know that no matter how hard it ever was, I lived and loved life to the fullest, and that I died with NO REGRETS.

Yes, this is a heavy subject to broach especially around the holidays, but honestly I’m so tired of hearing of another beautiful soul making that leap, and wondering if they really wanted to die. Wondering if they knew how much we wanted, needed them here. And how amazing their life might have been, had their hands not left the rail.

If that is you and you are on the brink of a hopeless end, please think about this. Consider the instant regret and how you can’t undo that. Most people don’t get another chance to take that decision back like I did. Most people that take that leap don’t ever come back. Please don’t be one of them.

Instead, do something brave you won’t regret, and ask for help. There are plenty of people and organizations and healing therapies that can and will work. There really IS hope.

I am not a professional in any one of those things, but if you need a listening ear, prayer or perhaps a little encouragement, please send an email to: happylittlesurprises@gmail.com or send a message via www.facebook/happylittlesurprises.com. I am always happy to hear your story and to offer you my own.

Be brave and reach out today! You are worth it. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are valued and needed.

No regrets.

The end.

 

Resources:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Northern Colorado: http://allianceforsuicideprevention.org/about-suicide/where-to-get-help/

General:

http://lostallhope.com/help-me

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-speak-us-about/i-want-kill-myself

Depression:

http://www.adaa.org/finding-help

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/11/supplements.for.depression/

http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

Treatment Centers:

http://www.therefuge-ahealingplace.com/depression-treatment/

https://www.aplaceofhope.com/

http://www.sierratucson.com/depression/

 

 

Layers.

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Fall always brings out the layers, and the depths in me. Layers of childhood stories, of adult pain and places I’ve been, of people I’ve met, and those I can’t see, but are always there…forever in my heart.

This is for all of you today. You are loved, you are beautiful, and you are seen. No one can tell your story like you can. No one paints the sky like you do! You have a place. A purpose. A never ending reason to smile, and to keep going.

You make at least one person’s world go round. Remember that.

So, here’s to you and to all the layers, the good, the bad, and the unforgettable, that make up my history, my life story.

I wouldn’t be who I am today, without your affection, your smile, your friendship…the way your eyes dance when you tell a story. The way you listen with your heart and come closer when it gets hard. You always come closer.

I want you to know that it means something. It means the difference between suffering and dying silently and knowing that you have a friend, that everything’s ok.

Here’s to you, in all your grand beauty, and the layers in your own soul. The ones that sparkle with color and the ones that are weary and gray with the years. And to the ones underneath that no one sees.

You are loved and you are treasured. Like my favorite pair of jeans. You are appreciated, like the layers of blue on this beautiful fall day.

And always.

Love, Ruthie

The Slowing. (A Poem)

Words come slow and steady on the paper

where my heart and my tea pours,

and I feel the warmth of the Autumn sun

against my cheeks.

It fills my mind with thoughts

of beauty, of life, of death,

and the endless cycle that it is.

How nothing in this world lasts, but how it is good and helpful

and wise, because it teaches us.

It teaches that love runs deep and love is really all there is.

That seasons come and go,

that the river ebbs and flows

and then it slows

until it becomes only a trickle of what it used to be.

How it will never die,

but it will always flow.

It will always be

the river.

It will always carry life and hope and refreshment for all who sit on its banks

and all who drink from its waters.

I soak in the warmth and remember the seasons and the reasons

why I’m here

at this place,

in this moment,

HERE.

Where all is still

and the waters of time have slowed to a trickle.

The hurried days of summer have all but dwindled

and it’s only me, and the sun and the beauty

that is

this season,

this life,

this death,

this slowing down.

It always comes when I’m not ready, but it always brings me gifts.

Gifts of peace and a new understanding

of what it means to live,

to breathe,

to celebrate each moment, without fear.

No fear of the cold and the future and what comes next,

But just to be,

Fully alive.

Remembering the summer without wishing for it.

Enjoying the memories, without pining for them.

Listening to the thoughts

that come, without cringing.

Coming to peace with myself,

and the dying.

The dying of leaves and plans and ambitions

and the golden dreams of summer.

PEACE

with where I am

and where I’m not.

Embracing the present,

Without the noise and the rage and the battle.

Embracing this place

where my heart becomes quiet

and the ink and the river slows.

Where all I can hear is that gentle bubbling,

the hushed and silent knowing

that all is well.

That whatever the pause, the change, the internal winter brings,

it can never take away the sun, or the beauty or the warmth

0f this moment.

For it is deep and eternal,

and it is mine to keep.

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Go, Baby.

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Because sometimes ya gotta explore.

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Even if it’s just a drawer, a hotel room, or a black box with buttons.

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Even if it’s a remote control, a waste basket, or your own reflection in the mirror.

Ya gotta touch it, taste it, feel it.

And then, when you’re all done with that, you gotta find something else. Something else to pull yourself up to and peer over. Something to climb onto, and teeter on wobbly legs until you figure it out.

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Something to hold, to crumple in your hands, to squoosh between your fingers. And realize how much fun it is.

This life.

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Go explore it.

Go conquer the next hill, or hotel room. Look around.

Go as fast as you can or take it slow.

Crawl to the beginnining, if you have to, plop down in the middle, but GO. To that ever-mysterious end.

Don’t be afraid of the end!

Follow that stream of light, chase that golden rainbow.

Go all out, ALL the way, my dear!

Discover all the layers. The ones that are hidden, and those that are shining beneath the surface of hardened callouses. Of thickened skin.

Discover all the textures of wonder and disappointment. Joy and pain.

And delight, in-between.

Touch and feel EVERYTHING.

Go gentle, go easy, or go hard, but

Go!

The world is your oyster, baby.

Celebrating M.O.M. (and Me!): the First Six Months.

A few weeks ago, I kicked off my Celebrating MOM project, and so far, it’s been nothing but joy to watch this vision come to life. I’ve received such an incredible response and many wonderful people have lended their help and their services to make this thing happen.

We just wrapped up a photo shoot where we pampered and photographed five women, and I’m excited to bring you their stories, as well as a few others, in the coming months.

But first, here’s mine!

I must say, I am totally uncomfortable putting myself out there like this, and being the first woman whose life I “celebrate,” in this series.

I feel vulnerable. Exposed.

Perhaps there is still a part of me that wants to shrink back from the world? (Um. How long have I been sharing my life with the world on this very PUBLIC blog??!!)

Yeeeaahh. I realize it’s time.

And this is important. This is more about something and someone else, than it is about me, anyway.

These pictures are a culmination of the deep and powerful, frustrating and life-changing moments I have had with my second child, my son, Emerson.

I hope you see more than me, in them. I hope you see how amazing every moment has been. And how amazing your own life is, with the small souls you are raising.

My hope is that we, as women and Mothers, will see how beautiful our lives really are. That we will embrace even the most fleeting moments of our Motherhood and treat it as the gift that it is.

I accidently started this project when Emerson turned six months. I wanted to do something to commemorate the occasion, but I wanted to do it in a different way than maybe I would have done in the past.

I wanted to truly feel the beauty, the power, the gift of every single second I have had with him.

I looked and surprisingly, I found that gift and that power in the ordinary little pieces that lay, scattered around my life. Those seemingly meaningless objects that grace my days.

I began to pick them up, and hold them in my hands and remember with my heart, everything that had happened in these six months, and how it had changed me.

That’s when I realized. I had held bottle liners and baby wipes and ordinary pieces that had represented phases. Phases that had been used up and spent so feverishly and then grown out of.

Moments that had come so intense. And yet, passed so quickly.

So I brought them, heart and soul and hands to my photographer, Thalyta, who then captured them so beautifully on camera.

This is that story.

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This is the story of what happens, immediately after birth, when you’re allover wet with joy and relief and dilerious exhaustion. That moment when you’re drenched in blood, and pee, and night sweats, and you don’t even care, because you’ve just brought a human into the world.

I realize that to some, it might look awful, horrid, or even gross. But to me, and to a Mother, it is the most beautiful, transcendent moment I will ever experience.

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This is the story of those first few weeks, when it’s just you and that squishy blob of cuteness, and all you wanna do is lay around and cuddle. Actually, let me re-phrase that. All you are ABLE to do, is lay around and cuddle.

It’s a beautiful problem.

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And then he cries. And you try everything. You change his diaper, you try his belly, then his back. You bring him up to your breast and rock and bounce and stuff a ‘nibby’ in his mouth, and still he cries.

You get frustrated and then you cry, because well…you care. More than you’ve ever cared before.

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This is the story of how you make friends with your breast pump, just so someone else can feed your baby and so that you can possibly sleep through one of the twenty-five feedings that happen in a day.

How that awkward contraption is your ray of hope, your ONLY sliver of sleep, and how you love/hate it, but you do it gladly.

FOR YOUR SON.

Because he is worth it.

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And then, how he gets his first teeth and you make really good friends with Sophie, (that punk teether giraffe that likes to get lost more than it likes to be chewed!) and all her soft, pointy, odd-shaped little friends.

How you throw them all in the vicinity of your son’s mouth, and hope that something takes. You hope that something other than your nipples, (OUCH!!) will provide some relief from the distress of those chompers.

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Oh, and how somewhere along the line, you become a breast-feeding, burping, multi-tasking machine. You figure out how to eat, sleep, talk, feed your other child, and run errands, all while nursing your baby.

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And eventually, how you find your groove and your rhythm.

How you bathe and lotion and love every inch of that skin. How you eat up life and that little human. And how you find a little independence, a little freedom…again!

You might even think you got this.

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But then, how at six months, you realize you’re still spent, and lonely, and dilerious and tired. So you stay up late, reading books on how to get your little punk to sleep through the night.

Meanwhile, all you really gain is a deeper understanding of what it means to “sleep like a baby,” and you secretly hope that you don’t. 

Aaah, the illusion.

The grand oxymoron of this life we call “MOM.”

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And then one day, how you pick up his shoes, those tiny loafers he wore just a few weeks ago, and realize he’s already outgrown them.

This is that story.

The story of how you touch and affect every moment, however tiny it may be. How you carry memories, and souls in your hands and how rich and blessed your life is, because of them!

And you know then that these are not ordinary things. These are not just meaningless objects. For in them, lies that present, wild, and gloriously gut-wrenching moment of Motherhood that comes and transforms, and passes by us only once.

And then ends all too soon.

P.S. Don’t grow too fast, my son. I want to drink you in a little longer, sweet baby!

 

Note: All photo credits belong to Thalyta and Thalyta Swanson Photography, rights reserved. If you would like to share this, or any part of this content, please link back to this article, in its original entirety. Thank you! So we can all stay happy.:) -Ruthie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life, interrupted.

I am currently curled up on the couch, nursing a broken tooth, (as much as you can “nurse” anything that’s broken in your mouth, HA! It’s called pain killer.) while a cold wind blows incessantly on my pretty little garden.

Yes, you heard it right. A COLD wind!

It’s been cold and windy, (my least favorite combination!) for three days straight. And I’ve been in pain. Not the perfect picture of health and happiness over here.

But still.

I am thankful.

I am thankful that we are heading into summer, and that it will be warm again tomorrow, and that there are doctors who can fix broken teeth. Also, I’m super thankful for friends who will drive you home in the middle of the night from a women’s retreat, so you can get some relief from the hell-ish, mind-numbing pain of a toothache.

Thank you, my dearest Ashleigh. You might as well have been Michael the archangel.

Oh and can I just say “Thank God for ibuprofen??!!”

I mean, you guys know I’m all for the coconut and the essential oils, but there comes a time when you just gotta take the pain killer. This, for me, was one of THOSE times.

Apparently this is also one of those times, when I just need to stop in the middle of what I was doing and…rest.

REST!

Why is that so hard for me?

I thought I had gotten better at it. I mean, I can totally rest when I’ve just had a baby. I can refrain from doing anything besides the absolute necessary, when I’m in grief or when I’ve just come home from a trip to another country.

I understand the need for rest at those times.

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But right now, in the middle of enjoying Spring and bringing in flowers? It’s Winter again and I’m holed up inside?? In the middle of writing a totally different blog post, one about some amazing pancakes, I break a tooth all the way in the back of my mouth, and I am in too much pain to finish it? I don’t have the energy to do something simple that I love doing: editing and playing with pictures!

It’s amazing what a tooth and a couple days of cold and wind can do.

Both seem like such a small thing, like it couldn’t possibly be more than a minor annoyance. And for the first day, it was just that. By the end of the second, though, I was listening. Paying attention. And at least, thinking about surrendering. (It takes me a while, ok??!!)

Today though, is the third day of being holed up with intense pain, and I am not even trying to fight it or work around it anymore. I am tired.

Exhausted, actually.

Apparently, it’s time to go see the dentist.

And apparently, it’s time to rest.

(At least I have some pretty flowers to look at, while I do that!:))