On this Thanksgiving…

I have pulled out my computer and sat there staring at the screen (or getting distracted by Facebook) so many times in the past month or so.  We have so much going on and I have so much that I … Continue reading

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.

Grati-Tuesday, February 21st

I woke up at 5:15 this morning feeling such peace.  This is a new thing (the past few months).  I love getting up early, making my bed, getting dressed, tidying the house, making coffee, lighting a candle, then waking the … Continue reading

Doing What’s Best Even When It’s Hard

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I wrote a post on Monday titled Waiting Room.  In a nutshell I talked about the possibility again of homeschooling the kids next year.  I talked about having to wait a few months to make the decision and that was really hard for me.

Well, we already have our decision made (for next year at least), and it makes me sad, but I know it’s best.  It’s what gives me the most peace.

You see, I want to homeschool.  I love it.  It gives me purpose.  It helps me fill my day with something that I feel joy about.  I love being with my kids all day.  I love that they have lots of play time.  I love the convenience of it.  I love that most people here homeschool, and the kids all get to be together.

This time of year is when I’m usually researching to buy curriculum for the next year (of course, I ended up changing so many times I lost count…).

I saw some pictures of Karis today that I took when I was homeschooling just her last year.  It breaks my heart that I’m not doing that with her right now.  It brought me joy.

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But those reasons are all about me, not about what’s best for her.  Sure she wants to be homeschooled as well, but that doesn’t mean that’s best for her.  Her teacher has made it clear that she has seen her come out of her shell since she started and she really feels that school is best for her.  And she’s right.  She also has the opportunity to be counseled by an amazing counselor and the opportunity to do choir (and maybe other extra curricular activities in the future).

Karis is making A’s and B’s (even in math she’s making a B, and she started really struggling).  She is on an eighth grade level in reading and she is challenged.  She loves science and social studies, which are subjects I was never good at teaching.

She is making friends and really starting to like school.  Yesterday a friend gave her a Valentine’s gift and she said, “Do you know why he gave this to me?  Because he likes me and I like him.”  He’s a sweet friend and they seem to have a lot in common.  They talk Minecraft every day :-).  While she’s a little young to be liking boys, I’m just happy that she has a good friend that’s her age and boys don’t cause as much drama as girls ;-).

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And the boys… why would I want to homeschool them?  Only because it’s safe and comfortable.

They are also both thriving.

Ethan has gone from a first grade reading level to a second-third grade reading level since November!  I struggled every day to help him learn how to read, and I just wasn’t successful.  He has all A’s and B’s!  This is huge.  He has the opportunity to do sports, which is what he has always wanted to do.

This is from his teacher today: 

“I am enjoying Ethan.  He has made some huge strides since he came to me in November.  He is doing well.

Ethan is very polite and always helpful.  He has several different groups of friends that he plays with on the playground.  He is great about including the students that don’t always have a friend.

We had a conversation the other day, because he gets his work done, but he has to procrastinate a little before he gets it done.  As we talked, he told me that he gets distracted by the others around him when he has to do independent work.  Ethan asked to sit at a table by himself so he can concentrate.  I let him sit by himself with the option to move with a group if he wanted and he seems to be staying on task.  He sits with the group when we are doing partner/group collaboration, however prefers to sit by himself when doing independent work.  Ethan does like to rush through his work, but that has seemed to subside as well by letting him sit by himself for independent work.

He has really taken to reading.  I have noticed that just in the last month or so, he has really began to push himself to read even more so than before.  He is reading about 70 words per minute with accurate comprehension.  He should be able to read at 90 words per minute fluently by the end of 2nd grade.  He is right on track to meet the 90 words a minute in fluency.   Ethan is reading at a 2.5 reading level and I will test him on his reading level again this coming Monday.  I suspect his reading level with be higher than 2.5.

He is doing well in math.  He still needs to continue working on his math facts, but is getting better with them every day.  We have started multiplication as repeated addition this week and he is picking up on this really fast.

I am sure enjoying Ethan in my class.”

He has met his AR goal early this six weeks.  He and his classmates that met their AR goals are in this picture.  He is the one lifting his paper high :-).

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Levi is learning social skills that I couldn’t teach him here.  He started by getting in trouble all the time, and now he rarely gets in trouble.  His teacher has been way more successful at teaching him the correct behavior than I ever was.  She told me today that he’s a joy to have in class.  He has all A’s and 1 B (math).  He is growing so much in the area of academics.  He is also on a second-third grade reading level.  He is challenged in this area.  I love that he can read books on his level versus reading readers that I pick out.  And he is tested on comprehension which is something I wasn’t doing with the reading curriculum that I was doing here.  Today he made a 100% on his chapter book that he read in 25 minutes yesterday.

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Levi’s teacher told me that he is a joy to have in class.  She is pleased with his quality of reading.  He has made such progress since November.

 

One other thing that is really important is my healing.  I have so much work to do still.  I know that if I were to work, I would spin into severe anxiety and depression.  How is homeschooling any different? I was obsessing about curriculum.  Spending hundreds on credit.  I would change their curriculum every few weeks!

I was drinking every day when I was homeschooling before.  Obviously it was causing me anxiety.  Well, that and I’m an alcoholic.

Staying sober, working through trauma, self care, and fighting to stay healthy are my goals.  I hate that.  But it’s reality.  There’s a reason why I’m fighting for disability.

 

I spent some time today asking friends to remind me of why I know having them in school is best, and pretty much everyone was “right on.”  These comments especially stood out to me because it was different than anything else, and it made so much sense.

“Pulling them based on the your original post seems to be about you & not them. It’s best for them because you socially, emotionally and mentally then need to be where they are thriving and you need to focus on you.”

“Is it possible that the rhythm of homeschool became sort of an addiction as well? Something to distract, define or comfort you?”

“Not trying to vilify it at all but maybe it was more for you than them at times?”

“This is a really good point. _________ and I were having conversations about this because he is also doing his stepwork with addiction. It’s all too easy for those with addiction issues to trade one addiction for another. You give up drinking, but a part of you still craves something, so you feed it with something else. In your case, it could be the “high” you get from buying curriculum, planning lessons, and homeschooling. This might be a good topic to talk to your counselor about and get their take too!”

I am in awe of how God speaks through friends.  I needed to “hear” everything that these people said to me.

I truly think I have an addiction to all things homeschooling (and teaching in general).  The high that I get from researching curriculum, buying curriculum, lesson planning, etc keeps me going.  Now I have to learn to not search for a high, but allow God to work in me and help me learn how to take good care of myself.

A few things I decided today:  Along with taking good care of myself, I also want to start serving friends here.  I plan to start making meals for friends, having coffee with friends, hiking with friends, etc.  I feel like I have purpose now after making decisions today.

I’m looking forward to the future!

Preparation for the Week and New Years!

Having a stress-free and successful week for me means a lot of preparation on the weekends.  Since self care is my number one goal each day (well, sobriety, including self care), I have to work really hard to make that work.

Thursday I meal planned (Meal Planning Sundays post was written about this).  Friday I grocery shopped and budgeted (Grocery Geek post was written about this).

The boys made a fruit salad Friday night with the fresh fruits I just bought :-).

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I finished my yogurt.  I only have 8 jars this time because Karis and her friends had some while I was putting it into jars :-).

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I also made some Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot (loosely based off a recipe from Azure Standard).  It smelled so good!

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Saturday was New Year’s Eve.  I desperately wanted to start the new year off right, so we spent the day focusing on getting the house in order.  We took down our Christmas tree.

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We cleaned bathrooms, floors, the kitchen, got caught up on laundry, and the kids all cleaned their rooms.

Then I went to work prepping.

I cut up veggies and fruits for the week.

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Then I packed lunches and snacks for the days I go into town for AA.  This is cottage cheese, veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, orange grape tomatoes, and celery), fruit (grapes, oranges, and strawberries), Triscuits, and mixed nuts for a snack.

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Then I baked some Banana Chocolate Chip Power Cake Muffins for the week (and for the freezer).  I use Lily’s chocolate chips and sucanat for sweetener.  Next time I will add a little more sweetener.  They aren’t very sweet.  They are good, though!

I’m excited about these because they are full of protein and whole grains!

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Karis enjoyed some time with her friend building things out of modeling clay while the boys played outside with their friends.

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We spent several hours with our neighbors and had a fantastic dinner of homemade tamales!

We ended NYE early so that we could get up early to go to church!

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We got up yesterday morning and went to church… which was a fantastic way to start the new year!

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We went to Walmart and the kids spent their Christmas money :-).

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The kids had a blast playing the Wii U with their daddy.

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We ate roast and veggies for dinner, and ended the night with reading, singing, and praying!

I’m so excited about the new year!

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

This year has been one of big changes.

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

Then I brought the boys home in March.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This led me to La Hacienda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some pictures of this past year!

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