Establishing Our Values and Goals as a Family

I feel like I have so, so much to share and I don’t even know where to start! Robert and I went to Big Bend State Park last weekend and it was so amazing and just what we needed for … Continue reading

Transformed By the Renewing of My Mind

These past few months have been transformational.  I have grown in so many ways.  The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that what I believe about myself will be true.  If I believe that I can’t handle anything, that I am … Continue reading

My Vision and “All Or Something”

Yesterday, I relaxed all morning (drinking coffee of course), then I worked in the house all afternoon.  The kids and I cleaned the whole house, I did some laundry, and I organized my office. I also made an amazing vision … Continue reading

Update On All the Things

I’m thankful for Facebook memories.  They remind me of how hard things were the past several years in the spring/summer.  They remind me of how great I’m doing right now.  They remind me that making the decision to put the kids in school (or keep them in school) was the best decision we could have ever made.  It has been amazing for all of us.

Even so, life isn’t perfect and there will be hard days/weeks.

Sleep

I have been so so fatigued again lately despite falling asleep pretty easily most days, and I feel like it has been getting worse.  I just had lab work done to check my thyroid and it’s normal now. I probably really should focus on movement.  I need to get out and hike more (again).  I feel so good when I do, but it’s so hard to convince myself to just get outside.  I honestly don’t know if I have the energy to make it happen at this point.  But I will try.  I have to remind myself that any movement is a good thing.  So a 10 minute walk to start is okay!  That could be enough to jump start something!

Anxiety

I’ve had a little more anxiety this week as well (though nothing like this time last year and the year before).  I’m trying to remember that there is absolutely nothing that I have to do in my day (well, except for picking the kids up from the bus and leading the 12 step meeting in Rocksprings).  I always want a spotless house, the laundry caught up, etc because it truly helps me mentally.  But I can also let it go for the day if I can’t focus on it for whatever reason.  It’s perfectly okay.

Dealing with kid issues is often what causes my anxiety.  Ethan has always been my hard kid.  In the past, he threw tantrums all day every day.  From a baby till not that long ago.  When he was homeschooled it was really bad.  He struggles badly with relationships and being the “mean kid.”  Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with him.  He is in counseling, he takes medication for ADHD now (started about a week and a half ago, and hopefully it’ll eventually help his impulsiveness), and his teacher and I are working with him.  Unfortunately there are some who can’t see all the work he is doing and just focuses in on his flaws.  But I can’t do anything about that.  So we keep moving forward.  I do need to pray for him more.  That’s something big that will help.  My friend also shared a scripture with me that I can pray over him and share with him each day.

Psalm 19:14 (from the International Children’s Bible)

“I hope my words and thoughts please you.  Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me.”

I printed it and will be putting it on the boys’ wall.  It would be a good thing for Levi to focus on as well :-).

Younique

This is my favorite part of my days lately.  It is so so so fun.  The women in the community are amazingly supportive and encouraging (who want to see each person succeed), making videos has become fun and less nerve-wracking, there are ALWAYS fun incentives and perks, I’ve made a little bit of money (and have the potential to make a lot over time), I love the makeup, I love the skin care, it’s so nice feeling pretty, I’m taking better care of myself, it gives me some purpose and something to look forward to, I enjoy sharing the makeup with friends and seeing their excitement for our products (and how they make them feel), and I could probably go on and on! I worked several hours today, and it was fun the whole time!

12 Step Meeting

The 12 step meeting is going really well even though we only have a few people going.  We have a new guy that is getting what he needs from the group.  There are a LOT of alcoholics and addicts in our little town and very few of them are in recovery.  Everyone joins each other in their addiction and do it all together.  I’m hoping that by being consistent and continuing to show up even if we only have a few people coming that we will be a soft place to land when enough is enough.

Unfortunately, everyone has grown up in their environment so they don’t know any different.  Anyone trying to get out of active addiction have a hard time because it’s everywhere.

Yesterday I was 18 months sober!!  It’s such an exciting thing!

Robert and the boys are camping and Karis was at a friend’s house until a little while ago.  I did a lot of work because the next two weeks I have 4 Younique parties!  They will be small, but it’ll be a good chance to learn.  My first one will start Monday!  I have lots of videos, photos and graphics, etc along with doing at least one live video each day.  I hope to do games and activities.

I’ll let you know how they go!

I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Thankful Thursday… God Has Given Me Rest

Good morning friends!  Today is starting out with a gorgeous sunrise.  I got to listen to the birds sing for a while as well.  I love being outside.  There’s just something about God’s creation that brings peace and solace.

God is good.  In the midst of the struggle, and in the midst of the rest and peace after the struggle.  Y’all, I have struggle consistently for years.  Like since Karis was born (and even before that, really).  Severe anxiety, panic, depression, losing my brother the way I did, relationship issues, etc.  I have had some good times, but they usually only lasted a few weeks at a time, and I’ve realized that many of those were times of hypomania.  I thought I was just feeling amazing (I know now that it was the feeling of euphoria that I get when I’m hypomanic).  And these times were always followed by depression.

I started a new med at the end of January (it’s actually a very old med and for some reason it’s not used very often… it’s also really cheap).  I’m on a very low dose (in addition to a lot of other meds).  I have been doing great ever since.  I mean, I have low days, but they don’t stay that way.  Usually it’s because I’m overly tired or dealing with circumstances that are difficult (usually involving one or more of my kids).  I have consistently had low anxiety, no lasting depression, have had motivation (but not overly motivated like when I’m hypomanic), and I’ve enjoyed myself more than I have in so long.  I have great relationships with people (I’m not assuming the worst as often).  I spend more time with friends and family.  My family has noticed a HUGE difference in me. They often recall what life was like when I was drinking all the time and when I was depressed all the time.  I slept a lot.  I was really short with them, yelling a lot.

Anyway… yesterday during Bible study we were studying Judges 3:7-11.  In verse 11, it said that the Israelites had rest for 40 years!  I was telling my friends how big that was for me and they said that they could see how that would stand out to me.  This is so big.

Othniel

7And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lordtheir God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. 9But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10The Spirit of the Lordwas upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.”
So today, my biggest thanks is to God for giving me rest.  I don’t know how long it will last or if it will continue to be consistent, but I will enjoy it today and praise God each day.
I’m also so thankful for the relationships with the amazing people in my life.  I’m especially thankful for my amazing husband and children.  I wouldn’t be where I am without them in my life.  Robert has stood by me and supported me through severe mental illness, dealing with the suicide of my brother, and through my alcoholism.  We still have a lot of growth ahead, but I’m thankful for the growth that has taken place so far.  And my kids have been amazing as we have processed all that has taken place in our family as well.  They have grown so, so much this year.  We’re still working through some things, but overall I’m so happy with the official decisions that we have made for them (especially for putting and keeping them in school).
I’m thankful for the friends that I have in my life.  I have lots of old friends and a few new friends.  I’m blessed with rich relationships.
Other than these things, I’m just thankful for the little things.  My plants, candles, Willow trees, the sunrise over the hills, my Happy Planner, coffee, Coke Zero :-), God’s word (not a little thing), Bible studies that point me to Him, my amazing office, decorating my house so that it feels warm and cozy, all of our needs provided (okay, also not little), my new business venture, my blog as my outlet, hobbies, and so much more.
I am truly one blessed child of God.

Simple Living

Simple Living

Over the years, due to my mental illness, I have had to simplify my life so much.

I have tried working so many times and can’t; I’ve tried homeschooling (many times) and can’t.

These cause severe anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.  Also, with my bipolar 2, I never know if I’m going to be able to function from one moment to the next.  I haven’t been stable for more than a month at a time for years.

Because of this, I am working towards getting disability.  I have a hearing soon and I’m using a lawyer.

Simple Schedule and Routine

Recently, I decided to get rid of a lot of things and truly simplify.  I organized well in order to keep things easy to keep up with.  I take one day at a time.  I try not to over-plan because I know that that usually means anxiety.

The only things on my plate are:

  • Time with family (though the kids are gone from 6:30 till 4:30 every day, so that means I’m alone a lot)
  • Self care
  • Bible study (personal daily and women’s once a week) and Church (a few times a month)
  • AA (twice a week, at one hour each time)
  • Counseling (sometimes) and kids’ counseling (every other week)
  • Coffee with friends (when I can handle it)
  • Cleaning (I have a daily routine that I keep up with so things don’t get out of control)
  • Cook/make simple meals
  • A few small hobbies as I can handle it (mostly blogging and baking)

That’s it.

Our kids also have very simple lives.

  • Chores (daily they make their bed, fold and put away laundry, and clean up their rooms and living room if they leave things there)
  • School (of course, they are gone a long time every day for school)
  • Homework (very little… reading for 20-30 minutes and math and/or spelling)
  • Play (they spend a lot of time outside and with friends)
  • Play games and read
  • Counseling
  • Church
  • Electronics, limited

Karis does choir (one hour a week), and Ethan does some mountain biking (a few races a year).  No large amount of time doing sports or other extra curricular activities.  This isn’t for everyone, but it’s best for our family.

Simple Planning

I basically just sit down with my Happy Planner the night before or the morning of and plan my day.  It tends to be a lot of the same each day and I’m good with that.  Other than that, I go by my daily/weekly routine.

Simple Eating

We typically eat a lot of the same things consistently.  I try to mix it up sometimes, but pretty much every meal I do is simple.  I use my instant pot a lot, and I usually make meals that don’t take very long.

I have a weekly routine to do some food prep so that things are simple through the week.  I fill my veggie tray to pull out for lunches and sometimes for dinners.  I sometimes make homemade Greek yogurt, but this time around I just bought some.

I try to buy some things that are convenience to be easy to use/eat.  For example, I buy already cut broccoli and baby carrots.  I buy some granola bars and peanut butter crackers.  I LOVE buying pre-boiled and peeled boiled eggs (I hate boiling and peeling them).  The boys just grab a bag and eat a few for snacks. And I eat them at lunches often.  Sometimes I buy pre-made salads but they are much more expensive than buying leaf lettuce.  So sometimes I buy leaf lettuce, tear/cut it, and add some bagged spinach to it.  I have taken a break from salads for a while, though.

I meal plan each week so that we all know what we will be eating.  It helps keep the guess work out of it, and I am able to do any prep ahead of time (like thawing meat, etc).

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We also eat in the dining hall when we can because it’s free, and I don’t have to cook and clean up.  Sometimes I can’t handle being in a loud dining hall, but I’m getting to where I can these days.

The Little Things

I try really hard to enjoy the little things each day.  I have learned to be content with what we have and where we are in life.  I am at peace with where we live and know that this is life from now on (unless God has us move on, but I highly doubt it to be honest).  I light candles every day, and start out with a good cup of coffee.  I have been slowly decorating our home (on a tight budget) because I want to enjoy being here.  Having coffee with friends has helped me to grow closer to others here and it has given me a ministry (other than AA).  I enjoy getting up in the morning now and watching the sun rise.

I love hiking and am so glad that we have the hiking trails right outside our door.  We live on 1400 acres.  We try to take family hikes on weekends as we can.  It doesn’t always work out.  This is basically the only form of exercise that I like :-).

Our Home

I love our home.  It’s not very big (about 1300 sq ft), but it’s perfect for us.  The boys share a room, Karis has her own room (that is so fun and perfect for her), and our bedroom has a comfy love seat in it (that I got for $30 from a Thrift Store).  I have an amazing “bonus room” with my office area, a couple of shelves with books, a chair with side table and books, my guitar (that my brother gave me and I want to learn how to play), curtains (that were $20 for 4 panels), a fun rug ($30 on Amazon), and a bunch of art that I already had or got for $1 at Dollar Tree.  It’s my favorite room in the house.  I also have a succulent plant on the windowsill by my desk :-).

Our living room is so great.  The tree wall was here when we moved in.

I spent a lot of time working on the kids’ rooms recently and it’s so much easier to keep clean.

I love our kitchen and our food storage.  It makes me happy.  I spend a lot of time in there.

This is the view from our back windows/back porch.

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My office and bedroom are my sanctuary.  I just love them.

I just love life and feel at peace with where we are.  I am also excited about our future and what that looks like.

Grati-Tuesday, February 20th

As I sit here and listen to Bethel radio on Pandora, drink coffee, and reflect (while hanging out with my hubby), I’m so incredibly grateful for the life that we have.  It has been a really hard journey for me, … Continue reading

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

I have never been a huge fan of Valentines.  It seems to be a “Hallmark Holiday” and just a reason for people to feel like they can’t keep up… especially with children.  The kids (well the boys) had to take valentines to school and this morning Ethan asked me why I didn’t get something for his teacher.  Umm.  I know that teachers like stuff from their students, but I have always been a parent and see both sides.  I know their teachers will be okay.

Anyway.

I decided last night (at the last minute) that I wanted to do something special for the kids.  I had already bought some amazing cookies from my talented friend, but I wanted them to wake up to something different today.

I decided to set each a place setting with a plate, cloth napkin, a mug, hot chocolate in the mug, their cookies, and then I also made muffins and sweetened cream cheese.  I used the confetti from the box with the cookies to throw around on the table.  The kids woke up quickly when I said, “Come see the surprise!” They were pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed their morning!  Again, this was all throw together at the last minute.  Nothing difficult.  Not Pinterest worthy.

Today at noon I hosted Bible study at my house.  I made a pot of amazing coffee (Ruta Maya) and got the water for tea ready.  Unfortunately, only one person came.  So we just talked and prayed which was really nice.  We have decided that in the future if only one other person comes we will go ahead and do the study.

My hubby had to go somewhere today and came home with a sweet Valentine’s gift.  🙂  Well, that’s on top of the blue tooth speakers that he had ordered me (that are coming in today!).

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bluetooth speakers

I have an amazing life.  Yes, I struggle with bipolar 2 and severe anxiety, along with insomnia… but I have so much.  A wonderful husband, beautiful children, amazing friends, this camp to live at and do ministry at, a beautiful view and a home that I love, a relationship with my Creator, and the ability to take good care of myself most days.  We also have all of our needs met, even if the budget is tight.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Life is Hard, but God is Good

Wow.  This week has been transformative for my body, soul, and mind.  I had no idea what I needed, and I had no idea that my body could lead me there.

Last Sunday I wrote about how I’ve been struggling, then I ended the post with things that I was thankful for.  I felt a huge weight lift after that post.

My family went on to go to town, play at the park, and have lunch at an amazing restaurant.  It was good for our family to spend a day together.  It has been a long time.  So, that was #1 of what I needed.

We didn’t end up cleaning out the kids’ rooms that day because we ran out of time, so I decided to do it during the week.

Not only did I completely clean their rooms out (they were BAD y’all), I also made myself a new, quiet, relaxing, peaceful space.  The kids had a craft room that they didn’t use often and when they did, they left it a disaster!  It was also SO bad.  So, I turned it into my own room!

Our house just needed a lot of TLC.  I have let it go a lot over the past few years… trying to keep up but letting a lot of things slide.

For most people it wouldn’t be a big deal.  But for me it affects my mental health greatly.  Instead of getting up and moving, I would sleep all day because I couldn’t handle it.  I felt like it was impossible to do any cleaning because the back up mess was so bad (if that makes sense).  Then I would feel so guilty because I knew I shouldn’t be sleeping all day but I couldn’t stop.  I was physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted.

So, I made a point to purge, clean, and organize the whole house this past week.

Monday I cleaned out Karis’ room.  It took like 10 hours at least.  It was so bad.  Trash was everywhere.  I threw away 2 huge black trash bags and a kitchen bag away full of stuff.  I also put 2 tubs of things away in the attic and gave a lot of stuff away.  It is night and day different and she’s sleeping so much better.  She said that it’s so nice to not be tripping over stuff.  I also made her a checklist to help her keep up with it (she asked for one and I also made one for the boys).

Before:

After:

Tuesday I worked on my new office/hobby space/reading/workout (eventually) room.  I also worked on it a bit today (adding some things on the walls and bringing our chair in from the living room).  I am IN LOVE with my new space.  It is just what I’ve envisioned.

Before:

After:

Wednesday I worked on the boys’ room.  They had a black trash bag of trash and I put away a tub of stuffed animals, etc.  I organized their little trinkets and things and they are just in love with their room.

Before:

After:

Thursday I cleaned the house.  Our bedroom, bathrooms, dusting, floors, etc.

Friday I had jury duty and I was selected to be on the Grand Jury!  Luckily we only meet two more times because our county is sooooo small.  Lol!  When I got home I took a short nap, then I picked up the kids from the bus.  That evening I worked on our written routines, rules, consequences, rewards, and kids’ checklists.  The kids are thrilled for these.  They need this structure.

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Yesterday I worked on my office/work out/reading/hobby/etc room (I need a name for it).  I washed sheets and towels.  I did more cleaning.

Here’s a fresh update to our pantry foods:

So right now, my house is pretty spotless and organized.

The beautiful thing… I am starting to wake up early because I’m falling asleep by about 10:00!  And I sleep ALL night.  I don’t wake up at all.

Okay… now onto what I’ve been learning!

Wow.

  1. My relationship with Christ has grown by leaps and bounds this week.  I can’t explain it except that the Holy Spirit has drawn me in.  It wasn’t anything I did.  I have missed spending time with Him for a long time, and I have had a lot of bitterness and doubt.  I have struggled with trust and faith.  I have also allowed other peoples’ beliefs, bitterness, etc affect me.  I have decided to unfollow some people.
  2. I am capable of so much more than I have been telling myself I’m capable of.  So much can happen because of thoughts, in positive and negative ways.  My counselor in Frisco reminded me of that every time we met.  She had me do exercises at home that reinforced that.
    I worked for 8-10 hours most of the week.  My body was sore but my spirit was stronger for it.
  3. My house needs to be clean and organized for my mental health.  Not so that people will tell me how amazing I am.  I have learned that I just cannot function if my house is a disaster.  I also cannot function with clutter, period.  I am working, still, on decluttering.  My counselor reminded me the other day that “environment matters,” and I am a believer in this!
  4. I need to sit at my desk to blog.  It’s my “work space.”  I cannot think to blog at the kitchen table anymore.  I get so distracted by everything around me.  Also my mind is more clear because my house is more organized.  So crazy how physical clutter causes clutter in my mind.
  5. I need structure and routine, and so do my kids.  They asked for the checklists.  The boys’ behavior has improved dramatically.
  6. Ethan got in big trouble at school on Tuesday.  I didn’t freak out about it. I decided in that moment that I need to be more firm with him.  I have been wavering because I have worried about his mental health, but I have determined that wavering is not good for him.  He needs to know what’s expected and that there are consequences when he doesn’t follow those expectations.  He was grounded from all electronics and friends for a week and that truly affected him.  He knows that next time it will be longer and we can always add more consequences.  He is going to counseling today to work on his anger management.  That’s his biggest issue.

…Life is hard, but God is good!

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 could share, but the words just aren’t coming when I sit down to write.  I’m not sure why.  I do know that I have spent MUCH less time on my computer lately and that’s a good thing.  I used to sit on my computer all day, every day.  Now I don’t have time for that, nor do I want to.  Part of the reason why I don’t write as much (or sit at my computer as much) is that I used to drink and drink and drink and all I could do while doing that is sit.  Also I have been so busy.  Mostly in a good way!

The moment that I decided to put Karis back into school, my anxiety went away and my depression lifted.  We didn’t even take much time to pray through it once I thought of it because 1) I knew that Robert wanted our kids to be in school, 2) I realized that my mental health went back down hill when I pulled Karis out, 3) Karis went backwards in many ways being home and I knew it would be best to teach her how to persevere even when things are hard (and she needed to be around kids her age).

Since we’ve made that decision, lots of things have hit us… broken arm, asthma attack that landed Ethan in the ER, lots of doctor appointments, bloodwork, lots of medicine, Ethan got strep (and ended up missing 4 days of school), counseling appointment for Karis… And I have been in either Rocksprings or Kerrville pretty much every single day (with a day off here or there).  I have also tried to go to AA twice a week but it hasn’t happened as much as I would like (I definitely go once at least).

But do you know what hasn’t changed through all of this craziness?  My joy.  I may be tired.  I may be somewhat stressed.  Karis has cried a lot (as we’ve been walking her through things).  Levi has been in trouble a lot at school this year (and we’re working with his teacher and doctor to figure out how to handle this).  But I haven’t regretted anything.  I haven’t felt guilty.  I haven’t tried to make something happen that wasn’t supposed to happen (which is how I ended up homeschooling off and on so much over the years).  I haven’t made things to be my fault when they weren’t (like putting Karis in school or Levi getting in trouble).  I’m just truly living each day.  One day at a time.  To its fullest.  I’m more comfortable in my skin.  I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with my kids.  Karis and Ethan are doing choir.  The house stays mostly clean (except this week because the kids are home, and that’s okay!).  Robert and I work together.  I focus a LOT on self care because that is what keeps me going. Life is just good.  But I don’t take it for granted.  With my history and my mental illnesses (and being an alcoholic), I truly have to take it one second, one minute, one hour, and one day at a time.  And I’m finally in a place in which I can do that.

So on this beautiful Thanksgiving, I have so much to be thankful for.

It has been literally years since I felt this kind of peace and joy for more than a few days, and especially through stress and difficulty.

My family and friends are amazing, I’m learning to love myself as God has made me to be (and I’m realizing what my true calling is), Jesus loves me and I love Him, we love Camp Eagle and are so blessed to be a part of this family, we have all of our needs met (even when we don’t know how things will work out, they always do), I’m thankful for AA and what it has done in my life (and continues to), I’m so thankful for the Healthy Habits Happy Moms community (and Balance 365 program) that has helped me see myself in a completely different light, and I’m thankful for all the little things that bring me joy each day… music, flowers, coffee, Christmas lights, candles, a hike, spending time with my friends and family, playing games, cleaning, coloring, drawing… the list could go on and on.  I am who I am today because of who God is, my family and friends, and through the difficult of the past several years.