Friday, June 19, 2020

Seeking Rest in Nature

A little over a year ago I came across Saundra Dalton's book "Sacred Rest" and it was a game changer in how I go about my day to day and how I set up rhythms and routines with a more natural flow.

What is rest?  What does it look like, what does it mean, how do we achieve it?

Did you know that sleeping is only one piece of rest?  It is the only passive rest our bodies need, but it is only one piece of the puzzle.  There are 6 other areas of rest, active rest, that our bodies need.  Saundra identifies the seven rests as: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, creative, and sensory.

I highly encourage you to take a look, at the very least, her website and give the Rest Quiz a try (  And if you want to dig in more the book will help with that.  But the quiz is a good place to start as it gives you a base of where things are at and direction to head.  

After reading through the book I was able to get all areas in a more harmonious place.  I had found my natural ebb and flow, the rhythm that felt in sync.

But in March I got thrown off a bit.  With each day I was pulled away from the rhythm and fell out of sync.  Even more so in the past few weeks.

So last week I spent an entire week in nature.  From the time I woke and even as I slept I immersed myself in my surroundings.  The water, the breeze, the woods, the frogs, and more.  It was what my mind, body, and soul needed and still does.  So much so that I am trying to carry that with me when I am home, out and about in the day to day.

This week I am working on a reset and setting myself up to rediscover that natural rhythm that goes with my natural ebb and flow. In the coming days, weeks I will share more on this and the journey on the blog and in the newsletter.

I am still setting things up and really taking a deeper look inward.  Letting myself free, heal, release, and be real.  I know what I need to do and have the systems to put it into action, but yet I am dragging my heals.  I am going to uncover the deeper why and become fully alive.

As I have told my kids and they will say, the only constant is change.  So many changes lately, now it is time to reset in my grounding spot, rebuild where needed, and grow.

Where do you seek rest?  What is your mind, body, and soul telling you?  Are you ready to listen?

Friday, June 5, 2020

In the Quiet

In the quiet, in the silence what do you feel?

For me, I rarely let myself do this.  When it is quiet in the house, I tend to turn the T.V. on, put music on, listen to a podcast.  I do something.  Even if I try reading, I let random scrolling pull me away.

The reality is, true silence is not around us.  But we can easily fill ourselves with other stuff that we don't hear the natural sounds around us, like the birds, the breeze in the trees...and so much more.

All to often when left in the quiet, even if there are still nature's noises, I can't quiet my mind.  It goes off on one trail after another, sometimes spirals.  Even when I write, I put on instrumental music.  Yes, in some ways I may lack focus and in other ways I have too much focus.  It all depends on what distractions I allow in.  It all depends on how present I am in the moment.

So why do I feel so awkward in the silence?  

I have been asking myself this lately.  I even fall asleep to the sounds of the fan because it doesn't feel right to have nothing.  I just need a low quiet something going to lull me to sleep.  It seems to let my mind focus on that one thing, instead of wondering, as I fall asleep.

But still, the silence feels uncomfortable.  I feel uneasy and look for look for ways to distract myself.  Yet, it is in the quiet that things happen deeper within us.  It is in the quiet that God talks to us.  It is in the quiet when our hearts open and we are most aware.  

And maybe that is why I feel uncomfortable.  Am I ready to face what is really going on in my heart?  Am I ready to understand?  Am I ready to set it free?

Are you?

Part of me says yes I am and part of me says nope.  Yet if I allow myself, so much can come from it.  From release, to healing, to growth, to deepening connection...and more.    Where would it lead?  Could it lead?

In the silence, we can set free...find safety...

Is it hard for you to be in the quiet?  Do you have insight into why?

What do you do to find quiet?  How do you get yourself into that space?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Moving Beyond The Layers Through Writing

Putting my fingers to the keys feels so weird.  Generally I love to write and miss taking time out to do so, but lately the day comes and goes before I know it another week has gone by and I haven't taken the time to write.

Writing is how I let out what is on my my mind and heart.  It is how I share about the day to day in my life.

Yet I seem to let it settle off to the side often, letting various distractions in.  

I am a planner, scheduler, organizer, developer by trade.  But lately I have felt like it has all fizzled away.  In my heart it is still there, I know it is.  Yet there is a part of me that is kind of like, "why bother?".

Part of me knows and feels that if I make it a priority, then I will make the time and effort for it.  However, with a feeling of meh, whatever or does it really matter if I write with consistency I am not putting my fingers to the keys and writing or even pen and paper style.

For those of you who follow my posts, thank you.  Though I may go in spurts where I am not putting much out there thank you for still hanging with me.

If I enjoy writing as much as I do, why don't I sit and do it?

Truly it is the distractions I allow in.  The random scrolling, sitting and turning the t.v. on, the mindless activities that I do because of not wanting to expose my heart.

As I sit here and type, I can feel how good it is deep down.  It is one of a few things my mind needs, body and soul as well.

Life is a journey, it ebbs and flows.  If we don't take the time to tune in, we tune out.  We put on a layer, and another, and another. 

Last year April I spent time peeling back layers, releasing as needed, healing as needed, growing.  But as time went by I stopped peeling back the layers and even put back on some...some new, some old.

What layers do you have that you are ready to peel back?  What needs to be released?  Healed? Let grow and bloom?

We are in an usual time right now, I get that.  Take the time to dig in and listen, to learn.  Set your mind, body, soul free and feel the release.  Let yourself be like a butterfly who renews it's self and sets off, lighter and full of grace.  Let your roots dig deeper, the ground firm up around on, and grow and bloom.

Where are you at in your journey? 

Look inward, dig deep, release.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Embracing Easter, Spring, & Changes

Yesterday was Easter and we were blessed by a Nor'easter Winter storm.  While it didn't dump much more than 3ish inches, it was a hard switch from the day before that was in the 60s, warm, sunny, and we had a picnic dinner out on the deck.

Yup, I know it's still early Spring and we live in Minnesota.  It was so nice seeing the lawns green up, the sogginess of Winter drying out, and bulbs starting to pop up growing so much each day.

I keep reminding myself that my oldest was born during a snowstorm and we went home in an ice storm.  His birthday is April 11 and most years we are either getting snow or it is almost 70.

It still doesn't change the fact that an April snowstorm is not my favorite.  At least today the sun is back out and there is blue sky.

We a bit of an unusal weekend.  Saturday my oldest turned 7 and Sunday was Easter.  In the 7 years since he was born, the two things haven't been on the same weekend.  This year both things were simple, probably more simplier because of the stay home order we are under still.

Yet, my oldest said it was the best way to spend his birthday.  He was happy and content, grateful for the blessings.  And all were grateful for the blessings that Easter brings.

Easter brings a sense of peace, renewal, and joy.  Spring brings a sense of growth and newness.  So combined it takes this new season to new places, perpectives, and purposes.

Having the stay home order, two special holidays, and a Spring snowstomr can make for an interesting time.  But with a mindshift it can still bring many blessings.

We have switched to making things simple and full for peace, joyful moments, being grateful, and content.  Sometimes things are waht they are and there isn't much we can do about it.  Other than our attitude and mindset.

While I may have this picture in my head of how it should be, look like, want it to be that may or may not be.  And you know what?  That is okay.

Are you embracing this time?  Yes, I know the implications of what is happening and can happen.  Yes, it is scary, uncertain, tough.  But it can be freeing, joy~filled, and simple.  One can get wrapped up in the numbers, the possibilities, focus full on all the negative.  Or one can accept it for what it is, do their part as needed and when, make changes as needed, but still be positive.

For years my mom has been forwarding me quote of the day emails.  Here is today's:
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.”
Willie Nelson

Anytime in our life we can go one of two ways, the negative perspective or the positive.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the emotions that we are facing, whether it is fear, worry, anxiety or joy, harmony.  We can still focus on the blessings in it all.

But if we allow ourselves to stay in the negative it will spiral, it will keep going and will bring us down.  We can be in the positive frame of mind, while still acknowledging all that is going on around us.  Disconnecting where we need to, releasing as needed, being honest and real about the situation and our own emotions.  The emotions and behaviors have others do not need to bring us down, we do not need to carry them along with our own, and we can remain positive despite the choices, attitudes, and behaviors around us.  We can still create a place of peace, feeling of joy and more while being guiding and empathetic.

So during this time, where are your thoughts going?  What attitudes are you carrying with you?  What are you creating in the space around you?  

Is there anything you can embrace?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

It's April, It's Spring ~ Full of Emotions, Change, Newness, and Growth

So each month I have a focus word with an overall word for the year.  March's word was release and my year word is light.

It is interesting how release showed up big.  When March started our calendar was full, but still had some room for down time in it.  We went from a full calendar to an empty one in the matter of a week.  Our usual schedule was no longer going to work.

I knew going into March how full it really was going to be.  I was mostly ready, but told myself April we were going to change it up and slow it down.  And I wasn't going to plan so many classes and activities so close together. 

Then mid March came.  Day by day each of our planned things was canceled, closed, or extended.  It was almost like God saying, why wait until April, let's start now.

I will admit, it has been a bit surreal the past few weeks.  The weeks begin as we normally would, but by the end of the week we are shifting.

Yet I feel that we were already shifting.  As we move further into Spring, it is starting to show.  The daylight is getting longer, the sun is out more and warmer, trees are budding out and so are gardens.  However, I wasn't ready for a quick shift.

While the kids have embraced this shift much quicker than I, I am going there a little slower.  Trying decided where to make changes.  Hence the reason behind the word release.  I know I have a lot to release and by making small changes that would allow me to be open.

Letting myself process all that is going on much in the way one would to release grief.  Because in all honesty, that was the process my emotions were going through.  Yet I am finding out more of my true self during this time and where God is leading me.

Sure, I would like to be having the kids do their swim lessons, yet they had been asking for a break.  We were going to do a break come Summer, but it came sooner.  I do miss my Bible Study Fellowship Group, as do the kids.  But I am meeting via zoom and still get to connect with my group, the kids are getting weekly videos for their lessons.  We had a few fun Fridays and weekends planned, like zoo classes, art class, and a mini vacation to the North Shore.  Each of which was either canceled or delayed.  Yet, we were able to get art kits to go, can watch the happenings at the zoo, and our trip is postponed with potential for a day trip soon.

We may not get to do the things we were hoping for or planning on, but we do get to try out some new things, new ways.  Much like the new growth that is happening on the trees and in the gardens, we are growing, changing, and learning.

Interestingly enough, my word for April is steady.  I am working on steadying myself much in the way one would find grounding and keeping it.  I am grounding myself with God, in God through prayer and devotions, scripture and focus work  in Acts (for BSF) and Holy week.  Added bonus, my kiddos get to come along for the ride.  I am arming myself little by little, more and more with God.  Then from there I am branching out and steadying myself in each of my roles.  Working towards an inner peace and harmony that will carry throughout (still a work in progress).

Where else steady and light will come into play is yet to be seen.  We are only a week into April.  I still have more to release I am sure and can definitely steady myself in areas with more confidently as we go through the month.

Spring is going to look different this year than any other year, as is Summer.  But what some of what will be different will truly be for the better, that I am sure of.

Where do you need to find release?  Or what in specific do you need to release?

What can you can you do to steady yourself?

My prayer to you is one of hope for you.  Despite the way the surroundings may look right now, I pray you see the blessings that are there, seek joy, release to lighten your load, make room for rest, and let the gift of grace you have carry you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Changing Things Up

For a bit now I have been telling myself that I am going to use nap time, morning time, evening, whenever for XYZ.  Yet, often I have found when the time comes I do something completely else.  Why?

One excuse or another really.  Most often is because I don't set myself up for it.

With everything changing lately and knowing that in may ways, things will not go back to what was.  Sure, some things will.  Other things will take some time to rebound.  Yet, this is a catalyst for changes.

Since the time change a couple weeks ago (which seriously feels like forever ago), I have felt off.  Like an inner harmony link was broken.  I was chalking it up to the shift in time, lack of sunlight, lack of energy.  Yet I still didn't adjust much of anything or reevaluate.  Then with regular activities and schedules ending, changing, or being put on hold I still didn't adjust much or look at things more.

This last week I have been looking things over. 

I recently started looking at the book "In the Flo" by  Alisa Vitti.  In the book she goes into eating and working out based on where you are at with your cycle.  She also goes into works and relationships how to connect them.  But I hadn't really taken the time to put any of it into action.

So last week I began things slowly.  I looked over what we had, needed to do, what to keep as is, what to change, and more.  Day by day I am taking the time.  The time to readjust, plan, and more.

One of the first places I am starting is my focus time with my faith and deepening my connection to God.  I am switching up my early morning workout with a walk after breakfast and focusing on the space around me (birds, plants growing, new growth, and more).  I still do my yoga stretching and meditation first thing after getting up and then my current devotion book ("Mom Heart Moments: Daily Devotions for Lifegiving Motherhood" by  Sally Clarkson). 

During nap time, I am starting off with a focus on Amy Seiffert's book "Grace Looks Amazing On You: 100 Days of Reflecting God's Love".  I am on the book launch team for it and it comes out in April.  But along with reading it, I am using the verse she gives at the start to do some creative prayer work.  I am hoping to include more prayer, more creative prayer in my day and week.  Then I am shifting into digging into "Fully Alive" by Susie Larson

I am adding pockets throughout the day to refuel.  Not only refuel myself, by those around me.  We are keeping some of schedule the same where we can, as far as homeschooling and chores go.  But opening up for trying out some new things, different ways, or just plain letting the kids do their own thing and let them lead.

As we go day to day, the only constant truly is change.  But I ask myself, what can I do within that to allow for the ebb and flow that change brings that also allows for getting done what needs to be done, what needs to be released, and filling us with what we truly need. 

I am also setting up some different boundaries and writing them out.  Ones that I can put into place in my planner that allow me to utilize my time more efficiently, effectively, and the way that God is placing on my path.

Where are you shifting gears?  What has been long on your list that you keep setting aside that now is the time to bring it back?  What boundaries do you need to set or reset?

Let me know and let me know, how things are going.

Praying for you all for good health and well-being, strength and courage, healing where needed, and safety.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thoughts and Mindshifts

I haven't put my fingers to the keys much for the past two weeks.  After March 16, I did a quick note in My Mama Side Musings Newsletter and even that went out later than usual.

Monday's I tend to blog write and Thursday's is time for the newsletter.  But this week has been all kinds of mixed up.

With everything going on, I have been shifting and re-shifting.  From normal routines, to appointments, to classes, and more.

Yes, I know we homeschool and yup, I have been a stay at home mom since this time 2013.  However, with each season we fall in to a rhythm and flow, the schedule builds around that.  But with all our normal Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday activities canceled a couple weeks ago and social distancing, and now with stay home orders that go into affect basically at 11:59 tonight, we (mainly I) needed to make some changes.  Granted we have already been staying home as much as we can, but coming to terms with this new normal has been adjustment.

Monday everything finally hit and hit hard.  No, none of us are sick.  In fact that is a blessing we have right now is that we have good health and well-being.  But it was Monday when I realized how much was canceled, ended, connections lost, and schedules shifting.

My plans for March and April were not what they are turning out to be.  So, Monday night after a good cry, I picked myself back up.  I recognized what I was feeling (grief, sadness, anxiety, frustration, confusion, uncertainty, and more) and accepted it.  I didn't keep it though.  I dug into why I was feeling those things and what I could do about it, if anything.

So as this week has gone on, I have been shifting.  I am shifting my mindset to I get to instead of why or when.  March was going to be a full month for us, and in some ways so was April.  But now things have been rearranged and cleared out.  Though not initially what I had hoped for or planned for, I am letting it go.

The weather is finally Spring like, which means we can be outside longer and go for walks.  Each morning this week we go for a walk.  Then once home we tackle what needs to get done for homeschooling and chores.  After that is done, we are filling our time with other things.  Mostly play, but now we have art kits that we picked up for the kids, we can do some projects we've been talking about, read more, play more.

We are embracing what we have and what we can do.  And this may look different in two weeks, or a month, or by Summer.  But for now, we are changing things up and taking hold of the good and spreading that where we can.

I felt like I had lost a lot of my connections when Bible Study Fellowship had to close.  My kiddos are blessed with getting to have their teachers send videos each week for the lessons that would have been taught.  So we can still take part in that.  We are getting creative and playing board games via Skype.  For me, I get to be in two of my friends groups as a coach/support person and will be using zoom in one of the groups to connect.  And if I find out what is going on for me for Bible Study Fellowship, I will get to reconnect with that group.

I felt sad and disappointed that all the activities being canceled for my kiddos.  However, a blessing, they were sad about it as well, but they have embraced the switch up and new rhythm.  Probably more easier than I have. 

In some ways things have changed, yet other things remain the same and the rest has been shifted.  Mondays and Tuesdays are still our focus days for math and reading.  We still have morning devotions and BSF readings.  The kids may not get to go to BSF, but BSF comes to us via weekly videos.  Weekends are now primarily home for the day, so it is outside as much as possible.  Our Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday look different and will continue to ebb and flow.  We go for walks after breakfast now which is good for all of us and I am enjoying starting the day this way as are the kids.  I am changing up how much time I spend on social media and refocusing how I connect.

Sometimes it takes a bit, sometimes we build up walls, but the moment that falls, we can pick ourselves up and move forward.  Changed and ready.  Sometimes we feel lighter, freer.  Sometimes we are more encouraged and motivated. 

That is what happened leading up to Monday.  And while I don't have stuff completely figured out, at the very least I am slowing down and readjusting.  This is all going to look different than anyone anticipated or expected.  But hopefully, it will open up to new ideas, growth, and more.  Even through this all, we can still be grateful, still laugh, still seek joy. 

I hope and pray that your health is good, that you can see the joy in moments throughout the day, and that you will remain brave as we move forward. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

In the Midst of Chaos

Where is your mindset right now?

In the midst of what is happening now across our country and now at a local level, it is easy to get swept up in the fear.  But fear leads to panic, stress, illness, battles, and more.

In big cities and small towns alike, there has been fights breaking out over toilet paper and hand sanitizer.  Places are closing down daily.  And people are having to keep their kids home and some adults are having their places of work close their doors.

This is not a permanent thing.  It is communities coming together in the best interest of each other, trying to slow down the spread.  In that either we can let panic and anxiety overwhelm us, or we can shift into what can I do in the best interest of those around me.  How we handle the right now, will determine how things end up down the road.

So much of what is happening right now really won't matter in a few months or even next year.  What will be remembered is how we acted and how we treated others.

Yes, a lot of this is an inconvenience.  Plans changed, trips canceled, things closing.  But it is all to benefit all of us.  We can all use this time to shift our mindset, perspectives, and priorities.  Think of it as the world is telling us to slow down and realign.

There are many things in our world that we aren't in control of or we can't control.  Sometimes, all too often, we try to control everything.  But the reality is, there are only a few things we can: our attitude, our behavior, and how we treat others.

With all that is happening, how can you best control your attitude, behavior, and how you treat others?

In this time, I am choosing to keep our schedule the way it is where we can.  For homeschooling that means we use Monday and Tuesday as our math and reading focus days.  The rest of the days, because things are cancled we are changing it up.  We are going to tap into online resources to explore, learn, play, and have fun.  We will go outside more, play more, be creative more.  Try out some new projects.  We will still do our daily devotionals and Bible Study Fellowship reading.

Will there be more tv? yeah probably.  Will some more things change? yup

But we are going day by day, letting ourselves be flexible.  And sometimes it may mean being flexible in the moment.  We will get through this and by putting our focus into the things we get to do, embracing what is happening by letting go of what we can't control, and trusting in God through this.

What are you going to put your energy into?  Releasing control, embracing this for what it is, and changing things up in the best interest of you and others? Or letting fear and panic overwhelm you, causing stress, anxiety, and more.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Body Image ~ Going Deeper, My Journey

I have a post topic in mind for awhile...body image

Even as I sit here, wanting to type, wanting to talk about this I still find myself staling.  Why? Maybe because I am still trying to find the words, maybe because I am still working on this myself, or maybe it is me thinking that another time would be better.  I have been thinking, when I get to a certain weight, or reach a certain goal, or whatever else comes to mind that is when I will write about it.

But at the same time, I am telling myself that whelp, I didn't reach it so I don't have the ability to write or what do I really know about this topic.


So, I started this post back in September or October 2019.  And set it aside, letting it sit in my drafts section.  I wasn't ready to delete it yet, but it seemed as if I wasn't ready to write on it completely.  What was holding me back from finishing?  Myself.  And now, here we are 5 or so months later, am I ready?

Body image is such tough topic for me to write on, but yet I feel the strong pull to do so.  I will be honest, in some ways I am not happy with where I am at with my own body currently.  But, I have learned a lot on this journey.

Whilst I, in my mind, don't think I am where I should be at as far as outward appearances (mainly the number on the scale), I am realizing that in focusing in on the wrong perspectives it is taking away from so much more.

We were given this one body.  This one body to carry us through everything on our journey.  Yet, for some of us, we don't treat it with the respect, kindness, and love it deserves.  Our bodies go through so much for us. 

Before kids, in all honesty, I generally didn't care a whole lot about the size or shape of my body.  Sure, I would notice I would have an off hair day and make a comment to myself about it and either let it be or toss it up in a pony tail.  Not really a big deal and move on through my day.  Make up and clothes were the same way.  Put the layers on, sometimes make a comment to myself, but then carry on with the day to day.

It wasn't until after having kids I took up arms with my body and battles ensued.  Clothes, never looked right or didn't feel comfortable in.  Makeup became more steps and more layers.  Hair, mostly in a pony tail or pulled back some how, because with kids and long hair are like glue.  I ended up getting it cut short when my oldest was just over a 1 years old (he will turn 7 next month) and have spent the time since then growing it out.

Yet I kept my thoughts and comments to myself, piling them on and piling them down deep.

My word for the month of March is release.  It is time to fully release all these layers and thoughts.  Release the things that I told myself and let go of the things I told myself as truths, but weren't really.

What started with a track of, my body failed, I am a failure after my first pregnancy led me to cover up in many layers and put many walls up.  I wanted to hide it all away.  And I let that track keep coming back after each pregnancy, letting it get louder and stronger each time.  The comments that stuck with me while pregnant, were only validation in that track.

My second pregnancy, I was frequently asked "when are you due?".  When I answered, the reposes were either: "oh, not until then" or "wow" followed by silence and a look of concern on their face.  I was even asked repeatedly if I was having twins or if I was sure I wasn't having twins.  Yup, I did gain quite a bit of weight, but my focus was on making sure that baby was alive and healthy, because we had a miscarriage at 17 weeks the last time around.  My view of how this could all go was, let's make it one more week, can we make it to one week, panic that I did something that wouldn't be good (even if it was just moving wrong).

With my third pregnancy, even though I didn't gain a whole lot of weight, I still got the question are you sure there aren't 2 in there?  Or was compared often to others pregnant at the same time, noting how I looked much bigger.

It was after my youngest was born that I was certain that yup my body had failed me.  I didn't like the way I looked and I battled myself daily.  Nothing I did, wore, put on, put in was right.  This sucked me in and sucked me down.  Then it began to affect all the things around me.

It wasn't until 8 months postpartum with my youngest that I sat there in the doctor's office face to face with what do I do, where do I go next.  I knew something wasn't right and something needed to change.  Her response was, it is okay and with what you have face in the last 4 years has been a lot.  She only knew it from the surface: first pregnancy miscarriage, second one high risk, third normal and boring (but now I had a 2 1/2 year old, plus we were gearing up to move)

This all seemed to culminate with all the comments during pregnancy, and in that moment I sunk.  I sunk down deep.  In the night as I nursed my baby, the tears flowed.  During the day I kept telling myself I wasn't doing enough, I wasn't good enough, I wasn't worthy, asked what value I had anymore, every mistake (big or small) was like a giant You Failed sign.

I was so hard on myself that most days I was merely surviving and didn't feel like I wasn't giving my best to any of my roles.  I lost sight of me, who I was, where I was headed, who God made me to be. 

When my youngest turned 1 I looked at those pictures of me and didn't recognize myself anymore.  I could see how distant my eyes were, how the physical signs of what my body had been through starting to show, and so much more.  It was a lot of layers covering up everything.

It was during that time I found another mom who became a mentor, and now friend.  She was running this workout program and I thought, this is what I needed.  This would be the jump start into taking care of me.  And it was, physically.  As did going to the chiropractor starting a year later.

However, while the physical side was being taken care least on and off,  I was forgetting about the other pieces and the deeper layers.  Makeup become one of my ways to hide, eating and shopping became another way, repeatedly battling the scale was yet other, working myself out harder and harder was another.

It didn't matter how many times I looked in the mirror, I never really looked into the mirror.  And I never really looked into my heart.  I was truly at war with my body inside and out on a daily basis.

So what do I know about body image?  I know that mine wasn't where I thought it should be, the scale dictated my wins, and I needed the layers.

It wasn't magazine that I saw one day that led me to loathing myself.  It wasn't me comparing myself to someone else.

It was me starting with my body failed me which than turned into I am a failure, which then turned into I am not good enough.  That was a slow slide down the mountain at first.  But over the years it picked up speed and crashed at the bottom hard. 

What started in 2011 is still something I occasionally face even now, 9 years later.  While I have turned things around, realized somethings, replaced those so called truths with real truth I still trip up at times.

When I hit bottom in 2016 I had no where to go but up.  Yet, it wasn't until 2 years after that when I finally came to terms with something had to change and that change had to start with me.  Since then I found myself again and who I was meant to be, where to head. 

I slowly replaced the I am not enough with I am doing the best I can with where I am at and what I have.  Today's best may not be the same as yesterday's or tomorrow's, but in this moment, it is my best. 

I slowly replaced the what value or worth do I have (because I had started telling myself that because I was no longer bringing in a paycheck I had none) with my worth is in God, comes from God.  He gave me everything I have for a reason and while I may still be trying to figure out some of that, he gave it to me and even on the hardest days, the days I mess up, I still have value because my worth is in Him and He in me.  I may not be bringing in a paycheck, but I get to stay home with my kids.  I get to watch them grow up and be a part of the day to day.  I get to teach and guide my kids.  I get to take care of our house and home.

I started working on my heart, my mind.  I started working on my emotions and spirit.  I started working on the physical side of things.  I started to take care of me, giving myself the respect and love it deserved.  I laid down my battle swords.

I picked up truths and understanding.  I changed perspectives.  I tried and tried again.  I failed, I slipped, I made mistakes.  Each time I became a little stronger.  Each time a new layer was peeled back, a wall was knocked down.  Each time I became lighter and freer. 

Do I need to work on things still?  Yup, most definitely.  Do I still stumble and trip?  You bet, I even fall flat on my face occasionally.

But I am learning. I am trying.  I am changing.  I am growing.

I can and I am are both truly strong phrases.  They can take you one way in direction or the other.  But the truth still remains within our hearts.  It may be deeply buried, covered by layers, blocked by walls.  But it is there.

What do you need to tell yourself today to start peeling back the layers? To start knocking down walls?

These walls, these layers don't only apply to body image and what we think of ourselves or what we say to ourselves.  They get put on and built for lots of reasons. 

I encourage you, whatever the topic is start peeling back the layers.  Start knocking down the walls.  Start letting the truth free.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) "I can do all things through him who gives me strength"

Where does your strength come from?  Where do you need to heal?  What do you need to set free?  What needs release?

Monday, March 2, 2020

What is Your Heart Drawn To?

Sometimes staring at a blank page can stop us in our tracks.  At times, the words seem to flow freely and with ease.  Other times, that page staring back at us can literally stop us.  We fill with fear, guilt, what if, frustration, and such.

It is like taking a chance, a leap of faith, stepping out of our comfort zone just put our words out there.  I liken this feeling to looking into our heart.

We can either be ready to peel back the layers and show what is in there, we can shine it brightly, or we can pile one more wall up and hide away.  But just like our words, the inner parts of our heart will surface at some point in some way.

A few nights ago while sleeping I had a phrase keep showing up...heart magnet.  I couldn't tell you a thing about that dream leading up to the phrase or after.  I only know that when I woke I had the words heart magnet on my mind.

My first thought was to kind of blow it off.  Not look into it.  It was a dream, one I couldn't remember and that was that.  If there was more to it, more would come or I would have remembered more.  But as the weekend progress, it kept dwelling in my mind.

I thought to myself, what if this is something or there is something to this heart magnet.  Was it a literal magnet in the shape of a heart?  Was it something that God was trying to tell me, teach me?  Was it something that I needed to explore to see where it leads?

So today I decided to take some time to turn to the bible and see what it says about heart.

  • Matthew 6:21 NIV: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be."
  • Proverbs 4:23 NIV: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it"
  • Psalm 139:23 NIV: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  
  • Ezekiel 11:19: Only God can turn a stony heart (a heart hardened by pride) into one made of flesh
  • Proverbs 23:18 NIV: "There is surely a future of hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off:
  • Proverbs 27:9 NIV: "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice"
  • Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"
  • Proverbs 23:26 "My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways"
  • Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me"
  • Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever"
  • Psalm 19:14 "May these words of my mouth and this mediation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer"
  • Psalm 9:1 "I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds"
  • Psalm 26:2 "Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind"
  • Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit"
  • Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"
  • John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid"
  • Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart"
In fact the word heart is mentioned 826 times in the bible.

That is a lot of times and I am starting to see some connections as I dig deeper.  Last week, looking inward on my heart, it was not in a great spot...I was not in a great spot.  My heart, my mind, my body, my all was just fed up with parenting battles.

I was exhausted and drained from dealing with the same battles throughout each day for the last months.  I hit a bottom out point where it finally all came to the surface and let itself out.  First in yelling, then in tears, then in talking, then in listening, then in more tears, then in releasing.

It was at the end of the week when this idea of heart magnet came to mind.  Like a little seed planted, I am nourishing it to let it grow and blossom.  Into what and what that will look like, I am not sure quite yet.

I found my heart freeing in my release.  Yet, I needed a little more guidance and nudge which came while sleeping.  Now today as I sit and dig in, I am turning to the bible for peeling back more layers.

God has a lot to say about our heart.  The above verses are some that resonated with me or seemed to connect more of the dots and happenings from last week giving me a better understanding of the picture.  

But what does heart magnet really mean?

I think it means what our heart really looks like, what it truly attracts.  Deep down we have desires, dreams, and goals.  Yet we don't always release them out of fear.  But God wants us to share it all, let it all out.  All the big, all the small.

Like a magnet it attracts certain things.  Much like a magnet sticks to certain metals, if our heart is in a good and right spot, we attract the good that goes with it and we continue down a right path.  Yet, if we allow or try to force the magnet to stick to certain things, it won't work.  That is like, if we let our hearts harden, if we become bitter, closed off we will attract more of the fear, guilt, worry, and such.

So where does your heart sit?

I know at times mine has been on both sides.  I would rather it be in a good and right spot, but I am human and I make mistakes.  The important thing is that I recognize them quickly and learn from them, release it and move forward.  I may not recognize it right away or I may dwell too long, but in the releasing is where it will be freeing.
We can't have a heart magnet that attracts, pulls in, and keeps the good if we don't release what is needed inside and release our inner most desires, thoughts, dreams.  We need to release not so great, so we can fill it with the better stuff.  The stuff that we truly need, the hopes and dreams that God has put in there for us.

So what is your heart magnet attracting?  What does it need to release? What does it need to let in?

Monday, February 24, 2020

When Parenting Gets Tough

Parenting is tough sometimes.  It is true it isn't always unicorns and rose either.

Before having kids of my own, I developed thoughts of how I would be as a parent.  The things I would do, wanted to do, wouldn't do, would change, etc.

I thought that being a teacher would make me a better parent and would create a better understanding when it came time to raise my own kids.  Now, I am realizing that while the traits I had while teaching can and do transfer over into parenting, really being a parent would make me a better teacher.

Deep down, I know that God gave me these two boys because he knew I could handle it, I am the right mom for them, and I can be a guide for them.  But days like today, I question.  I question my strength, my patience, my understanding, my role.

As outbursts happen, battles ensue, tempers flare and the frustrations seem to pile on it leaves me drained.  Nothing left and only want to pull away.  I break down, I burst out, I turn in.

Today was a day I wanted to wave the white flag.  I wanted to surrender, let it all go, be done.  Today I burst.  I burst in my words, my behavior, my attitude.  I had lost the patience I had when I was a teacher.  I had gotten stuck in the why this all the time and when will it change.

There needed to be a mindset shift and a heart my kids and in me.  But what does that look like, what does it mean, how I, where do I begin?

I break down.  I let it out. I may have the words to put into prayer at the moment, but God knows, understands.

In letting my fingers type, out pours: God's grace and forgiveness fill my heart and let the holy spirit put into words what is needed to be said.  Fill our hearts with peace, fill our home with peace.

Yes, there are days I want to start over.  There are days when all I want to do is surrender and throw in the towel.

I do need to surrender, but I don't need to throw in the towel.  I need to release and refuel.

On the tough days of parenting, what do you do?  How do you feel?

On those really tough days, when you want to throw in the towel, how do you shift gears?

Today, I am using nap time to reset by praying and turning it over God, I am writing, letting tears flow if needed.

My in the moments may have not been my best or flattering, but I can change it.  I can let it go.  I can try again.

In your tough moments, you can try again too.

May God's grace and forgiveness fill my heart and let the holy spirit put into words what is needed to be said.  Fill our hearts with peace, fill our home with peace.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Are You Craving Spring?

Anyone else craving Spring?

I totally am.  Yup, I know, I am in Minnesota and by choosing to live here I am choosing to take the weather as it comes and goes.  And in all honesty, this Winter hasn't been that bad, or felt as long as in past years.  Here we are, one week left in February and the past months have gone by pretty quickly.

I am now just beginning to crave Spring.  So, despite being surrounded by snow, knowing more snow is on the way, I decided to de-Winter the inside of my house and let Spring come out.

Spring may not start showing up for another month outside, but I have bits of bright sunny colors all around the house.  It was a much needed switch.

Are you ready for the next season?

I am ready for longer days, more sun, more warmth.  I am ready to see the freshness, the new growth, the blooming that comes with the change from Winter to Spring.

There is a shift that happens when the seasons shift.  As we head into Winter, I want to head into hibernation mode.  But in Spring (one of my favorite times of year), I am ready to release, change things up, grow, and bloom.

So in my house, I try to have those things as reminders throughout.  Little bursts of color, warmth, blooms, change.  Once the snow goes away, outside will follow suit.  But sometimes, starting a little early inside gives hope, motivation, encouragement.

Interestingly enough, my word for March is release, April is steady, and May is dream.  It will be interesting to see how they play out during each month and how it intertwines with my yearly word light.  Spring is full of these things, but how my path goes is yet to be determined.  What I do know, is that as God says there is a season for everything and the He has got me on this path.  If I open my heart, release what I can I will be able to steady myself within His grace and love.

While I am not pushing for physical signs of Spring to start showing up outside yet, because it is too early for many things, I do know that they are getting ready to push forth and open, to bloom, to grow.  And so am I.

Which season do you most look forward to?  Why?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What is Self Care Really About

Self Care...what is it? what does it mean?

I am guessing you have heard the word self care a time or two, or the phrase you need to add self care into your routine/schedule/day, but what does it really look like?

In my option self care has become a buzz word, a badge just like the word busy or priority.  It is almost like a badge of honor when we say I am busy or I practice self care.  It seems like a word that people toss out there as a response to whatever life is like and bringing you right now.

If you are a mom, it is tossed out there in a way to be helpful, but for most it looks like one more thing on the list.  One more thing to spend time on, money, energy.

Why?  Because when people mention self care they usually mean: go get a massage, get a pedicure, get a coffee from a coffee shop, go shopping.

It begins to take the spin of selfishness, lazy, greed.  Go spend time and money on yourself, then you will be feeling back to normal, or you will be in a better mindset, and so on.

But really, what is self care?  And as we grow more independent, aren't we taking care of ourselves anyways?  Or at least we should be. 

True self care doesn't look the way most people think or say it does, and it isn't the suggestions that most people give often.

Sure, a massage feels good (but the idea of having someone else giving a massage isn't appealing to some), or getting your nails done looks pretty when it is done and feels nice at the time, but that doesn't get to the route of the issue.

It only masks what is going on.  True self care means peeling back the layers, digging in, healing, releasing.  It can take on many forms and it doesn't have to cost a thing. 

But what if instead of using material things to mask over the deeper reason you need self care and what it truly is that you need, we embrace where we are at in the moment.  Assess it for what it is and really take a good solid look.

Adding bits into your day, each day in the form of something that is just for you has it's benefits.  But it can be as simple as taking 5 minutes every day to sit and do nothing.  It can be praying, journaling, reading, taking pictures, working out, cooking, cleaning.  It can be stepping outside, going for a walk, working out, watching the sunset, listen to the birds, watch the kids as they do their own thing.  It can be spending quality time on your marriage, intimacy, talking.  It can be letting it all out, even if it means being vulnerable. 

The list does truly go on and on, especially when you take a different look at it.

Self care is about truly filling yourself up.  It allows you to be the best version of you possible in that moment.  It opens your heart up to release and feel freer.  It is a part of you, your day in the natural ebb and flow.  It gives you a chance to fill you up with what you truly need, then also be able to help fill those around you.

Recently I asked over on My Mama Side's Facebook page what is your definition of self care?

A good friend of mine responded with: "Things I do to help better myself for my family/those around me. For me it is: - prioritize getting enough rest - exercising on a regular basis (even if it is just a walk or simply getting up and moving) - not over scheduling myself or our family - drinking enough water - limiting social media usage/phone time 😊"

I love this definition!  It speaks to who she is, where she wants to be and why, and what she will do to get there. 

But as you can see, it doesn't mention anything about getting a massage, nails done, etc (the typical responses to self care).  It gets to the heart.  It fulfills mind, body, soul.  Not only does it fulfill, it is satisfying and it carries you through whatever else is going on in life. 

Did you notice, not a single one of the things she listed have a monetary cost?  Did you notice that most of what she said is stuff she incorporates into the day through their schedules, routines, and daily practices?

Self care isn't an add on.  It is a part of your day, your rhythm.  It sets you up for the day, carries you through. 

You may not realize it yet, but there may already be pieces of it in your day already.  Take a moment to look through your day and see if you can see it running throughout your day.

You may need to change your view and definition on what self care is or isn't.  You may need to broaden your perspective.

So, tell me, what is your definition of self care?

What do you do for self care?  What does it look like? Share below

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Are You Remembering to Take Care of Your Marriage?

So, do you put your marriage as a priority? Or is on the back-burner?

Do you keep things simmering throughout, day to day, year to year? Or has it been forgotten about?

I will admit, once we started to grow our family my focus shifted to a majority of the time the kids, letting my marriage sit by the wayside.

Sure, I realize that there are times, especially early on that kids require much more attention.  As they grow more independent, essentially your time opens up a bit more each season.

But even when the kids are little, marriage needs to be a priority.  I have learned so much about this over the past year.  Marriage has become priority 2 for me, followed closely after Faith. 

When you don't keep it a priority you risk many things.  Sometimes you may not see the affects of it until years down the road, other times things surface sooner.

There are many benefits to keeping your marriage a priority, no matter age your kids are, that far benefit more than you and your spouse.  They benefit your kids, the relationships around you, and more.

Yes, I understand priorities shift and need to be rearranged sometimes depending on what is happening.  Like, a kid is sick so most of the focus goes on them.  However, that doesn't need to stop you from giving your spouse a hug, quick snuggle, or kiss.  Knowing that once your kiddo is back to normal, priorities will shift again.

A great quote reminder is that the only constant thing is change.  Things are always changing.

There has to be a harmony in it all.  Too much focus in one area leads us astray over time if we are not careful.

So, where do you see your marriage at?

I know that when we begin to grow our family it does take time to readjust and some things get put off to the side.  The two things that get set off to the side most often are our marriage and taking the time to fill ourselves.

We need to fill ourselves in order to fill those around us.  Our marriage needs to be filled as well.  Putting it off to the side for too long leaves us lost, on rocky ground, filling ourselves with things that don't truly fill us.

Not only do we need to keep our marriage a priority for ourselves, but our kids need it too.  Seeing a loving, solid marriage gives them comfort and security.  It also builds up a foundation of how they should treat a marriage and their spouse.

In a healthy marriage, it is filling for both people.  But you have to put in the effort.  It takes time, energy, and work. 

It takes continually connection time, communication, adjusting, growing, learning, deepening, and of course love.  It also takes faith.  Putting God at the center of your marriage brings you closer, makes you stronger.  Gives you a solid base to build on and to come back to, together.  Prayer connects you with God and your spouse, intimacy connects you with God and your spouse, talking and listening connects you with God and your spouse.

Marriage is intertwining God, you, and your spouse.  Yes, we were given the blessing to grow our families.  But our marriage is a blessing, a gift that also needs continually focus.

As other friendships and other relationships or connections with people come and go, so do our kids.  One day they will grow up, become an adult, and venture out on their own.  One day those friendships and connections will change.  But God is constant and if you continually put your marriage a priority, your spouse will be constant as well.

It may seem simple, easy.  But thousands of things can pull us in every which way.  No matter what pulls you, always come back to reconnect with God and your marriage.

Every day, do a little something to keep things simmering.  Be intentional, be open, build your connection and communication, build your love and trust, deepen your intimacy.

What can you do today to make your marriage a priority?  What can you do each day to connect?  What can you do to keep things simmering?  What can you do to build and deepen your intimacy?

If you are putting your marriage a priority, share your answers to the questions about how and what you do.

I encourage you to sit down, take a moment to answer the questions and really look at your marriage.  Then, sit down with your spouse, talk and listen.  Set everything else aside, putting this into your primary focus.  See where this can lead.

Monday, January 27, 2020

9 Years Ago My Life Flipped Upside Down

So 9 years ago marks the day that I became a mom for the first time.  My daughter entered this world weighing 2.5 ounces, 10 fingers, 10 toes, and the start of a beautiful face.  Scheduled to arrive in July, she came early.

It was the morning of January 27, 2011 I heard the words, there is no heart beat.  At that moment, the world stopped, I stopped.  I was suddenly put on a path I never thought would be a possibility.  We knew something was different from an earlier ultrasound, but the doctor assured me that while we may have surgeries after birth, things may be off proportionally, and a few other things, we had nothing to worry about.

At that ultrasound we were told that our daughter would most likely have Turner's Syndrome.  The thought or possibility that we could loose our daughter was never brought up. 

At a normally schedule appointment at 17 weeks they went to look for the heart beat.  I was moved into ultrasound for further diagnosis.  Later that day I was scheduled for an amniocentesis to determine how far a long our daughter was, along with a more concrete diagnosis of Turner's. 

My doctor stood with her back against the wall, arms crossed, nonchalantly told me that my baby had expired.  The same doctor that told me I had nothing to worry about, just told me my daughter was dead and proceeded to apologize for making me cry.  The moment and the days ahead are etched in my mind.

Side note, I have a new doctor now.

My daughter taught me a lot about life, God, marriage, faith, being a mom, being a parent, and myself.  She continues to be a catalyst for changes, growth, learning, and more.  If I were to be completely honest, I am still learning from it all.

I have lost some since then and lost from that twist in my journey, but I have also gained and found much. 

As each year passes, I am learning to peel back layers.  To heal, to forgive, to release, to free myself.

Sometimes I wonder still, what things would be like, what it would look like, and so many other questions.  But I will not be getting answers to them, that I have come to terms with.  Yet it doesn't change the fact that I still wonder sometimes.

I have grown in my faith and trust in God.  I have seen how strong my hubby is, as am I, and how strong our marriage is.  I have learned what I can control truly and what I can not.  I have overcome depression, anxiety, overwhelm, exchanging it for thriving, rest, and gratitude. 

Life is about moments.  These moments can sink us, they can uplift, they can cause us to stumble, cause us to grow and more.  But through it all we learn about who we are, who we are becoming, and more about this journey we are on.  We build connections from them, release, and grow.

Would I like to have my daughter sitting here in front of me today?  Of course.  But at the same time, that would change the dynamics of everything that has happened since.  Including (but not limited to) 2 healthy, happy, thriving sons, a stronger marriage, finding myself and becoming more each day the way God intended, a deeper faith.

One event changes everything, but we don't know what that will look like often.  And once we get through it, once we see it, often times we can't go back to what was.

So on this day, I remember all that my daughter has taught me.  I remember all those connections build with others walking a similar path.  I remember those who surrounded me, my hubby, my extended family.  I remember.

When growing a family we are faced with challenges, battles, and more.  But we are also faced with overcoming, joy, beauty, and more.  Wherever you are on this journey, I encourage you to remember, to release, to grow, to learn, to heal.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Homeschooling ~ Mid Year Looking Back & Planning Forward

You may already know that we homeschool.  Here's the thing about it, while we are midway through a school year, we, in many ways, school year round.  Why?  Because each day is an opportunity to learn and grow.  It is an opportunity to gain wisdom that you can share with the world around you.

You can take learning wherever you go, in the moment, and let it flow.  When you homeschool, it doesn't mean you are home at the table the whole time.  You create a schedule that works with your family, pull pieces of curriculum to teach from, and let life be lived.  

Learning happens through hands on, activities, play, adventures, exploring.  You can learn a lot just by watching the world around you even.

Our homeschool day, week, month, year may look different than yours, or different than the school you send your kids to, or different than what you thought homeschooling meant.  Or it may have some pieces that are similar.

As we move into January, I take the time to look through where we are at.  We have our first day of school the day after labor day and then we go until the end of May.  However, that doesn't stop us from continuing some of the things throughout the Summer.  During our school year, is when I add in all areas of learning: math, reading, geography, science, history, art, p.e.  But there are some things that continue year round just by the nature of what they are or because it is an interest of my kiddos.

Math and reading we keep working on each week.  But at the same time, if we are traveling in the Summer we disconnect from the Ipad that we use for math and reading.  Instead it comes out in the day to day on our vacations.  The flip of that is that when we travel during the school year, if it is during the week, we will either include the Reading Eggs and Mathseeds or we will double the week before we go.

But I have found that consistency is key for some components.  Which is why Reading Eggs and Mathseeds happens year round.  As does creativeness, adventures, play, outside, and book reading.  

Midway through the school year I take a look at our plan.  I see where we are at, make any necessary changes, track our course, and do a simple review.  But because learning is continuous, we make the needed changes as often as needed throughout the entire year.

Do you homeschool?  Share below what it looks like for your family

If you don't homeschool, have you ever thought about it?  Share below what is stopping you from taking the path.

Monday, January 13, 2020

When You Realize You Filled Yourself Over Full

I have been feeling a bit in a funk the past handful of days.  Sometimes I can place the reason why, other times it takes me time to realize it, accept it, and move forward from it.

It wasn't until I sat down this afternoon during nap that I realized just how exhausted I am.  I have not been sleeping as great, which generally means I have too much on my mind.  But add in fixing behaviors, sibling bickering, and preparing to travel just seems to take a lot of energy out of me.  I also realized today as I looked at my planner that I over did my commitments to different groups.

Why is it that at the beginning of the year, all these groups seem to pop up all at once?

If I had to guess, because it's a new year, new decade we want to make changes and like saying goes, strike while the iron is hot.  You are motivated and ready to go.  So what all do you sign up for?

When making decisions this month, or well at the end of last month, I forgot an important piece to look at.  Does this align with my priorities and why am I doing this?

In the midst of the day to day, I loaded myself up.  I loaded up to the point where I wasn't doing my best in any of it.

Beyond my day to day roles, we picked back up swim lessons and Bible Study fellowship.  Then I added in trying to get in the books I want to read, 6 (at least) different challenge groups.  Sure, some of those things only last a week.  But because I doubled, even tripled up, I let myself begin to be overwhelmed and fell from the routines and rituals I had set up.  I fell away from doing my best and instead gave up.

I realized that when I fill too full and I don't check in with God and my priorities, I fail.  I let stuff fall, I focus on the rise up of overwhelm.

This is a cycle that I am still working on changing.  I am learning to identify it quicker and reset.  And that is where I am headed this week, a reset.

Looking at really what it is I want to fill my plate, making sure it is in line with my priorities and I can make the time for it.  If I can't, then I am stepping away from it.  Maybe to come back to it later, maybe not.

It is easy to get caught up in all the pop up challenges, especially at the start of the year.  But we have to admit our limits and set boundaries.  Remember, that saying yes to something you are saying no to something.  Yet, the reverse is saying no to something, you can save room to say yes.

Keeping this all in harmony, but also not filling in every gap is essential.  We need rest, we need space, we need room to let the flow of activities have they room need.  And remembering to add in a little extra space before and after can release so much stress.

So what I am doing?

I began by doing a brain dump.  Everything that needs to get done this week and if it has a set date to be done stating that.  I am really looking at all the groups I signed up for.  I am asking: does it align with the direction God is calling me in? Does it fit with my priorities? Can I give it the time I need? Do I really want to do it?

Lastly, I am clearing out.  Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, socially clearing out.  Setting aside specific times for what I can, and filling in with the rest of the stuff (including white space).

It is time to tap back into my natural rhythm and flow.

Do you feel that funk right now?  Or maybe you have felt it recently.

What can you do to move out of it?  To release from it and free yourself?

It can be alluring to sign up for all these things, thinking that will fill us and are the right direction.  But it can also be holding us back or stopping us from our fullest potential by overdoing it.

Take the time to really set your priorities, align yourself with God, and then fill your space.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Tapes We Play ~ How Does it Relate to Our Minds

Let me ask you this, what tapes do you play in your head?

For some, you may read that know exactly what I am asking.  For others, you may have no clue.  And for some, you are wondering, what is a tape?

The last one is a little funny because it really shows my age.  A tape, a cassette tape is not a common thing these days.  I remember getting my favorite artists on tape, playing them on my walkman or stereo with tape players.  I remember sitting there listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on just so I could record a mix tape.  And when the tape came loose, out came the pencil to fix it and wind it back up.

You may be wondering what that has to do with the tapes you play in your head.  But keep those things in mind as you read forward and the picture will hopefully become clearer.

When something in your day happens, what do you tell yourself?  What does that inner voice say when it speaks?  Does it say something positive? Or is it negative?  Is it on repeat?  What does it focus on?

Those things you say to yourself or you focus on are the tapes you play.  Like a cassette tape of our favorite song mix plays on the stereo or walkman, there are tapes we play over and over in our minds.  We play them so much that they become us, envelop us, shine through us, wear on us, grow us, change us, shape us.

Whether positive or negative, they shape us.  Much like a river changes and shapes the landscape.  The tapes we play, they change and shape our landscape.

I am guessing you have heard a quote that goes something like: plant your seeds where they will grow.

When you plant seeds you have help make the conditions right.  The right soil, light, water or they won't thrive.  Yet, have you ever been walking along and come across a flower growing up in a crack somewhere?  Or as you watch your garden get ready to bloom, there are flowers that come up a tad too early and you think oh no, because there is still snow in the forecast?

It is in those times that they get shaped and changed the most.  It is during those times, that they end up thriving far beyond what was anticipated.  We too are the same.  The area we tend to doesn't always make sense, isn't always easy.  Sure, sometimes all the pieces fall into place fairly easily and the growing goes smoothly, but it still, no which direction it heads, changes how we see things.

What we plant in ourselves is what becomes our thoughts, our behaviors, our attitudes, our direction, and so much more.  It is within those thoughts that the tapes get played.  Like a seed, it grows.  What you decide to give it is up to you.  But, either way, positive or negative it will grow.  It will change the landscape.

I know all to well the affects of negative tapes.  The replaying of them over and over.  The could've, would've, should've after the moment past.  The playing it over and over even before it happens as the fear, worry, guilt, shame, anxiety wash in.  I have been there.  From 2011 until 2018 I played those tapes over an over.  The words may have changed, but they didn't allow me to thrive.  They just kept me feeling overwhelmed, like I was sinking more and more or treading barely above water.  I was never good enough, worth enough, a total failure.

2018 a mind shift began to happen.  Much like river changing directions, cutting through a new path, changing the landscape, so did I.  It was slow going.  I backtracked many times, doubted, repeated the old thoughts and behaviors.  But it was a catalyst year.  It was a start of a much needed change that started with me.

Recently I listened in on an interview that talked about the tapes we play and how flipping them from the negative to the positive allows us to start seeing the blessings around us better, helps us see things clearer and for what they are, it is uplifting and energy giving.  It leads us to rising and thriving.

It took me until about August of 2019 to realize how much I had shifted and changed the landscape.  I was truly thriving and not only did I feel it, I believed it.  I began to understand how one small shift builds and grows.  By adding in the change in tapes I play and allow to be on repeat (see what I said there, allow to be on repeat) I have essentially flipped a switch that lifts me and frees me instead of sucking me down and pulling me into a negative inward spiral.

With time, allowing myself to keep growing and shifting, changing the landscape where needed I am gaining the ability to matter where I plant the seed.  I understand that there will be times when it takes a little more strength and courage to get there, maybe even more time and patience, but it will get there.

It is the most freeing feeling to have those mind shifts, to flip those tapes and rewrite them with the truth.

So I ask you, what are the tapes you play saying?

To bring it full circle back to the analogy I used at the beginning, there is one piece still missing.  When the tape came loose, out came the pencil to fix it and wind it back up.  For me, this is where God comes into play.  It is where those around me come into play.

If my focus is centered on God first, the tape doesn't come as loose as often or as far unraveled.  Yet it does still happen.  But like the pencil winding it back up, God winds it back up for us with grace and love.  Giving ourselves grace and love, the space in ourselves for that allows us to be fixed.  It allows God to fix it.  And sometimes, it is a friend being guided to guide you that helps us find the fix.

When you change the tapes, you change the landscape.  When you need a fix, God is there.  Granted, God is there through it all if we choose to lean in during the storms and give thanks for the blessings through everything, acknowledging His guidance in it.  But it starts with you, your mindset, your heart.

What are you tapes saying?  How can you fix the ones that need to be fixed?

*Photo Credit: Cassette Tape:  Google Photo Search ~ Cassette Tape

Thursday, January 2, 2020

My Words for 2020 and Reflecting 2019's Words

For the past decade I have been picking a word to carry with me for the year. December 2010 was the first time I came across the idea.

Fall of 2010 I was part of an amazing course called Illuminate.  It was about using photography and journaling to work through the grief of pregnancy loss.  I found that is was the next step in my healing journey after having a miscarriage at 17 weeks to start the year out.  The very last assignment was to pick a word for the next year.  This was a new concept for me, but I figured why not give it a try.  I wasn't sure how to go about figuring out a word.  How does one pick?  So for a handful of days I wondered around the house looking for something to catch my eye, to resonate, to fit with where I was at and where I wanted to head. 

While in the hospital waiting to deliver Samantha, I was gifted a wooden sign that said trust along with the bible verse Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you where you go".

It seemed fitting.  Trust.  I needed to learn to trust again.  Trust God, trust my body, trust my surroundings, trust that people I worked with, trust my instincts.  Trust.

Each year since then I pick a word.  Some years one comes to mind quickly and other years it takes me a bit to figure it out (like half a year).  Some years it shows up throughout the year and yet others it got forgotten about until the end of the year when I reflected.

For 2019 I decided to go a different route.  Taking the idea of the word for the year from the Illuminate course and the idea of a monthly theme word that I learned from an Abundant Mama course and Peace Circle that I took in 2018 (the year I realized something needed to change and it needed to start with me) I combined them into picking a yearly word and a word for each month.

At the time I had no idea how it would go, what it would look like, or if the words would intertwine.  But these past couple of weeks I have been reflecting and I have really begun to see how they all worked together and carried through the whole year working each in it's part with the overall theme.

2019 was rejuvenation.  I knew I needed to release, heal, reset, and find a harmony.  Rejuvenation seemed fitting.  Below are my month words were and something that came out of:

January ~ Open:  Gearing up and opening my heart to see where it would lead.  Leaving space in the calendar, the day, the schedule.  Being open to hearing, learning, growing, changing.  Being open to courses, personal development, coaching opportunities.
February ~ Calm: The start of understanding why God gave us rest and what it truly means.
March ~ Leap:  I really began to push out of my comfort zone here and there, taking chances I wouldn't have normally.
April ~ Heal: I used the month to write out things that had hurt that I needed to release from and heal.  One of the biggest was a friendship that had changed so much it became toxic and was dragging me down, that turned on me.  I peeled back layers upon layers, learning to release and to look for the positive out of it.  
May ~ Fearless:  I looked at this as more of Fear less.  Less fear in the around me, releasing control where I needed, learning to be who God truly meant for me to be, and finding true rest.
June ~ Soften:  Softening my heart, my mind.  Setting my focus and direction in a way that works with the season I was in.  Learning to open up, being willing to dig deep.
July ~ Brave:  Giving a try to new things or things I haven't done in awhile or have been wanting to do I pulled on my brave side.  I went water skiing or well water dragging because I never made it up on skis (but I tired) for the first time since I was 15 (like 20 some years ago).
August  ~ Kindness:  As the Summer came to a close to start out the school year, I began prepping for a new homeschool year.  Realizing that there was a lot of change ahead, we kept it simple and put a focus on kindness throughout.  
September ~ Ease:  With all the changes I was facing and the changes the kids faced we needed to take the time to slow things down a bit.  
October ~ Journey:  I got pushed out of my comfort zone.  I recorded videos, sharing my journey and how I went from overwhelm, sinking, and more to thriving.  I was even on a podcast interview.  I love to write, but the thought of speaking scares me.  But with encouragement, changing my perspective that sometimes hearing creates a deeper connection, I did the interview.  From it I created my first eBook and began the My Mama Side Musings.
November ~ Support:  I began to set my priorities and discover my north star.  As I was learning my direction, I was helping guide others around me.  I discovered a passion for guiding others and got an amazing opportunity to be a part of  Rising Moms Group created by my friend Renae.  I also began to understand that I too, can ask for support and the difference that it truly makes.
December ~ Ritual:  I used the time to set up what would work with the flow and the journey I am on, along with the season I am in.  Using God's guidance I found a way to set up a direction that He was leading me in.  

As 2019 rolled out I began to see how those little words each month intertwined with rejuvenation and how they led to feeling it and being rejuvenated.  So, for 2020 I decided to go the same route.  One word for the whole year, and one word for each month.  I have them written in my planner and will have the monthly word written on a frame in my kitchen.  It is my hope that I will reflect more frequently throughout the year on each word.

I am excited to see where it leads me on this journey. 

For 2020 my word is light.  As for monthly words:
January: Center
February: Connected
March: Release
April: Steady
May: Dream
June: Inward
July: Creative
August: Rejuvenation
September: Space
October: Flow
November: Love
December: Support

I hope you continue to join me on this journey.  As we go through the year, I hope to share more about the impact of these words and the continued journey of the good stuff, tough stuff, and everything in between from all aspects of marriage, parenting, motherhood, change, growth and more.

I encourage you to pick a guiding word for the year.  If you choose to or already have I would love to hear more about your word and why you chose it or how it chose you.  Comment below with what you chose.