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. ūüė¶

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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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?” ūüôā

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

Finding Joy

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This week in my homeschool co-op, among the mom’s we talked about just this!!!

Apparently nearly all of us struggle with finding joy amid all the busyness and doing and being of life. There’s just SO MUCH ON OUR PLATES. It doesn’t seem to matter what your lot in life is: homeschool vs. public/private schooling, stay-at-home vs. working mom, no kids vs. 1-3 kids vs. 4+ kids/large family, etc.

Nearly all of us feel it. We’re all so busy living… but how much of us are really enJOYing?

I am so right there with ya. I’m feeling it, too:

I’m a wife.
I’m a mom of (7) children ages 15yr-2yr.
I’m a homemaker.
I homeschool.
I help my husband with some secretarial work for his business.
I’m a blogger/writer.
I’m involved in my church & community & 4H.
I volunteer.
I’m on (2) local Boards.
I have friendships & family relationships.
My husband & children have full lives as well that I must work around.
I have (2) high schooler’s at home that are quite busy with their schooling & sports & choir (soon to be driver’s ed. & getting jobs).

I’m not even going to include here doctor’s appointments, homeschool co-op mtgs/activities, meal planning/shopping & the actual making (& cleaning up) of meals, exercise, recreational activities, alone time, Bible study time, house/yard projects, paying bills, all the time I spend in the car driving everyone everywhere… etc.

Our house is hopping from morning till night.

To boot, I’m an introvert/HSP. And if you’re into the whole Myers-Briggs thing, I’m an INFJ. I require a ridiculous amount of alone time to process life & chill. I often struggle with anxiety & overwhelm.

In all this crazy living, it’s honestly really hard for me to stop & smell the roses.
Shoot, sometimes I miss the roses altogether. LOL

But if I had to guess, you’re pretty darn busy, too. Your “busy” looks considerably different than mine (for sure), but it’s there nonetheless. It’s real. You’re running & going almost non-stop. You’re trying to complete a seemingly endless list of to-do’s. You’ve got a slew of people that need you on the daily. You’re responsible for an incredible list of responsibilities.

Can I encourage you to: Slow Down

Breathe.

Just be.

Look around you.

Take stock.

Though we live in a fallen world, there is pure beauty and bliss all around us.
Look for it. Seek it. Think on it. Meditate on it. Get lost in it.

I don’t think JOY is just something that happens to us– it’s something we have to actively cultivate and nurture.
I don’t think it comes from any outside source or person or circumstance– it’s a practice we must regularly be involved in.
I think it’s like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
It’s not something handed to us on a silver platter– we ourselves have to hunt and search for.

Even amid the busy, JOY can be ours. It’s looking at our everything… and giving thanks:

“Thank You, God, for all these special relationships, all these activities on my calendar, all these opportunities to serve, all these growing experiences, and yes, even the trials and struggles– they are making me more like Your Son, Jesus.”

Joy comes from opening our eyes and seeing the wonderful that’s all around us… it also comes from a heart of gratitude.

So what’s bringing *you* joy today? What’s putting a smile on *your* face?

Let’s cultivate this together! Let’s practice this JOY. Let’s give thanks in all things.

#liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #JOY   #findingjoy   #encouragement   #stopandsmelltheroses   #practicejoy   #happinesscomesfromwithin   #gratitude   #lifeisbeautiful

Weekend Smiles

1) Early AM quiet time with the Lord. There’s just nothing like it.

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2) This gorgeous car was parked outside my house today while it’s owners went to get some ice cream at the nearby ice cream shop. I hope they don’t mind I was ogling/drooling over it.

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3) Salted caramels. Be still my heart.

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4) When my kids make hot breakfast’s for everyone.

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5) Please pardon the language in the title of this Podcast, but golly, this lady’s got some really good stuff in her podcasts concerning boundaries (and no, they are *not* filled with colorful language- she’s actually a very professional counselor.¬†). Listened to this gem today. So so good.

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 https://beyondbitchy.com/podcast/8-celebrate-the-no/

6) Also listened to this podcast as well. Really hope they post the other sessions!

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https://chipjudd.com/2018/02/02/boundries-ch-1-audio-recording/

7) Fires with my family!

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8) Bright colored clothing. Can’t it just ALWAYS be summer?!

 

Live awakened. Live fully alive.