Deep Thoughts With Mel: Weight “Loss”

I don’t know about the rest of y’all… but when I hear the word “loss”, something kinda seizes up inside me. I get a feeling of yuck & angst.

The word “loss” to me always seems to mean something BAD:

*I “lost” my job.
*I “lost” a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth.
*I “lost” money in the stock market.
*I “lost” my kid at Walmart.
*I “lost” my wallet or cellphone.
*I just got dumped or my friend moved away… I “lost” that relationship.

Loss = bad.

Can you think of any time when “loss” is actually a good thing? Cuz I can’t seem to think of anything.

SO… why do we use the term “loss” when referring to our weight?

If the term “loss” has such a negative connotation to it, then why would it all of a sudden be considered a *positive* thing in reference to our weight?

I know we’re talking semantics here– but stay with me…

If “loss” is almost always considered a *bad thing*, and by that I mean:
-something to avoid
-something not enjoyable
-something not good
-something painful
-something that causes grief & trauma
-something dark & not happy/cheerful
-something that’s not safe

And if our brains are regularly programmed to see loss as bad…

Then seriously, WHY relate LOSS with our weight?!

It honestly doesn’t make sense.

Maybe when we say things like “I need to ‘lose’ weight” our brains start firing (possibly totally unconsciously) with “no no no, that’s bad & not safe & possibly a painful thing & I am not going there!”?

What if what we call “semantics” is actually the very thing that keeps us from dropping in pounds/keeps us overweight?
What if the thought of “loss” is the very thing that’s causing our bodies to literally cling to the extra weight because that feels safe and loss is unsafe?

Maybe we should instead change our wording to something more choice-based and safe?

What if we said INSTEAD something like:
*I need to “let go” of this excess weight…
*I need to “release” this extra weight…
*This extra weight on my body is no longer serving me– I’m “allowing” it to go…

I’m serious, our brains are crazy amazing things. And words SO matter!!!

Talking like this to ourselves (and/or others) is basically saying that I’m “choosing” to let go… it’s “safe” to let go… I “want” to let go… it’s “ok” to say goodbye to the extra weight…

*Maybe our minds (& bodies) will finally begin to drop in pounds because it’s now a safe and happy thing to do.
*Maybe our minds (& bodies) can relax and finally let go.

What do you think?
Would a change of perspective and wording make the difference?
Does anyone have experience in success with re-wording their health journey?

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Deep Thoughts With Mel: Yelling Parents

From my experience, usually by the time a parent is screaming it’s because they’ve threatened and repeated so much that they’ve finally “had enough”. They can’t handle the disobedience any longer and so they blow their tops. Where that “too much” line is can change from day to day.

But there are other reasons for yelling, too:
-I’m distracted with XYZ and I don’t have the brain-space (or time) to deal with bad kid behavior right now.
-I’ve got some sort of inner turmoil (unrelated to the kids) that’s brewing inside and bad kid behavior (even minor) throws me over the edge.
-My mom/dad yelled so that’s just how I parent.
-I feel so alone in my parenting (lack of support)– I’m so frustrated, tired, and worn– I don’t have the energy to deal with yet another bad kid behavior situation.
-My yelling seems to be the only thing that gets them to jump and move so it’s just what I use because it works.
-Yelling just feels like a quick & easy option.

Whatever the reason(s) for the yelling, what I’ve observed is: it’s setting an unrealistic example to the child on how to properly respond to all forms of authority… and to God.

Most adults and those in authority *don’t* yell to get obedience. And if they do, that’s a flaming red flag that there’s dysfunction and that we may need to withdraw from that person or organization. It’s unhealthy. It’s an abuse of power that needs to be addressed.

Typically the way it works is: someone in authority makes a request. You can choose comply and there’s generally a good consequence. You can choose not to comply, and there’s generally a negative consequence (often done swiftly). It’s taken care of calmly, matter-of-factly. It is what it is.

You didn’t do _______ so ________ happens.”

No screaming or yelling.

In fact, in all my adult-ing years I can’t remember a single person in authority ever YELLING at me or anyone else to get obedience and compliance from another.

You don’t show up for your shift… you get reprimanded.
You don’t show up for another shift… you get fired.
No yelling necessary.
It’s not rocket science– it’s just a natural consequence for poor behavior.

But here’s the thing… the boss was serious the first time. Not the second time, or a third time, or when he’s good and mad and yelling. If a boss *does* threaten and repeat and yell to get his way, that’s poor leadership and the staff needs to address the issue or hightail it outta there! That’s poor business practice.

Normal people in normal positions of authority don’t normally yell.

So why do we yell at our kids?

Listen– I am NOT trying to lay on the guilt. And I’m certainly not exempt. I’m not a perfect parent that’s perfectly calm and kind and who never yells. No one is!

But just consider this with me: really, why do we yell?

Yelling is not the standard process in the real world– the one in which our kids will be entering at age 18.

And what about God? Does *God* yell at us to get obedience? Scripture says He speaks to us in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). I’ve never heard Him yell at me. He won’t yell at my kids (or yours) either.

Here’s a fantastic article on this: https://www.gotquestions.org/still-small-voice.html

So I guess I say all this because it’s been really affecting the way I parent as of late. It’s turning into a game changer for me– and I wanted to share my thoughts on yelling in hopes that maybe it will help other parents out there, too (and reinforce the concept in my own life).

If our children are expecting the future authority figures in their lives to threaten & repeat and/or yell at them to move… they’re in for a rude awakening. It may be super hard for them to hold down a job. As a yelling parent, I am not properly preparing them for adulthood and the work force.

And as a yelling parent, I’m not properly guiding them in their adult walk with God either. They instead need to quiet their hearts and minds, listen for, and slow down to hear God. If they wait for God to yell, in a much worse way than the job force situation above, they are in for an even ruder awakening. They may very well miss what God put them on this earth to do. They may even throw in the Christianity towel so to speak because they “never hear from Him– maybe He just doesn’t care… maybe He’s not even real”.

So rather than mustering up the energy to clean up my speech in my own strength (which has never worked in the past), I’ve instead been convicted in the heart about how I am preparing them for a fruitful adult life in the workforce and a fruitful walk with God. Somehow, in this paradigm shift to “future focus”, I’m much more able in the here-and-now to be patient and calm and matter-of-fact in my parenting.

I expect ________.
If you don’t do _______ then ________ is your consequence.

No yelling. No heated debate. No arguing.

Just plain natural consequences.

If we can learn to lead from natural consequences, then when our kids leave our homes and our authority: they’ll be ready… they’ll be prepared… they’ll have been trained to listen (the first time).

When I stick to natural consequences: it works! And I’m finding it actually requires a *quarter* of the energy that yelling does! The hardest energy requirement is having to stop & use my brain to look for the suitable consequence (which can take a bit of ingenuity).

I am SUCH a work in progress, y’all. I’ve got a long way to go. But I’m not a failure– just in training. And I’m SO glad that I have been made aware. That’s really what I’m wanting for all of us– to become aware, like *really aware* of how we are preparing our children for their future.

We need to pray for God’s help and creativity in parenting.
We need to be clear to our children on what our expectations are.
We need to begin allowing natural consequences for their disobedience to occur.
We need to stick to our guns and trust the process.

But awareness is always the first step.

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Spring Blessings

1) I have taken a big step of maturity these past couple of weeks– I finally reached out and asked for help regarding my anxiety/panic issues— and I’ve started seeing a therapist. Regardless of the fact that I myself graduated from college with a BS is Psychology and Addictions Counseling… it’s nearly impossible to diagnose and treat oneself– as I am “too close to the patient”. I have fussed with it now for six years. And though I have made some headway, it’s still there.

There’s just seems to be such a cultural stigma with mental health issues. It’s like people think you’re weak or something. It seems especially difficult if you’re a Christian: maybe you just don’t know/love/*trust* Jesus enough. That’s not helpful at all.

I’ve been to my therapist three times now and… it has just been an incredible experience. He listens and asks just the right questions. He points things out I’ve never noticed. He’s been able to put into words the chaotic feelings I’ve not been able to make sense of. His perspective is unique. He’s shared breathing exercises that I can do (even in front of people & they’d never know) to bring calm to my nervous system. He’s challenged me. He’s given me big things to ponder & wrestle with.

WHY ON EARTH DID I WAIT SO LONG TO GET HELP?!

I am NOT weak. In fact, it’s actually a pretty bold and powerful thing to actually admit you’re not Wonder Woman (or Superman) and to get help/perspective.

By no means have I got it all figured out yet– and I’ll prob be seeing him for awhile– but I can actually rest and relax now knowing that I’m not crazy or weak or forever stuck with anxiety. He’s pretty certain we can nip it in the bud. Praise God. Very much filled with hope right now.

If ANY of you are wrestling with anxiety or depression or whatever, please do NOT hesitate to talk to a therapist!!! You are not weak!!! You’re actually a super strong person to reach out and ask for help!!! I’m telling you, it will make a world of difference in your life!!!

2) I have decided to include along with my mental health therapy: running. Today, with three of my children, we laced up and hit the pavement. Dude, we are SO out of shape. (LOL) What a laugh we all had when the torture was over. But guess what, we’re still alive and we’re gonna do it all again tomorrow… for both our physical and *mental* health. It was slow-going but we put in 2 run-walk miles:

3) I am SUPER duper thankful for the ability to homeschool. I truly freakin’ love teaching my kids and providing learning environments for them. My older kids are mostly self-learners at this point and so the majority of my time is spent teaching my Little Ones. It’s just something I thoroughly enjoy doing. LOVE being with them and sharing life with them.

4) I was joking around today with someone about what our “spirit animals” would be. Now, I don’t really believe in spirit animals– it was just a silly convo we were having. But if spirit animals were a real thing, I would totally choose Pikachu. Such a cute little fun creature, seemingly harmless… but don’t ever cross him. (LOL) I am wearing this t-shirt today & it makes me so happy:

5) It is in the high 60F’s today!!! I AM LOVING IT!!! I LOVE having the windows open, feeling the breeze, smelling the outdoors, hearing the birds sing… I can’t explain it– but it makes my heart sing.

6) Loving/awesome neighbors that bring treats for my fam… just because. I could not have asked for more kind/better neighbors.

Enjoying Spring Break

1) After lunch, I took my little ones out on a long walk. Together we spotted the new growth & blooms all around– it’s like looking for nature’s treasures. They’d already played outdoors for at least an hour earlier… but they just can’t seem to get enough of the warmer temps, sunshine, and beauty all around. Honestly, I’m right there with them. Spring is very much to me a sort of “waking up” from Winter’s sleep and quiet. Warmer months make the kids and I feel so alive and happy and free. Here are a few of the “pretties” the kids spotted today:

2) I’ve decided to sort of change-up my parenting a bit to make it a little more positive. Mostly in the way in which I speak to my children. I’m forever telling my children (& hubby *wink*) that it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I hear what my loved ones say to one another… and though there is truth to the words in which they speak, it often sounds so doggone harsh! Biting! I try to walk my kids through speaking more properly and kindly, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. And then I noticed something… *I* speak harshly, too! *I* speak words of truth, but the WAY it is spoken often seems to have such a negative flare to it. 😦

So I’ve begun to make some changes in the way I speak to my kids:

Ex: honey, please don’t do that. You’re going to break it. Why not instead try rephrasing that with a little less negativity? Rephrase: honey, let’s respect property and treat it nicely. I basically said the exact same thing, but with less bite.

Ex: stop doing that! It’s annoying me! Rephrase: hun, let’s find something better to do with all that energy you got. How about _____ instead?

Ex: pick this stuff up! Stop leaving it in the stairwell. Rephrase: sweetheart, let’s take care of this before it gets stepped on.

It’s actually been making a HUGE difference in the atmosphere of the home. It’s been a whole lot quieter– I’ve had a lot more willingness from the kids to help around the house– the kids have been more loving and affectionate toward me– & they’ve even begun correcting their own speech toward each other. It’s hilarious listening to them say “let me rephrase that” and then trying to speak again more lovingly to their sibling.

I had no idea how negative/harsh my words and tone were!!!
Oh, that I will keep this up!!!
Cuz it’s working!!!

Momma’s, we have so much power & influence. Never for a second think what you’re doing is pointless or mundane or not making an influence in this world.

3) So I’ve decided to go back to using homemade wet wipes. I’ve used them on & off for years but haven’t done it in a while. Well, I’m back in the mood for the time being. 🙂

Came across these recipes: https://allaboutclothdiapers.com/my-three-favorite-homemade-wipes-solution-recipes/

I tried my hand at recipe #3: Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Wipes Solution. Instead of using paper towel, I cut up a piece of fleece into wipes-sized squares and put them in a 1 gallon ice cream tub. For all my wipes made, I ended up tripling the recipe. We’ll see how they do!

This is one batch of the solution.

4) I just LOVE making homemade bone broth!!! We use it for all sorts of recipes! It’s especially awesome to have some on-hand for when sickness strikes at home. Nothing like a bowl of broth with noodles to ease upset tummies or stuffed up sinuses. It’s like magic healing elixir. Plus, it’s made with love and I *swear* that love can be detected in my broth. 🙂

I keep all types of bone & veggies scraps from when I cook– saving them in the freezer. When my bags filled up, I would dump it all in a huge stock pot, add several cloves of garlic, add water close to the top– and then cook it down for several hours on the stove top. Strain & freeze. But now that I have an Instant Pot (8 qt), I can make a broth in 30 min (+ heat up/natural release/forced release time)– so maybe I’m not saving a whole lot of time IP-ing it. LOL

Man, it’s good!

Gratitude Du Jour

I am really-truly-absolutely-fully loving this winter and all the icy cold blasts & falling snow & days off & a MUCH slower pace to life.
A long, sweet season to breathe, relax, enjoy, get cozy, grow, heal, think, plan, dream.
Peace. Tranquility. Quiet. Stillness.
My newly snow-covered blue spruce, home to a beautiful family of cardinals, collected snow on its limbs, slightly blowing in the cold, biting breeze.
I’m a sucker for holiday window clings. Valentine’s is just around the corner. *LOVE*
Hot cocoa and marshmallows to warm you from the inside out.
Perfect after playing in the snow.
A sweet treat that brings big smiles to my loves.
“Hearts of Love” I write to each of my children from Feb 1 to Valentine’s Day.
Every day I write out just one thing I absolute ADORE about each child & leave them on the counter to greet them in the morning. Individualized. Personalized. Never a repeated note.
You can bet when they see them come February, the sleep from their eyes instantly vanishes.
They just LOVE getting love notes from their momma.
(And momma loves writing them, too.)
My kids end the morning with both full bellies & full hearts.  
Though all of my children are homeschooled, my two eldest kids take choir at the local public school. (Tra la la) We, too, celebrate all the days off from public school due to weather. Our days at home have been seamless, uninterrupted days of flow (much like holidays & summer vacation). It’s been a lovely break from the norm.
Surprise lunch dates with my honey. When he pops out of his office and on the fly asks if I can go out to lunch with him. Can’t believe we’re finally to the stage in parenting where this is even a possibility. He still takes my breath away.

No Winter Blues Over Here

We’re now on Day 3 of life around us basically cancelling for winter.

Public schools are closed. Mail is not being delivered. No city trash is being picked up. County offices were closed. No sport practices. Local board meetings rescheduled.

And for good reason! Here in the Midwest, we’ve been in an Arctic Vortex, with temps in the negatives and wind chills reaching a crazy -50F in some parts.

Baby, it’s ridiculously COLD outside!!!

When I check my social media, I keep seeing people complaining about the cold weather: its ill effects (likes pipes bursting & state officials asking people to drop their thermostats to 65F), people getting really squirrel-y, parents being SO ready for school to re-open, less business, the pain of rescheduling events, etc. You name it, and someone’s probably complained about it.

That snow tho… oh it’s been beautiful. And we’ve had lots of it– reminds me of the winters I used to experience when I was a child. Watching it fall is energizing… gives me goosebumps.

The kids have been enjoying all the frost:

We have a family of cardinals that live in the blue spruce right outside our kitchen window. When it snows, their colors just pop. And every time I see them, I tear up because they were my grandma’s favorite bird– I miss her so.

It’s cozy. Quiet. Laid back. Calm. Peaceful. So little stress and go-go-go of life and activity.

Lot’s of family nights of movie watching & board games. Extra time to KonMari the house and work on those long-neglected home projects.

It’s been a forced rest for everyone.

Rest brings rejuvenation. Rejuvenation brings productivity and creativity. It gives us some air space in which to think and plan. Helps us get schtuff done. It allows healing & growth.

So rather than being frustrated with the weather, try instead to enjoy this downtime and sweet rest we have been given. Take a breath. Get some extra sleep. Play with your kids. Write or paint or craft– cuz you probably haven’t done that in awhile. Bake up something yummy. Read. Visit a shut-in and *make their day*! Do some yoga or other exercise you enjoy. Make a cup of coffee or tea and get snuggly on the couch. Binge on Netflix. Get lost in your favorite music. Work on your gratitude journal. Call your parents.

SLOW DOWN. Enjoy this beautiful thing called LIFE.

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #slowdown #rest #restore #rejuvenate #stopcomplaining #dosomethingfun #enjoywinter

Meditate: Like A Child

As a child, I meditated all the time.

Now, I wouldn’t have called it “meditation” at the time– rather, I named it “playing outdoors“. But in essence, meditating was exactly what I was doing.

Sure I was out there making forts, climbing trees, go-carting & snowmobiling with the neighbors boys, stomping through ponds, etc. But I also spent hours (I literally mean: HOURS daily & weekly) just sitting there… staring out into nature… listening to the birds… zoning out… day-dreaming… watching the breeze rustle the leaves & grass… catching snow flakes & analyzing their intricate designs… observing bugs on the move… thinking about life & everything & nothing…

And if I wasn’t sitting somewhere, then I was hiking through the woods or riding my bike… usually alone… observing… fantasizing… entranced… wondering… quiet… smelling… watching… taking everything in…
Shoot, I was even out there tasting things: like wild strawberries & raspberries & apples I found, nuts that dropped from the trees by the road, clover, etc. (Nothing poisonous! LOL)

Rain… snow… sleet… hot… cold… Weather never deterred me. The world and nature absolutely entranced me. And anytime I got a spare moment, I would try to be out in it, enjoying whatever beautiful moment it could give me. Just couldn’t live without it.

It brought me PEACE inside.

HAPPINESS. CALM. BALANCE. RELAXATION. JOY.

And ultimately, it played a role in my SALVATION story. I’d heard about God & Jesus & the Holy Spirit & the Bible all at church. And one day, in one of my contemplative/enjoying-nature moments, something clicked inside me:

God knew every blade of grass, every leaf that falls, every call & feather of a bird, every snowflake, every star & cloud… How? Because He created all of it! And if nature is so amazing and beautiful and mesmerizing and entrancing and enthralling… then how much more is GOD, the One who made it all?! I finally shifted from worshiping the created to worshiping the Creator. He became my God & I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior on a warm summer sunset on a grassy hillside across the street from my house.


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Even during my college years… I made it outdoors nearly every single day to “meditate” alone: walking, rollerblading, finding a quiet bench/nook of a campus building in which to sit & enjoy nature (or journal), walking around the local park & along the river, sitting in my car with the windows rolled down/feeling the breeze, etc.

Something happened though when I became an adult/mother: my “mediation practice” pretty much stopped. Sure I took my kids outside regularly, but they wanted me to play with them, or someone pooped & I had to change a diaper :-), or they wanted to show me a caterpillar, etc.– nature was no longer a time without distraction. Plus, I had a bazillion kids (ok, 7… but it feels like a bazillion– *wink*)– so I was no longer able to spend time alone in nature like I used to. A one mile walk with my kiddos was about as far as their little legs could carry them– so gone were my long hikes & bike rides. And as much as I love my little darlings, they talk A LOT (like non-stop)– so my experiences with nature were no longer quiet.

Oh, my dear hubby would totally give me time-off from the mothering gig, but then in that time of freedom all I wanted to do was sleep (LOL).

I didn’t realize how vitally important getting alone in the quiet was for me (esp out in nature).
I didn’t realize it would totally fill my energy tank (& help me to be a better wife/mom/person).

I *could* have made it a priority.
I *could* have made time & opportunity for it.
I just didn’t understand how vitally important it was for my sheer sanity!

Do something enough & it becomes a habit. Do a habit enough & it becomes a script that constantly runs in the background (causing you to act instinctively without thought or notice). The habit of not getting alone (outdoors) to “meditate” had unfortunately become my daily norm. My “stress reliever” was now gone.

You can bet it caused me an emotional break at some point.
And you can bet anxiety/panic has been a close (but hated) companion of mine for the past almost 6 years.

About a year ago, I’d had enough: I wanted relief, I wanted release and rest and peace and just plain HAPPINESS. Since then, I’ve undergone HUGE strides of spiritual, emotional, and interpersonal growth (which I will share in future posts). I’ve plead with the Lord to help me see. And He’s been so loving in the process of bringing awareness. No big bites I couldn’t chew. Just consistent little baby steps that I could totally handle.

And FINALLY (like just here very recently!) I have become AWARE (thank You, Jesus!), have begun to peel back this layer of bad habit, and have been getting outside alone (yes even in these winter temps) to “meditate” in the quiet. And if it’s just too darn cold out, I’ve been MAKING the time to sit & do nothing indoors, to quiet my environment & mind, stare out a window, doodle in the frost on the windows, watch a candle flicker, listen to my fav calming music, stare at the ceiling, whatever! But it’s quiet… I’m alone… giving my mind a break… turning “off” for a bit.

It’s made me a better wife & mom. It’s made me a better homeschool teacher. It’s helped me become more patient and CHILL with disturbances. It’s helped calm me through stress & chaos that would normally undo me. It’s like I can finally breathe.

Meditation has deeply changed me. I SO wish I would have recognized the grand importance of maintaining my practice of “meditation” through all my early mothering years. Oh man, that would that have saved me a crap-ton of angst and turmoil and frustration and stress and just downright anger.

I’m finally so aware of it’s importance that I’ve been making it a daily practice for ALL (7) OF MY KIDS to meditate. No toys, no tech, no music, no writing/doodling, no nothing. Just go somewhere private & alone, either inside or out, and for 15-20 min daily they do NOTHING. No chores. No school. No conversations with their siblings. Seriously: nothing.

They say it’s the absolute BEST time of their day!!! They look SO forward to it. They even ASK me for it! “When can we meditate, mom?” 🙂

I’m beginning to finally see just how vitally important meditation is for EVERYONE: even little babies/toddlers, teens, adults, elderly, & everything in-between.

Quiet your heart & mind for just a few minutes each day. Call it what you want (meditation, quiet time, taking a rest, a break, etc) but just DO IT. Turn “off”. Do nothing. Listen. Sleep (if you need it). Enjoy nature. Give your mind & body a break. Just for like 15-20 minutes daily. Believe me, you will deeply enjoy it– and it will so help you to be your best!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #meditation #nature #getalone #turnoff #serenity #calmyourheartmindbody #itsthemostwonderfultimeoftheday #nevertoobusytomeditate

**And for all you Michiganders out there (that’s where I grew up!!!)… #puremichigan… you’ll enjoy this YouTube entry. Someone went down a dirt road/driveway somewhere in MI and recorded the local sounds of nature. BOY it took me back. It literally made me cry because THAT was my childhood. THAT was the background “music” of my childhood. I live in Indiana now and nature sounds a little differently– this was a total blast from my past– so thoroughly enjoyed it. I oftentimes actually listen to this tract when I’m alone & “meditating”. Enjoy!!! (esp if you’re from Michigan):

#yesmichiganthefeelingsforever #puremichigan