"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Friday, December 9, 2011

Strange Day

I have been very productive and active recently. We have stayed on top of our schedule and so through to completion things needing to be done. I have upped my workouts and they are kicking my butt. It is a good thing. I love it. But I am tired so I decided to take the day off to rest.

My goodness, it has sucked.

The kids and I are all feeling wimpy and whiny. I think we may all be on the verge of throwing fits. We are NOT on our best behavior, not one little bit. It is pretty brutal around here.

If you know me, you will know I can let this experience go by without examining it. It isn't in my nature. Once a dear friend said, "Karen, sometimes you are just in a bad mood and that is the way it is. Don't you agree?" I gave a resounding no to that. I believe my moods always have a starting point, a seed they have grown from to blossom into whatever they choose to be.

First, I am going to let my little ones off the hook. I am pretty sure this whole day can be dumped at my door for the reason. I am empathic and feel other people's emotions. I have given birth to two gorgeous babes who are also affected by other people's emotion. Not surprisingly, they are probably most affected by the emotions of moi. Suprise. Suprise. Right?

So they are off the hook. Poor things are just channeling momma.

I am fairly exhausted. Like I said above I have really increased the intensity of my workouts. I have a plan for my first year of my 40's but that is a different post. What I think is truly the matter is I have been digging deep spiritually. I have spent more time practicing yoga, meditating, and praying. Actually, it is a great time of growth for me and it is wonderful. But in all things with the good comes the bad. I have found a lot of yuck and nastiness coming out that must be dealt with decisively. Baggage, old emotions suppressed, questions, fears, many things have come to light. In the end, it will be a very good thing to deal with and slough off these negative things but it is exhausting right now.

But then I ran into a little gem of wisdom. I am still chewing on it and thinking about it. Here it is,

"Do not allow yourself to fall apart or it will become a habit. Practice being strong."

The quote is from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Just want to give credit, you know.

Anyway, it is very timely for today. I am really feeling awash in negative emotions. It would be easy to lie down and just fall apart a little. But would that do any good? Would that care for my children? Would that care for my soul, my spirit? No, it would just leave me feeling defeated and more exhausted. So I need to practice being strong.

Now I do not believe this means I need to repress or deny my emotions. They are what they are. They need to be dealt with or they will, ultimately, control me whether I realize it or not. But I can choose how I deal with them and at what speed. I can say, today I will deal with the idea of guilt and shame over this particular failing or perceived failing. When I have dealt with that I am going to take a break and then maybe deal with something else, if I am up to it.

There is some pretty serious upheaval going on in my head. I think there will be some things I won't want to confront or seriously consider but I must. If I don't, I think I will be stagnant in my growth and the result will be more akin to chasing my own tail rather than continuing on the journey and path I know I am meant to explore.

I am just grateful I trust God will give me the strength and the wisdom to persevere and see this through.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Really??? Not Again

Okay this is not a very well thought out post. In fact, this post is more therapy and a sounding board for the very unwelcome thoughts in my mind. So if you want to turn back now, go ahead. Not a problem.

For those of you who stayed, don't you just hate when you become exactly what you have railed against? You know that thing that most irks you and gets under your skin, the one that just rakes your spine like a nails on a chalkboard? (Do they even have those anymore?) Yeah, that thing and then you are bopping along one day and you look into the mirror to put on some simply gorgeous glittery pink lip gloss and instead of seeing lips that need some sparkle you are confronted with a monster. Some yucky thing you never realized you had become.

My monster is that lately I have become a judgemental know it all who presumes to know everyone's story better than they do and feels the need to share my "knowledge".

Blech. Ick.

Look, I value bluntness. I think truth in love is a wonderful and needed thing but lately I have been ridiculous. My haughty arrogance has done nothing but show my ignorance and I will admit, I don't like it. I feel all naked and stuff. Very uncool if you know what I mean.

My biggest stumbling block is difficult partners. I have this issue in a variety of ares but parnters is my pet gripe. I have no problem telling someone exactly what I would do if my husband did this, that, or the other thing. And you know what? I really would do what I say. However, and this is a big however, there is a little catch. I believe that in most relationships one partner is simply more difficult than the other. One partner needs to be handled with a little more kid gloves and gentleness than the other. I have seen it time and again. But here is the rub, the reason MY husband would never do this or that is because I AM the difficult partner. I really am. I have always been honest about this little fact but the irony eluded me.

So where do I go from here? Well change is necessary. Kindness and compassion must come to forefront and reign sumpreme. The next time I muse to myself, "I don't know what they are thinking!" I better quickly remind myself that indeed I do NOT know and probably need to keep my judgments to myself.

So to anyone I have been haughty or behaved in a supercilious manner, I deeply apologize. I sort of feel the fool. I hope I wasn't too hurtful.

But in the long view I will just see this as another area to grow. It is another layer of onion to be peeled away. Being humbled from time to time is not a bad thing. It keeps us loving and gentle. It gives us our core of humanity. So I guess in a weird way I am glad this happened.

End therapy session and authentic (and pretty embarrassing) musings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Priorities of a Different Path

Something on Facebook brought some thoughts to my mind. How often do I run into women who are exhausted, worn out, burnt out, overextended, and ready to cry. I would say the majority of women I know fall into this category. It was even said that everyone is overextended as if it is a simple fact of life that must be dealt with but never left behind. I am sure as we go about our daily lives, it may just feel that way. The average woman in our society has problems saying no and trouble maintaining healthy boundaries. It almost seems to be a societal conspiracy to convince her she is responsible for everyone and their emotions. I have seen the extreme in a few troubled Christian women who will not leave their abusive husbands because they are thoroughly convinced their staying and taking punches will ultimately save his soul. That is the extreme but how many women do you know neglect their health and well being in order to live up to some unreachable expectation place upon them by society and sadly, themselves? Maybe everyone, or every women, is just overextended. There is only one problem with that hypothesis.

I am not and I haven't been for quite some time.

More to the point, I know several other women who are not. These women and I refuse to follow that path. For me it leads to sadness, despair, and depression. Now matter how I strived for perfection I would always fail and it ate me up inside. So you know what I did? I quit. I refused to strap myself in to that insane rollercoaster. I have chosen a different path. And I have absolutely no regrets. None.

What I think it really comes down to is priorites. What you value in your life defines you. What you value in your life will shape every facet of your existence. It is who you are. My top three priorities shape me into my being. They are.

1. Peace in my life and in my home.
2. Relational living which means I work to have deep, meaningful relationships with my husband, my children, and the other important people in my life
3. The heath of me and my family. This includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

How this all works is every step and every choice is deeply and profoundly influenced by these tenets of my life. As I said above, I used to be a terrible perfectionist. I drove myself to exhaustion. I would be cleaning my house at midnight when my body desperately needed sleep and rest. Now to maintain peace and health in my life, I still keep a fairly clean home. However, since perfect cleanliness is no longer the end goal my expectations are far more reasonable. I am much more gentle and graceful with myself.

I love feeding my family healthy whole food. I would love to feed them organic and/or grass fed everything always cooked from scratch. But it would literally drive me to distraction. While trying to hold a standard of excellence for physical health, I would stress and fret alot and ultimately sacrifice emotional and mental health. So there are compromises made to maintain the balance of needs of my entire family.

I take alot more time to myself than most of the women I know. I run, I read, I meditate, and do alot of yoga. I seek inspiration from the bible when I am feeling a bit ragged and know sometimes nothing would do my soul better than meeting a friend for coffee and laughter until I am crying with joy. I guarantee you that all the time I take drastically increases my ability to be a loving wife, mother, and friend. Not running around feeling like I am going to drop and insisting on regularly refreshing my spirit as enabled me to the person I really wanted to be even though it took me a long time to realize it.

I won't lie, there are sacrifices. We live in a much less expensive house than many of our friends. Other than a recent exception, we buy used cars. We don't eat out alot or go out on the town with friends. I have to plan and save for many of our purchases even things some people think are harmless impulse. We miss some holiday gatherings that would be really fun because I keep our committments down to a minimum. We can't do every activity or field trip. We can't run in every race nor travel as much as others.

But I am more than happy with our decisions. We love our life and we would not change it. The peace and joy we are privilege to feel every day makes it all worthwhile.

So if you love your life as it is, that is great. But if you don't, if you are constantly feeling worn and exhausted, there is another way. You can choose a different path.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Living Life

I haven't been here much lately. I have been focused on living and loving my life. Life has fallen into a gentle rhythm that is really working for our family at this time. I am avoiding analyzing it or exploring it too deeply. I am just being with it so to speak.

Recently, I realized I live a calm, mundane life. I will let you in a little secret, I really like it that way. I do. For years I thought conflict and wildly swinging emotions were passion and creativity. The truth, for me, could not be further from that chaotic, frenetic existence. I have found true peace, passion, and creativity within the quiet moments of my life. Each day I run a little, do alot of yoga, spend time laughing and cuddling with my babies and snuggling with my husband at night. Each day I knit a little, write for awhile, read something delicious, and slowly and calmly breathe in the flavor and scent of life. It is amazingly glorious in its simplicity.

Will it stay just this way? Of course, not. Do I want it to? Not really, a stagnant life quickly loses its joy and breadth of experience. I want to continue to experience and savor life as it comes, each day as it will be.

I am sure I will find, very soon, the need to express myself to others. That familiar companion will press me more greatly than it does at this moment. And then I will return here to share myself and my life with those of you who care to share with me.

Until then, I am just breathing, just living, just being, and just loving.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trusting Your Instincts

We decided long ago to follow a different parenting path. We have a rather specific idea of how it would go. We would be child led in pretty much everything. We would trust our instincts and not buy into the baby gurus. We would pray. We looked for the natural and logical path for raising our children. We would not let everyone in our lives have a vote in raising our children. If we did, we would go insane and we knew this. We were set on our course.

I am so glad we were and more importantly we were on the same page as parents. We would have never weathered the coming storm nearly as well if we had not been firm in our committment.

Our basic philosophy was we would follow a path of gentle, non-shaming, non-punitive, non-manipulative parenting. We would feed our children when they were hungry eshewing schedules. We would snuggle and love on our children without fear of spoiling them. We would not condemn our crying 10 month for being manipulative. Instead we believed she was trying to communicate with us in the only manner she had available. We would not constantly be vigilant for the for the much dreaded sin nature. Instead we would look to see what was age appropriate developments and go from there.

There were so many people in our lives simply horrified by our beliefs. We were told that we would ruin our children. We would teach them to be selfish self-centered brats and they would control our lives. How would we get anything done if we didn't immediately get them on a sleeping and eating schedule??? It would be anarchy! And my favorite, if we did not spank our children we would put them outside the grace of God. Didn't know we were that powerful did you? You thought Christ did it all but evidently not hitting our children could undo His work.

But we held our ground. We used gentle methods. We introduced our children to healthy food and allowed them to decide what and how much they ate. We let Hannah potty train when she was ready. Low and behold after all the threats that if I didn't crack down on her it would never happen, she potty trained herself in 2 days when she was 3.5 year old. There were no fights, no screaming, and no threats. Just a couple of parents dancing around like hyperactive cheerleaders on speed and some M&Ms.

I will be honest, in some ways we have felt downright bullied for our beliefs. The shaming, punitive mindset, and fear-ongering we desired to shelter our children from was dumped all over us. A few of you may know it just caused us to dig our heels in deeper and hold tighter to each other.

Well, it is working. Our children are only 2 and 4. I am sure there are people out there thinking, even hoping, we will be taught a lesson as they grow older. But I don't think so. Our children are happy, loving, and age appropriate. No they don't always do as they are asked. They are kids. I don't want children who fear the consequences. They are strong willed and full of fire. And I love it. They will be leaders, not followers. They will make some poor choices but I know it will be their choice and not something they just went along with because someone else told them to do it.

I am writing this because I know there are some out there who want to follow this path but they are afraid. They are afraid all the naysayers and grace stealers might be right and they could ruin their children if they are too loving, too compassionate, or too merciful. Don't be. They will be fine.

I look at how God parents me. He is forver loving, merciful, and compassionate. He doesn't hurt me or scare me into doing things His way. He doesn't shoot lightening bolts down to hit me when I choose to do wrong. His patience is infinite. Yes, there are times natural consequences are hard to deal with but they are natural consequences not hardships He set up to punish me.

So trust your instincts. Listen to what your heart is telling you. There is a voice in there guiding you how to love, honor, and respect your children. In turn it will teach them to love, honor, and respect others.

We are so happy we chose this path. We love the relationship we have with our children. We are so excited to see where this journey will take us.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yoga: First Bloom

I have practiced yoga on and off for years. I have happily sung its praises and encouraed people of all fitness levels to give it a try. It is simply one of those cool things that pretty much everyone can get something wonderful from it. I love that about yoga.

Lately, I have been taking my yoga practice much more seriously. I strive to incorporate it at least five times a week and I am giddy when I can fit in more. I would love to have daily hour and a half sessions but it is more like 30 minutes with some longer sessions thrown it.

The changes have been remarkable. First,let's get the physical stuff out of the way. I am much stronger. I am more lithe and my flexibility is increasing daily. Honestly, the physical changes are amazing. Oh, and my core is finally tightening and defining. After two csections 18 months apart in my mid 30's, that is a great thing!

But that mental and emotional changes make the physical look a bit on the shabby side. Mentally I have more clarity than I have for years. I can maintian focus and have a noticable increase in my intellectual acuity and creativity.

Emotionally I have been balanced and calm. In the past, I had leanred to control my anger an irritation when my children behaved in a manner I didn't care for. Now I often find those feelings of irritation and anger to be noticeably absent. They just aren't there. In addition, I find my expectations are much more reasonable in general. This is a great blessing.

I like the person I am becoming with regular yoga practice. I am eager to see where this path will lead. It feels like a great adventure. After years of eating healthy and caring for myself, I am astounded how good I feel. I have hopes yoga will increase those feeings of well being and take my health and wellness to new heights.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Who We Are vs What We Do

Our society values productivity and accomplishment. These expectations produce an atmoshpere of constant activity as people scurry around trying to do more and more. There is no free time because if any accidently appears, more stuff is quickly crammed into it.

These observations are not ground breaking. Many before me have taken not of the culture of relentless activity. The truth is it produces little more than exhasuted, worn-out, burnt-out people. It leads to a disconnect with families and nonexistent self care.

So my questions is, why do we do it?

I beleive the answer lies in the idea that we are nothing more than our accomplishments. We convince ourselves we have no personhood outside of what we do. Take away those trappings and we would cease to exist. More frightening to many, we would cease to be considered important by others. Since so few people truly have a strong, independent sense of self, this could easily be a tragedy.

I do not believe it has to be this way. More to the point, I do not believe it should be this way. There is much better if you have the courage to take it.

I truly believe that each person has intrinsic value and is worthwhile in and of themselves. I believe that within each heart, God has planted the seeds of greatness. By greatness, I do not mean the defination normally employed by society. I do not believe it entails a socially powerful, flashy, or notorious life where "everyone" knows you or worse, fears you. In fact with those extra pressures weighing heavily, I wonder if it is not harder to achieve ture joy and peace if you are that kind of "great" person.

No, the greatness I speak of is living a life of relational fullness. A life listening to the voice of God t guide you on a path that will quietly benefit you and those in your sphere of influence. A life filled with soft moments of true contentment and peace. Knowing each day you intentionally choose to live as many moments as possible intentionally and to their fullest potential.

That life may not look like much from the outside but on the inside, it is a life containing far more moments soaring with the eagles rahter than wallowing with the pigs.

Another aspect is how we view othe people. Often we are ignorant of the acts of kindess and charity the people around us commit and live out each day. How many people secretly slip the pastor a hundred dollars for the family who just lost their income? How many go about their lives helping neighbors, visitng the sick, and caring for those struggling? They quietly give aid, not looking for recognition. Instead they choose to preserve the dignity of those they help and are not looking to raise their own worth in the public eye.

How many times do we judge peole harshly when we cannot begin to fathom or understand their true story?

The bible tells us to live quiet lives of righteousness (please note this isn't self-righteousness) and to do good secretly and not seek public recognition. Christ also taught in the Sermon on the Mount that we should not judge others. I think these are both important ideas to keep in mind. Perhaps it will help us assign positive intent.

Many will argue that what we do is a testament to who we are and I agree, and disagree. It is a component and it does tell part of your story. But it is such a small part of you that it cannot be considered reliably indicative of your true self in enough instances. .

In the end, you are valuable and truly mean something just because you are you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unschooling, Stumbling, and Renewing Confidence

We are homeschooling our children. Since they are 2 and 3, that both means everything and nothing at this point. Everyting because even now that decision is an overarching theme in our lives each day. Nothing because they are so young and because of how we intend to proceed. We believe in a rather unschooling approach until the children are at least 7. We want them to enjoy being a child, get dirty and messy, and discover their own questions about their world. Right now we are just guides, just the people who either answer the questions or help them find the answer when we honestly and unashamedly say, "I don't know. But let's find out together."

It has been going well. We have been blessed with some really amazing children. They are bright, funny, and inquisitive. We are kept very busy each day answering their questions, reading to them, playing games, doing crafts, well wherever the day takes us.

Sadly, I fell victim for the first time to self doubt. First of many, I am very sure. That unwanted thought, that horrible urge attacked me at my heart. You know the one.

I have to do more. What if they fall behind??????

I think it is an ever present joy stealing thought that lurks in the mind of most homeschoolers at one time or another. We doubt ourselves. We truly want the best for our kids. What if endless worksheets and flashcards are what is best? What if we really do need to be stuffing them with incredible amounts of information??? What if I am wrong??? And the big one, what if I fail them????

Heady stuff those thoughts. Thoughts like those have the ability to bring even the most adamantly relaxed homeschooler to their knees and beg for mercy. I think it just goes with the territory.

So for 3 days I began to make plans. I search for preschool objectives and goals. I researched the best and most fun ways to achieve them. I made lists and outlines. I ran myself a bit ragged. Finally when the dust, papers, facts, and questions settled around me I realized something wonderful. My children are already on target with all those goals. They are doing fine. No, they are flourishing and it is beautiful.

So we are back to long days of snuggling and reading. Days filled with Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Paintings done on paper and each other are common in our home. My littles and I are intrepid adventurers exploring and discovering the world around us. It is perfect. It is also what we intended to do from the beginning. I love having my confidence back. It feels really good.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Insouciance

Not much blogging going on lately. I must admit, this summer has left me bereft of mojo and feeling blah. We have just come through the hottest July in 31 years. It has been unbearable at times. The kids and I hibernate in order to survive the day.

For the most part, all is well. Life is going on fairly smoothly. Workouts fine. House decent shape. Children all in one large piece and relatively happy. It isn't bad.

But it isn't great and I love living in great.

I think the worst part of this hot summer is that I feel my creativity has just been drained away from me. I have the energy to perform necessary tasks but that is pretty much it. My passion, my overflowing joy appears to have fled north for cooler climes. I don't feel like knitting or creating any art. The days just leave me feeling meh. I love that word, meh. It is so ......beautifully descriptive don't your think.

The two things I miss most are hooping and writing. The outside feels like a furnace early in the morning. It isn't hooping weather. Even if I was game, it is too hot for my kids to be stuck out there. As far as writing, I just don't feel I have much to say right now. My daily journal entry could be, "Everything okay. Holding course. Will contact when have more to report". That is about it.

But there is good things. Come on, you knew I would have good things in here.

First, I have jumped back into yoga. I need that mind, body, and spirit connection. I rearranged my workouts to fit in two challenging yoga classes a week. I need the accountability of class because I know I will not be faithful at home. I am already calmer and that is a good, good thing.

Second, and probably the most important, I am getting down time. I don't rest well. I am a living ball of energy always bouncing hither and yon. I do not sit still. I am always going, doing, producing. Good stuff really, but if you don't rest you will burn out. This heat has enforced a time of rest upon me. I am coming to understand my passions and creativity have not died. No, they are doing something much more wonderful. They are composting and percolating. They are swirling in shapes and designs to incredible to fully grasp. I believe when the heat breaks and the cool of autumn is upon is, they will burst forth with new life and energy. I will soon be exhuberantly grateful for this time of desolation and emptiness.

So I am here. I am growing in ways quiet and hidden. I am excited to see where it will all take me.

Stay cool out there. It is crazy hot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rest When You Need To Rest

Yesterday I found myself beyond the brink of exhaustion. I was shaky, crabby, and really ready to cry at the drop of a hat. I was a mess, plain and simple. I have had too much on my plate lately. I have been going through a great deal of emotional upheaval and it has drained me. I ran 15 miles on Saturday on top of some seriously challenging workouts. Our social schedule has been more packed than usual. I have not been practicing self care. Any one of these could have been compensated for but everything together meant I was heading for a crash. Last night I sat down and cried over something really quite ridiculous. (Um, sorry again precious, wonderful husband). I knew I needed rest so I went to bed early. After all I had to wake up this morning at 4:20am for an 8 mile run.

When the alarm went off this morning I did something I never, ever do. I asked John to turn it off and I turned over and slept for over 2 more hours. It was wonderful. We ended up all snuggling together this morning as a family. The kids joined us and we laughed and warmed up Hannah's cold feet. We had a slow, lazy moring with lots of snuggles and lots of reading. That alone made me feel better.

Workouts are important. Having productive days is a very good thing. Getting together with friends is vital to someone as relationship oriented as me and also to my kids. But sometimes, you just need to rest. You need to step off the crazy train and refresh. You can then look around and figure out how the heck you jumped on that crazy train again to begin with. You can decide the changes that need to happen to stay off it permanently or at least until you unwittingly fall onto it again. We are works in progress, people, works in progress.

There are many things important in this life but we must remember that anyone of them, or several combined, can become too much of a focus and lead us off a balanced path. When our schedule stops nurturing us and our families, we must have the flexibility to make changes, either temporarily or permanently depending on the circumstances.

There are tweaks that need to be made in my life. I know this and I am taking this opportunity to ponder what they need to be. It won't be my running or other workouts, that just happens to be what had to give at the moment. No, I will take some downtime. I will pray and journal. I will discuss it with my best friend John (that, of course, is my amazing husband) and a few select friends. I will make changes to modify and bring my life back into balance.

And all will be wonderful, well until I once again fall out of balance.

Works in progress, people, we must remember we are works in progress.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dealing With Hard Times Intentionally

I am going through a rough time in one of my relationships. On the Meyer Briggs Test, I am an ENFJ. That NF in the middle tranlates to relationships are extremely important to me. Another translation is when I am experiencing difficulties in said relationships, I hurt deeply.

In the past I would allowed this to push me close to the deep end. I would have allowed my health to fall apart. I would have desperately run from dealing with the issue in an effort to avoid being overwhelmed by my own big emotions. Big emotions scare me. They have alot of power.

But a new day has dawned in my life. I know strive to live intentionally and authentically. That includes living authentically and honestly with myself, perhaps the hardest of all.

So here are a few things I am doing differently on this particular emotional rollercoaster.

- Food: Normally I would go one of two way, either stop eating or turn to rich, fatty comfort foods. The worst scenario is when I have managed to combine the two in some twisted, strange dance of starving and binging. This time I am intentionally choosing to eat healthier than I even normally do. I am increasing my fruits and veggies and my water intake. I am being even more selective.

-Exercise: I would normally fall of the exercise wagon and then proceed to wallow in my misery. I would quickly feel yucky, bloated, and out of shape. This, of course, would quickly ramp up my depression to new and unglorious heights. This go around I am faithfully adhering to my preset workout schedule. I don't care if I feel like it or not, I am determined to drag my grumpy butt to the starting point of each workout and push my self to do it.

-Dealing with the Issue: Directly confronting my feelings of loss, sadness, and disappointment is very hard. We all know this. I normally would run fast trying, and failing, to escape my problems. I feel my emotions strongly and deeply and can be quickly overwhelmed. But the truth is running away just makes it worse and harder to deal with it. So I am journaling (um, and blogging). I have confiding and relying on my amazing husband. He is a rock. I am leaning on my close friends. It is hard for me to make myself vulerable but it is good and necessary as long as your confidantes are safe and trustworthy.

- Loving My Littles: I am taking more time to love on my babies. Of course, this makes me feel better but it is more for them. Like their momma, they are both sensitive to emotions. No surprise, they are exceedingly sensitive to my emotions. I want them to be reassured that mommy is not upset with them. Also, I think it is very important our children see us experiencing and dealing with big emotions in healhty ways. How else shall they learn?

-God: Finally and probably the most important thing, I am seeking God in all of this. I am praying and reading more scripture. I am seeking Him as my ultimate source of wisdom, guidance, comfort, and peace. He never leaves me and will always hold me safely to Him.

So things are a hard but I am working through it. I am not going to lie, I much prefer happy times. But these times are necessary. These times are when the greatest growth and character development happen. In the times of great hardship is when we look into the mirror of who we really are. And it is the greatest opportunity to learn to dance in the storm. (Thank you Boom Crash Opera)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Super Cool: A Story of How I Learn a Lesson and Then Apply It

The other day I was driving into the mall. I know, the beginning of a scary story. I go into a one way entrance and this woman flies up the wrong way and almost hits me. I hit my horn and motion she is going the wrong way. She sits and stares at me. She doesn't move. I can't go back because I will be backing out, um the wrong way, into oncoming traffic. So we sit there. I again motion she needs to go back. She flips me off. It was....succinct. I finally manage to pull around her and in a moment of delightful maturity and grace on my part, I blew her a big kiss and stuck out my tongue. Seriously. Sometimes I don't get myself. Looking back, I am pretty sure she was embarrassed and froze. I could have had a little more grace.

Fast forward two nights ago, I was hot, tired, and decided to take the kids out for ice cream. You MUST understand something. I don't eat ice cream, cake, pie, and the like. When I say it is a rare treat believe me it does not happen often. Well, my order was not what I wanted and gross. I took it back and met the stereotypical Apathetic Teenager. Wouldn't replace it. Didn't care. Too bad so sad for Mrs. I want an ice cream I might actually enjoy eating. Again, that maturity surged to the rescue and I had a minor tantrum. (Can an adult have a MINOR tantrum or are they all pretty MAJORLY stupid??) Over ice cream. I had a tantrum over ice cream in front of my children. Proud, proud moment.

Yesterday, I went to the library. I had dropped my kids off at my parents and just needed to run in quickly. There I stood happily perusing the Bestsellers and this guy comes up out of nowhere to berate me for taking two parking places and being selfish so I wouldn't get a dent. (Right, because you know I protect the old Kia Sorrento like the luxury car it is.)I am standing there just looking at him thinking, did I? Does the library parking lot even have lines? I told him,"Sir I am sorry if I took up two places. I truly didn't mean too and if I inconvienced you I am truly sorry." His reply was pretty cool, "You are NOT sorry and you do NOT care. People are so selfish!" And he stormed off. I decided he was a crazy man and obviously his mental health care provider would be along soon to collect him.

As I continued with my book search, I thought of the past couple of days. I thought of my chidish sticking out of the tongue incident. I thought of my tantrum. I thought that in either situation if I had given grace or if they ice cream guy had given me a little grace how much better the incident could have went for everyone. Grace is not something we deserve. It is a present we give other people. I thought about the crazy man. Most likely he was having a horrible day and an innocent incident on my part set him off past what he could deal with. I made my decision.

I went over to him. He glared. I said, "Sir, I truly am sorry if my actions have upset your day. I have a 2 and 3 year old so dents and scratches are so far down on my list of concerns it is actually nonexistence. If I took up two spaces it was out of carelessness. I did not mean it."

He looks at me sheepishly, "Well, I am sure you didn't mean it. It could happen to anyone. I am sure I have done it without realizing it. Thank you for apologizing." I left him smiling and looking remarkably more peaceful.

I walked out to the parking lot with peace in my heart. I had chosen the better path and I felt right about it. My heart felt free and lighter.

The first thing I noticed was the library parking lot does NOT have lines. The second thing I saw was my suv sitting very straight, door opening width apart from the car next to me. The third thing I saw was the suv next to mine sitting completely, utterly, and without excuse diagonally across the implied spaces. I laughed alot.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Am Extraordinary: Living a Life of Adventure and Challenge

You may have noticed I have been away from my blog lately. The reason is the following post. I actually wrote it some time ago but immediately following its creation, I went out and lived it. I hope you enjoy it.

The other day I was thinking of what a montage of my lie would look like and what I want my theme song to be. The theme song is easy to me, "Extraordinary" by Liz Phair. It is a great song about a woman who initially lives for others and their approval then suddenly says, "Heck with you people. I am pretty amazing just the way I am!!"

Now before you think my psyche is rife with unbridled arrogance, I'll share a little secret with you. I think every woman is extraordinary but many have not come to that realization. But you can my sweet sister, you really can.

Anyhoo, my life montage, let's get back to that, shall we? I do not want picture after picture of me sitting slack jawed on the couch watching mindless tv or hunched up in a chair blankly starting a computer screen. Nope, I want snaps of me climbing an obstacle, swimming a river, running through fire, and belly crawling through the mud. (Okay, okay so my montage closely resembles a Spartan Adventure Race and I do want to do that but let's stick with the metaphor.)

Ultimately, I want to live a life of adventure and challenge. I want deep, close relationships with people who will teach, encourage, nurture, and value me just as I am for who I am. I want to favor back to them. I want to love fully and joyfully, experiencing the pain and euphoria that comes with a well lived life.

I want to learn, always learn, another language, a new instrument, painting, whatever strikes my fancy and stirs the embers of my passion. The world is a vast, amazing place too full of wonder to ever be bored.

I want to physically challenge myself. I want to run a marathon and compete in hardcore triathlons. I long to the bottom of my soul to learn aerial silks and suspended hoops. Oh and I will do it. I want to find physical challenges diverse and varied. Of course, the aforementioned adventure races fit nicely right here.

Create. That is huge for me, artistic expression. Hooping falls in here. Poi, staff, and other flow toys are all fair game in this life of exploration. I want to expand my writing. I want "to do" art of all kinds. Who cares if I am any good??? I want to create.

What I am looking to do is to live my life fully. Every moment of every day means something. Each is valuable. Quiet moments can have some of the greatest impact. It is all so important and once a moment is gone it will never come back so I want to savor as many as I can.

Well, there is a fairly good description of what I want. But what do you want? What would your montage look like? Would you be amazed with joy or whould think, what have I been spending my time on? It is not too late, it is NEVER too late, to change your life story.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beautiful Summer Days

We have been blessed with the fleeting days of early summer. They show up randomly and without warning here in Missouri. The days are a gentle upper 70's maybe lower 80's. The humidity is exceptional low, always a cause to celebrate. The sun shines with a purity and clarity rarely seen. The lush greens are illuminated and the vibrant colors of rampantly growing flowers catch the eye in juxtaposition. The air smells clean and fresh. It is the smell of a day newly born to this world.

I am so happy to be mentally present for this time. If I had remained tied up in self imposed anxieties and manufactured worries, I would missed all of this. It would have been tragic. Glad to have missed the worry and embraced the joy.

This weekend is shaping up to be fairly free flowing. I love those times. If I am not stormed out, I want to get a 10 mile run in early. I have rediscovered my love of running, the joy of simply moving. It is a treasured gift. I found out there will be a hoop jam in a local park. I am excited to go. I want to get in contact with the local hooping community. It has not been the focus I would like. I want to jump, or dance, right back in to the circle. I love it will be at a park. I LOVE hooping in nature and my family can go with me and play. Win-win for all.

We have been enjoying this gorgeous weather. I am taking time to connect with my precious babies. Running through the grass, sharing smiles and laughter, watching them discover baby animals and explore new environments. It has been heavenly.

In a moment, I will log off my computer and spend some quality morning time snuggling and talking with my babies. Then I will put a batch of chili in the crockpot. It will feed us many meals this weekend. Then we will be free to run back outside and experience today. It will only be here for a moment and will never come again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This morning, for the first time, I rose at 4:20 am to go out running. I have wanted to do this for a long time but a precious little one has shared my bed until the past couple of weeks. He is a very light sleeper so if I woke, so did he. But this morning was mine.

It was hard to roll out of bed. I could hear a light drizzle. Maybe I should just stay in my warm, dark room snuggled with my husband. But I knew it would be worth it.I stumbled downstairs and went through my preparations on autopilot. It may be a good thing to get up early but it is not a bouncy, energetic thing.

I met my group while it was still dark and we took off. It was glorious. I had forgotten the stillness and beauty of early morning. It was quiet, the world was at rest.All the hustle and bustle still slowed. Maybe all that rushing around and noise is necessary but there is a part deep inside of me holding tight to the idea we would all be better off if we slowed down and learned to listen to the quiet. The sky lightened until the magically time of twilight surround us. Twice a day, twilight comes and it is my favorite time. With the shadows of twilight, the child in me thinks there just may be something to all the tales of magic, fairies, and their ilk. We ran quietly with th wind gently winding around us on our path. The soft rhythmic sound of our shoes hitting the road.

On this run is a nasty little hill, big hill actually. It is sneaky. You don't really realize how long or how hard it is until your are deep within its grip. But it is joyfully rewarding as well. When you finally reach the crest a euphoria carries you downhill and along a cobble path. The harder you work, the more intense the joy. This morning I was rewarded for my efforts not only by the expected rush of good feeling, but a stunning sunrise laid out before me. Gorgeous.

After my run, I came back to a sleeping house. My workout is done and my family still slumbers. I have written, drank coffee, and read my bible. It is the perfect way to start the day. May you have a wonderful day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Soooo Much Better

Attiude and focus play an immense role in our lives. I hope you never underestimate them. It can be the difference between stress and being fairly miserable and joy and peace. The decision to back off on my physical pursuits, marathon and half Iron man, have granted me immediately results. Understand, nothing has really changed in my life except my perspective which is reflected in my attitude and focus. I am still running just as much since I had not started the climb in miles. But life is dreamily beautiful again.

Due to some insane storms, I only ran once this past week. Before my change of heart, this would have been cause for a great deal of consternation. In in effort to scramble my plans to fit those runs in, I would have trashed my weekend and my family's weekend as well. But instead, oh well, I will go back on Tuesday. Therefore Saturday was filled with a fun but drippy trip to the farmer's markt and some much needed gardening.

I had been reading a blog recently that stated if some project is draining because it is NOT getting done, why don't you do it? My newfound mental clarity illuminated two stressors in my life, the pantry and the huge craft closet. Both of them were tackled this weekend and I am happy to say even more weight was lifted.

Today has been simply joyful. I have savored the opportunity to experience moments as I prepared the produce from this weekend's trip to the market and did the every day mundane chores. These mundane chores enable my family to live in a clean, tidy, and happy home. It was joyful to take the time to reflect on the purpose of my actions and praise God for the opportunity to serve my family. It was simply beautiful.

The most important thing is my attitude to my wonderful, crazy, messy, hilarious babies has changed. I am ashamed to say, I was becoming annoyed with them. I realize now it felt as if they were getting in the way of the things I needed to get done. They were a distraction. But the truth is, they are not a distraction, no not at all, they are the reason. My incredible littles are one of the main reasons I do what I do. It is for them, for our family, It is to create a home of warmth, joy, comfort, and family. It is NOT to be productive. I lost my way on the path. But I have returned.

I am amazed and humbled I have such a wondrous life, mine for the asking. All I had to do was realize I had wandered off and Presto! it is mine again. I love these people who form my family. I am savoring these times of growing closer and reaffirming our bonds. Amazing, it realy is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankfully, I Have a Sense of Humor About Myself

Wow, it has been a long time since I have last blogged. Like many in the glorious summer months, I have been busy. There have been some great times but sadly, I have slipped back into an old habit. I found something figuratively shiny and fixated.

You can't fault me for my enthusiasm and gung ho attitude. I tackle projects, challenges, and mountains, sometimes literal ones, with focus, determination, and sometimes (um, often) an unhealthy dose of obsession.

Yes, once again I have jumped in with both feet and bit off more than I can chew. Well, at least more than I WANT to chew. I have been loving the running thing. Coupled with the challenge of copetition, my natural drift to fixation happily leapt to the forefront. I planned on running a full marathon this fall, another in the spring, and a half Ironman a year from September. Grab the bull by the horns, wrestle it to the ground, and then find another beast to tackle. Right??? Can I hear a woo hoo!!?? Um, maybe not the best idea.

Here is the dangerous thing, I am physically and metnally strong enough to accomplish these goals. But the only way I can is a the exclusion of pretty much everything else in my life. Obsessive focus, table for one.

Lately I ahve had that empty, unsatisfied feeling. It is the first sign of trouble. A harbinger of going down the wrong path. Due to the these feelings, I have been assessing my life to find the problem, brain dumping lists on paper to find the element out of balance. I was desperate to tweak life back to contentment and peace. So often the solution is right there in front of me but manages to stay hidden in some quantum shift blind spot.

When I finally resigned myself to put on the glasses of honesty, I realized I have neglected many important aspects of life. Physically, I have not been lifting, cross trianing, or practicing yoga. I am not physically balanced and I am starting to pay a price for said imbalance. I have not been creating. Hooping is a major creative outlet for me. I have also failed to write, hence the neglected blog. My knitting is sitting in the butler's pantry untouched. I had a burning desire to start working with mixed media art but it strangely evaporated.(Warning, warning, danger of obsession ahead)

Another clue to the mess emerging in my life is the chaos of my physical enviroment. The house is messier. Projects I was determined to finish have been left undone. My beloved garden has been turning into an overgrown, wild mess. And not in a good way! Anytime my environment is chaotic, I guarantee my mind is chaotic. In this mess, I do not thrive.

But the absolute final piece of this puzzle was the shape of my relationships. I am a relational person. Good friends and family quicken me with the essence of life. It is one of the main sources of my energy and joy. I have been letting them all slide. I have not been seeking out my friends. I have been distant with John. But the biggest indicator something is wrong, I have been short tempered with my precious babies. I have felt annoyed and easily frustrated. It is wrong in so many ways. They are my joy, my blessing, and my most precious gifts. The deserve so much better than the momma I have been.

Ultimately, it was readily apparent I have fixated on these races to the detriment of things and people much more important to me. The decision to back off and rebalance was inevitable. I have to take the time to refocus my energy and passion. I can still accomplish these goals but a much slower paced timeline.

Lately, I have beent thinking a great deal about women's perceptions of themselves. I know alot of women desperately trapped in the cycle and cage of living for others or worse, for what others may think about them. I am going to be honest, for a fleeting moment I wondered what some would think of my decision to back off. Would they think I was weak? a quitter? Then my beautiful friend humility, whom I do not see nearly often enough, showed up and gentle stood her ground on the notion it must be done for the good of all I love, no matter what.

Self confidence quickly followed the lovely humility and declared, "So what if they do? Do we really care about the thoughts of people who would judge us?" Well nope, not really.

I want to encourage you to make the decsions, however hard or unpopular, that best serves you and your family. I hope you learn to scoff and ignore the people who would judge you. They really aren't important, they just think they are.

In the end, Liz Phair sang it best, "I AM extraordinary!" and so are you. I promise.

Peace my friends.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy is NOT the Only Acceptable Emotion

The past few days have been rather rough. There were some very stressful things happen in our lives and I was having trouble choosing joy daily. Not only that, but we have all been dealing with a bug and that makes it even less fun. Yesterday found me just down and sort of blue. I tried everything to snap out of it but it was not working. I focused on my blessings, on beautiful things, on things that normally bring me joy and peace. Nothing. Then the mantra that I repeat over and over for this house and my children plastered itself smack in the middle of my mind"

Happy is NOT the only acceptable emotion. All emotions are valid.

Hmmm, I do say that alot. You see, I do not demand my children to be happy all of the time. I do not demand for them to perform emotionally for me or anyone else on command. We are learning to be civil but civil is not slapping a fake smile on your face and pretending everything is happy happy joy joy when you are honestly dying a bit on the inside. That would be fake and dishonest. And it wouldn't be Authentic. That is also a commnon word in our house. Our children are allowed to be sad, scared, crabby, and even angry. They can even say, are you ready for this? "I am angry with you mommy!" That it totally permitted. They are allowed to voice their disagreement or objection to well, anything. That doesn't mean the situation will change but I am adamant they should learn to respectfully disagree and understand their feelings and opinions matter.

I know alot of parents would rather their children not show or deal with big emotions especially in public. It can be inconvenient, embarrassing, and messy. But do we really want to teach our children to stuff all their emotions down and put on their happy, public face? Has that really worked for anyone? Ever? Let's look at it.

Teaching people to stuff their emotions has led to a huge group of people who can no longer express their emotions but instead eat them. By this I mean they turn to food. Then they are dealing not only with eating disorders or obesity but eventually all of those suppressed emotions are going to come screaming out. There are people who turn to alchohol and drugs to self medicate the pain away. Often that pain is caused or exacerbated by the inability to process emotions and feelings in a healthy way. Then there are the people pleasers. They have been taught their thoughts and feelings do not matter. They must never tell anyone no becuase that could be offensive. Even when they are completely overwhelmed, they put on their happy face and keep on for the sake of appearances even though they are a destroyed mess on the inside.

Examples of how stuffing your emotions can affect you negatively run rampant in our society especially among women. The point is I want better for my children. Um, I want better for myself. I want to be healthy, honest, open, and authentic. I don't want to slap on my happy face and trudge out into the world with a fake facade and a dying heart. Nope, don't want that at all.

There is another saying in this house, "Grace is for mommas too." It stems from our parenting technique. We believe in gentle parenting and grace based discipline. We do not believe that punitive or shaming behaviors will benefit our children. In fact, we believe they can cause severe harm and damage to our relationship. So we extend grace to our children. Some days, momma needs even more grace than the babies do. Being graceful and loving with myself is a very important lesson to teach my children.

So I stood in my sad little place and I thought about all of this. Of course, this realization and self forgiveness was the release my bad mood needed. After I worked through this process, my mood lifted and I felt the joy return with ease and fullness.

Is happy the only acceptable emotion in your home or in your life? Do you really think it is serving you well? Does what other people think really matter THAT much to you?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Month of May Personal Challenge

I had every intention of challenging myself with three things this month, 20 minutes a day of yoga, 30 minutes daily hooping, and going sugar free. However, I am a firm believer you must embrace flexibility in order to fully live your life of abundance. A few things happened:

Two weeks ago in a fit of yuck, I gave up sugar early. I had intended for this to be only for the month of May but I have quickly refined my focus to incorporating it into my lifestyle. I did not realize the horrible grip sugar had on me. I feel incredible and I didn't feel that bad before. This is immendsely better. My sleeping issues just left. I am sleeping so soundly now and waking refreshed and ready for the day. Whole foods taste amazing. Finally, when the bloating in my abdomen left I was shocked. I did not understand at all the effect sugar had on me.

We have figuratively moved to Ireland. We have had so much rain I believe a displaced group of Irish refugee fairies have taken up residence in my now verdant and lush perennial garden. Although I am in pure love with my only two year old flowers, I can barely find enough dryness to hoop. Hooping inside is just not possible, so that challenge will wait. I will still hoop any day I can but I will not hold myself to a particular goal.

I did start my yoga challenge and it is lovely. I keep it to only 20 minutes as a goal because I am unable to truly practice with the children. I know, I know I can do yoga with the kids but it isn't the same. But I will probably be able to practice many days for much longer periods of time. I love yoga. It balances me in so many ways, physically and emotionally. When I practice regularly, I maintain a centered and content mind. It is amazing.

I am increasing my running because as I said last post, I am going for the full marathon. I am very excited about the training and the challenge it will be to my committment, determination, mental strength, and physical ability. I love reaching for goals that I am not quite sure I can make. It makes life...sweeter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Embracing My Insanity

Okay, this is crazy but I am going to do it anyway. I am going to run the Rock n' Roll St Louis FULL marathon. I cannot believe I would even want to but I really, really do. So that is exactly what I am going to work toward.

This is huge for me in ways hard to describe. I am a nit-picking, self-doubting perfectionist. I have often sabotaged my own accomplishments so I couldn't actually fail due to lack of ability. But even sneakier, I just didn't try someting unless I was almost certain I could finish easily and close to perfection. I did not truly have self confidence.

I have been reading Donald Miller and he talks about "inciting events". Basically, it means unless we have something push us down a hard path we will most likely continue along the comfortable, familiar path we are on. Even if it is a bad path for us, we will continue to plod along the path because it is the path we know. It takes a major event to steer us differently.

Running the half marathon was my inciting event. I am not even sure how I intially committed to it. I believe I was sort of just talking trash but then people found out about it. There were so many times I wanted to quit but continued because too many people knew and I didn't want to admit I was quitting. I am so very glad I didn't. I am so glad I continued to work harder and so above my comfort zone in order to not be humiliated. It changed everything.

Completing that difficult and emotional event finally gave me the self confidence I have been lacking. Failure lost most of its scariness. I now know I can go out and try to accomplish some pretty crazy things and as long as I really try, there is no shame in failure. Actually, there is just alot to be learned.

So now I am challenging myself to the next crazy event, the full marathon. I am going to train hard over the summer. I know it will be another difficult and life changing experience but this time, I am looking forward to it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

But What Do YOU Want?

So this entire post has come from the HGTV show "House Hunters" and a quote from Epicurus. Now how cool, groovy, and esoteric is that?? I am simply fascinated with the ubiquitous fascination of stainless steel appliances on "House Hunters". This couple will walk into a gorgeous kitchen, usually stating they never cook, look around and say, "Oh but the appliances aren't stainless. That is just a deal breaker!". I sit there thinking, "Really??? Why?? Have you tried to keep stainless looking good especially with children? Impossible. THIS is your deal breaker??". It makes no sense. And then the quote from Epicurus, "If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires." All in all some pretty good stuff.

But then I started thinking. What if isn't our desires that cause so much strife and anxiety but the desires that we have been socially conditioned to accept as what everyone should want or more insidious, what the "good life" entails? What if keeping up with the Jones is what is really getting us, and keeping us, down?

I think we can all agree that several decades of relentlessly and ruthlessly attempting to keep up with that proverbial family has landed us all into serious hot water. If not you personally, then the country in general. The mindless pursuit of wealth and status has led to a staggering number of foreclosures, respossesions, sky high credit card bills, and bankruptcys. Even more sad, it is has led to divorce, depression, families ripped apart, and suicide. Remember, this is the "good life".

So I challenge you to really think about what you really want. If you take away all the commercials, ads, and adult peer pressure, what would actually make you happy and bring you true peace?

I will tell you what I want. I want a house full of love, laughter, gentleness, and joy. I want my children to run and laugh with abandon inside the house. I don't want no-no rooms or things lying around that would be tragic if they were broken in a game of don't touch the floor.

I don't want an impressively beautiful home. I want a home that is warm, lovely, and quirky. I want you to take off your shoes because you are are comfy and snug not because you might mess something up. I want a home full of hospitality. I hope my home will be the place deep relationships are born and nurtured. A place where you know you can come to laugh, share your joys, cry when your heart is breaking, or lean on a strong shoulder when you just can't do it alone anymore. I don't want it to be a showcase of all my fancy material stuff.

I want a home filled with ideas. I want passionate and lively discussion not zombies in front of a huge flat screen tv. I want books passed around, digested, and dissected. I want to hear arguments over what Shakespeare really meant by....

I want yummy, healthy food. I want friends to stop by for a quick bowl of hearty soup. I want dinner parties full of joy and friendship. Not formal affairs, but casual craziness that finds people on the floor, the couch, the sunroom, wherever.

I want a car that can handle muddy trips to the creek. I see tired babies falling asleep after a day of adventure and exploration. Their dreams are of all the wonderful things they have seen not momma screaming because the precious interior of the car might get dirty.

I don't want a Wii. Nope not at all. I don't want a game system to simulate experiences. I would much rather play tennis with my children, take them bowling, hula hoop with them outside. There is no need to pretend if you really do it. In addition, I want to be active in general. I want long family hikes. I want to play without inhibition on the playground with my children. I want to race together when we are older.

I desperately want my children to know that it is NOT necessary to always give your best and your all to any endeavor. I want them to learn that sometimes good enough IS good enough. I hope they learn that not striving for perfection can be much healthier and leave more time and energy for other things. Be the best all the time often leads to adults desperately overcoming perfection and self confidence issues.

I want my children to be open and willing to try new things and fail gloriously. I want them to try the piano even if they are tone deaf. I want them to understand that parents who scream and berate their children to constantly succeed at all costs are....wrong and sad.

I want a family that love God with all their mind, all the heart, all the strenth, with all their all. I want a house laid back enought to fingerpaint and make paper mache messes, to create. I want a family who shares close bonds, love, laughter, tears, fears, joys, and sorrows without shame or derision. I want friends who are family and family who are friends.

Truthfully, I am extraordinarily bless that I already have most of my wants. Some days are better than others. Some days I get caught up in wanting some nonsense a well paid ad executive told me to want. But most days, this is what I want and I praise God because this is what I have. So I aske you, what do you want?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wow, It is Really Hard

I have been mostly sugar free for..5 days? I am not exactly sure because it has been incredibly hard. If I had any doubts about the insidious nature of sugar, I wouldn't now. I feel like a drug addict going through withdrawals. Well, I guess I am a drug addict going through withdrawals. You know, if it walks like a duck, quacks like duck. Sugar is a drug and a nasty one.

I wasn't going to go completely sugar free until May 1st. I was just cutting out things like ice cream, cookies, cake, and the like right now. Well, it has been so rough I have decided to pull that band aid off immediately. This weekend will find me making homemade granola and some cookies for the kids. We are doing this right now.

My kids, oh my I feel terrible for the amount of sugar I have allowed. I am setting them on a path they will have to fight with for the rest of their lives. We are rectifying that situation right now. I won't make them go completely sugar free. Their natural peanut butter has sugar and the occasional cookie at grandma's is okay but it will be cut down drastically.

Why I have come to these dramatic measures? Since I have quit sugar I have had the shakes, headaches, extreme irritability, and serious fatigue. My energy has plummeted. Anyone who knows me irl would proably say no way. I am one of the most energetic people you will find. I have bottomed out. I am so emotional and downright depressed. It truly has been hard.

But all of that is nothing compared to what I experienced shopping last night. I was shopping for my kids Eeaster baskets. There are some neat things in those baskets, slinkies, kaleidoscopes, sun glasses, books, good stuff. But I decided to get one small thing of M&M's for them both. I went to the candy aisle. Now I am a chocolate snob. I don't eat most candy because I like GOOD chocolate. Ghirardelli will do but Godiva is my preference. So there was surrounded by cheap, yucky candy and I almost had an emotional breakdown from wanting it. I am not joking. I was shaking and broke out into cold sweats. It was somewhat traumatic to realize what this nonfood substance has done to my body. So, no more. I will break this addiction.

On the positive side, my husband is really the greatest husband ever. I have been impossible and he has been nothing but loving, caring, and supportive. He has been compassionate and gentle when I KNOW I have been downright silly. I am truly blessed to have him.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Time Has Come...Sigh

The time has come for me to finally drop the last 15-20lbs. I am not fat. I don't have body issues, finally. But the fact of the matter is 135-140lbs (see I am not even sure) is just too much for my 5'3 extra small frame. I have a bad back from a car accident. Carrying extra weight begs for it to bother me. Plus, my running should even be better with less weight to carry. So, it is time.

I have not concerned myself with it lately. I refused to actually try to lose weight while training for the half marathon. I couldn't do both so I chose the race. But now I have a few months in between races and it is time to actively work on this.

My exercise is fine, beyond fine actually. I refuse to do more because that would be silly. I am active every single day and some days are crazy intense. So you know, there is only one place to change. It has to be done. The diet. I don't mean diet as in restricting calories but diet as in what I eat. I know many people who do not understand why they can't lose extra weight. They exercise but they won't change their eating habits.

And what the normal American eats is scary. It is no wonder obesity is blooming faster than flowers in spring.

Don't believe me? Track your own calories. There are awesome free sites out there to use. I love fitday.com but others swear by Sparks People. I have yet to find someone who was not surprised how many calories and junk they were eating when they accurately tracked their food intake. (So that is what a tablespoon of mayo looks like.)

My approach is simple, a clean, whole foods diet. What I mean by clean is no artificial sweetners, sweetners, preservatives, processed sugar, additives, and the like and organic in many aspects. That is right, no sugar. I have already started by elminating sweets but some of my granola and exercise bars have a low amount of sugar. Come May 1st those are going as well. I will be making homemade granola and finding alternatives. For how long? At least a month, longer if it is going well.

There is a second motive behind this, I am addicted to sugar. I really am and it is, well a rather terrible substance all in all. It is simply not good for you. Living without it completely would make your body very happy.

What I will be eating:
Lean meat but really sparingly
As much fruit as I want
As much veggie as I want either raw, steamed, or roasted with a little olive oil.
Whole Grains
Honey and Maple Syrup, again sparingly
Lower Fat Dairy such as milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese

I think that pretty much covers it. I think this new practice will also result in a break through for my health. I hope to really enjoy this new manner of even better eating and lack the desire to go back. That does happen rather often to me. Once my body felt the benefit, I no longer craved fried foods, most processed foods, etc. So I hope it will do this again.

I am also very excited because this is all happening at the same time as a bunch of new hoop classes and workshops. Couple it with a month of yoga and I am looking at a happy holistic healthy time. Those times always leave me feeling incredibly refreshed and rejuvenated. So there is alot of good in this even if I am no longer going to eat cookies. You just have to look at it the right way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Importance of Being Rested

I am still walking in a cloud of accomplishment and joy from the half marathon. Seriously, what an incredible, amazing experience it was. I think I have a bad case of running sickness. I am considering running the full marathon. Craziness thy name is Karen. I am hooked but I guess there are worse obsessions.

However, it really wrecked my energy. I wasn't nearly as hungry as I thought I would be probably due to the heat. I made myself eat anyway but I am not sure it was enough. On Tuesday, I ran a light 3 miles to stretch my legs. It was awesome for my sore muscles but it was the last straw for my energy. It drained me to almost nothing. I felt I had nothing left to give anyone or anything.

I could have fought it. Maybe I could have filled up on caffeine and sugar. But in the end, I decided to go with it. I have been working towards living much more slowly and intentionally in all aspects of life. For a strong willed, type A personality like myself, that is a tall order. But I am making progress. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to listen to my body and let it tell me what it needed.

It has been wonderful. I have eaten my fill of wholesome, yummy food. I have laughed and snuggled with my beautfiful babies. I have slowly hooped and pushed my children on their swingset. I have relaxed quietly in a chaise lounge and watched my children play. I have savored quiet soul-filling moments with a precious friend. I have rested. I have read. I have taken a much needed break and I feel incredible.

This morning I woke and my energy had returned. But it had brought along a friend, a calm peaceful contentment that fills me and makes me feel as if I am glowing with joy and health. It is truly the best I have felt in months, perhaps years. Who knows how long? Doesn't matter because it is here right here, right now, at this perfect moment.

So I am sitting here drinking my favorite afternoon Darjeeling tea. A new favorite candle made with lime, ginger, and vanilla fills my home with what clean vibrant energy must smell like. My babies are sleeing. Soon Logan will wake and I will curl up with him so he will sleep a bit longer. My warm, precious baby will snuggle as close as he can get to momma and I will know this is what love feels like.

I am rested and it is wonderful. How often to we push past exhaustion until we reach a state that we no longer feel human? How often do we will we MUST get everything on our to do list done or the... what the world will stop spinning?? I think I am going to try very hard to remember the joy, peace, and patience true rest brings me. I am going to try to remember how much a better momma, wife, friend, and woman I am when I have allowed my body to get the rest and healing it needs. It really is truly important.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My First Half Marathon

I did it. I really did it and it still seems unreal to me. Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon, actually my first race of any kind, with a time of 2:15:46. It was one of the hardest and most satisfying things I have ever done. Ever. I am seriously having trouble believing it is real.

I think I was most suprised with my decided lack of nerves the morning of the race. I was pumped up and having a great time. I remember grabbing the hand of my just met the night before new friend Brook's hand so we could wind our way through the insane amount of people to get into our corral. My feeling was more that I was going to a dance party than I was preparing to accomplish something so life changing. I was chatting, playing, and laughing with all those around me. It was crazy fun.

When the race started, I felt this amazing calm come upon me. It took 15 minutes to walk to the start with all the people in front of us. I bent my head in prayer to thank my heavenly Father for the strength, the determination, the ability to do this race. I quickly realized, I was crying! I quietly cried with joy. I thought of all the hard runs, the cold weather, leaving my family so I could "fit in" 8 miles. I thought of all the aches and pain it had brought me. It had been a hard, hard road and there I stood on the brink of fulfillment. I stood (well, shuffled slowly with the crowd) absolutely amazed at what I was about to do.

I am not going to go mile by mile with the technical break down of each mile. I will say those hills were seriously hard. I do believe one was almost a mile long, seriously. All I could do was fix my gaze about 10-15 feet in front of me, focus on my breathing, and just put one foot in front of the next. But however I did it, I made it through.

From the very beginning it was evident to me that I was not going to be forced to struggle through or talk myself into completing this part. Trust me, I have completed many training runs on strength of will alone. But this was different. So I decided that this, like so many things in my life, was going to be an exercise in being present and aware. I am so glad I made that decision. I now have vibrant memories of cheering with crowds as I passed through, the beauty of Soulard's townhomes in the early morning light, the smell of the brewery (okay, maybe I could have done without that one). I remember how my body felt as it warmed up and became loose enough to run a comfortable stride and how it tensed up later and had to relax all over again. One of the fondest memories I will have is really feeling my feet start to hurt and then as I turned the corner I saw an incredible sign held aloft, "The only reason your feet hurt is because of how much butt you are kicking." That gave me energy for a couple of miles.

I really enjoyed running without music. I loved chatting with people and the sense of comraderie. It was immensely enjoyable and lifted my spirits and enabled my feet to fly. It was the best run of my life and I am rather sad it is over.

This experience has truly been life changing for me. The committment and dedication it required was beyond any challenge I have undertaken up to this point. There were times I wanted to quit. There were times I didn't believe in myself. I think pure stubborness and the refusal to admit on Facebook I was quitting was the only thing that carried me through some rought points. But in the end, I really did it. I proved to myself that I could. I proved to myself that I could set a very challenging goal, I could keep up with the day to day that was required, and when the time came, I shined brighter than I ever dreamed possible.

I am now looking forward to a different kind of challenge. The month of May will find me dedicated to yoga, hooping, and living life sugar free. It will be hard and challenging in its own way. My next running goal is another half marathon in October with an aim to come in under a 10 minute mile pace. But whatever the goals I set in my life, I am bursting with confidence I have the ability to see it through. I encourage you to set a goal and find this confidence if you don't already embody it. It is breathtaking.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stage Fright, a Timely Reminder and a Big Change For Our Family

Things are happening, much to do, craziness abounds. The first order of business is my newly aquired massive bout of stage fright. Yep, stage fright it is. Hubs diagnosed me and he is right no the money. I am anxious, frustrated, and a little on the emotionally sensitive side. Seriously, all of these big feelings are bubbling up in me out of nowhere. I am not feeling like the most emotional stable person in the world of late. I could not figure it out and then John did, I have stage fright concerning my half marathon on Sunday. I am scared! What if I fail??? In front of all those people?? What if I choke at the last minute or just let myself give up??? I mean, if I do obviously the entire Go! Marathon (over 18,000k participants and countless spectators) will stop what they are doing to point and laugh, right? No? You think they might just keep running? Hmmm.

That brings me to the second part of this blog, a timely reminder. This came from an amazing friend name Missy. After assuring me that I will do fabulously she brought my attention to all the work I have done up until this point. And trust me, I have done the work. I remembered that all this training was the true win. I won last week when I ran over 13 miles by myself, with no one to encourage me, and no crowd to cheer me on. It was just me and the trail out there and I conquered it. So in the long run I have alreay run and Sunday is just the victory lap. Or how about how far I have come in the past 3 years? Three years ago I started this little adventure with the ubiquitous Couch to 5k program. The first time I ran 2 minutes, that is right 2 minutes!, I was sick in the Y's bathroom. I was in miserable shape. Again I state for the record, I have already won. Truthfully, I am feeling much better and I am sure it has nothing to do with the 2 hours of hooping I did today and the perfect spring weather.

Finally, there is the big change for our family. We have kicked the tv to the curb for the kids. John and I watch very little tv as it is but our kids, goodness. I am ashamed to admit but I started using the tv to babysit the kids when I needed to get something done or wanted to waste,er I mean spend more time on the computer. What finally prompted this was the kids having fights over what was on, Logan physically climbing the tv, and a general feeling of disconnect. I took a deep breath and said no more and we are going cold turkey. We just can't do limit. It doesn't work for us. We will have one movie a week for family movie and pizza night.

The change has been immediate and radical. First, the kids have barely asked for it. We have been reading so much more. They aren't fighting, they are easier to get along with, and we are simply more connected. We are laughing and playing together so much more. It has been amazing. I will keep you posted on if this all melts down in a blaze of withdrawal that I have yet to spot. Oh, and as a result I am spending a considerably less amount of time on the computer. I am pretty sure this will benefit me most of all.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Want to Train for Cirque du Soleil

Okay, I ran into another blog post over at A Whole Lot of Hoop Love (sorry I can't figure out how to embed and I am excited about my subject) about the things she wants to do to be a circus performer. I totally get where she is coming from with this. I really do. You see, I have a whole plan laid out on my journey to train for Cirque du Soleil. Do I think I am going to get there?? Well of course not, I am an almost 40 year old women with two small children. I am neither young/flexible enough nor free from responsibilities enough to run off to join any circus. But the journey, oh my the journey will be AMAZING!! I already hoop and I will take classes for my doubles and minis soon. I want to learn more poi over the summer. I intend to take belly dancing lessons soon. And then the coolest, coolest part, AERIALS! Bumbershoots here in St Louis has classes for both aerial silks and aerial hoop. Hubs says go for it!! (Love, love that man. He truly is coolest hubs evah!!!!) So that is my plan for the next 6 months or so, to explore the creative and physical side of the circus-y type arts. They are so elegant, beautiful, and let's be honest, downright gorgeous. It is just the kind of beauty in my life and my world that makes me happy. I just had a morning with my amazing friend Sarah. Seriously, she is one of the most beautiful and light filled souls I have ever met. My week is better from the visit. I know my life is better because of the friendship. Anyhoo, we were discussing my let's call it gregarious and inhibition free personality. I wasn't always like this. I used to be caught up in the world and the rat race that so aptly describes it. I used to think I will be happy and really start living my life when... oh fill in the blank. It didn't matter what is is but it held me back. One day I thought, I am done. I am living today for today and living a life that I am proud of and makes me happy. And that is what I did. And now what makes me proud and happy is to train to be a circus performer. I love my life. It is so cool to me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cultivating Friendships

It is less than two weeks before my first half marathon, my first race ever. I am very excited. I am running 12 miles this weekend but the thing is, I am ready. I am surprised but there you are. I don't know how fast or amazing I will be but I am ready. Actually, I will be pretty amazing to me because I am going to run 13.1 miles and that is pretty fabulous to me. I have a hard time believing it is real. But it is very real. So what next? That is the question right? I like what knowing what is next. It gives me comfort. In reality, I am fairly flexible and okay with my plans changing but I still like a plan, a rough map so to speak. The next stage is presenting itself in all its alliterative glory, "Family, Friends, and Fun". Not the most original perhaps but it is important to me. What does it mean exactly? Two things are a part of the foundation of this plan that make appear to be unrelated at first glance but I believe them to be critical. First, I am committing to a 60 day yoga challenge. Each day I will do at least 20 minutes of yoga. I hope to do much more but I want to make a realistic challenge. After all, I have two littles who very much need my attention. The second is all about the food. We are looking to really clean up our diet. We, hubs and I, are focusing on lots of fresh veggies and fruit with as much locally grown as possible. In fact, we are going to do some container gardening ourselves. We desire to follow as closet to a whole foods diet as possible with little to no processed food. Including within that statement is the idea that causes me a great deal of trepidation, saying good bye to white and brown sugar for the duration. It could be 30 days, 60 days, or who knows. I do know that I have an addiction to sugar and this is the only way to clean it from my system. What do the above two things have to do with a summer of "Food, Family, and Fun"? Well, I have known for awhile that I am slightly off center of the place a desire to be in my life. I don't like the word balance. It implies perfection to me and I am learning to revel in my glorious imperfect nature. Perhaps I can call it the center of my life. It is the place I am healthiest, happiest, and most at peace. It brings me calm. I like it there, its nice. It is also the best starting point for any endeavor I may undertake. Yoga and healthy, nourishing foods are two of the greatest helps to get there. This summer is important to me although it may seems fanciful or just another way to follow my bliss. Connections and relationships are of utmost important in our lives. I am coming to believe that although technology brings a great deal of information, help, and enables us to do things that just a few years ago were unthinkable, it also is creating distance and disharmony in our lives. I want to close those gaps and feel harmony again. I intend to actively pursue quality within my relationships. This intention is both for friends and family. I intend to eshew much of the technology in my home and focus instead and companionship and building friendships. I want to take the time to really get to know some just amazing people in my life. I have not decided how this will unpack, exactly. With so much of the everyday workings of my life on the computer, it is hard to get rid of it for any extended period of time. I do think it will be regulated to very limit use. Some days any screen time will be verboten. I desire to live my life more in reality than online. I want to take this time to refresh myself and revitalize my passions. This summer I hope my joie de vivre will explode and the result will turn the ordinary magical.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Extract Your Foot From Your Mouth and Try Again

I have noticed lately that I have not been as kind, loving, or compassionate as I long to be. I have found myself to be impatient, acerbic, and not very pleasant. I so dislike being this way, I truly do. I understand completely when Paul says he does things he doesn't want to do and doesn't do things he desperately wants to do. I completely get it.

Words are some of the most intense weapons we have. They truly can encourage, comfort, and empower or they can destroy, negate, and horrify. They are more powerful than most of us realize. God gave me a gift with words. If I quiet my mind and open my heart, I can often find the words someone needs to hear. I can convey that even if I don't understand, I really care about them and their pain. So many of us really just want to be Heard with a capital H. We want to know someone really does care about what we are saying and what we are dealing with at that moment. We need that intimacy. It has been an amazing blessing. I think it is often the Holy Spirit speaking through me in those quiet moments. I don't know for sure but I can tell you the words just sort of come forth.

There is a dark side to this gift. I also have the ability to use words as a sword that can cut to the heart. My words can come fast and furious pummelling whomever they are directed. It is a defense mechanism and an extremely ugly, hateful one. It is probably the trait I dislike the most about myself.

It is interesting this gift can be a blessing or a curse depending on how I choose to use it.

Today I was praying and I decided to make a conscious effort to get back on the path of love I chose to follow. Here is my Facebook post:

Today I pray that all of my communications, whether with my precious babies or complete strangers, will be filled with love, grace, kindness, and compassion. So often I have a quick, witty, and biting retort locked, loaded, and ready to go. I pray to change that habit and replace my bitter ammunition with words that encourage, fill others with hope, and shows the love of Christ that shines through me.

I am sure you can see where this is going. I went to the gym, there was a dust up, someone was nasty, and I shoved words right down her throat. I marched to my car in (self) righteous indignation. As I drove away, the light dawned on my, and my spirit curled up within me and hid its proverbial head.

Epic Fail.

Ack!! It is just humiliating and humbling. Just not a fun thing to deal with. I will apologize when I see her. But you can't take words back. She will bear a small scar of where I plunged in an ever sharp, ever waiting, ever eager verbal knife. It doesn't matter nearly as much how people treat us or speak to us, it is how we respond to them that defines us. I am not advocating becoming a door mat, not at all. But I truly believe we can comport ourselves with grace, compassion, mercy, and love even when someone verbally attacks us. That is what I am aspiring to do.

So I failed. But that is okay. It really is because I can learn from this. I can allow this situation to better refine me for the future, smooth out more and ever present rough edges. Hopefully, it will teach me to be more graceful in the future. Hopefully, it will teach me more about love.

That is what I have going on today. I am exploring the new found fact that I, apparently, have a foot shaped mouth.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Momma is the Heart of the Home

There is something within me that keeps nudging me to write this post. Part of me doesn't want to because I don't want to sound self righteous and sanctimonous. The truth is, I write this with great humility becuase it comes from failure on my part. I am still desperately scrambling to learn this lesson in order to give my children the best childhood and upbringing I can.

I am sure you have all heared the saying, "If momma ain't happy, then nobody is happy." It really is true. Now I understand many people read it to say, then everybody better tow the line and walk on eggshells to ensure momma's happiness. But I read it, for me, to say momma you better get your act together, practice good self care, and understand the power your mood and mindset can have on your precious family. It can spread peace and warmth or it can wreak horrible havoc.

So what is the key to this? I think we have to lead an examine life. We have to be willing to peel back the layers and deal with the hard issues in ourselves so we don't blindly pass on our baggage and issues to our children. Seriously, if you refuse to deal with your issues and insist to practice the same broken behavior over and over again, how can you expect your children to do better? And isn't that insane to practice the same behavior over and over expecting a different outcome?

This post may be all over the place because it is swirling in my head. A few exampled leap to mind, self image and fear. I think these are biggies we pass on to our children and don't even know we are doing it.

I have met so many women who hate themselves. Listen to them and they will tell you. They are fat, stupid, lazy, worthless, pond scum really. Sometimes they will tell you outright. Sometimes it is in their "jokes". However they express it they are seriously in pain and are hurting so badly. Look at their precious faces. They are silently screaming for help but in their hearts they believe they are too worthless to be bothered with. They don't deserve to be healed and whole. They don't matter. I have seen these same women shocked and heart broken becasue their 9 year old daughters have started to repeat their self speak. They honestly cannot understand why their children would think such horrible things. They do not understand that as the mother, they are a role model and their children take most of their cues from momma. Mommas who hate themselves inadvertently teach their babies to hate themselves. It is heartbreaking.

The other thing is shame and fear. How many of deal with shame and fear? More than we would like to believe. How many examples do we give our children that life is a mean, scary, horrible place and it is better to never reach for the stars because you "might" fail. Instead of teaching our children that failure can be an amazing teacher or staring your fears in the face and overcoming it with determination, we teach them to hide and whatever you do, don't put yourself out there. You might get hurt. Are we truly willing to sacrifice joy, adventure, empowerment, and freedom because we "might" get hurt? Is that what we want to teach our children? To live a life of quiet desperation? That is better than rejection and possible failure?

John and I made a committment about many things when we first held our precious Hannah. There she lay, so warm and cuddled in my arms with her life stretching out before her. In that moment, we knew that we wanted to parent very differently than the norm. We knew we would fly in the face of many of the mainstream mainstays. We knew it would be hard but oh my, we didn't know it would be this hard.

You see, we are determined to raise children that are strong, independent, courageous, passionate, and willing to strike out on their own when they determine it is right for them. We pray they will love God and others fiercely and passionately. Throughout scripture we are command to do this and we are determine to raise our children to do just that. But you see, in order to do this, it means we have to get ourselves straightened out just a bit. (Hello, understatement party of one?) It means I have to face my fears, my baggage, my brokenness. I have to be painfully real and honest and not hide behind self-saving lies and niceties. It means I have to brook confusion and thoughts that do not have black and white answers but are filled to overflowing with murky shades of gray. It means I have to do the hard work and sometimes reopen a horrific painful wound so the puss and vileness can be cleansed and God can then heal me cleanly. We didn't know it would be this hard. But it is.

I have been struggling lately. Not with my faith per say because I believe wholeheartedly in God and in Christ. But there were other things, man made religiousthings really. Our church has just started a very long series on doctrine. Something within the first sermon filled my heart with purpose and understanding. It was stated that there are three types of doctrine, primary, secondary, and tertiary and it is primary doctrine that is really important. Don't let secondary and tertiary get you off balance becasue they are, in essence, debatable. It is primary that matters the most. For me that can be summed up with our life verse, I guess you could call it, Love God with EVERYTHING you have and love your neighbor (everybody not you) as yourself. Oh, and that means you better love yourself too.

So here is where I am, learning, delving, being in pain and joy. I ordered a couple of the books that is going along with the series. I also ordered a devotional from Tozer. I love Tozer. His writing speak directly to my heart. It should be here by Monday and I very much want it! I am going to spend the next several months refocusing on the primary doctrine of Christianity, my place in God's love, and whatever issues may stand in the way of God using me both within my family and elsewhere.

So momma understand, you really do set do set the tone for you home, your children, for life. It is so important for you to find peace and equilibrium. Don't be afraid of the hard work you will have to do to get there. It will be worth it. I promise.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Holy Overtraining Batman!!

Lately I have been crabby, grouchy, tired, out of sorts, unable to sleep, and in general, a malcontent. I seriously did not have a clue what was going on. I have thought hard about all the facets of my life to see what was going on with me. I finally figured out that my diet was trashed. We have been eating out far too much and even though I made the "healthier" choices, they were not nearly as healthy as when we eat at home. But I have been too tired, stressed, and crazy to cook like that. It was too much!

Then I started to think, I really have been very anxious and stressed lately. There is no reason for me to be that way. Life is good. I don't really have alot to worry about. So what was going on? Perhaps I was developing an anxiety disorder? Maybe I was going to need meds? What was I going to do? The more anxious I was, the more the kids, surprise surprise, were acting out resulting in momma being even more tightly wound. Seriously, not a recipe for success and happiness. In fact, we are spinning out of control quickly.

It couldn't be depression. I was still really productive. I am doing 3 runs a week, two of average length and run huge mondo run. I was kicking butt at my insanely intense two boot camp classes. In addition, I was making the effort to get the kids to the park, cleaning the house, keeping up with the shopping, starting spring cleaning, blah, blah, blah.

(Okay, okay, so it is completely obvious NOW. Hindsight is great but when you are in the midst of a maelstrom, you just hold on for dear life.)

I love my husband. He is an amazing man. He is warm, kind, loving, and supportive. But he is also very courageous. Have you ever had the courage to tell someone completely fixated on a goal something they did not want to hear, someone who is so passionate, so zealous to reach a goal that they become single focused to the point of craziness? My wonderful husband said to me, "Honey, I think you have to look at the very real possibility that you are overtraining." Nooooo!!! Not that. But he was right.

It has been too much. I am exhausted and spent. I was not allowing myself to recover so each day it was a little worse. Each day I woke up worse off then the day before. Right now I am feeling a bit ran over by a truck. But it is getting better.

This is another lesson in moderation. It appears to be a very hard lesson for me to learn. Life hasmany parts that come together and form our existence holistically. If one thing is out of whack, it all quickly goes out of whack. A few little decisions can shoot us careening down an unwanted path. It often takes longer than we would like and more damage than we are comfortable with before we make the necessary corrections.

Now let's talk about the damage. This is the vulnerable, authentic, and humiliating part. Due to my black and white thinking, my refusal to see the bigger picture have been failing my children and forcing them to deal with a momma they did not deserve. I have been crabby, impatient, even intolerant. I have become irriated, even angry over things that I know to be simply age appropriate behaviors. According to my husband, I held back in action but in thought I was thinking hateful things. And my poor, sensitive babies responded in kind. The worse I became, the more they acted out, and that just made me more irritated. I could cry over how unloving and ungracious I have acted. These have not been my best momma moments but I have definately learned some hard lessons. What it comes down to is what affects me affects them and I am the adult so I better get my act together.

The very realization of the true problem lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. I cancelled today and tomorrow's workout. I went to the good grocery store and bought the food we should be eating. I have spent time today prepping and cooking and will spend more time tomorrow. Mainly, I have spent time with my precious babies. We have laughed, sang, and cuddled. They have helped me cook and clean up. It has been a wonderful day.

As far as the half marathon goes, oh it is still on like Donkey Kong but modified. I am dropping the two boot camp classes and I will replace it with one day of good solid lifting. I will be aware from now on to the possibility of changing things around to accomodate my life and my family.

Looking back, the irritation with my children should have been a major warning that something was really wrong. If you knew me personally you would know that in general I am not necessarily a patient person and I am not one to suffer fools gladly. I am quick, (Isn't that a pleasant way to put it?) However, for some bizarre reason completely unknown and not understood by me, I have a crazy amount of patience and tolerance for my children. Huge messes that would send most mommas nutty are simply endearing to me. Hey, we can clean up together and that will be fun. Childish and age appropraite antics usually catch me trying to hide my smile because I know that they really do need to be corrected and redirected but they are so dang cute and funny! These ugly feelings surrounding my beautiful babies were completely unnatural to me. I was growing more uncomfortable in my skin and with life every day.

I guess the point of this story is to be open to really analyzing your life. Think hard and deep about what is going on with you. Think about your stresses, anxieties, the general tone of your life and find out if a couple of changes could improve it. In the past I have found that major issues could often be overcome by relatively simple and small changes either in habits, mindset, or both.

For me, it is never fun to be humbled but it is often necessary. I am not happy about what happened but I am so grateful that events transpired in a manner that headed off something I might regret long term. Moderation is such a difficult concept for me. Just more proof that I will continue to be a student in this life.

May you have a blessed and peaceful day. May you make decisions and changes that will bring joy, love, and laughter to you and those you love.