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 of...at 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?