What It Takes | Story of an Ironman

It starts with a decision. You make a commitment to yourself backed with discipline, determination and grit.

For the past two years, my husband Tom has trained at an Ironman level. Not only have I seen him at the finish line wrapped in glory, lights and a cheering crowd but I've also seen him in the trenches. The grueling hours, weekly sacrifice and that early morning wake up 6 days a week.

I'm excited to share a sliver of his story with you. This is what it takes.

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When I got the final assignment for my Visual Storytelling class at the Define School, Tom came to mind right away. He does this day after day and I wanted to help him see it from an outside perspective.

I'm so proud of him and he truly inspires me to do what it takes to make my dreams come true.

Anything is possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Lots of love and Aloha,

Elyse'

Living in Limbo // May Recap

It's been a nice first month back on the mainland! I thought for sure I'd be having Hawaii withdrawals by now but I'm doing pretty good!

On May 1st I found myself making the drive up to northern Minnesota. We were only home for 6 days and our main focus was house hunting! It was so hectic and went by quickly! This past week we were signing a purchase agreement so as long as all goes well we just may have found a home!

 TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt  so right!

TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt so right!

Our little chia seed is now the size of a pear and this pregnancy is flying by! At the end of this month I'll be 15 weeks pregnant.
When I was pregnant with Thomas George it felt like it took forever to get to this point... but right now I feel like I just found out.
Yesterday I asked the hubby to dig out my maternity clothes. Does it get more real than that?

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 A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to slowly transition to the mainland. This time in AZ was relaxing and allowed me to gather myself before making our (hopefully) final move.
But I'm ready.
I'm so ready to unpack and get settled.
The road life is starting to get to me, starting to get to all of us!

When you hear from me next month, I hope there is a photo of us standing on the stoop of the new Jokinen house -- ready to be made a home.

Fingers crossed.

The photos in this post are part of a 365 project that started January 1st. I've taken a photo a day, every single day. I could never have stayed motivated doing it on my own and have relied heavily on the support of the brilliant group I'm a part of. You can click here to see some work of the other talented photographers in the group starting with Alyssa!

That Positive Test | Round 2

It was March 8th, 2018.

I was laying on the couch in all my grumpiness when my boobs started to hurt again

I was dozing in and out, thoughts whirling through my head when my eyes shot open. 
It was like a scene out of a movie.

Ten minutes earlier I was raging at my husband about seriously who knows what when grabbed my pillow and blanket and stomped into the living room. 

Just that morning I posted a question to my mom group on FB asking why on earth my boobs were feeling achey when I quit nursing the month before without any pain?

Then it hit me.

I was pregnant.

I was freakin' pregnant. Now it all made sense.

I tip toed back to the room, slid under the covers and did my best to stay calm. Butterflies were dancing in my chest but I didn't breathe a word to Tom. I knew, deep down I knew, but I needed confirmation.


After Thomas woke up from his nap the next day we took a casual stroll to Target. Laundry detergent, birthday card, avocados and a box of pregnancy tests.

I got home about 2:30pm and although it was 6 days before my missed period and it wasn't my first pee of the morning I took a test anyway. It was a pack of three, what did I have to lose?

Peed on the stick, placed it on the counter and glanced at it back and forth as I saw the test start to read. The first line showed up right away.. my heart was seriously pounding.

And then there it was. The second line, although faint, was very much there.

"Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh my. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh. Oh my. Oh my gosh." I said aloud over and over for what felt like 10 minutes.

We were pregnant. Three weeks pregnant according to the Bump app on my phone.

I couldn't wait to tell Tom.

I have to admit. I've been hesitant to grow our family. Between Finn and Thomas I feel like there isn't any more of me to go around!
But Tom? Tom's ready. Tom's been ready since Thomas George was 3 months old!

He got home from work and I ushered him to the couch. I had my phone hiding strategically on the TV stand, recording it all.

I sat him down and gave him a long sappy love note that I wrote early that day.

I apologized for raging the night before, reminding him that I'd love him forever, through anything.

When he flipped to the back my heart started to race.

I could see his eyes scanning the words: "Today I took a pregnancy test, sweet thang... and it was POSITIVE."

He instantly lost it. He cried. I cried.

Just blubbery, slobbery messes.

This family is growing.

A blessing. This little chia seed is already such a blessing.

And now I say, with much excitement, here we go again!

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I started a pregnancy diaries series with little George. I pretty much documented it all but missed the third trimester. I'm going to try to do a full series with baby number two! You can read George's series here.

On The Road // April Recap in Photos

April began as a total whirlwind. We were wrapping up our last days in Hawaii -- packing, shipping, selling, planning and saying our good-byes.
Each moment of each day we were knocking the to-do list -- gearing up for the biggest move of our life.

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Mid-April we boarded a plane to Phoenix, one-way ticket in hand. There were times it never felt like we were going to make it to this point, but we did!
It was a grueling 6 hour flight. We had a crying, tired baby and an upset dog but as soon as the tires touched down we let out a sigh of relief. We made it!

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Since we arrived in Arizona, we've been completely taking it easy and enjoying our time with family. From the chaotic start of the month to these quiet moments of blogging and doing puzzles. A welcomed 180°.

When it comes to my creative work, I feel like I've lost my footing a bit. I'm excited to be diving into a class at The Define School in May, ready for a spark.

We're 1/3 of the way through our 365 project! Up next is Alyssa Kellert. Such an amazing photographer. Please check out her photos!

Thank you so much for reading and I'll see you guys next month!

 

You want to be WHAT when you grow up? // Life Stories | 1

During my senior year of high school there was a display in the commons that shared what each student wanted to be after graduation.

I shit you not, when I filled out the form, I put, "Roller coaster tester."

So now that we all know where my head was at in 2006, let's move on!

No, but in all honesty, what did I want to be?

At that point in my life I truly had no idea.

I knew I wanted to get the heck out of the small town I grew up in. 
I knew I wanted to enjoy what I was learning.
I knew that I could never fit into any kind of box.

I can't lie to you and tell you college was ever something that interested me, because it wasn't. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted to do and just flat out refused.
Not because I didn't want to learn, I wanted to learn!
Just in a different way.
Plus -- there was a lot to see and a lot to do out there in the world and I was aching for experience!

So? One month after graduation I packed up my car and headed to a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I moved in with my aunt and started to job hunt. 

Not long after moving to the cities I enrolled in cosmetology school. Honestly, it was fun! I had so much fun and I loved learning it. It felt creative and I met some great people. Afterwards I got a job at a really cool salon (Coles) and began what I thought would be my career. (Ohh boy.)

During my first few months at Coles, the CEO gave us a book, Play to Win. It was the first inspirational self helpy type of book I ever read. The pages sucked me in.

It talked about taking risks and following your heart.

Not long after I began to get restless. Although I worked with some of the coolest, talented people in the industry, I couldn't help but wonder what else was out there. 
I remember one day specifically finishing up with a client and as he left all I could picture was myself standing at the same station having the same conversations -- 30 years later.

For a lot of people that would be great and I would never knock it... but for me? Well, I was 20 years old, spirited and feeling inspired. I had to hit the road.
The very next week I sold my car, packed up two little pink suitcases and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii.

I said goodbye to Minnesota, got on an airplane and flew 3,000 miles landing on the island of Maui. I had never been to Hawaii before but nothing felt so right.

My life as a roller coaster tester was just beginning.

 MSP circa 2008? Holding my first of many one way tickets!

MSP circa 2008? Holding my first of many one way tickets!

CHANGES // Some Big, Gnarly Ones

I'm thinking I could label each month as CHANGES but I've been feeling it in March more than ever before.

Our Tommy George had his very first haircut last week. Dad really wanted to grow it out and I was ready to cut it. We both ended up loving the cut but did find a little compromise by leaving a rat tail blonde curl in the back. Man, it was emotional watching my baby turn into a little boy. So handsome.

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This month, Tom and I made one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make.
We're moving home!
We will be heading back to the mainland mid-April. I can't believe it. Even typing it here I can't believe it.
The pieces are divinely falling into place and I sure can't wait to share more. Until then, I've been trying to document this beautiful town of Kailua, Hawaii that I've grown to love so much.

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Alright, I've got one more big one for you, you ready? If moving over the ocean wasn't change enough for us, we're adding another little human to the mix. That's right, this family is growing! It's still really early and our first appointment isn't until the first week of April but I just can't hold stuff like this in. Ever. So here it is!

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It's been a month full of big decisions... lots of packing, shipping and selling. I've got a bit of pregnancy brain going on and it feels like there are cement blocks tied to my feet making this whole experience really fun. LOL

I see the light at the end of the tunnel though... there's nothing like being closer to family and we're almost there!

I'm so excited to be in a 365 photo project, especially right now. A chance to document this special time in my family's life is something I know I'll forever cherish.

I'll be linking this post to the talented photographer, Laura. I really admire the light and composition of her work. Also, Laura and I are both in the first trimester of pregnancy which make it even more fun! 

Aloha friends and thank you so much for reading. 

See you next month!

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High Above the Chimney Top // January 2018 Recap

January was a crazy month, you too?

Among the madness, I've been participating in a 365 group. I wasn't so sure I'd be able to keep up with it -- taking at least one photo a day for the entire year. I have you tell you, I love it, and it's something I look forward to each and every day.

Learning from incredible photographers in the group, stretching to see the magic in the mundane and doing my best to hone the craft I've truly come to love over the past year.

  Hubby Tom. I took this photo a few hours after we received a false missile alert on his phone. I saw him differently that day. A scare like that can shake you in so many ways. I sure do love that man.

Hubby Tom. I took this photo a few hours after we received a false missile alert on his phone. I saw him differently that day. A scare like that can shake you in so many ways. I sure do love that man.

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  My Toms ~ some days are hard, real hard but the love I have for them comes effortlessly.   Most days I can't believe they're mine.

My Toms ~ some days are hard, real hard but the love I have for them comes effortlessly.
Most days I can't believe they're mine.

  Thomas George, king crazy hair, is one year old this month. We made it! :D

Thomas George, king crazy hair, is one year old this month. We made it! :D

Honestly, these were the only 5 all month that I loved. I'm looking forward though, with excitement and determination. I'm working on bring more of what I see in my head through my lens and it's so exciting to do that a little more with each and every shot.

Grateful to have you here, reading my posts -- thank you! 

Up next is Carissa DeAngelis's January Favorites >> please if you can, follow through the circle to see photos from talented photographers all over the world!

Aloha and thank you!

Elyse'

 

A Year in Photos - Thomas George

We got these monthly airplane stickers as a gift from Auntie Alicia and I was so determined to use them. I pictured myself compiling the photos at the end of the year to see the changes our little man made each month. It was more fun than I expected.

Thomas George // February 1st, 2017 - January 1st, 2018

 1 Month Old ~

1 Month Old ~

 2 Months Old ~

2 Months Old ~

 3 Months Old ~

3 Months Old ~

 4 Months Old ~

4 Months Old ~

 5 Months Old ~

5 Months Old ~

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6 Months Old ~

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9 Months Old ~

 10 Months Old ~

10 Months Old ~

 11 Months Old ~ 

11 Months Old ~ 

 One Year Old ~

One Year Old ~

He's such a spunk -- more fun now than ever before. We love you Thomas George!

6 Surefire Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Funk

I was 34 weeks pregnant sitting with one of my friends and she asked me, "Elyse, what is your biggest fear about becoming a mom?"

Here she expected me to talk about labor and delivery or maybe the sleepless nights or you know, the fact that I'll be raising a little human in this crazy world.

Nope.

Without missing a beat, I instantly replied, "Getting frumpy."

It was seriously what was keeping me up at night.

Am I going to totally lose myself in mommyhood? I pictured spending day in and day out with baby and no time to nourish my inner free bird.

So now, here I sit, with an almost one year old.
Did I dodge the frumpy life or did it get me?

I guess I could say yes to both of those. There were times I was most definitely so far in the pits I thought I'd never get out and then there were days, even weeks, where I was running on a mommy ass-kickin' high.

When I'm in a funk or feelin' frumpy I have to consciously choose how to spend my days.. choose to do what could pull me up when I feel myself slippin' into endless unwashed hair and a Netflix marathon of Friends

Oh! And you definitely don't need to be a mom to get into a funk -- all it takes is the routine of the adult life sometimes . A routine that MUST be shaken up every so often.

So alright, these are my musts musts.

1. MUSIC - MUSIC - MUSIC

I seriously had to get real with myself and turn off the damn TV because it turns me into an unhappy zombie to binge watch shows. I get sucked in so easy. Oh geeze, it's 2pm already and I've done nothing productive today.
Sometimes, it's nice for ONE day but not multiple days in a row.. at least not for me! I don't do well with that.
MUSIC just makes me feel happy and alive and I love hearing an old song that I haven't heard forever but LOVE. I love to dance and sing and jam and it just makes me really happy. So maybe you too?
CCR Pandora usually has me covered -- or I'll throw on my Island Vibes playlist on Spotify!

Make a kickass Spotify playlist of all your feel good tunes and let it lift you UP! 

2. Make Art

I struggled with what to make number one, this is such a close second. Don't let your creativity die, EVER. Make art, in some way shape or form, somehow, someway. Write, knit, draw, dance... take pictures! Whatever you have to do to keep that spark, do it... you don't even need to share with anyone ever, just do it... for you, for your soul!

3. MOVE

There are no rules attached to this one... no time commitment, no specific routine. Just MOVE in some way shape or form. Go for a walk -- that usually always works. Get on your Yoga mat. When you turn on that music from number one, dance. I've been dancing a lot, in the living room with a gawking one year old lookin' at me like I'm totally crazy but still, I dance. Find something that makes you feel GOOD (not punished) and do it for 5 minutes, or 10 minutes, or 30 minutes. Whatever you CAN do for however long you CAN do it. DO IT. 

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4. GO

Number four is a tad bit aimed at my mom friends, specifically my stay-at-home mom friends... and maybe you don't do this at all... but maybe you do. But - don't let too many days go by without leaving the house. You've got to go. And for me, two days at the house is too many, and three for sure so find something that is out of home and do it. GO.

5. Connect

Connect with others. I don't know about you but when I'm in a funk I tend to sort of keep to myself. I keep to myself to a fault. I know that each of us has that someone in our life that we can connect with -- be it your partner at the day's end, a phone call to your sister, a meet up with your mama (mama's always make things better) -- tell someone you love you're feeling funky and TALK to them. It helps. I know it.

6. PAMPER

Lastly, I asked my Earthen Women group a while back... what do you do to get out of a funk? This is a collective of their response: Make yourself feel good/pretty. Polish your nails your favorite color. Get your hair cut. If you don't normally, try putting on a little makeup or lip gloss. If it's in the budget, get a massage. SHOWER + shave (your WHOLE leg - haha) or even take a bath. Dress up in that thing you love but you're saving. You don't need to be extravagant (or hey, if you can/want to - then be extravagant. You're worth it.).

Alright, I think that's it for me. Do you do one of these already? What one do you agree with the most? If you're favorite's not here, please please share. I'd love to know.

Also, I should say that sometimes for me it just feels good to put the PJs on and be a slug on the couch and sometimes we need just that. Just not for prolonged periods of time, ya know. It's all about listening to your inner wisdom. She knows.

Alright, so have an amazing year you guys!
I hope it's filled with golden moments and less funks. I'll be here, always! xo

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Searching for the Answer

"I would seriously cut off my pinky toe for some alone time. Seriously. Even just TWO DAYS." I dramatically whine to my husband over the phone.

He's about half way through his work trip on the East Coast and he's homesick for his family.

I see him there, staying at a nice hotel in DC, and I'm not going to lie, I'm jealous.

He wakes up, works out, gets a coffee, heads to the conference where he discusses important things with important people (adult conversations!) and gets to eat a tasty dinner at a lively restaurant before bed.

Damn right I'm jealous!

I've been stuck in an endless cycle of feeding baby, changing diapers, picking up dog poop while trying to keep up with the house.

It's been over a month since I've been anywhere without my 9 month old.

Now here's where things get funny.

My husband, well, you see, he's jealous.

He misses his boys and his wife. He see's my snaps of our son trying to walk and talk. As we FaceTime Thomas George is learning to clap and giggles while I kiss his toes. I tell Tom how intense his son's determination is as he tries to swim in the pool and we laugh, Finn nuzzled on my lap.

All he wants is his family.
All I want is some space.

FREAKIN' LIFE RIGHT.

So it got me thinking about always wanting what we can't have, the whole grass is always greener thing.

I'll never forget a Tony Robbins video I watched years ago, I'll do my best to paraphrase, he said that the biggest source of unhappiness is being in one place (location or situation) and wanting to be somewhere else.

Oh goodness, I can be so guilty of this. For someone who has studied mindful living and who has spent hours on a Yoga mat, you think I'd have a better handle on it. Patience is not my strong point and it's something I'll be working on until the end of time.

And, yes, it's good to have dreams and direction for what you want out of life and of course there are certain situations that should be left promptly... but generally speaking, living outside of the now can surely rob you from being happy.

There's got to be a healthy balance and I suppose since I'm writing this post I should offer up some sort of advice but this is something I'm still figuring out. An answer that I'm still searching for.

Is the key to happiness presence or gratitude?
Is acceptance the answer?

Maybe it's.... perspective.

I'm not sure right now. All I do know is that all we can do is our best and we've just got to keep truckin' no matter what. We've got to be grateful for what we do have because when you stop to really think about it, it's a lot.

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