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

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.