Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Making Space: In My Day, My Week, Our Day, Our Week

I have a several roles to fill, and I know that God put me in those for a reason.  Sometimes I do question them, if what I am doing is heading us down the right path, if it is enough, am I using the gifts and talents  I have been given, am I being authentically me through it all.

Have these thoughts, these questions run through your mind before?

As I have been looking at my purpose over the years, I have been realizing recently it is changing.  Just like the seasons, just like age, just like life, our purpose changes.  It grows and changes as we learn, grow, or change.

Change in our journey or direction.  Change in our roles or our age.  Change in our hearts or attitudes.  Sometimes those things are planned, we can see them coming.  Yet other times, they come with the twists and turns on our path, seemingly out of nowhere.  Sometimes we are in control of it, sometimes not.  Sometimes we think we are in control, but we really aren't.  Sometimes we have it figured out, while other times not so much.

Priorities are a big part of this.  What are you priorities?  Where do you place value?  What do you make a priority?

Those things will determine what you fill your day, your week, your month, your year with. 

Even making space for, well space or margin, downtime, and rest can be a priority, can be scheduled, can be put on the calendar.

So what am I going to put on my calendar?

For those, like me, who are does, planners, list makers, and such I have love to keep it going, even when I would be better off taking some downtime.  I am learning this about myself and being more aware and in tune, as well as honest about what I truly need...even if it means to take a nap or to rest.  But it isn't always easy for me to put those as a priority.

So as I dig deeper, make some decisions, set up routines & schedules, and create rituals I am taking a closer look my roles, my priorities, my goals.  Looking at what works and doesn't, what needs to change, and more.  I am also looking at what works in the best interest of each of my roles and where I can use my gifts and talents best.  One thing I know for sure is I love to write, I always have.  So I want to make writing a priority.

I am not looking at this as I can do it all, I want to do it all.  I am looking at this as,  where can I find a better flow that works with the path I am on, the person I am meant to be, my roles that provides a balanced harmony.  And through that flow, through that balanced harmony I can bring my best to each area, letting myself grow where needed, keep learning, finding that natural flow & rhythm that this next season can bring.

What will the next season bring for you?  Where are you placing your priorities?  What will your flow and rhythm look like?  How will you blend your roles?

Monday, September 9, 2019

What are you looking forward to this week? This month?
It's feeling like Fall near us, though tomorrow they are saying 80, but then back into Fall type weather. I have been out of town since last week Wednesday. For us, it feels like we begin our school year this week in September. Getting ready, gearing up and now we put it into action. August cruised by, almost too quickly. I am hoping to settle into a slower pace as September continues, setting some new routines and schedules, finding a flow in my own daily rituals.

This feels like a good time to reassess, recalibrate as needed. What has been working, what hasn't, what needs to change. What do I need to do, change? Where do I need to grow, want to grow? Where do we need to change things up for the kids? What does my marriage need?

I have finished planning out the home school school year. Though we do go year round, we officially start this week adding in more subjects, different activities, and so on. I need to add the info and plan to the lesson plan book. But we have it figured out.

I am taking this week myself to dig in deeper, listen, discover my flow for Fall.

I am looking forward to new adventures, digging in deeper, and discovering or rediscovering. What that looks like and what that means I am not sure yet. I want to take time to see how the past 8 months have tied into my year's word rejuvenation. For September I am focusing in on ease.

What does this look like? Where do I need to find more ease?

Where do you need to find more ease? What does this look like for you?

Monday, August 12, 2019

Finding My Writing Flow & Flow Between Priorities

I have been thinking over the past weeks since my last post that it has been awhile, what do I want to write about.  I have had so many ideas, but I haven't put my fingers to the keys.  I find that writing gets set to the side pretty quickly these days.

I get ideas of what to write about, but then days go by and then I wrestle with, should I still write it or let it go.  I don't always have time to pull out the laptop and write, but what I am realizing is I need to make time for it.  It may not be on the laptop at first, or even in a post, but I can certainly write in a notebook.  Then make time on the calendar to actually put my fingers to the keys.

I am a schedule type person.  So if I want to make writing a priority, I have to schedule it.  I know, it sounds kind of funny, maybe a little odd.  If I like it, why don't I just do it.  Well, I have many roles in the day, so often it turns out that those take more precedence.  Toss in curve balls, unexpected twists, or even leaving space open and writing gets put on the back burner.

And then there is the fact that I go through different phases and seasons as I try to figure out a good flow for writing and spending time with it.  Now, as my kiddos are a little older and little more independent I can see some windows opening allowing me the time if I choose to take it.

It's not that I don't have the time, it is that I don't take the time or give it priority.

That happens often in life.  Things get set aside when we don't give it time or priority.  Now, granted we can't control how or what that will look like always, and stuff comes up.  But overall, we can find a natural flow that creates a balanced harmony.  And we need to take the time to pull those things we set aside every so often to see if they are still relevant, or if something needs to be changed, or if it needs to be let go.

Leaving something off to the side for too long can be cause issues sometimes depending on the topic.  Like marriage or health.  Put those things off to the side for too long and things can tend to fall apart.  And it sometimes takes a lot to bring it back.

Your life becomes what you make a priority.  As moms, we tend to put our kids as first priority.  Everything else seems to fall away, including who we are as a person.  A mom is only part of us.  But there is so much more to us.  Yes, at times are kids need to be number one priority.  But they can't always be in that spot.  There needs to be a flow between the things you make a priority.  And that is going to look different in different seasons, as kids grow up, as marriages gain years, as things change, as things grow.

What have you set down that you need to take a look at?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

For years now I have told myself or made it a goal to put my own health and well being a priority.  But it never stuck.  Why?  Probably because after a handful of months would go by I would fine myself wondering why I ever set it as a goal in the first place.

I always thought myself to be pretty healthy.  Had enough energy, got good sleep, wasn't sick that much during the Winter.  Beyond the physical side of things, mental I was in a good spot and had no real reason to dig deeper into things than necessary.

As the years went by, life changed.  It was rocked, I hit bottom (more times than I care to admit most days), I faced things I never ever thought would be placed on my path.  I have felt like I have been tossed under a bus, along with my knowledge, parenting, character and more.  I felt joy and extreme grief that rocks you to the core.  I have been left high and dry because others simple don't understand or don't want to or don't try.  I have changed and grown, only to have others around me want the "old me" back. 

I got tired of dragging my heals, of digging them in so deep that I never wanted them to be free about the time my youngest turned a year old.  I look at pictures of me from the day and think, wonder, what happened.  Where is the true inner peace?  Where is the deep joy?  Where is the happiness, gratefulness, love?  Where is the life?  Where is the wild, the free?  Where is me, the authentic real me?

I had lost sight of a lot of that back in 2011.  Life has a way of turning things upside down.  Those flips tend to carry through for the years to come.  We may or may not acknowledge them, let alone accept them, but they are there.  They are always tugging at us, always weighing on our shoulders.

A year ago I got serious about my own health and well being.  I faced post-partum depression and anxiety after my youngest was born in 2015.  It took me 16 months to finally accept things for what they were.  And when I mentioned to my doctor and opened up finally she said, it's a wonder you made it this far with everything you have been through and are currently going through.

Motherhood is nothing like we think it will be.  And no, it's not all unicorns and roses all the time.  It is the hardest thing we will face if we decide to grow our family.  It also has so many blessings and good moments.  But no one wants to talk about those tough ones, the ones that we don't like, the ones that just downright suck.

A part of my health and well being journey has been expanding or widening my views, my perspectives, letting myself grow and change as needed, learning, and waiting.  It goes beyond diet and exercise.  It goes beyond the food we put in and hitting the pavement to get ourselves moving.  It is about why we choose to eat what we are eating, it is about moving in a way that works with our body and the season we are in, it is about the mind, body, and spirit, it is about rest, both passive and active, it is about how we handle the twists, turns of this journey we are on.

What started out as a needed focus on changing my health through diet and exercise, became so much deeper.  Each month this year I have peeled back a new layer and in doing so I am becoming free, more authentic, and finding my natural me that has been hidden for far too long.  It's about healing, trusting, and letting go.

My word for the year is rejuvenation.  Each month one of those layers peeled away shows just how fitting the word is.  I wasn't sure where it would lead, but I am seeing now as we are half way through the year bits and pieces of so much more and I am excited to see what comes from it in the next half.

The boundaries I set today will help guide me in the months to come.  As I set up new boundaries, I am untangling the inner and outer mess around me.  I am giving myself permission to do, to be, to live.  I am connecting while disconnecting.  I am standing firm.  I am doing and I am resting.  I am utilizing my strengths and gifts, while accepting and acknowledging my weakness and limitations.  I am stronger, more confident.  I feel a deeper sense of joy and gratefulness. I am releasing and trusting.

Where will this lead?  I don't know.  But for now, I know I can face the day I have in front of me.  I can learn from yesterday.  I can set schedules and routines, rituals for tomorrow.  But I can still dream and see where it leads.

What can you do today that will grow you? free you? to let you live deeply?

Where do you need to untangle? need permission? need to set boundaries for you?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Loads We Carry

It's not the load which breaks you down, it's the way you carry it. ~Lou Holtz
Pretty much every day my mom sends me quotes of the day via email.  She gets them from someone else, then she forwards them on.  Some days, I read the quote and think "okay whatever", other days it is "that is a good one" or "truth", and yet other times they strike me deeper in my heart.
The one above is the quote from about a week ago.  It's not the load which breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.  It comes a very fitting time.  Before I received the quote, I had hand written out a blog post that kind of just came to me.
I pulled out a notebook, wrote out what was coming, well more like pouring out of me.  Then it got set aside for me to put on to a blog post.  Well, life got filled up and there is sat staring at me.  Almost as if it was saying, so when are you actually going to share this?  Then this quote came across my email and I knew I needed to set aside time to write, time to create a blog post.
I have tried to create a system or schedule for writing and posting, but it gets pushed to the side rather quick.  I would rather write in the moment and sometimes that means on paper only.
So, here I am, with my keys to the keyboard.  The topic?  The loads we carry
There are times when we load our plates, fill our schedules, and pack in extra even if we are bursting at the seams.  I try my hardest to not do this, to not let my to do list get the better of me, to find time to rest, to have white space.  But there are times when I inadvertently fill too full.
In May, I joined two book launch teams.  Yup, 2.  In theory, not a bad idea, but in practice it turned out to be two books being released two days apart the start of June.  Add in two back to back road trips, lots of extended family time and sleep schedules all over the place because of it.  I also was helping my hubby gear up Backyard Life Gear to get ready for June (typically the most busy month of the year), especially knowing I wouldn't be able to help much for a good week.
So yeah, filled to the max and then some.  Good thing I had the knowledge and wisdom I gathered from both books and could remember it because I needed it.
With each activity we begin to carry a load.  We may shoulder it, load it in a bag, put it on as a hat, or push it down and keep pushing forward.  We all have loads we carry.  But have you ever stopped to look at the loads?  Like pick it apart and really look at it.
I decided to do this recently.  Feeling the weight of the many loads, I was struggling to carry it all and it didn't matter how I adjusted it.  What I really needed was to lay some of it down.  So I dug in.
About a month or so ago, a friendship of mine ended.  It was one that had lasted for over five years.  But something in me made me realize that I was ready for a change and ready to lay down some loads.  Come to find out, some of the loads I was carrying weren't even mine in the first place.  
I tend to do that.  In learning more about who I am and how God made me, I have learned that I am strong in developing and try to help others be the best them they can be.  However, the nurturer in me wants to help carry some of the load as needed to help out.
But day after day, I was not meant to do that.  Neither are you.  There are some loads we are meant to carry.  There are some we pick up because we think we should.  And there are some that just sort of fall on us, even if it isn't ours to carry.  But we can't carry them all day after day.  Something will bend, something will break.
In my case, it was a friendship.  Granted, it was coming to an ended anyways and needed to be reevaluated sooner.  But I wasn't ready yet and I wasn't ready to unload or didn't know how.  Now, I am not saying it isn't okay to help someone, because it is (if they are willing to accept it).  But we don't have to let their loads become ours and keep us weighted down, especially long term.
We become comfortable in it because it is familiar.  Laying that load down can be scary, it can be new territory we are treading, the fear is paralyzing.  But sometimes we need the change, we need the push.  Sometimes we need to lay down some our own load or parts of it.  And we definitely need to lay down others loads that aren't ours to carry.
We can walk next to them, help them, guide them.  But take on their load with yours. We truly need to have faith.  We need to trust, to be strong, to be courageous.  Don't be discouraged.  I carry many loads of my own and it wasn't until recently that I have started laying down the loads of others around me.
I am here to help, to guide, to pray, to love you through your journey.  But I am not adding on extra to mine that isn't mine.  I am not adding on more if it doesn't fit with who I am.  I am not adding more on if it doesn't fit with my values, priorities, goals, dreams, roles.
Let the load down, be uplifted, feel the weight fall off your shoulders.  Feel the rest that you get from setting it down wash over you.  In one of the books I recently read, it put a spin on the bible story of the woman at the well.  Set down your load you carry, leave it next to Jesus, only pick back up what is meant for you right now, and go live.
There is beauty in this.  Look for it, find it, acknowledge it, be thankful, and let it soak in.
What load or loads do you need to set down? What parts of a load need to be released? What load is not yours to carry, because it was never yours to carry? What load or loads have you been carrying far too long?

Saturday, May 25, 2019

It’s been awhile since I put my fingers to the keys. I have been writing behind the scenes, but as timing goes I haven’t taken the time to write it on here. I could make excuses, Or to be honest, I didn’t make time. I chose other options for my down time and it wasn’t creating blog posts.

I have been journaling and I will share my insights and things learned with you. But I have been taking my down time, spare time to rest. Not nap or sleep necessarily. But taking care of my self in all areas: mind, body, spirit...mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, and sensory. I have been disconnecting more to connect more with my authentic side, be more present in the moment, slow things down.

I want to take a moment to share with you two great books that are coming out the first week of June. I am on the book launch team for both (another reason for not typing up much for blog posts).

One is called “Exhale..loosing who you are not, loving who you are, and living your one life well. It is letting go of the things you are not, the different cascades we put on sometimes to impress people/not be judged/fit in/should have according to others comparisons, etc and not focusing on our weaknesses.  Instead embracing who you truly are, accepting the weaknesses, living each day in your strengths and gifts that god has given you.

The other book is the Cranky Mom Fix...taming the inner Mom-ster by identifying triggers that lead you to yell, raise your voice, get frustrated, be angry, etc. all those strong feelings that come with parenting, and how to tame that by learning how to put an end to it but also see it coming and know how to stop it.

Exhale is written by Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory. The Cranky Mom Fix is by Becky Kopitzke. Both books can be preordered on Amazon. And if you preorder before they are released, both come with some great freebies.

Both books are on different topics, one more about parenting and the other more about being who God made you to be, but they are connected and intertwined more than I realized at first. But they both start with you, with me, with ourselves.

If you are looking for a book or two to add to your Summer reading I highly recommend both of these.

If you are looking to add other book ideas “Made Like Martha” by Katie Reid and “Sacred Rest” by Saundra Dalton Smith are both great options as well.

It is Memorial weekend for us, so I am taking the time to be with a lot of family. But after a week or so, I will be back to writing blog posts.  For now, I am settling in on rest, rejuvenation, and living the life in front of me.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Embrace the Mess - See the Beauty

Hmmm....embrace the mess?That’s a hard one to do, sometimes. Okay well maybe often hard to do. Why? Because there are so many messes around, so many different kinds of messes. So how do embrace the mess?

There are just some messes that happen and just a part of parenting. Sometimes we create them, sometimes the kids, sometimes it is a blend of everyone. But mess happens. Through the mess is learning and growing. And what we may see as mess, someone else may see something more, well, more beautiful.

Yes, we can see beauty in the messes around us! Yes, we can see beauty in the chaos!

But our minds tend to go first to what is wrong, what needs to be solved.

Instead we need to pause. Instead we need to breathe. Instead we need to look at it. Pausing and breathing give us a different lens to look through. So does taking a moment to look at it through the eyes of someone else.

What you see as mess, what you feel is chaos, could have beauty in it if we choose to look.

I will admit, I get overwhelmed by mess and yet I am good with leaving a stack of dishes by the sink for a day. The biggest mess I get overwhelmed at is kids toys. It does not take long for the family room and dining room and kitchen to look like the toy shelves threw up.

But you see, it isn’t that the kids are just dumping out a bin and moving on (we are past that stage thankfully). It is them digging into their imagination, being creative, using their pretend play, engineering something. It is them learning, growing, failing, succeeding, having fun.

So why can’t I always see beyond the mess?

Why am I okay with a pile of dishes but then get overwhelmed when the first floor of the house is inundated with toys out?

Because I was failing. I was failing to embrace it for what it was. Failing to look beyond what seemed like a mess to me. Failing to see what my kids saw. Failing to see beauty in it.

Sure, it can be frustrating to have toys strewn about, especially when kids are still learning to clean it up after or it’s in eye sight all day long. But what if let go of the control where we can? What if we set the boundary of, it gets cleaned up before bedtime and until then it can stay set out how they see it in their mind’s eye?

When we do that, when we let it go, let them go, and set up a clean up before bedtime we allow them to just do their thing and to play. And through that they grow, learn, be creative and more.

And for us? We embrace the mess, embrace the chaos and see the beauty in it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring is Here ~ Sinking My Roots in Deeper

It's Spring!  Spring is finally here, well at least the calendar says it.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the four seasons.  But to be honest, the last couple weeks of Winter always drain me and I get to a point where I am just over the cold and snow.  This year because all our snow basically came in February, I was ready for Spring way sooner.

We were all geared up for Winter, hoping to spend time in the snow in December and January, but it didn't come until February.  And then we would be hit by many cold days in a row, making the snow not great for playing in after.

But alas, the snow is melting, roads are clearing, and the weather is getting in the 40s and 50s.

I am ready for warm sun, warm breezes, and things greening out.

I am ready for the change, the new growth, and sinking my own roots in deeper.

I am ready for this season and what it brings and has to offer.

I took a moment to ground myself, pull out my simple clarity cards, and work through some card pulls.  What are simple clarity cards?  They are cards with a word and picture that reflects the word.  I have three sets I sprawl out on the floor. 

I start with a prayer asking God to guide me, ground me, and open my heart.  This is my way of working through things and talking with God and connecting.  It is how I get in tune with my heart and thoughts, it is how I get myself to open up, let go where needed, and a focus moving forward.  I work my way through each question, pull cards without looking, and journal my way through.

It becomes very interwoven, crosses over relationships, brings grounding along with perspective.  I find it is something I crave every so often that I carve out the time to focus my mind, body, and spirit.  In the end I find a inner calm, a sense of peace, feel lighter, and am filled with joy, as well as a rooted, deeper connection.

My Spring is going to be about quiet, about release.  It is going to be interwoven with enough, grace, thrive, bloom, and comfort.  Where this leads and what this looks like, only time will tell.

Bring on the Spring season.  I am ready.

Friday, March 15, 2019

My Beautiful Scar

I used to not think my c section scar was beautiful.

Truth be told, some of it was because I couldn't see it.  Like, even when I looked in the mirror, I couldn't actually see it.  The sag of my belly from pregnancy weight gain and loss still hung over it, covering it up.  Which, in some ways, I was grateful for.  And yet in others, I didn't like the sag.  But out of sight, out of mind...mostly.

I wanted to like my scar, but I didn't.  It told a story, a story I hadn't yet accepted.  It may have been unseen, but deep down I knew the truth.  And the truth I was telling myself was not on the positive side.

For awhile now, I saw my scar as a reminder.  A reminder that my body isn't strong, it failed me.  That I wasn't strong, I wasn't good enough, I wasn't beautiful anymore.

You may not have seen my scar, but it wore me.  I knew it was there and felt like it was mocking me.

I had three pregnancies.  One miscarriage and two amazing boys.

My first pregnancy experience was finding out I was pregnant, finding there was something wrong, then finding out that we were facing a miscarriage at 17 weeks, delivering our baby, and walking through a whole different grief.

My second pregnancy I started spotting at 7 weeks, all looked good and normal, was placed on high risk, restricted lifting, high levels of amniotic fluid though no one area by itself was a concern, weekly screens, readings, and ultrasounds, water breaking, stalling at 4 cm dilated, and delivering via c-sec.

Mind you the doctor I had for the first pregnancy/delivery and second delivery did not have not have tact and was good at making you feel like you failed in some way.

When she leaned against the wall, foot propped up and arms cross, nonchalantly telling me my baby expired and then telling me not to cry, she didn't mean for me to cry, all the while not letting me know leading up to due that date that I could face a miscarriage at any point...I left feeling like my body had failed me.  On delivery day, she came in basically made me get an epidural so we could move things along, not even showing an ounce of sympathy or hope.  And yet again, I felt my body had failed me because I couldn't do induction and delivery right.  I found a new doctor at the same clinic after this experience.

When she was the one on for delivery during my second pregnancy she basically yelled at me, tell me I needed an epidural because it was ridiculous that I asked her to take checks a little slower, so I could prep my mind and breathe through it to relax better.  And then after 24 she said okay time for a c-section, I will go get the OR ready while you let it sink in.  It wasn't even given as an option.  It was here, give up and let's get this done.  Now, granted I really didn't have another option as my water had broke, but even with stuff to get contractions going I didn't get past 4 cm.  I kind of feel like once they gave me the epidural they forgot about me other than to flip me over every so often.  One can only hope to have their doctor from the clinic on delivery date, but like most, kiddos come when they are ready and you get whomever is on call.  Once again, I felt my body had failed me.

Come third pregnancy, I was normal and boring.  This became the phrase and I took heart to it.  My new doctor was all for a v-bac.  She was so encouraging along the way for both my second pregnancy and third.  She still is.  I tried, I gave it my all.  Went through contractions, tried to v-bac, but ended up with a c-sec (again).  The doctor on call was amazing, not my usual doctor, but she was so encouraging, yet kind and honest.  She said I tried my best and gave it my all, but my body just was not designed to deliver naturally.  I laid on the OR table and the tears started flowing.  This time around I had a doula.  She could come into the OR before hubby could.  She held my hand, said everything was going to be alright, I really did my best.  But I still couldn't help to feel that feeling that my body had once again failed me.

Faced post-partum depression and anxiety, began to question my value and enoughness, a fierce inner negative critic, a whole lot of shame and guilt.

Rather than face this, talk about it, let it go, I sunk it down and let it keep stacking on itself, became an emotional eater and control freak. I was sinking more often and occasionally swimming.  I was not thriving, not finding joy, not finding peace, not finding rest.  The anxiety, fear, and worry just kept gripping and crippling.

A year ago I finally realized, or well maybe accepted that some things needed to change and a lot of that change had to start with me.

I have been working on letting out, peeling back the layers, finding joy in the little things, putting things into the positive light.

Not to say I don't still get that overwhelmed feeling, or that negative thoughts don't roll into mind, but now I can let them in, acknowledge them and talk about them, then let them go.  Some days, naturally are easier than others.  But usually it's when I face an unexpected set back, am tired, or I'm not reaching the goals I set for myself.

But the other day as I was going about my usual daily stuff, a thought came to mind.  If my hubby can and does still love my body the way it is despite all the changes it has gone through and battle scars, then why can't I?

Yes, I said battle scars.  Because really, isn't that what scars show?  A story, an adventure, a battle, a change.  Either way, scars tell a story.  But even more so, I was beginning to realize how hard I was being on myself.  I began to question this.  Why am I so hard on myself?

I wouldn't talk this way to others, so why do I let myself.

I had become uncomfortable in my own skin.  If you had asked me, I couldn't tell you a good thing about me, my personality, strengths, talents.  I was my own worst critic, and that inner voice was no help all too often.

Sure, are there some things I don't like about myself?  You bet.  But I am also learning to takes those in stride and accept them.  Change what I can when I can, starting with my own inner response, thoughts, and words.

My body has been through amazing things in the 37 years I have had so far.  It tells me how strong I am, how blessed I am, how beautiful I am, that I have courage to face the tough stuff, that I am surrounded by some really great people.

My c-sec scar tells a story.  A beautiful, interwoven story filled with love, storms, hope, strength, courage, hope, change.

What is your scar telling you?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Thoughts of Lent & Leading Into It

Full disclosure, I started writing on this on Thursday.  However, I am just getting to finishing it up and posting today.  So I decided to leave it as is, but be real about the timing of it all.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.  Lent has started.

I will be honest, I don't know much about either.  I just know they happen, lead up to holy week, and it ends with Easter.  Ash Wednesday, if you go to a church service they place a cross from ash on your forehead.

I also know that some give up meat on Fridays, but can have fish during lent.  I also know people pick something to give up, one thing or many, during the 40 days.  Like, I am going to give up chocolate during lent.  But truthfully, I never really learned about some of this and what is all means in faith.  However, I am trying now to take the time to gain wisdom, open my heart, and dig deeper.

I was thinking about it the past couple of days.  I liken it some to the perspective on making new year's resolutions.  Things that we resolve to do in the coming year, but then usually abandon just a mere few weeks into the year typically.

Not to say that I haven't picked something some years to give up, but thinking on it some things just seem to line up.  I have also seen different takes on this concept of giving something up for lent.  Like each day give an item away to donate or even each day give that many items away to donate.

It also brings to mind it takes 27 days to change a habit, likewise, it takes 27 days to create a new one.  It is almost like using lent as a way to create a new habit or to change a bad one.  But what happens then after the 40 days.

Why not dig deeper into it all?

Instead of giving up something, changing a habit, what can you do deepen your wisdom? Strengthen you? Connect you to God? 

Would giving up something for lent be life changing?  Maybe.  But what about understanding better what Ash Wednesday is for, why is there lent, and letting yourself dig deeper into your faith...what would that do?

Ash Wednesday is day of repentance, prayer, and fasting.  Lent is 40 days long and a time for Christians to remember when Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray before beginning his word for God.  It is a season of reflection and preparation leading up to the celebrations of Easter.

Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, sometimes known as Fat Tuesday, led me to wonder more about this season.

So in this Lenten season, where does that place me? Am I going to go the route of given up an item I like or using it clear out my house and simplify?  Am I going to use it to dig in deeper and to reflect as well?

I am going to nourish my mind, body, spirit.  I am going to use the time to pray, to reflect, to dig in more into my faith.  As we move along during this time I will share my thoughts and happenings.

Because we know the bible and we know Easter is coming and we know what happens, it is kind of like knowing the ending to the movie "Titanic" only to have the movie stop working with 10 minutes left and getting free passes, to see "Titanic".  We know Easter is going to happen.  We know Jesus is going to die on the cross.  We know he will rise again.  Why?  Because it is what is written in the bible.

So what can we do during Lent?  Even if you have chosen a different religion, a different faith path, or not believing in God or not having faith, there is still something we can all do during this season. 

We are just a handful of days away from Spring.  Winter is coming to a close and soon everywhere will be warming up and green will start bursting forth. 

Why not use the end of Winter and the first part of Spring as a time of reflection?  Find a slower rhythm, deepen your wisdom, open to new perspectives, deepen your connections in your relationships, let go where needed. 

Let's let ourselves grow in this season.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Start a focus Challenge for Your Workout

Sometimes we need a jump start in our workouts, sometimes we need to change it up, sometimes we need that push to get us going.  Whatever your reason, start a focus challenge.

One of the great parts of doing a challenge is that you have your workouts handed to you more often than not.  It could be sent as a daily email, the schedule is laid out for you, making it easy to keep going with it.

And more often than not, there are others who would be up for doing the challenge with you.  This provides a great way for accountability and others to chat with during the challenge.

I have done a few challenges over that past couple of years. 

I have been a part of a 3-Week Fit Mama Shred and after the three weeks, we did another round and yet another round.  This was a fun way to get working out in, talk with other mamas, and draw inspiration to keep going.

I recently finished a 30 day, 100 squats a day challenge.  I loved it!  It was a quick workout usually and easy to fit in anytime during the day, anywhere (did some of my days on vacation).  It got my heart rate up and I felt better balanced, as well as stronger after (legs, core, and arms because I added weights).

Currently I am trying to work through a plank challenge on my own.  This one I am finding more difficult to do.  Mostly because I can make it to the 1 minute mark and I am just done.  I can't seem to push past that point.  I am not sure if it is because my arm strength just isn't there yet or because the increase in minutes is too fast.  So, for now, I am still doing planks, but I go until 1 minute.  I may not get to the 5 minutes in the 30 days like it has laid out, but I do know I am getting stronger.  There are a variety of plank challenges out there.  This one is a standard plank.  I may look at changing it up and trying a different plank challenge and see how that goes.

I encourage you to look for a challenge, make it a 30 day challenge and then find others who want to give it a try too. 

They are great for focusing in on certain areas.  You can see how much a difference they can make, even if it the workout is only 5 minutes a day, by keeping it consistent.  And with a focus challenge, it gives you an end date to keep in mind.

I have found that after my challenges I carry what I have been doing with me into other workouts.  Because I enjoy them and miss them when it is over, I use it to create my own workout routine.

So how about you...have you done a workout challenge?  What was it?  What challenge do you want to tackle next?

Monday, March 4, 2019

What Does Marriage Mean ~ My Understanding

What does marriage mean to us...our understanding, well my understanding with lots of talking about it with my hubby.

For those of you who are married, I want you to pause for a moment.

Now think back to when you were dating.  Think about those in your life who were married at that time.

Did you ever chat with anyone about marriage, before you thought about marriage?  Or was everything up that point what you observed or overheard?

When you decided to get married and the plans were getting finalized, did you talk to anyone then about marriage?  Or did anyone talk to you?

Aside from the obvious, marriage means you can begin to get more intimate on a sexual level and marriage is a stepping block towards building a family, what else do we know about marriage going into it?

I will tell you this.  For me, I observed successful marriages and unsuccessful.  While I didn't know what made one successful or unsuccessful, one can learn a lot just by watching how people interact with each other.

From hand holding, to a kiss.  From conversations, to muttering under one's breath.  From talking, to listening.  From being single to being "one" (because when you get married, two become one, right?)

Really, marriage takes on a lot of different levels and a lot of different depths, along with many roles too.

Sure, we sat down with the pastor a few times before we got married.  Answered some questions, all fairly easy, and shared some stories.  We even went to a one day marriage class (because the pastor required it).

But no one really talked about what marriage was, what it was like.  And certainly, no one talked about what the bible and God say about it.

Sure, going in you learn it is a partnership.  You may have been told it is 50/50.  All you and your stuff become one right?  From house, to living expenses, to bank accounts, to finances and budgets, having kids if you choose, and the list goes on.

You may talk about the financial side of it, then again, you may not.  Finances is one the big reasons for divorce, which ranks right up there with communication or lack there of.  You probably know going in if you are going to have kids and how many.

But that is really about it.  No one talks about the communication that goes into it.  No one talks about the intimacy side of it, including sex.  No one talks about how it's not 50/50, it is really 100/100.  No one talks about how to keep the spark going.  No one talks about how to go from living single to living together.  No one talks about what the bible has to say about it.

What have you heard about marriage?

It's hard work.  You can have sex all the time, but let's be honest, no one does that because now that you are married, it just not what actually happens (why?).  You need to join your accounts.  You need to be on the same page.  You need to divvy up tasks and space (how much closet space is enough...too much?).  Anything to make her happy, because if she isn't happy no one is and all the other jokes like this that are about marriage.

But no one gets into the nitty gritty, digging in deep side of it.  Unless you are facing problems and seeing someone to help you through them (if you are both willing to admit you need help and are willing to find help).

What does marriage mean?

Two people join, make vows to each other, and begin theirs lives together under the same roof.

Yeah, I know, that is a bare bones definition of it.  But in it's most simplistic form, that is what marriage is.  You decide to share your life with someone else, live together, and start a family if you choose to.

But still what is marriage really?

It is a partnership.  It is a foundation you set up if you decide to grow your family.  It is talking.  It is listening.  It is dreaming together and setting up goals.  It is living together.  It is spending time together.  It is going on adventures.  It is having meals together.  Its cuddles, kisses, hand holding.  It is being intimate on many levels.  But it is also developing routines together, hobbies that are your own (but sometimes do together), it is combining, learning, growing, changing.  It is talking through the good stuff, and sticking together through the storms.  It is love.

And it is talked about in the bible and God does have wisdom that goes with it.

My hubby and I have been together since 1995, married in 2005.  Yup, high school sweethearts.  Started to grow our family in 2011, faced a miscarriage, then added to our family in 2013 and 2015.

We've had our fair share of storms and struggles.  But looking back, there is a lot we wish we knew or had heard about marriage that we are just finding out.

We got married in a church.  Our vows, the traditional ones you hear at most weddings.  The songs, pretty much the usual.  The bible verses read, the usual.

I never knew about the behind closed doors, raising kids, keeping your marriage going while raising kids, how to weather storms in your marriage, how to keep communication strong, who to talk to about marriage.  The realness, the reality, the open, the honesty, the rawness.  Which some of that, you only learn about throughout your marriage.  But I also never heard anyone else share about it

I certainly never knew what the bible or God thought about marriage.  Just knew societies and our cultures skewed view on it.  I knew I had my own inner struggles, but never realized until recently (like last year, 13 years in my marriage) how they were affecting my own marriage, my perspective, and my knowledge or lack there of.

My hubby and I finally started communicating again.  Having deep conversations, airing things out, opening up, letting it all out.  It was turning point.  In ourselves and our marriage.  We began learning more about ourselves, each other, marriage, the meaning of marriage, what God is looking for, what we are looking for, we began to let each other in again.  We shored up our marriage foundation, reconnected. 

We learned too that even though most people don't talk about marriage, others are or have faced what we are facing.  There are some great bloggers out there on marriage and there are some great marriages that are a good mentor.

I encourage you to take some time.  Take some time on your own each and as a couple to really talk.  Talk about your marriage, talk about it all...everything.  Talk about the hurts, the storms.  Talk about the good, the okay.  Let it out, open up, be real.  Let yourselves heal.  Build up your foundation, shore it up where needed.  Talk about the successes, talk about the mistakes.  Talk about where you need help the most, talk about where you can help.  Talk about your needs, wants, desires.  Talk about your dreams, your goals.  Talk.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mindful Money ~ The Dave Ramsey Approach

I had mentioned that we follow most of Dave Ramsey's methods for finances.

Take a listen in to Dave's story.  You will get a bigger picture of where he is coming from, his wisdom, life experience, and why he chooses to "live his life like no one else." He has been through it all.

We choose to follow his methods because they work, his knowledge, his inspiration, and to "live like no one else".

Here are the order of operations at a glance for finances:

Pay basic needs
Set up emergency fund
Pay off debt

Every month, take care of basic needs and bills.  Then, once you have that covered, start setting money towards your emergency.  Each check, put money towards it to get it up to $1000.  After those are covered, pay off monthly payment of all debt payments you have.

If you have money left, it should go towards paying off debt.  Not the wants, the latest of technology, etc.  Put it towards your debt.  Even if that means your student loan or mortgage because you don't have a carry over for credit cards (awesome by the way), still put it towards any debt you have.

Any money beyond that you have goes towards your smallest amount of debt until it is completely paid off.  Once you have the smallest debt paid off, use the money from that payment to go towards your next smallest debt.  Keep doing that for each one until they are paid off.

If you tap in to the emergency fund because it is a true emergency, then go back to baby step 1, and get your emergency fund set back up.

So what are the baby steps:
  • Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  • Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
  • Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  • Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
  • Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
  • Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!
It is possible.  "Live like no one else now, because then you can live and give like no one else later in life" ~ Dave Ramsey

You have to start where you are.  Be consistent, you may have to give some extras up, but it can be done.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When It All is Too Much Sometimes - Here Come the Tears

We fall, we make mistakes, we try, we let go, get bruised and battered, we take a step, we try again.

When all around you seems to be spiraling and one day everything seems to PPPLLLLTTTTHHHHH!!! in your face.

You hold it together as long as you can.

After the mistakes, the frustration, the anger, the yelling, the temper flares, the lack listening, the negative behaviors, the constant above normal volume, plans changed, uncertainty settles hold it together the best you can until nap time.  But it does seep out, ooze, or just blows like the Winter wind.

The flows and you just look to God, all you can say is I am sorry and  I don't have the words, I don't know what to say or do.

Right now, I didn't eat myself out of the emotions.  I didn't cram them down.  Right now, I gave myself the quiet my mind, body, soul have been craving.

I gave myself space.  I gave myself grace.  I gave myself love.

I listened.  I prayed, I let myself breathe.

I released.  I let go.

I changed.  I changed my perspective.  I let myself grow in that moment.

I learned and I hope I remember.


Pause, Breathe, Pray, Breathe.


Life gets tough, but we get stronger.  Life throws us curves, but makes us slow down.  In the midst of all the noise and chaos, things to do, the car won't start.  We fail, we make mistakes, but we learn and grow.

Yesterday was humbling.  But it took my oldest...he will be 6 in two months...coming to the top of the stairs, telling me he was sad and couldn't get rid of the feeling.

Oh boy.

I took a deep breathe.  Went upstairs and sat with him.  All I could say in that moment was let's pray.  I have never done that with my kids.  In fact, we do grace at dinner time and the kids do bedtime prayers where they answer questions (how would you describe God, what are you sorry for, thankful for, who do you want God to be with, what did God help you with today, what do you want God to help you with), but when I do prayers I do them in my head in the morning before everyone is up and right before I go to bed.

I have never just sat down and said let's pray.

So we did.  We prayed.  We talked about all the good things from the day.  We talked about how our attitude affects the day and we can choose to learn from the not so good things, let them go, and focus on the good things.  Despite the day going pppllliiittthhh! at us, we can learn something and we can look for the good.


Pause, Breathe, Pray, Breathe... Repeat.

Monday, February 18, 2019

How to Date Your Spouse

Serious question, really.  How do you date your spouse?

What do you guys to keep the marriage thriving, going, in in the midst of the chaos that raising kids brings?

I can tell you this.  I was good at this idea...until we decided to start our family.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love our family, but I love my hubby too.  But our marriage, when it comes to the idea of dating, got put on the back burner.

Why?  It meant leaving my kiddos with someone else.  Big deal you say.  But when I wanted (or thought I wanted) the control, it was hard to let someone else in.  We need to let the kids spend time with others watching them.  It is okay.

Yes, for some (like me), it takes time and adjusting.  But you will get there, just like I have.

I am telling you, it is awesome to not ask for physical gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, instead ask the grandparents to watch your kiddos for a weekend so you and your spouse can go on a mini trip.  It is worth it.

So, how do you date your spouse?

Well, an obvious answer is go out, just the two of you for an evening know, dinner for two.

Here's where I want your ideas.  What do you do to date your spouse still?

Give me your ideas for going out, but also date night in.

Because you know what, sometimes eating ice cream out on the porch on a Friday night with your spouse is just as good as dinner out.  And sometimes, that is the best you can do...a date night at home.

Here are some of my ideas.

Date Night In: bring out the board games, watch a movie, grab a cup of coffee and chat, sit outside, snuggle, dance, take a shower (yes, together...yes, can be done even when you have kids), and there is of course make love.

Date Night Out: Dinner, or well any meal out together, movies, walk around somewhere, mini trips, music endeavor (musical, symphony, concert, etc.), go on a adventure, one of your hobbies that you like (hiking, canoeing, hunting, etc)

Okay, now your turn.  Give me your ideas in the comments below.  I will make a blog post with all the ideas.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Finances, Budgets, Savings ~ Our Story

There are generally three personality types when it comes to money.  The spender, the saver, or a combo of both (sometimes with a little extra tilt one way or the other.)  I have always been one to be a saver.  Though I have had my spending moments, which I will get to later in the post.  My hubby?  A saver.  Our kiddos?  A balance between spending, saving, and giving with healthy knowledge on finances.

What about you?  Be honest.  Are you a spender? A saver? Some mix of the two, if so which are you tending to lean more towards?

From the time I was little, most if not all money I received went into a savings account.  That is just my natural tendency.  As I got older, I began to start to diversify my savings.  How so?  I created different funds.

By the time I was halfway through high school I had a car fund, a savings account, a spend.  Why?  Because it all started once I could drive.  Had my first auto repair payment in which my dad paid for after it was done, but then told me I had to pay him back for half the repair costs.  Okay, no biggie, until I realized my next paycheck went to my dad.  And I had an old car.  How often it would need fixing was yet to be seen.  So I started a car fund.  Part of each paycheck went into a different savings account.  Then, when the next car repair came around, I just gave my dad cash right away for it.  And I still had money in my savings account, plus my next paycheck was coming up and it wasn't going straight to my dad.

You notice how I said when the next car repair came around?  I said when, not if, because it is only a matter of time before expenses come back around.

I kept that going for awhile until I got engaged.  Well, not being one to much a spender as it was and I knew I had some time before we set a wedding date (we were in college and were going to wait until we graduated).  I began a wedding fund.  And at the time, my future hubby did the same.  When the time came, we paid any of our wedding costs we were in charge of in cash.

After we got married, we kept the car fund going to cover maintenace and car insurance.  The wedding fund, well that went away once all the wedding expenses were taken care of.

Move down the road a little bit and now we have: a vacation fund, a gift fund, savings, emergency fund, a savings for each kid (not including their own chore money and banks), house fund, along with regular checking and savings accounts (both joint and separate), 401k, retirement investments, and so on.

If you know me, you know I am a stay at home mom.  But something we decided upon when we first got married was having a checkly allowance.  Each paycheck we get a predetermined amount of money.  That becomes our own blow money.  For me, I tend to split it out into different funds based on where I have expenses that are based of my own wants.

I know, this sounds like a lot.  And you may think just using a credit card is easier.  Or we are a one income family, we have to use credit cards.  Or that all seems really difficult to set up. Or everyone has debt.  Or you can't be debt free or working towards debt free on one income or when you have a family.  And the list of thoughts and excuses goes on and on.

We have never really been much to use a credit card, but yes, in the past we have used one.  Notice I said one? not them?  We have and had only one ever.  We never racked up a high amount, we never carried over a balance.  Now, if it gets used, we already know we have the cash flow to pay it off (i.e. when we did the kitchen remodel, all went on the credit card, but got paid off right away).

We have our set funds and they get pulled automatically right after pay day to those funds.  Setting it up on auto means it gets done, stays consistent, and the money is specifically designated going forward.

We don't have credit card debt and never have.  This is a path we are planning on continuing.  Because we have things set up in place and are building on them, we know we have our emergency fund ready, as well as some savings.

As for debt?  We had my student loan when we got married, but we paid that off as quickly as we could.  We put any extra money we got from birthdays and holidays at it to pay it down and get it gone...13 years ago.  That just leaves our mortgage.

In all honesty, we are in the spot we are in because how we set things up.  We don't do things the normal way.  And have even gotten questioned, like why are you paying your student loan off so quick or how do you do it, and everything in between.

It's become common to carry loads of debt, to use a credit card instead of planning and waiting when needed, and to put way to much focus on credit scores.

But you know what?  It is possible to be debt free or mostly debt free aside from your house.  It is possible to live on one paycheck.  It is possible to use cash to pay and not use credit cards.  It is possible to plan, prepare, budget, and save too.

Start setting yourself up now to be at a point where you really want to be down the road.  Will it get uncomfortable?  Yup.  Will you have to give up some of your wants or at the very least delay them?  Of course.

What would be be in control of your finances, have more financial freedom, and less money stress?  Or debt in the thousands, stressing more, letting your expense go beyond your income?

You can do this, but you have to start, you have to set up a plan, you have to stick to it.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Let Your Kids Be Creative & Let Yourself Too

I have always enjoyed being creative.  Doing my own thing, recreating an idea I saw, or taking an idea and putting my own spin on it.

Awhile back my hubby gave me Joanne Miller's (new at the time) book, "Be Your Finest Art: Awaken Your Creative Self".  She co authored it with Dorsey McHugh.  You can be creative in anything you do.   It is all how you look at it.  Before reading it, I didn't see myself as creative.  But after reading it and seeing a different perspective on what creative is, I found myself to more creative than I realized it and more recently have found that I thrive on my creativeness.

When you think of creative what comes to mind?

Being creative can come in any form.  Decorating your house...creative.  Journaling your thoughts, gratitude, etc...creative.  Doodling...creative.  Hairstylist...creative.  Landscaper....creative.

Hopefully you get the picture.  If you frame up what you do differently and with a perspective of I am being creative when I (fill in the blank), we are creative in some way.  And that is what this books gets at.  You can be just as creative as the next person, even when the task you are doing or the job you are doing doesn't seem creative.

Laundry seems mundane, but you can take a different perspective and find creativity in it while you fold or put it away.

Like I said, I love to be creative.  When I was a teacher, the art projects were my favorite time and reading stories.  How does reading stories get creative?  By adding voices to each of the characters.  Just sitting down at the end of the day waiting for pick up time, sitting next to the kids in my room creating pictures, seeing them grow and change over the course of the year was a great way to connect while letting the creative side flow.

When I had my first son I continued some things from my teaching, but didn't see the creative side in myself as much.  I would do monthly hand print and foot print art projects with him.  Yup, I started that at about three months old with him.  Then when I was reading books to him, I would get creative with different voices.

Today...he loves books and loves art. His creative side is translating into legos and play as well.

My youngest is getting into art type projects, but not as much as my oldest.  He loves books as well, but his creative side comes out more in play and imagination.

But really, creative can come in many forms and ways.  Part of the reason for choosing the home school route was because of how creative my oldest is.  Not only is he creative in his play, imagination, art, but also in his questions.  His mind is constantly going, constantly creating.  So by homeschooling, we can allow that to grow, not get squashed or diminished.

We all had the creative side in us, but as we got older, for most that got pushed away.

Over the past 6 years, I have been bringing back my creative side and creative perspective.  I picked back up the "Be Your Finest Art" and am re-reading it.  I have added in space on planner for the week for creative time, which also includes writing more.

Letting your kids be creative opens them up.  It allows them to be themselves, be free, follow their natural flow and rhythm.  We are leaving space for creative sides, creativeness to flow each day.  It may show up as an art project, or it may be through play, or through some way I never thought of.

But here's the thing.  That creativeness can be carried over in all areas, even the ones that you may not think of.

And even if you are an adult, you can still bring back that creative side.  Because just like with kids, it allows you to be you, to be free, to follow your natural rhythm and flow.

How do you see yourself as creative?

What job or task do you do that you can add a creative perspective to it?

If you have kids, how can you let them be creative and keep that flowing as the grow?

Like in the book it says "everyone is creative, though not everyone is an artist."

When you and your kids engage your right brain, it enables an improvement on physical and emotional health, creates stronger relations, all while opening new pathways of learning.

Art comes in many forms.  Play, arrange flowers, serve meals in colorful dishes, teach with pizzazz (we are all teachers no matter what age we are or what profession we are in), see where your imagination takes you.

Rediscover the joy of childhood, relearn to play, reclaim your authenticity.  And let your kids do the same.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Making Working Out Fun

Is your work out fun? 

If it is, that is awesome!  I would love to hear what works for you and what you like to do for your workout.

If not, let's take a moment to change it up and make it fun, as well as something to look forward to.

I personally go in waves.  I find something I like and I go with it for awhile.  But then I get in a rut and need to change it up.  I have found if I change it up every so often it keeps me motivated and interested.  And with time and trying different things I can combine ideas to create my own workout.

There are workout styles I can do, but aren't ones that I enjoy, or want to do often, or just don't like but may still push through for a bit.  But there are combos, styles, and moves that I love and actually look forward to.  So I pick the things that bring me the most energy and joy, are fun and I look forward to.

Sure I can HIIT, interval training, and anywhere in between to get moving.  But what I have found that I love the most and makes it the most fun is dancing for my cardio as many days in the week as I can.  Nothing beats putting the headphones on, turning on country music (hey, it's better than kid songs that I normally listen to most of the day), and just dancing around the house to the beat, the music, the words.  I figure if I can get through 4 songs, it's a great energize and gets my heart rate going.  Most of the time I go longer than that because it is so much fun.

I then use certain days to focus on certain on certain areas, like a: leg day, a core/back day, arms, and stretching/flexibility.  I also add in tools: weights, twist/balance board, bands.  I love to add in challenges.  I just finished a 30 day 100 squats a day challenge and I am a week into 30 day plank challenge. 

In finding what motivates me, keeping it fresh, fun, and exciting.  Take time to find an accountability buddy or group.  It helps you make it through those tough days, the days you want to skip, and can bring inspiration too.

I have found too that time of day working out matters, at least for me.  Sure, I can workout first thing in the morning (for a few weeks) or later in the evening.  But I find the best that works for me and my flow is later morning or early afternoon.  I have more energy, can get into, and really put forth my best effort.  I get more out of it then.

How do I make working out fun?

By dancing, by strengthening, by doing challenges.  On the days I don't feel like working out or have as much time or the location just isn't great, I go back to one of my challenge videos.  I figure, hey it's at least 5 minutes, I can knock this out.  Sometimes it leads to more of a workout and sometimes I leave it at that.

What makes working out fun for you?

*Photo Credit:  Google Search for Don't dance like no one is watching, dance like a toddler*

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Today we are just a handful of days into February, and as I sit here I am realizing I need a little bit of a reset.  A reset to get back into my natural flow, to let go, to open back up, balance out my energies and energy boosters, release my energy zappers.

So here goes for some of it.

My February word is calm.  On the outside and just inside, it hasn't felt much calm.  Today I am digging in deeper.  Listening to my heart, listening to my body, listening to my spirit.  Today I am going back to the routines, the rituals that I set up at the start of January that helped me feel grounded, helped me stay in my natural flow & rhythm.  The ones I was just getting into, then went on a trip that we had planned but much more unexpected came from to being stuck at home inside due to extreme cold weather and got February, now just realizing that all had been set aside.

Now it is time to pick it back up again.  It has been a rough Monday.  Not because it is Monday, but because after so many days of things just being plain off taken it's toll and holding on for too long.  I realized today that I am letting others emotions, behaviors, actions get attached to my own instead of separating them.  Instead of letting theirs be theirs, mine be mine, I am combining them all.  Feeling the load on my shoulders beginning to weigh me down. 

Instead of balancing things out, I am letting them get skewed too far in one direction.  But now, even as I sit here and type I am beginning to feel a weight lifted, something release.

I am watching the snow slowly float to the ground.  Twisting, turning, spinning....moving slow, fast.  It is like our lives.  Each snowflake is unique on it's own.  Just like we are.  I feel a change coming on.  A reset, a release. 

Where it will lead, I am not sure yet.  But I am ready.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Marriage Monday ~ Make Your Marriage A Priority

Do you remember when you first starting dating your spouse?  You know, back when you were talking to get to know each other, having date nights, flirting, PDAs (you know, a public display of affection here and there, like a hug or kiss, hand holding), and so on...

How did you meet?  What was your favorite date?  How did you know they were the one you wanted to marry?

When you were dating and things became serious, leading to marriage you put your marriage as a priority I am guessing.

After a few years, did you keep flirting?  Did you keep any or all of the actions you did while dating, or did they fade away?

Now let's do this.  Add in a kid...and another.  Growing your family changes your marriage dynamic doesn't it?

Things get set on the back burner, balance gets shifted, things get lost or forgotten about.  Priorities are ever changing.

Stop for a moment.  Where is your marriage at?  I mean really think about it.  Have you set it on the back burner letting other people, things, etc become a priority?

Life is about balancing and making things a priority.  When it becomes a priority, we make space for it.  So do you still have space for your marriage?  If you do, what do you do to keep your marriage a priority, to deepen your connection, to build intimacy, to keep those flirty dating feelings going?

If you don't have space, then it is time to make it a priority, give it the space it deserves.

I had fallen into this.  Lost some of the sparkle, the feels, the connection.  I had a hard time rearranging things as we added kiddos.  I also had a hard time of letting go of control, when and where needed.  This, as well as a few other things led me to place my marriage on to the back burner....for awhile.

It took me realizing a change needed to happen...a change in me, my perspective, my knowledge.  I needed to let go, to trust, to grow, to change...and a whole lot of communicating. I have faith, I have trust in God, and I look to His word for grounding.  If you haven't before, take a look at what the bible says about marriage.  Also, take a moment to read all of I Corinthians verse 7.  It is more than just "the love verse" usually used at weddings.

It is not wrong to put priority on your marriage.  In fact, when it comes down to it, it is a necessity.  Yes, certain things may need to switch spots at times and take precedence, but don't leave your marriage on the side for too long.

Find a way to bring back that little spark each day.  Find something you can add in, bring back, giving your marriage more space, more presence in the day.  Just a few extra minutes here and there, keeping it simple.  And then as often as you can, take a longer amount of time to invest into your marriage, like a date night (in or out) or intimacy or snuggling on the couch or talking.  Have fun with it.

What can you do to start making your marriage a priority? 

What do you do now to make it a priority?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Back to Basics ~ Finances & Budgets

I made an early post about budgeting for Christmas and said I would come back to the topic of money.  I may have done this a little backwards.  I probably should have done an intro type post and then the Christmas budget one, but the timing of the year is what pushed me to write about it and share it sooner, rather than later.

So let's go back to basics.  We have money coming and going in our households.  Pay day comes, expenses go out throughout the month, and then the next month comes and it is the same thing.  Even kids can be making an income and have expenses (chores anyone? allowances?)

Put in it's most simplest form, expenses going out shouldn't exceed income coming in.  Sure, yes there are pop up, unexpected, sometimes one time expenses.  But that is what your emergency fund is for.  But we will get to that in another post.

For now, let's stick with the expenses shouldn't exceed income.  I want you to take a moment and list out all your expenses.  I mean it.  Take a moment to list them all out, what they are and what they cost.  The daily, the weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, yearly.  List them all!  Make a separate list for the daily coffee, lunches out, dinner out, the expenses that are more about wants rather than needs.

Once you have your list of expenses and cost for each, total them all up.  Take a moment to compare it to the income coming in.  What do you see?  Are your expenses total less than your total income?  Are they more?  Or do you come out right around even?

What happens if you add in those miscellaneous expenses that are more about fulfilling wants (like the daily coffee shop type of expenses)?  Now how do things look?

At this point, I am hoping you are getting a more detailed picture and understanding.  You may even be able to see why people fall into using credit cards and even have a carry over balance from month to month.

Are you living pay check to pay check?

These are just some things I encourage you to think about.

It is possible to live without a credit card.  It is possible to not live pay check to pay check.  It is possible to be debt free or virtually debt free as you work toward debt free.  And it can all be a good thing, freeing.

But it all starts with knowing your finances and setting up a budget plan.  Knowing your income, knowing your expenses, knowing how to get out of debt, knowing how to save.  Knowing where to start.

If you are looking for a resource, Dave Ramsey is a great resource.  He has been through it all.  From making money, to filing bankruptcy, to coming out of it and living debt free.  His books, his podcast, his website, his courses, his life all are a great guide.

We have utilized most of Dave's resources and methods.  When we haven't used a piece it is because we needed to tweak it a little to fit the way our income comes in verses the way our expenses go out.  But in the end, we still aim for a $0 budget plan.  We have monthly calendars that list out all the expenses for that month.  Than we do a bi-weekly budget sheet based on the income that comes in from pay day until the day before the next pay day and the expenses that are going out during that time.  For us, this set up works best and we can keep track better.

I will keep sharing more about our story, how we handle budgets, and the money side of things in posts to come.

For now, just take some time to sit down and truly look at your finances.  Make some decisions about where you want to go, where you want to be.  List out your income and your expenses.  List out the wants, dreams, etc. as well.  Then just take it all in.

Next time around, I will share our story.  Then after that I will get more into the mindful money side of it all.

What would it be like for you to be sitting on your couch, this time next year, and knowing you are debt free or have less debt, not living pay check to pay check and not stressing out or arguing as much about finances?  What would that truly mean to you, for you?