Scattered Post… Update, AA, My Story, Friendship, and Plans

I used to blog every day and now every time I sit at my computer to blog the words don’t come.  I have so much on my mind, and I just don’t know how to get it out these days. … Continue reading

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.

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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.

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.

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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!

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.

Busy Weekend with Some Self Care Mixed In

This has been an extremely busy weekend so far!!

The kids did most of the cleaning on Friday.  I just did some touch up.  I am so thankful that they can do that because I had so much cooking and food prep to do.

We had HAF (“home away from”) Homes Friday night with some summer staff.  We had homemade carnitas, pinto beans, Spanish rice, homemade guacamole, banana pudding, and coconut oatmeal cookies.  And sweet tea and hibiscus mint tea.  So I was in the kitchen allllll afternoon and evening.  It was so fun though!

The kids helped in the kitchen (well, Karis and Ethan).

The carnitas look pretty in the Instant Pot (one of these days I’ll get around to sharing the recipe!).  We also had my favorite corn and wheat tortillas and Spanish rice made from a package (everything else was homemade… just not the rice).  Robert makes the best homemade guacamole.

The summer staff and my kids played Mario Cart for a long time after dinner!

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One thing that made me happy was when one of the summer staff told me that my home is very warm and peaceful.  I have been told that before and that is always my goal!  I want people to feel comfortable here.

That night I had a LOT of anxiety.  I’m not even sure why, I just know that I had a hard time breathing.  I have been much better since, though!

Yesterday I slept in a bit (like 8 or 8:30), then I cleaned up again.  I didn’t do the dishes on Friday and the floor was dirty, etc.  

Yesterday I made some peanut butter pies, then got things ready to have people over again.  We had a meet and greet last night for a prospective maintenance tech and his wife.  It went so well!  We all loved them!

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Then I did a ton of prep work for the week!

weekend meal prep

I cut veggies for the week and took the grapes off the vine.

I made whole wheat pumpkin banana muffins (for the week) and pumpkin banana bread (for the meet and greet, and no one touched it…).

I had a piece of the bread and it was soooooo amazing.  I know it’s a little early for pumpkin, but I get ready for fall super early since it’s my favorite season!

My neighbor gave me a sweet gift and card yesterday.

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The candle is fall scented.  It smells amazing!  And I love the lotion and I needed some chapstick.  The little booklet that she gave me has ways to handle issues with kids including the scripture to go with it.  So cool!  This gift meant SO much to me.  I often feel like I’m annoying to others because of my anxiety so receiving a gift just encouraged me so much.

Today is going to be a nice, relaxing Self Care Sunday.

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I’m writing this blog post and another one coming up.  I’m planning to read.  Maybe take a nap.  I will do a little bit more prep including baking some bread (which I love doing), but not much else!  I might also do one load of laundry.

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This coming week is going to be pretty laid back.  Tomorrow I am having some more summer staff over for dessert and coffee (my “Fruit Group,” which is some ladies).

The kids will continue to do their reading and math every day.  I will keep up with the house by doing a load of laundry a day, having the kids do their chores, and tidying each day.  We will do one hike/nature walk this week, probably in the evening with Robert again.  It was so nice last week.

We leave on the 19th to visit my inlaws, then go to Family Camp at Glorieta in New Mexico (which is our yearly vacation)!  I am beyond excited.  I am not even that anxious about it this year because I’m not drinking anymore and I know what to expect!  It’s a very fun and relaxing week!  There will be arrow tag, hiking, mountain biking, nerf room, blacklight dodge ball, foam pit, ice cream, coffee shop, good food, putt putt golf, mountain scooters, drift trikes, 50’s night, western night, dances, a date night, white water rafting (if we can afford it, it’s an additional fee), waterfront, inflatables, naps, games, and most importantly worship!  We will also have a counselor assigned to us!  And a lot of our friends here at Camp Eagle are going too so we will get to have fun together!

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OH!  And today is 9 months sober!!!!  This is HUGE!  It feels like yesterday that I went into La Ha, but it’ll be a year before I know it.  I am so much healthier than I was.  I have grown so much over the past 9 months!

9 months

What are your plans this week?

Any plans for a vacation soon?

Happy Weekend! Busy Saturday!

Yesterday I met my mom in Kerrville for her to pick the kids up and take them to her house.  They are there till Monday.  I spent a lot of the day today being lazy.

At about 3:45 I had had enough of that so I got up and got busy!  I cut up veggies and baked some muffins.  Robert came home about the time that I was going to cut a cantaloupe and honey dew.  He ended up cutting it for me, then he pan-seared some salmon and chicken breast for me to have over salads this coming week.  I bagged mixed nuts for snacks, made pumpkin steel cut oats in the instant pot, tore lettuce and put it in a big container to have salads, made homemade dressings (creamy buffalo and balsamic vinaigrette), and made quinoa.

I also have peeled boiled eggs (I buy them boiled and peeled from Walmart!) and Greek yogurt to grab for snacks or to go with meals!

I feel like I am set up for success!  It feels so good.

All of this work only took a few hours!  It helps that Robert pitched in!

On a similar note…

I started the Healthy Habits Happy Moms Balance 365 program several weeks ago. The idea is to pick one healthy habit at a time to focus on, and once you are consistent with it for a time, then you add another one. It’s slllloooowwww and hard sometimes. I have honestly struggled with even figuring out what to start with because I feel like I’m not at all where I want to be with my health. I am learning to love my body the way it is, but I know that I have a ways to go in the health department. But dieting isn’t the answer. It’s not healthy, it isn’t sustainable, and it actually leads to bingeing and weight gain. So I want to be okay with the slowness of this program.

Robert and I were talking earlier and I realized that he’s right… I need to focus 100% on being active again. So many reasons. I have high cholesterol and the meds that I was on cause high liver enzymes… since I am an alcoholic my doctor prefers for me to not take them unless I have to (even though I’m not drinking anymore!). Also. With my generalized anxiety disorder and the return of the weird physical symptoms, being outside hiking is REALLY good for that. It’s one of the best things for anxiety, actually. My counselor has told me that she wants me to walk 30 minutes a day and I haven’t been doing that. I find joy in being outside. I love hiking. I have just gotten out of the habit. I used to hike ALL THE TIME. Also, we are backpacking in a couple of months and I am NOT physically ready for that! It’s just the best habit to focus on right now!

My goal is 2-3 times a week by myself and once a week with the kids to do their nature study . I would like to do what my counselor told me to do (every day), but I’m going to start slow.

Overall I am doing SO well right now. I just still have this anxiety. And it’s weird that I’m having the breathing issue off and on.  I know the anxiety is always going to be there, but my counselor tells me that I can get it more manageable if I get outside exercise. So that is what I will do!

Robert also reminded me that usually when I am active, everything else falls into place.  I am more consistent with a lot of things in my life… time in the Word, eating healthier, I’m more active in the community, etc because I’m feeling good mentally!

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!

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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.

Simplifying for the Summer

Because of all my excitement about the “Brave Writer Lifestyle” among other things homeschooling related, I didn’t realize that I was getting more anxious by the day.  I tend to get obsessed about things that I am excited about and give 200%, then it leads to anxiety (the obsessive/compulsive side of my severe anxiety).

I came home Friday from my parents’ and the kids came home from camp on Saturday.  We spent that day just resting.  Sunday I started to notice something.  My breathing was going back to the way it was last year (and in 2013) when I had hyperventilation syndrome.  It got worse through the day.

Robert came home from work in the middle of the day and I told him about it and he pointed to the table that was COVERED with curriculum and books and said “this is why!”  I was also staring at my homeschool routine on my google doc (it was very congested).

In that moment I decided something needed to change because I can’t live that way again.  I want homeschooling to be something that we all enjoy and that works for our family!  Not something that makes my kids stressed out and causes me anxiety.

So.

I was so thankful that a good friend of mine could chat that day.  I sent her the link to the document and she helped me make necessary changes to my homeschooling routine, and I have simplified it dramatically for the summer.  I don’t plan to pick up much else in August.

So I picked the non-negotiables and made my routine with that (and definitely not scheduled times… just an order that we follow)!  I thought about just putting school off until the fall but decided to go ahead and start for three reasons: 1) Ethan needs the routine!  2) I need the routine!  3) Karis desperately wants to start (like last week!).  It’ll be good to go ahead and start so that we can take breaks as we need to!

This is the new routine:

Nature walk/journal (a few days a week)

Friday Poetry Tea Time

READ!

  • Mom and kids will read independently for 30 minutes!  
    • Read sitting on the couch, floor, chair, bean bag, at the table, or on the back porch!

Table Time
Writing

  • Copywork, dictation, narration, writing project (Brave Writer Partnership Writing), or free write (one of these per day)

One-on-One Time: The Good and the Beautiful (along with Brave Writer, I am in LOVE with this curriculum!)

  • 1-3 lessons per day (mostly one, but some of the lessons are SUPER short!)

Independent activities while I work with each kids one-on-one:

  • Handwriting Without Tears (1 page)
  • Spelling practice
  • Math U See (one video per lesson and one page per day)

Electronic time

PLAY

Dinner

Read aloud @bedtime- the book Wonder and a chapter out of the Bible.

This is IT!

In the fall I will add “group time” in the afternoon consisting of science OR history (not both) each day.  It will probably take about 30-45 minutes for that.

I also filled the basket in our kitchen/dining area with our essentials and plan to just put things in that basket that we will use each day.  Right now it has:

  • The Good and Beautiful books
  • Handwriting books
  • A binder for each kid (with math pages, G&B printouts, spelling lists, and history questions)
  • 3 composition notebooks for each kid: writing, spelling, and nature journal
  • The book that they chose to read
  • And the readers to go with The Good and the Beautiful

In the fall I will add the Story of the World book and science (starting with a unit from G&B).

I have also been watching videos from Julie Bogart from Brave Writer about simplifying and being okay with what we can handle.  She has a video titled 55 Things that We Did NOT Do As a Homeschooler.  It made me feel okay with what we’re doing!

Now.  Am I better today?  Not 100%!  But it is much better today than it was several weeks in last year, so I’ll take it.

Also, a lady in a group that I’m in told me about a technique that she does when she is struggling with this and it helped me yesterday!  I also meditate and listen to spa music to relax.

Anxiety is a beast.  There are soooooo many different physical symptoms and even when I feel better mentally, it takes a while for the physical symptoms to go away.  It’s maddening.

I see my doctor in two weeks and if it’s still going on, we will address it then.  BUT!  I’m hoping it’s better by then!

I am in a parenting with anxiety group and many of the mamas in there reminded me that it won’t last forever!  It might feel like it in the moment, but it will eventually get better.

Today we are starting school, then I will catch up on housework!  After that I might spend some time meditating while the kids have their “electronic time”.

Despite this physical symptom of anxiety, I’m so happy about life and where we are.  I’m so thankful that I no longer use alcohol to cope and that I don’t go to bed drunk every night anymore.  Sometimes I dream about it and I wake up SO THANKFUL for sobriety!  It’s a good reminder about why sobriety is so important!