We Can Do Hard Things (with the power of Christ!)

Whew.  It’s only Wednesday and I feel like it should be Friday.  This week has been long and it has been a struggle for Karis and I.

I’m currently sitting in our wonderful library sipping coffee (they have a little coffee bar!) and listening to the amazing library director teaching kiddos about alliteration and assonance in poetry and other writing.  It’s pretty fun and kinda makes me miss teaching, but not really.  We have a fantastic community of teachers, library employees, administration, and more!  I also just signed up for Overdrive which is an app where I can check out ebooks and audiobooks on my phone and iPad!

Anyway.

Saturday the kids were riding their bikes at the basketball court.  They were playing some sort of game.  At some point Ethan threw an empty soda can on the ground and when Karis came up on it, she tried to avoid it, and she fell off her bike.  She scraped her knee and hurt her wrist.  The next morning she told me that she didn’t sleep at all because it hurt so bad.  I wanted to take her in, but Robert wanted to give it a little bit of time because there was no swelling or bruising.  She had some time off and on where it didn’t seem to hurt her as much (like when she played on the Wii!).

Robert and I made some pumpkin cookies and played lots of games (totally a side note).

She was in so much pain when I took this picture.

She fell asleep almost right away.  The next morning she was thrilled that she could make a fist again!  She seemed to be feeling somewhat better so we continued on with our plans.  The kids didn’t have school on Monday so we went to Kerrville and my mom was going to hang out with them while I met with my sponsor and went to AA.  Karis kept going back and forth about how she felt.  She was hurting, she wasn’t hurting too badly, and so on.  I had told my sponsor that I was going to take her in (then changed my mind again when she seemed okay).  I ended up leaving all of the kids with my mom at the park and I went to Starbucks.  After a little over an hour I called my mom to see how Karis was doing and she told me that she seemed to be hurting pretty badly and that it’s a little more swollen (they had gone for a walk in the park).  I decided at that point to just go ahead and take her in.

We went to the urgent care clinic because they have the ability to do the X-rays right there.  When we got there they said that only one doctor is doing the walk ins (they also have primary care doctors) and it would be about 1:30 before someone could see us.  So we filled out paperwork and they set our appt time.  We decided to go have lunch with my mom and the boys.  We ate at Denny’s and Karis wouldn’t move her wrist the whole time.

It took a while but we finally got back to the see the doc and he was fantastic.  He did an exam and pinpointed exactly where she was hurting the most.  After the X-rays he told us that it looks like a significant break in her radius at the wrist.  He said that he was going to put in a referral for an orthopedic doctor and that the nurses would do a splint until we could see the orthopedic.  He also said that I would hear from him in a day or so after they get the final results from the radiologist.  Karis and I were both surprised that it was broken (and her daddy!).  It just looked so “normal.”

The hardest part about this whole thing is that it’s her writing hand.  And she started school yesterday.

She woke up easily and was really excited in the morning.  Unfortunately the excitement turned to difficulty almost immediately.  (I love this picture!)

Yesterday was a really hard day for her.  She was hurting, her splint is heavy, her sling rubs her neck, she was cold because we couldn’t figure out the best way to put her jacket on her with the sling, she had to write with her left hand, she spilled her lunch trying to carry it, she struggled with math, etc.  She came home and cried and cried.  Then when her daddy came home she cried some more.  She told me last night that she already misses homeschooling (which is so hard for me).  Her daddy made her favorite food last night (3 cheese and sausage yellow grits) and she just got to watch some stuff on her Kindle (on Kidstube) so she could zone out for a little while.  She and I slept in the living room one more time because she has been sleeping so good there and she needed that sleep.

Oh, and the doctor called me and said that it is in fact broken (Karis was hoping that the doctor was wrong and this was a big part of her crying).

I asked her that if her arm wasn’t broken would her day have been as bad and she said no.  The arm being broken is what is making everything so difficult.

My friend reminded me last night that “we can do hard things” so I told Karis that when she feels like something is too hard, just tell herself “I can do hard things.”  She said that she doesn’t believe that.  But we will keep working with her.  She is going to learn perseverance through all of this.

This broken bone thing is new to all of us.  I never broke a bone.  My brother never broke a bone.  Robert never broke a bone.  None of my kids have broken bones (until now!).  So it feels like a big deal (and it’s costing a lot!).

Today I came to town and had lunch with each kiddo.  When I saw Karis, she seemed pretty happy!  She told me that it has still been hard, but better than yesterday.  It helps that it’s not raining and cold today!  And she’s slowly getting used to using her left hand for everything.  She was also really excited about choir this afternoon.  I’m happy to be back here, too 🙂 (choir is in the library).

After I had lunch with each kiddo, I had lunch at my favorite Tex Mex restaurant by myself :-).  Then I went to the post office and decided to drive around a bit.  I haven’t seen much than what’s on the main highway, and since I had time, I decided to check things out.  There are actually some pretty cute houses!  It’s a very low income town so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Pretty much all of the houses are small, but I love that they are all very different.  There are brick, rock, and wood houses and some trailers.  But they’re all mixed together.

She just got out of school and she’s sitting next to me reading.  She had a good rest of the day and I feel hopeful!  Tomorrow morning we will be meeting with the orthopedic doctor.  I’m hoping that she doesn’t need surgery (I don’t think so, but you never know).  I’m looking forward to her getting her regular cast and just moving forward.

We can do hard things (with the power of Christ!).

The Hard Stuff… Processing Through My Fear, Falling into the Gospel

I have had yet another long few days thanks to anxiety.  I will feel good for a few days and think that I’m “over the hump” for it to all come flooding back even worse than before.  This over-breathing/hyperventilation syndrome … Continue reading

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.

IMG_2352

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!

IMG_2369

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!!!

IMG_2355

 

 

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.

diffuser

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.

epsom salt

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.

ACUKERR

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 :-).

IMG_2365

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!

Hyperventilation Syndrome and Trying All the Things to Reduce Anxiety

Hyperventilation syndrome (HVS); also chronic hyperventilation syndrome (CHVS) and dysfunctional breathing hyperventilation syndrome is a respiratory disorder, psychologically or physiologically based, involving breathing too deeply or too rapidly (hyperventilation). HVS may present with chest pain and a tingling sensation in the fingertips and around the mouth (paresthesia) and may accompany a panic attack.

People with HVS may feel that they cannot get enough air. In reality, they have about the same oxygenation in the arterial blood (normal values are about 98% for hemoglobin saturation) and too little carbon dioxide(hypocapnia) in their blood and other tissues.”

I’ve had this twice before, lasting 3 months and 1 month.  This time it has lasted about 1 month so far (though it has been more off and on this time).

I’m thankful for my hubby. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out WHY I’m anxious. I’ve been thinking that there has to be a reason, and it must be my fault. I must have done something to cause it. But he reminded me that I have generalized anxiety disorder and it’s a chemical imbalance. I will have anxiety just because. I don’t have to have a reason, and it’s definitely not my fault. I can do things to help, and I am being proactive.  Tomorrow I’ll be getting blood work done, going to AA, and going to counseling.  I’ll see my doctor in about a month.   I’ll be taking some supplements as soon as I receive them from Amazon.  Last night I meditated twice and that helped.  I use these apps:

I’m also happy that I have continued to be present with my family despite this, and we have done lots of fun things! Poetry Teatime, I cooked a big dinner last night, we made Oobleck and homemade playdough yesterday, Levi and I played several games the other day, the kids have been crafting like crazy in our new craft/reading room, and last night we did independent reading as a family and Robert read aloud to the kids. All of this helps a ton because I’m not as focused on the anxiety (it’s still there while I’m doing all of this, but I’m not thinking about it as much).  

I feel like this hyperventilation syndrome will last forever but Sue in my Parenting with Anxiety group reminded me a while back that it won’t. It just feels like it.

Like my counselor says, “feelings aren’t facts.”  And what I say to myself matters!

Now on to supplements…

I have these supplements: Melatonin (I take these every night), B12, Cod liver oil, Garden of Life Vitamin Code, and Garden of Life Probiotics.

I ordered Vitamin D3.

vitamin d3

I ordered Calm Magnesium but then found out that it isn’t absorbed well into the system and it tastes gross (it’s a powder that you mix with water), so I’ll be sending it back.  My best friend ordered me some magnesium glycinate, which is the highest absorbed into the system, and it’s a tablet!  I’m so thankful for her (I had found out about the Calm after it was too late to cancel and I am out of money for supplements… this is my birthday present from her!).

Magnesium Gly

I did order Rescue Remedy candies (along with the Calm).  These are alcohol free.

Rescue remedy

 

 

I will order a Super B complex when I run out of my B12 and Vitamin Code.  I will probably also order some epsom salt because I’ve read and heard that it’s good for anxiety (it is magnesium!).

I listen to my Serenity Spa Music often during the day and especially at night, then switch to ocean sounds (white noise app) to sleep (I have done this for a long time).

 

Robert and I have decided that we will work on becoming caffeine free again.  My counselor told me to do this a while back.  We were almost there, then I started increasing my caffeine more and more and now I drink a lot of caffeine again.

Along those same lines, I’m going to switch from Coke Zero to only sparkling water (over time).

I also need to get back to being outside more.  I can’t do major hikes because when I get out of breath it makes things harder for me, but walks are good.

I also pray a lot, but I struggle with this because I am kind of frustrated that God would allow me to suffer with anxiety so badly.  I feel like my prayers are going unanswered.

Last night right before our reading time, it rained (for the first time in a long time), and I saw this beautiful rainbow out of my back windows/door.

It was a great reminder that God is with me.  Even in the moments when I don’t understand why He allows things to happen, I can trust that He will use it for His glory.

The last 2 times this happened I took a LOT of Xanax.  My previous doctor gave me 120 tablets at once and told me to take it every 4 hours!  And he knew that I drank a lot because I told him and he did urine tests!  Drinking and Xanax aren’t options anymore so I’m praying that the natural remedies and things will work!

Just Processing Through Anxiety and Continuing to Figure Out Who I Am

So I’m sitting here on my back porch just feeling terrible… hyperventilation syndrome, chest hurts, cough, tingly hands and feet, foggy brain.  Just bad.  And since I’m struggling with the breathing thing, yet again, my mind goes to “fix it” mode.  What’s wrong with me this time?  What can *I* do to make myself feel better?  It has to be anxiety, why am I anxious?

My blog is usually my way to process through things, so I’m going to use it to try to find some relief.  And if I can’t, I’ll just go to bed early and do some meditation.

I started Monday out excited.  I found a blog called Blissful Britt that is basically who I used to be and who I want to be all wrapped up in one.  She’s a coffee lover, hiker, runner, foodie, and blogger.  She’s not married and she doesn’t have kids (at least not from what I can tell), so there’s that.  Obviously our lives look a lot different, but I can do what I want out of those things to be who I want to be!  It’s a choice that I make, right?

Robert seemed very excited because he was happy to see me excited about the outdoors again.  He really feels that being outside more will make a huge difference for my anxiety.  And for the most part he’s right.  I’m sitting on my porch and while I feel pretty terrible still, I can breathe a little bit better.  Unfortunately, though, that is what caused my breathing issue Monday night.  I went for an hour long hike and started to struggle, and it just never got better.

So now I’m wondering if maybe I’m trying to be someone I’m just not anymore… or maybe someone I can’t be right now at least.

This is who I want to be:

  • A person who is outside often and does all the nature-y things with her family.
  • Someone who backpacks regularly.
  • Someone who cooks and bakes often (and does a good job).
  • A homeschool mom who has a relaxed way of doing things and just enjoys being with the kids.  A Charlotte Mason homeschooling family (I LOVE her work).
  • A sober person with the ability to encourage those who are trying to be sober or are struggling (and sponsors others).
  • Someone who uses her mental illness to help others.
  • Someone who loves Jesus and that is evident in her life.
  • Someone who can let the house go a little.  Someone who can let go of organization a little and just live.
  • A good writer.
  • A mom with a lot of grace.
  • Someone who practices regular hospitality.
  • Someone who makes health priority, but doesn’t obsess over it or make it the focus.
  • Someone who is content with who she is.
  • Someone who doesn’t feel the need to live up to anything (in life, in homeschooling, in appearance, etc).
  • Someone who can just enjoy the moments as they come and not be so serious all the time (I want to be joyful!)

Oh, and then I actually considered trying to start “living naturally” again yesterday.  Like, go back to the no BPA, no paper, natural products, homemade cleaners, all homemade foods, organic, grass fed, herbal supplements, blah blah blah that I let go of a long time ago!  Maybe that’s what also caused my anxiety yesterday.  Some is good, but 100% is NOT healthy for me! (this is me, the black and white thinker here)

So now I’m trying to decide if I should make decisions based on these things (like a mission statement), or if that’s too much?  Am I causing anxiety by expecting too much from myself?  Maybe I just need to be okay with “enough.”

This is who I am (now):

  • I like to sit on the porch daily to blog or read but I don’t go for hikes as often as I would like (1-2 times a week).  The kids and I do nature walks/studies once a week.  We have plans for camping in the fall.
  • Robert and I go backpacking once or twice a year.  (I may not be able to go in August like we have planned if I don’t start feeling better, but I’m hoping to feel better, and there’s always next time)
  • I cook and bake often :-).  I love using recipes, coming up with recipes, and tweaking recipes.  I like to bake bread, pizza crust, muffins, cookies, etc.  I love to cook new things for dinner.  I have been branching out more lately.
  • I am a homeschool mom that is learning to relax and enjoy spending time with her kids using mostly a Charlotte Mason method.  I am also learning to throw off stuff that is heavy and doesn’t serve me well (I’m simplifying even more than what I had written on my last blog about curriculum).
  • I AM a sober alcoholic that does my best to encourage others when the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t sponsor like I would like to (and should) because I live so far from town!
  • I am very open about my sobriety and mental illnesses and I have a small group where people can share their needs.  I hope that my blog helps people.  It’s hard to know, though.  I don’t have many followers/readers/commenters.
  • I do love Jesus but I often wonder if it’s evident in my life because my mental illness overshadows it.  I’m working on growing this relationship, but it’s going to take a while because I have been running away (not really intentionally, but through my mental illness and addiction).
  • I definitely struggle to let the house or organization go.  I spend more time organizing than I actually spend using the organization.  And I’m constantly cleaning or yelling at my kids to clean.  That was the source of major anxiety yesterday (we spent HOURS cleaning and a lot of that was me yelling at the boys to clean!).
  • I don’t have as much grace with my kids as I would like to have, but I’m hoping I will get there one day.  Most of the time I’m doing much better than I did when they were smaller, but I have my days (I guess we all do… maybe I need to give myself that grace… maybe that’s the conclusion to all of this…).
  • I am learning to practice hospitality, but it does bring me anxiety and that makes me sad :-(.  Friday through Monday we had people over 3 times!  I really only had anxiety one of those days (Friday night).
  • I’m working on the health thing, one habit at a time.  I’m probably not going to go back to the natural/organic thing because I’ve begun to see that natural/organic isn’t what makes something healthy… it’s the nutrients in things that makes them healthy.  And slow, habit change is what’s sustainable (I have never been able to do a diet more than 3 months max).
  • I’m working on being joyful but it’s really hard when I can’t breathe right.  So that’s going to be a one moment at a time kind of thing.

Maybe I’m closer to who I want to be than I thought.  I have a really hard time “just living life” and being content with things.  I have had so much change over the years that I am always expecting something to change.  Or that we will have to do something differently because of my mental illness (and then it will be all my fault).  Thing is, I absolutely LOVE life (I’m pretty much living my dream)!  I just hate anxiety!

I’m trying to remember that I am ME, and I don’t have to fit into some kind of  box.

Well, after some time writing, I’m feeling somewhat better.  But I do think I’m going to go to bed pretty soon and do some meditation.

Tomorrow is a new day.  And I am going to town for AA, so that’ll help so much.

Healthy Habits and Learning to Love Me

Like I’ve mentioned before, someone graciously sponsored me to do the Healthy Habits Happy Moms Balance 365 program.  I started a few weeks ago and I tried to “do all the things” and it caused me a lot of anxiety.  I also started homeschooling the same week.  It was just too much.

I have since pulled back and decided on two things: self love and daily Bible study.  You’re really only supposed to choose one, but self love will be something I’m working on every day for a long time so I’m doing that at the same time as another.  Daily Bible study obviously isn’t one of their habits, but it’s one that I want to focus on because I am desiring a more intimate relationship with Jesus over anything else right now.

I have started a book/study that a friend of mine bought me when we were in rehab.  It’s amazing so far!

It’s a study of Romans, complete with the scripture right in the book.  I’m so excited about it :-).

Also, I am working through the self love and gratitude journal from the B365 program.

I made some huge revelations yesterday about my self love journey.

Yesterday I wrote this in the B365 Group:

“How can you love yourself as is and still want to lose weight? The idea of possibly losing weight is what is keeping me stuck. Then I just want to diet again to make it happen faster. It’s a vicious cycle. Right now I’m working on daily Bible reading and self love as my habit, but it’s hard when all I want to do is move on to the ones that will “matter.” I have been diet deprogramming since like March, but I still feel like I’ll never get there.”

A new friend wrote this:

“Also I’ve found the more I love my inside me the more I no longer see my body as me but rather a vessel that holds me. When it’s no longer the main focus of my value the easier it is to be okay with me. Or to accept slower changes. I still have longer term goals to be smaller, but only if I’m healthier than now.”

I realized in that moment that that’s the issue.  I don’t love the inside of me.

“I think that’s the hard part. With having mental illnesses and alcoholism, it takes a lot to be happy with myself. I don’t feel like I have much to offer, and I feel like I’m a burden to everyone.”

I will never be able to love my outside if I don’t love my inside.  So that’s what I need to work on in the self love department.

Also, many people mentioned that health should be my goal, and I know this, but I have been programmed that a smaller body means healthier.  That’s not always the case!  I need to come to a point in which I don’t care if I lose weight as long as I’m healthy.  And the health part will take time as I pick up one healthy habit at a time.  That’s what works long term and is sustainable.  Dieting and trying to do things all at once isn’t sustainable.

I pulled out my book, Healthy at Every Size, again and am reading through it slowly.  It’s so informative and helpful in thinking of my body in a different way.

Health at Every Size

Thing is, I am struggling with my body mostly because of what people think.  For example, a friend wrote on Facebook the other day that it’s not healthy to be big and you should always try to be smaller (summarized).  I know that this is the way people are conditioned by the (60 billion dollar) diet industry, but it’s hard to ignore that kind of stuff.  I assume that people are judging me for having gained weight.

Logically I know a few things: 1) I have gained because of mental health medications (40 pounds since I started bipolar meds in 2014, and 14 pounds since I went into rehab), 2) I have gained because of quitting drinking, 3) I am balanced (I eat a variety of foods), 4) Being sober is BIG and should be celebrated!  This is very healthy!

I just take on other people’s opinions.

If people judge me for gaining (and they truly might be), that’s their problem, not mine.  It’s not my business what people think of me.

It might be a while until I am ready to address food and movement habits.  That’s okay :-).  That doesn’t mean I can’t have vegetables and fruit or protein and that I can’t go for walks.  It just means it’s not something I’m focusing on.  I’m waiting until I spend time reading my Bible 4-5 days a week consistently, then I’ll add on another habit.  I haven’t decided what the next habit will be.  I’ll probably focus on eating a protein rich breakfast.  That is my biggest struggle when it comes to food!

Yesterday in my Healthy Habits Happy Moms group, someone started a “free the belly” thread.  Hundreds of women took pictures of their bellies and posted them in the comments.  I was blown away by how different and similar everyone’s bellies were!  They are all moms who have had babies in their bellies, and you could tell on most of them.  Stretch marks, sagging, bigger than they used to be.  It was so helpful.  And one mama told me that we are belly twins.  It’s so great to hear/see that other mamas have similar bellies to me (my least favorite part of myself).  And the funny thing is that when I see my belly on someone else, I see beauty!

I love this!

IMG_1250

I have more to offer than my body.  It’s just my shell.

I am passionate, I love others without judgment, I am organized and keep the house clean for my family (most of the time, that is), I am a good teacher, I love Jesus (though I want to grow in this area!), I love my family wholeheartedly, I AM SOBER (259 days!), I love to bake and cook for my family, I desire to make learning fun for my kids, I have learned to live simply, I am an inspiration to others through sharing about my mental illness and alcoholism, and I’m sure there’s more that I’m not thinking of.

Celebrate YOU.  Learn to love all of you.  Inside and out!

Contentment and Teaching the Kids to Work Through Hard Things

I have a history of discontent.  If something doesn’t seem to be working well or is hard, I change things.  I see the difficulty as a sign that something isn’t right.

Because of this, we have moved so much and I kept chasing something new.  We have moved 12 times in the 13 years that we have been married (a lot of that was at the same camp).  We moved apartments early in our marriage.  We moved twice when we lived in the Dallas area.

This worked its way into homeschooling.  I have homeschooled off and on for a long time.  When I started struggling mentally, I would put them back into school.  This last time I really had no choice since I had to go to town all the time for AA when I got out of rehab.  But it still counts.

I have spent a FORTUNE (and a lot of that in credit) on new curriculum.  When things got hard for the kids or they seemed to struggle, I would buy the “shiny new thing” thinking that it would be better and they wouldn’t struggle as much.  For Karis, this was math.  For Ethan, this was reading and phonics.

We are using Math U See for the kids and while I LOVE it, Karis has still been struggling greatly.  She’s going into 6th grade and she’s on the 4th grade level and still struggling.  She can barely do basic division (2 digit by 1 digit with a  remainder).  So I was talking to Robert about Life of Fred math and telling him that maybe it would be a good fit for her because she loves reading (it’s story based).  Without him even saying anything, I said, “Wait… I just need to stick with something, don’t I?”  He agreed immediately and reminded me that hard doesn’t necessarily equal bad.  And she may just never be good at math and that’s okay.  And it’s okay that she’s on a level lower than her grade and it’s okay to take it slow.  He also reminded me that it’ll be so good for the kids if I stick with something for a full year.  And honestly, I need to stick with Math U See from now on because there is a DVD with a teacher teaching everything (and I’m terrible at math!).  He teaches it in a way that makes more sense than any teacher ever taught me.  There are also manipulatives and all of the kids make use of them every single day.

I REALLY want The Good and the Beautiful history, handwriting, nature journals, and another science unit.  But.  We have all that we need for those subjects right now.  While I love the set up of those, I need to be content with what we have.

I already have Story of the World Volume one… the book, audio book, activity book, historical fiction novels to go with it (9!), the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, and the Usborne Book of World History.  I have an amazing set up for history this year.  It would make NO sense to change.

Now. The reason why I love G&B is because the history covers all periods of history in one year (adding to it each year), it has fun activities, it has an amazing book of stories, worksheets, and a game for review.  But I can always get it next year!  No big deal!  I’m not even sure if I’ll want to change after we finish what we have… I may want to stick with Story of the World!

Also, I was looking at buying handwriting from G&B.  I ALMOST did.  Then my doctor and I were talking about my impulsive spending and reminded me that if I am buying something new even though I already have something for that subject (and causing final trouble), that’s a sign of being impulsive.  And she’s right!  It stopped me in my tracks!  I have Handwriting Without Tears, and the kids even like it!

Now.  Next year I will probably buy G&B because I love that it teaches handwriting through copywork.  It would cut out a step of our writing.  But I can wait till next year!  No big deal!

I was also looking at buying the G&B nature journals.  But I already have some from Simply Charlotte Mason!  They love them because they can watercolor right on the page (the pages are thick).

And… Science!  I have SO much to teach science.  I have one unit of G&B science already (which will last us about a semester), and I also have Apologia Astronomy.  AND LOTS of science books and encyclopedias to make my own units if I want.  I really have enough to make science work for a couple of years honestly.  Now.  When Karis is in 7th or 8th grade, I will be buying the junior high science books because she’s going to need them to prepare for high school (and honestly she LOVES science so she’ll be happy).  But I have a year or two before I need to do that (I can’t believe she’s already in 6th grade).

All this to say… I think I will finally have a FULL year in which I don’t buy anything new!  I have everything I need for at LEAST a full year (maybe more) and I am happy about that.  It’s weird, to be honest.

And… we are not going anywhere.  While camp ministry is HARD because especially lately Robert has been working a ton, we are content to stay right where we are.  We love the way Camp Eagle is run, we love the people (camp family!), we love our home, we love that we live on 1400 acres and there are hiking trails and a clear river to play in.  Moving to Camp Eagle has been the best thing that has happened to us!

Deciding to stick with something long-term actually takes away a lot of anxiety.  I have a major spending issue, then I feel bad and feel anxious after I have spent.  It’s so easy to buy online and I just throw money away that way.  We were going to have me spend only cash but it hasn’t worked out well (lots of reasons), but at least this next check I will only have cash to spend (and less than usual because we’re going to New Mexico in a few weeks and we need money for that).  I think we’ll actually be able to save up this year.  And do more fun things with the kids.

I’m feeling content, hopeful, and peaceful.  I know I will still have times of anxiety and depression (hopefully not, but I’m planning on it happening eventually), but I know I can work through them and just do what we need during those moments.  That doesn’t mean we need to move, it doesn’t mean I need to stop homeschooling, and it doesn’t mean I need to buy something new and shiny.  It just means we need to spend time in prayer and God’s word, I need to work through it, and I need to teach my kids to do both of those.

Easter Weekend!

Friday was a fun day home with my kiddos.  It started out rough with a major fight over the Wii, but once I grounded them from electronics it got better.  We colored and decorated eggs and did some crafts.  The kids also played outside all afternoon with their friends.

Robert was supposed to be home but he ended up having to work.  Oh well.

Yesterday was a great day at my parents’ for Easter.  The kids had 135 eggs to hunt and they found all but a few (whoops).  We had a fantastic lunch of ham, beans, and homemade potato salad.

We ended up deciding to come home yesterday instead of today.  I got their Easter baskets set up last night.  We kept it cheap and simple this year.  A few cookies that a friend of mine made, glow sticks, Reese’s bunny, bubble gum eggs, and a fun cup that matched their personality.  They were happy with what they got :-).

This morning we watched part of the worship service on Watermark’s website, and we praised through YouTube videos.  We didn’t go to church for various reasons, but mostly because my anxiety can’t handle it right now.

We had a great lunch of grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, salad, and the kids’ favorite Hawaiian rolls.

We read The Flowering Cross and made our cross cake.  This is our yearly tradition.  They’re getting a little big for it, but I will keep doing it as long as they let me.  They didn’t want to do Resurrection Eggs :-(.

We also cleaned the house and got ready for the week.  In a few hours we are celebrating with our camp family!  Lots of celebration!

Doing What is Best for Each Child

This past week was another week of figuring things out for our family.  Monday we decided that the boys need to stay in school.  At least another year, but possibly until Ethan is in 6th grade and Levi is in 5th grade.  I’m not willing to send them to junior high for many reasons.  But also by then I should be mostly stable and will have several years of sobriety under my belt.  We’ll pray about it again for the year after next, though.

Wednesday was a rough day with anxiety, and I just felt exhausted for some reason.

Wednesday night Robert was out from about 7:30 till about 10:30.  I couldn’t talk to him and I was extremely worried about something.

I was worried that Karis needed more interaction with kids.  She spends all day with just me, and sometimes with her friend across the street that is 2 years younger than her.  She spends a lot of time on electronics because I can’t entertain her all day.  I was also worried that I was trying to save her from difficulty.

I went to bed before he got home.

I woke up the next morning feeling somewhat better about things, and talking to him “sealed the deal” for me.

He said that while he feels public school is best for the boys for now, he doesn’t feel it’s best for Karis.  He feels that homeschool Karis is best for her.

I immediately felt peace again.

I’m so thankful for his leadership in our family.  I’ve learned to listen to him (sometimes I fight it, then I give in).  Through listening to him, I have peace.

 

Learning and Growing with Every New Day

From the chapter of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, “How it Works”:

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.”

“…self-seeking…”

“…self-centered, egocentric…”

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.  Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…”

“Above everything, we alcoholics much be rid of this selfishness.”

“We had to have God’s help.

“First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn’t work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”

“He is the Father, and we are His children.”

We read half of this chapter on Monday in the AA Women’s Big Book meeting and these bold words stood out to me.  I have been stuck in this for a long time.  I am self-centered, self-seeking; most of all I have had a lot of fear and self-pity.  I sit and focus on my illnesses and difficulties in life.

I posted this on Sunday:

“This describes me 100% right now. Mental illness, EMDR, counseling, alcoholism, AA, fighting cravings, taking care of my family, just getting through each day… takes a lot out of a person. I feel that I am a strong person (thanks to Jesus), but I am worn. Starting a new week tomorrow with hope in Jesus, knowing that I can get through the week because He’s with me.”

While all this is true for me, I was really hoping for pity… I was acting in self-pity and I wanted people to encourage me.  This is self-centered.  I wanted attention because of my issues… and in reality, this is me trying to make them my identity.

I want people to see me as strong.  I want people to see me as brave, courageous, and honest.  I don’t want people to see me as having self-pity and being self-centered.  I want people to see my love for others.  I want to be known for my love for Jesus.  My identity is in Jesus first and foremost.  Without Him, I am nothing.

Something else that’s really important is the reminder that I need to get my butt up and outside moving.  Not for weight loss, but for time to commune with God and for mental/emotional health.  I hiked Tuesday… I took it slow, took pictures, noticed the flowers, listened to the birds sing, listened to the river running, and was just in the peaceful element of nature.  It was perfect.  I talked to my counselor about it Tuesday night and she really wants me to make this a priority.  It’s hard in the moment when I don’t feel like doing anything, but it is so stinkin’ helpful that I need to do it even when I don’t feel like it.  My counselor that I had in Frisco would tell me that when I can’t think my way into acting, act my way into thinking.  So in other words, even when I don’t feel like it, just get up and do it and it will help me mentally/emotionally.

It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and the perfect temperature.

I used to exercise obsessively when I was dieting, and definitely not for mental/emotional health… mostly to try to lose weight.  I counted steps, calories, etc. I would exercise to be able to eat or I would exercise to make up for what I ate.  This is not healthy.  I sold my FitBit because I was tired of feeling guilty if I didn’t reach my 10,000 steps a day, and when I hiked, I would obsess about getting as many steps as I could, not enjoying it.  I now use Map My Walk, only to see how many miles because I’m curious.  It’s not something I have to keep up with every day.  And I can hike without the app… it’s all about curiosity.

The program with my dietitian is called Attuned Eating for Attuned Living.

Every week I have audios to listen to, worksheets, and lots of readings (including some books).  She also goes over my food journals most days and we have a weekly Zoom meeting so we see each other and talk to one another.  Sometimes there are one or two more ladies in the meeting.

Today we talked about something that I have been struggling with… my coffee and Coke Zero intake.  She thinks it’s keeping me from being able to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.  I drink so much coffee in the morning that I have a hard time eating breakfast… then I’m shaky by lunch time and over-eat.  She also pointed out that there is a reason why I feel the need to have a lot of coffee and Coke Zero (only drinking those and drinking very little water).  She thinks I have a habit to the process.  Also, I’m using my drinks to replace alcohol, which means that I’m still trying to not feel certain things.  It’s an emotional crutch.  She wants me to be journaling about how I’m feeling when I drink coffee and Coke Zero.

We’re also focusing on my eating breakfast every day so that I’m not starving and shaky by lunch.  The most common thing that I’ve been eating is breakfast tacos.  Potato, bacon, and egg with salsa and cheese.  It keeps me comfortable until lunch.  Today I had homemade Greek yogurt and steel cut oatmeal.  I’m pretty hungry now, but it’s almost lunch time so I’m fine.

The most important thing that she’s doing is helping me to learn to love myself just the way I am.  She told me that gaining a little bit of weight is normal as my body overcomes the constant dieting that I did for so many years.  My body is trying to find it’s set point.  Where it’s supposed to be without dieting.  I may end up losing weight eventually.  But the most important thing is to not weigh myself at all because it changes my emotional state big time.

The most important thing that I have learned this week is that I need to make God’s word and fellowship with His people priority.

I got very behind on my Bible study because of dietitian homework, driving to and from town, and being depressed and anxious.  It’s been a rough few weeks.

I was going to skip Bible study since I was so behind.  Robert did everything but push me out the door.

We had technical difficulties so we ended up having Bible study at my house, watching the DVD on my tv, and having coffee and discussion.  It was really great!  From now on the Bible study is going to be at my house.  I’m so excited about that because it’s built in accountability.  I also love to host women in my home… especially since I’m alone most of the time!

We decided to start fresh next week (turns out, I wasn’t the only one behind), so now I’m right on schedule!

I started it as soon as we finished!

This book (1 Peter) talks a lot about trials and suffering.  It’s just right for what I’ve gone through and continue to.  The good news is that it says “for a little while.”  That’s hopeful!

 

So… through struggle comes strength and growth.

Between AA 2-3 times a week, step work, meeting with my sponsor weekly, working with a dietitian that wants to teach me to love myself the way that I am,  my counselor working with me on my self worth, daily time in the word, constant worship, church (becoming members), and so much more, I’m growing so much!

Through working hard, I’m learning more about myself and my calling.