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.

Happy New Year!

Hello 2020!

I hope your holiday season was full of blessings and you were able to find peace in it, deeper connection, and joy.

Here we are...a new year, a new decade.  Take a moment to look back over the past 12 months.  What do you see?  What do you feel?

Now take a moment to look back over the past decade.  Wow!  I am guessing there has been so much that has happened, so many changes.  That is how I feel and what I see when I think back over the past year, let alone 10.

The last decade made me a mom, grew my marriage connection, grew myself, deepened my faith, and changed me in ways that I am still discovering. 

2010: 28 years old, 4 years into marriage, had a steady job and a house, and found out at the end of the year we were pregnant with our first baby, my daughter.

2011: Rocked my world, my foundation, my life.  I learned a whole lot about life, marriage, strength, courage, grief, and taking care of myself.  There was a shift in my job that I chose to make.

2012: Was about release, trusting, and healing.  Then it was about pregnancy of our second baby, my first son.  It was about realizing my own limitations and preparing.

2013: Shifting in my job role again and counting down the days until baby was born.  Filled with lots of doctor appointments.  Then my oldest arrived.  Now I was a stay at home mom navigating through parenting and motherhood in a different way. 

2014: Was finding good friends on this motherhood journey. Going through the phases of change with having a baby.

2015: Started out by finding out we were pregnant with our third baby, my second son.  Then deciding we needed to move and get the house ready.  It was filled with preparing our old house, looking for our new one, spending time as just the 3 of us, spending time just me and my oldest, doing all the things we loved doing that we wouldn't be able to do for awhile or again because of the move and baby brother coming.  And ending with baby's arrival and beginning new Christmas traditions.

2016/2017: In all honesty was a blur.  It was filled with activities and adventures, celebrations, working on the new house, learning to navigate being a family of four.  It was a time when I began to realize that some things were off inside me and realized I was facing things like anxiety and post-partum depression.

2018:  Opened with me realizing things needed to change and that change began with me.  My kids were getting a little more independent, falling into a natural schedule for things sleep.  So I spent some time diving into a course, growing, letting go, healing, and moving forward.  It was a turning point for my marriage as we began to put it as a priority.  I learned that after having kids, marriage kind of gets put on the back-burner.  It was also my hubby's and my first time away from the kids for longer than a few hours (it was overnight for a few days, out on our own).

2019:  I learned to peel back layers, release control that isn't mine anyways, deepen my faith, grow my marriage, guide, grow, heal.  I learned about rest, true rest.  I found myself, the one God designed me to be.  Finally accepted where my value and worth are, that I am doing enough, and I am right where I am supposed to be.  I am thriving, finding joy, and living.

Sure it hasn't been all roses and there have been many battles, many storms.  But I am learning how to handle them better and where to put my focus.

It has been a crazy wild ride of a decade, full of twists and turns.  But through it all I have gained so much.

What did your 2019 look like?  How about the last decade?

I encourage you take a moment to review it, learn from it, and release.

Here's to a new day, new month, new year, new decade.  Where will it lead?

May your year be full of blessings, even through the storms and battles.  May you learn and grow, embracing change.  May you find rest and joy.

Happy New Year!

*Photo Credit: Google Search: From Shutterstock