Jul 22, 2017

This is not love.

In another life, I met a beautiful long haired boy. He was oh so sad. I was drawn to his turmoil, to his sadness. "You are sensitive, nostalgic, and sad", I said. "I see you. Your melancholia is beautiful.". I mistook his talk of sadness for an open heart. I mistook his woes for connection. I thought he was letting me in. I thought I understood. But really...I knew nothing beyond the surface of his sadness.  

It is a fragile, convoluted thing, to learn what love is. Three years married. Four together. One month to live a crash course in what love is. 

It is not love to be yelled at. It is not love for your spouse to yell to your face that you are a bitch. It is not love for your spouse to yell at you to fuck off, or fuck you. It is not love to be grabbed roughly. It is not love to be run out on. It is not love to be given the silent treatment. It is not love to be without communication. It is not love to never be comforted. It is not love to be told your access to your bank account will be stopped. It is not love to be threatened with divorce, and a fight for your child. Time and time again. It is not love for things to be thrown, and broken around you. It is not love to beg for therapy, to finally get to go, to last only four sessions, for one of you to get kicked out, and to never make another attempt at repairing again. It is not love to be told you must have another baby or you will be left. It is not love to beg not to be left. It is not love to beg for anything. It is not love to beg. 

It is not love for any of this to happen in front of your baby

It is not love for your baby to bear witness to these things. 

There is so much shame and denial surrounding emotional, verbal, and mental abuse. Even the strongest women are not immune. It sneaks up. You explain it away, because you can’t possibly have gotten yourself into this situation. You're too smart for that. You are not one of those women. You actually try to start telling yourself that maybe being called names doesn't really matter because, "it's just words". Plus, you are loving, you are hopeful, and you have enough love and commitment for the both of you. So that should do, right? When the going gets hard, we don’t run, we fix! We try everything and anything  because we declared our commitment for all our family and friends to see. We have a child together. Leaving is not an option. 

But I've learned there is no such thing as having enough love for the both of you. Or having enough faith for you both. Yes, you still have faith. But now you also have fear. 

Fear is a slippery slope. 

Fear also sneaks up. 

You don’t dare to call for help, because you’ll work this out, and nobody will have a tainted view of your relationship. Because you don't dare to tell anyone, you make excuses. You pretend. But it starts to eat you alive. Your appetite grinds to a halt. You begin to have regular anxiety attacks. You are underweight. You are walking on eggshells. You've assumed a new role, of the baby’s protector. You being to have PTSD. You are sick. This. Has. Made. You. Sick. But you love him. You love him. You love him. 

This is not love. 

It is not love to excuse. 

It is not love to enable. 
It is not love to sweep problems under the rug with no communication. 
It is not love to put up with this behavior. 

It is loving to set boundaries. 

It is loving to have strength, to know your son cannot and will not see this again. 
It is loving to break your own heart, because you never wished for a fractured home. 
It is loving to take time away, to reflect, and remember you are a worthy person. 

That’s the scariest part of all. By the end, you are so upside down that your worth is nearly gone. Your WORTH. Hear me loud and clear when I tell you that YOU WILL QUESTION IF YOU ARE A PERSON WORTHY TO BE A LIVING, BREATHING THING ON THE EARTH. Many factors add up to this, including cries for help that were understood, but never responded to from those you truly thought would help. Instead, it was glossed over, and you and your son were left...feeling unloved, sure...but also unsafe. THIS IS NOT LOVE. Not love comes from a cycle of not love, and not love before that. 
Not love cannot be sustained when matched with real love. 

And it's that simple. And it's that hard. 

And yet time works wonders.

And in the beginning you're certain you'll never get through, because the man of your dreams is gone. It's gone. It is all gone. And then weeks go by. And then you near a month, then more, and you see things so much clearer now that your source of anxiety is gone. And you're right, it is gone. It is all gone. But what's gone is the darkness. The turmoil, and the sadness, the storm brought with it. 

But your love is intact. And you find that you are actually intact. And you no longer pine for someone who tried so hard to leave you, for so long. And when you really take a look back...you see that someone has actually been trying to leave you since they met you. And because of this, you're not sure what role you honestly played to them. 

If I stay silent, I do no favors. I enable. I patch over. I pretend. I allow no women to come forward, to say, "me too!" I have heard so many times that it appears my life is perfect. That it looked like I was living the dream. Reality is that my heart, soul, and trust were shattered. That I will pine for who knows how long for the life I thought I had. The family I thought I was building and could save, could fix. The idea that you don't throw in the towel on marriage when it's this level of love, when there is a baby. The idea that raising our baby under the same roof was the only option. 

My reality is that I am broken. 

As broken as the shadow of the person I thought I knew. The one who told me he never wanted me to be afraid of him. The one who told me that he hated his profession and took it out on me.The one who I both still love, and fear. The one I must turn over our son to at times now - without me. The one who belongs to a family that has now been made clear, is lost to me. I thought many of those relationships could stay intact. I have been so naive. Yet I now have no choice but to hand over my baby. This will also mean handing over my baby to family that I feel I no longer know, or will be allowed to know. One of whom always made me nervous because of the effect of their pain pills. I'd witnessed them nod off on more than one occasion...including once when my newborn son was in their arms. You don't forget an image like that easily. 

I have no idea how to rebuild my life. I'd been setting myself up to be primarily a stay-at-home-mom. I have had no regular income since I was pregnant. Only freelance work. I have no idea how to pay my lawyers. I have no idea how to pay to recover and start over from any of this. It is total devastation in every aspect. Emotionally, mentally, physically, financially. You name it. So no, my life is not perfect. I am certainly not living my dream. 

But what I am, is an eternal optimist. I am an amazing mother who loves her son more than anything, and will fight to protect him when and where I need to. I also know that people are good. That men are good. That men are out there who come from communication, or want to learn communication. Who want to dig deep. Who would look at themselves, and choose to sort out their share of the issues. Who speak kindly of the women in his life. Who strive to discover who they truly are, and what they want. Who dig in to the experience of parenthood. I didn't have what I now know I needed in a partner while navigating my way into motherhood. I wasn't able to deeply express and work through my first 6 months of post partum anxiety. I wasn't able to express my contentment with becoming a mother, and my deep connection to our son, or talk about the kind of baby he was, and the parenting styles my mother's instincts told me fit him best. I didn't have those big exciting moments to talk about for years to come when I found out I was pregnant, or when we saw the first ultra-sound.

Never in my life did I experience a relationship where I needed to ask for help. Certainly not in the 8 year relationship I was in prior. That was a good man, so good he was willing to come to my defense even now. There are good men

I feel a pang of sadness when I see a baby out and about with both a mom, and a dad. I keep having moments of panic because my wedding ring isn't on. For a split second I'm worried I've lost it. I'm not used to having it off. Ahead of me lies a hard road, and no, I'm not sure how I'm going to start down it, or pay for it. And yes, it still feels like all is being taken. A spouse, my baby, quite possibly any chance at future pregnancies, maybe even the roof over our heads. I am learning how crushed the stay-at-home-mom often becomes in this scenario. Where are the resources?! Life is dealing me cards I have never, ever, wanted. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I don't know how anyone can take the required divorce classes and still want to go through this, rather than committing harder, and fixing it. Those classes are devastating. 

I'm aware that this all sounds very heavy, so let me leave it with some lightness. 

Recently, my bouts of sadness have started to lessen. I have ever so gently begun to feel lighter, and to feel a freedom that had gone missing. I still feel a spark inside. A spark I didn't even realize had started to go out. It is there, it is back, and it is glowing. Urging me on. I have to believe that there is better ahead. There is different, there is new. I have worked too hard, for too long to lose every scrap of myself for this. I know I was certainly not put on this earth to be this sad. And also, "Charlie's Mom" is amazing, you guys. She is tough, and strong, and soft, and sensitive, and in tune, and confident, and fun. No way would she let someone else take her worth. 

As I finish this story...if you're reading this and you've been through something similar, I hope my words and transparency help you. Help you be less alone. Help you to feel less shame. Help to remind you to stay hopeful. 

And if f you ever feel that you need to ask for help - ask. And don't let anyone minimize your fear. They are not living, breathing, experiencing it firsthand. They have no right to tell you your experience is not valid. This is exactly why people feel there is no way out. If someone tells you they are scared, please listen. Respond. I beg you. And if you find yourself in the camp of the other party, help that person with some tough love, rather than a blind eye. Please, I beg you. To stay silent, to stay inactive does them no favors. The cycle will never have an end. 

I am in progress. I am both happy, and sad. I am worried, but hopeful. I am full of love for my incredible family and circle of friends. My supportive community. My tribe who reached right out and helped me stay afloat. My therapist. I am learning. Every day I am digging deep and figuring it out. 

What I do know now, is love is not cruel. If it's cruel, it's not love. 

Jul 11, 2017

Nowhere to go.

"Grief is just love with nowhere to go." 

I've stumbled upon the perfect quote, and I'm thinking of it throughout the day. I ping-pong between moments of rest, and being seized with sadness. For a minute I think I'm going to be okay, and then my heartbreak is debilitating. 

I can't help but feel this is a monstrous waste. A rash, hurried, angry waste. The depths of what this is are unbearable. I do not want this. I do not want this for me. I do not want this for him. I do not want this for our boy. 

My boy no longer lives under the same roof as his mother and father. 

He will never see us kiss. 
He will never bound into our bed, waking us up early on a Christmas morning. 
He will never sit between us on the couch, watching a Disney movie. 
He will not take another family vacation. 
He will not be given a sibling from the two of us. 
He will never hear us tell the other, "I love you." 
He will not remember how hard it got for the two of us, but also how much love was there. 

All time is happening at once. We are speaking our wedding vows, we are watching our son be born, we are divorcing. Divorcing. And what can I do? What was I to do when I was being taunted with the word, divorce, for over a year? What was I to do, but beg and plead and nearly lose my dignity in the process? Don't leave me. What could I do, if I alone was willing to walk through the fires, to the ends of the earth, to fix anything and everything that came our way? 

What if what came our way damaged me emotionally, mentally, and physically in the process? My appetite vanished, my anxiety mounted, and I questioned my self worth. My worth. To feel unworthy is a scary spot to be. 

But what if I still I wanted to fight for us? What happens when one won't stop fighting, and the other won't start? What's to be done when you're desperate to draw someone out of communication shut-down, and they aren't a willing participant? What do you do when you ask for help for him, for you, for your baby, and nobody answers your cries? 

What if, despite it all, you don't want it to end? 

To end without a fight is such a devastating shame. In these moments, where I can't catch my breath, I am sinking. My love with nowhere to go is suffocating. So abrupt. 

I longed to talk about the depths of motherhood. But depth became off limits. Wasn't this just a season of life? Weren't we just getting back to dates? Planning our first getaway early next year for just the two of us? We had just begun. Barely at three years of marriage. I couldn't even have three, and I would have given every single one I had left. I am forever altered by this. 

How could so much be taken from me? This is a low, low grief. 

And when I see him...how will I ever look at him and not see my husband? I will miss him forever. I will love him for always. I move forward off-kilter, housing something broken inside. 

It is gone. It is all gone. 

Maybe this was never mine to keep. This is not the first time my heart has been shattered by my Great Love. The one who left me behind once for eight months. From that I barely recovered. Here we go again. 

My Great Love who talked of our future up until the moment our lives exploded. My Great Love who tried to leave me so many times. It was inevitable. How many times must I be left, or told I'm going to be left, before I believe it, and act on it as well? How many more days can I stay, scared? Physically, mentally, and emotionally declining? Scared of an anger that my Great Love came with, and one that seems to be amplified by life with me. 

Yet my heart still screams: Stop this! Stop all of this! End it now! Fight for this! This is can't be how our story ends! Don't run away! Look ahead! This shattered life is not for us!

Grief is just love with nowhere to go. I've been broken, but my love stayed intact. 

Thank goodness for our son. Our beautiful, magical son. He is a bit of what was, of what I believe should still be, and all the reason in the world to press on. The brightest spot in my life. The boy who I'm said to love too much. To me, there will never be any such thing as too much. 

Thank god for my capacity to love, and my role as his mother. 

This tiny boy has saved my life. 

May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

It's a Wednesday morning. Middle of the week. I have a minute to myself, and I notice how present I am. Completely dropped in. I think of eighth grade, when I went away to camp for a week for the first (and only) time. I'll never forget how Wednesday felt. I hated the camp, the kids were rude, and I desperately wanted to go home. When Wednesday hit, I had such an overwhelming feeling that I was stuck. Time was at a standstill and I was trapped in the thick of it. This particular day of the week, smack dab in the middle, felt like a non-day. I was no longer at the beginning, but I certainly wasn't at the end. I was present then too, but years later, the difference is that I no longer want out.

I have a one-year old son. One. I have been made mother for over one year. One. With such a big birthday and with Mother's day approaching again I am swirling with feelings trying to make their way out in the form of words. 

I am now a mother, but I am still so many people. They are all very much alive in me. I am that little girl, heartbroken on a Wednesday, on the outside looking in. I am nineteen. I've just moved to New York City where nightlife will explode open, my heart will be crushed, and my teardrops will be left quite literally on the sidewalks. My passions will bloom, my artistry will grow, and I will leave there a real actor. I am a first grader, hurt by getting my one time-out over a complete misunderstanding, and losing my chance at the end-of-year prize from the treasure chest. I am in my early twenties, years into the wrong story. I change my fate. I meet the man who is designed just for me, we have a child. 

Now there is you, my boy.

You were born, and my soul hit the earth with a boom. Mother. Cracked open, everything fell away. Only my purest self remained. I'd had yet to met her.

You have reframed the universe, and restructured time. I have never been so in awe of a person. You, who upon first glance I thought, "who is this?" Looking nothing like I'd thought. Surprising me at every turn. I don't see much of me in you. You are your own little creature. This makes you even more magical. The Little Prince, and I am the curious one, having landed on your planet. 

You. You are everyone who came before and those yet to be. You, who after the most beautiful delivery suddenly got sick. They said to us, "if this happened 100 years ago, he wouldn't be here." But it didn't happen 100 years ago. Time was kind to us, my darling, and let us meet now. We are here, and I still can't grasp it. That you are mine, for keeps. But I've often felt that way about your dad. Six years since we met and I still have to pause and catch my breath. 

There is simply not time for anything that is not urgent. Or important. For time is liquid gold. If it takes me away from you it has to be worth it. There is no other option. 

You remind me that we are all perfect exactly as is from the second we burst into being. More than ever, I laugh at the labels we draw with the earth and with each other. We are all so much more than human and the silly rules we've made. I want such a much bigger, opened-minded earth for you, my boy. 

I saw you years before I knew you. I felt you close by just before you came to us. 

Life exploded into color when you arrived. I will be forever grateful for you, for making me a mother. For leading me my truest self. Little love of my life.

My boy, who shifted all of my selves into perfect harmony. Who taught me to love time, every second of the existence I've chosen (eternel retour) and even to love every Wednesday.

Previous post:  THE BOY 
*this had the most hits of any post yet, thank you for reading and supporting!

Find me on social media!
Facebook: Deena Marie Manzanares
Facebook Page: Deena Marie Manzanares 
Instagram: @Deena_Marie

Nov 10, 2016

The boy.

I can recall where I was four years ago instantly. Physically, I was wrapping up a temporary stay in NYC. I'd gone back for a few months to remember what it was like to be a student again, and immersed myself in classical training. Emotionally, it was the worst time of my life. 2012 wrecked havoc on my heart, head, and soul. We'd lost my uncle that May. He was lost to me in a slew of other losses that year, varying for me in degrees of devastation. I'd been shattered, and I was trying to rebuild. His birthday (the first he would not be there for) was November 9. On November 10, I saw a play. I left on a high. I came back to where I was staying only to find out via face-time that my Grandpa had just died. I could't get home fast enough. I'll never forget that feeling. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. 

Four years later, everything I've lost has come back to me in a new form. All that loss cleared out space for me to gain so much. I truly believe that must happen, and I am left even more amazed at the way birth and death are, in fact, one. 

But there's a final piece from 2012 that I've never shared, because it didn't click for me until recently. And four years later on the birthday/departing day anniversaries, here it is. 

Four years ago I had what can only be described as a vision. I was in Southern Utah for my my grandpa's funeral. Falling asleep, I saw as clear as day my grandpa and uncle outside in a beautiful clearing. The sun was bright. The sky bright blue. The grass and trees around them a vibrant green. They were young, and they looked so good! They had with them a toddler. A boy. He was as blonde as can be. They were all so happy, playing with him. Doing that thing you do with little kids where you hold their hands and spin them around so their feet are off the ground. It was very real. It was happening, or had happened, wherever they were. I didn't know who the toddler was, but they seemed to be taking care of him. 

I thought about it from time to time over the years, but it didn't hit me until recently who that boy was...

For the Squirrel and the Bluebird, who continue to give. 


Oct 11, 2016

Baby = The death of your relationship.

It hit me me one day that the version of "us" we were pre-baby is gone.

Gone for good.
Gone forever.

There's no way to prepare. You don't get to say goodbye.

You only realize it long after the baby is born, when you are reborn as mother, your spouse as father.

Then you must mourn. You must reflect and grieve and reminisce of the days before you were parents. The easy freedom, late nights. Laughing. So much love, that topped out with each other. The days when your world didn't expand so wide, your heart was still on the inside, and your priorities were simpler.

When the baby comes Earth-side, your heart flips outside, and a new love fills you, entire. So much so you almost forget there are others to love, they way you did in your previous life.

Then one day you have a vacation, all three together, nearly 7 months in, and you start to remember. A fever-dream of they way you were. You can start to make sense of it all now that the baby is a little older. The anxiety is less.

This is where your heart starts re-adjusting.

Time has become liquid gold, since you spun into mother. You'd swear it was tangible. You know how to cherish every minute and every moment. You've never been more present, because you understand nothing lasts in a new way.

And the night after you're back at home and the little love of your lives is asleep in the next room, you and your husband entwine in each other's arms. You hold him close. You breathe him in. His hair smells so good. For a split-second, it's just the two of you. You are completely aware of how much you loved him before, but also how much you love him after, now that he's spun into father.

And you're reminded that even after death, the heart just wants to love, so it keeps on loving. It loves right into the next version of you, and your "us", and the next version, and the next. There is still room, and nothing has truly been lost because your love just keeps expanding...and expanding...and expanding...

My very favorite pictures never go up on social media because they feel too intimate. I'm breaking my rule for the first time with this one. There you have it, the two loves of my life:

Jun 30, 2016

Celebrating the post-baby body!

I've blogged a couple of times recently about my relationship to my body now post-pregnancy. Click here & here to read if you like, but the bottom line is that going through my first pregnancy taught me to appreciate my body in a whole new way. I am now in complete awe of what a body can do, and so thankful that is was able to give me my son, Charlie! You'll never hear me say a mean thing about my body again, no matter what changes and "flaws" may come my way. When I gave birth, I was reborn as my truest self. I've never felt more at home in my own skin, or more me. Becoming Charlie's mom brought out a strength I never knew I had.

I love documenting my life through photos, especially during periods of great transformation. Three months to the day since giving birth I did a photoshoot for BraBar Boutique (find them on Facebook & Instagram).  BraBar has lingerie unlike anywhere else in the state. While they have multiple brands (and even swimwear and clothing) they are best known for carrying the stunning bras and patnies by designer Marlies Dekkers. I'd never seen bras this pretty and unique until my first trip in to BraBar! They pride themselves on getting you in truly the right fit as well. The boutique is intimate, beautifully decorated, and the employees provide you with a luxurious experience. There's no surprise that the personal feel at BraBar is preferred over a chain or department store by their devoted clients.

I've modeled boudoir and pinup countless times through the years, but this shoot was different. I was now a new version of myself. The mom version! We wanted the shoot to be a celebration of the post-baby body. We wanted sexy but classy, and to show you absolutely can still be sexy post-baby! We shot in the most beautiful light pink bra & panty set. I thought we might have to try several things on to make sure it was the fit, and look we were going for (I'm certainly not the bra size I was before which has taken some getting used to), but stylist Mimi of Pink Speak nailed it on the first try. We added timeless jewelry and floral robes for our celebratory shoot.

Cat Palmer was the photographer on our shoot (find her gorgeous work here).  When the shoot started coming together, I knew there was no photographer more perfect for this collaboration. I've worked with Cat over the years, and we've gotten to be close friends. I knew I'd be comfortable in front of her camera in my new body. I knew she'd make me look and feel great, since celebrating the female body is her area of expertise. She's built herself an extremely successful business by empowering women through her art. I knew she'd be encouraging of embracing the new me.

I felt great in BraBar's lingerie. It's so high quality, which means it fits extremely well. It was beautiful and it made me feel beautiful, sexy, strong, and like myself.

The photos capture me at my most authentic.
Me as a mother. 
Me at home in my skin. 
Me fully present. 
Me full of more love than I've ever been in my life.

~ DM 

Jun 29, 2016

New me.

1. 9 days after baby
2. 1 & 1/2 months after baby
3. 3 months after baby (now)
4. Pre-pregnancy, 1 year ago 

This is where we are today. I've been fascinated by the female human body like never before since going through pregnancy. I post this because of my fascination, and to keep track of my own progress. 

I have experienced my body every which way now. After birth I felt completely different than I expected to. I felt small, fragile, but also more fully in my body than ever before. I remember stretching out in bed at night those first few weeks and feeling so aware of every inch of me. Down to the tips of my toes I so fully inhabited this human form. I felt absolutely brand new. 

Over the weeks the fragility began to transform to strength, and the initial magic and newness of my rebirth has worn off. 

Now I feel like "me" again, but an enhanced version. I am very near what I looked like before I was ever pregnant, but with a new patience and awe for my body. Believe me, it's not without new flaws, but that doesn't bother me like it would have before. 

I'm too thankful for it for giving me my baby now to ever be mad at it, and too curious to see what transformations are in store for both from here and through the years to be too tied to any one idea of what it "should" look like. Changes are good. Changes are great. 

Whatever it is at the moment, it now houses me at my most authentic self. Me at my most present. Me at my most grounded. Me full of a newfound consuming love. 


Jun 5, 2016

Rodizio Grill Summer Menu + Giveaway!

*Giveaway Closed! Congrats Keolani Smith!*

Over the last couple of years I've been invited to events at Rodizio Grill and I always jump at the chance. That may seem crazy if you know me and know that I'm more or less a vegetarian. As far as meat goes I only eat chicken and turkey, and not very often. When you think of Rodizio you think of meat. This Brazilian Steakhouse is known for their meats. Beef, poultry, pork, lamb, you name it and they keep it coming. The servers keep them circling back to your table on large skewers. They look amazing, and I hear that they are, but I love to go for their salad bar.

The salad bar is huge. Multiple salads from caesar to pasta, and hot food as well. There's rice, different kinds of beans, and mashed potatoes. There's gazpacho, rolls, and corn bread. I took my vegetarian husband for the second time and he loved it, too.

And the desert. Well, that just might be my favorite part. I finally branched out from my usual (their cinnamon pastry) for the chocolate cake. It was just as tasty.

I love this place, and the cozy Trolley Square location. We got to go last week to try out their new summer menu, and to help them kick it off I am giving away two full rodizio meals! To enter, leave a comment telling me you'd like to go, and who you'd like to take with you! One comment per person. Comment below or on my Facebook page where I'll also post this link. Winner chosen at random and announced here on this post & on Facebook SATURDAY, June 11!

~ DM

May 27, 2016


I'm holding my newborn son in my arms, rocking him to sleep. I'm standing over his bassinet when I remember it's almost the 27th. I have to count it out on my fingers to really make sure that this will mark four whole years. Four suddenly seems like a lot. 

I try to imagine as best as I can, you as a baby. My grandmother holding you in her arms, rocking you to sleep exactly as I am doing now. I can't quite see it, but I know it happened. It's so hard to wrap my head around the fact we all start out this way. We've all been held in the arms of a parent, or by someone who loved us. 

I think about how you, Charles, lived in this very condo before my baby Charles did. You have the same residence. You have the same bedroom. You share the same name.

I remember the first time I came back here after you left. Everything exactly as you'd left it, and the air still smelling of you. My mom said I could take something, but I hardly dared to breathe let alone move a thing. I chose only the tiniest object, and the one that seemed most you. An itty-bitty baseball magnet off the fridge. 

I don't let myself linger in this memory too long.

I come back to the present, and think about how the baseball magnet then traveled with me, only to end up back on this fridge. How Charles ended up back in this place, and while he is not you, nor supposed to be, this all feels connected. Inevitable. Strangely whole. This circle of life. 

Into my head pops the Rumi quote, "Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form." 

I get it. 

I leave my heart at that, and put my son to bed. 

May 20, 2016



That's the word.

Today I told my husband that I had no idea how content I'd feel to be at home, be with our boy. You can't possibly know how you'll feel pre-baby, but I assumed I'd want to continue life as usual, with baby now added. But I can't.

I am so content to be Charlie's mom at the moment, that I'm finding myself turning down work. Me five years ago couldn't have done this. Work was the most important thing in my life. Staying "relevant". The thought of "giving it up" for a baby wasn't an option. It was hardly a desire.

Fast forward to meeting the love of my life and doing a complete 180 with my feelings about having a baby, and here we are. A little over two months in and I can honestly and wholeheartedly say I love being his mom. He awakened a patience in me I never knew I had.

I believe in reincarnation. I believe we have certain lessons each cycle. I know mine this round have been patience, acceptance, and being present. I believe life hands us these lessons again and again until we finally get it. I have been through so many life experiences, and had countless opportunities to learn these lessons, but it just never quite clicked. Until Charlie.

He made patience and being in the moment absolutely bloom in me. It happened so naturally that I'm only now realizing the way it snuck up and seeped in. I so aware of what a privilege it is to be his mom. I'm so aware that it's going to go by fast, already is. I am so aware of how much this tiny being needs me. I can't imagine putting anything in front of this time. It is so, so very precious. I know I'll never regret saying no to anything that will take me away from him. Not anytime soon. Not during this babyhood I'll never have with him again.

Recently I turned down a play. Having lived my new life for two months now, I see that it's mom and only mom who will be putting him to bed anytime soon. We've established our routine. And as it's just the two of us home during the day, we've become so bonded. How could I leave him every weeknight for over a month and most of every Saturday to rehearse when he's so brand new? I signed up for this, I'm showing up for this.

I don't mind being tired. I don't mind saying no. I don't mind having a hard time fitting in a shower, or realizing I've been in the same t-shirt for days. It doesn't matter. Nothing is better than him smiling at me. Or how he'll stop crying once he's in my arms. Every morning I wake up excited. I have butterflies all the time. 

I am truly content. I never thought contentment was something I'd feel so fully.

I can't believe how much this little soul has given me and taught me in the last 9 weeks. No way am I missing out on one thing he's here to show me.

Sure, I'll resume a few projects. But nothing that takes me away for too long. I'm going to be stingier with my time.

Charlie's mom first. Everything else, second.



May 16, 2016

What nobody told me about becoming a mom

To my Charlie
5.16.16 2 months old today

What nobody told me about becoming a mom

That sometimes I'll be putting you to bed and be struck by a memory that makes me mourn my past life; like a craving for pad tai in Chelsea Market, where I spent my lunches during acting school. Then you'll laugh in your sleep and I'm instantly reminded that since knowing you, I've felt more love than any other time in my whole life. 

How aware of time I'd become. I feel I can reach right out and touch it these days. I see how temporary every single moment is. Time keeps going. Each new stage keeps passing. I am hyper-aware that nothing lasts forever. 

How I'd ache when you are in another's arms. How my heart would pound and anxiety would surge through me. Sweating, distracted, I'm a secret emotional wreck until you are given back to me. To all mothers who've so generously given me time with your own children through the years, who very well silently sat in agony while your baby was only across the room, I thank you. I love you. I honor you. I couldn't have known. 

How I would want to fall at the feet of all mothers now. You queens, you goddesses. This is what you have all gone through? This is what you were talking about? I'm humbled. I'm not worthy. 

The panic I'd feel when someone says they want to babysit you. All I hear is, they plan to take you away from me. I've had a lifetime of nights out, of living without you, I have no qualms about devoting myself to you through your infancy and beyond. 

How at home I'd finally feel in my own body. I feel every last inch fully inhabited by me at my most authentic. I am finally living in it fully, thanking every last bit of it with my whole being, so in awe that it gave me you. I've never felt more beautiful. I'm a new species. You made me, little boy. 

How much I would cry. Cry for things that haven't even happened yet. Like the time I started thinking of you growing up, going to school, leaving the house on your own. Not being a baby anymore. I laid on the floor snd sobbed. You weren't even two months yet.

How, like the universe, my love for you keeps expanding. How I see my late grandpa in your eyes, my late uncle in your nose and mouth when you smile. How you're a little bit of everyone we've lost come back to heal us. 

How each day would be bittersweet. Your growth would sneak up on me, yet seem so rapid. I am caught between mourning your beginning and excitement to see who you're becoming. 

That the day you took your first bottle instead of my breast would be incredibly difficult for me. I laid in the other room crying, hating that one of our feedings was being taken away from me. The one thing only I can give you. 

How excited I'd feel each morning to see you even though we've seen each other all through the night. There's something magic at the start of a new day. I awake to find it wasn't a dream after all, that you are real, we've got another day, we've got more time, and you really are mine to keep. 



May 3, 2016

Spring basics 3 ways!

Happy May! It's finally feeling like Spring!

I partnered up with a local boutique I love, My Sisters Closet, to show off 2 basic items and how they can each be worn three different ways. My goal was to show you how versatile a simple piece is, as well as how inexpensively you really can build your wardrobe. Hope you like the looks and they give you some spring inspiration! Each piece comes in a variety of colors and sizes, so be sure and take a look. Great gift ideas for Mother's Day, too!

Below you'll see
Fresh knit cardigan in mustard
Favorite basic tee in black

Happy shopping!

It's a challenge for me not to buy all black, all the time. I found that this bright mustard was much more versatile than I thought! I went for three varying degrees of casual. Jeans, a dress, and shorts, all completely easy to style.  

So as I said above, black is a staple and I'm always looking for a great black tee. I love this one! The material is so soft. I ordered a size M so it would be a little longer and extra cozy! Perfect for a casual look with cotton bell bottoms, a workout or running errands, and dressed up for night! 

Thanks for reading! 


Apr 29, 2016

Well-Read Women

It's almost Mother's Day, and I'm especially excited since it's the first one I'll be celebrating! Until then, I'm going to be posting some of my favorite gift ideas from Got Beauty! 

First up, Well-Read Women
Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines 
by Samantha Hahn

Beautiful quotes and illustrations from the famous ladies of Romeo & Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Wizard of Oz, Madame Bovary, Lolita, The Scarlett Letter, A Doll's House, and so many more. $19.95

Apr 19, 2016


In the last few weeks I've learned more than ever to appreciate the little things. Stolen moments of time to myself, bits of quality time with my husband. I've also learned just how big the big things are, like our baby reaching one month, and meeting his Great Grandma for the first time.

Becoming a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. Nobody can prepare you for how hard and truly life-altering it is, no matter how many times you hear that it will be. But it's also filled me with more love than I ever would have thought possible. I ache for my baby when he's in someone else's arms. I miss him when he's across the room. I can't get enough of him. I can't imagine there's anything better than staring at his beautiful face. 

To my surprise, motherhood has brought out a new confidence in me. I've never felt better as far as being at home in my own skin. 

I've always loved documenting and sharing in pictures, especially at this time in my life. After the baby and I wrapped a photoshoot yesterday, I had to get out in the beautiful weather. I love spring.

This is the most significant spring yet. All is new. 

Necklace available at Got Beauty $14.99

Thanks for reading,


Apr 16, 2016

A promise to my baby

A promise to my baby

Becoming a mother is a complete transformation. When I became one last month, I felt nothing short of having been reborn a completely new species. I even experienced inhabiting my physical body differently. I felt so fragile, small, and new. 

While I was pregnant I tried to enjoy it, but honestly I couldn't wait for it to end. I wanted my baby out, here with us. I'm better with what I can see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands. The unknown was stressful to me. All I could do was long for the future.

I'm a firm believer that we control how time passes. Just think about the way one day can fly, another drag when they have the same amount of hours. We spend a lot of our time reflecting on the past, or waiting for the future. Living in the present is the hardest thing we humans have to master.

After childbirth, the way I experienced time completely changed. 

Now that my baby is finally here, I understand the concept of time like never before. I have now lived through a pregnancy and birth, two of the biggest life-altering experiences a woman can have. I see that it's possible to get through, and that there's no way out but through. Above all, I see that all is temporary. Concepts I knew prior, but now run incredibly deep. Through my being, through my soul. 

I read a quote once that said something like, "everyone, everything, everywhere, ends." I don't want to miss a single phase of him. Everything else can wait. Life will resume before I know it. The days of hibernating with my newborn son will end. I want to memorize him him exactly as he is right now, and in each moment.

My promise to my baby is to always be present with him.

Time feels tangible. It feels urgent. It doesn't lag, and it doesn't jump ahead. I see how much my son has grown in just one month. With this new life comes the gift to truly see and experience living in the moment. That's him. And I promise to be present for every phase, every age, every day.

Special thanks to Walmart and Pampers for parenting with me for the #MothersPromise challenge.

Thanks for reading.

Oh, and moms! Since there's little time to go anywhere, and we run out of diapers in the blink of an eye, be sure to place an order for a giant box of Pampers from Walmart who will deliver them right to your front door. I just got my delivery and let me tell you, I'm so appreciative of the little things that can make life a bit easier now that I'm a mom!  Click here.   

Deena Marie

Sponsored Post.