MAKE IT STOOOOPPPPP

Wishful thinking on my part, I know. The memes and articles just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on AAAHHHHH. Seriously, noone’s mind was changed BEFORE the election, I highly doubt anyone’s mind will be changed AFTER the election, and the more sensationalized and entrenched BOTH sides get the more we just miss the point again and again and again.

I saw an article that-once you dug through the hype of what a horrible person Trump is (which I am not denying, but then again I honestly don’t think I’m a better person than he or Hillary, so I’m keeping my finger pointing to myself)-broke down how you should talk to your children about the government, and turn his presidential time as a period of learning and evaluation and discussion.

DUH!!! Guys, we get our moral fiber from our upbringing, not our presidents. We get our mindset from our parents, not our congressmen and women. We get our sense of fairness adjusted from play dates and mommies refereeing how to share and cooperate not our Supreme Court Justices. And who we become as adults is heavily, HEAVILY impacted by our childhood. What does that mean? It means if you want America great again and you’re a parent, you get up for the umpteenth time in the middle of the night, you bite back those words you want to shoot at your spouse because you are BOTH physically and emotionally exhausted, you wipe up vomit and snot, you answer the “why” questions while trying to pee, you do your best to explain everything from emotions to philosophy to biology broken down at the most basic levels while trying not to throw one of your offspring through a window in frustration. And as they get older, you think yourself stupid about how to handle emotionally charged discussions better/clearer. Are you being too strict? Not strict enough? You wait up all night to know they are  safe, you field their heartaches, you step back from their struggles to let them try on their own, you bite your darn tongue again and again and again and it never gets easier. You’re desperate and helpless and keep on trying anyway.

And adults who don’t have kids? You model adulthood and responsibility every second of your day. Clean up after yourself, don’t throw hissyfits when you don’t get your way, be polite, encourage your fellow neighbor, share, give sacrificially of your time and don’t moan about it. Shove your cynicism up your tucus and get a hold of yourself. Stop being selfish, pay it forward, don’t mock others, watch your language for your OWN sake as well as little ears, be aware of what you laugh at, what you tacitly approve as ok.

You are an example. Always. Sound exhausting? IT IS. But it is also the truth.

You want a better president? RAISE THEM. You want a better world for your children? RAISE THEM. You want a better future, a safer tomorrow, a change? PUT ON YOUR BIG BOOTS AND JUMP IN THE TRENCHES WITH THOSE OF US WHO ARE TRYING.

By trying, I do NOT mean endlessly posting articles about how such and such a group feels, or why so and so sucks, or howcome this happened, or let’s rehash all the scandal. It’s ok to feel, friends, whatever those emotions that got stirred up by this election. I am NOT comfortable with our future as a nation, friends. I’m not. But I am most uncomfortable because I see so many people trying to shift blame and responsibility on to everyone else (including our government) EXCEPT FOR themselves in a huge wave of sensationalism. It is not ok to keep wallowing in feelings. And continuing to post about reactions from BOTH sides is just dragging out the misery. Deep breath, process on your own time, take a step forward.

I am reaching to understand perspectives that aren’t my own, getting better at agreeing to disagree without causing offense, encouraging people to disagree with me so that I can GROW and show my children that discussion is vital, but animosity is poison. I don’t understand all the race issues in this country-but I’m trying. I don’t understand all the LGBT issues in this country-but I’m trying. I understand the sexual assault/harassment issues more than I’d like, it is just something I struggle with doing anything constructive about-but I keep trying. I may not come to the same conclusion as you or someone else-but I’m trying. I am initially limited by my upbringing and experiences, but I refuse to let that limit my personal growth because the future for my children depends on it. I will never agree with everyone, but that doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t do my utmost best to sympathize and value them as people and search for the common grounds while holding my own values. It isn’t about everyone agreeing, it’s about getting along with those you don’t agree with so that respect has a chance of helping EVERYONE grow a bit more. And newsflash-if it’s easy, you aren’t doing it right. This should involve considerable swallowing of your temper, ego, and sarcasm. I know you have them, we all do, and we often think we’re “trying to get along” when really we’re just looking to do enough to pat ourselves on the head and then scurry back across to our flock of supporters with a “well, I tried” smugly stamped across our features-as if that excuses us.

How have you improved YOU, today? Hmm? How have you made the world a better place? And let me reiterate-working on being a better person should be uncomfortable, unpleasant, and frequently scary. I have never liked working on my faults, because that means I have to acknowledge them-and the more I acknowledge them the less I can skate around some weird idea that “they aren’t that bad”. I have never enjoyed apologizing because that means I’ve done something wrong, and by doing something wrong I have HURT people. I have laid scars on their lives. I have harmed them in ways that an apology can’t ever completely fix. I can enjoy the RESULTS of working on my self, but the process generally sucks. So if you are floating in a comfortable self analyzed lala land-you are part of the problem.

I am really uneasy about our future as a nation, few seem to realize that the division among the people getting deeper and deeper gives MORE power to the government and the person in office. It’s “WE the people” as a NATION that has power. And right now, that power is frighteningly divided among “us” which gives a lot more to whoever wins. If we could present a united front to our government, then we’d truly have the power to go “Ok, let’s see how you’re doing….yeah, nope. NEXT.” Instead we feud bitterly amongst ourselves and then the President/Congress really only has to worry about making HALF of the country happy. For once, just once, I really wish I could vote for a presidential candidate that I believed in without reservation. It has not happened for me yet, and may never will, but I’m gonna keep working at making myself, my family, my community better everyday.  Because THAT UNITY is what has the potential to make America great.

A for Effort…

Cade: “Mommy, pick up your weights!”

Me: “No, Mommy can’t use the weights for this one.”

Cade: “But they all have weights, Mommy.”

Me: “Mommy’s not quite strong enough yet, buddy.”

Little man loves to “help” me workout by pointing out whenever I’m not doing something exactly like “them”, but I don’t mind, it’s a fun way to engage while I get my workout completed. The above conversation, though, spurred a mini revelation about exercise in general.

So many times in life we are told we will be graded or evaluated on merit. Pretty much as soon as you enter the school system the idea of work for credit is ingrained into your brain. And I am all about fair evaluations and challenges to help us all grow and learn! But. I do remember a particular moment in middle school that changed my perspective on grades-and all subsequent evaluations-forever. In true ADHD fashion, I had painstakingly rendered by hand a picture of the Michigan flag for my state project. But since I was running out of time to complete the project when I finished the flag-and because pine trees are boring-I used pastels to hastily sketch the state tree. I accomplished everything else in the project to the letter, to the best of my little 6th grader brain ability.

I got a C on the project and a parent teacher conference. My teacher flat out said I cheated, since no-one who drew that flag would also draw that tree. I clearly had had blatant outside help. I was so confused. And devastated. I felt sick to my stomach. I had worked so hard to get that flag perfect. I internalized it as my own fault-not that I was a cheater, I was very hurt and upset by that accusation-but because clearly I had tried too hard. I should’ve halfway done both the tree and the flag, and then none of this would’ve happened.

“Work Smarter, Not Harder” is a slogan I’ve seen everywhere, and the hallmark of EMS. The job is hard enough, no need to make it any tougher. In our true culture of “easier, faster, better” skating through by doing things well but not appearing to put much effort into them is lauded as ideal.

Exercise is the opposite. If you skimp through your workout, you get no A for completion, you burn no extra calories, you win nothing. If you work your tail off and hit muscle failure halfway through-you reap far more. Exercise truly evaluates your EFFORT. I can skate through a lot of workout programs, I’m familiar with the moves, know ways to ease off certain muscle groups, can complete the bare minimum and still say I did it-but the only person that effects, is me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love to exercise. You get what you put in. You halfway do the workout you get half the results. You are sloppy and inattentive, you drastically increase your chance of injury. You remain focused and pour in your effort-you reap the rewards!

And there are always ways to improve. Recently I’ve really been paying attention to how I hold my abs in all of the exercises, how I draw them into my spine, remembering to engage them and not let them hang loose-this form protects my back AND works my muscles. When you do squats, you should give your backside a little extra squeeze at the top-not because you have to, but because that works the glutes just a little bit more. There are all kinds of ways to increase your effort in exercise, and I am never penalized for trying my hardest for the first half of the workout and then being barely able to complete the last ten minutes due to muscle fatigue. My effort is always duly rewarded and I take pleasure and satisfaction in that tiny little aspect.

SO go you, wherever you may be on your exercise adventure. Whether you are modifying everything or upping your weights every workout, your effort is paying off. There is no comparison here. One person does a pushup on her toes, another on her knees, both hit muscle failure by the end-BOTH earn an A for effort.

A Fitness Lament

I’m skinny, so I’m happy, right?

I’m skinny, so I’m healthy, right?

I’m skinny, so I’m good at sports, right?

I’m skinny, so I can run fast, right?

I’m skinny, so I should wear a bikini, right?

I’m skinny, so I should flaunt my assets, right?

I’m skinny, so I’m a bitch, right?

 

You don’t know the struggle, you don’t see the tipping of MY scales,

I’ve been bombarded with images of media since I was a girl,

telling me to be hotter, thinner, sexier. Telling me my body belongs to the highest bidder or the best con

-but not myself.

Telling me my worth is on the auction block based on the length of my thighs and the hollows in my cheeks.

I should be thankful for my genetics and flaunt what I’ve got.

 

It doesn’t matter that Docs told me I risked being infertile when I was 12 because I couldn’t gain weight

and now I’m thirty- hoping, praying, desperate for another child. Realizing what a miracle the conception of my babies were.

It doesn’t matter that I stand up in the middle of the night to answer their cries and pass out from blood pressure dropping to the floor.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve been on pills, supplements, diet changes (the works!) to fix the anemia that weighs me down like lead in my bones.

If I’m cold I’m just told I should put on some insulation, there is no way that it’s my thyroid since I’m too skinny for problems.

Problems dismissed, sorrow invalidated, frustration ignored-nothing’s wrong since I’m skinny and just complaining makes me bitchy, so shut up and be happy I’m so lucky.

 

Why do you work out? You don’t need to. Why don’t you eat pizza? You could use it.

Since when is cardiovascular exercise reserved for only the obese, like my heart will keep on pumping forever just fine since I’m skinny.

And my hormones will balance out just fine since I’m skinny.

And my muscles will just magically appear since I’m skinny.

And my bones won’t ever be brittle and fragile even though osteoporosis runs in my family-since I’m already skinny.

 

Stupid LIES health is important no matter the circumference of your waist,

whether there is fat on my muscles or not they need to be worked,

my bones need to be strengthened so I pick up my weights.

And as for food- am I the only one who sees that poor nutrition doesn’t just hurt your joints with extra weight but poisons your system and effects your entire life?

My body is a temple and a gift from the Lord, just look at the detail in scripture for the creation of the Tabernacle

-am I to treat the dwelling of the Holy Spirit with anything less than my best?

What is it to YOU that I care about the health of my gut or the strength of my back? Get off mine.

I KNOW, mom…

I’m waiting for it. I know it will happen when I’m reminding one of the boys something for the umpteenth time and I’ll get an eyeroll and an, “I KNOW already. Geez.” As independence is forged in the fiery crucible of adolescence, boundaries are pushed, limits are tested, and any questioning of abilities is met with shields raised. The problem, at least for me, is a lot of those shields never got lowered.

Several of the personal development books I’ve read (or listened to) lately have mentioned in passing the phenomena of people KNOWING quite a bit, but not ACTING on that knowledge. And it is easy, from a coaching or managerial position, to get frustrated with this lack of application. But the truth is WE ALL DO THIS DAILY. Seriously. I know a TON of things. I know folding the laundry straight out of the dryer will be less stress and hassle than dumping it in a heap and having to sort and fold later. I know meal planning saves time and money. I know whenever I’m reading scripture daily I am more centered and grounded in my faith. Shoot, a lot of times I THINK about what I should pray instead of praying….take a moment to let that sink in. Instead of praying, I think about what I should pray. Instead of just mentally going, “Dear God, please hear me now….” I sit and think about all the things that I should maybe pray about. How many times do we say, “I’ll be praying” and instead of taking TWO SECONDS to offer up a quick prayer, we put it off until later (and often forget)? Absolutely ridiculous. ALL of the eyerolls, please.

My point-before I got slightly carried away on the prayer tangent-is that all of us generally speaking KNOW things. Often we even know how situations occurred and what we need to do to get out of them. We know the solutions to our own problems. But we don’t do anything about it. We keep our shields up and layered in excuses. “We don’t have time, we don’t have money, we don’t have energy, we don’t know how, we have too many things going on…” For the most part, excuses are a refusal to acknowledge the actual problem. Frequently all excuses do is shift the blame to inanimate objects or even concepts! “I don’t have the money” -like it’s money’s fault. If you truly want it, you will work and save to make the money available. “I don’t have time” like time is somehow running around stealing parts of your life. If you truly want it, you will MAKE the time available. What we fail to acknowledge is that our lives ARE somewhat in our control. No, we cannot prevent disaster-but we can control our response to it. We cannot prevent our children growing older-but we can choose how to navigate through the transition. We cannot always change the hours our job demands-but we can change what we do in the off hours and/or look for work that meets our requirements. We cannot choose our upbringing or our brain chemistry or the day that we die-but we can learn how to grow, and change, and become who we want with the opportunities we have been given. We CAN choose to take risk, venture out, seek help, do new things. The real “problem” is we’re scared.

I know there is a lot of stuff out there warning about being a control freak-but the opposite is letting everything else control us. Letting the demands of society drive what we feel is important or necessary. Letting our insecurities loom so large we don’t take a risk from our current place of comfort no matter how much are heart yearns for it. Letting life steal our joy instead of leaning in to the times God says, “Go. I’ve got this.” Oh, we know what it’ll take most of the time, or we at least know enough to know it’ll be different-and that’s usually enough for us to pile on a few more excuses.

Thing is, we are never not going to be a bit scared. To be courageous means to act boldly despite fear. You can’t have courage without being afraid. I am not saying this from some lofty position, I am saying this dug down with my shields fully raised. I have allowed myself to be pushed outside my comfort zone more in the past few months than I have allowed in years. I have started taking a hard look at my words compared to my actions compared to my desires. OH how I feel Paul when he says in Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” From all facets of my life, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical-I have room to grow and improve, and I know what needs to be done, but putting it into action is just HARD.

So, I encourage you today. Don’t just read this. DO something, even if it’s just making a list of the “somethings” that you want to do. Don’t just think about it, don’t just learn about it, don’t just read about it. What do you want to do that you aren’t putting into action? There are so many cliches out there, and we brush them off because they are weary and tired…but, many of them are also the truth. You do have to “be the change” success does come from “baby steps” and in the words of Yoda, “there is no TRY”

Our Big Tiny Adventure

Brian and I visited the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co today. We toured the facility, stepped inside their Micro “floor model” (aka, the one they hadn’t sold yet), and peered into the windows of others completed for clients-mentally cataloging appliances, positioning, materials used, heights…

Tiny house living is officially our dream. The tour guide didn’t bat an eye at our wanting to tiny house live with children, just nodded and gave examples from several homes designed (and now in use) for families of six. Leaving the tour we knew several things for sure: One, Tumbleweed is an awesome place to buy a tiny house, truly. But they won’t be for us (they don’t build on gooseneck trailers). Two, we may be nuts to consider this-but we are in good company, the tiny house market is booming and not just for singles and couples.  Three, we can’t WAIT to get our own. Can’t. Flipping. Wait.

Many people consider tiny houses and then purge their belongings-we kind of did things backwards. Over the course of several PCSs, we’ve realized how freeing it is to have less stuff, and conversely how anxiety riddled, frustrating, and emotionally dragging too much stuff can be. So we started donating…and donating…and donating…It dawned on me one day how silly our house looked with so little stuff in so much space, and with our “rent” possibly increasing by another hundred when we renew the lease, I wistfully mentioned RV living as a way out of the endless waste of money. Brian took my half hearted proposition and counter-offered with tiny houses. I was completely flabbergasted.

I was already familiar with tiny houses (and loved them. Ask my sister how I was forever designing tiny things. I even baked tiny chocolate chip cookies the size of pennies for my stuffed animals) but tiny house living was so far outside the realm of what I thought possible that I was dumbfounded when Brian presented them to me. Dumbfounded and thrilled. It was like a marriage proposal all over again-and in a sense it is. “Hey, would you be willing to shuck off your old way of living and come design with me a totally new and uncharted adventure for both of us?” One heck of a proposal-of course I said yes!

Here are the cons-“Phenomenal cosmic power! Itty bitty living space…” to quote the genie (the phenomenal cosmic power refers to the two tornadoes I gave birth to, lol). To fit a home into a 28 foot trailer (well, 35 since we want a gooseneck) takes some considerable finagling. It sounds ridiculous, but seriously, the Micro we stepped into (20 foot trailer) was like a luxury studio apartment. People live-and share-much worse living quarters, and space doesn’t have nearly as much to do with it. Privacy is something to take into consideration ESPECIALLY as the boys get older. And also because we all need our own space sometimes.

Here are the pros- “Phenomenal cosmic power! Itty bitty living space…” Every blog, article, account I’ve followed/read/stumbled onto mentions again and again how close they grow as a family. They figure out healthier ways to deal with conflict instead of avoiding it. They spend more time with each other. They learn how to respect privacy and boundaries better. They don’t get sucked into mindless activities inside-they spend much more time outdoors or out and about. They sleep better. They DO more. Now I know these are all prettied up in some respect for social media consumption, and that the reason they learned to deal with conflict so well is because they HAD a lot of it (especially initially/during transition). Same goes with learning how to respect privacy…but the end result of being better at those things is worth it to us.

Also, I am hoping the tiny home will help the boys bridge some of the difficulties of being military brats. They will actually have a home. The same home. From move to move, the house will come with. We paint it in all sorts of different ways, and have programs and coping mechanisms and support groups and advice to help them-and us-deal, and it’s true that military brats are tough, resilient children…but it is also true that this life is HARD on them, and it is not ideal in a lot of ways. No lifestyle is perfect, every way of living has pros and cons, but stability is something military children especially struggle with. This may be one tiny way to help that. At first the boys will share a room, but our tentative design has TWO extra spaces that can be made into bedrooms (four bedroom tiny house, you read that correctly). Plus, I am not adverse to one or either of them pitching a tent and “camping” out at night if that’s what they’d prefer.

Also, when Brian eventually retires-we have a house. Paid for. We’ll go park somewhere off grid in the Rockies and live happily ever after. 😉

Also, less stuff, less space = less to clean. Can I get all the Amens?! Watching Downton Abby I’ve realized how ridiculous middle class expectations of living are. We all aspire to have large houses kept immaculately clean, but no one to help us maintain them but the family in residence-often both of the adults working out of the home jobs, and trying to also keep children alive, fed, and happy. And you think living in a tiny house is unrealistic? HA.

Also, a BIG also for me, this will actually make things really tight budget wise for a bit, but after a year or two on our current plan things should become dramatically easier. I know, I know, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, but if these particular eggs DO crack open, then we will have so much more to GIVE. Right now our tithes and offerings are mostly tithes plus Lottie Moon, and then I donate 50% of my commissions (after tithes) to World Vision. In a year I’d like 100% of my commissions to be donated. I’d like to start getting the boys involved with volunteering. I’d like to support the causes I feel strongly about. In essence, I want to put my money where my heart is, and not have to penny pinch out a few coins when we can while trying to pay down debt. We have been so materially blessed, we would like to share that wealth. The tiny house will save us so much that we can then turn around and share.

I am SO excited about this. I’ll be posting here and there about where we are in the process (Brian and I have roughly drawn a few plans and are endlessly researching appliances) and if you don’t already follow me on Instagram, find me at “slowisapace”-I’ll be posting more frequently about it on there. I will say, some of that conflict resolution has already come into play as Brian and I have very different ideas of “reasonable” at times. (Brian essentially wants a Taj Mahal on wheels, and I’m after a hobbit hole. The end result should be, at the very least, unique, hahaha)

Speaking of Brian, my partner in this crazy business of life, it’s our anniversary tomorrow (or today, since I’ll be posting this so late I probably won’t link it to social media until the morning). He truly fits me and I, him. We are a matched set. Birds of a feather. Interlocking puzzle pieces. Whatever romantic lovey dovey cliche you’d like to toss in, we are the truth at the core of that cliche. I can’t wait to start this new tiny chapter in our lives. 🙂

 

THIS MANY!

Cade is three, you guys. THREE. I have been a mom for THREE YEARS and everyone is still alive-even my husband! I wanted to deviate from my usual posts just to give a shout out to my little man.

CadesBdaycake

Two was a rough year for us. I know the coined term on parenting sites is “threenager” but for us (so far) the last month or so and into this first month of three has been a vast improvement over the previous year. Not that there weren’t many blessings and cuteness and heart over flowing moments! Just that there seemed to be at least an equal number of end of the rope, frustrated, self doubting, I HAVE KNOW IDEA WHAT I’M DOING moments.

His cognitive abilities seemed to expand way faster than his emotional control so he processed faster than he could communicate and experienced faster than he could learn to deal. The mismatch resulted in tantrums and meltdowns for both him AND me, ha. But the joy came in watching him overcome and grow. In watching the lightbulb moments. In seeing the repetitive endless work of parenting suddenly come back at me in it’s correct form. And in watching his exuberant personality blossom before my eyes.

He is my craft man. We do crafts multiple times a day. The more glue and glitter-the better. And paint. And sticky tape. And googly eyes. We bedazzle, snip, tear, paste, glob, smear, and sprinkle our way through the day. The dining area is littered with bits of frazzled pipe cleaners and abandoned paper shreds, and everything is coated in glitter (including my computer, sigh, lol). He hasn’t lost his love for being outdoors, but now we spend equal amounts of time drawing with sidewalk chalk as we do digging holes and gardening.

Speaking of drawing, he loves learning-especially letters. I’ve been casually doing a “letter a week” (mostly to keep myself on track and to give me inspiration for that week’s crafts) and we are finishing up the letter D. He draws H’s, t’s, C’s, A’s, E’s, F’s, and occasionally a D. Oh, and O’s, because they’re just circles, haha. On car trips he excitedly yells out letters that he spots on signs and sometimes numbers. His favorite number is “5” and he can do some addition and subtraction counting on his fingers (up to 10. He can count past 10 in order, but adding and subtraction that high is a bit much, understandably). He just views everything as a big game, and we plan on keeping it that way, no need to rush things. 🙂

He LOVES people, but is easily overwhelmed. He’s an intense little man, and tends to gravitate towards older kids or adults. But when he plays with you he wants to be fully engaged, and if too much is going on he gets upset. He has been doing so much better with other children since putting him in PWOC and Church Daycare twice a week for a few hours at a time, and he genuinely enjoys playing with other children now. He asks for “friends” everywhere we go, it’s super sweet.

He and Zane have become inseparable. Even when they are annoying each other they HAVE to be right next to each other. I don’t understand the code of brotherhood, but I love watching them figure it out. One minute they’ll be grr-ing and screeching and the next minute both will be belly laughing. The same thing that annoys them one second sends them into uncontrollable giggles the next. I have no way of predicting which way the moods will blow in the house, but whichever way it’ll be BOTH of them together. Cade is often super sweet with Zane, very concerned about his booboo’s (which Zane collects), and loving to “feed” Zane whatever he can. I love watching him ask Zane to help or ask him, “Do you want to play with me Zanebug?” He informs me of ALL of Zane’s actions, the good and the bad, and keeps me posted on how Zane is feeling as well, “Zane is crying because of his booboo mommy.” “Zane is grumpy because he wants more kiwi.” “Zane wants to go outside, too.” “Zane WANTS to share with me, mommy!” ….this last one is usually suspect, lol.

boyschairsroom

I love the conversations, the random little boy insights, the theatrics, the eager demands for hugs and kisses. He is such a blessing in my life! I am in awe that he is already three, and looking forward to the next year of growth and adventures. <3

Fit and Fancy

I have arrived, y’all. I made it. I’m there. From here on out I just aim to maintain. My scale sits collecting dust on the floor and I’m considering getting rid of it entirely. I love where I am right now on my fitness “journey”. And I know “journey” sounds hokey, but I don’t know what else to call it. The truth is that we are all on one-whatever word we use to describe it. I know some people object strongly to even having the word, “exercise” in their vocabulary, but whether are you a self made couch potato or a triathlon finisher-you’re still on a fitness journey. Your underlying routine-what you typically eat, what you typically do-that is either building you up or breaking you down. There is no escaping that. I’m not talking about wanting to lose some weight, or feeling guilty about donuts. Ditch the scale and your guilt (but keep the donuts, yum!). I’m talking simply about the fact that we can’t escape our bodies. We can’t escape their needs. We can’t escape how they function. We can’t escape eating.

We continue to focus SO much on appearance that we are missing the bigger picture. Your health allows you to do more. Your health allows you to BE more. And if you’ve decided that there are a million other things that are more important than your health-well, you’re wrong. There are a FEW things that may be more important than your health-but not as many as you may think. How are you going to enjoy your kids if you are constantly run down? How are you going to keep up with your coworkers if you get devastatingly sick multiple times a year? Or even just struggle with fatigue? Or pain? Headaches? Digestive issues? And how are you going to RECOVER from any of the illnesses/injuries that life will throw at you if you don’t have a good foundation for the doctors to work with? Who cares what weight you are, how ARE you? Really?

I am not anti modern medicine by any means. If anything I am pro-doc! (Is that a movement? Can I make it one?) But the truth is, our health system is overrun with basic health issues. BASIC health issues that then become more and more complicated. Nobody is winning-the docs are fighting to keep an already unhealthy body alive with some semblance of “quality of living” and the patient is drowning in prescriptions and feels like this is “normal”, or “part of aging”, or “there’s nothing I can really do about it”.

It’s hard being sick, y’all. It’s hard living with chronic pain, with chronic fatigue, with chronic stomach issues, with chronic ANYthing. And it’s hard to exercise daily, to eat balanced, to make conscious decisions about your health. No one said anything about life NOT being hard. But this idea that living healthy is “hardER“? I call BS.

Loving your body does not mean just dressing it well and refusing to take crap from people about it. Loving your body means CARING for it. Feeding it well, strengthening it daily, and when it gets run down-by all means get help for it! I am not saying that living healthily will cure all disease (um, that’s ridiculous) but why is it so crazy to want to arm my body with the best health I can give it so if and when disease does strike I have something to work with?

And I know it’s tough, but we need to be aware of the excuses we feed ourselves when it comes to living physically healthy lives. There is enough time for it-it may mean you have to reorganize your priority list, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time. You don’t need to enjoy exercise to need to do it. You hate exercise? Ok. You should still do around 30 minutes a day. I HATE meal prep. But I should still do it to keep me eating balanced. You hate salad? Ok. Your body still needs multiple servings of vegetables a day. You’re body isn’t excused because you hate salad. Find some other veggies. You need protein. You need vegetables. You need fruit. You need fats. You need carbs. Whether you “want to” or “like” or “have time” doesn’t matter, your body still NEEDS those things to function.

Arrogance is king in our society, to the point where we just assume that however we “feel” justifies whatever we want it to. And I am not against feeling-total wellness is dependent on a healthy emotional state-but we can’t just change the basic premise of how our bodies function just because we “feel” like it’s beneath us/not who we are/not part of our makeup/not our thing/that’s fine for you but not me. Your health is absolutely a part of you. You don’t need to become a certified trainer, health nut, gym junkie, or whatever, to be healthy. But you DO need to make an effort. I’m a child of God, a wife, a mom of two, an avid reader, an adult with ADHD, an aspiring writer, absolutely a couch potato whenever I get the chance…the list continues. And even though I have goals to pursue in the nutrition field-I didn’t start there, and nothing says to be “healthy” I have to continue along that path.

So, in a nutshell, you are on a fitness journey whether you like it or not. Be honest with yourself about whether you are heading where you’d prefer, it doesn’t take much to change in either direction.

Loving Self

Did you know that there are mountains in Texas? Seriously, mountains. It’s flat for days (literally) and then right before you hit the Mexicos (the country and the New) the Franklin Mountains pop up like forgotten geographical zits. My reference to acne aside-I actually think they’re beautiful. They aren’t as grand and imposing as the Rockies, nor as graceful and undulating as the densely forested Appalachian, but they have their own rugged beauty sculpted from the bare, jagged rocks that ripple with a variety of hues in the desert sun. My first sight of them brought joy and excitement-I knew vaguely that there was a mountain range supposedly dividing this new city we were moving to, but in the chaos of orchestrating the three day cross country move I hadn’t given them much thought. Mountains! Our last two duty stations had been flat (Ft. Bragg) and flatter (Ft. Rucker) so the presence of actual elevation more than made up for the lack of trees. Mountains! I can currently look out the window above my sink and MOUNTAINS! Right there. I love to watch the weather roll in over top and I get spectacular sunsets nightly (when the wind isn’t blowing enough dust to impact visibility, ha).

So, naturally, this being the world of social media-I tried to take a picture with my phone to share my excitement. ….womp womp. Every picture I took I felt like the mountains looked dull and tiny and uninspiring. The pictures just didn’t do the mountains justice! It was frustrating. So I stopped taking pictures and just soaked up the view in the moment.

Now we’ve all seen or done this. How many times have we tried to take a picture of something and the picture just didn’t really capture what was going on? Conversely, how many times have we seen photographs that take our breath away? This. This is exactly what we do with our bodies and our selves.

I don’t like all the marketing campaigns aimed at women and beauty, even some of the “self love” ones irritate me-because they focus so much on appearance. Appearance is only a snapshot of life. It’s only one lens. It’s not even smart phone camera quality, it’s an outdated flip phone camera picture. When I mention loving my body, I mean NOW and ALL OF IT. I don’t mean “loving how far it’s come” or “loving the pretty parts” or “loving the strength it has” I mean in this moment, wherever you are in the journey of life, loving the intricate complexities of your physical-ness. Our bodies are incredible, each and every one is a work of art-even those who are, by the world’s standards, disabled or diseased. How extraordinary that our organs work in concert to fight disease, to find ways to adapt to disability, to struggle through this life still pumping, still going, still doing. We have amazing capabilities of healing, of strengthening, of endurance and stamina, of sensation and interaction, of delicate manipulation, of shaping and creating. We should nurture them, care for them, rejoice in them, stand in awe of them, and ultimately- love them. And yet the biggest pressure society puts on all of us is how this deeply complex organism appears on the surface.

By whose standard of beauty are we measuring ourselves? I’ll tell you flat out-there isn’t one. Artists have struggled with the concept of beauty for decades-is it symmetry, a certain pattern, a specific asymmetry? Is it a hind-brain driven grab at fertility, or a survival mechanism? What makes things beautiful? What makes certain people beautiful and others, not? How come the standards of beauty change so dramatically across the decades? A better question-why are we all still so obsessed with just one measure of a person?

I am thirty years old (yesterday!), and I can just now assert with confidence that I am more than my appearance. I have dreams, goals, emotions, ideas, quirks, idiosyncrasies, talents, gifts, a soul…-all swirling together inside this body to make a complex person. My body is a part of my person, make no mistake, it is the part through which I am able to realize those same goals, dreams, interests, etc.  But it is only a part of a greater whole, and my appearance is even a smaller aspect of that part. When I look at my boys, I have to take a huge mental step back to evaluate their appearance objectively. To try and see them through the eyes of a stranger-it’s almost impossible. When I see them, I don’t just see the formation of their limbs, or the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, the stance of their skeletal system-I see the energy leaking out the pores of my three year old as he runs down the sidewalk, the pleasure in the eyes of my toddler as he successfully recaps a marker, I see their spunk, their quirks, even their thoughts seem to be etched clearly in their movements. And all I feel is love for who they are. The lens through which I view the boys is super high quality and focused, and I’m sure rose tinted. But when I take a picture and put it on Instagram-you don’t see all that. I look at that picture and see THEM, a stranger looks at that picture and sees two boys.

Why are we believing the picture a stranger has of us? Why are we focused on making that shallow, one level representation of who we are (our appearance) matter SO MUCH? Why are we so reluctant to believe that those who love us don’t view us the same? They can’t view us the same, because they see more of us than just a snapshot. So let’s stop placing more importance on how we are seen compared to the always shifting standard of beauty, than on cultivating all of our selves. Because when strangers become less than strangers, what we look like is rapidly buried under how we connect, and that connection is not based on the shape of our cheekbones. Y’all, we can’t escape our society from judging us, that will happen-we are not responsible or in control over the actions of others. But we absolutely can, and should, remove ourselves from the equation. Because the lens by which someone is judging you may be from the camera of a flip phone. It doesn’t even come close to capturing who you really are.

Get Your Head in the Game…

This week’s Team Call was about Mindset and I had so many lightbulbs clicking in my brain that I’m pretty sure I started glowing. First off, I love this job, I love the people I work with, I love the constant support and encouragement, and I learn something new every time I manage to make it to one of the weekly meetings. Now, my fingers are itching to get this all out on paper…er…computer screen.

My biggest take away had nothing to do with “keeping a positive attitude” or “dream big” or “stay focused” or any other phrases I automatically associate with “mindset”. My takeaway was a kick in the head about how I’ve been treating ADHD.

Stay with me, I have a point. The concept of “fixed vs growing” mindset was presented, and as she read through the differences I was ticking them off with a lazy, yep I’m a grower, I don’t do that, or that, nope, nope, eh, definitely not, no-yeah I do. Wait, what? “A fixed mindset says: I am good at *blank* and I am (and will always be) bad at *blank*.”

Pretty sure my brain lit up like a neon sign at this point. You guys, ADHD can be pretty funny, but it is no joke. This past Saturday I got the boys dressed, we all piled in the car, drove TWENTY MINUTES to the Farmer’s Market and when I hopped out I realized I was in my bedroom slippers. I forgot shoes. As funny as it was, this isn’t completely unusual for me. I forget my wallet, my ID, I lose my phone thirty bazillion times a day, I forget various pieces of clothing, I’ve answered the door without a shirt while nursing (BIG OOPS), I forget things in the oven, I forget to put things IN the oven, I forget doctor’s appointments, I forget important dates, I forget names, I forget what I am talking about mid sentence on a regular basis. Forgetting is a hallmark of ADHD, but the truth is it is the mildest and least annoying of the symptoms for me. The varying between non-existent attention span and hyper focus is irritating, but manageable. The inability to finish tasks or maintain a clean ANYTHING is beyond frustrating. But the struggle with impulse control ESPECIALLY when it comes to emotions is my biggest issue. The cycling between doom and gloom and the world is full of unicorn sparkles that can change in an instant can leave me (and those around me) with chronic emotional whiplash. The truth is, I’ve gotten very good at combating the mood swings and emotional volatility because I simply didn’t want to be that person. I have my bad days…and bad weeks…and months (looking at you, February) but I have an equal amount of good days, weeks, and months and I’ve learned how to capitalize on it. I refused to let ADHD determine that my emotions and impulsiveness would wreak havoc in my life.

BUT. I let ADHD limit me in a lot of areas. I use ADHD as an excuse, not an explanation, and I don’t push past any of those barriers. I set myself up to fail because I tell myself habitually, “You have ADHD, you will NEVER be good at that.” The biggest area of my life, an area that has been holding me back for years, is organization. I’ve pretty much given up on EVER being organized. I have tried and failed too many times, have heard too many disparaging comments, have let others down too frequently-I’ve simply internalized that I will always be woefully messy and entirely dependent on others to manage my affairs. My mindset isn’t just fixed on this, it’s pretty much set in concrete, welded inside a solid titanium cage, driven down into the ground with a mountain on top of it slowly turning it to diamond with the pressure of tremendous, unmovable weight.

That call, that very simple discussion, has caused a mental earthquake. I am ADHD, but I WILL be organized. It may not look exactly like anyone else’s system, but it will function well for me. I am ADHD, but I WILL maintain a clean house. It may not be Better Homes and Gardens, but it doesn’t have to be a chronic disaster either. I know these changes won’t happen overnight. And I know that I will have to work hard to overcome the natural inclinations of my crazy little brain, and I know I will fail multiple times in the process, but I also KNOW that I can do this. Honestly, if I look back at my life I am already far more scheduled and organized now than I have ever been-thanks to the two little munchkins who have forced me to be better than I thought possible. I need to stop telling myself I can’t do something just because I’m ADHD.

This brings me to the second lightbulb moment, which was more of a reflection on our society and less a personal conviction. You guys, we have completely devalued work. Not just devalued, our society has placed a negative value on work. Any dream you have is measured against how hard you have to work to get there, and it isn’t overtly stated but the underlying message is “if the amount of work you have to do is greater than your desire for the end result, then you are ‘in the red’ in any joy you can get out of life.” The end result has to be WORTH the amount of work you put in. End result-amount of work=life satisfaction.

Poop, guys. This is total poop. Now I’ve seen the memes about “it’s all about the journey” but most of those still come with the idea of the “little moments” along the way, the “silver linings”, the “unexpected joys”, the “things that happen that AREN’T WORK that make you happy.” This is  backwards.

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 ESV

“…find enjoyment in his toil.” “…find enjoyment IN HIS TOIL.” “…find enjoyment IN his TOIL.”  Not, in the camaraderie of your coworkers, or in the gossip around the water cooler, or in the sunny weather on a Friday afternoon, or in a raise, or in a better placed desk, or in the freedom of working at home. In. Your. TOIL. In the actual process of work THERE you should find enjoyment. Work is not a negative value, work is the positive value. It’s not about satisfaction at the end of your journey, or happy events along the path of your journey, it is quite literally the process of taking steps on your journey. Enjoying the physical, mental, and emotional work of WORK is the “best thing” for a person, not the achievement of the goal at the end.

Now, you can’t forget the second half, “for apart from him (God) who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” because it is pretty much stating not just that through God all things are provided, but that enjoyment in work needs divine intervention to occur-it is not the natural state of man. Maybe it is for you, but it definitely is not my natural state.

How this applies to my takeaway about mindset is simple-I shouldn’t be measuring my goals against the amount of work that they’ll take to accomplish. I need to be praying for enjoyment of the work I’ve been given (including the monumental task of organizing myself), and embrace the goals I need to embrace in order to move forward-not in spite of the work required, but BECAUSE of the work required, because in the WORK is my enjoyment.

Mind. Blown. 😛

Out Like A…I Don’t Care, Just OUT.

This month has been a mess. I’m just gonna lay it out there. I still wholeheartedly believe in total wellness and the importance of eating well and exercising regularly…but this month I haven’t been living up to my ideals. It started out wonderfully-hyped up off of all the success from Hammer and Chisel, breaking running PRs left and right, a FABULOUS visit from my sister and my adorable nephew. Talk about “in like a lion” March started with a ROAR!

And then I sprained my ankle.

And then my youngest got either a stomach bug or developed an egg allergy (doctor’s appointment scheduled).

And then, and then…

The biggest thing, the far biggest mess of March, has been an accumulation of cyclical hope and frustration that started last January. Last January when Brian put giving the boys another sibling on the table. Last February when I agreed to start weaning Zane earlier then I had planned to hopefully have the third child close in age to the boys. Last March when I had my first cycle. Last April when I had another. Then last May…June…July…August…September…You get the gist.

Then THIS February being unpleasantly caught a day early by surprise while at the playground.

Then this month. March. The day arrived, and passed, and I tested negative. Then the next day. Negative. Then the next, and the next, and the next… I stopped testing, but I remained hopeful. I have never been late a day in my life, my ovaries are like clockwork, there was only one good reason for being late…Out talking to the neighbors while the boys played and OH MY GOODNESS time to beat a hasty retreat to the house.

8 days late. Over a week late. Over a year of trying.

I feel like the appropriate progression of this story is some dramatic meltdown on my part while sobbing in the bathroom, but honestly I just sighed, and shrugged. It’ll happen, or not, in God’s timing, not mine. Am I frustrated? Yes. And the week of hope definitely threw my emotional equilibrium. A week of wondering where we’d put the extra crib, if we’d move Brian’s desk into the bedroom, how the boys would respond to a sibling, whether or not I’d get morning sickness this time… So instead of focusing on exercise and eating balanced, I’ve been focusing on me and Christ. Introspection, prayer, study, seeking time to be alone and listen. And it has been good, y’all. Painful at times, peace-filled at times, always real, and really good.

I didn’t throw fitness all out the window, I still eat pretty darn clean because I’m just used to it now, and it was more like “an extra carb serving here, forgetting to get a protein in there, an extra dollop of peanut butter with my apple”…nothing crazy, just nothing really planned or focused either. And these last two weeks have been hit or miss with the workouts. I’ve managed two early morning workouts before the kids-and then Zane caught a hacking cough and he’s thwarted the “early uppers club” once again. Today I managed to get a PiYo in during their breakfast, and tomorrow if Zane ends up in our bed again I may resort to that again.

My point is-March was messy and imperfect, but that’s how life is. It isn’t always riding success highs or fighting to persevere with gritted teeth. Sometimes it’s just tripping and stumbling a bit and trying again with a shrug. I’m tackling the month of April with renewed vigor and focus-I’m restarting the Hammer and Chisel workouts because I LOVE them and I’m super excited for our Clean Eating Workshop coming up on the 4th. I’ll be meal planning once again with an eye on more budget friendly recipes, and I even signed up for a vendor fair to spread the fitness love.

I won’t miss you, March. Onwards!