Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reflections on 2012 - the year of the dragon

As I write this there are only two more full days left of 2012. It’s amazing how quickly this year came and breezed past me especially these past two months from Thanksgiving to Christmas. One weekend I’m picking out and decorating a tree and hanging lights and the next my family is here celebrating the holiday. Chad and I are fortunate to have family who travels to see us over Christmas. My sister and her husband live in San Diego, my in-laws live in Michigan and my brother, mom and dad live in Alabama. This year everyone but my dad came out and it was a full house at the Magee B&B. While it can get chaotic at times, especially when we had my two year old nephew running around and a total of four dogs (two of which we were pet sitting) I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think I have a little Clark Griswold in me from Christmas Vacation – I want all my family under one roof and the perfect Christmas.

My sister and her husband had to work on Christmas eve so they were able to come out before the holiday and spend some time skiing and playing in the mountains before coming to our house. While we didn’t have too much time over the weekend with them we managed to at least fit in a trip to the infamous Casa Bonita (for those of you who watch South Park anyways will recognize it):

My mom and brother braved stand-by traveling and after a shuttle to Atlanta, delayed flight to Austin and late arrival into Denver, they finally made it to our house. While it was a day later than intended it was amazing to have them here as well where we alternated our time between enjoying walks in the snow, playing Cards Against Humanity and cooking. My mom mage a great soup for us to eat on Christmas Eve and then her and my brother cooked the majority of the food on Christmas day.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not much of a cook so to have my family not only around but cooking for me was a wonderful treat.

As sad as I was to see everyone leave, I was happy that each and every one of our family members made it home safely and with no drama and hassle. So the house quiets down to just one extra dog and my husband and I as we prepare for the year ahead.

New Year’s always tends to be anticlimactic and despite my best intentions year after year it never turns out quite as I want it to be. Last year we ended up celebrating at our house after a failed attempt to fly standby to Florida with our friends Lyndee and Mark and I should have taken it as a sign that this would be a year that not everything would turn out as I thought it would or should be.

2012 was the year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar. I talked a lot about the year of the Dragon and what is symbolized in my first few yoga classes of the year that I taught. You see this was supposed to be a year of epic successes and fatal failures. A year that moved by quickly. Much like the dragon’s body there were to be great arching highs and substantial lows; a year where the love and energy that you put in would be returned ten-fold and the negativity energy returned like poison. Looking back on this year I see it was all this and then some for me.

I started the year taking spin and kettlebell teacher training at my gym. I went from teaching one yoga class a day to two then due to other teachers leaving acquired a spin class and a kettlebell barre class. Of the two original yoga classes one was taken away, but then I was offered two more which brought me to teaching five classes a week at one gym and one a month at another. The energy I put in to teaching was returned to me times ten as promised by the year. The more classes I took and the stronger I became the more energy I was able to pass on and the more students grew to know me. I learned a strategy that has benefited me tremendously which was – if you can’t get your existing friends to come take your classes then make friends with the people who do. I went to Costa Rica on a yoga teacher training retreat and into the fire when we left I put in worry and self doubt and took home with me a courageous spirit and melted heart. Both have lasted longer than the suntan.

This was the summer of celebrating my 31st birthday in Mexico, my friend Lisa’s wedding, traveling to Walloon Lake Michigan, and my sister and her husband's 30th birthday celebration in San Diego. I hiked seven fourteeners, one of which was in a mountain range I hadn’t visited yet – the Sangre De Cristos and the two others were my first adventure into class three hiking. I found some amazing hiking companions that I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of hiking with and wouldn’t have wanted to spend my weekends home any other way. Meeting new hiking friends also took me to different areas of the state to hike in that weren’t necessarily 14ers and allowed me to challenge myself physically and mentally.
puerta vallarta

wedding in DC

Handies Peak - just found out I was pregnant before this hike!

Long's Peak

wetterhorn peak


dock yoga at Walloon
San Diego bday celebration

While my flight attendant job remained pretty much the same as it has the past 7 years, I flourished at my gym and had many opportunities presented to me that I took advantage of. I became a mentor to a group of yoga teacher trainees and supported them on their journey to become teachers. They taught me even more than I think I could have taught them and through their journey I was allowed to be humbled by my own struggles and uncertainty. For anyone to get up in front of a room of people and spill your heart while hoping to inspire it’s a daunting task. I learned to speak from my heart this year instead of what I read in books and in the past few months I’ve had more students cry and confide in me that I opened up something deep inside them than I ever have before.

And another important shift in my life helped opened up my eyes and my world as well and that was becoming pregnant. It’s no surprise to those close to me by now that this was not what I expected from this year. But it’s the year of the dragon – things happened with such a quickness I did not expect. After finding out in August I’ll admit there were moments where I thought my life as I knew it was going to be over. I had to cancel plans to go to Costa Rica for the next teacher’s retreat in 2013 and I had to give up a big part of my social life which was drinking. What I didn’t know was how many people I would inspire with my journey along the way. I have had so many women at the gym confide in me that they work harder because they see me working hard. Some of them are pregnant and some are not. Some are just finding out they are pregnant and haven’t even told their families but want to share with me. Some have already had their children and are struggling to get back in shape. So many stories and so many faces and names that I never would have learned without becoming pregnant myself. I am humbled and thankful. I have grown closer to some of my friends from taking a step on the same path they have chosen and I have grown apart from others because my life is moving down a different path. It’s definitely been a year of highs and lows.
trimester one

trimester two

So as I stand teetering on the edge of 2012 I reflect back on all the abundance it has brought to me. Some of it self created and some of which are blessings I didn’t even ask for but am happy to have received. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without the strong backing of not only my friends but my family and everyone who has believed in me. The year of the dragon has bestowed more successes than failures on me and I hope the same is true for many of my loved ones.

My resolution for last year was to “resolve to evolve.” It’s a broad resolution but to me it basically meant not staying stagnant and moving forward in a quest to constantly re-invent myself. I think I accomplished this task pretty well as I look back over 2012. This year I am resolving to surrender to the journey. My life as I know it is about to change and I know there will be many factors beyond my control. My hope is to do the best I can and handle everything the best way I know how. I may not be able to travel as much next year or hike as many peaks as I’d like but my family of two is about to become a family of three and I can’t be selfish anymore. I have enjoyed many years of being selfish and having my time as my own and now it’s time to surrender to the year of the snake. The Chinese believe the snake stays in a coil so as not to show it’s whole body and give away it’s secrets and that’s exactly how I believe 2013 will be – a year to be coiled inside myself, lying in wait for what’s to come.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What you don't expect when expecting

This week marks the 24th in my pregnancy. For those of you who don’t compute your time in weeks that’s 6 months. Officially this is the last week in my second trimester and there are approximately 113 more days to go. As I was telling my friend and future doula Casey today I am in a state of contentment. I have accepted the pregnancy although most days I don’t “feel” pregnant and at the same time I’m in no hurry to get it over with. I am relishing sleeping in, time with my friends and husband, working out and all the things in my life that come easy now before I have this baby on the outside. I am in a place where I am enjoying the journey.
This is my 23 not 24 week photo - those to come

This past weekend we had our 4th annual ugly sweater Christmas party. This is always a hit and has grown in the past few years from just a few of our close friends to friends of friends to taking over nearly an entire bar. To kick off the day my friends and I ran an ugly sweater 5k at City Park. As Kate says, to find people you like to drink with is one circle, to find people to work out with is another, to find people who like to do both – well that’s an even smaller circle yet. Hence the small group of us running together:

After the run the day was spent in preparation for the party that night. We pre-partied at a friends house and I must say I have taken to drinking non-alcoholic beer at these occasions. I find what I miss is not necessarily the drinking and the hangover (definitely not the hangover) but just the togetherness that drinking tends to bring. Also I really enjoy holding something in my hand. I don’t know maybe that’s why I never took to running but I have to have my hands doing something or I’m lost.
awkward family photo

Magee's like to party all the time

getting ready to release the kraken

egg nog advertisement

I bet this was a good hangover

The party ended up being a great success and I was happy at the turn out. Next year I hope we can make it even bigger and better (and certainly I apologize for the weird creepy DJ's) There were people there that I didn’t even expect to come and then there were those I expected to see that didn’t attend. I feel like with this pregnancy my group of friends is shifting. 
hula hooping was a great success

If you didn't make the group photo you probably left too early

Which brings me to what prompted me to write this blog to begin with – What I didn’t expect when expecting.

Having a baby is kind of like getting married. It brings you closer to some people and alienates you from others. I did not expect to get the cold shoulder from some people that I know. I am sure people who decide to stop drinking feel the same way. The truth is when you can’t drink (or chose not too) some people will start to leave you out and quit inviting you places. This sadness me because honestly if anyone had an excuse to not be there Saturday let alone host the party – it was me. If anyone had an excuse it would be me. And yet I was there. And ask anyone who was there I was smiling the whole time. I was dancing, and hula hooping and making a fool out of myself with the best of them. I talked from person to person and still didn’t feel like I got to talk to everyone enough. In short I had one of the best nights ever. I wasn’t angry I had to drive drunk people around I was happy to do it. I was happy to see everyone having such a great time. Best of all I remember everything I said, I remembered to take tons of photos and I didn’t feel like ass to teach spin the next morning. Was I sad that I couldn’t be drunk? Maybe a little but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be with my friends.

So to everyone who has continued to invite me to Happy Hours and parties – I freaking love you. I am pregnant not dead. Anyone who knows me knows I’d rather die than sit on my couch doing nothing. I am blessed to have had such an easy pregnancy and the ability to be out and about. This is the time when I need my friends. When I need to treasure these uninterrupted moments with them. When I need to get out and have fun and dance and talk and just enjoy being alive. I can honestly say I’m disappointed in some people in my life right now. But life changes really show you who those people who matter the most are. The ones who stick by your side and buy you non-alcoholic beer and sparkling wine and fruity cocktails and bring you cupcakes and work out with you and make you feel like a human being not someone who doesn’t deserve company. Those that run a race with you and keep up with YOU the whole way just because. You know who you are and thank you. It’s you who has made this pregnancy enjoyable because I know that when the day comes that I can be back in full form you’ll be there with me baby by my side (or driving MY drunk ass home).

6 months down. Where has the time gone….

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Today marks 5 months and 2 days. It is hard to believe that much time has passed in this pregnancy. Since finding out at 5 weeks 2 days my life has been measured in weeks and fruits and vegetables. I am not one to live in the future so the fact that this time has passed as quickly as it has, well it’s taken me by surprise. I had another midwife appointment today and with it brought up something I felt was blog-worthy. It pertains to the things I have thus enjoyed about this journey and the things I have not enjoyed. I am nothing if not honest so I’m putting it out there how I feel…starting with what I have enjoyed the least about being pregnant….

Gaining weight – Here is what I know: yes I’ll lose the weight after, yes it’s natural to gain weight, yes all that matters is a healthy baby, yes I know I’m in good shape, yes I’m young enough to bounce back….YES ok I know all this. And I’m telling you it doesn’t make it a damn bit easier to like the weight gain. It doesn’t. I’m sorry I cannot be happy or excited to see the scale climb in numbers. I have worked very hard to get my body to where it was before I was pregnant. I’m talking hours in the gym. Sweat in my eyes. Muscles so sore I could hardly bend down to tie my shoes. Aches which no amount of hot baths or icey hot could take away. Throughout my life I have gone in and out of spurts in working out and it wasn’t until my wedding that I had motivation to really get in shape. That’s the thing, as women we are conditioned to “slim down” or “get in shape” for events. Childbirth is the only big event in a women’s life where she is expected to do the opposite. I can’t just undo years of seeing a scale and a number and mentally thinking it’s bad or good. Being pregnant already comes with certain sacrifices but this is my body and for all my life it’s been mine. I’ve struggled with it, I’ve worked it, I’ve hated it and I’ve loved it and now it’s not mine. I have no control whatsoever. Imagine working out every single day and seeing the scale go up not down. I know it will pass, I know it will change and then change again and then again as I go through life. But I can’t help but grieve for something I worked so hard for that is now no longer what I want it to be.
And that’s my right.
This did not come easy

A lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into being in shape

But here is what I enjoy, feeling something move inside of me. I always thought I would be freaked out by something living inside me but if I can’t have my abs it’s a pretty good replacement. It’s more active when I am at rest so you can imagine that I don’t get to feel it all day as of yet. But at night I can feel it move and roll around and it’s a pretty special moment of bonding. I have no idea what it’s doing of course, maybe practicing yoga or drinking amniotic fluid and having a party. The feeling is as strange as it is wonderful and it reminds me that my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing and it does have a purpose. I may have had to work hard to learn yoga, to do pull-ups correctly, to train my body how to hike 14ers or water ski but this my body did all on it’s own. I didn’t have to put any blood, sweat or tears into this new adventure my body is undertaking and perhaps that’s why I have yet to understand how my body knows better for me than what I know for it.

And as I sit at the halfway point I can’t help but also be joyful for all the support I’ve received and the world of becoming something new. I ran into an acquaintance of mine today who has two kids and although we’ve talked before at the gym here and there I know that now we have much more in common. By the end of our conversation she was giving me names of mothering centers to connect with other women and offering to give me clothing depending on the gender of the baby. I feel I am in the process of reinventing myself and along with it comes not only new goals and responsibilities but new friendships. Rather than feel alienated I feel empowered. Women tell me their birth stories who never would have shared that information before (and I wouldn’t have thought to care). Of course some of the advice I take with a grain of salt but I appreciate nonetheless. I feel I have more support on this journey than I did when I got married. I actually enjoy shopping for baby showers and going in to baby stores. To research and expand my knowledge of birthing, procedures, diapering, feeding; this is a whole new level of life I am experiencing.
20 weeks

I know the good outweighs (pun intended) the bad in what I have loved about pregnancy and what I have hated. But when you live with your self for so long and then you see that self change into something you don’t recognize…that can be scary. It can be intimidating. Gaining weight isn’t just about the numbers on a scale. It’s a reminder that every day I am one step closer to a life that I never dreamed about. Every pound is an adventure into the unknown and the uncertainty. It’s a reminder of how I’m stepping away from my old life, the Natalie I once knew and beginning a metamorphosis into someone completely transformed.

I’m sure the caterpillar is scared too when it begins it’s journey...even though it has no idea just how lovely it’s about to become….

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pleased to meet you....

I had a chance to meet the sweet potato today. Of all the appointments this is the one I was looking forward to the most. My mom flew in town for the weekend so she could come to the ultrasound with us. Living in Birmingham she may only be a two hour flight away but she feels miles apart in distance and I think, somewhat sad she cannot be here for me day to day. We spent the weekend going to brunch and shopping for my first (of what I’m sure will be many) baby items. I’ll admit all the “gear” is a little overwhelming and it’s difficult to shop for someone you’ve never even met. Life has also come full circle because I want to cloth diaper and my mom cloth diaper so she was full of helpful advice as we looked through the many brands and “systems.” I know things have changed over the years and I love and appreciate all my friends input but in all due respect my mom raised four kids so I default to her for a lot of help in these manners.

I did not want to know the gender. I have friends that tell me, “Oh I couldn’t stand not knowing,” and that’s all fine for them but as for me I don’t care. Knowing won’t change anything or how I feel. I just want to get to know the baby for what it is – a little person shaping and molding and growing each day in the space I provide. I don’t need to plan a themed nursery, I don’t need to pick a specific name, I don’t need that information to bond. I will say I’ve had three dreams on what the gender is and in the last dream I was spelling out the name to register it for pre-school. So maybe I’ll go with that name or maybe it will be that gender. Maybe not. I try to take these things as they come.

So to the sweet potato growing inside me - I must tell you that I feel like we know each other a little bit better now. Of course you can’t see me you can only hear me so I have an unfair advantage. Sitting in the dark ultrasound room it was like we were watching a movie on the television not looking at a beating heart and kidneys and a spine. The ultrasound techs commented on how photogenic you are which means you’ll fit in here perfectly. And like me, you were an active one. I could see you open and close your fists. Watched you turn your head and cross your legs. You let them take some gorgeous pictures of you then would turn this way and that teasing the Intern tech who was just getting his bearings of what he needed to look at before you’d shy away. Everyone comments on how small I am and how I don’t look pregnant for almost five months but you are in the 54 percentile meaning that yes, at 10oz you are two days bigger than most babies your size. 
week 19 about to kick some people's ass in spin class

I guess all that healthy eating has paid off because you sure are enjoying and that’s what matters. Your spine looks ok, you have 4 chambers in your heart, a whole brain, fingers, toes, kidneys, a nose, lips and everything looks to be in place. I really cannot believe that 4 months ago you didn’t exist. And now here you are. You blow my mind and celebrating this month of gratitude I am grateful for you.

I have said before that I never really knew if I wanted kids or not. And I’m still not sure what kind of world I am brining someone into. Life is tough, messy, beautiful and scary all at once and sometimes seems hardly the place for innocent children. But I am grateful to experience pregnancy to see just how life begins. My ego wanted to deny myself of this experience but so far it’s been awe inspiring. To see what started as just two pink lines on a pregnancy test an a blip on a screen evolve into a little being that can open and close it’s mouth and fists and move is surreal. To feel something move around inside you and watch it move on the screen is as bizarre as it is natural. I’m glad I could share this with both my mom and Chad – two people who probably wanted children for me even more than I wanted them for myself. I feel even more of a responsibility and duty now to protect and love.

On Wednesday I’ll be officially halfway there. I’m in no hurry. I am not anxious. I’ll meet the sweet potato soon enough and so will everyone else. But for now here’s a look at the curious wonder that is….

head is on the right in case you can't tell it's a profile shot.

another profile shot with the mouth open, maybe saying hi? laughing at us?

that's a shot of the hand the fingers are on the far right and you can see the arm bones and elbow

both arms or maybe practicing boxing

the legs with the heels on the left. It's got knobby knees and chicken legs like chad