Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Resolutions are so cliché - But I love the fresh start a new year brings...

A few months ago, I talked with a friend about starting a new workout program and getting my life under control... I started and then the nightmare of an election and the Holidays happened and I jumped so far off the wagon I was sure I was never going to catch up to it again. Right before Christmas I promised myself that I could eat all of the junk food I wanted, I could eat foods that I know were going to hurt my body, and after the new year I would start over and just jump on the wagon that would be rolling around at the beginning of January. Fast-forward to January 3rd where my joints are all inflamed and I feel heavy and cranky. Time to get started and while I am not ready to take post a "before" picture of my very curvy and voluptuous body, I am trying really hard to embrace who I am today, with hopes of being a healthier and happier version of myself in a few weeks months.

I wanted to also start this new portion of my life with a very honest look at where I am both emotionally and physically. I hate myself and when I say hate, I don't mean a casual, indiscriminate use of the word hate, I mean HATE myself. I struggle with at times, crushing anxiety and depression, I never feel good enough to do anything, and I constantly struggle to see anything positive about myself, toss in several health issues that have left me feeling betrayed by my body and it is a perfect storm of self-criticism... it is super great. A few weeks ago, my therapist sat back after I honestly told her some of my inner dialogue and said "wow, that is pretty harsh." Yes, it is a gift to despise oneself as much as I do. A really crappy gift, kind of like a pile of manure. 

The past year was a beautiful-awful year, filled with countless blessings and many challenges for myself personally. I have made a lot of progress, and I have learned a lot of great tools to help me to be more physically and emotionally healthy. And while the election was devastating and heartbreaking for me personally, it did give me the wonderful gift of being motivated to get off of my couch and to do something about the social issues I care about. I am more informed about politics (for better or worse) than I have ever been, and I am committed to working to change my community to fight against everything our president-elect has professed to stand for (I think he is lying, but I digress). The other gift that seems to have entered into my life for better or for worse as a result of this election is that for once in my life it is clear that my feelings are making others uncomfortable, and I feel the freedom to not feel responsible for their feelings. A dear friend of mine has seen my anger and frustration and mistaken it for hate... I don't hate much, I hate ideals and injustice, but I can't say honestly that I hate anyone when I really think about it. I do however feel a responsibility to fight against everything this new administration represents. There comes a time when it is necessary to do whatever it takes to stand up for what is right, I believe we are solidly in that time. I will not be silent just to make those who are complacent feel better about me. 

In one of my favorite series of books by a little-known author Professor Dumbledore tells the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge "If your determination to shut your eyes will carry you are far as this, Cornelius... we have reached a parting of the ways..." he later states "The only one against whom I intend to work, it Lord Voldemort. If you are against him, then we remain... on the same side." I have not been able to stop thinking about these quotes since the election and this is firmly where I stand. I feel sad that some of the dearest people in my life can't see this for what it is, that they can't resist judging me based on what makes them comfortable, instead of what they really know to be true about me and my character. I am babbling, but I felt this was an important thing for me to get out into the open as I begin this journey to a better me. 

So, today is the first day on my journey, I am sure there will be detours along the way, but I am committed to restoring my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Here are some of the steps I am taking as I move forward... 

1. Clean eating - I need to be eating a gluten and dairy free diet, with minimal processed sugar. Today I begin that diet, I am starting  my day with a water kiefer smoothie and an apple, so far so good. 

2. Working out - I am working out daily to Bikini Body Mommy's workouts, using 5.0 until the free version of 6.0 starts in two weeks. I am also committed to running three times a week and slowly adding mileage with the hopes of running at least one more marathon possibly in the fall. I also plan to remain committed to my physical therapy strengthening exercises. These are my base goals, I also am adding a push-up challenge and want to get some yoga in each week. My year would also feel like a success if I could become strong enough to complete one pull up... just one ha!

3. Mindfulness - I need to add meditation back into my life each day. I got a new watch for my birthday and one of the apps on it reminds me to breathe, my goal for now is ten min. of breathing each day, with the hope of increasing that to a few full meditation sessions each week. 

4. Spirituality - I am working toward increasing my spirituality. I just finished a book called 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven. It was inspiring and very healing to my troubled soul. I am in the middle of reading The Crucible of Doubt, and this is proving to further strengthen my belief that I am not here on this planet at this time to help others be comfortable with me standing up for what I believe is right... Jesus didn't worry about that, and I am not going to either. I also plan to fully immerse myself in the Healing Through Christ programs and in my personal study. 

5. Service - I am working to complete my ticket for Woodbadge, an adult training program for Boy Scouts; this includes working to start an interfaith hike to different Churches in Kalamazoo, and putting on a conservation event for boys and girls within our congregation. I am also committed to working to improve relationships between parents and leaders in our Pack and making sure we have a functioning pack committee. 

Yikes... that is a bit overwhelming and yet I am feeling today total confidence in my ability to do these things if I remember what my priorities are. In the past I have tried to use a word as my focus for the year, this year it is "Priorities." I am really trying hard to prioritize the things in my life... I want to be focused on what is the most important and not the most urgent. I want to be focused on what I care about and not things that just eat away my time... it is going to be interesting and if nothing else, I am sure it will be a wild ride. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Begin Again

I have not blogged in years for a variety of reasons. I am beginning again today because I find that I am feeling a need to record some of the thoughts that go sailing through my brain on a daily basis. Facebook seems to not be the right forum for me to express my opinions. I am to wordy and not articulate enough to reduce what I want to express to a few sentences. I feel narcissistic putting my thoughts in the more public world of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, yet I feel a need to get them out there. Maybe it is because my family is going through so many challenges right now, maybe it is because some of our challenges seem lonely and common yet taboo. Anyway, for what it is worth... and really just for myself I am going to try blogging again.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Mother's Day is not a day that I love, not because I don't want to love and appreciate my mother, but probably more that it is a day that as a mother i feel expectations that often go unmet. It is probably not fair to my family for me to have these expectations, yet there they are, served up with a thick side of guilt and frustration with myself (I am not a perfect mother you know). Yesterday though, everyone in my family did something that made me feel special and loved. I never want something grand (although that could be rad), I really just want to know that in some way my family appreciates the sacrifices I make as a mother. Let's be honest though, that is not their job, nor their obligation and sometimes I am sure society wants me to think that if I am doing my job right then they would be totally unaware. I however think about it a little differently. I think there is a fine line between letting my children know that I do sacrifice (willingly) for them and not wanting them to feel guilty about the sacrifices I willingly make. I don't want my family growing up believing that the mother's job is to sacrifice tirelessly and happily all of the time for their families. I want all of my children growing up understanding that parenthood is a sacrifice, but that it is worth it. That being a parent means giving up things sometimes, but that having a family is worth the joy of sacrifice. I do not want them all entering their future families believing that the parents are martyrs, or slaves to the family, expected to give up everything to make things work. Then there is the issue of putting women up on a pedestal for Mother's Day that few of us feel worthy of... a day when our own imperfections seem blatantly obvious to us. It can feel like a 24 hour guilt trip.

I am rambling, but basically. Mother's Day brings out the best and the worst of these feelings within myself. Yesterday though, was wonderful. It was the small gestures that each family member made that helped me to feel loved and special to them. I am sure I failed miserably at making my own mother feel this way, I just get overwhelmed when shopping for her at finding something that is worthy of a woman who sacrificed so much and has given everything that she was able to give for my brother and I. I let my disdain for this day... the day filled with so many mixed emotions for me, get in the way of celebrating my mother and the other women in my life who are mother's or who mother my children in some way. I am not sure how to fix these feelings within myself, but maybe as well all navigate this holiday each year together, we are all hopefully improving.

I am sure I will never me Mother of the Year, but I might be up for Okayest Mom... or maybe Most Adequate Mom, and I think that might just be good enough for me.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Saga Continues...

I would like to take a moment and point out to everyone that Kevin and I know NOTHING about home renovations/repair, we would have been lost without amazing friends that know exactly what they are doing and who were totally willing to give up their holiday weekend to work at our house. We will be forever in their debt. 

So, we were all up and working early this morning. Some of these pictures are from last night after Kev got everything cleaned up for the night. 

I love these pictures because they help to remind me how blessed we were over the course of the weekend. We were blessed in so many ways we cannot really even begin to scratch the surface. Sherri and Toni and their children worked tirelessly all weekend long, Robin and Jim were more helpful than we could even begin to explain and Robin brought us over dinner in the middle of the mess which was amazing! We also had Chelsea come and get our children and take them away so they could get out of the house and have fun and not be exposed to all of the nasty we were tossing into the air the entire day. 

In the middle of this mess we realized our vacuum was not working and two friends brought over vacuums for us, one dear friend left a brand new vacuum on our door step today. We have been touched more than words can adequately express today. I should also mention the new vacuum was a two-fold blessing because our eldest son now is obsessed with vacuuming the house. Awesome!!!! We had other friends over the course of the week take the children, bring more food, allow us to shower and bathe after each disgusting and messy day, we could go on forever. 

We only made a small amount of progress today, but the new floor was so awesome that I can't even say how awesome it is. I am glad for two reasons, we no longer have nasty mold in the house, and we no longer have a huge hole in the floor that goes clear into the basement. I felt that was an accident just waiting to happen with Bug around. 

Tony got a lot of work done today, and he started the plumbing. Again Kev and I are humbled because this is something that we have absolutely zero skill-set for. 

Extremely humbled and very thankful today, it was a hard frustrating day, but the blessings are truly pouring in. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Expect the Unexpected.

After spending what seemed like the entire summer with myself and our two little boys perpetually ill, my friend Sherri and I decided that our illnesses were probably being caused by the nasty mold inhabiting our main bathroom. The plan was that Sherri and I were going to tear up the floor and then we would just live on the subfloor while we made plans and saved some money so that we could have the new bathroom that we wanted.

The morning we were supposed to demo the floor my friend arrived at our house before I got there, she decided to get started without me. When I walked in the door she met me with a grim look on her face. 

"It's not good." was all she kept saying. I walked in the room and almost died for two reasons, one because it really was bad, and two because it smelled like something had died in the bathroom. We had water under the first layer of floor (yes I said first-in the end there was one layer of linoleum with an additional subfloor, and then two more layers of linoleum.) and the water was spread across the entire floor. There was saturation from the tub to the vanity and almost to the door. 

A decision was made immeditally to completely move ahead with the renovation, it was clear at this point that we were not going to be able to "just live with it" for a few months. Once the moldy floor was exposed it needed to be taken care of. As you can see in the photos above, this was a problem the previous owners attempted to deal with (unsuccessfully) and that there was serious rot through the floor. 

It is funny to me that I was most concerned with the area that I knew was moldy behind the tub, as you can see there is mold but that was nothing compared with the mess on the floor. 

 My friend Sherri and I got through almost the entire demo in a few hours, the only thing we had not managed was the removal of the tub and the rotten parts of the subfloor. Tony and Kev handled most of those types of things. 

The just when we thought we had a handle on how bad things were, Sherri and I headed to Lowe's to get the materials with my friend Robin and a few of the children. As we were checking out, I get a text from Kev that simply states "It just got worse." The only thing I could think at that moment was HOW?

Well, this is how. Sherri and I had identified damage in several locations in the bathroom, but while we were gone Kev and Tony removed the trim and the wall started squishing out water. Gross. One of the walls was completely saturated and disgusting. 

These are the pictures Kev took with his phone. As you can see in the photo above, there was considerable water damage that was masked by the drywall in our hall closet. 


Tony pulled the thing down to the studs and removed all of the rotten wood he could, then he called in some of our other good friends the Lillroses for some advice on how to proceed. 

In the end the decision was made to remove all of the rotten wood and to reinforce and then rebuld the bottom portion of the wall. 

Sherri keeps snickering and telling me "Welcome to home renovations." for some reason this is not comforting to me in the least. Haha. For the time being, we are making great progress, but this is also our only shower/tub. Thankfully we have a second half-bath or we would be totally in gui right now. 

I think it is going to be a long weekend. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

And then it exploded...

So this morning, I woke up, ran 3.1 miles, and then headed over to a local bakery on our way to take Kevin to work. I love this bakery and we buy any bread for our family that I do not make from there. I recently read an article on some nasty stuff in store-bought mass produced bread, but I digress.

I was super excited to get some yummy bread and to pick up one of my most favorite treats a peach smoothie from a Michigan creamery. I love these smoothies and this was to be my reward after a wonderful run with an improved time. I happily chatted with the people in the bakery, snatched up my bread and smoothie and headed out to the van so that we could get Kev to work.

As I began shaking up the smoothie I noticed that although the bottle was sealed shut there was a little liquid splashing off of it, I was mildly annoyed but figured it happens right. Well, after a few more moments of shaking and more drips flying off I decided I was ready to enjoy my treat. I started to open the smoothie and instantly it started spewing forth nasty smoothie everywhere, the bottle was like a little mini volcano. Kev was on a call from work and was trying to ignore the mini eruption occurring in the passenger's seat but when I frantically yelled for him to pull over he did. I could not believe it but the thing just kept flowing. He waited for me to open my door when I indicated that I could not because I was at this point covered in smoothie. He came around and opened the door (still on the phone, still acting all calm and put together) and just as he opened my door the smoothie popped. It exploded in a brilliant orange plume of good. Smoothie was everywhere; it was in my eyes, on the ceiling of the van, all over me, all over Kevin (it made cute little orange drops in his hair), there was smoothie on the car seats and the children in the back of the van, there was smoothie on the windows, on the doors, even on the outside of the car! It was brilliant! At that moment I heard Kevin say something like... "Uh, I am going to need to call you back, we have a smoothie emergency going on here." Hilarious! Kevin never loses his cool! Kev grabbed some towels that we were supposed to return to Church but thankfully hadn't yet and helped me wipe off my face, then we tried together to wipe down the van the best that we could. I was apologizing to him when he looked right at me and quietly quoted one of out favorite lines from Galaxy Quest... "And then it exploded." I couldn't help but laugh.

I immediately called the creamery that made the smoothie and initially this young girl on the phone told me there was a problem with the peach smoothies (no kidding) and offered me a $10 store credit at the creamery, I initially accepted this along with her apology and then about a second after I hung up I decided that was insane (our van was a disaster!) and called back. While I was waiting to talk with the young woman again, I decided to hand the phone to Kev. (one of us handles these situations well and it is not me--shocking I know), he spoke with them briefly, gave them his number and then hung up. He told me that the owner would call him back to discuss this as the people in the office at that time did not have the authority to make any other decisions regarding our situation.

A few hours later- after Kev had priced out getting the car professionally cleaned, he got a call back from the owner and she told him that apparently the problem was that they had used a new type of peach in an effort to purify their process and make thier products better, and the shelf life was not what they had anticipated... the smoothies had been delivered over the weekend to the local stores and they were in the process of recalling all of the peach smoothies from that run. She then offered to pay to have our car cleaned immediately and was extremely apologetic. I am very impressed with the way that this was handled and although at the time it was a HUGE mess, it was pretty hilarious too. My regret now is that we did not take a picture of the disaster before we cleaned everything up... it was very impressive.

I would also like to get on my soap box and point out that they were so great and cooperative (I believe) because they are a small, locally based company. I believe their concern for our situation was genuine and they wanted to do everything they could to make it right. I was very impressed with how wonderful they were and how willing they were to fix this situation for us. I love the products this creamery produces; their milk is fantastic, I love their smoothies, and their chocolate milk is my favorite! I also love knowing that the milk and dairy products I am consuming and feeding to my family are processed on a small scale by real people.

Moo-ville is a great company and I will definitely continue to purchase their products because they are wonderful and because the owners did so much to make this situation right.

We also will be laughing about this for ages.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New Beginings

In our Church youth enter the Youth programs when they are 12 years old. Each year the program for the Young Women host an evening for the young woman and their families (including the girls that will be entering at any time in the coming year) that is focused on the Personal Progress Program (a goal setting program for the young women). This year was special because I was serving in the Young Women's program and Bean was entering this year so she was able to be there. It was a nice evening where the girls discussed goals they had accomplished in the past year and Bean and her friend B were also talked to about what they had to look forward to when they entered Young Women's. The thing I found most overwhelming about the evening was that my sweet Bean is going to be 12 in a few weeks and I will officially be the mother of a Young Woman. I hope and pray that my sweet girl and always remeber that she is a Daughter of her Heavenly Father and that He loves her. I know as she enters this Young Woman's program that she will be reminded of this each week. I am so proud of the smart and beautiful young woman she has become.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The End of May

I can't believe it is the end of May. Where is the time going?

I love the little moments where everyone is getting along. 

So, to conclude this very busy and full month, Kev decidede that we should move the furnature around in our Living Room. I believe he mentioned something about being very concerned that Bug was going to go over the couch and through the window. When he confirmed that he was actually having nightmares about it and that he was feeling impressed that it was urgent I went along with him. We spend several hours working on this room. 

Our options are fairly limited, so we decided to clear everything out and see where we felt inspired to deposit it when we were done. 

Kevin is a super-trooper about these late-night adventures. 

It always gets worse BEFORE it gets better right?!