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.