Friday, October 31, 2014

31 days of...not much blogging



As usual, I was industrious in thinking I could actively participate in the 31 Days challenge. Yes, I've been working to find my rhythm. Some progress has been made. But blogging is a luxury, a hobby that is quite low on the priority list currently. And finding a rhythm has meant being purposeful about my time.

But, in the spirit of the journey, here is a post to tie up this month and my experiences.

The beginning of the month felt extremely challenging. My work schedule and life seemed to leave me little time for anything and quite exhausting. But I found myself more aware of life and the periods of time that presented challenges and the distractions in my day. I saw where I was most off-beat and discordant.

I have had to extend myself a lot of grace.

The last few weeks I've felt a bit more rhythmic. I'm learning what work schedule is most conducive to life. As I make my schedule going into the future I am keeping this in mind. Having 2-4 nights off in a row is important. Having a few weekend days off each month is too. I try to have the house and the family prepared for my shifts.


My kids have gotten used to the way I make their sandwiches and pack their lunches. Daddy just doesn't do it the same way. And while I am fine with telling them to eat it anyway--if I can make their lunches ahead of time, it's one less thing for Daddy to do and one less complaint I have to entertain. Hey---my kids ask for a lot I have to say no to right now, but I can say yes to this.

This morning while making their lunches I make 2 sets of sandwiches and packed up double the other lunch items. So tonight when I'm working, Bean just has to assemble their lunches. This is just one simple example of the new routines I am finding.


Time with God each day is so crucial. It helps my mood, my patience level and gives me peace in my soul. I am working on getting up early enough to have my devotional time before the morning routine begins. But I'm not a great morning person and so far sleep is winning. My time with God is typically after I get the kids off to school. The more time I spend with God, the more time I want to spend with Him.


I've started running again, as well as other forms of exercise. Physical activity increases my energy, puts me in a good mood and feeds my soul. I have been so NOT in the rhythm of exercise that it's taking discipline to do it regularly again. But I don't have any excuses anymore, especially on the days I don't work and the kids are in school. I am a happier person when I exercise, so I know it's important to be disciplined and make it a non-negotiable. Some days it's a short neighborhood walk or a DVD workout at home. I tailor it to the day and my energy levels--what counts is I'm doing it.


Time with friends is so important to me. I went from working in an office with people I loved hanging out with, to spending 3-4 days a week with my nursing school buddies. Now the majority of my time is spent with my three little minions. I love them dearly, but mama needs friends! So I have been reaching out to the friends I've missed and not been able to spend time with. Meeting for coffee or breakfast, catching up on life and making plans for the next time we will hang out.

I am far from reaching the end of this journey. I have a lot of rhythm to find. There are overflowing closets, broken chairs and messy counter tops that need my attention. Like many, I find myself consumed with dozens of 5-minute tasks that eat up the day. This morning I sat at the computer for two hours, updating my work schedule for our family calendar, sending necessary emails, applying for a job and other small yet important tasks.

But I am learning and discovering. Experimenting and practicing.

The biggest truth I've discovered is that the true rhythm is found within. It won't exist in my schedule, routine or to-do list. I need to be at peace with who I am and where I am at. I need to feed my soul and care for my body. It is then that I find the best rhythm for the day, for the season of life. It is then that I care for my family the best, and that is what this season is truly about. The external is constantly changing. But the soundtrack of my day flows from inside me and I choose the songs with my actions, words and attitudes.

I discovered a new favorite song today, It Is Well sung by Kristin DiMarco. These lyrics resonated so deeply. (and it incorporates the refrain of one of my favorite old hymns)

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on you. 
It is well, with me.

The key words there "with me."

When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, through whatever life brings, it can be well.

It is well, with me.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

the hard thing about rhythm and learning

I never promised to write 31 posts, although that is usually inherent in this particular blogging challenge.

My true goal is to find a rhythm in my life and record my thoughts along the way. Unfortunately that rhythm doesn't necessarily involved daily blogging. That's one of the hard things about rhythm. You can't always do the things you want to do. I have mentally written countless blog posts and even a few books in the past two years. i have so many things I WANT to do. But they have to wait on the shelf while I establish my rhythm and determine how to make time for them.

The last week has been difficult. I did it to myself really, although with the best of intentions. We schedule ourselves at my job.Which is nice because I can look at my calendar and family obligations and do my best to schedule around them. For instance, I don't schedule myself on Friday nights or Saturday day because we have two soccer games each Saturday--one of which Bean coaches. And if the games are at the same time, we are both needed.

This past week the soccer games were hours apart and the schedule had openings for day shifts on the weekend. And so I scheduled myself to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday days. I managed those three days ok and was happy to at least see my family for a short time each night.

The difficulty arose when Monday morning came. Because I had also committed to my other side job for two days of event childcare. I was lacking physically and emotionally, but I had to suck it up and go.

I'm good at sucking it up. For however long and however much needed. The price comes later, just like a credit card bill demanding to be paid.


Wednesday I was a bit of a basket case. I am in a state of limbo, waiting for results on my nursing board exam. Most get results in a matter of days. And then there are a handful of us who wait weeks---for no apparent rhyme or reason. I was too tired to exercise. I was overwhelmed by how behind I felt in life. I was tired of waiting and not knowing and having to tell people, "I still have no results."


Everything is magnified when I'm in that state. I feel lonely and forgotten. I only can list the ways I'm failing as a wife and parent. I doubt myself, my decisions and my future. I worry about getting hired as a nurse and the impending loan payments for my newest degree. The one I don't yet have the license to go with. I feel like we are so far behind in keeping up with our home and belongings, we will never be able to afford to catch up. Our couch is seriously broken, our mattress is as old as our marriage, the entire family needs fresh bedding and let's not even talk about how fast my kids grow out of clothes and shoes and are constantly wanting to eat.

I had a good cry and then a good time with God, finding my center and my foundation once again. I know I have to take it easy on myself and my schedule when I'm recovering from doing too much. I do what has to be done and leave the rest. It is hard for me to hold back, to not tackle the projects I have or the deep cleaning my house always seems to need.

Thursday I was in a slightly better emotional state, but still feeling so drained. It takes twenty minutes for my eyes to stop being blurry when I wake up in the morning. The kids are lucky I manage to make their lunches correctly as I rub my eyes over and over again trying to force them to fully wake up.

I learned my lesson. I am learning. I won't be committing to so many days of work in a row. I will trust God for provision and remember he doesn't want me to have a breakdown because I am working too much. That's not good for me or my family.

I just started reading The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst and it is just what I need. I am only a few chapters in, but it's giving me so much to reflect upon. I sometimes lack appropriate boundaries and commit to too much--usually for good reasons. But not always the BEST reasons. And I do want to choose what is best. It goes back to Mary and Martha. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better.

I want to choose what's better, the best. In every area of my life.


I also want to sit on the balcony of a cabin on a cool crisp morning drinking coffee while enjoying a view of majestic mountains.

I can dream, right?

Friday, October 3, 2014

31 days to finding rhythm: one thing


 Many of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, or at least the traits they are known for. Even if you aren't a regular Bible reader, you have probably heard of the Mary's of the world who are less busy and easily focus on just one or two things. And then there are Martha's, who are always multi-tasking, busy and distracted. Mary is usually looked upon favorably and Martha not so much.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-23


Personally, I think both Mary and Martha have their strengths and weaknesses. Because often within our greatest strengths, lie our greatest weaknesses.

I like to be active and busy. I love serving and being involved. I enjoy helping others in small or big ways.

But this means I sometimes, and by sometimes I mean a lot of the time, overextend myself. I underestimate the demands on my time and energy and find myself in over my head, stretched too thin with little margin. I worry too much about what people think and I never want to disrupt or upset others, much less have to say no.

It is my heart of giving and serving that gets me into trouble and has caused burnout more than once in my life. A strength and also a weakness. There is nothing inherently wrong with all the preparations Martha was making, or with the many things that call our attention each day. But sometimes, we get so caught up in those things that we miss the moments and opportunities we can't get back. The dishes will always be there, but my 5 year old who wants to play a game with me (even though she can't stand to NOT give me hints when we play Headbanz) will one day be a 15 year old who may want little to do with me.

A lot of what I do comes out of my heart that loves the Lord and wants to serve Him and love others with His love.  My "Martha tendencies" and my "Mary heart" are sometimes a dangerous combination. And I would guess many struggle with these two sides in us.

A few weeks ago I read this passage and found new meaning for the season of life I'm in.

As I come to terms with finding rhythm instead of establishing routine, I've realized how important it is to look at my day and determine what "one thing" I need to focus on. Perhaps the day has a theme--such as getting caught up on housework and laundry--one thing. Sometimes the "one thing" is for an hour or two. And then it changes.

Because there are always too many things on my to-do list, determining my "one thing" has become essential in my day. Checking things off my to-do list is good, but taking a moment to assess what is most important for that hour, for that day is better and best.

And so I've begun to try to make a habit of looking at my calendar, my to-do list, and asking God--"what is the one thing I should focus on today? Help me to avoid distraction and fragmentation. Help me not be worried and upset about things that don't matter or that I can't control. I want to choose what is better, I want to choose to invest my time and energy into what lasts."

I challenge you to read this passage and seek meaning for your life right now. What does "one thing" mean for you?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

31 days to finding rhythm: already off-beat

It was inevitable, right?
I determine to find a new rhythm in life, and life laughs and tries to throw me off-beat. One my first day of rhythm finding.
My kindergartener came home not looking or feeling too well on Tuesday. By the evening it was clear she was running a fever. And so I spent today mostly on the couch with her, because she is 5 and very attached to mommy when she isn't feeling well. 'Please sit with me mommy" is said many times throughout the day. And how do I say no? I can't and I don't need to.
Because sometimes life dictates the rhythm of the day. I can have great intentions and to-do lists, but when things change as they often do, I need to change my beat. I had some computer work to do, which prevented me from holding Bug's hand all morning, like she also wanted me to do, but I could sit right next to her on the couch and be productive. When the meds were strong and the fever was down I managed to get a few things done around the house and have it picked up and dishes done (big brownie points from the hubs when I do this) before I went to work tonight.
Spending some couch time with the kiddo also gave me some down-time, which I don't usually take on my own.
I learned an important lesson today, this first day of finding my rhythm.
When the rhythm changes, it's okay. Just go with the beat and do what needs to be done. Today I spent time with my sick Bug and was so thankful to be home with her. This is why working nights during the week works for my family. Tomorrow morning I will drive home and Bean will leave for work. Bug will get some quality time with the iPad while mama attempts to get some sleep. And hopefully she will go back to school on Friday.
What matters most at the end of the day is that my family feels loved and cared for by me and that I have served them well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

31 days to finding rhythm



Life places many demands on us.

Many of these demands are positive in nature. I am blessed to have a house that needs to be clean, three daughters to care for, the ability for my girls to play sports and be involved in various activities.

But these demands can be exhausting. And stuffed in the moments between the must-do's are distractions that take our time and our energy.

Some of us thrive on routine, but no two days are ever the same.

Some of us are more free-flowing in life, but still find ourselves drowning in the daily.

As I embark on a new season of life (more on this in days to come), I've given up on the idea of routine.

But I want to live my life and raise my children with excellence. I want to be purposeful in what I do.

I may not be able to establish a routine.

One of the definitions of the word "rhythm" is

the pattern of regular or irregular pulses caused in music by the occurrence of strong and weak melodic and harmonic beats.

What I like about this defintion is that it emphasizes the regular and irregular, the strong and weak, the melodic and harmonic.

That is everyday life.  Good moments and challenging ones. Days full of accomplishments and days you feel like you just walked in circles and nothing got done. 

And so, during this 31 days of October, I want to explore the idea and methods of finding a rhythm in life. This is my own experiment or rather intention. I have not accomplished or achieved it by any means. As I transition into a new career and my last child has begun school,  I have the opportunity to re-write my moments and patterns. 

Finding a rhythm is going to be crucial for me. And I invite you on this journey with me. 

Posts: 
 
Already Off-beat
One Thing



 




Monday, September 8, 2014

whole 30 week 1: during which I drank black coffee for the first time...EVER


One of my "resolutions" for 2014 was to not pressure myself with any special eating or exercise plans. I already eat a gluten-free and mostly Paleo diet, which wouldn't change, because that's how I feel and operate best.  My focus was finishing nursing school along with being the best mom and wife possible, given the demands of the program. I knew that trying to implement some strict diet or intense training program would detract from those priorities.

I confess that several times I mentally tried to follow a stricter eating plan. In my head I'd say "let's try to eat the sugar detox method, but if it doesn't stick, that's ok." And inevitably I'd give in for some dark chocolate or a Larabar on a busy day. Neither bad things, but not sugar-detox friendly.

But now that nursing school is done, I want to focus on my health. It is a HUGE win for me that I did not gain any weight in nursing school. I didn't particularly lose any either, although I fee like my frame might be a little leaner. Food has always been an issue for me and for many years I feel like I have counteracted by intake with exercise. I know now that method truly doesn't work.

When we first started nursing school and were trying on our scrubs to determine what size to order, the representative advised us to get the size that was more generous but not too big because "nursing students always gain weight." That was motivation for me to not!!

I know that I probably have some chronic low grade inflammation in my body--from stress alone! And my gut health has always left something to be desired. I decided a Whole30 would be a good start to getting some things back on track and feeling my best.

So here I am, almost one week down. I'm kinda wondering why I didn't go with the 21-Day Sugar Detox because then I still could have had heavy cream in my coffee.



Notes on my first week of Whole30.

1. Rough start, which is to be expected. But also, I was adding coconut cream to my coffee but realized it was causing a headache...which I researched and found isn't uncommon (it's probably guar gum, a common preservative added). I struggled with sugar cravings and wanting a bite or two of grain-laden things that I usually "sneak" without major ill effects in my body.

2. I ate 3 bananas in one day. I suspect I am dealing with some systemic candida and so I've been trying to limit my carbs and fruit. But I was especially hungry and tired and in the end, eating 3 bananas is hopefully less damaging than a bowl of ice cream, right?

3. I've been adding coconut milk to my coffee instead (no guar gum in the one I bought at Trader Joe's). It's not as yummy as my cream or bulletproof coffee, but it will do. In a perfect world I'd give my body a break from caffeine. But working nights and the caffeine-withdrawl headaches I suffer--I just wasn't ready to face that yet. I don't think coffee is downright unhealthy, but I think it can be good to let your body detox from time to time. I am drinking less coffee however.

4. Working nights helps me stay on track. I only can eat the food I bring with me and I find I'm less hungry at work and when I wake up after sleeping the next day.

5. I drank my first cup of black coffee. It was awful, mostly because it was cheap hospital coffee. But I needed a little caffeine to get me through the night and it just had to do. I need to buy some tea because I prefer that at night.

6. Why does my Costco Rotissiere chicken need sugar added? Since I already had it at home, it wasn't worth not eating--but I won't be buying that again this month. Time to make my own.

7. Our scale shorted out a few weeks ago. Just in time to make sure I didn't weigh myself this month. I'm doing this for health first, but it's hard to break up with the scale. But I know it's not a true measure of health and I'm glad I don't even have the temptation in my bathroom.

Today's meals (working nightshift)
Breakfast: 2 eggs fried in bacon grease, 2 pieces of bacon, small cup of coffee / coconut milk
Lunch: Leftover carne asada meat and guacamole, banana
Dinner: Aidell's chicken and apple sausage, sauteed zucchini, 1/2 sweet potato
Midnight: Sunflower seeds, carrots, snow peas, cucumbers
2am: Leftover chicken, sauteed zucchini, 1/2 sweet potato
I will eat a Larabar in the next few hours (yes, I'm blogging at 3am). Perhaps a banana & almond butter before I go to sleep. I usually only eat two meals the day after I work.

I'm doing this! Hoping to get through sticking to the guidelnes with no deviations. But if something ahppens, it's about progress, not perfection.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

oh how the years go by

We all know that the days are long and the years are short. Knowing that doesn't make the days feel any shorter or easier.

But there are moments that you realize just how fast the years go by.

I confess for a few years, I have been waiting for TODAY. The day I drop my three children off at the same school. And they stay there all day. This is my one glorious year with all three at the same school. It will never happen again.

Lilybug was ever-so-ready for Kindergarten and very excited to be at the same school with her sisters. She was a baby when Miss Rose started there, so she is familiar and very comfortable at the school.



As we corralled the children outside for a picture before piling in the minivan, with the backdrop of our house, I was struck by so many emotions.

Grateful that God has blessed us with a wonderful home of our own, in a community we love and a school our children are thriving in.


Nostalgic because the same year we moved into this house, Miss Rose started Kindergarten, Gracie was a toddler and Lilybug was an infant. Every morning I had an internal debate as to whether I should a) pull out the double stroller, b) wear a baby and push a single stroller or c) attempt to have Gracie walk when we took Miss Rose in.  I got a lot of sympathy smiles and "you sure have your hands full" comments. But I soaked it all in and truly loved it, even in the most frazzling of moments.

And now my first baby is in her last year of elementary school.

 
 And when Gracie started Kindergarten two years ago, Lily was so lonely and beside herself because having her sister as a playmate was all she had known. 




And now it's my last baby's first day of school. She seems more grown up today.



The last 5-and-a-half years have almost been a whirlwind. We bought a house, renovated it and added a granny flat for my parents to live in. We actually bought the house together just for that purpose. Lily was born 3 days after we moved in. Two years ago I resigned from the church and started nursing school.

And now here we are--Lily is in kindergarten and I am done with nursing school and hopefully not too far from passing my R.N. exam and getting an R.N. job.




Oh how the years go by.