#livingthedream

I try to post a #livingthedream moment on Snapchat as often as I can. Most times it's a backyard shot (our backyard is magical you guys!) but it can be something like us eating dinner, me getting 5 minutes alone, or even the normal every day things like a sink full of dishes. I try to remember that even though my life is super full and I feel like I'm in the middle of a whirlwind most of the time everything is pretty great.

I know that I'm a giver and I want to take care of everyone... But sometimes that doesn't turn out so well and I get stuck in one sided friendships/relationships. However, when it comes to these guys I'm never let down. Quiet evenings like this one last week when everyone is finally feeling better after a round of sickness and we can laugh and share stories even when I have to interpret some of them make it all totally worth it.

And as an added bonus there's always Mathew, even with his busy schedule and business no matter what is happening he's there loving me, showing up, and helping me be me. I am the one taking care of these humans today, but he is always there taking care of me.

The last few weeks have been rough. Not bad, just a lot. Heavy. I feel like I haven't had time to be the friend I always try to be. But I'm learning (slowly) that I don't have to. That friendships like all relationships are give and take. Sometimes I won't be able to give as much as a friend needs because I have these humans depending on me at home... That's ok, friendships pick up right where they left off! And catching up over nachos or pizza is the funnest thing ever!

For the most part, I am pretty steadfast I think. I can usually be found handling the logistics and the details in a pinch. I'm the one that always moves the party along and wants things organized... I'm clumsy but I own it. I'm like an organized inspiring mess. However, there are a few personal things that just get me. There are a couple of things that just make me sad. This last weekend I almost broke down at a wedding reception because people started talking politics and I just can't deal. Why can't we all just be kind to each other. Look at things from everyone's point of view? Protect ourselves without compromising love, empathy, and kindness? 

Times like that are when I miss my friend Angie even more. She died last year and since then I think of her almost daily. Last weekend while doing some cleaning I came across a letter from her from years ago. In it she mentioned relationships and not settling. She said things like "life is what you make it" and "having a heart that's in tune with God doesn't mean going far away and doing mission work... people are everywhere and people are the heart of God. People need to know that God loves them and they need to see that you have something they may not."

"Serving God is serving people." 

Givers, care takers, movers and shakers get weary, but this reminded me to hang in there and keep giving. I cannot imagine things any other way. How boring my life would be without all the little ways I try to be a help, a blessing, a friend, and a light. How patient, kind, loving, and awesome is Mathew for being just as giving AND helping me be what I aspire to be?! How awesome are my friends and family that love me for who I am and want nothing but good things and fun times for me?! A dear friend told me that when she's around Mat she feels like she's with one of her brothers. She feels safe, cared for, and loved. That's the goal you guys. To be that for people. To love people and care so much that they feel it radiating out of you. I know I can't be that for everyone (as much as I'd want to be). Sometimes there is no connection and forcing it just doesn't work. Sometimes that's with people you'll see every once in a while, sometimes those weak connection relationships are family. That sucks... but it's also ok. You just do your best, give what you can, and be content. The best thing you can be for others is to be ok yourself. "If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself" ( -Thomas Monson)

I remember looking at Angie and her husband Kenneth and knowing I wanted that kind of love, that kind of intimacy, that kind of understanding. I'm so glad I found it in all the people around me.

Raise Your 38!

DONATE TO ART FEEDS CARTHAGE HERE.

As Douglas got older I realized that he was a little bit different than most kids his age. This boy at 5 years old would lay awake at night with tears in his eyes just thinking about growing up. He’d think about getting older and how that would mean he’d have to be more independent, and about how him growing up meant all the adults he loved would grow older too… and they would die. We’re all going to die. That’s what would keep my little boy up some nights. Other nights he would request classical piano music or just some Coldplay to listen to as he fell asleep, you know – to take his mind off the sad existential thoughts. Then of course the music would move him so deeply he’d cry over that, even when it was just something as commonly heard as Fur Elise... and don't even get me started on how hymns make him feel. This boy that I get the absolute pleasure of being a mom to has so many ideas, thoughts, emotions, and feelings inside of him and he didn’t know how to control them. He would get overwhelmed by crowds, loud noises, new places, making friends, and anything outside of being at home. I asked his pediatrician about it because of course I wondered if he had social anxiety or even Asperger’s or any other form of autism. She recommended getting him into a program he might like, Art Feeds had been around a few years and she worked with them before so she recommended them. I contacted the founder, Meg Bourne and told her all about Douglas. I still have that first email saved and in her reply she told me how she and the rest of the staff loved Douglas already and couldn’t wait to meet him! I signed him up for a workshop they had coming up on a Saturday morning and she suggested taking him by the offices for him to meet everyone ahead of time before the day of the workshop. He fell in love with the colorful offices, the way everyone talked to him and treated him as a human being and not just another kid. A few days later it was time for the workshop and he was so excited! On the way there he started getting nervous and had the look on his face we all get before we have to speak in public and are trying not to puke. When we got there he tried to be brave, we signed him in, signed the emergency contact forms, and walked to the classroom door where he just shut down. He turned and walked to the right instead of going in and sat on the floor in the corner outside of the room and just had a panic attack.

He wanted to go. He just couldn’t.

He was stopped in his tracks by fear, anxiety, and all the things that come with being in a new place with new experiences and new people, except unlike most of us that find those situations exciting, for him it was paralyzing. I sat down with him and told him it would be ok and he’d have fun. He hugged his legs and made himself a ball and begged me not to leave him. Lucky for us, that’s when our lives and relationship changed. Meg came, she joined me beside him on the floor, I backed up and let them have some time... slowly I saw him come out of his little ball, I saw him laugh, I saw him look at her like she was an angel. He stood up, she joined him and he told me bye. Meg will forever have my heart because of that. Through Art Feeds Douglas has learned that he is valuable, that his feelings, emotions, ideas, needs, and wants are important and can be expressed instead of just letting them overwhelm him. He went to their monthly workshop every time and couldn’t get enough!

Meg began volunteering with special needs kids and through art one little boy began to express himself and to find value in himself. Though she was only 19, Meg knew more children could benefit from this. Shortly after this the tornado hit. Her house, along with such a major part of Joplin was destroyed. She looked around and knew that ALL the kids would need to heal, to process, to vent.

Joplin schools implemented Art Feeds in all of their elementary campuses and I wanted so bad for us to have one here in Carthage where Douglas was in kindergarten and where there is a language barrier that can be isolating for some. Of course Meg had already thought of that and was working on implementing Art Feeds National. No, anyone can start an Art Feeds Chapter in their community with her and her crew’s help. They set their sights on Carthage and as of the Spring 2017 Semester they are in all of our schools. I have served as a volunteer and though I cannot be in the classroom now, I do serve as a member of the board for Art Feeds Carthage. I have seen kids come in grumpy and not wanting to have another “specials” time added to their week to it becoming their favorite part of the whole school year.

We start off Art Feeds programing with the mural curriculum. Every elementary school in Carthage now has one somewhere that the kids can see. It is made up of their drawings, their ideas, their personalities. They worked together for it and it teaches them a sense of community. Though educators are not trained therapists or psychiatrists Art Feeds works closely with child psychologists to develop the curriculums. It takes $38 for child to receive Art Feeds programs for a year. This includes the supplies that they get to take home at the end of the school year so they can continue to express themselves and make art over the summer. In April every year we do a campaign called Raise Your 38 where my family and I sign up to be fundraisers and would love your support in reaching more kiddos with the non-profit that is near and dear to our hearts. This year we have committed to raise enough money for 10 little artists to benefit from Art Feeds right here in Carthage. You can view our fundraising page here and check out other people participating in this fundraiser too! But even if you can’t donate right now we invite you to join us after we reach our goal because  we will be hosting a fun party next month to celebrate where you can come and boogie with us!

xo- Mat, Emma, Douglas, and Isabella Ball

PS. Here's the video form the 2016 Campaign. It stars the cutest kids I know! 

Stuff

The last couple of days have been funky. I've just felt off.

I mean, we all know that I'm the clumsiest and pull off things like ruining the Christmas gift one of my best friend's got for her husband or accidentally emailing the person a surprise party is for about said surprise party... Seriously. I'm very entertaining. I should have my own reality show. Although not really because then I'd be even more self conscious than I already am and you'd see me be super grumpy in the mornings.

Lately it's felt like my train wreck ways are on a whole new level. Maybe because I interact with more people now? Who knows.

I usually love November and December so much, this time however it feels daunting and like I'm just going to suck at all the holiday festivities. I'm not super excited about Christmas because it feels like it's become about stuff. Just stuff. Not even useful stuff or fun stuff. Just things. Stores are just screaming at you to buy all the things. And I want to.

For me the best kinds of gifts are:

  1. food
  2. practical things
  3. ridiculous funny gifts (like a Beyonce cardboard cut out...)
  4. food
  5. gift cards
  6. snacks
  7. pizza 
  8. candy
  9. warm comfy socks
  10. food

As someone who hasn't cleaned out her closets in a while, random stuff is the last thing I want to add.

This isn't to rag on anyone at all or if you love stuff. I mean you should see my collection of lapel pins and don't even get me started on craft supplies. I love things. I just don't want to. It's nothing against others it mostly just comes back to me and how I neglected everything while I was in going through my "who the heck is that person that took over Emma's body?!" phase. I've talked about that and my bipolar disorder before and I feel that I've got an ok handle on it now. Besides having a good relationship with Mathew + the kids, I've got a great job where I truly do like what I do, The Hip Handmade Market thrives, EmmaMade is still something I like but have a healthy relationship with and don't let it take over my life, Emma's Party Shop is happening in 2017 (I can feel it!), Kristen + I have started a podcast that will release THIS week, I have such good friends and surround myself with good people. I feel good about my relationship with my mom and my brother.

Overall, things are good.

BUT my house is a wreck. Baby clothes still in tubs, there's a corner of the basement that is just stacked with stuff. 2 kitchen drawers of junk. Crammed closets. I don't even know what's in there. I want to just pull it all out and give it way. or throw it away. or burn it. I just want it all gone. We wouldn't miss it. As with all things though, if you let it go for a while.. for weeks, months, years, it becomes too much. It's overwhelming. So when we dig out the christmas stuff and we bring home giant loads of gifts and "stuff" I just see my failure as a woman. We're supposed to do it all don't you know?

At least somehow that's what my brain keeps telling me.

My therapist has said I'm really mean and hard on myself. I've talked about that here before too. A full time office job has been a part of my life for 3 months now and I am extremely grateful for this new chapter in my life because not only has it introduced me to new people that I already adore, I've also learned to give myself more grace. Grace allows me to tell myself that I can just buy the muffins and don't have to make them from scratch, or use a mix babe! That it's ok if someone else hears about the kids' day before I do. That it's ok if I want to do nothing but take a bath and go to sleep every once in a while. That I can sneak away to the gym or to record a podcast or go for a drive or whatever I want and let Mathew worry about bed time.

Even then, that mom guilt is oh so real and still strong. Especially when things are backed up and you feel suffocated by them. When you don't want to clean that drawer because it'll just start a cleaning frenzy and you'll be grumpy at the whole family during the little time you get to spend with them... And then your kids will only remember you as a mean mom who flipped out all the time because they left their shoes in the hallway. Hey again mom guilt! Also I'm only spending 10 less hours a week with the kids.. that's not a big deal. They're fine, they'll survive, I'll survive. It's the guilt I tell ya!

Our house isn't dirty... besides all the dog hair. It's just out of order. cluttered. And I don't need cleaning tips, I know how to do it. I'm very organized and on top of things kind of person. It just got bad while I was mentally gone and I'm struggling to put it back. To start over.

I feel like I can do anything. But I've gotta get my house in order first. Without yelling or throwing things at anyone. I'll let you know how it goes...

In the mean time, I have successfully done most of my Christmas shopping at craft shows and markets this year and I've tried to buy useful things. I've got one more big one to go to next weekend and then I should be done! That feels nice. 

Today we started the wood stove for the winter, I set out some zinnia's to dry so I can use the seeds next spring, (that included a lady bug stowaway) and I'm knitting some hats for new babes that I can't wait to meet! What I'm definitely not doing is cleaning out any closets or drawers.

It's fine.

Mathew's go to line, his tagline, his catchphrase, his slogan is "I got this!"

I joke that when he dies I will put "I thought I had it." on his tombstone. I make dark jokes. I'm cool like that.

I've realized that mine is, "Oh, it's fine!"

When I'm turning out of a driveway into traffic and I notice that a car is coming faster than I thought so they have to hit their breaks, even though Mat is having a heart attack in the passenger seat I say, "Oh it's fine. No big deal. They're fine."

I think that attitude comes from being a klutz and the most awkward person alive.

Do not toss anything at me ever. Not a ball, or the keys, or even something soft like clothes or a pillow... Just don't. I lean away from it. Every. Time. I'd miss it completely. So I just let it land where it lands. I have no depth perception, I turn corners, even in our own house too soon and hit my shoulder. No matter what, if I am carrying a pizza box (which is often) I will hit the top right corner into something. Whether it's the table I go to set it on, or the doorway to the kitchen, it never fails.

At a funeral last week instead of saying, "I'm sorry for your loss" or "love you" or anything nice I said, "How are you?"

This is my life. I can't share them all with you but I put myself in the most strange and comical situations. I think "It's fine." came from me knowing myself and being ok with it. Being ok with who I am, with my awkward, with my clumsiness, with fumbling my words. Those traits that at first seem negative actually don't have to be. I believe that they are part of my charm. Part of why people like being around me. Because I can laugh at myself. I can be all thumbs and ungraceful and messy, yet at the same time brilliant, classy, kind, generous, and loving.

Recently though, the unthinkable happened. I got burned out.

The HHM celebrated its 3 years which means 5 markets have happened. FIVE.

I remember why I started it. I love it very much. I love telling makers' stories and sharing their handmade goodness with others. I love having something of my own, the HHM is my baby. But I also get overwhelmed easier than I'd like. I'm hard on myself. 

You know who said that? Who the person is that gave good enough advice to someone that they wanted to make it a graphic? It was me. (graphic by the every beautiful Brooke of course)

I'm really good at giving advice, just not good at taking it.

The market was going off wonderfully. I found my flow. I had an office space for the month which made working on it so much easier. I had Tara fly in from Brooklyn to help. The layout was finally perfected, the number of booths was ideal, the weather was lovely, the decor was on point, the photo booth was everything I could ask for. The photographer, the sponsors, the vendors, the volunteers, everyone was a dream to work with. My kids were helpful and on board, because of the office space my house wasn't completely taken over by the market. Mathew even commended me on being more present, still getting sleep, spending time with him, and eating ok food during the weeks leading up to it.

Even though I didn't wash my hair every day and I we ate simple meals or fast food for a couple of weeks, I was on top of it. Mat mentioned someone even told him they wished they could be more like me and admired me. I was doing it! Going for the things and accomplishing them. People admire someone that decides to do something though it's scary. I know I do.

During this time (and for the last year, and even right now) I was dreaming of having my own place. An event center to call my own. Not a huge one. Not one I could host the market in, but one where I could help you throw the best birthday party ever, or the cutest baby shower. Somewhere clean, minimalistic, and chic. "Where's the party at?" "Emma's"

Of course I'd call it Emma's.

This building went up for auction. I swooned and hoped this would be it. That it would fall in my lap.

There's even an E on the glass by the front door. The layout was perfect and I pictured someone driving by it at night and seeing people mingling, having fun, and laughing through all those windows. 

Someone else bought it for way more than we would've, but Mat even asked them about renting it. They said they weren't interested. Though they haven't done anything that I've noticed with it since, I'm excited to see what comes of it.

Then another place came up, and another, and another.. I had 3 other places I could choose from.

I decided to pursue them but tell them all I would need to wait until after the HHM to do anything. I felt amazing.

But something was off.

Isabella's 6th birthday party was a blast! We had a pool party at The Precious Moments Hotel with some of her friends and afterward we spent the night at the hotel with one of her friends and her mom. The kids swam while her and I talked. I shared with her a bit of my feelings and she told me I was probably feeling that way for a reason.

The week of the HHM was finally here. I picked Tara up from the airport and we got to work. We were excited, I wasn't exhausted, and things were good.

That nagging feeling was still there though.

My intuition knew something was wrong. But I ignored it. I've asked myself why I ignored it because about a year ago I promised myself I would trust my gut, trust Him in me, and just lean on that. I ignored it because I thought it was nerves. I ignored it because it had a bit to do with Mathew. He had a new gym location brewing and helping me with the HHM and just being his kind, caring self. Even so, I am his helpmeet. As much as I need him to be my rock, my protector, my shoulder to lean on, he needs me to be his. I can't think of a different way to say it, something was just off.

Mathew is a rescuer. He's a knight in shining armor. He's prince charming, he's superman. You know who doesn't seem like they need superman? Wonder Woman. And at the time I was her. I tried to cover all my bases and I even asked him if everything was ok (over and over) and he said yeah. And I said it was too. Because it was. Because on paper "Oh, it's fine!" Because I didn't want to be that paranoid or nagging person. Because maybe I was just hormonal, or it was PMS, or nerves, or being tired or one of the 100 excuses everyone makes for women.

Mathew and I realized that what was off wasn't our busy lives, it wasn't our kids, or our family, or our friends, or outside influences, or anything like that at all. It was us. Our connection was blocked, clogged, weak.

We'd let life happen to us and were both focused on our own thing.

But there was someone that had some crap happen. Someone that has it rough sometimes. I am a nice person and was drawn to that. Wanted to help this person. Went out of my way to do so a couple of times. Mathew was even more close to them though and he ate it up. Why? Because like I've said before, he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet. He believes that people have good intentions and he wants to help them.  This person took advantage of that. Instead of being gracious, they are the type of person who instinctively draws out the caring, nurturing, and protective qualities in people, only to set them up for manipulation. A victim.  (more about victim personality here)

I know that even if they started making a wedge between he an I without meaning to, once they found themselves there they tried to stay. Once they were there their intentions weren't good. Luckily, Mathew isn't so easily duped, plus he's got me looking out for him. This was the same person that said they wished they could be more like me and admired me. This person knows how to play. How do I know this? How did I see it? Because game recognizes game. Because I could easily be that desperate person. Because it is only by God's grace that I am not. This relationship is where that ugly, yucky feeling was coming from.

Unfortunately for them more of my good traits are being a momma bear, being protective, intuitive, and outspoken. So I handled that. I called them out

I decided to dig my heels in and fight. Anything that steals your connection is a competitor.

On Sunday night after the market I expressed myself and talked to Mathew. He said he didn't want to deal and that I didn't know what I was talking about. He said he just wanted to go away. I was caught off guard because I'm such a stay and fight kinda girl. But I know he's more of a, give me space and let me process person. Letting him be that is one of the hardest things for me. But I gave him space.

Monday after we talked and I made him hear me that something was wrong, he dug his heels in and fought too. He said something along the lines of, "I wish I could run away. I'm stressed out and everything feel just off plus I don't want to deal with this." I said, "That's ok and understandable, but we're married. Just take me with you."

The next thing he said changed everything. "If we go we have to go now. Let's go."

He called his mom to pick the kids up from school. I texted my mom and friends and asked them for help too. We drove north and found a place with a jacuzzi tub in the room. We stayed there for 6 nights. We spent the first few days just being with each other and talking. Relaxing and watching House of Cards. We needed it so bad. We ventured out and explored Kansas City a few times, but mostly just enjoyed doing nothing and not worrying about anything but our relationship.

When we came back things were rough because we were flung back into the real world. We had to adjust. The HHM stuff was still piled up in the house and that gym still needed to be opened.

I spoke to the person I called out. I tried to smooth it out yet let them know not to try that again and I did. I succeeded. I walked away from that conversation feeling like a queen. Then they (without realizing I think) said a few things in front of me that just didn't work. So I spoke out again. I know things aren't smooth now and they could quite possibly hate that I took their friend Mathew away. But honestly, (this is where I use foul language) I don't give a shit. Mathew is my forever. I will always fight for him. I will always fight for my family, for my friends, and for myself. Those momma bear claws come out and even though I feel a little bad and immediately want to retract my overprotectiveness, I wouldn't change it.

I want Douglas + Isabella to know that they can have their craft show, their small business, their whatever they wants to be or do, but at the same time remember to fight for their family, their friends, or any thing that is important to them. I want them to be strong. I especially want Isabella to know that sometimes women are called emotional and sensitive, that those are seen as bad things. They're not. Those are strong traits. Sharing them and owning them takes guts.

I just learned that the reason I say, "oh it's fine" is because of that Spirit. Because of the guts, because of the intuition, because of Jesus. Because there have been so many times in my life that things could have fallen apart but I've always been taken care of. He wants the best for us just like we want for the people we love. Why do we fight him so hard on it?

The Fall Market applications are open right now, planning is underway, and it's almost time for school to start again. If I hadn't fought I'd be scared. Instead of feeling impending doom, this time I've reminded myself (again) that I can do anything, but I can't do everything. So I'm focusing on my littles, on my man, and even myself. I've been going to the gym about 4 times a week and eating better. I've been cooking so much more and trying to follow that spirit within me. Surround myself with positive people even if it's just through text because I'm also trying to focus on my home. I've put that event center on the back burner, but if you'd buy it for me I'm sure I'd make it the funnest place ever.

I will not be so hard on myself, I will speak up when I need to, and I will be vulnerable with the one that has my heart just as he is with me. I think we girls work so hard keeping everyone together, holding everything in our hands and trying to understand everything with our human brains that we forget we're not supposed to. I've got a guy that would do absolutely anything for me and a God that can. Why don't I let them?

We just celebrated 11 years of being married by staying in a room in Joplin with a jacuzzi in it. We are ghetto fabulous like that. Mathew is kind, and crazy, and gentle, and loves me like that. I am strong, and clumsy, and caring like that. We are secure and strong and in love like that. We totally got this and are just fine like that.