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?