Monday, December 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The True Magic and Awe of the Holiday Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Striving For Balance ~ Does it Exist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And let yourself ride a bike.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Loads We Carry ~ Peeling Back the Layers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Closing Another Chapter ~ Saying Goodbye to the Crib

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

Monday Morning Thoughts as We Head into the End of October

This morning as I put my fingers to the keys, I feel a sense of calm, a sense of peace.

I have my warm cup of tea as I let my mind wonder.  Yesterday we took the morning to put our yard to bed for the Winter.  Yup, it is nearing the end of October and I am already thinking about Winter.  We live in Minnesota and with having had snow once already this month, things are getting done a little earlier.  I am even contemplating the idea of putting up our outside lights for Christmas, but not turning them on.  It works so much better when it isn't near freezing.

But we will see about that, if it happens soon or I wait.  The irony of it is that while out shopping we have already seen Christmas stuff up and ready.  Yeah, I get it for the craft stores because people make stuff for the Holidays early so they can be ready for craft sales and the like.  But sometimes, it feels a bit too much, too early for all the other stores.  Even my kids have said, I wish we could have out all the pumpkins and put our Christmas tree up and light it.

I don't want to rush through these next couple months.  I want to plan for ahead, prepare where I can, but also take in the moments (even if they may seem a little chaotic at times).  Sure we may put things out a tad early to get ready for the next season, but I want to surround myself with the current.

My youngest turned 4 recently and later that day he was already planning his next birthday cake theme and what it might be like being 5.  I was like dude, you just turned 4, let's live in the world of 4 for a bit and see what it is like.  Let's not rush this.

Let's not rush this.  Halloween is coming up, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's.  Then there seems to be a long drawn out lull.  But here's the thing, why do we anticipate the next holiday so much?  Why not instead anticipate the next day, the weekend, the next activity?  Why not live in the moment, even while anticipating?

Let's not get caught up in the hustle, the busy, the chaotic of the next few months.  Let's live for the day, dream about ahead, learn from the past.  Let's be present in the moment at the moment.  Before we know it, it will be middle of January.

I don't want to hit there and wonder, what happened to the last two months?

Yes, I know it can get to be really busy, and yet it isn't any busier than most other times of year, we just tend to forget or maybe it is because it feels different.  We use busy as a badge of honor.  But what if we took that word out and really said what was needed to be said, really said what we are doing.

Yup, I am putting up my Christmas lights early cause I don't want to freeze my fingers off.  Yup, it's October and we are putting our yard to bed for the Winter.  Yup, there is a holiday coming up, but what do I really want to do for it or not do.  Yup, this year I may have planted my bulbs too late because it got cold earlier, I guess we will see what happens in Spring.

There is always stuff that needs to get done, stuff we want to do.  But what can we unload?  Whether we ask for help with it, or have someone completely take it over, or let it go if we can, what can you do to feel rest, to get rid of busy, to feel calm, to feel peace?

What can you do to prepare, but then go with the flow?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Beyond the Scale Number ~ Taking a Look at Body Image & My Story

Beyond the number on the scale

Taking a look at body image

This topic has been on my mind on and off for a long time.  Partially because it is still something that I wrestle with.  But I don't wrestle with it as often.

I am not sure how it came about or where it came from or where it started, but for a long time some woman have gotten it in their minds that they should look like the woman they see in the magazines or ads or surrounding them.

At times there becomes so much judging, comparing all of ourselves (inside and out) to the cover of a magazine, to the outside of other woman.  And there seems to be this inner voice that  likes to take over once that ball starts rolling.

Trying the latest fad diet, fad workout just to look like someone else on the outside, just to quiet that voice in our heads, just to quiet the perceived judgment others have of us.

You get pregnant, oh don't gain too much weight.  You have the baby, why aren't you back to your body before yet.

I have been there. This is what I told myself.  My body failed, time and time again.

I lost my confidence.  I lost my footing.  That spiral that would ensue would be like a bobber, bouncing up and down in the waves, occasionally getting pulled under.  Leading to depression and anxiety.  And then it led to extreme focus on that scale number.  Then begun the next spiral that everything revolved around that number.  From emotions, to health, to what I did, what I told myself, to overeating, overindulging, hiding, goals, and more.

When I saw myself in pictures after my youngest turned 1, I didn't recognize myself anymore.  There was very of anything I was happy, let alone content about.  I knew at that point things needed to change.  What I didn't realize was all that needed to change.  From mind, body, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual.  All of it, many layers to peel back.

What started with, your body failed you.  Not once, but three times, turned into your body isn't enough which turned into you aren't enough.  That inner voice danced around in my head pointing all the negative things out, over and over again.  I became so focused on changing that number on the scale, making it go down, that I figured at least if I met those weigh loss goals I would no longer feel like my body was a failure, like I was a failure.

Failure is hard to face.  But in failure, we find success.  Sometimes it takes a lot of stumbles, a lot of fails, a lot of weeks but it changes us and we grow from it.  That is where the success comes from.  We have to fail to succeed.

I learned over time that my value, my worth is not in the number that the scale shows.  That I am beautiful even though I have stretch marks and scars on my belly (as well as other places).  I am stronger because I went through this and have a voice now that I didn't have before.

Where I failed myself was in the letting the negative inner critic win, letting comparison win.  Instead of accepting where I was at and me for what I was, I lost sight of the joy, the blessings, the life around me.  I lost sight of my faith, of God.  I lost sight of what things truly were and were meant to be.

With time and peeling back layers.  I am learning to accept, I am learning to forgive, I am learning to heal, I am learning to release.  It isn't always easy.  Life isn't that way.  But once I believed in myself, my confidence came back.

Do I look the way I imagined?  No.  Is the scale number where I had hoped it would be at this point?  Not even close.  But there are many blessings, many silver linings beyond that scale number.  And seeing the truth, feeling it, and believing it are the biggest.

Why don't we see ourselves the way others truly see us?

Today, look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful.  Today, look at one aspect of you in a new, positive light.  Today, give yourself a high five for all you do and have done.  Today, talk to yourself the way you talk to your spouse or your best friend.

Today, peel back a layer and let yourself free.

Below is more details about my journey, my story of how I got to the point where I thought my body had failed me and where it lead.  I also share how I am overcoming that and moving beyond the scale number.  The scale number doesn't define me.  It doesn't define you.

I used to not care a whole lot about my body image.  My self-esteem was high, I had confidence.  Sure, I gained weight and inches over the years, especially as my very athletic self slowly let go of being so active.

After high school, I didn't do much for sports.  Not real active either other than walking to class and fullfilling the P.E. credits I needed.  I walked on and off of the years of college and the beginning of my marriage.  I was active, but no longer athletic active.

You better believe my body changed.  But I didn't let that get me down.  I still did my thing and was content with where I was at.

But then we started to grow our family.  Initially, it didn't phase me.  I knew my body would change inside and out, head to toe.  What I didn't plan for was the years and comments coming after.

I begun to think and feel, fully believing my body had failed me.  I was pregnant with our first child.  At 17 weeks, it ended in a miscarriage.  I felt it was all my fault, my body's fault.  I did something wrong, I wasn't enough.  And that is where it all began.

My perception began to change.  No, I didn't care to look like those people in the magazines.  Yes, I did start to notice how other people looked after having kids, but not until after my second pregnancy.

For years I have held on to this idea that my body failed me.  But as we got ready to try again and got pregnant the second time, I didn't care how I looked.  I became hyper focused on keeping that tiny little human being alive.

I gained a lot of weight, to an already heavier frame.  With each pregnancy, my belly has popped sooner and shown more.  But that didn't stop the comments and comparisons that began to ensue.

I was asked often when I was due, and there was always a look of surprise on the person's face when I said.  The usual response was, "oh, not until then?".  The other question I got asked often was if I was having twins.

Before I move forward, let me say this.  By the end of my second pregnancy I was 220, carrying a 22 inch long almost 9 pound baby.  I also had extra amniotic fluid.  My midsection isn't that big, so the only way to go was out.

But those questions, those comments brought me down a little.  They got pushed back and deep down.  Once baby came, healthy and alive I didn't think on my size and shape. I did have feelings again that my body had failed again though.  My water broke, but I never fully dilated, ending up with a c-section.

After a little bit, I did begin to get more active again.  I went on walks, tried out running, did workout videos at home.  I wasn't focused on any particular health goals, or a certain weight.  I just wanted to move.

When pregnancy number three came around, I was too busy to think about how I looked most of the time.  We were getting ready to put our house up for sale and look for a house, I had a 2 year old to keep up with, and a Summer filled with adventures.

And yet through all this, my body wasn't happy with anything I ate from 9 weeks until 22 weeks.  Once I figured out I had developed a dairy intolerance and had gotten rid of all dairy and was more mindful of what I ate, things went more smoothly.  Yes, I gained some weight during this pregnancy, but not as much.  Then again, kiddo wasn't nearly as big.

But that didn't stop the questions and comments, as well as the comparisons.  I was asked over and over again, are you sure you aren't having twins.  I was also compared to others who were pregnant at the same time and our babies were due very close together about how I looked much bigger, like I had gained more weight, then so and so.  Mind you, so and so has a different body frame then I, built differently, taller, and it was also their first pregnancy.

When it came time to have kiddo, it ended in a c-section.  Not from lack of trying the other way, but I am not designed for regular birthing.  But as I laid there getting prepped, the tears started to fall.  Here I was again, my body failed me..again.

On and off over the past four years I would keep circling back to this.  Letting unhealthy habits begin.  But finally a year ago, I was done.  I had enough.  I needed to peel back layers and let myself heal. I began to sort out feelings, thoughts, ideas, and more.  I began to see and look at how I had gotten to the place I had and what to do to step forward.  I began to release and heal.  I began to find my inner confidence again.

Sure, there are still times that I let those thoughts back in, but I don't let them stay.  I acknowledge they are there, figure out why, and release.  It may sound easy, but it has taken time, patience, and practice.  It is about finding my own harmony again.

I don't forget where I have come from, it is a part of my story.  But I am also shedding light on new perspectives, new blessings I hadn't seen before or had long forgotten about.  In releasing these extra loads, I am freeing myself.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Why is October 15th Significant?

I know what you are may be thinking.  October is a month filled with so many awareness focuses, national (fill in the blank) day, and more.  All have their importance and significance.

But some things need more voice to them and behind them.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  It is something that more people face than you may realize.  1 in 4 will face a pregnancy loss.

I am 1 in 4.  I, we, went through a miscarriage at the start of 2011.  At 17 weeks our daughter no longer had a heart beat.  We had found out just before Christmas that we were pregnant, pregnant with our first baby.  We celebrated the holiday season with a little extra focus on the new little one that we were going to welcome into our world in July.  July 5.

Shortly after Christmas we began seeing a little bit of concern during our ultrasound.  Because of the technology at the time and the tilt of my pelvis it would take a little longer to find the heart beat.  We had an ultrasound done and measurements seemed a little off.  So, to utilize better technology and do some testing we were sent to the perinatal.  The perinatal had us wait a couple more weeks, to gain a little more growth in our little one before we could do any of the testing.

In that two weeks, she stopped growing, stopped moving and on January 26 she had no heart beat left.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I became a mom.  The day I found out I was pregnant, my hubby became a dad.  I celebrated my 29th birthday the day before we celebrated the life of our daughter and her funeral.

Being a mom didn't start out how I had imagined, nor had I planned.  I was put on a path that no one anticipates, but happens to many.  And if it doesn't happen to us, we find out that it has to someone close to us.  Sometimes it happens in the coming years, and sometimes it brings up what happened years and years ago.

As that 2011 year went forward, I dove back into things not fully allowing myself to grieve or begin to heal.  In the Fall of that year it all came crashing down.  I couldn't anymore.  So I gave up my classroom so I could finally grieve, to take of me, my marriage, and what friendships I had left.  And to begin to heal.  You see, facing a miscarriage showed me the true colors of those around me.  Some walked the path with me, even if they hadn't faced it themselves.  Some walked the path with me that had faced it before.  And some, well some shut me out, said things that left things broken.

I am still in a healing phase with this.  There are still some areas that I am still working on and through.  Yet, there are some areas that are healed and others where I have a better understanding.

I didn't only loose my daughter, I lost the dreams and hopes that were with her, I lost the things that a mom would get to experience, I lost friends and co-workers, I lost trust for awhile, I lost faith for awhile, I lost joy, I lost a part of me.

My daughter made me who I am today.  She made me a mom.  She gave me new perspectives.  She gave me hope.  She gave me trust.  She gave me faith.  She gave me joy.  She showed me how strong I really am.  She showed me how to forgive.  She showed me how to let go.  She showed me love through signs.

There is no foot too small, no person too small, to leave an imprint on this world.

So why is October 15th significant?

It is the day that Ronald Reagan signed into recognition Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day in 1988.  On this day for many years, a wave of light is spread throughout the Earth.  From one side to the other, at pm people light candles in remembrance of all those little ones gone far too soon.  This wave spreads from ocean to ocean, over every continent.

October is the month my daughter began life.  October 15th I light a candle for her, for family, for friends who have all lost their babies. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Discovering My Vision ~ Putting it into Words

The other day I was asked what my vision is.  I was told that having a clearer vision will be a guide.

Guess what I found?  I don't have one.  Not only that,  I can't even put anything into words to create one.

I realized recently I am in a huge season of change.  So what does this mean?  It means I need to dig in deeper, open my heart, and see where it leads.

When faced with change we can do one of two things.  We can sit, dig our heels in, refusing to move.  Or, we can flow with the change and grow.

Sometimes we need a tangible set of words that can help guide us.  Not only through changes, but through life's day to day.

Your to dos, activities, hobbies, jobs, roles, and so on all have something to hinge from.  So why not put that something into words and turn it into a clear vision?

Sounds simple.  Just put some words down on paper that can help me make decisions easier right?

That is what I thought.  What is your vision?  Health and wellness.  That is great!  But can you go deeper?  Can you add detail?  Can explain?  Can you break it down into something more specific?

That is a great start, but in defining and being specific you can really start forming a plan, setting up things, and moving forward.

When I really think about it, health and wellness is more a value and more of a priority.  It is too broad to be, as it stands, a clear vision.  Yes, our values and our priorities will help guide us and our decisions.  But sometimes we need to be more specific and dig a little deeper.  Use those things to  help to set a vision.

Sure, I set goals, but those goals really play into an overall vision.  And just like with goals, the more specific and detailed you, the more likely you will have success completing the goal.  With regular check ins and maintenance, tweaking as needed, you can really achieve some amazing things.

But it all starts with a vision.  A clear vision.

Like I said, I didn't have one anymore and as much as I like to write I had a very hard time putting it into words.  I couldn't even talk it through and get anywhere when I had a coaching call about creating a vision.  I may have a way with words when I write, but sometimes there is a disconnect between brain and  mouth when it comes to talking.

So where did that leave me?  I put it on the back burner honestly.  I kept telling myself I will get to it later or well I don't even know where to begin.  After a handful of days I decided I needed to put my pen to paper and dig in deeper.

I began to think about my ideal life, ideal day.  What would it look like? What would it feel like?

Setting aside any feelings of guilt that arose, I answered the following other questions.

Looking at the different areas of your life listed below and think about what could make them really great.
  • physical health
  • mental/emotional health
  • spiritual health
  • love/intimacy
  • work
  • fun/social
  • relationship with kids
  • money
So I broke it all down and began to write.  Each topic was a section I wrote in detail, may not have been full sentences, but I put down the words.

It was interesting because this process took a few days.  I wrote out my thoughts to all those questions.  And I felt freer, open more.  I had felt like I was in a funk for a bit, doubting myself.  So I did a card pull from my Simple Clarity decks.  I needed something tangible.  

I got that answer, I got something tangible.  It made me realized and fully believe in myself and where I am at, as well as where I am headed...and it was good, truly good, and thriving.  It wasn't until, of all times, the next day about to get in the shower that words started coming to me.  So I wrote them down and they became the start of my vision.

Where it will all lead, I am not sure.  However, I have a clearer path and direction.  Sure, there will be bumps, storms, breakdowns along the way, but I will also have the guidance I need to carry through and pull me out.  

I will share my vision below the next picture.  First I want to encourage you to take some time to create a vision.  Go beyond what you value and priorities, using those as a guide.  But be open to digging in deeper.  Use your goals as a stepping block to create this overall arching theme.  

For me, I leaned heavily into God's guidance through this.  I know that my strength and courage comes from him.  Digging in deeper into my heart begins with opening my heart and letting the Holy Spirit in.  All these extras I do, like card pulls, I still invite God to be my guide, to open my heart, to let the words and thoughts out, release the emotions.  I also lean into those who are close to me to help guide too to help gather wisdom and perspectives.

Where is your vision leading you?

Here is my vision

I am a curly haired, vibrant beautiful woman.
I bring value and worth when I use my gifts and skills I have been given to their fullest ability
I use the changes and growth I have gained to give me wisdom to move forward
I am me...a daughter, a wife, a mom
I am a  writer, photographer, creative soul
I will fill my mind, body, and soul with good: in what I say and do (inside and out), in what I eat, in what I think
If it doesn't fit, I will let it go
I will let myself heal where needed. I will let myself be free, I will release the extras facades and weight
I will be a seed spread and find joy in the day
I will nourish myself so that I can be my best for those around me and nourish them too.

Friday, October 4, 2019

What A Day of Homeschool Looks Like For Us

A few years ago we made the decision to go the home school route.  For us, after looking over our options, talking, and discerning we felt that it was the right option.  

We are headed in to our second year where we have a set curriculum and a schedule.  Last year we had a more flex schedule, similar to this year but with a lot more fluidity to it and the curriculum.  However, this year we have set certain things to be done on certain days. 

Monday the focus is on reading and spelling, Tuesday is math, and Thursday is Bible Study Fellowship (with work that has to be done before the next class meets), Friday is for other classes like zoo and art .  This year we also have included days for chores, errands, adventures, low key, library, swim lessons/family swims, and seasonal activities. Most of curriculum work gets done in the morning.  Then it opens the day for whatever else we want or need to do.  

Yes, we cover things like writing, science, history, and geography as well as art.  Those are scattered throughout the month.  We try to use hands on, real world experiences for science, history, and geography.

My oldest loves to be creative, so at least once a week he is creating something.  Sometimes it is reinventing his Lego sets or creating out of Legos based on his latest interest.  Like right now is Mars and the Mars Rover so we have some Lego rovers he has built and artwork he has drawn.  Other times it is picking up art tools to draw, paint, design, create what is in his mind.

We use books, so many books to cover a lot of the areas.  Right now book reading happens whenever the kids ask, and typically before nap and bedtime.  Play is also a key component of our day.  Whether outside, inside, on an adventure play is a theme running throughout our day.

So what does a day look like for us?

It is filled with using the resources we have to help teach math and reading using Math Seeds and Reading Eggs, play, adventure, creativeness, books and more to help our kids learn what they need to learn but doing so in a way that they thrive and using their interests to span multiple subjects.

There are a handful of questions I get when people find out we home school.  We get asked why we chose to home school, do you have a be a teacher, is it hard, what curriculum do you use, do you follow a specific method, are you in any groups or co-ops.

More often that not when people find out that we do home school, they are excited.  Sometimes they want to know more, other times they share stories about that they home schooled or were home schooled, and some wish that they could (and then ask  more questions to get an idea of what it is like).

The nice thing is you can make it your own.  Tailor it your kiddos.  You get to invest into your kid's future.  Setting them up now with a solid foundation to be a great adult down the road and have the skills needed to thrive and succeed.

So, do you home school?  Or something similar?

What questions do you have for me?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Waiting is Hard ~ But God Still Works in the Waiting

Waiting is hard sometimes.  For kids, for adults, it is just hard at times.  If we aren't patient it is hard to teach a kid patience. 

In a society where almost everything is becoming instant and at our fingertips, we forget how to wait.  A couple weeks ago I cam across some interesting facts about waiting, or rather lack there of.  It takes seconds waiting at a red light before drivers grow impatient.  Can you imagine what it is like in traffic?  Waiting in line at a store?  Even in a time when we can get things delivered to us the day we order it or within a couple days as soon as it is delayed we grow impatient.

What if we looked at it in a different way?  Why not use the time waiting for something else?

We can still grow while we wait.  Sometimes we grow the most in the waiting.  The waiting can be a few hours, or days, months, or even years.  During that time it can be a real struggle.  Wondering, yearning, wanting answers, growing frustrated or irritated or maybe angry. 

For me, in the long stretches of waiting I tend to grow doubtful.  Asking tons of questions, wondering when or what if, all too often letting the negative inner critic have more say.  The fears, the worry, sometimes guilt get the better of me.

More recently, I have been working on my perspective and attitude during the long waits.  Letting go, not letting the doubt or the inner critic overwhelm me.  Sure, I do take a moment to listen to that inner voice, but when it starts down the negative side, doubting, frustrating,,,whatever the feeling I acknowledge it, accept it for what it is, and work through it.  No, it isn't always going to be easy and it ain't always going to look pretty. 

At the same time, I am teaching and guiding little ones in this too.  So what can I do I best or better to help them process and wait as they watch me in my waiting.

So what do we do while in the waiting?

For me, I reground myself often.  I pray and let it all out.  I do card pulls to have something tangible, because sometimes I need to have something a little more concrete.  I talk it out and work it out in workouts

We grow all the time.  But we grow the most in the waiting, through the storms, through the things that push us the most outside our comfort zone.

I have learned that God is still working in the waiting.  It may not feel like it, but there is work happening.  And that work can carry you through to the outcome and answers.

We are faced with waiting all the time.  But how do you face waiting?

I am still learning to let myself grow and to change my perspective, and yet still be authentic and real.  It is a work in progress, but then again so am I.  Transformations don't always take a short time, sometimes they take longer...longer than anticipated. 

Are you in a period of waiting? Or have you just come out of one?

What do you do in the waiting?

Saturday, September 28, 2019

New Season, Changes, Celebrating Harvest

The start of this week was the start of a new season.  Fall has arrived and I am loving it!  The other day in my BSF group we were asked what our favorite season is.  I am a true Upper Midwest kind of girl and need the four seasons.  Yeah, sure Winter lasts like six months and the rest sometimes get crammed into the other six.  But I enjoy having four distinctive seasons, different activities that come with each season, and seeing each season through my kids' eyes as they grow.

Which season is my favorite?  Fall tops it.  With the vibrant leaf colors, sun shining warm with cool breezes, windows open, the crunch of leaves as you walk through them, watching leaves twirl as they fall to the ground, pumpkins and apples, hot beverages in a warm mug with my hands wrapped around  it.  I just love Fall.

But I also love Spring. Spring is about things greening out, flowers starting, warm breezes with windows open, feeling the warm sun after a long Winter.  It is about new growth and planting.  Fall is about reaping what you have sewn, abundance, change and letting go, preparing.

Fall is the time of year where abundance, blessings, thankfulness are all around us.  As Summer turns into Fall reaping the harvest that has sewn and worked on so hard.  It is a time for celebrating that bounty.

But what if you don't have a bounty, or it isn't much of anything, or if it doesn't look like what you thought, or you had so many storms and so much destruction that you can't see the abundance?

It doesn't have to be a large thing sewn or a huge bounty, or even grand to be abundant.  We can find even a small amount of joy in any of it .  We may have to finish riding out the storms, sift through the destruction, or wait a little longer, but in time it will come.  There is still growth in the waiting.  Even though small seeds were sewn, a small yield was gathered, it can make a huge impact down the road, over time.

Maybe you planted all at once or every so often.  Maybe you are a seed sender, spreading these seeds little by little, day by day.  Maybe both, depending on the year, the seasons, or circumstances.

What seeds are you planting?
What have you planted and are waiting on?
What has bloomed?
What hasn't worked?

Through it all, we can still find joy, a small piece of joy to carry us through to the next.

I want you to take a moment and think on something.

What has brought you joy today? This week?  This month?  What are you looking forward to in this next season? Next month?

You can plant your own seeds any time of year.  You can celebrate the bounty of them at any point.  And once they are done growing, you can plant more.

This Fall is about change for me.  Changes that start with me and will hopefully spread.  Where this will all lead?  I don't know yet.  But I am willing to take the chance to plant some new seeds, nurture them, and see what will happen.  I am choosing to see the joy, the abundance through the storms, through the changes, through the growth.

It is like I tell my kids often, we are never done learning and we are never done growing.  Change is going to happen, we are going to make mistakes, we are going to fail but through it all we can still grow and we can still reap from what we have sewn.

So, what is your favorite season? Why?

What are you finding joy in in this very moment?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Back to School ~ Year Two of Homeschooling

It is back to school time.  For many, you may have already been going for two or three weeks at this point.  What grades are your kiddos headed into?

My kiddos are 6 1/2 and almost 4, so we are headed into first grade and pre-kindergarten.  We are headed into our second year of homeschooling.

Anyone else out there home school?

We do a mix of work at home and work out and about.  Our adventures are filled with just as much learning as at home.  Now that we have a first grader I am being asked more often what curriculum do we use or what method of homeschooling we do.

You see there are a lot of options out there for curriculum and methods.  It makes it nice to really tailor to where your kiddos are at and their interests.

I have one kiddo who loves to be creative, be outside, read, play, and learn.  He is combining what he is learning in math and reading into his every day.  Other subject areas come out through reading, adventures, and play.  Right now he is really interested in the Mars Rover, so we are adding lots about that topic into our days.

My other kiddo wants to be like brother and have curriculum of his own.  He has a few concrete curriculum activities like Reading Eggs and Mathseeds.  However, he isn't using them weekly like his brother is.  Instead, he does them when he asks.  But we are having a letter of the week focus, as well as a number of the week focus for him.  In the car he has them posted (older brother has sight words posted) so we can play games while we drive or when we wait in the car.  He will also have a worksheet to go with each.  Otherwise, through play and art, books and adventures he is learning.

I get the question every so often, well what about socialization?  Won't they miss that piece?

Socialization doesn't come from going to school.  Sure, they will get it through the earlier years like preschool and prekindergarten.  But once in a school building, school setting it is actually a missing piece.  Remember being a kid and being told you talk to much in class or you aren't here to socialize?  I was, as I have heard it before in classrooms even still today.

Socialization is not about being put into a room with others the same age as you and being taught all day.  It is about knowing how to interact with others of any age throughout the day, having manners, being cooperative, being kind.  It is about being out in the real word with others.

You get socialization through going out to eat, through visiting other people, through classes and camps, through running errands and shopping, through having a meal together as a family, going on adventures and talking with the other people there, through sports, talking to your neighbors, and much more.

This Fall the kids are signed up for swim lessons, art classes, and zoo classes.

Our set curriculum is Reading Eggs on Mondays and Mathseeds on Fridays.  Spelling is either on Monday or Wednesday.  Art, history, geography, health, writing is throughout the month.  We have adventures we go on, call them field trips if you like.  We also have a day for chores to get done.  Some worksheets or workbooks scattered throughout to practice skills.

This year we are adding more faith exploration into our day and week.  We go to a Bible Study Fellowship once a week.  My oldest and I have reading to do and questions to answer.  We are using the weekly verse to carry us through the week.  We are also adding in devotions with our breakfast.

We are using other people's adventures to learn more about certain topics like geography and different cultures.  We have friends visiting Germany and family headed to visit Italy.  For us as well, both those are a part of own lineage as well.

All are excited for a year of fun, adventures, and learning.

I am finding that as more time goes by we are finding more and more people who are going the home school route.  And even though some don't have kids, they have lots of questions about it as it is on their minds and they are thinking that it is the route they want to go.

Whatever you decide, remember you can take learning where ever you go.  Anything can be turned into a learning and growth experience.  It may not always look like learning, but it is in the process that teaches us the most.

No matter your age, keep learning and keep growing.

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!