Over-Breathing, More Natural Remedies, and My New Focus

One of my best friends spent some time Monday sharing a bunch of links with me about hyperventilation syndrome (also called disordered breathing or over-breathing).  I didn’t read all of the links, but I found a few really helpful ones that made me feel like I’m not just making this up.

From Breathing Works:
“Disordered breathing occurs when upper chest breathing, usually at a faster rate and through the mouth, becomes the dominant pattern of breathing. Disordered breathing can also include big sighs, yawning, breath holding, feelings of breathlessness, or feeling unable to take a good breath in or out. Over time, disordered breathing can cause a large variety of symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, pins and needles, chest pain or tension, blurred vision, feeling easily overwhelmed, and constantly on edge.”

From Physiotherapy for Hyperventilation:

“How do I know if I am over-breathing? You may not be aware that your breathing is wrong or you may be aware of some, or even all, of the following most commonly experienced symptoms:

(I have most of these, though some of them aren’t constant.)

  • Frequent sighing and yawning
  • Feeling breathless, even after relatively minor exercise
  • Difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating
  • Breathless when anxious or upset
  • Pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling permanently exhausted and unable to concentrate for no apparent reason
  • Throat symptoms (I clear my throat constantly)
  • Muscular aches and tension around the neck/shoulders/jaw
  • Bloated feeling in the stomach
  • Light headedness

 

What causes these symptoms?

When we over-breathe we eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide on every out breath.

This causes a chemical imbalance affecting many of the body’s systems. The results can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, causing us to become anxious. This can further upset our breathing pattern and a vicious circle develops.

Triggers
You may be well aware of a particular event or experience that triggers your over-breathing, although this is not always the case. Possible triggers include bereavement, anxieties at work or home, altered breathing due to chest disease, (e.g. asthma) or following surgery.

(My trigger was anxiety)

How can I help myself?
Become aware of the way you breathe…
and how it may vary in certain situations. By learning to control the rate and depth of your breathing, i.e. retraining:
Learn to nose breathe.
Try to stop yawning and sighing.
Focus your breathing gently into your abdomen, avoiding excessive upper chest movement.
Become aware of your posture and learn to recognise areas of tension in your body.

Exercise…
This can be a good way of increasing your general feeling of well-being and self-confidence. If exercising is particularly difficult, discuss this with your physiotherapist.

(Exercise makes it worse right now but I think I’m going to try yoga.)

Diet…
Variations in your blood sugar levels can contribute to your symptoms, so:
Avoid large meals, particularly late at night.
Eat regularly
Take healthy snacks between meals”

(I’m working on this.  I’m not always consistent with my eating.)

 

I read somewhere else (can’t remember where) that reflux is a symptom, and I’ve been struggling with that as well.  Papaya enzymes are my friend!  I tried them Monday night, and they worked almost right away.

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More Natural Ways that I’m Working on my Anxiety

Meditation and Breathing Training

I have two great apps that have worked really well for me.  I wrote about the meditation one before (Meditation Studio), but my friend shared a different one with me yesterday and it made a HUGE difference just using it a couple of times!

The app is called Breathing Zone.  It’s really simple.  It just has you breathe in and out in different amounts and times.  It completely reset my breathing.  Then I struggled again, then I started focusing on breathing through my nose only.  I have also been meditating when I first go to bed.

I took a picture today of myself before I started my breathing re-training while resting this afternoon.  I look kind of a mess (no makeup, hair everywhere, and zits), but I’m just thankful that I have these resources!  They have helped so much!

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Essential Oils
I received these essential oils from a friend yesterday, and I was floored.  She bought me 11 oils and some Stress Away bath bombs.  I totally don’t feel deserving of this.  Young Living EO’s are NOT cheap.  I’m praying that they help me!!!

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I no longer have a diffuser, so I ordered a pretty inexpensive one off Amazon.  Hopefully it works okay.  Diffusers from Young Living are at least $60 and this one was only $20!  It looks promising.  I will probably buy another one in a few weeks to have one in the living room and one on my desk in my bedroom.  We’ll see.

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I used to be anti-oils but I have decided that I am willing to try anything and my friend is helping me out SO much with this so I will try all of my options!

Supplements

I take a lot of meds (Buspirone, Lexapro, small dose of Lithium, Lamtictal, small dose of Risperdol, Propranolol, and Gabapentin), but I’m actually hoping to reduce soon because my doctor and I feel that I’m on too much (which I think has been causing me more anxiety).  I will always have to take meds, but less would be better.

I recently shared about all of the supplements that I take (Rescue Remedy as needed, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics), but I have recently added 5HTP with Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin B Complex.

I also ordered Epsom salt to use with essential oils in baths consistently.  I bought a “Sport” one because it was $5 cheaper ($10 instead of $15 for 5lbs)!  If I find that I’m going through a lot, I will buy a 19lb bag because it’s so much cheaper.  We’ll see.

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Acupuncture

When I was really struggling a few days ago my counselor suggested I try acupuncture.  I have never been open to that before in the past, but I was desperate and I made an appointment at a place called Kerrville Community Acupuncture.

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I ended up canceling the appointment when I noticed that they breathing re-training was WORKING.  It is always a fall back, though, if my anxiety gets bad again or if it just doesn’t settle down long-term.  The acupuncture does a lot of good things so it would never be bad to do.  I just don’t want to spend the money now (although she is pretty inexpensive with a sliding scale!).

Bible Study, Journaling, Prayer, Worship 

This is the most important one.  I have been struggling so much spiritually and I talked with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about not totally trusting God because He allows such bad things to happen.  In the midst of my suffering with the breathing issue (it’s TERRIBLE you guys) and having to put the boys back into school (again), plus thinking about the gruesome suicide of my brother and mine and my brother’s mental illness in general, I was just low.  She was amazing and shared lots of scripture with me, but I just couldn’t hear it.

The past few days I have been reading from an app called the First 5, and the study is on suffering.  It’s so perfect and exactly what I need to be reading right now.  It has you read a chapter out of scripture (starting with Job, and I read out of my study Bible with commentary), then there is a devotional to follow and an open-ended question that it asks at the end where you can type your answer right into it.  I am also using my Quieting Your Heart journal that I’ve shared before in the past.

Then I spent some time listening to worship music (which I haven’t been doing as much lately) and it was so perfect for my heart.  I could “hear” God speaking to me again for the first time in a long time.  I could feel His love.  I felt hope.  It’s been a while since I have felt hope.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me today, and He comforted me and was my counselor.  I have needed that for a long time.  Years.  I am convinced that I need to trust Him to be that for me more often.

Speaking of… I decided to pull out a book that has been on my bookshelf for like 8 years.  I read a couple of chapters when I got it but never finished it.  I totally forgot what I read those 8 years ago.  It’s called Forgotten God and it’s by Francis Chan.  I started reading it again today and it spoke so clearly to me.  I’m looking forward to actually reading it all the way through this time :-).

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I’m keeping most things off of my plate right now.

My new focus is my relationship with Jesus, my family and friends, keeping my anxiety low, going to AA (and staying sober), homeschooling Karis, and “healthy” habits that I have been doing for a long time (including gratitude, meal planning, meal prep, self care, keeping the house mostly clean, and one that I have been working on for about 5 months but still have a long way to go… self love).  That is all I can handle at the moment. And honestly it’s a lot!  What keeps triggering my anxiety is trying to do too much (all of that PLUS a movement habit, still feeling the need to focus on weight loss, planning other Balance 365 habits, planning a backpacking trip that I’m not ready for, homeschooling all of the kids which is the biggest thing, etc), so I will NOT make that mistake again, for a while at least ;-).  Now if I can keep my perfectionist brain away!

Scaling Back, Learning through Anxiety, Healthy Habits, and Becoming More Relaxed

Yesterday morning I was having an “I hate mental illness” day.  I went to bed with a lot of anxiety and that stupid breathing issue again.

After some time and talking things out, I figured out WHY I was having anxiety, but it didn’t make me hate mental illness any less.

I have still been putting too much on my plate.

I will feel really good so I’ll pile stuff on my plate.  Then I will have anxiety, and throw it off.  Good, more.  Anxiety, less.  Rinse and repeat.  I was talking to ladies in my Home of the Croslands group and one of my friends said that it sounds like a bipolar thing.  Then another friend said that it sounds like an anxiety thing.  But whatever it is, it has been something I have struggled with for years and years.  I guess, ultimately, it doesn’t need a label.  I just need to learn how to cope.

Also, Tuesday, I was obsessing about curriculum again ALL day.  I wrote a blog post that took me HOURS (I have since deleted it).  All I was thinking about was homeschooling curriculum and mostly about ALL of the resources that I have (SO many)!

And then there is the whole *hiking as my new habit* for the Balance 365 program that I have been feeling guilty about not doing even though I said I would!  I had a goal of getting to hiking every day and that was over my head.

I have just been feeling overwhelmed.

Yesterday afternoon Ethan went to town with Robert so I let Karis and Levi just be on electronics so that I could lie down.  I was in bed for quite a while and couldn’t ever fall asleep, but it was still really good.  I listened to my Serenity Spa Music and just focused on my breathing.  It was very beneficial for me.

Then I got up and wrote in my Balance 365 group that I am struggling with my first habit, still.  One of the founders and a coach both reminded me that it needs to be so easy that I am 90-100% sure that I can stick with it.  I’m realizing that the 4-5 days a week of hiking is just way too much for me right now!  So I told them that a few weeks ago the kids and I started hiking once a week for their nature studies and they told me that would be enough for now!  If I’m 90-100% sure I can stick with that, then do that for a while.  Once I’m consistent with that for about a month, then I can add more to my plate.  This is going to be a VERY slow process and that is so hard for me to get used to!  I’m so used to dieting and exercising hard for a little while and not being able to continue because that’s not sustainable!  I can do 1 day a week!  I’m hoping to add in another day after Family Camp :-).

I actually have a lot of good habits in place: daily self care, one load of laundry a day, getting the kids to do their daily chores, making my bed each day (most days at least), tidying the house most days, once a week “big clean,” mostly healthy meals (balanced), meal planning and prepping (every 2 weeks),  and most importantly, I’m almost 9 months sober (on Sunday!).

Then there’s the whole curriculum and book/resource thing…

I was sooooooo overwhelmed after looking at all that I have.  Thinking about coming up with my own units for science (in addition to Apologia and nature studies) using living books in addition to our history curriculum, and just having ALL of the books and resources was too much.  And trying to do The Good and the Beautiful AND Brave Writer was too much.  So I’ve decided to reduce and scale back.  I keep having this fear that if I scale back it won’t be enough, but I’m learning that the kids need me healthy and it actually benefits them in many ways to reduce what we do.

I decided that for the next few weeks (until Family Camp… we leave on the 19th), the kids will just do math and read for 20 minutes.  We will also do nature studies once a week.

After Family Camp (we come back on the 29th) I will add in The Good and the Beautiful, then after labor day (after Robert and I get back from our backpacking trip), I will add in science and history.

This is my plan for the fall:

  • The kids will read independently for 20 minutes per day.  Karis will read extra to do her history novels (1 per month).  She’s 11 and can handle that.  And she loves to read.
  • The Good and the Beautiful language arts covers all of this, a little bit each day: Phonics, reading/literature, poetry, spelling (with additional activities that I came up with), grammar, writing, art appreciation, and geography.
  • I’m scaling back on the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  We will do Poetry Teatime because the kids love it (but even if we miss a week it won’t be the end of the world).  The kids like Friday Free-writes, so we will continue that most Fridays (I told them that they didn’t have to, but they want to). Copywork is through G&B handwriting.  No consistent dictation (only once in a while).  No writing projects for now (Brave Writer Partnership Writing).  I have this for good (it is a pdf so I can’t sell), and we can always add them later if we need/want to.  We will continue movie nights and playing games because we’ve always done that before Brave Writer.  And like I mentioned, we will do nature studies.
  • Instead of reading aloud (for morning time), we will listen to audio books: Shakespeare, The Action Bible (I also bought the book for them to take turns following along), and novels (some classics, some newish books).  If we don’t get to it in the morning we will do it before bed (or even in the car).  I won’t be strict about this… just several days a week.
  • Math will be the same: Math U See with some Kumon books thrown in for extra practice.  Karis is JUST doing the Kumon division book right now to practice.  Like I’ve said before, she’s a few years “behind” in levels because she really struggles with math.  That’s okay.  She’ll get there.
  • We will do Apologia Astronomy for science and Exploring Nature with Children (with the Handbook of Nature Study) for nature studies.  We will not add in extra fun units for now even though I have a TON of living books.  This may be something I add in eventually, but I need to keep it SIMPLE for now.  I have the Apologia text, note booking journals, and the lab kit with the materials in bags labeled with the lesson on the outside.  Karis will do every part of the notebooking journals (including taking notes, answering questions, doing vocabulary crosswords, project recording, mini books, and more), but the boys will do less.
  • Story of the World for history:  The boys will answer the questions and do narration orally.  Karis will do written questions and written narration over what we read together.  She will also read the novels on her own to go with it (one a month) and do a book project over it.  We will do the internet links through the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History together because they are fun videos.  I probably won’t do any extra projects through history.  Maybe every once in a while.

That’s still a lot but I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.  I won’t use many “living books” after all because I just can’t right now.  And that’s okay.

This is all of the stuff that I WON’T be using (at least not intentionally, for now):

Everything that I’m using is in the kitchen/dining room where we do our school (well, except novels that the kids will choose from).

I’m in the process of making a list for the kids’ independent work to put in their binder, but mostly for Karis.  She will be involved in the read alouds of science and history and will branch off for the rest.  I’m going to make her level of the Good and the Beautiful more independent even though it’s supposed to be together (we started on level 3 even though she’s 11 because this curriculum is advanced and she doesn’t have a solid foundation in grammar).  I will find a way to make it work because she is ready for independence (she WAS independent before the boys came home).  Also, making her more independent will actually help me out a ton.

I’m also going to make things more relaxed.  As long as we get things done in the day, we’re good.  Ethan is doing better these days without a strict schedule so I’m trying to have more of a routine and not a schedule.  I want the kids to be able to stay up for fun camp activities, to have people over, and to just have movie nights and game nights.  So I want them to be able to sleep in if they can/want.  Of course Ethan CAN’T sleep in no matter how late he stays up, so we’ll have some limits :-).

 

One of the biggest things that I am learning is that I can use the breathing issue to my advantage.  I have noticed that when I am doing too much and I get overwhelmed, I struggle with my breathing.  When I take stuff off my plate, I feel better.  So if I struggle with breathing, I will evaluate what I need to take off my plate!

I also just keep telling myself “grace” over and over anytime I get a thought in my head that I “should” or “need to.”

Now to print this off and hang it on my bulletin board!  Haha!

 

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.