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. 🙂

 

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. 😛

“Fit”ness

One of the things I really like about the accountability teams I am a member of is the emphasis on “Finding YOUR Fit.” I think some people read that and automatically shy away from it because to them that means getting into the best physical shape possible and they KNOW that that implies a lot of work. But that’s exactly what it doesn’t mean. Let me explain…

To find your fit, you need to take a good hard look at your life and figure out areas that need improvement because you WANT them to improve-not because the FDA says so, or your doctor scolds you, or because you feel pressured by current social standards of beauty. No. Guilt driven change doesn’t usually get you very far.

Are you able to do the things that you like to do? Are there things that you secretly would love to do but feel are out of your reach? Are there physical things that hinder your work or your play or your engagement with your family? Those are the things you need to take a look at and evaluate honestly. If you want to lose ten pounds because you think that’ll make you feel better-then the truth is it isn’t the number of pounds you’ve assigned to lose that you want, it’s the  “feeling better”. And what does that mean? Does that mean not getting out of breath climbing the stairs? Does that mean not feeling like the bottom of your energy drops out when you’re only halfway through the day and you miserably have to drag yourself through until bedtime? Does that mean feeling comfortable getting down on the floor with your kids? Or playing tag with them outside? Does that mean wanting the strength to try things like skiing, hiking, white water rafting, etc., without fear of being unable to keep up with your peers? Does it mean managing thyroid issues? Or chronic migraines? Insomnia? Gluten sensitivity? Anemia? Does it mean more energy? A stronger immune system? A happier disposition? What is it that YOU want out of your body? THAT is where you start finding your fit.

Your fit does not necessarily mean six pack abs and swimsuit flaunting. Your fit is not tied to the scale or to your pants size. It isn’t even tied to the weight you can bench. It is tied to the WHOLEY fittest version of you-whatever that looks like.

Being comfortable in your own skin is different from willfully ignoring health issues that interfere with your daily life. I am comfortable in my own skin for the most part. I know I am loved, inside and out, and I’m comfortable with my appearance. I’m not striving to be a fitness competitor, I don’t weigh myself daily, I like where I am physically. But I wasn’t always healthy, even when I was “working out”. I was still fighting fatigue, anemia, chronic sinus issues, frequent headaches… It wasn’t until I started getting my nutrition in line with my exercise that those things started disappearing and I really started feeling “fit”.

I still have goals that push where I am a little farther. I’d like to run an ultra marathon again-this is going to take some serious mileage buildup, I’m going to have to push myself physically. I love how much I’m learning about nutrition and I love what that is doing for my immune system and my energy levels and my feeling of healthiness-so I’m going to keep pushing myself to find new recipes and expand my cooking skills. I love seeing the improvements weight lifting has added to my physique-I’m especially thrilled to see definition in my abs-but it doesn’t define who I am. Abs come and go, but my relationships have a lasting impact.

So, essentially, if what I am doing in the kitchen and in the living room when I push play is interfering with the health of my marriage, my relationships with my children, my connection with my family and the people I love best in this world-then it isn’t MY fit. It’s true, I could insanely restrict my diet (and become a horrible, irritable, cranky mess) and be working out three or four times a day to be super lean, strong, and what a lot of the world views as “sexy”-but that is NOT worth it to me, not even close, not even a little bit tempting. I’ve got goals, room for improvement, ways to push myself-but for the most part, I fit my “fit”.

Do you?

11.10.13 Keefer Family FOR WEB (89)

Why New Year’s Matters

At least, why it matters to me. Without a doubt someone somewhere has already debated this topic. There are probably categorized theories, documented research, well and poorly written books…none of which I am bringing to the table. This post is off the cuff and a reflection of just my own experiences and personality.

It matters to celebrate and it matters to reflect and New Year’s Day gives us a chance to do that EN MASSE.  All around the world people will be gearing up for the New Year. This isn’t about partying (although that’s a typical norm for many); my “celebration” of the New Year will probably be nothing more than a quiet moment or two of reflection. A “Huh, last year was pretty great. I’m excited for this new one.” Nothing fancy-but it is still a significant moment for me; a moment of deeper self awareness, and as I get older my view broadens to a greater global awareness. New Year’s provides a good opportunity to do this, whether you take advantage of it is up to you. As much as we like to glorify self reliance, we people were designed to love, and love requires connection. The New Year can be a simple connection point, an experience that millions of us are participating in around a 24 hour period. Yes, I realize some cultures do not celebrate New Year’s Day on the First, but many do, and even those who celebrate the New Year on a different day still do so in a manner of reflection and celebration. It matters that we all mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

It gives us a starting point, a blank slate so to speak. There are probably theories on the effective-or ineffectiveness-of nailing down goals on the New Year. But whether you write them out with a detailed plan of attack or just vaguely think about them, the New Year creates an atmosphere of starting fresh. You can’t, of course, ever completely start over. But you can challenge yourself, push your limits, or even just create a vacuuming schedule ( 😛 ). You don’t know what you are completely capable of. The New Year is one time of year where-whether you pursue them or not-the idea of improvement is front and center. This matters. I think we need this more then we get it because ALL of us need to improve. All. Of. Us.

As far as goals go-I do best with New Year’s resolutions. They’re just tidier in my book. There is something satisfying about starting a goal on January first and checking it off on December 31st. I’ve started projects and goals mid year and been successful-but I am MOST successful if I start in January. If I can’t get something rolling by January-chances are it won’t happen.

So make some goals, people. Or resolutions. Or life vision quest challenges. Or whatever you want to call them. But when you do so, here are a few things that I keep in mind to make mine more successful.

  1. Make them measurable (we’ve all heard this one, it isn’t new, it’s still good advice).
  2. Have accountability.
  3. PLAN. I cannot emphasize this enough, coming from a completely disheveled, disorganized background-planning makes all the difference on completing a goal and missing the mark. Create a plan, follow the plan, tell others about the plan.
  4. Be prepared to fail-successfully. You may not achieve all of your goals, but if you’ve even partially moved towards it in the right direction then this is progress. It is a “failed” goal, sure. But you’re closer to achieving it then you were when you started and this is a successful failure.
  5. Related to the above point, don’t despair. (HA! “Don’t despair, prepare to fail!” How’s that for a catch phrase). You may get derailed a few times (hey, life happens) but that doesn’t mean you need to completely toss in the towel. Be aware that this happens to the best of us. Pick yourself up, try again. If your goal was to read a chapter every night before bed and you miss a week of reading by the second week of February-don’t give up, still try to read every night for the remainder of the year (even though, let’s be honest, this is a completely unreasonable goal for most of us) and maybe tick of a calendar box every night you are able to so that you can measure your progress. At the end of the year you can tally up how many days you read and that’d still be a pretty cool number to see.
  6. Build on previous goals, or repeat them. Supposedly it only takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, it takes me less then 3 to break one if that is the case.To be a creature of habit I have to WORK at it. Which means some goals I repeat to keep myself on track, or I expand on the success of a previous goal to keep that area of my life moving in the right direction.
  7. Figure out the TYPE of goals that work for you. For example, say you want to get healthier in the New Year. Are you a “lose 20lbs” type of guy or a “workout once a week” type of girl? Or maybe a “read three nutritional books this year” individual? Whatever angle works best for you, THAT is what you need to put in your goal. If you want to increase your amount of exercise, improve your nutritional know-how, master a cooking skill-whichever gets you closer to your overarching goal of healthy living.

Lastly, y’all. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Introspection is good. Goals are good. Not being able to relax enough to enjoy the blessings you’ve been given is not good. Find the balance, walk the line between focused and obsessive. Laugh at yourself.

Here are some things I discovered about myself in 2015 that I find not just a little bit embarrassing/amusing.

  1. I technically have a home business. HA! Oh man, I feel like I’m checking off some military spouse right of passage. Next year I might open up an Etsy shop, you never know.
  2. I can’t pretend not to be  health nut anymore when I get excited about finding coconut aminos in the commissary.
  3. I like the taste of organic stuff better. I mean, I’m not ready to jump on all of the organic bandwagon because I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to the latest and greatest healthy whatever (seriously, is coffee good or bad for you? What about wine?)-but dude, it does taste better. Especially eggs. But also chicken. And produce. Ok, usually all of it. Maybe because I am cooking with far less sugar and salt so I can actually taste the difference? I dunno, but it’s a difference I’m willing to pay for and the lack of pesticides is nice. I’ve totally crossed over to the dark side haven’t I?
  4. I, the child who had piles of stuff a couple feet deep in her room, is now tossing/donating things left and right and LOVING it. No duplicates. If it doesn’t get used, pitch it. If I don’t wear it, pitch it. If the boys don’t play with it, pitch it. PITCH IT ALL! (Or donate. Actually mostly donate, but PITCH IT ALL sounds more fun). There is such irony in this. I used to obsess over saving pipecleaners I was sure I could untwist and reuse, and tiny, tiny shreds of scrap fabric that would eventually disintegrate into threads.

That’s it for tonight, tomorrow I’ll have my Resolutions up and running. Happy New Year everyone! Take a moment to reflect and celebrate, even if it’s in your pj’s while browsing Facebook. 😉