Follow Me to My New Blog Home!

The Natural Verve Has Moved!

I’ve had so much fun getting to know you all on this blog. Alas, all good things must come to an end…thankfully, The Natural Verve is not one of them!

I hope you’ll all follow me to my new blog home which can be found here!

There’s lots of exciting things to come on our brand new website. Make sure to enter your email and subscribe so you don’t miss a beat!

You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter! Be sure to follow me: @naturalverve

I can’t wait to start this new chapter with you all.

Lots of love,

Kristen

Advertisements

The “Me Before You” Controversy

blog1

So I’m sure by now, you’ve all been hearing about the amazingness that is Me Before You. What started as an incredible book, has become a highly anticipated movie that finally hit the box office this past weekend. Despite my love and adoration for the book, though, a disgusting barrage of germs and sickness has kept me homebound and unable to experience the film for myself quite yet. Take that as a PSA and keep in mind that this post may be slightly uninformed. But anyways…here we go.

I have a huge distaste for spoilers, so no worries; this post will not give anything away. Suffice it to say, however, the male lead in this book/film pairing is a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who has a very negative point of view on his injury. This has been striking a lot nerves amongst wheelchair users and other disabled individuals. They’re concern over the book’s message is that it seems to say that this group of people can’t possibly live happy, fulfilling lives. That an injury, such as the one suffered by the man in the story, leaves you with nothing to look forward to.

Being that I can look at the situation with a touch of personal experience, I thought I’d offer up my own perspective.

This July will be almost eight years since my husband was paralyzed from the waist down. While his injury was not as bad as the one in the book, it still changed our lives forever. Our day to day experiences are now riddled with concerns over steps, elevators, tight spaces, ground material, and an array of other issues. But does this make our life any better or worse than another person’s? I don’t think so.

blog2

With a little finesse and creativity, we have managed to fine-tune our way of life to a point where pretty much any obstacle is easily overcome. You should see the way we’ve worked a friend’s second floor apartment or managed to take a Christmas tree off the roof of our SUV. While things are not always easy, we are way too proud to ask for help (though, not always a good thing) and make it work no matter work.

Our life post-accident has been full of amazing adventures, wonderful opportunities, and happy memories. It’s a life I would not trade for the world. Ryan and I have chosen to view the positive side of his so-called “disability.” If it weren’t for that accident, our life would have been completely different, but would it have been more beautiful than it is now? We’ll never know so why choose to dwell on it.

Ryan is optimistic, brave, and has an overwhelming need and want to persevere. This personality and lifestyle is what the negative critics of the movie are fighting for. But just because the majority of us have accepted the hand we’ve been dealt and turned it into something great, that doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.

We have personally known so many men and women in situations similar to Ryan’s that have chosen a path of negativity and regret. They have a hard time coming to terms with their situation and can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel. While this may not be something we would want for ourselves, and we would love to offer them any support they need to overcome their disappointments, it doesn’t mean we can wish it away and make those individuals feel and be anything different than what they are.

In terms of putting these stories onto page and screen, I’m of the mindset that everyone deserves something to relate to, something that might help them. That includes the harder side of things. We deal with things like addiction, abuse, and grief amongst many others in the media…why not the harsh realities that some disabled people suffer with?

That being said, however, the same goes for the happier, more optimistic side of disability. Though different than what’s often considered normal, I think our relationship and life is just as picturesque as other happy families and couples…let’s write a story about that. What do you say, Hollywood? Publishing companies? Can’t you offer something up for the rest of us?’

What do you guys think of this whole thing? Have you read/seen Me Before You, yet?

Our Transitional Twenties

blog

By legal standards, they tell us we become adults at 18. While we may have had the esteemed honor of registering to vote and buying lottery tickets, I think it’s safe to say the majority of us were a far cry from “adults” at that age.

Then we enter our early twenties and by all accounts that should, in and of itself, make us adults. At this point, however, a decent number of us are still focused on late night cram sessions and scoring big in the next beer pong tournament. There are a couple of blasé years in the middle where we’ve graduated college and are edging our feet into the water that is first jobs, new apartments, and sophisticated drinking aka cocktail hour after work.

Then suddenly, if you’re anything like me, you are on the cusp of thirty and realize you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. At this point, many of us are married with at least one child, and it suddenly hits us like a ton of bricks. Over the past couple of years, something changed and we really did become adults.

Who knows what made us realize it…maybe it was your child entering school, being called ma’am or mister at the grocery store, or that unfortunate moment when you officially used the phrase “back when I was a kid” and have begun to pity the poor children being raised in today’s day and age who just don’t understand what it means to be young.

Despite the fact that we are now the grown-ups we’ve always known we’d become, things still feel kind of uncertain for most of us. I don’t know about the rest of you but sometimes I feel like I’m living in a strange void where things don’t make a lot of sense. I sense the maturity that comes with age and feel confident in my capability to make respectable decisions, but when things go bad I often find myself still wishing I could crawl into my mommy’s lap and have her tell me things will be alright.

I sometimes look down on myself for not having it all together. But what does that really mean? Is it essential to have your dream job by the age of thirty? Is it so terrible to still be working towards that perfect degree? Should we be completely confident in the decisions we’ve made for our lives? Is it wrong to think back to the not so distant past and wonder if we could have, should have, done things differently?

I don’t think this is a time for regrets and disgruntlement. Despite our encroaching adulthood, we still have the chance to make changes in our lives…to figure out where and who we want to be.

Rather than spending our time Facebook stalking those individuals who really do seem to have it all figured out (damn them), maybe we should allow ourselves some more time. Give our still young minds the chance to grow and develop until we reach the point where we’ve forged our way to the answers we’ve been so desperately seeking. There’s no timeline to this. If we make it through our thirties and forties and are still waiting to “figure it out” that’s okay, too. Spend some time nursing a bottle of wine and a gallon of ice cream on the couch while you Netflix…it’s ok. As long as we’re happy with the roads we’re on, that’s the only thing that really matters.

So let’s just give ourselves a breather, revel in the fact that we’ve already lived almost thirty incredible years, and keep dreaming of whatever the future holds.

 

12 Months, 52 Weeks, 365 Days

blog2

Today is a day that I’ve been anxiously awaiting and dreading all at the same time. Today is the day that our little girl turns one! While watching her grow, learn and change has become the greatest thrill in my life, it breaks my heart to see her moving further and further away from that little baby we brought into the world a year ago. It really does happen in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, however, all sadness is erased when I realize how extraordinary that daughter of ours really is.

I know all parents think their child is perfect and wonderful and brilliant, but I swear Haddie is spectacular. She has the brightest smile and sweetest personality. She is incredibly smart and amazes me day to day with the things she’s capable of.

blog1

While I was pregnant, I can remember thinking – what if I don’t like this kid? Yes, that’s a terrible thing to even consider and I should have known better, but it was a serious concern. Everyone tells you what you’re supposed to feel, and I had an overwhelming fear that something would be missing. From the moment she came into the world, high pitched screams and all, I knew there was nothing to worry about. Within seconds of seeing that gorgeous face, gravity had shifted. Everything before that moment was the gone with the past and this incredible creature was all that mattered for the future.

Hadley Sutton, you are my life, my love, and my unwavering happiness. I vow to do everything in my power to protect your dreams and give you the most beautiful life possible. Things will not always be easy. There will be scrapes and bruises, bullies, and break-ups, but I will use every ounce of my strength to build you up and help you through…kissing away your tears and reminding you of the possibilities. I want you to live the life that brings you joy, and I promise to always be your biggest fan and cheerleader.

blog3

Each day, you remind your daddy and I just how blessed we really are. You truly are our miracle.

Happy First Birthday, Haddie Girl.

Infertility Awareness Week

infertility.jpg

For so many of us women, we start to dream about our fairy tale lives at a very young age. There will be Prince Charming, a beautiful wedding, and the arrival of a gorgeous, bouncing baby girl or boy to make our family whole. Unfortunately for a large majority of us, that sweet little baby will not come easy.

The National Institutes of Health has discovered that 1 in 6 couples will struggle with infertility. If you have never dealt with the uncertainty and heartbreak that comes with this disease, I will tell you this…There are simply no words to describe it. Whether you have dealt with miscarriage, stillbirth, or simply the inability to conceive, there is no way to explain to someone how you feel. In honor of Resolve.Org’s National Infertility Awareness Week, I offer this post as an ode to all of my fellow warriors in this journey.

You are all beautiful, courageous men and women. I stand beside you and rejoice in your strength. For those of you who have achieved your dreams of a little one after a long and strenuous journey, I have so much gratitude and joy.  If you haven’t yet found your happily ever after, I offer you sweet dreams, lots of luck, and more baby dust that you can imagine.

DSC_0739

Our little girl is truly a miracle that I never thought possible. All of the cards were stacked up against us, but yet here you are. Our lives are so much brighter and more fulfilled because of you, little Hadley. I thank God for you every day.

5 Years Since We Said “I Do”

blog3

Today marks five years since the first day of the rest of our lives. No matter how much time goes by, I still can’t believe how lucky we are to be living such a beautiful life. While we’ve certainly had the ups and downs that couples are so accustomed to, I still live each day knowing that I have the best possible partner by my side.

blog2

I’m forever grateful that we found each other and I can’t imagine a more caring, compassionate and supportive person to call my husband.

blog1

This excerpt is from my favorite book “Jane Eyre.” It was read during our wedding ceremony and every line still rings true today.

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”
—Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

blog4

Ryan is my rock and from now until forever I will continue to vow my love and loyalty. Happy 5th Anniversary to my sweet husband! You make Haddie and I’s world such an extraordinary place.

An Afternoon Snooze

moments

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter let me rock her to sleep. You’re probably sitting there thinking, good for you…what’s the big deal? The big deal is that she hasn’t done this in months! When she was first born, and for many months after, she loved to be rocked and cuddled like most babies at that age do. I remember long, blissful naps on the couch where I lie cuddling her and looking down at her sweet, little face. Despite the ache in my neck, and the cramp in my legs from holding an awkward position for quite some time, I didn’t dare move a muscle. There was no scenario that would cause me to disrupt her slumber and ruin such a precious moment.

Then she got big (or, at least, she thinks she is!) And in recent months, she’s decided that she no longer wants to be rocked. During the fussy period before she falls to sleep, all we can do is lay her down. Forget the cuddling, the cooing, the rubbing of her back…the best thing  to do is just lay her down and let her do her thing. How quickly they stop needing us for certain things.

DSC_0131

And then yesterday happened. She’s been in a funny mood the past few days where, despite being completely exhausted, she refuses to take a nap. It’s frustrating periods of fighting with her to go to sleep, only to realize that somehow your child suddenly has the upper hand. After several rounds of this delightful game, I decided to try out the rocking chair (masochist that I am.) Within a few short rocks I realized that, miraculously, it was working! She was getting sleepier and had started snuggling into me. In a few moments ,she was out, and there I sat once again cuddling my sleeping babe. It was perfection.

I have to wonder if we’ll have any more moments like that. It may seem so simple, but it’s something I miss more than words. I can’t believe my little girl is already almost a year old. She’s changed so much and is learning something new every day. People talk about how quickly time will go by, but I never realized just how serious they were. Lesson learned. It’s easy to get wrapped up in cleaning the house, cooking the meals, doing our jobs. But we’ll never get these little moments back with our kids. So hold them tight and take advantage of every opportunity you have to just sit quietly and curl up with your babies. Just like people always say…they’re only little once!