I have had yet another long few days thanks to anxiety. I will feel good for a few days and think that I’m “over the hump” for it to all come flooding back even worse than before. This over-breathing/hyperventilation syndrome … Continue reading
One of my best friends spent some time Monday sharing a bunch of links with me about hyperventilation syndrome (also called disordered breathing or over-breathing). I didn’t read all of the links, but I found a few really helpful ones that made me feel like I’m not just making this up.
From Breathing Works:
“Disordered breathing occurs when upper chest breathing, usually at a faster rate and through the mouth, becomes the dominant pattern of breathing. Disordered breathing can also include big sighs, yawning, breath holding, feelings of breathlessness, or feeling unable to take a good breath in or out. Over time, disordered breathing can cause a large variety of symptoms including dizziness, anxiety, pins and needles, chest pain or tension, blurred vision, feeling easily overwhelmed, and constantly on edge.”
“How do I know if I am over-breathing? You may not be aware that your breathing is wrong or you may be aware of some, or even all, of the following most commonly experienced symptoms:
(I have most of these, though some of them aren’t constant.)
- Frequent sighing and yawning
- Feeling breathless, even after relatively minor exercise
- Difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating
- Breathless when anxious or upset
- Pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth
- Feeling permanently exhausted and unable to concentrate for no apparent reason
- Throat symptoms (I clear my throat constantly)
- Muscular aches and tension around the neck/shoulders/jaw
- Bloated feeling in the stomach
- Light headedness
What causes these symptoms?
When we over-breathe we eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide on every out breath.
This causes a chemical imbalance affecting many of the body’s systems. The results can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, causing us to become anxious. This can further upset our breathing pattern and a vicious circle develops.
You may be well aware of a particular event or experience that triggers your over-breathing, although this is not always the case. Possible triggers include bereavement, anxieties at work or home, altered breathing due to chest disease, (e.g. asthma) or following surgery.
(My trigger was anxiety)
How can I help myself?
Become aware of the way you breathe…
and how it may vary in certain situations. By learning to control the rate and depth of your breathing, i.e. retraining:
Learn to nose breathe.
Try to stop yawning and sighing.
Focus your breathing gently into your abdomen, avoiding excessive upper chest movement.
Become aware of your posture and learn to recognise areas of tension in your body.
This can be a good way of increasing your general feeling of well-being and self-confidence. If exercising is particularly difficult, discuss this with your physiotherapist.
(Exercise makes it worse right now but I think I’m going to try yoga.)
Variations in your blood sugar levels can contribute to your symptoms, so:
Avoid large meals, particularly late at night.
Take healthy snacks between meals”
(I’m working on this. I’m not always consistent with my eating.)
I read somewhere else (can’t remember where) that reflux is a symptom, and I’ve been struggling with that as well. Papaya enzymes are my friend! I tried them Monday night, and they worked almost right away.
More Natural Ways that I’m Working on my Anxiety
Meditation and Breathing Training
I have two great apps that have worked really well for me. I wrote about the meditation one before (Meditation Studio), but my friend shared a different one with me yesterday and it made a HUGE difference just using it a couple of times!
The app is called Breathing Zone. It’s really simple. It just has you breathe in and out in different amounts and times. It completely reset my breathing. Then I struggled again, then I started focusing on breathing through my nose only. I have also been meditating when I first go to bed.
I took a picture today of myself before I started my breathing re-training while resting this afternoon. I look kind of a mess (no makeup, hair everywhere, and zits), but I’m just thankful that I have these resources! They have helped so much!
I received these essential oils from a friend yesterday, and I was floored. She bought me 11 oils and some Stress Away bath bombs. I totally don’t feel deserving of this. Young Living EO’s are NOT cheap. I’m praying that they help me!!!
I no longer have a diffuser, so I ordered a pretty inexpensive one off Amazon. Hopefully it works okay. Diffusers from Young Living are at least $60 and this one was only $20! It looks promising. I will probably buy another one in a few weeks to have one in the living room and one on my desk in my bedroom. We’ll see.
I used to be anti-oils but I have decided that I am willing to try anything and my friend is helping me out SO much with this so I will try all of my options!
I take a lot of meds (Buspirone, Lexapro, small dose of Lithium, Lamtictal, small dose of Risperdol, Propranolol, and Gabapentin), but I’m actually hoping to reduce soon because my doctor and I feel that I’m on too much (which I think has been causing me more anxiety). I will always have to take meds, but less would be better.
I recently shared about all of the supplements that I take (Rescue Remedy as needed, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, Cod Liver Oil, Probiotics), but I have recently added 5HTP with Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin B Complex.
I also ordered Epsom salt to use with essential oils in baths consistently. I bought a “Sport” one because it was $5 cheaper ($10 instead of $15 for 5lbs)! If I find that I’m going through a lot, I will buy a 19lb bag because it’s so much cheaper. We’ll see.
When I was really struggling a few days ago my counselor suggested I try acupuncture. I have never been open to that before in the past, but I was desperate and I made an appointment at a place called Kerrville Community Acupuncture.
I ended up canceling the appointment when I noticed that they breathing re-training was WORKING. It is always a fall back, though, if my anxiety gets bad again or if it just doesn’t settle down long-term. The acupuncture does a lot of good things so it would never be bad to do. I just don’t want to spend the money now (although she is pretty inexpensive with a sliding scale!).
Bible Study, Journaling, Prayer, Worship
This is the most important one. I have been struggling so much spiritually and I talked with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about not totally trusting God because He allows such bad things to happen. In the midst of my suffering with the breathing issue (it’s TERRIBLE you guys) and having to put the boys back into school (again), plus thinking about the gruesome suicide of my brother and mine and my brother’s mental illness in general, I was just low. She was amazing and shared lots of scripture with me, but I just couldn’t hear it.
The past few days I have been reading from an app called the First 5, and the study is on suffering. It’s so perfect and exactly what I need to be reading right now. It has you read a chapter out of scripture (starting with Job, and I read out of my study Bible with commentary), then there is a devotional to follow and an open-ended question that it asks at the end where you can type your answer right into it. I am also using my Quieting Your Heart journal that I’ve shared before in the past.
Then I spent some time listening to worship music (which I haven’t been doing as much lately) and it was so perfect for my heart. I could “hear” God speaking to me again for the first time in a long time. I could feel His love. I felt hope. It’s been a while since I have felt hope.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me today, and He comforted me and was my counselor. I have needed that for a long time. Years. I am convinced that I need to trust Him to be that for me more often.
Speaking of… I decided to pull out a book that has been on my bookshelf for like 8 years. I read a couple of chapters when I got it but never finished it. I totally forgot what I read those 8 years ago. It’s called Forgotten God and it’s by Francis Chan. I started reading it again today and it spoke so clearly to me. I’m looking forward to actually reading it all the way through this time :-).
I’m keeping most things off of my plate right now.
My new focus is my relationship with Jesus, my family and friends, keeping my anxiety low, going to AA (and staying sober), homeschooling Karis, and “healthy” habits that I have been doing for a long time (including gratitude, meal planning, meal prep, self care, keeping the house mostly clean, and one that I have been working on for about 5 months but still have a long way to go… self love). That is all I can handle at the moment. And honestly it’s a lot! What keeps triggering my anxiety is trying to do too much (all of that PLUS a movement habit, still feeling the need to focus on weight loss, planning other Balance 365 habits, planning a backpacking trip that I’m not ready for, homeschooling all of the kids which is the biggest thing, etc), so I will NOT make that mistake again, for a while at least ;-). Now if I can keep my perfectionist brain away!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
Then I did a ton of prep work for the week!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
What are your plans this week?
Any plans for a vacation soon?
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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…
- It’s probably never going to go away so I need to stop assuming it will.
- I’m not causing it by decisions that I’ve made… I have it because I have an anxiety disorder.
- Learning to work THROUGH it instead of wishing it away will be the best thing for me in the long run.
- Giving myself grace is so important.
- I have this assumption that peace means that I’ve done good and anxiety means that I have done something bad.
- Anxiety comes and goes. It’s like waves.
- Prayer makes a huge difference, believe it or not.
- 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.
- 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!