Monday, January 20, 2020

Homeschooling ~ Mid Year Looking Back & Planning Forward

You may already know that we homeschool.  Here's the thing about it, while we are midway through a school year, we, in many ways, school year round.  Why?  Because each day is an opportunity to learn and grow.  It is an opportunity to gain wisdom that you can share with the world around you.

You can take learning wherever you go, in the moment, and let it flow.  When you homeschool, it doesn't mean you are home at the table the whole time.  You create a schedule that works with your family, pull pieces of curriculum to teach from, and let life be lived.  

Learning happens through hands on, activities, play, adventures, exploring.  You can learn a lot just by watching the world around you even.

Our homeschool day, week, month, year may look different than yours, or different than the school you send your kids to, or different than what you thought homeschooling meant.  Or it may have some pieces that are similar.

As we move into January, I take the time to look through where we are at.  We have our first day of school the day after labor day and then we go until the end of May.  However, that doesn't stop us from continuing some of the things throughout the Summer.  During our school year, is when I add in all areas of learning: math, reading, geography, science, history, art, p.e.  But there are some things that continue year round just by the nature of what they are or because it is an interest of my kiddos.

Math and reading we keep working on each week.  But at the same time, if we are traveling in the Summer we disconnect from the Ipad that we use for math and reading.  Instead it comes out in the day to day on our vacations.  The flip of that is that when we travel during the school year, if it is during the week, we will either include the Reading Eggs and Mathseeds or we will double the week before we go.

But I have found that consistency is key for some components.  Which is why Reading Eggs and Mathseeds happens year round.  As does creativeness, adventures, play, outside, and book reading.  

Midway through the school year I take a look at our plan.  I see where we are at, make any necessary changes, track our course, and do a simple review.  But because learning is continuous, we make the needed changes as often as needed throughout the entire year.

Do you homeschool?  Share below what it looks like for your family

If you don't homeschool, have you ever thought about it?  Share below what is stopping you from taking the path.

Monday, January 13, 2020

When You Realize You Filled Yourself Over Full

I have been feeling a bit in a funk the past handful of days.  Sometimes I can place the reason why, other times it takes me time to realize it, accept it, and move forward from it.

It wasn't until I sat down this afternoon during nap that I realized just how exhausted I am.  I have not been sleeping as great, which generally means I have too much on my mind.  But add in fixing behaviors, sibling bickering, and preparing to travel just seems to take a lot of energy out of me.  I also realized today as I looked at my planner that I over did my commitments to different groups.

Why is it that at the beginning of the year, all these groups seem to pop up all at once?

If I had to guess, because it's a new year, new decade we want to make changes and like saying goes, strike while the iron is hot.  You are motivated and ready to go.  So what all do you sign up for?

When making decisions this month, or well at the end of last month, I forgot an important piece to look at.  Does this align with my priorities and why am I doing this?

In the midst of the day to day, I loaded myself up.  I loaded up to the point where I wasn't doing my best in any of it.

Beyond my day to day roles, we picked back up swim lessons and Bible Study fellowship.  Then I added in trying to get in the books I want to read, 6 (at least) different challenge groups.  Sure, some of those things only last a week.  But because I doubled, even tripled up, I let myself begin to be overwhelmed and fell from the routines and rituals I had set up.  I fell away from doing my best and instead gave up.

I realized that when I fill too full and I don't check in with God and my priorities, I fail.  I let stuff fall, I focus on the rise up of overwhelm.

This is a cycle that I am still working on changing.  I am learning to identify it quicker and reset.  And that is where I am headed this week, a reset.

Looking at really what it is I want to fill my plate, making sure it is in line with my priorities and I can make the time for it.  If I can't, then I am stepping away from it.  Maybe to come back to it later, maybe not.

It is easy to get caught up in all the pop up challenges, especially at the start of the year.  But we have to admit our limits and set boundaries.  Remember, that saying yes to something you are saying no to something.  Yet, the reverse is saying no to something, you can save room to say yes.

Keeping this all in harmony, but also not filling in every gap is essential.  We need rest, we need space, we need room to let the flow of activities have they room need.  And remembering to add in a little extra space before and after can release so much stress.

So what I am doing?

I began by doing a brain dump.  Everything that needs to get done this week and if it has a set date to be done stating that.  I am really looking at all the groups I signed up for.  I am asking: does it align with the direction God is calling me in? Does it fit with my priorities? Can I give it the time I need? Do I really want to do it?

Lastly, I am clearing out.  Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, socially clearing out.  Setting aside specific times for what I can, and filling in with the rest of the stuff (including white space).

It is time to tap back into my natural rhythm and flow.

Do you feel that funk right now?  Or maybe you have felt it recently.

What can you do to move out of it?  To release from it and free yourself?

It can be alluring to sign up for all these things, thinking that will fill us and are the right direction.  But it can also be holding us back or stopping us from our fullest potential by overdoing it.

Take the time to really set your priorities, align yourself with God, and then fill your space.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Tapes We Play ~ How Does it Relate to Our Minds

Let me ask you this, what tapes do you play in your head?

For some, you may read that know exactly what I am asking.  For others, you may have no clue.  And for some, you are wondering, what is a tape?

The last one is a little funny because it really shows my age.  A tape, a cassette tape is not a common thing these days.  I remember getting my favorite artists on tape, playing them on my walkman or stereo with tape players.  I remember sitting there listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on just so I could record a mix tape.  And when the tape came loose, out came the pencil to fix it and wind it back up.

You may be wondering what that has to do with the tapes you play in your head.  But keep those things in mind as you read forward and the picture will hopefully become clearer.

When something in your day happens, what do you tell yourself?  What does that inner voice say when it speaks?  Does it say something positive? Or is it negative?  Is it on repeat?  What does it focus on?

Those things you say to yourself or you focus on are the tapes you play.  Like a cassette tape of our favorite song mix plays on the stereo or walkman, there are tapes we play over and over in our minds.  We play them so much that they become us, envelop us, shine through us, wear on us, grow us, change us, shape us.

Whether positive or negative, they shape us.  Much like a river changes and shapes the landscape.  The tapes we play, they change and shape our landscape.

I am guessing you have heard a quote that goes something like: plant your seeds where they will grow.

When you plant seeds you have help make the conditions right.  The right soil, light, water or they won't thrive.  Yet, have you ever been walking along and come across a flower growing up in a crack somewhere?  Or as you watch your garden get ready to bloom, there are flowers that come up a tad too early and you think oh no, because there is still snow in the forecast?

It is in those times that they get shaped and changed the most.  It is during those times, that they end up thriving far beyond what was anticipated.  We too are the same.  The area we tend to doesn't always make sense, isn't always easy.  Sure, sometimes all the pieces fall into place fairly easily and the growing goes smoothly, but it still, no which direction it heads, changes how we see things.

What we plant in ourselves is what becomes our thoughts, our behaviors, our attitudes, our direction, and so much more.  It is within those thoughts that the tapes get played.  Like a seed, it grows.  What you decide to give it is up to you.  But, either way, positive or negative it will grow.  It will change the landscape.

I know all to well the affects of negative tapes.  The replaying of them over and over.  The could've, would've, should've after the moment past.  The playing it over and over even before it happens as the fear, worry, guilt, shame, anxiety wash in.  I have been there.  From 2011 until 2018 I played those tapes over an over.  The words may have changed, but they didn't allow me to thrive.  They just kept me feeling overwhelmed, like I was sinking more and more or treading barely above water.  I was never good enough, worth enough, a total failure.

2018 a mind shift began to happen.  Much like river changing directions, cutting through a new path, changing the landscape, so did I.  It was slow going.  I backtracked many times, doubted, repeated the old thoughts and behaviors.  But it was a catalyst year.  It was a start of a much needed change that started with me.

Recently I listened in on an interview that talked about the tapes we play and how flipping them from the negative to the positive allows us to start seeing the blessings around us better, helps us see things clearer and for what they are, it is uplifting and energy giving.  It leads us to rising and thriving.

It took me until about August of 2019 to realize how much I had shifted and changed the landscape.  I was truly thriving and not only did I feel it, I believed it.  I began to understand how one small shift builds and grows.  By adding in the change in tapes I play and allow to be on repeat (see what I said there, allow to be on repeat) I have essentially flipped a switch that lifts me and frees me instead of sucking me down and pulling me into a negative inward spiral.

With time, allowing myself to keep growing and shifting, changing the landscape where needed I am gaining the ability to matter where I plant the seed.  I understand that there will be times when it takes a little more strength and courage to get there, maybe even more time and patience, but it will get there.

It is the most freeing feeling to have those mind shifts, to flip those tapes and rewrite them with the truth.

So I ask you, what are the tapes you play saying?

To bring it full circle back to the analogy I used at the beginning, there is one piece still missing.  When the tape came loose, out came the pencil to fix it and wind it back up.  For me, this is where God comes into play.  It is where those around me come into play.

If my focus is centered on God first, the tape doesn't come as loose as often or as far unraveled.  Yet it does still happen.  But like the pencil winding it back up, God winds it back up for us with grace and love.  Giving ourselves grace and love, the space in ourselves for that allows us to be fixed.  It allows God to fix it.  And sometimes, it is a friend being guided to guide you that helps us find the fix.

When you change the tapes, you change the landscape.  When you need a fix, God is there.  Granted, God is there through it all if we choose to lean in during the storms and give thanks for the blessings through everything, acknowledging His guidance in it.  But it starts with you, your mindset, your heart.

What are you tapes saying?  How can you fix the ones that need to be fixed?

*Photo Credit: Cassette Tape:  Google Photo Search ~ Cassette Tape

Thursday, January 2, 2020

My Words for 2020 and Reflecting 2019's Words

For the past decade I have been picking a word to carry with me for the year. December 2010 was the first time I came across the idea.

Fall of 2010 I was part of an amazing course called Illuminate.  It was about using photography and journaling to work through the grief of pregnancy loss.  I found that is was the next step in my healing journey after having a miscarriage at 17 weeks to start the year out.  The very last assignment was to pick a word for the next year.  This was a new concept for me, but I figured why not give it a try.  I wasn't sure how to go about figuring out a word.  How does one pick?  So for a handful of days I wondered around the house looking for something to catch my eye, to resonate, to fit with where I was at and where I wanted to head. 

While in the hospital waiting to deliver Samantha, I was gifted a wooden sign that said trust along with the bible verse Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you where you go".

It seemed fitting.  Trust.  I needed to learn to trust again.  Trust God, trust my body, trust my surroundings, trust that people I worked with, trust my instincts.  Trust.

Each year since then I pick a word.  Some years one comes to mind quickly and other years it takes me a bit to figure it out (like half a year).  Some years it shows up throughout the year and yet others it got forgotten about until the end of the year when I reflected.

For 2019 I decided to go a different route.  Taking the idea of the word for the year from the Illuminate course and the idea of a monthly theme word that I learned from an Abundant Mama course and Peace Circle that I took in 2018 (the year I realized something needed to change and it needed to start with me) I combined them into picking a yearly word and a word for each month.

At the time I had no idea how it would go, what it would look like, or if the words would intertwine.  But these past couple of weeks I have been reflecting and I have really begun to see how they all worked together and carried through the whole year working each in it's part with the overall theme.

2019 was rejuvenation.  I knew I needed to release, heal, reset, and find a harmony.  Rejuvenation seemed fitting.  Below are my month words were and something that came out of:

January ~ Open:  Gearing up and opening my heart to see where it would lead.  Leaving space in the calendar, the day, the schedule.  Being open to hearing, learning, growing, changing.  Being open to courses, personal development, coaching opportunities.
February ~ Calm: The start of understanding why God gave us rest and what it truly means.
March ~ Leap:  I really began to push out of my comfort zone here and there, taking chances I wouldn't have normally.
April ~ Heal: I used the month to write out things that had hurt that I needed to release from and heal.  One of the biggest was a friendship that had changed so much it became toxic and was dragging me down, that turned on me.  I peeled back layers upon layers, learning to release and to look for the positive out of it.  
May ~ Fearless:  I looked at this as more of Fear less.  Less fear in the around me, releasing control where I needed, learning to be who God truly meant for me to be, and finding true rest.
June ~ Soften:  Softening my heart, my mind.  Setting my focus and direction in a way that works with the season I was in.  Learning to open up, being willing to dig deep.
July ~ Brave:  Giving a try to new things or things I haven't done in awhile or have been wanting to do I pulled on my brave side.  I went water skiing or well water dragging because I never made it up on skis (but I tired) for the first time since I was 15 (like 20 some years ago).
August  ~ Kindness:  As the Summer came to a close to start out the school year, I began prepping for a new homeschool year.  Realizing that there was a lot of change ahead, we kept it simple and put a focus on kindness throughout.  
September ~ Ease:  With all the changes I was facing and the changes the kids faced we needed to take the time to slow things down a bit.  
October ~ Journey:  I got pushed out of my comfort zone.  I recorded videos, sharing my journey and how I went from overwhelm, sinking, and more to thriving.  I was even on a podcast interview.  I love to write, but the thought of speaking scares me.  But with encouragement, changing my perspective that sometimes hearing creates a deeper connection, I did the interview.  From it I created my first eBook and began the My Mama Side Musings.
November ~ Support:  I began to set my priorities and discover my north star.  As I was learning my direction, I was helping guide others around me.  I discovered a passion for guiding others and got an amazing opportunity to be a part of  Rising Moms Group created by my friend Renae.  I also began to understand that I too, can ask for support and the difference that it truly makes.
December ~ Ritual:  I used the time to set up what would work with the flow and the journey I am on, along with the season I am in.  Using God's guidance I found a way to set up a direction that He was leading me in.  

As 2019 rolled out I began to see how those little words each month intertwined with rejuvenation and how they led to feeling it and being rejuvenated.  So, for 2020 I decided to go the same route.  One word for the whole year, and one word for each month.  I have them written in my planner and will have the monthly word written on a frame in my kitchen.  It is my hope that I will reflect more frequently throughout the year on each word.

I am excited to see where it leads me on this journey. 

For 2020 my word is light.  As for monthly words:
January: Center
February: Connected
March: Release
April: Steady
May: Dream
June: Inward
July: Creative
August: Rejuvenation
September: Space
October: Flow
November: Love
December: Support

I hope you continue to join me on this journey.  As we go through the year, I hope to share more about the impact of these words and the continued journey of the good stuff, tough stuff, and everything in between from all aspects of marriage, parenting, motherhood, change, growth and more.

I encourage you to pick a guiding word for the year.  If you choose to or already have I would love to hear more about your word and why you chose it or how it chose you.  Comment below with what you chose.

Happy New Year!

Hello 2020!

I hope your holiday season was full of blessings and you were able to find peace in it, deeper connection, and joy.

Here we are...a new year, a new decade.  Take a moment to look back over the past 12 months.  What do you see?  What do you feel?

Now take a moment to look back over the past decade.  Wow!  I am guessing there has been so much that has happened, so many changes.  That is how I feel and what I see when I think back over the past year, let alone 10.

The last decade made me a mom, grew my marriage connection, grew myself, deepened my faith, and changed me in ways that I am still discovering. 

2010: 28 years old, 4 years into marriage, had a steady job and a house, and found out at the end of the year we were pregnant with our first baby, my daughter.

2011: Rocked my world, my foundation, my life.  I learned a whole lot about life, marriage, strength, courage, grief, and taking care of myself.  There was a shift in my job that I chose to make.

2012: Was about release, trusting, and healing.  Then it was about pregnancy of our second baby, my first son.  It was about realizing my own limitations and preparing.

2013: Shifting in my job role again and counting down the days until baby was born.  Filled with lots of doctor appointments.  Then my oldest arrived.  Now I was a stay at home mom navigating through parenting and motherhood in a different way. 

2014: Was finding good friends on this motherhood journey. Going through the phases of change with having a baby.

2015: Started out by finding out we were pregnant with our third baby, my second son.  Then deciding we needed to move and get the house ready.  It was filled with preparing our old house, looking for our new one, spending time as just the 3 of us, spending time just me and my oldest, doing all the things we loved doing that we wouldn't be able to do for awhile or again because of the move and baby brother coming.  And ending with baby's arrival and beginning new Christmas traditions.

2016/2017: In all honesty was a blur.  It was filled with activities and adventures, celebrations, working on the new house, learning to navigate being a family of four.  It was a time when I began to realize that some things were off inside me and realized I was facing things like anxiety and post-partum depression.

2018:  Opened with me realizing things needed to change and that change began with me.  My kids were getting a little more independent, falling into a natural schedule for things sleep.  So I spent some time diving into a course, growing, letting go, healing, and moving forward.  It was a turning point for my marriage as we began to put it as a priority.  I learned that after having kids, marriage kind of gets put on the back-burner.  It was also my hubby's and my first time away from the kids for longer than a few hours (it was overnight for a few days, out on our own).

2019:  I learned to peel back layers, release control that isn't mine anyways, deepen my faith, grow my marriage, guide, grow, heal.  I learned about rest, true rest.  I found myself, the one God designed me to be.  Finally accepted where my value and worth are, that I am doing enough, and I am right where I am supposed to be.  I am thriving, finding joy, and living.

Sure it hasn't been all roses and there have been many battles, many storms.  But I am learning how to handle them better and where to put my focus.

It has been a crazy wild ride of a decade, full of twists and turns.  But through it all I have gained so much.

What did your 2019 look like?  How about the last decade?

I encourage you take a moment to review it, learn from it, and release.

Here's to a new day, new month, new year, new decade.  Where will it lead?

May your year be full of blessings, even through the storms and battles.  May you learn and grow, embracing change.  May you find rest and joy.

Happy New Year!

*Photo Credit: Google Search: From Shutterstock

Monday, December 23, 2019

Open the Doors, Open the Windows ~ Be Vulnerable, Be Free ~ Receive the Ultimate Gift

As the sun begins to rise, the clouds of color are spreading throughout the morning sky.  Today is December 23.  Two days before Christmas.  I let my thoughts wonder a bit.

For the first time in quite sometime, I am not feeling stressed or overwhelmed.  My to do list isn't a mile long.  All month long I have prepped and prepared.  Really, all year long I have been prepping and preparing.  Sinking in deep with in and setting myself free.

Peeling back the layers, healing, letting go, growing, changing as needed, I am now beginning to see the beauty inside.

It has always been there, but I didn't always recognize it or understand it.

In the spirit of Christmas, there is a magical awe in the beauty that surrounds us.  But likewise, that magical awe and beauty lie within us as well.

When we let ourselves be vulnerable, we open to so much more.  All the doors, all the windows are flung wide open.

This can bring out so many emotions and feelings.  We begin to feel scared, fearful, worry, shame, guilt...the list goes on and on.  When we travel down those feelings, letting them take hold, we begin to close each and everyone of those doors, those windows.

But what if instead, we go to each door and walk through it?  Go to each window, feel the breezes blowing in?

What if instead of letting those feelings take their grip, we instead acknowledge they are there and seek to find out why?  What if we release those feeling then?

I know, that may sound so easy, but when putting it into practice you get stuck.  I totally get that.  It is about recreating new tracks that play in your mind, in your heart.  It is about telling yourself the truth and believing it.  It is about feeling, feeling it all, discovering, healing, releasing.  It is about freeing yourself and letting yourself be vulnerable.

When we are vulnerable a multitude of things can happen.  We draw in closer to God, we draw in closer to our relationships, we find harmony in the day to day, we rise above the chaos and overwhelm, we find light, we grow, we blossom. 

With vulnerability, we build trust.  With trust, we find hope.  With hope, we can deepen our love.  With love, we have joy.  There is joy in vulnerability.  You can find many gifts in it.  Those gifts are what can change you, carry you, grow you, let you blossom. 

And then you being to feel it.  You begin to believe it.  You are thriving, you are finding joy in the day to day, your relationships are deeper, your love and intimacy have grown, you find your harmony, your grounding.

During this magical time of year, fling open the doors, fling open the windows, be vulnerable.  Take the chance to go through each door, stand by each window.  Slow it down, be present, receive the best gifts of all.

May you all have a Holiday season filled with many blessings, peace, joy, love, hope, and grace.  May you open the doors, open the windows, set yourself free.  May your relationships deepen.  May you be vulnerable, may you deepen your intimacy.  May you blossom.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The True Magic and Awe of the Holiday Season

December is a lead up to Christmas and New Year's Day.  It is filled with so many activities, concerts, preparing, to do lists and more. 

As soon as Thanksgiving is done, we rush right on into December.  Flinging the doors wide open, busying ourselves, rushing, getting caught up in the hustle and bustle...and for what?  Before we know it Christmas is here, come and gone just as quick as thunderstorm rolls through sometimes. 

We are left wondering, the day after New Year's, where did it all go?  Where did December go? November?

Halloween hits and passes, then it all seems to blur as the days speed by and then we are dropped into min January.  Feeling like it all passed by quick, too quick we are left wondering, sometimes overwhelmed, sometimes sad.

But what if we slowed things down?  Not just a little, but a lot.  What if we took each holiday that comes our way to slow down, to really dive into the season, to really be present?

Saying we are busy, our calendar is full is a badge of honor nowadays.  It's one thing to fill it with your priorities, downtime, activities, and such in a harmony balanced way.  But when we pack it so full, are we really full?  Have we really filled our days, our life the way God intended?

We are in a the season of Advent in our house.  As a Christian family, we put God as a priority in everything.  As individuals, as a marriage, as parents God is center. 

Advent is a time of preparing.  Preparing for the wonderful, magical gift that we are about to receive on Christmas.  It is about the unending love, unending grace that God gives us through Jesus.  Yes, the story happened long ago, but Advent gives us the time to walk through the story over and over each year.  To really dive in and understand what the season is about.  To slow down and receive.

It is about the magic and awe in the season, if we slow down and look.  It is about the ultimate gift we are receiving, the one true perfect gift.  We can see it all through the lights, the trees, the stories, the time with family and friends, the giving and receiving.  But we have to be present and open.  We have to slow down in between all the activities, traditions, schedules.

Christmas truly doesn't start until December 25 and then the twelve days following are the Christmas season.  However, the magic and awe, the giving and receiving doesn't end.  It continues on, day after day, through the whole year if we let it.  If we let it carry through our lives throughout the rest of the year, we can carry the ultimate gift with us.  Not only that, we can share it with others.

Isn't that what Christmas is really about?  The magic and awe, the feeling we get when we slow down and truly take it all in, and when we open our hearts to what is truly meant for the season.  What if we let that carry us through into January?  Then on into the next month and the next?

How do you prepare for Christmas?  How do you spend your holiday time leading up to it all?

Have you lost the magic and awe of the season?  What would it be like if you brought it back?

As we are winding down the days of December, gearing up for the holiday season, and heading into a new year I encourage you take time each day and slow it down.  I encourage you to look for the magic and awe, not just in this season, but every season...every day.

Something I have learned over the years since having kids is that they really truly know what the season is about and how to take it in.  This is where the magic and awe really shine brightly.  This year, this season, look at the world around you through the eyes of a 4 year old and maybe, just maybe you will not only see the magic and awe of the season, but feel it too and believe it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Striving For Balance ~ Does it Exist

How often have you come across the phrase: you need to find a better balance, I am striving for balance, I am trying to balance it all?

In some form or another, the idea of finding balance seems to be something that many strive for.  But I wonder, does it really exist?

I came across a wonderful analogy while reading Tonya Dalton's "The Joy of Missing Out".  In there she talks about how it is outside of the balance where we can truly thrive.  Think of a riding a bike she says.  In order to stay on, stay centered, you have to be constantly making adjustments.  Too big we fall.  Too small, we don't go anywhere.

Let's compare it to our comfort zone.  Too big of adjustments, we fall in the form of making mistakes and failing.  But even in that, there can still be growth and blessings.  And let's be honest, failing and mistakes...that scares the crap out of us sometimes.  We let the fear of making a mistake or failing take control and we dig our heels in, unwilling to move. 

On the flip side, to little of adjustments, we can stall out.  We slow down to a point where we give up.  Letting all of it overwhelm us and take us down.  We loose sight of the good things in the day and how far we may have come or where we are headed. 

Both of these lead us to become, well, become complacent.  Refusing to work to improve and thinking that if everything was balanced life would be good.

Yes, it is true, small steps lead to our end goal, and yes, we learn the most in those in between moments.  But there needs to be a balance between the too small and too big, but maybe balance isn't the right word to use.  It is a harmony in it all that we strive for.  And in that harmony, it isn't always dead center, it isn't always balanced.  Yet it feels right.

Like riding a bike. We make adjustments along the way.  Speed up or slow down just enough to keep going.  Coasting to rest here and there, gearing up to go faster to make it up the hill ahead.  But in those adjustments we are re-calibrating, resetting, and pausing where needed.  As we do this, we begin to look inward and can dig in.  We also get to see glimpses of the bigger picture. 

We are in a constant state of learning, growing,  changing, but only if we let ourselves.  We may not be in balance, but we can be in harmony.

However, we have to realize that it starts with us, our attitudes and behaviors.  Our decision to step out of comfort zone, to place our priorities where they truly are meant to be, and to build our lives around them.

There will always be chaos, there will always be busy, there will always be storms, but even in the midst of that we can still find calm, joy, rest, and harmony.

We can still ride our bike, as we ride through the day to day of our lives.  Being present, thriving, working toward the bigger picture, and adjusting along the way. 

So instead of finding a balance, I encourage you to find a harmony.  A harmony between all your roles, your priorities, your ministries, your faith.  Something that ebbs and flows as you do.  That allows you to have calm in the chaos, to release and reset, to go with the natural rhythm that God has set for you.

What can you use as a guide?  For me, I start with my faith.  Then through discovering who I am and where I am headed, I am able to move forward.  Yup, I still fail and make mistakes.  Oh and do I ever take like five steps for every one I take forward at times.  But I have learned to pick myself back up, dust myself off, and reset back at my last solid footing.

It isn't always easy, but as I move through it, it lightens and flows more smoothly.  Sometimes it also means setting stuff aside for now or even permanently...and being okay with that.  Sometimes it means letting those around me do it and in their way.  Sometimes it is being open and honest about where I am at and what I need.

As we round out the year, through the month of December slow down enough to get a solid footing.  Then push off, forward despite mistakes and fails, let yourself learn and grow changing where you need, move out of your comfort zone. Feel the freedom that harmony brings.

And let yourself ride a bike.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Loads We Carry ~ Peeling Back the Layers

Take a moment, sit back, and let your mind wander. 

Ask yourself this, what load am I carrying that I need to lay down once and for all?  Or what loads?  Or what loads do you need some help with?

Here we are, it's November...halfway through the month and only 6 weeks left until the end of 2019.

I will be honest, at times it feels like just a few days ago we were in the midst of a long cold Winter and I was gearing up for a new year, and what I hoped 2019 to look like.  From goal setting, to a yearly word with monthly ones to connect the dots, to much more.

Back in the beginning of 2018 I felt things needed to change and I realized that it had to start with me.  What that meant and where it would lead, I had no idea at that point.  But it was the beginning of a shift.  A shift that kept going on in other areas of my life, throughout the rest of that year.

Moving into 2019, the shift continued and I picked my word for 2019, rejuvenation.   At the beginning of the year I didn't know what this would look like or where it would lead.  But after the shifts that happened the year before, I was ready to face the year ahead

Little did I know that the year would be full of change, letting go, stepping out of my comfort zone, healing, and growing.  It meant laying down loads.  I didn't know that there were so many that I had been carrying that I no longer needed to carry, were not mine to carry at all, or that I needed to shift my mindset on.

Laying down these loads, has allowed me to peel back layer upon layer of myself.  It has given me freedom in my time and energy, as well as my mental and physical well being.  Allowing myself to take up space where I am supposed to and becoming more of who God made me to be.

In many ways, I had lost sight of that, along with my value and worth.  Always left feeling lost and wondering if I am doing enough, or if I am enough. 

But in laying down the loads, I began to really see who I was, who I wanted to be, and where I was headed.  I began to see I was thriving, feeling it and believing it. 

So I ask you, what loads are you carrying?  Which of these loads do you need to set down?  Where do you need to ask for help (it's okay to ask)?

I have found a renewed sense of peace and joy, rest and rejuvenation, and so much more as the year has gone by.  I have found me.

The process is not always easy, but it was worth it.  It was worth investing the time, space, and energy.  I still have some layers to peel back, and a few more loads to lay down.  But day by day, it is getting there. 

As we round out November, a time for focus on all the things we are thankful for, and move into December a time for peace I encourage you begin peeling back those layers and set yourself free.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Closing Another Chapter ~ Saying Goodbye to the Crib

We began this parenting journey in 2010.  When we first found out we were pregnant we began to make space in our house to set up a nursery and make more storage space.

As we began to clear out the room that would become the nursery, we began preparing for our little one's arrival.  This meant a road trip to pick up the crib.

In 2011, we never set the crib up because our daughter came earlier into our lives than anticipated.  So all the prep and set up got put on hold until our first son came into our world.  And there in the what would have been nursery, the crib sat.

But once the time came around to get ready for my oldest son's arrival we were ready to set the nursery up.  With the help of family, we put the nursery together and I put the finishing touches into the room to make it ready for him.  The crib was the first thing I assembled and put into it's place.  And when we moved to a new house, the crib was the first thing I assembled and put into it's place.

When our second son arrived, his space was in the pack play in our room.  His room was no where near ready to be turned into a nursery for him at that point.  And I wasn't ready to have my oldest out of the crib and neither was he.

But the time came when he had to move to a bigger bed so we could have the crib ready for his brother.  So began the shift.  The shift to a bigger bed, but we still had the crib.  As my oldest got excited to have a bigger bed, I was excited to put the nursery together.  As my oldest transitioned from babyhood, toddler-hood, to kid mode I watched my youngest slowly begin to fill out the crib.

Soon, it would no longer fit him and the stuffies he wanted in it.  We prepared him by saying he would be needing a bigger bed soon, but he kept pushing back with that he wanted to keep his bed.  At this point, one crib side was off and just a bed rail in its place.  He was able to crawl in and out of bed.  I was still happy that I got to carry him to bed and put him in.

He turned 4 near the end of October and was still in the toddler crib bed.  He was truly getting to big for it.  He was out of babyhood and toddler-hood, and here he was starting into kid mode.

Looking back, it was only this past June that we got him out of a sleepsack.  He was 3 1/2 at the time, but still loved that thing.  It was bittersweet.  He was so darn cute walking around in it, but I was also ready for him to be done with them and we were also at a point we couldn't size up anymore, as well as he was wearing through the corners within months.

Potty training ensued shortly after, and as his pediatrician said, according them he was considered potty trained.  Yet still in diapers when he sleeps, here he was a big kid.

So, my baby, no longer a baby, out of a sleep sack, potty trained, and ready for a big bed.  We got the big bed this past weekend.  He is beyond excited to have it now.  He grins from ear to ear when you mention it.

But now we have a crib.  A crib that will no longer hold a baby in it.  For the past 6 years, there has been someone to make it their own space, someone snuggled in, someone cozy and comfy.

We made the decision that we were done growing our family and our family was complete in May of 2017.  In some ways it was an easy decision and in others it took some time to come to.  You can read about it by clicking here: Crossing the Next Bridge ~ Family.

Sure, on and off I felt a small twinge of, well maybe one more kiddo.  But as I sat with that thought, I felt more and more that we were in a good spot and we were in the spot we were meant to be.  As a matter of fact, I haven't felt that twinge in awhile.  I still love holding a little one for a bit, but the chapter of pregnancy, newborn, baby, toddler has come to a close.

But the crib.  Taking it apart, putting it away, felt final.  Like it is the end of a chapter.  It's not the end of the story by any means.  It is just the end of a chapter or well a few.  I have two sons, to kids who are growing and becoming more independent daily.

I used to yearn and strive to find 10 minutes to type, to workout, or read, or even fulfill my own bucket.  To rest, to grow, to be me.  Now, I can sit and write while they do their school work.  I can get in some bucket filling throughout the day and recharge.  I workout most days.

I make mistakes, I fail, I yell, I cry...but I laugh, I succeed, I try.  At times I think, if I could go back to a certain timing, season, or phase it would be easier.  But the reality is, every stage has it's difficulties, and yet it has it's good things too.  And every stage comes to an end.

It is going to take some getting used to not seeing my youngest in the crib.  Before I know it, it will be a distant memory and the big bed will be normal.

So as we close out the chapter, as we put the crib away, I look to the future and where things are headed.  The crib has provided safety and comfort.  Now we expand the boundaries just a little further, set ourselves a little freer, and get ready to fly.

As we put the crib away we move forward to the next spot on our journey.  Not fully knowing where it will lead,  but still trusting in God and his plan.

What chapter are you closing?  What will the next one be about?