Two Weeks into Lent

We are exactly two weeks into Lent. It feels great to say I have been away from Facebook and Instagram for that length of time. To be honest, I quickly went on tonight to check in with my bookclub to see if we are still planning on meeting next week, and I will have to check in periodically over the next few days to see what the plan is. However, I have not gone on to scroll through either of the social platforms. It feels amazing! So amazing, that at this point, I may give up one of them. Now, who is to say that I will still feel that way when this is all said and done, but two weeks in, I just may! Or at least, I will scale down who I follow. Time will tell.

What have these past two weeks taught me? Tonight, my oldest out of nowhere said “mom, I am glad you gave up Facebook, I feel like you were on it too much”. Yes, Stella, I probably was on it too much. I am not proud of it. I could have been on it much more, or much less. Now, what she doesn’t realize though, is that everything is on my phone so I am not always on social media. Text communication about friend get togethers, music that she loves to listen to, email correspondence about her extracurricular activities, and shopping for things we actually need all take place on this time consuming device. The phone is with me and is a part of me. That is the way of the world. I can be better though. We all can be, right?

What have I done with this extra time? I have gotten back on board with some much needed self improvement. I have felt like I had fallen off of the train with my healthier lifestyle. It had only been a few weeks, but I was not happy to feel and see the results start to diminish. I had a friend ask me what my “why” was. What is the “why” behind my weight goals. I knew a little bit about my why, but I had A) lost site of it and B) had to dig a little deeper to provide me with some much needed motivation. I think that discussion is for another post as I am still processing through that why.

A friend at work introduced me to the YouVersion Bible app. It appeared I had downloaded the app about three years ago, so I guess she re-introduced me to it. My morning routine has welcomed some new found Bible studies and has brought a college friend back into my circle. I would say a triple win so far! I have ebbed and flowed through starting my morning with some spiritual words and I am not quite certain why it is easy to drift away from this routine as it does bring me a sense of calm. I have brought back my journal too. There is something therapeutic about writing for me. There are a few topics that I have declared off limits for this blog. I need to remind myself that a journal and a pen are just as good.

I have finished two phenomenal books in the past couple of weeks too. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano and Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert. This is not a sales pitch by any means, but if you love to read and you love to get new books in the mail I highly suggest subscribing to Book of the Month. Maybe with leaving Facebook and Instagram I will find enough time to catch up on my pile of books. They all sound so good, it is hard to make a decision each month. Daughter of Molokai was not part of the Book of the Month subscription. I read Molokai by the same author years ago. It by far is my favorite book. I have not been to that particular Hawaiian island, but reading it brought me back to Maui and the heart warming feelings it brought to my senses while I was there. I have read a lot of good books by authors that bring great detail to their writing. Those authors make you feel like you know the characters. They make you feel like you sitting there next to them. This author exceeds all of my expectations with his level of detail. I lent Molokai to someone once and didn’t get it back. I ran across it at a 2nd hand store and bought it again. Honolulu is another book by Alan. Again, I lent this out and never got it back. At some point I will want to purchase it again. It was that good. Daughter of Molokai is a sequel to Molokai. You don’t have to read them in order, but I would recommend it. Alan makes learning about history fun again for me. If you have a fear of flying or are taking a trip soon I would suggest not reading Dear Edward. I didn’t know what to expect out of Ann’s story, but it brought a sense of warmth to my heart after a tragic situation occurred. I couldn’t help but feel for Edward and is family. They all struggled in their own way, yet being family they made it through together. Life is not perfect, however we have to work together.


I am excited to see what else come from the next few weeks of peace.

The Struggle to Accept Others

I have been struggling lately. After reading some of the books I have over the past year it has opened my mind and heart even more to the way the world is. If I were to rate myself on a scale I would say I am more open to other’s differences than many people. I am not perfect and my mind wanders at times when I have certain gut feelings, however, I yearn to learn about how other people differ from myself and accept them for who they are. I feel like I have been like this since I was a child.

So where do I struggle? When others do not feel that way. When I feel others are being closed minded to people that are not part of our norm.

The story in Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, took place throughout the past few decades. It saddened me to see that things have not really changed that much. Sure, we have made strides, but still, it embarrasses me to see how we have so far to go. People, it is 2020. Ugh, to type that, and see where we still struggle. It makes me want to literally cry. I am currently listening to the audiobook, Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. Sure we don’t have scaled down concentration camps in the US for the Japanese Americans anymore, but so many American’s still fight against letting others come to our country. These people come here in hopes to have a safer environment than what they left behind.

I get it, we are crowded.

I get it, some come here and can’t speak our language so how are they to be successful? How are they to work and make money to live?I get it, our tax money needs to help those that are already living here and have “put in their time”.

But what I question is, what if America was not the land of the free? What if we lived our life in constant fear of terrorists? What if women could not walk around with their heads held high? Would we not want a place to escape to in hopes for a better life? Would we not dream of better opportunities for our children?

While I was reading How Yoga Works by Michael Roach, I was also reading the book of Matthew in the Bible. So many parallel teachings between the two. Christianity and Buddhism teaching how to be good people. How to be loving people. How to be accepting people. It made my heart feel warm and happy.

This brings me back to where I struggle. I need to be more patient with those that are not open to things like I am. Maybe my way is not necessarily the right way. Only God knows. I need to ask more questions when people disagree with my thoughts. I need to revert back to the 3 year old I once was and ask “why” more often. I need to continue challenging people to see if they have looked at situations from all sides. I need to focus on myself and on broadening my understanding of others. I need to accept those I struggle with for who they are, just as I accept those that are different from me in other ways.

Life is hard. Love is not always easy. Learning new ways takes time. May you find peace with the acceptance of those around you and with those that come across your path.

Books that have opened my eyes can be found here.

The Power of Clean Eating

Bless Facebook Memories for reminding me that 4 years ago I was at my healthiest with food and workouts since before children. My kids are 7.5 and almost 6. With that being said I was not at my healthiest mentally. At that time I fixated on food and exercise because I was unhappy, unsettled and trying to figure out how to be “me” again. It felt like I was trying to fit a square block into a round hole. Little did I know I had to change my expectations on what “me” looked like and felt like. I had children that relied on me. I had a husband to love. Life was not like it was when I was living alone.

That lifestyle of eating clean and in proportion soon lost its power. I slid back into emotional eating when stressed. I lacked being present when eating meals and had seconds even if I wasn’t hungry. Now, I have never been overweight. A person doesn’t need to be overweight or underweight to have a problem with food. It has been a coping mechanism for me. Since turning 30, overeating has affected my body like it didn’t before. Weight gain comes quicker, sluggish feelings make their home in my body and mentally I feel defeated.

This year, like many years before I have set goals for being present when I am eating, eat less snacks, and eat clean. 2020 is off to a good start. It is off to a good start because I have been practicing better habits since November.

I followed Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean 7 cleanse last week. Let me define follow: I followed this cleanse about 80-85% for what it was. The smoothie recipes were made for two servings and I ate them as one. The days that it called for tulsi tea for a meal I made a turmeric latte with almond milk. There was the occasional bite of spaghetti or a few almonds, but I tried really hard to curve the cravings. One night I was immensely craving something salty. I traded my sweet smoothie for a bowl of homemade mushroom stew (a boat load of sautéd mushrooms and broth). It hit the spot and made me feel so much stronger.

This cleanse helped bring my mindset to where it needs to be. I re-downloaded the Clean Eats and Clean books, also by Dr. Alejandro Junger, onto my Nook. I had another good week of clean eating and rejuvenating feelings. With the help of my goals, my accountability group at work and this blog, I hope that my strength carries on. I am not perfect. I will slip. I will have girl weekends where I mindfully select to eat unhealthy foods. I need to remind myself that it is ok. The next day is new day and I will get back onto the right track.

2020 Vision

Today the date is January 12, 2020. It has been 12 days of reflecting on what my vision is for 2020. I loved last year how I had laid out goals for different passions within my life. Reading, art, moving, self empowerment and the 7 challenge. Why did I love ALL of those goals? They all were focused around things that I love. Even though I tried to scale down my monthly goals, there were a lot of goals each month. I didn’t achieve all of them, and they even tapered off as the year went on. I learned to be ok with that. I learned a lot about myself in 2019. I learned about why some of those goals were more important and why some were not. This year, I think it has to be less. Less in a way that may turn into more. More meaningful that is.

I decided to go with a phrase this year.

BE PRESENT.

Being present should rein in all of the important things that I need to focus on. I am hoping this will help strengthen the person I am and strive to be. The person that makes me strong for those that around me. God. Family. Friends. Co-workers.

Here are the things I want to focus on and more BE PRESENT with:
Faith

Family

Food

Workouts

Strengths

BE present IN FAITH

Daily reading of the Bible

Monthly Bible study

No judgement of people

BE present WITH FAMILY

Make eye contact

Less multitasking

More hugs

More silly times

More freedom

BE present WITH FOOD

Healthy food

Proportion

Intermittent fasting

Ayurveda practices

MyFitnessPal app

Be present WITH WORKOUTS

Cardio that is good for me

Weight training that strengthens m back

30 minutes a day/ 5 x a week

10,000 steps a day

Be present WITH STRENGTHS

Discipline

Input

Relator

Responsibility

Intellection

Learner

Belief

Developer

Arranger

Individualizations

2019 brought a lot of joy back into my life. It created space to be ok with what is important to me. 2020 is going to be a good year.

The Year 2019

Everyone has been reflecting over the past few days as 2019 came to an end. I have too in my head and have not known where to start. I even felt at one point, why write about it? My answer? Write about it for me. Write about it for those that will read it. Write about it to document your past. Talk about it, just in case it helps someone else. So here I am and it’s January 1, 2020.

Born in 1982, I have now lived in 5 different decades, 2 centuries and 2 millenniums. I am not certain if I would have thought that deeply about it had it not been floating around Facebook and Instagram. Goodness gracious. I feel like I have seen a lot, however, my grandfather-in-law passed away last week at the age of 92. Think about what he saw! I graduated high school almost 20 years ago. *almost hyperventilating* It doesn’t feel like that as I remember it so clearly. My best friends are still from that time in my life or shortly after. Maybe that helps with that feeling.

Since getting married in 2011 life has had it’s ups and downs. Marriage is not easy. Moving to a new town was not what it was cracked up to be. Being a mom is difficult. Throw those 3 things into a 10 month span, it was a rocky ride. A rocky ride that didn’t settle down. Until 2019 that is.

What happened in 2019? Let me back up a ways. I had a doctor tell me late in 2017 that I was normal. The overwhelming feelings I was having was normal. Nothing was wrong with me. She prescribed me some medication, yet didn’t think I needed it. She was right. I tried it. It made me feel tired and I quickly tucked it away knowing it was not right for me. She referred me to a counselor. This counselor was amazing. She too, said that what I had experienced was normal, that the rocky road I had endeavored would have caused a lot of people to feel the way I was. Sad, overwhelmed, exhausted, feeling heavy, and not knowing what else I could do. I felt alone in this town. I saw her many times and it helped me become aware. This awareness taught me that I was not alone. I had to go with my gut and take time for myself. I had to put distance between me and some people in my life. Without going into too many more details, details that I promised I would not share, I had to make some decisions. I had to speak my mind in a calm and direct manner and make some decisions. 2018 was a long year. A long year of reading books by Rachel Hollis and Jessica Turner. A year of discovering the Enneagram. It was the start to realizing for myself that I am ok to be me. I am ok to know what I am. I am ok to know that I am normal. I am ok to know that I am not asking too much.

2019 happened. Right at the beginning lightbulbs were turned on in our home. It was like the universe shifted. We, or I, but really, we, waited out the storm. I was blessed to attend two courses through my work on leadership. Again, my eyes were opened. I was not alone. There were tools to help me and others through our troubles. We just have to be open to them. We have to be open to change. Not everyone is and that is ok too, but, some changes have to be made to remain healthy. Thanks to Brene Brown, thanks again to Jessica Turner and to Elizabeth Gilbert, I was brought back to life. These authors speak very powerful words!

Now, don’t get me wrong. 2019 still had its downs. It was not peachy keen all the time. However, with hard conversations, keeping an open mind, acknowledging people’s differences, and because of the hard work I put into studying myself, it was less overwhelming. We are still climbing this newer steep hill, or at least, in my mind we still are.

Towards the end of 2019 I took a new job. One that caters to my strengths. I am excited to test how this works out for me in 2020. Now, if someone reads this from my new place of employment, they may have caught the word “test”. I am not going anywhere. Testing my strengths at this job has already proven how it lifts me up. Focusing on my strengths has worked for me. I am not fighting a part of my life like I was. I can’t wait to dive more into this topic and share what I learn. I am fascinated with how others work. How do we help others find their light? I ponder what the world would be like if we all realized how to be our best self, how to acknowledge our wrong doings and lift each other up.

I welcome the new year and all that it will bring. The good and the bad.

Curiosity Leads To More Books

We have all heard about the dog that gets distracted by a squirrel. Or someone gets lost down a rabbit trail. Well, I get distracted by shiny objects. Or, maybe I can call it being curious. I took the Gallup Strengths Finder test this summer. Input and intellection were two of my top five strengths. Both talk about reading to become more knowledgeable about subjects so I can relate (another top five strength) to others. That would explain how I read two totally random books this year. I started them this summer and finished them both just recently. Kennedy Ryan’s writing encouraged me to read White Fragility and Come As You Are.

I have always been interested in other cultures. Our heritage, our race and our upbringing helps shape us. Whether we embrace it or shy away from it. Often times, Kennedy has her characters intertwined in interracial relationships. I am a Scandinavian woman living in the Midwest. I grew up listening to gangsta rap and watching Boyz n the Hood. I am far from the world 2Pac lived in. So very far away. I came across White Fragility by Robin Diangelo as I tried to find a book that discussed living as a minority. I listened to the audiobook version. It changed the way I tried to prep myself to explain race to my girls. I thought I was going to teach them that they should treat others all the same. I realize I was not preparing myself to say the right words though. They need to acknowledge the differences we all bring to this world. We are all unique. We have our ancestors. We have all struggled in some way or another. We may have different skin colors, speak different languages and maybe have a different God. What we all deserve is love, kindness and respect. That is what I have always prepared myself to say to my kiddos. This book helped me come up with the right words. This book made me feel shame. It made me feel sad and angry. It was not an easy read, however, I hope that it opened up my eyes and my heart. I hope that it helps form me into the loving human God wants me to be.

Come As You Are. Far from any book I have read before. I tell you though, I plan on providing this book to my girls when they near adulthood. It’s “far too much” for a teenage girl to read, but I wish I would have known what a “normal” woman’s sexual health is like. There is no normal. That is the thing. I read about Kennedy Ryan’s strong women characters with sexual confidence and desire. Far from this girl right here. I am not like those girls. I am hardly a rated R version *sigh* all I am going to say is I highly suggest this book. For the hubby’s out there, not a bad one to read to gain some perspective.

To wrap this up, I am amazed at where by brain wonders these days. I am amazed that I go to read a mindless romance novel, which I am so thankful for, and I turn the page wondering what is the best book to educate me on random topics.

Thank you for the many talented authors out there. Ryan’s latest work, The King Maker, is another great piece of art.

May Goals 2019

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post. That doesn’t mean I have not been reflecting though! What has come always from the last month? Positive change is not easy. I have known this and have had it in the back of my mind for the last few years but goodness has it been at the forefront lately. Whether it is personal or business, the mind or the soul, or the relationships we have with those that we live near and dear to everyday.

I had the opportunity to be in leadership class for the past nine months through Sanford. It was titled Leading for Results. Most of us thought it would be how to direct staff and projects to get better results. The class was aimed at personal development. Making us stronger individuals would make us better leaders. Better leaders make our teams better. The class fit perfectly with what I was trying to do. It taught me new things. It confirmed what I had been reading. Some of the teachings I had already implemented. Some got moved up on my list of priorities. Some were ideas I had not heard of and were added to my list. The great thing about this class was I could apply these teachings to my personal life.

I took a break from my monthly goals. It was much needed. I was overwhelmed by them which tells me I need to evaluate them. I want to do too much. I have always been that way. Good things take time!

May did bring a lot of accomplishments:

◦ Work trip to San Diego and attended a Ritz Carlton workshop

◦ Read 4 Nora Roberts books

◦ Joined Weight Watchers and am seeing slow progress (strong and fit is what I am aiming for- moderation)

◦ Presented a presentation for Leading for Results

◦ I am becoming a better version of the wife I aim to be

◦ Working out 5-7 days a week

◦ Trying new recipes

April 2019 Goals

Tomorrow is May Day, May 1st. We are almost half way through the year already! The post I wrote last would give an in-cling on how my goals went for April. Best to reflect nonetheless! Life ebbs and it flows.

Reading

Uninvited by Lisa TerKeurst was a book that sat on my shelf for well over a year. It amazes me when that happens. The old saying is “don’t just a book by it’s cover”. Well, I do when it comes to books. Good book design speaks my love language. At the end of March this girl needed a fictional book bad, but Uninvited was such a natural book to pick up. It had an energy force that drew me to pick it up rather than an “easy” read. Consider this my book review. The following are my top take always:

1. “Not in my presence will you talk about yourself in this way” (page 6). Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a loved one. Be gentle with the words you speak to yourself.

2. “When a man is physically present but emotionally absent, a girl’s heart can feel quite hollow and helpless” (page 14). Life between men and women is not easy. There are ups and there are downs. I have seen this in my past. I have seen this affect my friends. Prayers that love languages are strongly spoken between you and your significant other.

3. It is not easy to see God’s good design in the world with all of the “decay and corruption” (page 20). Difficult things surround us daily. It is hard for me to believe in Him some days, but too many miraculous things have been witnessed for me to not believe in a higher power.

4. “Live loved” (page 3). One of my favorite quotes and on page 46 she reminds us that it is a choice to live that way. A choice we get to make each day.

5. “I crave for life to make sense. I cringe when it doesn’t” (page 52). Thankful I am not the only one that struggles with this. Shout out to the Type A people out there. Hello to the INFJ personalities!

6. “Humility can’t be bought at a bargain price. It’s the long working of grace upon grace within the hurts of our hearts” (page 85). A co-worker reminded me long ago that positive changes take time. I think of this often. There are no quick fixes out there. Make a plan, stick with it, and if you fall off of the bike, get back on!

7. “Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present-day infections” (page 95). An analogy without a lot of truth.

8. “It’s good to ask the ‘what’ questions but less helpful to ask the ‘why’ questions” (page 135).

9. “Lord, give them enough hurts to keep them human and enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours” (page 142).

10. “Messy realities in the midst of the miracles” (page 161).

Art

The sketchbook did not even get cracked open this month. However, The House that Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton sent inspiration to me. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to binge in Pinterest land after I ready this book. The coffee book was impressive. Diane Keaton built her home after images she found on Pinterest. I literally wanted to dive into the book and live in the spaces she “pinned”

Part of a weekend was spent going through all of my Elle Decor, Architectures Digest, Dwell and House Beautiful magazines. I followed Diane’s footsteps and ripped out designs that spoke to me. Bookshelves, swinging interior chairs, black painted walls, colors upon colors of paint, black and white spaces. I taped them into an all black sketchbook. Essentially, my own The House that Pinterest Built book was created. It was a Marie Kondo type of thing to do. I kept what I needed to keep and threw away stacks of magazines. Clear the clutter.

Move

The temperatures rose and running outside was a new high. Temperatures dwindled and the high went away. Spring, please come back. I have lost the desire to workout indoors. I need the sunlight. I need the warm weather. I have become a hibernating bear after fighting it all winter long.

7 Challenge

I avoided the challenge this month like someone trying to avoid cake on their first day of dieting. Jen Hatmaker and her family quit Media for a month. I know I could. It would be hard. She quit it at a magnitude that I can’t even try. She quit TV, Music, Social Media. I could go without TV. I could go without Social Media but not Music. I often think of forgoing Facebook. It is not a social platform I check out each day. When I do though, I realize I miss out on seeing friend’s life happenings. It is a part of our world. It can consume us, like so many things in life. For now, I will stay with Facebook. I will stay with Instagram. It is a way of connecting. It is a way of finding inspiration. I will say though, that reading Uninvited helped me pick prayer/medication each morning over checking Instagram. It is helping me pick reflection at the end of the day over social media. It is a work in progress. Life is a work in progress.

Anxious in April

Today is April 27th. Like other months, where has April gone? There were goals laid out, by myself, in January. The past 3 months I have met the goals, some barely, but they were met. This month? Not so much. As I sit here and reflect I know the month is not over. I know there are a few days left ahead, but what I would need to cram into those few days makes my stomach do summersaults. Those summersaults started this morning at 5:23 AM. It is Saturday people! Deep breaths came. Sleep did not. I tried. It still did not happen. Up I went. Paper and pen in had to lay out what I could accomplish today. The plan needed to incorporate things that would settle the stomach, the soul and the mind.

Sometimes goals can not be made. Sometimes, many times, my to do list is far too long to meet in the deadline created in my head. Deep breaths again. Do you notice a trend? What would make me feel well?

Rearrange the living room.

Tidy up the house.

Clean up my office at work.

Do something special with the kids as another work trip soon approaches.

The living room was rearranged, and then again, and then moved back to the way it was. Think Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore in “Because I Said So” when they try too rearrange Mandy’s living room. That is a “problem” with being an interior designer. Once the room is laid out perfectly, there is no sense in rearranging it. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a couple of new pieces, but the layout makes perfect sense. Mission accomplished!

Tidy up the house. It is a constant work in progress. The kids were not having it this morning and this momma was not in the mood to fight them. We will try again tomorrow.

A quick trip to Target and off to my office we went. They were so patient and kind as they watched a movie and colored while I tackled the never ending piles on my desk and floor. I got a few odd looks last week as people passed by my office and I was on the floor working. There were too many piles on my desk for me to properly work. *sigh* I think I can finally go in on Monday and feel 50% more refreshed. Another win!

Tonight we will attend a dance showcase. The girls and I are super pumped to enjoy this evening with some friends. The last few weeks have been stressful for the three of us. At any given time one child is feeling out of sorts. Change of seasons? Growing pains? Internal stresses? Finding themselves? As a mom I try to read their emotions, I try to calm them, and I try to give them room to manage through these thing on their own. It can be difficult. I read a quote recently, and please forgive me as I can not give proper credit to who wrote it, but it talked about how being worse than a helicopter parent is a lawn mower parent. A parent who mows a path for their kids. I would guess it was either Brene Brown, Jen Hatmaker or Lisa TerKeurst as those are the authors of the latest 3 books I have indulged in. The goal for this momma is for them to work through some of these things on their own. Give them space.

As they rest, yes, my kids still take the occasional nap, I will peel myself away from this desk and pick away at a few other things. One thing at a time. The to do list can always be re-written!

Big Magic and Trust

Big Magic: Trust: Stubborn Gladness

Is it possible to quote a whole section? If I could, it would be Stubborn Gladness. I will quote the following from page 218:

I have chosen to believe that a desire to be creative was encoded into my DNA for reasons I will never know, and that creativity will not go away from me unless I forcibly kick it away, or poison it dead. Every molecule of my being has always pointed me toward this line of work.

It is like Elizabeth took the words right out of my mouth…well…she said it much better. I could fight creativity, I could choose to not make time for it, but then I would become the unsettled person I was a couple of years ago. I welcome the challenges that creativity brings to my mind, my soul and my heart. I trust it in it.