Slowly Taking Back Control

Well, I didn’t exactly follow through with the plan I laid out in the last post

I sat with it all day and it just didn’t feel realistic. It didn’t feel like it had any chance of really sticking. I realized that I was trying to copy other peoples’ routines instead of creating my own.

The truth is, I already had a pretty great morning routine. Could it use a few tweaks? A few improvements? Sure, but I already had a great foundation.

I decided that waking up insanely early (relatively) every day wasn’t realistic for me. I’ve always wanted to be a morning person, but I’m just not and I need to accept that and figure out how to make it work for me. So I decided to focus on the routine itself, not the timing.

All I really added was yoga. I significantly decreased my phone time and added a short session of yoga before reading my devotionals. I didn’t think it would be as challenging as it was and I didn’t think I’d come to love it so fast. Toward the end of the week, I started noticing physical symptoms of anxiety and I still pushed through with a lighter session of yoga. I could’ve used that as an excuse, but I didn’t want to! I found that the focus on breathing really helped me control my anxiety in other settings throughout the day as well. Added bonus!

This weekend, after watching Made for More, I started thinking about the idea of having a list of goals, or truths as I called them, that I could write every day. They sink in faster if I have to physically write them every day and makes it more likely that I’ll accomplish them.

I was pretty much instantly inspired. I just started writing a list of truths I wish I believed about myself, things that I wish I could confidently tell the world. There just happened to be 10. The next step was singling out one to focus on immediately. I chose: I eat well. It seemed like a small enough goal to start with that could make a huge difference in the long run. I figured out what steps I could take to start on that journey and I am now starting to work on cutting out evening snacks. That’s it. That’s my main goal right now. If I can focus on one small step at a time, it makes it more manageable, more doable, more realistic.

That’s not to say that I’m not more mindful in general of what I’m putting in my mouth. I definitely am. I’ve been keeping track of why I want to eat. If I’m not hungry, I just say no. I want to prove to myself, once again, that I can do this. I can control myself.

This weekend I also started to take a deeper dive into examining every aspect of my life and acknowledging where there was room for improvement. This is a big job, so I don’t feel anywhere near done, but it felt important to start.

I’m heading back to kid duty tomorrow, so it’ll be interesting to see how things progress with that factor added back into the mix.

I have to say, it does feel kind of empowering to take back control!

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Do It Anyway

Why does it feel so hard to change a routine?

This winter has been a killer for all those good habits I’d formed last year and I’m ready to change that! But dreaming it is completely different than implementing it.

I was looking through my photo books from last winter and realized that I took my daily walks no matter how much snow was on the ground (and there was actually a lot more last year!). This year I’ve thought about it and always talked myself out of it. So this weekend I started trudging through the snow again. That’s what got the ball rolling.

Lately I’ve also been really bad about getting to sleep at a decent time. I fall into the “just one more” rabbit hole far too easily. Just one more episode. Just one more story. Just one more video. Just one more flip of the sand. Just one more social media check. And I don’t even enjoy whatever it is, because I know I should be going to bed. I’ve seen midnight far too often lately…

I’m not working this week, so I feel like I should be able to stay up late, sleep in, and generally just lay around all day…But I also recognize that it’s the perfect opportunity to work out any changes I want to make in my daily routines.

My mantra this week is: Don’t want to? Do it anyway! (I heard this on a Rachel Hollis livestream this week and it instantly stuck!)

I have so many personal development books sitting on my dresser or queued on my kindle that I’ve been wanting to dive into and this week is my opportunity. This is the week for trial and error.

And, honestly, I’m scared to start because that could involve letting my parents in. I live with them. I think they’ll start to notice if I’m going to bed early and waking up early to exercise and sitting around studying personal development books more than I ever studied anything in school. I think I’m scared that they’ll actually support my efforts and expect to see change. All of a sudden there would be some outside accountability. And then the news would trickle through the family and suddenly all eyes are on me. This may sound like an exaggeration, but I made a commitment to be more open on this blog and these are real thoughts I’ve had.

Don’t want to? Do it anyway.

So this week I am going to wake up at 6am (why am I doing this again?!) and work in an hour of exercise and reflection before starting my day. This will force me to alter my routine at the end of the day as well. Hopefully, the result will be happier, more productive days. At the very least, I’m proving to myself that I am able to power through the emotion and ignore all the reasons not to do something. At the very least, I prove to myself how strong I can be.

Don’t want to? Do it anyway.

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Here We Go!

I’m not going to lie to you. This has been a challenging season for me.

I’ve been productively focused inward for almost 3 months now. I’ve flip-flopped on whether or not to do therapy more times than I can handle. I’ve devoured personal development books and podcasts. I’ve added 2 more personality tests to my list. I added one more devotional to my daily routine. I signed up for online coaching. I started writing in a physical journal, which feels very different than writing in my digital journal. I have a journal specifically for ideas from books and podcasts that inspire me.

I’ve felt more connected, but also very distant from my family. At different points throughout the past 2 months, I’ve given my parents glimpses of this journey, but I’ve never let them in completely. And if I’m going to be really honest, I only did it to hurt them.

But one of the biggest things to come out of all of this is that I realized that I had my friends confused. I thought one of them was all about the feelings and the other was all about the fun. But I accidentally found out that Ms. Fun was doing the exact same thing. She was devouring all the things. We started sharing recommendations with each other and, really for the first time in our friendship, started talking about the harder things.

I treated her to dinner this weekend as a very late Happy Birthday and thank you for holding down the fort while we were in Hawaii last month. The conversation always seemed to come back to our personal development journeys and both of us opened up about hard times in our past that we had been hiding from each other. Keep in mind, I’ve known her since the first day of first grade. How we managed to keep anything from the other for that long is beyond me. But there we were, baring our souls. Supporting each other. Encouraging each other. There aren’t words to describe what a gift that is.

I know I’ve always taken her for granted, because she’s always just been there. But to have someone who has known me forever be right there beside me as I continue on this journey is nothing short of incredible.

But I need to talk about something else as well. Going back to the therapy decision–Ms. Feelings has been urging me to think more seriously about it for about a year now. I took major steps for me last fall. I did my research, I reached out and was rejected and rejected and rejected. I gave myself a break from that train of thought while on vacation (other than throwing it back at my mom in a heated conversation), but thought I should give it one more shot after we got back. So last week, I took the first steps toward reaching out to someone new. But when it started getting real, I lost my nerve.

And in the course of my conversation with Ms. Fun, I realized that I really need to give myself a shot at it. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I have already dedicated so much time and energy to becoming a better version of myself every day. It has become my purpose this year. I have had endless motivation for almost 2 months now.

This is not just another phase.

And with my best friend by my side, I feel like I can really do this.

I’ve been thinking about some of my concrete goals for the year and that has led me to thoughts of what I want this blog to be. This year, I am choosing to embrace the things that scare me. Despite the fact that I’ve had this little blog for 4 years (?!), one of the scariest things is actually letting people in on my real thoughts. I am going to do my best to be open and take you along on my journey. Because, ultimately, it was other people’s openness that motivated me to be better.

What a way to start the year!

Here we go.

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Big Things

Wow, it’s been a while.

I’ve been pondering big things lately.

It started small with whether or not to repeat Strength’s Finder before expanding to questions of grad school and eventually reaching the really deep things: religion and therapy. (Why does therapy feel like the biggest and deepest of them all?) Suffice it to say, Strength’s Finder and grad school quickly fell to the wayside.

It’s been really interesting to see the gradual change of topic in my journal over the last month and a half specifically. Gone are the days of complaining about parents and embarrassing mishaps. It’s now all about soul-searching and really trying to see things objectively. It’s about trying to rely more on God through my struggles to find the right fit for therapy. It’s about realizing that this is my life and it’s time to start figuring out what want, regardless of others’ opinions. It’s about my budding spiritual life.

Maybe it’s just my age–my friends are on similar journeys right now. But as I put it in my journal, I’ve always been a thinker so it’s nice to finally be at a stage in life where there are some bigger things to ponder.

I think that’s all I want to say about it at this point. I’m sure there will be more to tell soon enough.

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Looking Back Fondly

I had yet another amazing weekend! This summer seems to have been filled with amazing days, nights and weekends. I wonder why that is…could it be an outlook change?

The weekend started with a bang! I brought my best friend to the Taylor Swift concert in Minneapolis Friday night. It was my fifth TS concert, her fourth. We went to the first 3 together. She had lost interest after high school, but I remained a loyal Swiftie. I didn’t have to do much convincing to get her to go with me because the memories were already a part of our relationship. It would’ve felt wrong going with anyone else.

The thing about this concert, though, was that I felt like it was really aimed at the nostalgic fans who had been there since the beginning. So even though my BFF hadn’t listened to any of the current music, she was still able to sing along with a lot of the songs and we were still able to reminisce about the last time we’d heard the songs live.

I am not a dancer. (Probably for good reason.) But I was dancing and screaming and eating up all of “this is the best crowd” lines! I was so in the moment and I just couldn’t believe that that many people liked Taylor at least as much as I did. I’m surrounded by people who pride themselves on not liking mainstream music, so I often feel like a loser or a chump for liking it. So it was really, really nice to be surrounded by that many like-minded people.

But every song had a memory attached and that’s what really sent me over the top. This time I realized that she has memories attached to every song, too. I remember after seeing One Direction in Chicago years ago, I was really disappointed to realize that they were just 5 teenage boys. But every time I see Taylor Swift live, I’m so relieved to see that she’s just another twenty-something trying to figure everything out.

Okay, fangirling over. It was a magical night for me, but the best was yet to come.

Friday was also my brother’s fifth wedding anniversary and they threw a huge “dream reception” in the prettiest park around on Sunday. Family was trickling in all week, but our houseguests arrived Saturday. We brought them to a new little speakeasy in town (hello, girls’ nights!), got milkshakes at the cute, little 50s diner, took a little riverfront walk and picked up some gourmet popcorn before heading home. They joined us for church the next morning and we managed to fit in a little bit of shopping before party prep started. I love showing off our town and I love having the extended family around!

We got to the park hours before the party started to help with anything and everything. I was, of course, in charge of the kids (who hadn’t had naps…). It was really nice to have some quality time with them before the crowd came, though. I traded off kid duty with my dad and my sister-in-law’s mom all night so my brother and sister-in-law could enjoy their guests.

After getting family and group pictures, my brother gathered everyone together and thanked them for coming and being a part of their marriage. Then he said he wanted to thank a few people who they could not have lived without these past 5 years. Guess who the first thank you was…

Me.

He thanked me and his wife’s brother for always being willing to drop everything and help them with anything. And then he asked everyone to give us a round of applause.

I swear I almost cried.

Selfishly I’ve always really wanted that validation that they appreciate what I do. But getting it was just so much better than I ever imagined.

They both pulled me aside later and thanked me again for being such a big help.

Gah.

There are circumstances in our family’s history that have made our relationship awkward at times, but it felt so good to be so loved and appreciated by my brother. I realized that he’s not going anywhere. He’s not going to give up on me. And I’m not going to give up on him, either. We’ve got each other for life.

That was kind of the theme of the summer. I realized who was really there for me and who wasn’t. I really learned to appreciate who and what I have. I will always look back fondly at the summer of 2018.

But I’m so ready for fall!!

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All Our Love

I’m a year older today.

Yes, today was my birthday.

In a lot of ways I really do feel older. A lot of the situations I’m facing now are decidedly adult. I never fully understood the phrase hard choices until recently.

But I also don’t feel any different than I did 5 years ago.

The day felt much, much different, though, than last year.

Last year the day basically came and went. I wasn’t working, and my parents did go along with my wishes, but that’s all they did. Actually, it’s not fair to my dad to say they. He really tried to make the day special for me. My mom just went along. I never heard a “Happy Birthday!” from her, never got a card signed “Love, Mom and Dad.” My niece and nephew were also with us all day, so that’s a different dynamic all on its own. We did the birthday stuff, but it didn’t feel special.

This morning, on the other hand, I was greeted with smiling faces, “Happy Birthdays” and hugs. After completing my civic duty, I headed to my other kids’ house. I had to work today and we really didn’t do anything special, but I was greeted with more smiles and “Happy Birthdays,” and gifted some cupcakes and a sweet homemade card from the kids. Their parents wrote a nice thank you note on the back. That would’ve been enough, right? Around lunchtime the kids’ grandma stopped by with a card and gift. I mean.

After the youngest went down for her morning nap, I noticed a voicemail from my brother. They all sang to me and my niece, obviously a little bit confused, kept insisting that she wanted to talk to me.

I really wasn’t expecting anything at home. My parents were gone for the evening–having dinner with some of my mom’s siblings. I was looking forward to coming home to an empty house, maybe going for a walk and getting ready for the evening.

When I walked into the kitchen, I saw flowers and cards from my parents. All our love, Mom and Dad. Cue the tears.

I was touched, to say the least, but I had to get over it and get ready for dinner.

I went out for margaritas with one of my best friends in our little waterfront hometown. This was especially rewarding because, try as we might, we hadn’t seen each other in about 4 months and a lot had happened! It was so fun to catch up and just hang out! At some point during the meal I mentioned not being used to all the attention I was receiving and she just simply replied, “Well, we all love you.”

Quite a different experience from last year.

When I got home, I decided to enjoy the sunset and take my dog for a walk and as I was admiring the sky, I started reflecting on the day and, I’m serious, I literally felt a wave of gratitude just wash over me. All of these people took the time and effort to show me they care. I’m important, I matter to them. After having some rough years when it comes to that subject, it was overwhelming to come to that conclusion.

I thought about all of the times throughout the day had said “Thank You.” And it struck me that I was in the moment and truly felt the gratitude as I said those words. Every time. But it felt bittersweet, because I can’t shake the feeling that things won’t be the same this time next year. Maybe that’s for the better, but I couldn’t let myself focus on that too long, because I wanted to soak up every last second of daylight. I couldn’t (and still can’t) let this day go.

I want to bottle it up for all those ordinary days. But while I still have the house to myself, I’m going to let myself bask in it. How many times in life do you feel truly special and completely loved? I think I owe it to myself to enjoy it.

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30 Years

I did a good thing today (yesterday for most of you reading this).

Tomorrow (today) is my parents’ 30th anniversary. They would have been happy to just let the day come and go without any kind of celebration. But I couldn’t let that happen. (I’m also the girl who wrote them a thank-you note and gave them a dinner out for my 20th birthday…)

So about two weeks ago I approached my dad with an idea for dinner out and a reservation at a swanky new hotel in town. He loved it and we decided to keep it a secret from my mom for as long as possible. The next step was getting my brother involved. He was all in.

Everything was set up; we just didn’t know how my mom was going to react to it all. We decided that it was necessary to tell her about the dinner last weekend, so she had time to warm up to the idea and so she wouldn’t plan something with someone else! But we managed to keep the hotel a secret until hours before we left.

We enjoyed an adults-only dinner in our favorite small town sipping manhattans, martinis and an old fashioned. They reminisced about the last 30 years, we cracked up talking about favorite TV shows, we shared stories about our two favorite children. We dropped them off at their hotel and the “kids” went off to get ice cream! It was an evening none of us will soon forget.

And it all started with my idea.

I mean, technically I know it all started with a blind date 31 years ago…but we wouldn’t have made those new memories tonight without my idea.

I’m letting myself bask in it tonight. We made them feel special. Appreciated. Valued. Loved. We wouldn’t be who we are without them and we needed to show them how much they mean to us.

Family can be a tricky thing. There are lots of downs, but there are also lots of ups. The really beautiful thing is that family is there for it all. We help each other through the difficult times so we can enjoy these times.

30 years ago, my parents made the crazy decision to be each other’s family, baggage and all. I am so thankful that I got to celebrate this amazing milestone with them and give them an evening to realize what a milestone it truly is.

I don’t want this night to end. I want to live in this feeling forever. At least we’ll have the memories and each other.

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