Processing Through the Sadness

Bare with me… I’m foggy-headed because my doctor increased one of my meds and it’s too much.  I was taking 800mg at night before bed and she changed it to 400mg, 3 times per day.  I just can’t keep doing this.  Also, I still have a cough AND my breathing still isn’t 100% (but still much better than it was).  I’m just not feeling great.

Robert, Karis, Ethan, and my father-in-law went for a drive in the Jeep around the mountain here in New Mexico where we’re staying.  I just woke up from another nap, but I feel the need to get things out of my head, so here I am.

I woke up this morning (after 12 hours of broken sleep and lots of dreams) feeling really sad that my anxiety/mental illness doesn’t allow me to homeschool all of my kids. I hate my brain and hate that I don’t get to live out my dream because of it. I’m also sad that the boys are really excited about staying in school. It’s totally selfish, but yeah. I guess I’m going to have to grieve this. I’m totally hoping that I will be able to homeschool them next year, but I just don’t know. Every single time I’ve tried to homeschool them I have had terrible anxiety or depression. I want to be content with just homeschooling Karis (just homeschooling her brings joy but not anxiety). She needs to be homeschooled.  And I have just enough mental ability to do that.  But I just want to be a “homeschooling family.” Maybe that’s just not God’s plan. I don’t understand why I would have such a strong desire for something that I can’t do. I guess it’s just *my* dream but not reality for our family.

The more and more I think about it, I’m realizing that maybe I am just in love with the idea of homeschooling all of the kids and the philosophies that I have adopted or that I want to adopt.  And I feel like I’m a better mom if I homeschool all of my kids and live out those philosophies.  This makes me take a deep breath and a huge step back.

What does that mean for me and all the other moms out there that can’t live out the “ideal?”

We all just do the best we can.  Each child has a different need.  Each mom has a different need.  Each family has a different circumstance.

Things may not look the way I want them to, but they will be the way they need to be for the health of our family.

I’m a list maker, so here are some of the benefits of having the boys in school:

  • Routine/schedule (which is actually really good for my anxiety)
  • The ability to teach just Karis (and she is super independent so she will be easy)
  • Very little pressure on me to be their sole educator
  • The ability to go to counseling and AA more often
  • Being able to focus on my self care
  • The boys will be with other kids, and they are both extroverts
  • They loved school this past year
  • Class parties, field trips, field day
  • Being involved in the community again
  • Saving money (not spending a fortune on curriculum, homeschooling supplies, books, etc and being able to sell a bit)

The boys are happy that they don’t start school till August 23rd so they have a lot of summer left.  With homeschooling, we were starting a full load when we got back from Glorieta!  I see several more weeks of relaxation ahead!

I’ll write my plans for enrichment for the boys and for Karis soon!

Made a Hard Decision to Feel Better

Wow.  This week has been hard and crazy and good all at once.

It started out really rough.

I went to counseling on Monday, thanks to my neighbor watching my kids.  The meeting with her went really well, but my breathing/anxiety was really bad.  The way home it got worse and worse and when I got home I couldn’t breathe at all and just had a really bad panic attack.  And Robert worked late.  And Levi screamed at me (this doesn’t happen… he was just really mad about something).  Kids kept coming in and out even though I told them not to (my kids kept inviting them back in, haha).  When Robert got home I just cried and cried.  It got a little bit better after that, but I was still struggling.

Tuesday I woke up still feeling really bad.  I called my doc’s office and they told me to come in that very day.  So, Karis and I made the long trek to San Antonio (2 hours one way) while Robert had the boys with him at work.

My doctor didn’t really know what to do.  She had never heard of Hyperventilation Syndrome and when she did some research she said she didn’t want to officially diagnose it without further testing.  But she told me that since I was about to go out of town we could try a few med adjustments and see if it helps.

On the way there I came to some big conclusions.  I realized that I had a feeling what was causing this.  It all started about the time that I told the boys that I would be homeschooling them.  And I have been obsessing about it because I’ve been trying to find a way to do it without taking much time each day, but still covering everything we needed to cover.  So yet again I was obsessing about curriculum and methods.  And I literally just COULD NOT turn it off.  No matter how hard I tried.  Homeschooling was all I thought about and all I talked about.  With family, friends, and even my counselor.  And of course here on the blog.  And on Facebook.  I was constantly reading books, watching YouTube videos, reading blogs, following people on Instagram… the list goes on and on.

I called Robert while in San Antonio, and talked to him about it.  He was in agreement immediately.  And the more I talked to him the more I realized how relieved he was that I came to that conclusion.  He wanted to keep them in school all along.  So, we decided to keep the boys in school.  Maybe just this year, maybe longer.  We’ll just take it a year at a time.  Now.  I will keep Karis home.  She needs to be home.  She has bad social anxiety and was crying every day at school.  She ended up with a physical condition from it.  She’s doing well at home, she’s mostly independent, and she is thriving.  I also don’t want to put her in junior high in Rocksprings.  It’s kind of rough.

Unfortunately the breathing issue didn’t resolve right away.  It got somewhat better, but not 100%.  And yesterday it was actually pretty rough.  Until.  I told Robert that I really felt like we needed to tell the boys for me to get better (he wanted to wait).  The anticipation was killing me.  I’m not good at keeping secrets, so that was killing me.  I needed to get it out.  So yesterday while we were driving to New Mexico (we’re here visiting my in-laws, then for Family Camp starting Sunday), I told the boys.  Levi was excited immediately.  He had actually brought his class picture with him on vacation :-).  He misses his friends.  Ethan, on the other hand, was pretty upset at first (I expected that).  He is nervous about testing (state testing starts in third grade).  And honestly I’m nervous about that for him, too, because he struggles with reading and math.  But the more he thought about it and talked about it, the more excited he got.  Then I told him that it may just be this year, but we’ll see.  He told me that he wants to go to fourth and fifth grade there.   The testing gets more and more difficult in fourth and fifth grades so I’m not sure that I want that for him.  We’ll just see how he does.  I really don’t think that I will put them in junior high, but I don’t want to plan that far out because things NEVER go as planned anyway.

Almost immediately after telling the boys (with-in a couple of hours), my anxiety got better and my breathing got better.  I guess I just needed that closure.  The only thing lingering is a dry cough.  But as annoying as that is, I’ll take that over the anxiety breathing issue.

If this cough gets under control I will truly have a week and a half that I can just enjoy with my family here at Glorieta.  I am taking cough medicine and it helps some, but it’s still not great.

I’m sooooo thankful that God made the issue so clear on that drive to my doc.  I just wish I had figured it out sooner.  Well.  I think I knew, but I was stuffing it down, trying to ignore it.  I wanted to homeschool the boys.  And honestly I’m kind of sad, but since I feel better, it’s totally worth it!  That was miserable!

This is a picture of Levi holding his class picture from this past year.  He was missing his friends so much that he wanted to “bring them along.”  He was so proud :-).

I’m happy for the kids… happy that the boys get to stay at school, happy that Karis will get to stay home and by herself.  And I’m happy for me that I will get to focus on self care.  I just don’t have it in me to homeschool all of the kids right now.  Who knows if I ever will.  But in the meantime I need to get more stable mentally.  So that’s my goal!

Oh.  And I’m also happy that I will get to go to town once a week and bring Karis along (when Robert is working).  AA and counseling will happen more often now :-).  Which is part of my self care.

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.

relaxitssunday

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!

glorieta

 

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?

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

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

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

I have still been putting too much on my plate.

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

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

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

I have just been feeling overwhelmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my plan for the fall:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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!

IMG_1250

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

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

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

Working Through Anxiety and Learning So Much!

This week has been a doozy.

Wednesday I got an email from Levi’s teacher that said:

“I’ve enjoyed him this year! I remember when he first came to school. He had trouble socializing with the kids, following routines, and remembering rules. Public school was a challenge . Now he fits in with the kids, has a lot of friends and does so well. We did a memory book of first grade and one page says “my best friend are”…… Levi was mentioned in all of the boys books and a couple of the girls. He is  a star shining bright! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend this year with him!”

Then I found out that Ethan has been mean to another kid.  His behavior has gotten worse since I told them they were homeschooling.

I felt anxiety for several days because of this.  I thought that maybe they were better off in school.

Through anxiety this week I have learned a few things…

  1. It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
  2. I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
  3. Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
  4. Giving myself grace is so important.
  5. I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
  6. Anxiety comes and goes.  It’s like waves.
  7. Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
  8. It’s normal to feel nervous about starting something new again (homeschooling), and I WILL have anxiety some days even though we know this is the right thing.
  9. I have spent so much time over the years changing decisions based on anxiety.  If I felt anxiety, I would change my mind on something.  Then when I would feel anxiety again, I would change my mind again.  It has been a back-and-forth thing for as long as I can remember.  I need to learn to stick with decisions even on the hard days (and there WILL be hard days).

Robert and I talked about how we decided to homeschool based on what is best for our family as a whole, not because they were struggling at school.  It works so much better out here at camp.

I decided that no matter what, we need to stick with our decision.  It wasn’t just me that made the decision, and I need to trust that God is working in Robert’s heart in this matter, too.  The fact that he wants to homeschool now says a lot about this decision.

Yesterday the boys were saying that they want to go to school next year.  They had an amazing week of not doing much school work, playing, and partying.  They were saying that they will miss their friends and bus driver (really?!).  Haha.  I told them that they WILL be homeschooling next year and they seemed okay with that.  I think they needed me to just tell them what we’re doing no matter what (I had to come to terms with it as well).  This morning they were cheering about being homeschoolers now and how excited they are!  They just needed to be home to remember what it was like.  They have played outside all morning, and I’m sitting on the porch while they play outside.  Next week they will start reading 30 minutes a day, and we will start school in July so we can take breaks as needed during the year.  We will take a week off when we go to Glorieta camp for family camp (and to see Robert’s parents) at the end of July (it starts on my birthday!).

We’re all just so at peace today and enjoying life.  The house is a mess, and I’m going to have to let that go now that they are home.  Luckily they clean up quickly, well, and without a fight so it should be fine.

Life is hard, but it is good.  I trust God and His plans even when they don’t always make sense.  I need to stick with things and be content with where we are in life.

The kids and I went swimming after the boys got home yesterday (at 1:00)!  It was super fun!  This will be a regular activity!  When the lifeguards are out, they can play on the toys.  When they aren’t, we just swim :-).  Their favorite thing is the floating dock.  They get on, jump off, on, off.

This morning I woke up (at 9:00!) to them playing on the back porch and yard.  They haven’t done that in a long time… they mostly play across the street under our neighbor’s porch.  They are enjoying the Pokemon card game!

I’m also very rested today, which I haven’t been in a long time.  So that helps my anxiety considerably!  I have been sooooo tired and not sleeping well.  I slept the whole night last night!

I’m realizing today just how different life is now that I’m sober.  In the past I would have started drinking in a few hours because that’s what I did.  I drank typically starting at noon into the evening.  Maybe not every day, but most days.  I wasn’t living life!  I was in a fog all of the time… never alert to what was going on around me.  Now I can think clearly and experience things.

Life is good!  Praise God!

Healthy Habits, Self Love, and Self Care

This is kind of a hard post to write because it means me finding my voice and maybe going against something that I’ve been told over and over again.  I’ve also learned to take the good from something and to be okay if I don’t agree with every part.

The body positive community is a tough one.  On one hand, they helped me to learn to hate my body less, learn to eat more balanced (and stop dieting), learn to not feel guilty if I don’t eat perfectly, helped me to understand that fat phobia is a real thing and I’m in the process of overcoming that, helped me to see others in a different light, helped me to learn to eat when hungry and stop when full (intuitive eating), and much more!   On the other hand, they are very feminist (which I have mixed feelings about), very anti-weight loss (which I have mixed feelings about because what if weight loss is the outcome of intuitive eating and joyful movement?), and I feel that they don’t seem to think that health is all that important.

I have been feeling guilty for wanting to eat healthy, for wanting to exercise (and have goals in this area), and for disagreeing with the community in any way, shape, or form.

Today I have been talking with the ladies in the Healthy Habits, Happy Moms group that I’m in, and they have helped me to feel empowered to do what I want for myself, my body, and my mental/physical/emotional health.  Dieting doesn’t work.  Habit change and intuitive eating does work.  And if I don’t lose weight due to being healthy, that’s okay too.  Healthy habits are my goal.  I have decided that it’s okay if I want to start running again (despite being told that I shouldn’t).  I want to become strong again.  I want to be able to run a 5k again.  I want to be able to hike long-distance again.  I want to be able to feel good and not need a nap every day.  I want to be able to backpack long-distance again.  I want to continue to have a balanced view of food and feel okay with eating Cheetos, but also feel good about eating veggies.  I don’t want to feel guilty for either.  I want health to be my goal but to not feel guilty for wanting to lose weight in the back of my mind.  I can’t help it and it doesn’t make me a bad person.

For my self care, I am going back to focusing on healthy habits.  The two that I’m going to work on are: Doing Couch to 5k and reducing sugar in my coffee.  I will continue eating balanced, taking vitamins/meds/supplements, and working on self love.  The behaviors of exercise and balanced eating are what make me feel good, so that’s what I want.  I also want to feel strong.  When I was running before I felt so proud of myself and accomplished.  I was able to handle so much physically.  I ended up backpacking 23 miles in one day at one time (that wasn’t planned and I hurt for days afterwards, but I did it!).  When we backpack, we typically hike 13-14 miles on average in a day.  I want to be able to do that again!  Right now, if I walk up a hill I feel terrible.  I am so out of shape.  I will probably also start doing strength training again eventually, but I’ll get there… don’t want to overwhelm myself.  Three days of walking/running is sufficient for now!  Self care is my goal, but if weight loss is the outcome, that doesn’t make me anti-body positive.

I want to also eventually try to increase my water intake and decrease my soda intake… but that’ll come.  One habit at a time!  Studies show that the more habits you try to change the least successful you are at actually making those changes.

The biggest thing that I am learning lately is that I need to stop caring so much what people say or think.  I need to do what I need to do for myself.  The same thing happened with my desire to homeschool.  It all comes down to what’s best for me and what’s best for our family!

Robert completely agrees with me on all of this, and I’m so happy to have his support!

Big Changes: Final Decision

As I’ve written here, the past few months have been a roller coaster with my mental health, emotional health, and just life in general.

Homeschooling has been the main thing on my mind.

When going through the month (well, over) of extreme anxiety because of meds, I couldn’t function let alone assume that I could do okay with homeschooling so Robert was very anti-homeschooling.  He wasn’t so sure that the anxiety was caused by meds or just my normal mental illness.  He wasn’t sure that it wasn’t a “flare” of my mental illness.

Fast forward a couple of weeks.  We realized after coming off of Geodon that it was the med that was causing my severe anxiety.  I was immediately better with-in a day or two.  It was clear that it WAS the med and not a “flare.”  He was starting to consider that maybe homeschooling was an option again, but he wasn’t completely on board yet.

Last Wednesday I was working on a pros/cons list and it brought me anxiety, then I wrote in a homeschooling group that I wanted to homeschool and I gave a detailed background.  Most people in the group thought that I shouldn’t; in fact, some went as far as to basically say that I was selfish for wanting to and that I shouldn’t because I’m an alcoholic.  This sent me into a tailspin and I considered that maybe they were right.

Because I was anxious again, Robert said that I should just move on.  So I did my best to do that.  I wrote a few posts about how I had come to terms with just keeping the boys in school.

Though I said I had moved on and was trying really hard to find the good in keeping them in school, I still just couldn’t let the homeschooling thing go.  It was a desperation with-in that I really felt that we needed to be a homeschooling family for good.  I can’t even explain why.  It just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Fast forward a few days.  Robert and I spent Mother’s Day as a family.  We went up to the highest point on our camp (the Windmill), swam in the windmill tank, and flew a kite.  For some reason the desire to have my people home for good was just so strong.  I enjoyed every single bit of being together as a family.  I just knew that we were supposed to homeschool.

That night I made my desire very clear to Robert and told him exactly how I felt.  I shared that no matter how hard I was trying to let go of it, it wouldn’t go away.

I was so surprised to hear him tell me that I can homeschool!  I couldn’t believe it.  I was worried that he didn’t really want it so I didn’t take that and run with it.  We had a dinner here at camp that night (our summer staff got here that day), and he was exhausted so he fell asleep early and we couldn’t really talk.  That night I couldn’t sleep.  I was thinking so much about what he had said (along with another issue), and I was excited but nervous that he didn’t really mean it.  I didn’t want to be the wife that pushed him into something that he didn’t agree to.  So I didn’t assume anything.  Monday morning we had several hours to talk.  He told me his concerns with homeschooling, but also told me why he thought it would be good for our family.  His concerns are that I won’t take good care of myself and that it will send me into a tailspin in which I have to go back to the hospital.  But.  He explained that he felt it would be good for our family because it would allow us so much more flexibility which is so important here at camp.  He agreed that them doing school for 3-4 hours was so much better than them being gone for 10 hours each day, then coming home to do homework.  He loves the idea of us not having to get up at 5:00-5:30 every day and the kids can stay up later, which allows us to do more here at camp.  He loves the idea that we can go places during the school year, which is much easier to do because summer here is so crazy.

So.  He was finally on board, but with some conditions.

He wants me to put self care first.  He wants part of that self care to be me exercising multiple days a week, outside, because it makes a huge difference for my mental health.  He has seen it help so much time and time again.  I will run/walk some days, and some days I will hike.

I need to still be able to go to AA and counseling as part of my self care.  The kids will go with me to town and sometimes they will hang out with my mom and sometimes they will go with me to AA.  The ladies there have told me that the kids are always welcome!  We will make a day of it.  We will go to ChickFilA for lunch, go to the park, the library, etc.

He wants me to use my resources to have mental health breaks, including sending them to my moms if I need.  She offered the day that I told her we would be homeschooling again.

He wants me to not obsess about curriculum.  So I told him that I already have most of what I need, and I have a few things already picked out.  I am currently saving up to buy everything at once.

He also wants me to take the kids on field trips.  He feels that that is one of the benefits of homeschooling and that they can see things that they wouldn’t normally get to see and be a part of.

The day that we decided to do this, I met with my counselor.  I told her what we decided and then talked about how for some reason I’m nervous even though I’m super excited.  We determined that the main reason I’m nervous is because I didn’t want to share about it because I have changed my mind so many times (which, I didn’t ever really change my mind… I knew what I wanted but I didn’t think I could have it).  Also, I know that so many people have strong opinions about why I shouldn’t homeschool and that has been driving my anxiety.  We talked about why I value others’ opinions so much.  We determined that it’s because of the years of bullying that I endured as a child.  I have the strong desire to please others, to do what they think, and it causes me anxiety when someone disagrees with me (and I assume that maybe they are right).  I did some EMDR about this.

We processed through the fact that even though I have had some inconsistencies in my life, I have some things that have been steady as well.  I have a great marriage to Robert and we have been married for 13 1/2 years.  I am a good mama and work through things to make sure my kids don’t feel too many affects of my illnesses.  I have consistent routines for the kids.  I got a college degree.  When I was in college, I was a pharmacy tech for 6 years.  We have lived at Camp for 2 years now and this is where we will be from now on (unless God calls us elsewhere, but I don’t see that happening).  We were in our past house for 3 years.  There are some routines and habits that have been in place for years despite the other inconsistencies in my life.  And now that I’m not drinking and have good meds, other things should become more stable.  But.  Life is life and inconsistency can be part of normal life.  It is ever changing.  My kids will grow up being able to handle change.

We talked a lot about how others’ opinions aren’t important and that Robert and I need to make decisions that are best for our family.

So, that’s what we did.

I have been so excited that it has been hard to contain myself.

He wanted me to wait to tell the boys till their last day of school next Thursday but I accidentally let Karis know (I didn’t tell her… she guessed it by the fact that I walked in with some curriculum that I bought from a friend).  I didn’t want her to accidentally tell the boys.  So I’m telling them after school today!!  I’m so excited!

This summer is going to be a busy one!  June 6th we have friends coming here for a week.  Then the next week, Karis and Ethan are going to camp and Levi and I are going to my parents’.  The last week of June, Robert and I are going backpacking in New Mexico (Gila Wilderness) while the kids are at my parents’.  I will be working some in the camp store here.  We will be going to Six Flags Fiesta Texas with my parents at some point.  The last week of July we will be going to Glorieta’s Family Camp.  So we only have a few weeks that we’re not going anywhere.

The days that we will be home, Karis will do her math (because I’m trying to get her through this level since we started behind), they will all read 30-45 minutes and do a reading log, and we will do some science activities here and there.  But actual school won’t start till the first week of August.  I will write a post next about the curriculum that I will be using with the boys.

After I pick the boys up today, I will tell them, then we will celebrate by going swimming in the river here!  Can’t wait!