Pursuing What Sets My Soul on Fire (Jesus)

Being in a constant state of worship and adoration, service, gratitude, prayer, and confession are what set my heart on fire. Unfortunately my life has been just one struggle after another and my spirit has gotten lost in all of … Continue reading

How My Parenting Has Changed Over the Years

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This was a very difficult time in my life.  I was going through postpartum depression; I was raising 3 babies, 4 and under, by myself pretty much (Robert worked ALL the time).  Joey had just committed suicide (a few months earlier).  I was in a fog to say the least.  Behind that smile was a lot of pain.

I would barely survive the day and as soon as Robert got home, I would hand him the baby and leave.  Not every day, but a lot of days.  I didn’t keep up with laundry, clean the house, cook.  I just survived.

I did NOT feel like a good mom.  But I did the best I could under the circumstances.  I couldn’t help that Joey had just died.  I couldn’t help that I was going through postpartum depression.  I couldn’t do anything about the fact that Robert worked so much (We ended up leaving the camp we were at because of that, and life was still hard in different ways, but have never regretted leaving!).

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As you can see, we all look different these days.  Karis is now almost 11, Levi just turned 7, and Ethan is 8 1/2.  We have much more fun with our kids!

Since the earlier picture, I have been hospitalized twice for my mental health, I’ve been diagnosed properly, I am on great meds, I have been treated for alcoholism and work hard to stay sober, I have all day to take care of the house and laundry so I’m not feeling overwhelmed anymore (because the kids are in school), and I no longer try to work (because I know that I can’t… I’m fighting for disability now).

My parenting has changed over the years, my view of myself as a mom has changed, it has been over 7 years since Joey died, we are at peace with and love where we live and our life here at Camp Eagle (we will be here indefinitely unless God calls us elsewhere), the kids are in an amazing school where they are loved and valued, I’m much more patient, my house stays mostly clean, the kids can do chores (and they are excited about it with a sticker chart/rewards!), and so much more.

How am I different as a mom?

Well, for one, we rarely spank now.  When they were younger I spanked often out of anger.  I would spank and spank because I didn’t know what else to do.  I would spank Ethan so much that it hurt me as much as it hurt him.

Ethan threw a LOT of huge tantrums.  Those didn’t stop until the past few years.  He did throw some when I was homeschooling him, but he would do them in his room and come out just fine.  He has since stopped them completely.  I have taught him how to control himself better and he uses those skills (lots of pausing, breathing, and figuring out what emotion he is feeling).  Going to school has really helped him in this area.  I am much more patient with him and use a different form of consequences.

Typically, with the kids, we ground them and/or take away privileges.

It helps that their teachers give them consequences at school.  We (almost) always support the teacher (even if we don’t agree) and give them a consequence at home.  They rarely get in trouble at school these days!

They love their Wii U, Kindles, Minecraft, etc.  They don’t get to play on them all the time, but they lose the privilege for a few days to a week if they do something that deserves a consequence.  Sometimes we ground them from playing with friends (this is huge for Ethan and Karis).  We spank sometimes, but it’s usually for something big where they need a spanking and another consequence.  This is rare.

We have a conversation with them about why.  We discuss what the purpose of their decision was.  We talk to them about having control over their actions and how they interact with their siblings and/or friends.  We discuss the implications of their choices and how they affect others.  We talk about how they would feel if that was done to them.

We try to not discipline in front of friends, but sometimes we have to.

We use rewards when we can.

Are we always perfect at this?  No.  Do we yell?  Sometimes, but not near as much as we used to.

The thing that helps all of this is that the kids are older, able to discuss things, able to work through emotions, and able to control themselves better.  It makes a huge difference!

We have also learned what works for each child.  This has taken a long time to learn through trial and error.

It really helps that I’m not with them all day, every day.

I was much less patient when they were home all the time.  I was much less patient when I was homeschooling them.

They get what they need at school (social interaction with kiddos their age, being challenged, etc), then they come home and do homework and chores.  They have routine every day (which was lacking when I homeschooled them, mostly because I was either drinking or hungover).

My favorite part of the day is bedtime.  Most nights (not all) we read the Bible or a devotional.  We read out of a chapter book, we sing a worship song, and we pray (usually Ethan prays… it is precious).  I end most days (not all) in bed with each kid, talking to them about their day, their feelings and emotions, and what God is doing in their lives.  Most nights I end this time praying for them (not every night).

Karis and I have a Google Document where we write each other back and forth.  This has helped our relationship a lot!

Last night both Levi and Ethan made the decision to accept and follow Christ!  They prayed and asked for forgiveness, they understood the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross (and as Levi said, he washed away our sins!), they prayed for the ability to repent from their sins, and they decided to serve Jesus all the days of their lives (Ethan realized that what we do here at camp is serving Christ)!

I also discussed this with Karis again because she accepted Christ at a very young age and I wanted to make sure she understood.

They are all ready to be baptized!  We started going to a new church (very small church plant), and the pastor wants to have a little class with them before they get baptized.

We are also going to join the church.  We feel at home there.  I still want to talk about some things with the pastor that are different for me, but I’m sure it will be fine.  We’re looking forward to it!

I will always have something that isn’t perfect.

I get worn sometimes on the weekends when they are home all day.  Sometimes I let them play on electronics too much.  We often forget to have them brush their teeth at night.  When they are home for lunch, they often eat chicken nuggets and mac n cheese.  We don’t always eat healthy, but I’m okay with that.  We sometimes yell at them.  Sometimes I spoil them with too much candy, too many snacks, and sometimes I do too much for them that they can do themselves.  Recently I caught myself enabling them by making their beds, etc.  Robert reaffirmed this.  I am remedying that.  They have been cussing lately because they are learning new words on the bus with high school students.  We’re working on what words are not appropriate to say :-).  It’s new to them so it may take a bit of time.

Being imperfect keeps me humble and helps me rely on Jesus more.

I’m thankful that God has helped me learn how to be a better parent.  I have a long way to go, and that’s okay.  I’m just thankful that life is much more peaceful these days.

Weekend Prep

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I woke up late today, but have been busy ever since.  I’m finally sitting down (at 2:30) to blog about all that I have been doing today.

The first thing I did when I woke up was have my coffee, plan my day, and spend time in the word.  Today was day 1 of the Ruth study on She Reads Truth.  This is an old study… one that I missed in the past.  I’m not a huge fan of the one that is happening right now, so I went backwards.  It is fantastic.

Then I made beds (well, I had the kids make their beds but I went behind them and straightened them because I’m a perfectionist).

Then I straightened up the house.  This didn’t take very long because I tend to keep it clean these days.  Plus, I have the kids clean up after themselves.  It helps that they are only home in the evenings and on the weekends.

Here’s what the house currently looks like:

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I updated my meal plan for the month.

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Then I started my meal prep.

First, I cut veggies for lunches and dinners.

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Then I made healthy snack muffins.

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I prepped lunches.

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I made dinners for the nights that I will be going to town.

Veggie and meat sauce

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Whole wheat penne

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Taco meat

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I ordered some items from Walmart.com that I will need this week.  Friday, I will only have to buy ground beef, produce, and dairy!  I will also be picking up some pizzas from Papa Murphy’s for Saturday (my parents will be here).

Next I will be folding and putting away my one load of laundry for the day.

We will end the night by playing games!

 

Weekend Prep, on a Friday :-)

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This post is going to reflect more than just meal prep, but that’s a big part of what I got done yesterday.

Earlier this week, I cleaned the house really well.  Yesterday I “touched it up” by making all of the beds, wiping down sinks in bathrooms, cleaning the table and counters in the kitchen, catching up on dishes, vacuuming and sweeping, and catching up on laundry.

Here’s what our clean house looks like!

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Then, I got to work prepping meals for next week!

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I cut veggies (some of these were from last weekend).

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I prepped lunches for next week.

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I organized my lunch/fruit cup (for the kids) drawer.

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I organized the kids’ snack cabinet.

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I boiled eggs (well, instant potted eggs).

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I wrote out my meal plan for the next two weeks.

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I pulled the meat out of the freezer to thaw for the week.

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I baked breakfast cookies.  I used Kodiak Cake Power Cakes instead of flour.

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I made breakfast taco filling (this time only eggs and bacon).

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Today I will do one load of laundry and PLAY WITH THE KIDS!  I love that I am home on Fridays now!  I can get my prepping done instead of doing it on the weekends!

Grocery Geek, January 25th

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I bought groceries for most of 2 weeks, and I spent about $150.  I got a table full of fresh food!

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  • HEB long grain brown rice (2lbs)
  • HEB pinto beans (4lbs)
  • Aguilar flour tortillas (2 packages of 20)
  • HEB Corn tortillas (80 count)
  • Zulka sugar (4lbs)
  • Pyure
  • Duke’s mayo
  • HEB Coke Zero (3, 12 packs)

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  • Bananas (2 bunches)
  • Gala apples (3lbs)
  • Bell peppers (4)
  • Russet potatoes (5lb bag)
  • Sweet potatoes (4)
  • Roma tomatoes (6)
  • Jalapeños (3)
  • Avocados (5)
  • Broccoli (3 crowns)
  • Cabbage (1)
  • Carrots (1 medium bag)
  • Celery (1)
  • Cantaloupe (1)
  • 50/50 spring mix and spinach (1 small)

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  • HEB whole milk (2 gallons, 1 for yogurt)
  • HEB half and half (1/2 gallon)
  • HEB cottage cheese (32oz)
  • HEB sour cream (32oz)
  • HEB shredded cheddar (1lb)
  • HEB summer sausage (12oz)
  • HEB bacon (12oz)
  • HEB butter (1 lb)

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  • Ground chuck (4lbs)
  • Hormel natural lunch meat (4)
  • Farmhouse eggs (2 dozen)

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  • HEB frozen chicken breasts (36oz)
  • Kiolbassa polish sausage (2lbs, 11 links)
  • Kiolbassa beef sausage (2lbs, 11 links)
  • HEB whole chicken (1)
  • Grands biscuits (1)
  • HEB hummus (2 snack packs)

In the next two weeks, I will need:

  • More HEB Coke Zero (yes…)
  • Milk (2 gallons)
  • Eggs (2-3 dozen)
  • And maybe some produce (we’ll see… this may last)

I love grocery shopping!

 

Remembering What’s Important

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Today as I was looking at my memories on Facebook of years past on the same day, I came across a blog that I wrote a year ago today (It’s Been a While).  It was exactly what I needed to read.

You don’t really have to read it because the important stuff will be quoted here.

A few reminders:

I am unable to work.  I have tried and tried.  I thought an at home, part time, computer job would be the dream job because it’s more simple than teaching, but it proved to be just as difficult for me as my previous jobs.  I have never been able to keep a job because of my mental illnesses, and I just don’t see that changing.  I have been denied for disability twice and am now working with a lawyer to try to get it.  It’s hard because I’m okay when I’m not working, but my anxiety and depression are terrible as soon as I start working!  It’s hard to explain that to social security!

I truly do have a sick brain.  My bipolar has been under control, but I’m still working on managing my anxiety.  I go to counseling once a week for cognitive behavioral therapy (for anxiety), take lots of medications (6 for my mental health alone, plus supplements and 2 other meds), practice lots of self care, daily prayer and Bible study, and go to AA (including meetings 3-4 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor once a week, and daily gratefuls) for my addiction to alcohol.  These are the only way I’m managing right now.  Without these, I would be really struggling.  It takes a lot of work!

I am back to the food freedom, body positivity, anti-diet life.  I wish I had stuck with that last year instead of ditching it and dieting again (for 3 months!).  For some reason summer is a huge trigger for me to diet.  I don’t understand why.  I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again this year.  I am now in several groups that focus on these things, so hopefully I’ll stick with it! I wrote this in last year’s post: “I am learning to finally accept my body the way it is.  I am finally DONE with diets and hard exercise programs.  I am learning to eat to nourish myself (and sometimes that involves a doughnut), move for enjoyment, and I am okay with the fact that I may never be the size I once was.  I have kind of become anti-diet industry now and am un-following everyone that focuses on that (especially the pyramid scheme marketing companies that sell stuff for “weight loss”) because I don’t need that un-healthy view of bodies staring me in the face.  It has brought me so much freedom.”

I’m back to this 100%.  Exactly the same thoughts and feelings, unfollowing people, the freedom it brings, etc.

 

My family has been and continues to be my support.  Without them I don’t know where I’d be.  Between being passively suicidal many times, dealing with alcoholism, and my severe anxiety, it’s been a very hard thing for us all to deal with.  I mean, my kids had to live with my parents for almost a month.  They were completely out of their normal routine, not doing much school, and missing me and home (not my parents’ fault at all, just not normal life for them).  Robert has stood by my side in sickness and health.  He supports me at my worst and at my best.  He loves me for who I am, not who I wish I could be.

One of the biggest things that I have been struggling with is feeling like my blogging doesn’t make a difference.  I do blog for myself mostly, but I want to know that I’m not just blogging for myself.  Yesterday I was reminded that I am speaking to people (I received a private message from an old acquaintance).  Even if it’s just a few, it’s worth it.  I want this blog to be full of authenticity.  I will always be open and real.  I may share things that I’m good at, and that’s okay too!  I’m learning to be confident in the gifting that I have.  I pray that it is all used for God’s glory and not my gain.

Last year I wrote: “This blog will never be what is viral out there, and I’m okay with that. If my blog never grows, then I’ll just know it is for the people who need it, when they need it. I trust God with it all. Numbers don’t matter to me. It’s authenticity and depth that I’m looking for. So, my hope is that you will always find that here. I may not always post about mental illness, but that is typically what I post about. Hope you’ll stick around!”

And now I post about alcoholism because I’ve finally come to terms with that (AA step 1!).

In the midst of it all, God is good and sovereign.  He has a plan, and He will be glorified through it all.  I am me, and I am made the way I am for a reason and a purpose.  I am thankful for the freedom that I have in Him to be that person that He created me to be.

Year in Review… What Led Me to La Hacienda… Upcoming Year

This year has been one of big changes.

It started out with me homeschooling just Karis.  We both LOVED this.  Karis grew so much.

Then I brought the boys home in March.

I had major anxiety issues when I brought them home.  Struggling through Hyperventilation Syndrome again.  This basically means that I was hyperventilating 24/7 (well, not when I was sleeping).  It was so difficult.

My doctor ended up putting me back on Lexapro and with-in a week, it was gone!!  I haven’t struggled with it since.

Even though I planned to continue homeschooling through the summer, I ended up stopping for a month because Ethan was struggling so much.  I thought that a break was just what he needed!

I went back on a diet (it’s what I do during the summer apparently).  I did that diet for 3 months this time!!  Whew.  It was very rough.

We went to Glorieta, NM for Family Camp.  It was fantastic, but I struggled with anxiety while we were there.  We ended up leaving a day early because I just needed to be home because of that anxiety.

We picked back up on homeschooling immediately when we got back.  I thought it was going pretty well!  But what I didn’t know is that I was drinking to cope with being with my kids all day every day, homeschooling, and anxiety surrounding it all.

I drank a lot no matter what.  I had a compulsion to drink.  Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  I got sick from it multiple times a week.  I had times when I was shaky without the alcohol.  I didn’t realize that those times were withdrawal.  Many, many times I drank or got drunk before having community get togethers.  Robert was incredibly worried because of this.

Finally on October 12th, after being sick yet again from being drunk, I decided I didn’t want to live that way anymore.

I emailed the leader of the Celebrate Recovery that I had just started going to, asking for names of treatment centers in the area.

This led me to La Hacienda.

This was the hardest and best decision I’ve ever made.  Leaving my family for a whole month made me struggle desperately with the decision.  Luckily they got me in the next day or I might have changed my mind.

La Hacienda was amazing.  I actually miss it in lots of ways.  I connected with people who were like me.  I learned to accept people in ways that I never had before. I made new amazing friends that will be friends for life.  I learned all about alcoholism and addiction and the fact that it’s a disease.  It’s something that 15% of the population struggle with.  It kills so many people.  It’s a deadly disease.  Lots of people there have been to jail, prison, and been through so much.  Many had been in the hospital multiple times because of it.  Most people had very high liver enzymes (mine were kind of high, but not terrible).  This is what leads to death for many.

While I was at La Ha, I made the really hard decision to stop doing something that I loved for the benefit of my kids and for self care.  I decided to put the kids in school.  And Robert and I decided that this will be a forever decision.

My sobriety has to come first.  From now on I will be going to town 2-3 times a week for AA.  I will continue my step work until I’m through the 12 steps, then I will begin sponsoring women.  My life is completely new and exciting.  I will be bringing my experience, strength, and hope to other alcoholics!  I will serve in AA.

I will also continue focusing on self care.  It’s what will help with my mental health as well as sobriety.

This self care means that I love myself just the way I am.  I eat healthy for self care, and I eat unhealthy for self care.  I will start yoga soon and maybe pick up hiking again, all for self care.  I will continue picking up healthy habits including working on my sleep habits, drinking more water, and picking up fun hobbies.  Getting up early and spending time in the Word, praying, and meditating are all part of self care.

I will begin serving my community.  I know that we are here for a reason and a purpose, and I want to live that out.

I will continue working on purging our home to make it a less stressful place to live.  I will continue being organized because that’s self care for me.

We will continue working hard on budgeting and sticking to the budget so that we can pay off debt and have money in savings.  Now that I’m not spending a fortune on alcohol, it’s possible!

Life is so good.  I never imagined that I would be in a place that I was mentally healthy, sober, and living the life I only dreamed I could have.

God is so good!  He is the reason for it all.  I wouldn’t be where I am without Him.

Here are some pictures of this past year!

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As you can see, even through the hard times, it has been a great year.  The hard times just made me a new person!  I cannot complain about those times.  I’m so grateful today!

Perfectionism and Pride

I am working on my AA Step 6 right now and my sponsor has me making a chart:

  1. Character defect
  2. How it has helped me
  3. How it has hurt me
  4. What life would look like without
  5. Counter behaviors

One of the character defects that I am working through is perfectionism.  It’s all very rooted in pride.  I make things appear perfect where I know people will see.

I share pictures of my clean house (but not the piles of stuff that I have in places).  I keep the living areas clean so if people come over, they will think I have a spotless house.

I share my household notebook (and not the unused pages).

I share the whole foods that I eat (but not the processed food that I eat).  I feel the need to justify anything that isn’t “perfect.”  For example, I LOVE Coke Zero, and I always justify it saying that I drink it because I can’t quit right now since I am trying to stay sober and focus on that.  Instead of just saying I like it, so I drink it.

Here are some things that I do that aren’t perfect:

  • I sometimes yell at my kids
  • I don’t mop often (it’s hard to tell the difference either way)
  • There are piles and piles in my bedroom and the kids’ bedrooms (well, mostly Karis’)… I need to purge.
  • I don’t wash sheets very often (I plan to do it weekly, yet I rarely do it)
  • I like pop tarts, chips, sugar in my coffee, Little Debbie snacks, cookie dough, pizza, doughnuts
  • Even though I plan to do certain things every day (read my Bible, prayer journal, meditate, etc), I don’t always get around to it (I do about half the time).
  • I try to control situations and people that are out of my control
  • I can be very self-centered

Here are some pictures of what I would normally share (the clean parts of my house):

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Here are some pictures of things that I never share (the messy parts of my house):

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All of this proves that I really don’t have a perfectionism problem as much as I have a pride problem.  I only share the things that appear perfect…

This post is for those of you out there that think I have it “all together.”  I don’t.

Forming Healthy, Long-term Habits

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I have tried so many diets and ways of eating that I have lost track.  And here I am, at my highest weight and biggest size.  I know how to eat healthy, I just don’t do it consistently.  I also have rarely been consistent with exercise!  It’s all because I haven’t formed habits… I just tried an all or nothing approach.

Yesterday I stumbled across a Facebook group called Healthy Habits Happy Moms.

I’ve been lurking in the group today… watching videos, reading posts, reading comments, etc.

They are NOT an anti-weight loss group.  Weight loss CAN be healthy.  But what they ARE is an anti-diet and anti-extreme exercise group.  They focus on loving your body the way it is.  They focus on self care.  Everything that I’ve been trying to find in one place.

They talk about how it’s healthy to allow yourself to eat “non-healthy” foods in moderation.  Having some chocolate, cake, cookies, etc is not a bad thing.  It can be a good thing!  They are not anti-sugar or carbs or fat.  They feel that all of those fit into a balanced diet.

Their website Healthy Habits Happy Moms says, “We are not about strict meal plans, good and bad food lists, or nutrition and workout dogma.”

This website and Facebook group is a breath of fresh air for me.  For someone who has been struggling with these areas for years, I feel like I might be able to be successful.

A few things that are important: 1) Focusing on a few new habits at a time instead of an all or nothing approach, 2) short, daily exercise, and 3) focusing on self care.

I purchased their HHHM Strength Circuits exercises ($22).

There are 6, 10 minute or less workouts and 5, 20 minute or less workouts.  There is a warm up exercise and a workout calendar included.  The calendar has 3 of the circuit workouts, cardio, recovery, and rest days included.

The new habits that I’m going to start (now) are: 1) Drinking half my body weight in water a day (reducing my Coke Zero intake… shooting for stopping completely over time), 2)  Drinking hot tea and raw honey at night instead of decaf coffee with sugar and flavored creamer, and 3) Working out, starting with 3 days a week, then increasing each week until I work out 6 days a week.

I will continue eating the healthy way I know to eat, allowing myself some “unhealthy” foods some, too.  I will continue taking my supplements (raw whole foods vitamin, cod liver oil, and B12).

I’m super excited and at peace in an area that has been bringing me so much turmoil for years.

Changing My Expectations and Setting Priorities

"Priorities" Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Well.  Here we are again.  I had all of these ideas and expectations about what life would look like now, and I’m “not measuring up.”

Robert and I talked this morning and he thinks I need to come up with a few priorities right now and make decisions about life right now (for the next 3 months) based on those priorities.

I wrote a post called Spiritual, Mental, Physical, and Emotional Health, and I had all of these lofty ideas that I could pull it all off.  Little did I know that driving every day was going to wear me out.  Lack of finances (because of driving 5 days a week to town and seeing a counselor twice a week) wins out over wanting to eat naturally and all real foods.  Plus just my love for a few things wins out (Coke Zero and pumpkin creamer).  I want to enjoy the little things for now.  I’m giving up something that has been a big part of my life for several years (alcohol), and it’s a powerful thing to give up.  I need to be satisfied with that for now.  I can re-visit wanting to eat all real foods in a few months!  I will continue eating balanced, though.  I love baking so I will eat homemade bread and homemade breakfasts.  I will continue taking my lunch to town, which means I eat healthy lunches.  I also eat healthy dinners mostly (unless we eat in the dining hall).

I will exercise as I have time.  When I have nothing in my afternoons, I’ll have time.  The times that I have lots going on in a day (like yesterday), I will be okay with the fact that I cannot exercise.  Life goes on.

My main goals are sobriety and spiritual/emotional/mental health.  They go hand in hand.  If I have all these goals that I cannot attain, I’m not taking care of my emotional/mental health.  If I exercise and don’t have time to spend time in the word, I’m not taking care of my spiritual health.  I will do the best I can as I get through a hectic 3 months.

Let’s try this again.  Here I go.  I can do this with the Lord’s help.