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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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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Old Habits

Something miraculous happened today. Well, maybe not miraculous. But it was certainly a change for me.

I was faced with the triggering situation I’ve mentioned in other posts and I feel like I reverted back to old habits. (You know the saying!) I obsessed and felt guilty and ashamed of what I was doing.

But one thing changed.

I always end up going for a walk to try and clear my mind and when I reach a certain spot with my favorite view (I call it my mountaintop), I pause and let the emotions wash over me. Usually this ends with me clutching my phone to my chest while sobbing and feeling sorry for myself and trying to decide whether I want to burden a friend with my sob story.

But as I approached that spot today, the only way I can explain it is that it felt like I was revisiting the scene of a crime. Or the scene of a great tragedy. Things were visually very different–the big open field is starting to get developed–but it was more than that. It was that feeling a character in a suspense novel gets at the end of the story. You know, when they go back to the place where they had that really big fight and someone “accidentally” dies. (I’ve been reading a lot of those books lately…) It felt like a line was drawn. I looked around and had memories of those days, but this was a new beginning. Things were physically and emotionally very different. But also exactly the same.

As I approached the fence and started to let down my guard, I was startled by my gut reaction.

I prayed.

I actually prayed out loud for the strength and courage and confidence to get through this situation. I tried to contain sobs and admitted that I can’t do this alone and that I need help.

I was so humbled by the beauty in front of me. Yes, things were changing. There was the beginning of a road, a fire hydrant and construction trucks. But it was still the same view I’ve been admiring for years. The tall grasses still blew in the wind, the birds still flocked to the pond, the butterflies and dragonflies still floated through the grasses, the big, strong Oaks still rustled their leaves. Everything was the same and yet, everything was completely different.

I turned around, crouched down and completely lost it. The tears kept flowing as the prayer became internal.

Eventually the tears stopped and I felt the need to circle around, walk it off and return to the same spot. As I walked, I felt more and more at peace. Words and phrases kept popping up in my mind and by the time I got back to my “mountaintop” I knew what I wanted to say.

I did end up calling a friend, but not with my sob story. I explained that things have been different lately. Better. I told her I wanted to tell her more about it in person sometime soon.

I haven’t talked with anyone about my new-found faith. I’ve kept it to myself because I don’t want to be that Jesus freak. I haven’t told my parents because while they would appreciate that I’ve come around, I don’t think they would quite understand why I don’t agree with them on all aspects. We’ve also had cryptic conversations about faith being a personal thing that you don’t need to vocalize to others. My friends all grew up in a church–not necessarily mine–and it’s just never been a major talking point for us.

But I’m ready to share. I want to be able to talk about it with someone who might understand. So I called a friend whose family has gone to our church for more than 10 years. (In fact, I saw her at church this morning!) She grew up in a much more openly religious family, but we’ve never really talked about it.

This is a big step for me. I’m nervous, but I’m also excited. I’m mostly just relieved to finally let those old habits die.

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Right Now

You guys.

It’s been a week.

Oh, man.

Nothing big happened, but a whole lotta small things happened.

I had a whole post written up that I was going to publish last week, but (thankfully) when I went to hit “Publish” it was dinner time and I decided I’d read through it one more time before sending it out into the blogosphere.

It always bothers me that we don’t do anything special for summer holidays and my friends and their families do, but for some reason it hit me especially hard last weekend. I fleshed out my feelings about the subject in the almost-post and ended up actually expressing it (quite emotionally, I might add) to my parents at dinner. We finished dinner with the understanding that we would treat the weekend as a staycation.

Luckily, the weather helped us out. It was the hottest Memorial Day on record here and the high temperature never dipped below 90° for 6 days. It was too hot to do anything outside, so we spent most of the weekend in/by the pool, experimenting with Mai Tai recipes, making (and receiving) far too many sweet treats, catching up on The Crown, whipping up fancy brunches for friends (just call me Martha!) and falling in love with our hometown all over again. It may not have been the lake, but it was one of the best Memorial Day weekends I can remember.

By Tuesday, I was actually missing the kids. And this was the last week of “normal” scheduling before things start getting topsy turvy for the summer, so I was determined to take it all in and enjoy every minute.

Spoiler alert: not every minute was worth remembering. And it rained. Almost. Every. Day.

On top of that, I was feeling pretty sluggish and disappointed from all of the indulging I was doing over the weekend.

Lots of familiar thoughts started popping up and it was exhausting trying to quiet them.

But I did.

I dove headfirst into a new book, made exercise a priority again, started saying no to that second slice of cake (and banana bread and ice cream sandwich and cookie…), made a new get-up-and-go playlist and started looking at minutes and hours instead of days, weeks and months.

I’m realizing that while I’m a planner and actually enjoy planning out months at a time, it’s healthier for me to focus on right now. 

Right now my nephew is sleeping, my niece is playing Barbies, my dad is mowing the lawn and my mom is off to help a friend finish a big project. Yes, later today I will be tested. Chaos will ensue and I will probably lose my cool. Tears will be shed and food will be thrown.

But right now I’m sitting in the sun in my favorite spot with my favorite dog doing what I love. Enjoying the peace.

It may only last a few more minutes, but that’s all I need.

Right now everything is good.

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