Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gratitude ~ Acrostic Poem

Give the day a chance to 
Really open your eyes to the world
Around you, to the moments in front of you
Take it all in
Invite in the joy and peace
Trust in what is
Unveiling itself to you
Dare to find the blessing, 
Even if you are amidst a stormy season

A Loving Kindness Message ~ On Gratitude

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you find peace and blessing in the moment you are in~
~May you find grace and gratitude in the storms you are facing~
~May you be wild and free in love and growth~
~May you see and feel the blessing of a grateful heart~
~May you be filled with gratitude each day you face~

Homeschooling ~ Awesome App Idea

Part of our curriculum this year is a focus on reading, sight words, and phonics.  While I used to teach the reading part of the curriculum in my classroom to Pre-Kindergartners when I find a good app to assist along the way, I will turn to that for guidance.

Well, I have found two great apps.  One is called Alphabet Aquarium, the other is Reading Eggs/Mathseeds.

I found Alphabet Aquarium when my oldest was about 2 1/2.  He has a love of learning and questioning, so this app was a great introduction to letters.  I didn't use it a lot, but when I did he loved it.  He was a bit jealous of baby brother and me nursing, so it provided for a distraction free time while I nursed and he would still be doing something educational.

Now, brother is 3 and wants to be like his older brother who is doing reading and math lessons.  So, he has gotten into Alphabet Aquarium.  He too loves it.  I wish I could find a similar concept for number learning as well.

Alphabet Aquarium has 5 activities to do with each letter.  First you match the letter, then you build the letter, next you make an animal that starts with the letter, and the last two are matching activities where you match a picture of an object that starts with the letter to the outline.  It is a great blend of activities to use when you are just getting into letter recognition.  Oh, and the letters are all upper case letters.

My oldest uses Reading Eggs and Mathseeds.  Both go together usually when you buy the subscription.  But they both go through all the necessary components to reading and math through fun, interactive, repetition, and practice activities.  Each map reveals the next level to build upon the foundation that begun in map 1. 

I know, I know, but it's technology and don't you understand the issues that go with using it?

Yes, yes I do.  And I will say, we limit the amount of time they get used and how long each time.  My youngest will do a few letters a couple times a week.  My oldest gets to do one Reading Egg lesson and one Mathseeds lesson each week.  Occasionally he will do two lessons.  But if he is doing stuff on the ipad, he doesn't get any T.V. that day.  When it comes down to it, they are each maybe on it for an hour a week max.

If they are going to be using technology, they are going to be learning from it.

At this point, my oldest has been using Reading Eggs and Mathseeds on Mondays and Fridays since the start of the school year in September.  Before that he would use it on and off, but not consistently.  He is currently reading at Kindergarten age (which is a Kindergartner), has 17 of 200 sight words, and has 94 of 237 phonic skills.  Not bad for 8 weeks in and once a week for Reading Eggs.

What apps have you found to be helpful for your home school?

Anyone know a good number app for a 3 year old to work on number recognition, counting, and creating the number?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Time Change ~ Switching into Savoring the Slow

As we enter into the fifth day of daylight savings time ending, I am left wondering.  Why is it such a tough thing to work through?  And why do we still even have it?

Throughout the year we are faced with moments where we can slow down, busy moments, moments where we wish we could slow down, and moments where we wouldn't mind having a fuller schedule.

Is it one of those, the grass is greener on the other side?  Or, at least greener until you are standing in it, surrounded?

We have usually kept our schedule of activities, adventures, things to do pretty flexible and open.  Sure, some weeks are packed from Sunday to Saturday with outings, but than we dial it back and hang closer to home for a bit.

What is keeping you from savoring slow and slowing down, more often?

As I sat there, just a few days into the daylight savings time ending (despite the extra hour, I dislike the idea of daylight savings) I am looking at the week ahead, knowing that last week we were home a lot and this week we have a full week.

And yet, I feel a sense of loss of motivation, energy, and just wanting to hunker down at home more.  The lack of sun, the colder weather, the snow already flying makes me feel it even more.

I go through moments where I try to intentionally slow down, but it is usually some outside aspect or when I truly listen to my body that I make the shift.  However, it is usually only a short period of time.

Here we are, closing in on the end of another year.  I look back and often wonder, where did it all go and wonder why we didn't get certain things done or why did it go so fast or how are we already to November.

It seems as if time speeds up from the day after Halloween until like the middle of January.  We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holidays and season change.

But what would it look like if we instead, slowed it down and kept it slow?  Refocus, reset, rest, revive

What if we changed our perspective, from how much can we get done, load the calendar, that we have to be a part of the hustle and bustle to more of a let's be in the moment, listen to ourselves to the others around us, and be okay with having some empty time slots?

What if we let this switch carry us through beyond the new year?

It has become common place to respond to the question, how are things going? with a busy, crazy, good or great.  But why?  Why don't we respond with an okay, alright?  And why do we feel guilt for not packing the schedule tight?  It is almost like a badge of honor, the more stuff we have going on the better things are, the better we look, etc.

So with this time change, as we head into the holiday season, let's change our perspective.  Let's slow things down, be present, set up space for things to not be filled to the brim.  Let's instead fill ourselves, loved ones around us with presence and moments.

But beyond that, let's keep it going.  Let's keep this slower pace going in the year to come.  Allowing for the ebb and flow of those sometimes extra busy weeks or moments, but still coming back to a slower point.

What would you do if you slowed down?  How would you fill yourself, your family, your friends?  How would you let go of the to do lists and just be present?

Let's make space and time for the things we truly want to fill our time slots.

*Photo credit: Encouragement at a Glance from KTIS*

Friday, November 2, 2018

Season of Gratitude

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we tend to show our gratitude more and more.  Letting ourselves focus throughout November, we create a one a day post of what we are grateful until the end of the month or even a photo a day challenge of what we are grateful for or even find a creative project that we do daily with the theme of gratitude.  Sometimes, we wait until Thanksgiving to unload, around the table, the things we are grateful for.

But what about the rest of the weeks, months...the rest of the year?  Shouldn't we be thinking and sharing about our gratitude more often, even daily?

I have worked on gratitude as a daily practice on and off over the years.  I would write a list of things I was grateful for each night, or write a sentence, or even try to use November to focus on gratitude.  Through it all, I found that when I was consistent I felt uplifted and energized.  However, I also found that when the daily life came into play, it was usually the first thing I would skip.

I recently went through a 7 day Gratitude is my Superpower course with Shawn Fink leading the course.  After going through it and with the start of November, it got me thinking.

Am I grateful, like truly grateful?  Yes, I am.  But do I always talk about it, or write about it, or ask what others are grateful for?  Um...no, not really.  Do I share about it, think about, recognize it every day?  Honestly, no.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for.  But I also know I could do better acknowledging it.  Even if I don't write about it each day, at least say it out loud or in my head before bed.  Beyond that, I could think on it and acknowledge throughout the day, in the moment sort of thing

You see, in order to cultivate a heart of gratitude one must practice gratitude daily.  For each of us, this may look a little different, but it is something we each can do.

Even in the hardest of hard, those storms we weather, we can still find something grateful.  Yes, it is hard to see sometimes, but there is something there if we focus for a moment, not on the storm, but on gratitude. 

But in those moments opposite the storms, we can show our gratitude as well.

Where it gets lost most often is in those moments in between.  Where everything seems to be just going alright, nothing big happening in either direction...kind of like an even keel.  That is when we tend to let our gratitude fade away.

No matter where we are at, no matter the season, no matter the time of year we can find one thing each day to be grateful for.

So why wait until the first of November, or until Thanksgiving Day?  Why not start now a gratitude practice that you can continue beyond November?

Yes, go ahead and do the creative gratitude projects throughout the year that match up with seasons or holidays or the month.  But just add them into your daily gratitude practice.  So when the season or the holiday or the month ends, your gratitude practice continues.

How do you create a daily gratitude practice?  Keep it simple, keep it visible, keep trying, and start where you are.  Remember, there are going to be days that you miss, but keep coming back to it.  Just like anything new, it takes time and practice to form consistency.

Find a journal.  Find something for you to write in that you like, the feels right to you, that allows you the space you need.  I have a few of those one a day sentence books where you write one happy thing or thought to remember or one thing you are grateful for.  They are great, also an easy way to get started.  For me though, I have found I need more space to write, so I choose journals or notebooks.  Even your phone can be a great place.  I don't know of any apps specifically for gratitude practice, but last night I pulled up a new memo and type a quick list of a few things I was grateful for.

Set up a space to have your journal, even a few pens ready to go.  Make it in your line of sight throughout the day.  It will serve as a reminder to take a pause (even if it's a short one) to jot down a few things.  I have mine on my coffee table and even got gel pens (haven't used them in over 15 years) to go with it, making it more fun and colorful.

Remember, gratitude practice can be done any time, anywhere.  While waiting at a stoplight, out on a walk, during a meal.  When you start opening up your eyes, your heart, your mind you begin to see a different perspective around you and can find joy, gratitude in the little things throughout the day, even amidst the chaos and busy.

You can write a list, you can write a sentence, you can take a picture.  Do it in a way that works for you.  I am finding that I enjoy giving a little more detail.  While at times, a list is what I have time for.  You can even write on a question a day if that is what fits your flow.

Awhile back I found a new perspective on daily gratitude practice.  It came from Dave Ramsey.  His idea was to answer the following questions: Today I am most grateful for..., Today I am most thankful for..., I found delight in/when..., I loved when...

Since finishing the 7 Day Gratitude is my Superpower course I have found a reset in my daily gratitude practice.  It isn't put away in a basket under the coffee table.  I have my journal out and pens ready.  I try to take a pause in the afternoon to write instead of waiting until the kids go to bed.  While sometimes that is when it happens, after they go to bed, I have also found that by the end of the day I am just ready to unwind and it gets lost.  I combine the ideas from both Dave Ramsey and Shawn Fink.  I use the questions Dave suggested and then go into detail the way Shawn suggested.

This is how it works best for me, for now.  Is it possible that it will change?  Of course.  As everything changes, so too will this.  But I am planning on keeping it going in some form, even if I am on a trip (which is usually when I would set it aside completely, then take a bit to come back to it).

Do you have a daily gratitude practice?  Share yours below in the comments. 

Have you thought about starting one?  What is getting in your way of starting?

Have to tried to keep one, but somehow it seems to get set aside more often than not?  What trips you up along the way?

Setting up a strong foundation of gratitude can carry over into every area of your life, as well as those around you.  I encourage you to go beyond November, beyond Thanksgiving to grow and continue your gratitude each day, throughout the day, in your own way.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Checking In

I have been a bit absent in my writing and posting this month.  As it seems with the change of seasons, I found myself in some seasonal changes and adjusting.

I decided, sort of by choice, to just let whatever scheduled posts I had go out and see where that would end.  I am looking back now and see that there has not been a lot this month and here we are headed into the evening of the second to last day of the month.

I have been working behind the scenes, or should I say, in real life.

But through it all, I have realized how much I miss putting my fingers to the keys, opening up, and seeing where it all goes.

I am grateful to have this time to write, to take you along on my journey, to grow, to learn, to be.

Thank you to all who follow along.  Thank you to all who check in and see what is new.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for staying by, even when I don't post as often.

As we head into November, and some busy, some crazy weeks ahead, please continue to join me on this journey.

I have lots to write about, to share, to invite in.  So where you are in your journey, maybe we will find some type of understanding, connection, inspiration, motivation.  Hoping, dreaming, being.

Until the next post, may you find the grounding you need.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Belong ~ An Acrostic Poem

Believe in becoming the you you were meant to be, creating strong branches

Embrace the path before you, knowing the pain of feeling empty, but the healing of being enough

Letting your light truly shining through, lightening your load by letting go, releasing what is holding you back

Opening the doors ahead, daring to dream, finding your tribe

Nourishing your mind, body, soul

Grounding your roots, growing your sturdy branches, giving grace with a focus on gratitude

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Loving Kindness Message ~ On Belonging

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you find comfort where your heart takes you~
~May you find connection, even through a simple smile while out and about~
May you find your grounding spot, grow your roots, let your branches grow free & strong~
~May you know that you have a place to be truly you, a place of belonging~

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Finding Balance in Life ~ Especially in Marriage

Finding the balance between you, your marriage, and your kids can sometimes be a tough thing.  But when you stop to think about it, having a solid marriage is something that your kids need just as much as anything else.  They also need to you be you.  They also need to see you be a parent.

Is it possible to do all three?  Yes!  But, no they may not happen equally every day of the week.  Sometimes the balance shifts focus into one area heavily due to the time of season you are in.  Maybe you have a big work project that needs a little extra focus, but once done, things will even out.  Or maybe you have put your marriage on the back burner for far too long so finding the balance again is tough.  Or maybe a kiddo is sick.  The list goes on  for why our focus shifts the balance.

But the balance doesn't have to stay in one area forever.  It can and will shift around.  But want to know something interesting I have found?  If you make sure to include time for yourself, to dream, to create, to do your hobbies it is easier to put a good amount of focus on your marriage.  And vice verse.  If you make sure to invest in your marriage, the other pieces will find a balance point.

It is kind of interesting how investing into your marriage can greatly effect all the other areas of your life.  You put good in, you will get good out.  That is a phrase we use a lot with our kids. 

Beyond it all, communication is definitely needed.  Just talk, talk about it all.  Your dreams, your hopes, the mistakes, the hard stuff, the day...all of it.  Talk about it all.

Set up a good marriage foundation.  Then when you add kids, it will still be there for you to come back to, for your kids to learn from.  But don't forget to keep investing in your marriage through the years.  Let it grow, let it build.

What do you do to keep investing in your marriage?  What do you do to keep it off the back burner, always simmering on low?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Peaceful ~ Acrostic Poem

Plant yourself in fertile soil
Even in the midst of chaos, storms, drought
Allowing yourself to grow, accepting what you can control and letting go of what you can't
Cultivating the richness, the balance, the calm: carving out the time to
Ensure that the calm can wash over you
Fulfilling you in all ways, in all areas ~ mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually: Finding grounding in the moments
Utilizing your bounty, beauty around you, your strength, your courage: Uplifting you
Letting you see calm, feel calm: Letting go where needing: Letting light in, loving yourself and those around you through all the twists and turns on this journey

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Setting Up For Our Homeschool Year ~ Schedules and Curriculum

I used to be a teacher.  My classroom was filled with 20 four and five year olds.  We would work through the morning with a focus on reading, art, writing, math, science, circle time, and story time.

In all the years I taught, I was given the curriculum, given the calendar, given the order in which it would all go.  Told how long the kids got to have "free play", how much outside time they got (which was still structured teacher led), how long they had to sit for each activity.

On the flip side, through it all I learned how I would want my classroom to flow like if I had the freedom to have more say in how the schedule and curriculum looked.  Despite the attempts of telling parents there is a balance between teacher directed and child lead in the classroom, there really wasn't.  Literally everything was scheduled, if it wasn't teacher lead it was teacher influenced.  For example, sure we could have the block area open, but we told the kids which ones they could use for that time and suggested what to make.  No real free, open play...not even outside.  And looking back, it was a lot of sitting for the kids too.

While I had my own classroom, I tried to make as much room for free play and learning through play as often as I could because in the end, that is what the kids really needed and learned the most from.  I tried to plan and schedule, then let the flow of the day lead.  So if reading books was taking longer because the kids were enjoying them or the discussion was going well, I kept reading and adjusted things later in the day as needed.  When areas were open, I just let the kids use their imagination and play.  If circle time the kids were getting antsy, we would take a break and get moving. 

While most of those sound like the right thing to do, I was really going against what the schedule and curriculum said or allowed for.  I was risking getting in trouble from the director.  But even before having kids of my own, I knew that while yes a schedule is needed because it creates consistency and routines for kids, they need time to just play and be kids.

So when we decided to home school, I knew what direction I didn't want to go.  I also knew that I could really tap into my kids likes and dislikes, to build our day and the curriculum.

For the first time ever since becoming a teacher I bought a lesson plan book.  I found it in the dollar section at Target and thought, it's $3 pick it up and maybe I will use it to help put a plan down on paper.  I am using it.  For two reasons, one to help guide us through the year and the other is to keep a running record of what we are working on for records.

After assessing I laid out our plan of what we need to focus our curriculum on.  No, I didn't buy a bunch of curriculum.  But I do have a few things. 

I have a Alphabet Letter Curriculum that is filled with different letter and math activities with each letter.  Right now, I am using the letter color page for my youngest and the fun poem on how to write the letter with my oldest.  We are using Reading Eggs to guide through learning to read and sight words and Mathseeds for the number side of things.  We are also using Growth Mindset for Kids.

The rest of the curriculum has been found online for free.  So while my oldest has a focus on letters and numbers, my youngest is starting to learn his as well.

Each day we do calendar and weather, as well as we have a thought of the day card that also pairs with the letter of the week.  This week our letter is A and the thought of the day, which we use for the whole week, is always be kind.  There is also a sight word posted near the calendar to help learn specific sight words.

So here is what our week looks like:

Mondays are our reading focus day as well as the growth mindset activity.

Tuesdays are our getting together with other home school kiddos at playgrounds

Wednesday is our swim lessons day and outside for as long as we can, mixed in with art

Thursday is bible study fellowship

Friday is our math focus day

We head to the library, have time to just play, art whenever the mood strikes, and plenty of other adventures and exploring around the city.

Add in science, geography, history throughout each month and the planning all falls into place.

The library fills the gaps, especially for learning about history and geography.

We have put together a nature bag so that we can capture moments for our time spent out and about in nature as we have such a vast amount of possibilities for exploring.  There is a home school on the go bag, so I can put in any work we need to accomplish in the day and take it with us.

A few other items we got for supplies:
  • I bought a magnetic calendar and weather set up
  • Kid writing lined notebooks to create an ABC Journal and Math Journal
  • Flashcards
I have various other items we have gathered over the past year and a half to set up for homeschooling.  I have yet to decide when and where, or how those will be incorporated.  But for now, we have some letter boards, dry erase dice, puzzles that can help guide us in our learning.

As we start this journey, we are also learning the flow that works the best.  So, for now, this is what works.  Both kids are enjoying learning, asking for me, and show enthusiasm.  It provides enough variety, while getting in the things we need to, as well as utilizing the things the kids enjoy doing.  Because we can learn through all areas of life, where ever we are, no matter how old we are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Emergence ~ Acrostic Poem

Each and everyday

Meet the day

Easing in

Ready for the richness that it will provide

Give grace, ground yourself, & grow

Enlightened, full of energy

Nourished for what comes next

Come, celebrate, and cherish this new found

Emerging, to bloom right now, right where you are, in this moment

Friday, September 21, 2018

Setting Up For Homeschool Year

If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that we are going to home school for our kids' education.

I know, some of you may think I am crazy for going this route, but we took a lot of time and thought about the direction we wanted to head for education, where education in our society is headed, our options around us, and what would truly be the best fit for our kids.

My oldest, Kindergarten age, is curious, creative, loves the outdoors.  He asks about a million questions a day and loves art.  Anytime he can spend outside is even better.  Those things aren't available in schools, and the curiosity, creativity, and questions would get squashed out of him like a bug on a windshield the first week of school.  We want him to flourish.  We want him to learn where ever he is.  We want him to develop a life long love for learning, while keeping the bits of personality that make him him.  Homeschooling, or as I like to call it sometimes road schooling, allows us to do this.

We may not have to officially report to the district until the school year he is 7, which will be in two years, yet we are still setting up the foundations and basics to grow his learning.

We are gearing up for the school year, though the reality of it is that we school all year long.  Because we take it where we go, it is always a part of our day.

Here is what our year looks like:

I will wrap assessments this week to see where we need to focus our efforts on the most while building off of the stuff he already understands.  I have done a lot of research and have found that he has a pretty good handle on most of the Kindergarten things.  So the stuff he knows, we will move forward on to the next level and see where it leads.  This will lead a majority of learning time.

I am going to add in calendar and weather time each day, as well as some character development stuff.

We will be continuing to build connections, explore, learn, grow.

Our schedule is almost set up, stay tuned and look back to see what our plan looks like even more detailed.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Welcome Fall ~ Change is in the Air

Happy Fall Y'all!

As I sit here and dwell on this change of season, I am sipping on some pumpkin spice coffee, letting it warm me and listening to my heart. 

It has been raining all week, big storms here and there, and cooler weather is beginning to settle in.  The weekend was hot, humid, and definitely a last hurrah for Summer.  Today, the first day of Fall, it is raining and storming, but it definitely is looking and feeling more like Fall.

It is a time of transition and time of change.  It's also a time of preparing, a time of gathering in the abundance, a time of letting go.

It surely has been a transition week, not just the weather, but I can feel it in me and the happenings around me.  I have taken some time this week to do some digging in and setting my focus for the season.  Opening up, doing some simple clarity card work, and seeing where this season will lead.

I have been one to take dragonflies, butterflies and the like as symbols, a deeper connection.  Dragonflies are my baby girl dropping in to say hi, or it's okay, or it's going to be alright, or you got this.  Seeing them makes me pause, even if just to linger for a few seconds more.  Butterflies, since about a year ago, have become another big one for me.  They represent change for me.  Whether it is a change I know about it or not, they are a heads up that either I need to change something or to be ready for a change.

Let me share two dragonfly stories with you that happened recently, one has a butterfly in it as well.

Back in the end of August I cracked a tooth.  My first thought was, I am only 36 and I cracked a tooth.  But then I thought on it, I was the one who tried to eat the cookie filled with m&ms and chocolate chips too soon after I took it out of the fridge.  Oops...I still need to work on patience sometimes, or waiting until truly the kids won't know.  Either way, I was left with a cracked tooth.  From the time I got the temporary until I got the permanent, it was on my mind that what if this wasn't going to be enough of a fix.  The day I went to get the permanent, I was sitting in the chair waiting and looking out the window.  For a brief moment I watched a dragonfly hover nearby before it took off on the wind.  I knew then, that things would be okay.  And yes, I do pray, and yes I added this all to prayers as well.

Now, just at the beginning of this week I came to a stop light.  While I waited I watch a dragonfly pass by the front of my car.  As I watched it fly by, a butterfly flew near it in the other direction.  Okay, I thought...Change is in the air, but it is going to alright.  At that point I didn't have any clue as to what that change could be. 

But looking back now, here is what I came up with.  A reminder that life is precious, to slow down, to breathe, to take care of our bodies, to take care of our relationships, to be open, to trust, to let go.

On the way home after that experience, I was driving and without warning a car from three lanes over came shifting lanes towards me quickly.  I had really nowhere to go, couldn't speed up, couldn't slow down. After the driver realized what was going on (mind you I have a mini van, this was a car...my car can't be missed), quickly moved over to their own lane and exited the direction the freeway took.  As for me, I had begun to slow and pull off onto what little shoulder there was.  I paused for a moment, looked around, and drove the rest of the way home (luckily I wasn't far), probably holding my breath and tense the whole time.  I got home, paused, but just couldn't shake the feeling I had.  I had groceries to unload, and had to help get the kids ready for nap.  Hubby came out and took one look at me and asked what happened.  We took a moment to just settle me and then glanced at the car, noticing just how close that car had come.  I am missing some paint and there are scratches.  Yup, that was close, too close.  But I can look back on it with a different perspective.  It's going to be alright.

I have had two unexpected doctor appointments this week.  One with my doctor, and one for a mammogram/ultrasound.  I couldn't quite shake that something wasn't quite right in a certain spot.  The doctor agreed, something off, but what.  My mammogram and ultrasound both came back normal.  So what next?  I have this tubular spot that doesn't feel right, but also hurts sometimes.  I am waiting to hear back from the doctor which way to head.  Lots of praying, lots of patience, and still some waiting.  But at least for now, I can rest on the it isn't anything abnormal and all looks good.

Like I said, life is about change and transition.  That is where we are at, where I am at.  There is always some amount of uncertainty.  But there is also something to just being open to the change. 

Sometimes, it is an easy, happy time.  Sometimes it is hard, brings sadness or grief.  Either way, it can be scary.

My hubby started a business and it is to a point where big decisions need to be made on it.  But it involves change, uncertainty, and a whole lot of trust and letting go.  Does this scare us?  Most definitely.  Have we answered all the decisions?  Not yet, but we are working through them.

We have our home school plan and schedule set up.  It's still new to us, but it is exciting.  Giving us some new adventures to try out, but also take our learning on the go.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  It is about change, letting go, starting to prepare.  It's about learning and growing.  It's about reflecting and digging in deep.  It's about trusting and yet still dreaming.

What changes are you facing right now?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Loving Kindess Message ~ On Emerging

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you allow yourself to take up space, to be seen, to be heard~
~May you have strong roots that ground you~
~May you let yourself plant your feet firmly, grow, & emerge from within~
~May you let yourself - inside and out- radiate~
~May you let your blossom emerge as you emerge, filling the space around you~

Saturday, September 15, 2018

No Make Up Challenge ~ What Came of it?

Beside the fact that I am terrible at taking selfie pictures, for which I am sorry, I wanted to share my thoughts and experience on going without makeup. 

So almost 2 months ago I gave myself the challenge to go with no make up.  I started July 19.

On that day I woke up, put my make up away in our linen closet and closed the door.  I will admit, I did use an under eye dark circle roller thing for a few days after, but then decided to be done with that as well.

The hardest part of it all was giving up the under eye roller.  I had been using different eye creams and the roller to help but nothing ever seemed to be an effective, long term solution.

Before giving up makeup, I felt I needed it, all the time, everywhere I went.  I would start with day eye cream, primer, then do the under eye roller, bb cream foundation or just full coverage foundation depending on the time of year, and then powder.  At one point I was using the green face stick to cover up red spots on my face.  On special occasions add in eye liner, eye shadow, lip liner, lipstick, mascara, occasionally blush, and occasionally lip gloss.

I know, it sounds like a lot for some and not enough for others.  I wanted to simplify my routine for both the morning and bedtime.

I have even given up the two different eye creams that I was using depending on time of day and the apple cider vinegar toner I made.

So, if you add in the washing of my face, the toner, eye cream, and then make up it was a lot going on my face to start the day.  Then I had to clean it off at the end of the day.  So wash, toner, and eye cream again.

Lots of steps, lots of time, and for what?  Did I really needed the make up?  Thinking on it, no I didn't really.  For me it was a layer I could put on.  That layer represented different things at different times.  But once I grew my confidence and decided to challenge myself to go without did I finally, truly see the beauty that I had actually hidden underneath.

I found an amazing face product that helped me to switch out almost of all of my morning and bedtime routine.  It is called Joyome.  It is two different all natural serums, one for day and one for night.  I have been using one pump of each, every day, and have seen positive changes in my facial complexion, scar reduction, lines disappearing, softer texture, and my favorite no more dark circles under my eyes.  I have even gotten a little red from the sun a couple of times because I was out too long without my hat or sunscreen on and it has helped to get rid of that quickly.  The changes may be slow, but they are happening and they will only improve with use and time.

By adding this in, it gave me more confidence to be brave and go without makeup because it got rid of my dark circles within just a couple of days.  No amount of anything I had used before worked.   I now just wash my face with water in the morning and put the day serum on.  Then at night I wash my face with a homemade, all natural, clay based bar and then put on the night serum.
By giving up my daily make up routine, I have simplified my routines, begun to save money, and actually have better looking skin now then I did before.  Even better, it gave me the boost in confidence I needed to see that I don't need that extra layer on and don't need to hide behind it.  It is almost as if a load has been lifted allowing me to be more vibrant and truer to myself.

Sometimes it is the smallest step, the smallest thing that sets up as a catalyst and brings perspective changes, a shift in grounding, and growth.

This all started one day when I looked in the mirror, like really looked, and noticed that make up or not, I look no different.  I made the comment to my hubby that maybe I don't really need to wear makeup.  He never commented when I did, never commented when I didn't.  To him, it was all the same look.  And in reality, he preferred the look without, the natural look.

So between my observations, his honest comment, I decided to let go of the layers I added on.  Lay them down, let myself shine anyways.

What layer or even layers do you need to shed?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fall, Back to School, & Setting Up Our School

Fall is around the corner, school has started, and we are gearing up to set up our home school year.

I am finishing up assessments this week and will be building our home school lesson plan shortly.  I am excited to tell you more about our plan once it is completely set up.

But for now, we are going to focus on building on the skills that the kids already have, moving forward where we can, focusing on the spots that need a little more work and time, adding in more focused character development, building connections and making friends, utilizing the abundant resources we have nearby to grow our learning and adventures, adding in more creative time, adding in more outside time, and fostering a lifelong love for learning.

One of the resources that I have found very helpful in planning is the book called "Homeschooling Through the Years".  It gives a great break down of the basic skills and information that a child typically learns each year of school.  This book is helping me assess where we are at and where we need to focus, but also giving me ideas of which direction to head in for the skills already mastered. 

You may be wondering why we didn't start after the Labor Day Holiday like most other kids.  Partially because we do our learning all year long, we don't have a specific "first day" like most.  Also, because we don't have to officially report and test until the school year our kids turn 7, we have some time.  But we did set September 5 as our "first day" of school.

This week we are figuring out a new rhythm and routine as new activities have begun because of the start of the school year.  So we are mixing these activities in with our focused learning times, as well as just learning on the go where ever we are.

In the coming weeks I will post more about our plan, how things are going, the resources we use, the activities that we love, and more.

Welcome Fall and welcome back to school!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Finding Calm

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May calm wash over you even in the midst of chaos~
~May you find calm inside and out~
~May you be filled with calm mentally, psychically, emotionally, spiritually~
~May calm be your grounding to carry you through~

Friday, September 7, 2018

Health, Diet, & Fitness ~ Results & Successes, More Than the Number on the Scale

Did you know, fat and muscle weigh the same?  One pound of fat or a pound of muscle, either way it is a pound.  However, they don't look the same in your body.

So you may loose weight for awhile, but hit a plateau.  During that time, you may begin toning up in areas.  So, while you may not be loosing pounds, but you are loosing inches.  Sometimes they happen at the same time, loosing pounds and loosing inches.  But sometimes, it is only one of them.

Some of it depends on what your workout routine is.  Is it just cardio or HIIT?  Is there only toning?  Do you mix both?

Do you remember to warm up and to stretch?  Include a variety in your week?

It also changes based on how, when, what you eat and drink.

When you are making changes in your health and diet, you have to remember this...successes are not all scale victories.  Successes go beyond the number on the scale.

While sure, it is nice to see that number go down.  It can be equally as frustrating, stressful if that number doesn't go down or even goes up.  Our bodies fluctuate so much from day that just based off what we eat and drink.

The results you are seeking may not occur overnight.  They may take time, longer than you may hope for.  But staying persistent, changing things up when needed.  Are there going to be things that trip you up along the way?  Most definitely.  If change was easy, we wouldn't dig our heels in so much.

When you start this journey I encourage you to find a way to keep track, like written track of your results. 

When I started this journey I got a simple spiral notebook.  I would record my results daily at first, then weekly, then before and after a certain round of workout challenge, now it is not very often.  I would make sure to record my results at the same time during.

So here is what I would record:
  • Date
  • Weight
  • Measurements
    • Chest
    • Upper belly (just above the belly button)
    • Middle belly (at the belly button)
    • Under belly, but not hips (I had a saggy belly so I would measure under there)
    • Hips
    • Legs: Left and Right: Upper Thigh, Middle Thigh, Just above the knee, calf
    • Arms: Left and Right: Upper (almost near pit), Middle of Upper Arm, Just above elbow, and wrist (yes, you can loose inches in your wrists. I didn't know it until it happened to me)
  • Pictures
    • I did lots of different views, both with arms up and at my sides
      • Face the camera, Left Side, Right Side, and Back
I will admit, I hated taking pictures.  Still kind of do.  But when I didn't see scale differences, I saw differences in pictures.

The thing I found was that the more areas I documented on, the more I could see differences, even if only very small.

Now, at this point, I haven't recorded much lately or done pictures.  I have come to a point where I am okay with where I am at and know where I want to head.  So every now and then I take a look at measurements and take pictures. 

However, I have been stepping on the scale daily for about 2 months.  I go in spurts where I use it daily and then I put it away in the closet for awhile. I have mixed feelings about the scale and whether or not to step on it daily.  I have heard it keeps you more accountable if you step on it at the same time daily.  But for me, I, in the past, would get a little obsessive over the number shown.  I hate to admit that, but it is true.  I would get too focused on it and then when changes wouldn't happen it affected me negatively, thus adding in more stress.

The only reason I have been using it again lately is because I am seeing where things are leading now that I am off birth control.  I have been watching more closely to see if not only my weight would begin to go down again, but also make sure my blood pressure returned to my normal.  Because all is well in both areas, I am going to go back to using it less.  Just for check ins as I get close to my mini goals to see where I am at.

Before we get in too much farther and talk about results and successes, take a moment to set some goals.  I know, you may not be a goal oriented person.  But setting a few overall goals will help guide you and keep you going.  Then, take each goal you write and break it down in to a mini goal or several mini goals depending on how far out your end goal is.  Be realistic and set intentions.  This will help guide you as you move forward, but also get you over those hard spots or plateaus.  Use the mini goals as check in points along your journey.  Also, be okay with adjust them as you go along.

Now, for the results, the successes.  There will hopefully be many along this journey.  And remember, they are not all just about the number on the scale. I will share where I have seen results and successes.

For me I have seen results in:
  • inches lost and weight loss
  • improved gut health and regularity
  • clothing size changes ~ be careful with this though. I am not sure if it is the same for men's clothing as it is women's. but I have found much discrepancy over time in sizing.  One store I may be one size, but a whole different one in another store.  Or even within the same store and same article of clothing. And it depends on the piece of clothing.  I have stuff that is XS, but still big on me, but other stuff is a size medium.  Shirts too, mostly medium, but some small or large.  Tank tops are so varying as well.  Add in skirts or dresses.  I can confidently say I am down in sizes for clothing.  But I can't give an accurate size number.
  • the look and feel of my skin
  • focus ability and energy
  • sleep length and quality
  • strength and flexibility, as well as posture
I am sure I have missed some others that you may have seen in yourself.  Share your results and areas of successes below. 

When you reach a goal, even if it takes longer than anticipated, treat yourself to a reward if you want to.  You can set up reward ideas for each goal if you choose.  It gives you motivation to keep you going.

I hope you take the time to look beyond the number on the scale.  There are, more often than not, other good results to be seen on this journey.  Sometimes you just have to look for them or be open to them.

*Photo credit: found on google search from LiveHealthy Blog

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Doors, Windows, Books ~ Change is Hard

Closed doors, blocked paths.

We all face them.  At one point or another, we find them in our way.  It could be permanently or could just be a season.  Sometimes we are facing them every day.  Sometimes we go stretches where they become a distant memory.

Sometimes we problem solve our way through and think nothing of it.

But what if the door is closed and locked? What is the reason?  Maybe there is a reason for this blocked path, but we need to give it time to show or maybe we were never meant to know.

Have you, in you life, ever found your path blocked, a door suddenly closed, or even closed and locked?

You have heard the quote I am guessing, "when one door closes another opens" or "sometimes its a window" or "your life is like an empty book, page by page it gets filled, your life book gets written"

Well, what happens when you get to the end of chapter?  Or when that door you so wanted to open, hasn't opened yet?

Not a literal door, but when was the last time a door was closed for you?  You faced a transition, even if you didn't feel ready for it.

Life is about change, transitions.  These things cause us to grow.  Sometimes there is pain in this growth, sometimes not.  But there is always something to take away from it.  Even something good.

Though you may not see it right away, it will show up... if you let it.

We don't always know where this path is headed and no, we can't always control it.  But we can still hope, we can still dream, we can trust.

The start of a new year is always a transition time.  But so is the transition from August to September.

The season is beginning to change, as we slowly shift from Summer to Fall.  The weather is cooling down, the leaves are getting ready shine in a different way.  I love Spring and Fall for this reason, because leaves shine differently in Spring as we get further out of Winter and then again in Fall as they change colors and slowly twirl to the ground.

Kids are heading off to school.  Schedules are changing and filling up with different activities, sports, and so on.

The daylight is getting shorter as the sun rises later and sets sooner.

Our internal side begins to feel this shift as well.

In a way, this is a door closing.  But these doors are usually more easily navigable.  They are a known part of life.  But they do cause us to slow down and change pace.  Which is a good thing every now and then.

But even bigger doors can slow us too, if not flat out stop us.  Those bigger life changes, those losses, the unexpected change.

And what if that so called next door doesn't open soon?  Or ever?

Often, when the change happens we are left with two options.  To grow with it, through it.  Or to dig our heels in and not move.

Which do you choose?

Whichever quote you go with, whichever way you look at, change is hard.  It is even harder when it comes out of nowhere. 

I will admit, I am not always graceful while navigating these sometimes.  I feel lost, sometimes ask a thousand questions, dig my heels in, try to linger a tad longer, go over the top trying to create a permanent memory. 

I wish I handled it better.  But I am learning to face, to push, to keep dreaming.

To let go, to trust.

With time, I warm up to the change.  Sometimes quicker, other times I still feel I need more time (but I don't always have it).

Whatever life decides to throw your way, you have what it takes to face it.  And when you feel you don't, you will always have that one person that can help you navigate until you find your footing again.

So while there may be door closed right now, you can still dream, you can still hope, you can still trust.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Knowledge & Trust

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~You have the knowledge & 
wisdom to take the necessary steps forward~ 
~You can trust this~

Friday, August 31, 2018

Health, Diet, & Fitness ~ Watching What & How You Eat ~ Gut Health

You knew it was coming.  At some point on this journey I would talk about diet.  Last week I talked about the importance of exercising.  Getting a good variety in and finding what works for you.  Most importantly, get up and move, everyday.

When I mention the word diet, I can see many who might cringe at the word.  Diet doesn't have to mean following the latest diet trend or plan like weight watchers, keto, etc.  Not that there isn't anything wrong with following one of those plans, it is just not the focus of this post.

This is about the food we eat and the stuff we drink.  All day, every day, and going forward.  So much of our success in this health journey starts with the food we eat.  We can workout every day, but if we don't watch what we eat and drink, choosing carefully then all the working out in the world won't make much of a difference.  It goes the other way too.  You can eat right and not workout, but still not find much difference being made.  We need both.  But we need to fill our bodies, fuel them the right way to face the day.

So much of our body health, inside and out, are determined by our gut health.  Check it out...

It is no wonder why we are off balance sometimes because of how we eat and what we drink.  Not to say indulging in a sweet treat or certain drinks is all bad, every now and then.  But to have it every day or even in excess usually has negative end results.

That is why I gave myself the no pop and frappe challenge.  The amount of sugar in those are crazy high.  And daily for weeks was not helping me in anyway.

We need to eat, but we also need to watch what foods we are eating, how much and how often.  We can change our gut health just by what we eat.

I am guessing you have heard it too, our bodies are made up of about 70% water.  We need water to survive, to stay hydrated, to function.  We can go days without food, but not without water.  So much of your body can change by just drinking enough water, every day.

What we eat and what we drink does have a profound impact on our lives.  But I also know that many other parts of life factor into what we do.

I encourage you to take a look at how you are eating and what you are drinking.  Like really look at it.  Check out the ingridients.  Find out how they affect your body.  Make some changes where needed.

Sometimes those changes are made slowly over time and one at a time.  Sometimes you just need to make them at that moment and stick with them. 

You may or may not see changes right away.  But with persistence and time, changes will begin to occur.  It is not always a quick fix.  Our bodies need time to readjust too. There will be moments where you backslide (I have), but you stop, reset, and start where you are.

Changing habits are hard.  But changing bad ones for good in the long run will help you out.  Your diet needs to be something that you can maintain and keep with. 

Remember if you put good into your body, you will get good out.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Open Your Clamshell ~ Let Yourself Emerge

I want you to take a moment and picture a clam.  What color is your shell?  Are you hiding a pearl inside?  Are you a small clam?  Or big?  Or somewhere in between?

Our lives are a lot like a clam shell.  Daily life, the ups and downs, cause us to begin to put on armor.  This armor helps us feel ready for battle.  Gives us a place to hide away, to blend in.

Do you put on armor?  What does your armor look like?  Sometimes, we use the armor to shrink away, take up less space; causing us to loose ourselves, a sense of who we are, where we are headed.  We become a clam shell that is closed so tightly, protecting what is inside.

What if we let go a little?  Loosened our armor, took up more space?  What if we let ourselves truly radiate and emerge?

Have you ever tried to open a clam shell?  Or watched someone do it?

I have not personally attempted cracking into a clam shell, but I have watched it attempted many times.  Even the most acclaimed chefs and clam harvesters have a hard time sometimes.

It takes a special tool, muscle, lining things up right, and a whole lot of persistence, but also caution - need to watch your fingers and don't want to ruin the delicious edible part.

Once finally cracked open with success, we find, sometimes, the beauty of what a speck of dirt can turn into - a pearl - or at the very least a delicious meal.

You, you are that pearl.  Hidden away sometimes, surrounded by armor.

You have to open up, lay it out, let it go.  Is it easy to do?  Not always, but the end result is something magical really.

Why?  Because as you take down that armor piece by piece you being to emerge.  You begin to take up space, grow confident in being heard, being seen.  And that is okay.

It is hard and sometimes we need to dig down deep.  But as you dig, you plant your roots.  Those roots will get stronger and then provide a sense of grounding.  This spot, this space, remember it.  Because when things get tough again, you can always come back to this space, this grounding and start again.

Are you going to grow and have success?  You bet.  Are you going to fall, fail, make mistakes?  Most definitely.  Offer yourself extra grace during this.  And then try again.

With time, intention, mistakes, growth, and change your armor will get totally laid down.  You will be able to totally open up.  Totally emerge. Totally radiate.

Recently I was given the idea to create an Emerging Manifesto.  A simple form, but can go as deep as you want.  And can also relate to any theme you put it to.  Start with an I am statement, then I will, I vow, I invite, and end with another I am statement (same as you started or a different one).  Instead of looking at where you are now with it, like a closed clam shell, open your shell.  Let yourself write on where you are going to be when you emerge.

I will share mine below.  But first, I want you to remember something.  It is okay to take up space, to emerge, to be you.  You know that phrase, "Bloom where you are planted"?  It is kind of cliche in some ways, but it is true, especially in the sense of emerging.  Watch a high speed video of a flower growing and then blooming.  It is truly an amazing thing.

Opening up, laying down that armor, you begin to emerge in every sense.  Let yourself free.

My Emerging Manifest
I am Confident in who I am, where I am going, and I am enough
I will Let my true self ~ Inside & Out ~ Radiate
I vow To Stand Strong, knowing that in order to take up space I will be seen, I will be heard, I will Bloom
I invite Patience to guide me, grow my calm, space for grace, and solid grounding to return to when I am off balance
I am Vibrant, full of life, full of energy, and handcrafted

*Clam shell photo was found on google search from Wikipedia*

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Beauty

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~You are beautiful~
~Truly beautiful, inside & out~

Friday, August 24, 2018

Health, Fitness, & Diet ~ Working Out

Have you heard the saying about health that "What you eat makes up 80% of you and your results, 20% is working out"?

Both make a big different in your health.  Both make a big difference in reaching your goals and maintaining your results. 

One thing is for sure, you can't only rely on one.  You need to be intentional about both.  In a later post I will talk more about diet, and by diet I mean the food you eat, not going on a diet or which diet plan is better.

For now, it is about working out.  Get up and move.  Set a schedule, make it routine, let become a habit.

Working out can be anything from walking, to yoga, to HIIT to running.  Low impact, high impact.  Body weight only or weights, even if they are in the form of filled bottles of water or cans.  At home, or outside or in a gym or even while traveling.  Free or have a cost.

Whatever you decided to do, do what makes you smile, feel better, challenge you, something that you can keep going.  Keep on moving.

Start it simple, start walking.  Each day, go for a walk.  Increase the distance you go and increase the minutes. 

Just start.  Even if it is only 5 minutes at first and you work your way longer.  Just take that step.

Find the workout style that works for you, where you are at, where you want to head, and works for your body.

If you haven't worked out much, starting with HIIT or running 5 miles may not be the best route to go.  Think of the tortoise and the hare.  Do what you can do that will keep you going, not burn you out right away.  Even the littlest changes will begin to add up.  Just be patient with it.

And you know what?  It's okay to take breaks.  In the middle of a workout.  Or from working out altogether.  Make sure to come back to what you were doing or change it up of it needed.  But just come back to it.  As always, check in with your doctor as well to see if things are good to go.

There are so many different types of workouts out there.  Sometimes you just need to try a few to see what fits your style.  You also need to find when the best time to get it in works for you best.  Some people find it best to workout in the morning first thing, but then there is midday, evening, or really anywhere in between.

And remember, you can make anything into a workout.  Have to do some cleaning?  Crank up the tunes, move and groove while you clean.  Mowing the lawn, gardening, chasing the kids in the front yard.  Pretending you are a crane lifting and moving your kiddos.  Workouts come in all shapes and sizes.  It can be 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, or a 30 minute solid all at once, or anywhere in between.

True, you can workout for hours at t time, but you don't have to in order to see results.  Even 15 minutes a day can make changes in the long term.

Here is what I learned from adding in workouts.  I need to change it up every so often.  I don't do well first thing in the morning working out.  I can put more my all into a good solid workout if I wait until later morning or early afternoon.  I use things like playing with the kids, walks, adventures out and about as add ons to workout schedule now.  I do better if I have it scheduled.  I have done enough different style of workouts that I can combine moves into a workout on my own without needing to follow a video, but I still do enjoy a good workout video.  I can do HIIT, but I don't like it.  You need a cardio bases activity at least 3 times a week: I schedule three days of cardio, but find I end up with five days most weeks.  I like to have focus areas each day of the three scheduled cardio days, ie: arms, legs, core, the areas I want to tone.

I didn't learn any of that until I worked my way through.  I started focusing on exercise after I was cleared from the doctor after my youngest was born.  I eased into.  Now, I workout in a different way.  I have found what I like and what works for me. 

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are my for sure workout days.  I do at least 10 minutes of cardio by dancing to my favorite music.  But, I usually end up going for about 15 because I find I enjoy it.  Then, on Mondays I do some leg exercises, Wednesdays is core and back, Fridays are arms.  I do a compilation of exercise moves I have learned that helps focus on those areas to strengthen and tone. 

Though it is not set in stone, I do sometimes end up moving one of the focus areas to a different day depending on how things are going.  I try to use Tuesday as yoga days and Thursdays as extra long stretch day.  Weekends I take off.  If I am on vacations I don't always workout.  I try to keep things with my own natural flow and rhythm.

There are a few go to workout videos I use.  I started with Fitness Blender.  Love their stuff!  There are so many options.  You can use their free workouts, or buy programs.  They have everything from warm ups to cool downs, low impact to high, 5 minutes to 60 minutes, strength and toning, cardio and HIIT, Pilate's and yoga, stretching, no equipment to various equipment pieces, and so much more.  You can pick the length of time, the focus area, what equipment you want to use and more to get you moving. 

Betty Rocker free 30 day program is another great one.  She sends your email with the workout for the day the morning of.  She has a variety of styles used, focus areas, and rest days included. 

My last favorite is Fit Mama Program by Melinda Pedersen.  They are 12 minute long videos.  She sets it up as 2 different plans to follow for three weeks.  You just click on the day you are on and it takes you to a YouTube video. She covers all focus areas and abilities too.

I have done all of these at different times over the past almost 3 years.  I have repeated them and I have also used pieces from all to plan out my own schedule. 

Of course, there were some stretches in there where I took time off....like months off.  But I always got back to it.  When you keep at it, it becomes a part of your routine and you will find the time to fit it in.  But I also know that when you take time off, it does become easy to, overtime, keep pushing it off and finding excuses.

You just need to decide where your priorities are.  If you want getting exercise in to be a priority, you will find the time to get something done.  Also, set some realistic goals to help guide you through.  They help challenge you and help you keep motivated.  But they also give you something to go back to if you need to reset.  It does help to have someone who can help keep you accountable.  They can give you encouragement, inspiration, and check in with you to keep you moving.

No matter which way you decide to workout, find an exercise you enjoy.  Just keep moving.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Saying Goodbye is Hard ~ Loosing a Pet

About a week ago we found ourselves faced with saying goodbye to one of our beloved kitties.  Izzers had been a part of our family for 12 years.  She passed away, in the middle of the night, unexpectedly.

She had no issues that were known.  But we believe that being a fourteen year old cat, it was old age and a sudden heart attack.

It doesn't matter if it is a person or a pet we are saying goodbye to, saying goodbye is a hard thing to do.  Add in having to explain it all to the kids what had happened, where she was going to go, and about a thousand other questions.

I, though having grown up with pets, have not had to say goodbye to a pet or been faced with being the one there when they died.  All of our pets faced old age and at the end euthanizing was decided upon.  However, I was not at home for most them being away at college or out on my own.  My mom and dad walked this path and then told us about it.

And yes, the first person I called was mom when we found Izzers.  I had know idea what to do, but also new my oldest would be awake in a half hour.  We were not expecting any of this.

Leaving us to wonder why.  Why now.

In some ways, we were able to help relate it to the passing of my hubby's grandma, the kids' great grandma.  However, we were all able to say goodbye and knew it was only a matter of time.  She had chosen to be cremated.  We went to her funeral to finish saying goodbye.  All during this time our oldest was asking questions, but yet had an ability to really understand, even for only being almost 5.

We talked about heaven before and so we talked about how she was up in heaven now.  Still got a handful of questions over time, but they slowly stopped.  More recently, we found out that my parents' cat had died.  So when we told the kids (because they like to see him when visit or when we chat on skype) that Corky had died, he was in heaven.

So when Izzers died, we could relate some of the things back to path we had walked.  My hubby and I had loaded up Izzers into her carrier before the kids got up.  So when my oldest came down, he asked why the carrier.  We explained we were taking Izzers to the vet because she had died.  He made the choice to have her ashes returned to us.  At this point we haven't gotten them back yet and don't know where they will go once we do.  But it was something he had asked for.  We said Corky and Izzers were together, and maybe even Great Grandma was holding them both.

We also used the book, which we have read many times, "Chester Raccoon: An Acorn Full of Memories" to help guide us in a direction.  In the book, Chester looses his friend Skiddle Squirrel because he was in an accident.  Chester's Mom showed him and the other forest friends how to make a memory of Skiddle.  So, I made the suggest to my oldest that we make a memory.  His choice was a stuff animal cat that he felt reminds him of Izzers. 

It has only been a week, but the "I miss Izzers Mom" has faded away.  I think it will take me a bit longer to adjust because of how long she had been with us and the routines that we had set up that are now changed.

I know, I have two kids.  My youngest hasn't been mentioned much in this post.  That is because, being 2 1/2, as of now, he doesn't seemed concerned by any of it.  He has asked a few questions or has said, when Izzers comes home. But for the most part he has just kept right on going as if nothing had changed.

That being said, when the day comes that we loose our other cat, we will be faced with a different reaction I am guessing.  You see, Izzers was our kitty who would generally hide away when the kids were up.  She would be on a different floor from them.  They rarely got to pet her, maybe once or twice total.  Cole on the other hand, he is our more social, pet me, snuggle me, I want to hang out with you type of cat.  So, while we do things similar, there may need to be a few tweaks made and even a longer process time.

Saying goodbye is hard.  Dealing with grief is tough.  How do you help your kids work through their grief?  How do you face having to say goodbye for the last time?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Enoughness

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~You are enough~
~You have enough~
~You do enough~

Friday, August 17, 2018

Health, Fitness & Diet ~ Being an Emotional Eater

I have always been one to be a bit of an emotional eater.  Usually it comes and goes throughout the years, but I can usually curb it and reset.

About 8 years ago though, that is when it would come in to play more often and stick around longer and longer, and was getting harder to curb it.  Then, about 3 years ago, it came and didn't go away and I added in excessive spending. 

8 years ago, specialty coffees were what I was drawn to.  After the loss of our daughter at 17 weeks, miscarriage, I was still a classroom teacher.  I would find myself by nap time running out the door as fast as I could.  I would head to a Dunn Brothers nearby, get a coffee and sit there.  Needing to convince myself to go back and finish the work day.  It was my way of dealing with the grief I was facing.  With time, things began to balance out again and I spent less time running away and dealing with emotions, as wells as spending less time getting coffee.

3 years ago, I was adjusting to a big change...well, several.  We moved, we were getting ready for my youngest son's arrival, then there was the transition time with a newborn and 2 1/2 year old, then learning new rhythms and routines as they change so quickly as the kids grow.  I didn't handle it well, not in the very least (at least from my perspective).  I was dealing with post partum depression and anxiety, never feeling quite like I was enough, making too many mistakes, and an inner negative voice, as well as lack of sleep that goes with having kids.

I would find any excuse to swing through the drive thru and get a frappe just to get out of the house.  Then, one little issue of something not going right I would find a way to make a stop while we were out.  As time went by, it became more frequent, to the point where it was just habit.  Then, just in this year, it amped up to a frappe or diet coke in the morning, then one in the afternoon.

I tried on and off to stop, flat out or use only for special occasions.  But just like that container of fresh baked cookies on the counter, it made me want both more.  Add in cookies galore, or mm or any other sweet treat by the handful as a quick fix instead dealing any emotional issue at hand, mine or the kids or behavior issues

So much so, it became a crutch.  One I knew was and would always be there, could rely on to help me get through until the next downtime or quiet time. 

It reminds me of my oldest in swim lessons needing to complete one more skill on his own to be able to move up, but he wouldn't go for it.  Why?  Because he had become so comfortable with his teacher and no matter how much encouragement she gave him to go for it, he knew that she would always be there and he didn't have to put in as much effort to attempt the skill.  So, as a little extra push, they suggested we move him up to the next level anyways, to change up teachers to one he has swam with on occasion throughout the last year but not been his consistent teacher.

Sometimes we need something, big or little, to push us to our potential, to push us past our fear, to make us face what is truly in front of us.

When it comes down to it.  I didn't want to deal my own emotions or had forgotten how.  And I was way to connected to my kids' emotions on top of it all.  Add in the fact that I, for whatever reason, would carry the emotions of those around me, well, I was a bit of a mess. 

So I turned to food.  Instead of dealing with the emotion, the behavior at hand, I just pushed down in and ate something or spent money.

Not the best way to move through the day, but at the time, it work or at least seemed to.

Move forward until early this year and I began to finally accept that some things needed to change, and that change, it had to be with me.  I found my way, through finding me, and learning tools to face the emotions.

I am still a work in progress and still make mistakes, but I am getting further along in not falling into the emotional cycle of using food as a fix.  If you have read my prior posts, you know that back in June I got a kick in the pants I needed to push me out of my comfort zone and break my habit of diet coke and frappes every day.  I had gained a bunch of weight and my blood pressure was raised.  It was enough to challenge myself to stop frappes and diet coke that day.

That wake up call was a catalyst that I needed to move forward, to learn to actually learn to deal with my emotions in a health way, to disconnect the emotions of those around me from me (because you know what? You are not their emotions).  Why?  Because on the day of my doctor appointment that I found out the health data, I gave up pop and frappes.  I challenged myself to go until I had my recheck appointment 3 weeks later.  When I found out things had gone back to normal and my weight was going down (keep in mind a bigger reason for that happening was because I went off birth control), and I saw how close I was to being 30 days without either, I knew I could make that push for the last week.

Now here I was, a few days into it, still thinking that I could do this, easily.  While the first week was relatively easy, the next week wasn't.  I still needed to face my own emotions.  As I began to face mine, I began to be able to disconnect from other's emotions.  I was able to find a grounding that I could come back to.  I kept it simple.  I focused my breathing in those tough moments.  Then as I let myself feel the emotion, I began to wonder why I thought I needed that frappe or diet coke.  If I was at home, I would write it out and let it go.  If we were out and about, I had a necklace that has a special meaning that I would hold in my hand or rub my fingers on to help release the emotion.

As each week passed by, I found myself less and less interested in those sugary things and didn't need them as a crutch anymore.  I find myself indulging less or going over the top in excess less.  Sure, I have a sweet treat every now and then, but not as a fix for my emotions.  For that, I still continue to breathe through it, feel it, let it go.  If it lingers I take a moment to go back and think on it to see why it's still there.  Not sure if it's related or not, but I don't find myself having those emotional swings as often and they don't seem as bad, but I do know they don't last as long.

I have begun to learn how to face my emotions, to deal with them in healthy ways.  Is it always easy?  No.  Do I misstep?  You bet.  But I am starting where I am, stepping forward, and figuring it out.  As I figure out how to better deal with my own emotions, I can help my kiddos face theirs and help them work through them better. 

How about you, do you have a crutch you use to deal with emotions?  Have you learned how to face them and deal with them in a healthy way?