Beth's New Normal

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A Letter to My Younger Self

8A0BEB2F-95A1-49E2-8BAD-5A26960D6EF1Recently I was catching up with another mom while we were waiting on our kiddos about life and chatting about things we were living through with each of our families. I mentioned that someone at work had said they wished they were in their 20’s again. I shared that I had absolutely no desire to be 20 again! We laughed about how we had much different perspectives as middle age rock stars than we did in our 20’s and it really got my mind thinking about what I would tell 20-year-old me. I thought I’d jot some of that down, because it seemed really relevant to where I am now and the prices I’ve paid for inexperience.

Dear 20-Year-Old Me,
Hey beautiful! This is your moment. Seize it, study hard, listen well. Take that extra drive to see your grandparents. They won’t be here long, and you’ll spend the rest of your days hearing them in your head. Grasp every ounce of knowledge before it slips away. Watch black and white movies and eat the green vegetables and take the extra earring out of your ear when you visit. Just let them wash over you and be attentive.

Those girls that you eat pizza with, cry over guys, and drive over an hour for a cup of coffee with are your people. Twenty years from now your heart will still leap when they text and you would still walk through water to be at their side. Let the little things go. Love anyway. Forgive each other immaturities. For real, I know how this turns out, they are your ride or dies.

Wash your face, and take care of your skin. Listen when someone says drink more water and stop celebrating your extra five dollars with a run through the drive thru. It’s really not worth it, trust me!

Dance like nobody is watching. Do yourself a favor. Try out for the play, sing with the group, spend 20 more minutes on piano lessons because you will wish you had when the busyness of life sucks your creativity dry. Wear the quirky outfit and smile when they stare. Enjoy who you are, because it is beautiful and you will battle to keep from being stifled until you explode.

Don’t worry about what your peers think. Do not steer your ship based on the preconceived notions of others. Gain wisdom from what you observe and listen to the experiences of your elders. Do not allow yourself to give up anything as simple as a pair of earrings or as imperative as chasing your dreams based on what others decide makes you fit in. While we are talking about fitting in, please stop. There is nothing to gain from being a total conformist other than the dull gray safety of a predefined normal established by people you will soon enough realize don’t really care.

Listen to your heart, use your mind, and pray without ceasing. Study what is going on around you and see how you can make it better. Love without abandon, my sweet. You are going to get hurt and you will be scared but you will get strong and you will find the most amazing people if your eyes are closed and your heart is open. Stop judging people by the color of their skin, the size of their bank account, or their level of acceptance with others. Love as Christ did with genuine passion, honesty and integrity.

Take a walk before you respond. You are going to get some great advice but here is sneak peak. Write it down, leave it 24 hours. If you are still upset then respond. Most of the time you’ll forget to even look. Be honest with yourself about what is your perspective and what is truth. They differ sometimes and you are not good at distinguishing fact from your heart when you’re emotional. Most of the time, you just need to let it go.

Someday your little sister will be your best friend and hold your whole heart. I promise, it’s true. She is wearing you out right now but someday you’ll long to talk to her more. Love her where she is. Your time is coming. You guys will cherish each other’s children and one another soon enough.

Most of all spend more time in prayer and don’t let blood drive your choices. Choose your path based on the belief and faith you hold dear. Forgive yourself a little, grace is for everyone. Whatever you do stop chasing normal. It’s overrated!

Love you forever,

Middle Aged You

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My Why: Gym Edition

weights-1948837_960_720For the last year, I’ve been back working hard in the gym.  A few years ago, I was dedicated and the changes in my physical appearance greatly steered that dedication.  Unfortunately, I allowed life to get in the way.  I’ve continually worked on eliminating some of my bad habits and adding new ones.  During a recent professional development, our group was challenged to gather our “whys” for what we do.  I applied that to work and moved on, not considering that this was also a helpful practice for my general life choices.  I’ve compiled a list of why going back to the gym has improved my life having absolutely nothing to do with appearance.

I can breathe! I used to dread having meetings that required going up sets of stairs.  Especially if I was walking with someone.  I couldn’t carry on a conversation and I was huffing and puffing when I reached the top.  I often felt embarrassed and ashamed as I could hear myself breathing and struggling to communicate until my body recovered.  Staying dedicated to even a couple workouts per week fixed this problem.

After a year I’ve learned to like me much better.  I can be amazing.  Let’s be clear, I’m no better than anyone, but I’m better than I used to be.  I’m more confident and I feel stronger and more assertive in determining the best path for me.  I’m less self-conscious about the moves and steps I take and it’s liberating. I’m more willing to wear what I want and not hide behind black draping fabric.

My workout friends are the most amazing tribe of comedians and therapists ever.  Hands down.  No discussion needed.  Once you allowed your overweight, middle-aged self to do a jumping jack in some tank tops and yoga capris in front of someone, well it’s relatively intimate and you’re practically married.  It’s a fact.  So honestly these people become your people and you learn to laugh at yourself with them.  You learn to share each other’s struggles and celebrate on another’s victories.

The more I involve my body in physical activity the more productive I feel.  I get more done at work, and around the house.  My joints no longer ache for no reason.  I have more energy to keep up with my sons’ active schedules and to enjoy activities on my downtime rather than living to get that extra moment to sit on the couch.

Most importantly I’m just a better person.  Truthfully, I find I’m less overwhelmed, less petty, more forgiving and less stressed simply because I’m happier.  These tiny victories have little to do with the scale or the size I wear and everything to do with where I am in my journey.  An ever-changing new normal.

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A Little Snowy Perspective

img_20180116_125806485_hdr-2.jpgAt this point I’ll be honest there’s a tad of cabin fever creeping into my heart. There’s a winter wonderland outside my office window and I have loved watching my sons frolic about with their canine friends.  However, I haven’t left the house in three days.  Typing that sounds outrageous like that should be some sort of big deal and the reality is it truly shouldn’t be.  However schedules and life are crazy and three days to just be working from home has been a bit heavenly.

I’ve gotten up each morning and started the day with coffee or hot tea at my desk and it’s been truly wonderful to just catch up a bit in fleece pajama pants and a sweatshirt for a few days.  The opportunity to tackle a few projects that are always on the list and often ignored has been pretty glorious.  No makeup and allowing a daily shower to be enough beautification has been refreshing.

However, likely the greatest eye opener has been the ability to just enjoy my kids.  We’ve done chores, cleaned, and organized for hours without a fight.  There were moments I typed away at my desk while one was coloring and the other was building with legos.  All of us in silence, in the same room, yet independent.  Seems silly but there was a comfort to having us home and not worry about schedules and getting everyone where they needed to be.  There was time for homemade gluten-free pizza, and almond flour brownies from scratch and it wasn’t a sacrifice to take those few extra moments to savor them.  I wasn’t anxious watching the newest silly YouTube video they found online because I’m not in a rush.  There’s time to make snow cream and the casual ease of humming to music while still being productive.

As we age I’d like to think we are a little more open to what we can learn from our past.  I’ve learned this week to stop and let all five senses engage more often.  To take a few moments to embrace and be more intentional everyday.  Could I possibly be more blessed with any revelation?  I pray wherever you are that you get snowed in soon.  I hope you appreciate some low maintenance days to just breathe it all in.  May your snowy days be safe and full of rejuvenation, so your new normal is a bit more gratitude filled.


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My Word to Carry into 2018

Over the last week I’ve been truly reflecting on 2017 and preparing my heart for what really matters in 2018.  It’s no surprise that a resounding cry for balance and self-discipline continue to come to play in every aspect of this.  Over the last year I’ve established some great habits.  By the weekend I will have read a bit of the Bible each day, getting through it in a year’s time.  I’ve also increased my time at the gym, and my water intake.  My sleep habits are still lacking and my eating habits are quite frankly a roller coaster.  Great three days, awful four.  Great five days, and then awful two.  I truly lack self discipline here.
balance 2018
There are people and relationships that changed in 2017, nothing dramatic, just different.  My heart grew this year and my goals and dreams have heightened again.   I’ve purged my home and my heart of some junk both spiritual and physical and as I look forward to a new year I can just as easily feel triumphant as I can feel defeated.  We weathered some amazing things as a family.  We learned how to manage more than I could imagine possible in our schedules and still have place for some fun.  At the same time I struggle with things left undone.  Disappointments I’ve caused others, although unintentional, still heartbreaking.  Here creeps that balance thing again.  Which leads to me to my theme word of 2018, it’s a repeat of an oldie but goodie.  Balance is where my focus must lie as we approach the upcoming trip around the globe.  I have to learn to love, accept, and like me right where I am.  I have to learn to do what I can to the best of my ability, and to prioritize.  Allowing the details to distract from the big picture will only slow my path.
I love to journal and I’m sort of a data junkie! So for January I’ve created a journal to track the habits that matter most to me everyday. From as simple as taking time to truly focus on morning and evening skincare to as involved as purging something daily all month.  So far so good. There’s something gratifying about checking things off a list for me.  Baby steps, right? That’s part of seeking some balance for me is not going over board and burning myself out with some super crazy idea of what I can accomplish by being out of balance and hyperfocused in a singular area.
May your 2018 find you freeing yourself of conventional ideals and wrapping your head around your own balance!

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Unexpected Treasure Hunts

IMG_1714This holiday season I had most everything wrapped early.  It was neat and tidy under the trees.  However despite this gleeful task being completed while burning the early morning oil several days I still felt so very anxious and unsettled.  Daily I tackled a to-do list that wasn’t much shorter when I finished than when I began because the tasks only grew in details.  Daily I resolved to take care of me and not get overwhelmed.  However life happened and next thing I knew it was December 15 and I was singing “Happy Birthday” to my eleven-year-old.

So here’s some clarity that I’ve only discovered this week.  Our family has truly tried to continue working on balance.  We are much better.  Yet today as I discovered that I again dropped the ball on a mundane task that required little brain power I found myself beating myself up.  Losing sight on the delightful and quiet Christmas we had enjoyed.  Losing my hold on the fact that we were together without drama.  Dropping the ball on the fact that I am human despite my best efforts and sometimes I just need to breathe.

So back to the clarity part.  My life, my brain, my car, my make-up drawer, my closet, my jewelry box, my pantry, and my laundry room are too cluttered.  I have made a huge Goodwill run, donated four bags of clothes to a local charity, stressed my husband to the max with trash bags of stuff and purged tons.  Truth is I’m nowhere close to done!  The other reality is this isn’t my first rodeo.  I have decluttered my life more times than I can count of the nonsense yet I still can’t seem to get a strong handle on keeping it that way!  Tonight I got rid of free t-shirts I never took out of the package.  HONESTLY!  I found four Christmas presents I pre-bought and stuffed away only to forget them.
Most importantly I’ve laughed and cried a little as I’ve located sweet notes from my boys, unique jewelry my dad purchased for me and I love I just forgot about! I’ve found books I started and never finished and to-do lists of tasks never completed.  I found the key chain my husband bought for me on my sweet sixteen and the locket he purchased the year after that for Christmas.  I’ve tossed out-of-date jeans that were to big and a few that were to small.  Right now as I type I’m feeling a bit calmer and significantly more content in my own skin.  The why of that resolution is pretty obvious, I’ve cleared a physical path and the emotional path is falling right in behind it.  So I will not buy another craft project until I complete ten of the ones I’ve started!  I will not but another pair of pants until I’m down another size. I am 100% sure I do not need another pair of black shoes, or a purse, of any kind.  My scarf obsession must soon cease and my contentment in my space must increase.
My little treasure hunt has given me a new wardrobe of shoes, jewelry, and sweaters.  It’s also helped me refocus on my priorities.  I’ve made some new lists but they are bucket lists.  My tasks are still important I have to focus better in 2018 on making the most of my time at work, the gym, study, and most importantly in my home.  In the meantime, I also need to quit beating myself up and turn the steering wheel a little more toward the center.  The only thing normal about life is that it’s quickly and frequently new.

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Self Creating Chaos

autumn-974882_960_720“Moooommmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!” Are my children the only children that make a three letter word fourteen syllables? Do they alone find a way to bellow from the other room? Is there a reason that their super power is to walk past their father to stand at the bathroom door and ask me for something? Could I just get from the car to the backdoor once without answering three questions? The answers are pretty simple and the truth is harsh but realistic. No mine aren’t the only ones, they partner my existence with the answers to questions and needs, I made them this way and taught them to act this way.  Yes, they bypass their father, and yes to an extent that is totally my fault. From the moment they took their first breath I dictated what they ate, what they wore, what they
played with. I gave them things to read and music to listen to. When someone else intervened I often quickly cut them off laying claim on “my children.” God gave them to me, it was my job to raise them.

Bless their poor dad, my husband. When he tried to plan or address any of the above I often corrected his choices with what I thought was best. When I left him home alone I came home and frequently criticized what he had done in my absence. So let’s be honest. I cannot be really shocked when by default at this point they bypass the assumed momma drama and just stalk me to fix things. One of the things that the women in my generation need to accept is that we created our chaos. We decided we could have it all. We decided to both fry the bacon and bring it home, and we dared anyone to interrupt us. We shuffled everyone around us into our color coded day planners and insisted that we could do it all. On a regular basis we have predictable meltdowns as the families we are raising stand gawking about and then we snap at them for holding their hands up waiting for instruction.

Lately I’ve been very convicted about how I’ve created my own chaotic nonsense. Not to say that others haven’t added to it, they have. However, it’s sheer nonsense to play the blame game until we own our own choices. We cannot have it all. It’s true, our bodies were not intended to juggle a twelve hour workday and a twenty four hour nurturing home life. We cannot be the friends we intend to be while staying perfectly manicured and keeping picture perfect homes. Occasionally we have to embrace the coffee stains for quick stops in carpool lines and muddy floor mats from cross country practice. Every once in awhile we need to smile as the bellowing lingers from the other room because it means we are needed. Daily we need to be grateful for the friends, family, teachers, and spouses that help us get it all done, even if they do not do it our way.

I am the queen of the martyrs and the whiners. Royalty among those striving to be perfect until I strike mental collapse. I forget important things because I’ve stuff to much in my brain. I miss important moments because I got too caught up in the little things. Although those around me have their own wrongs, I have lived in a state of why me at times that lines my pockets with regret instead of gratitude. Sometimes I just need to breathe. One of the most successful women I’ve ever met once said to a large group something has stuck with me forever, “We need to stop caring how the dishwasher was loaded and just be grateful we aren’t the ones that loaded it.” That has stuck with me for quite a long time.

Listen, I do not have all the answers. Just yesterday I melted down on a child for messing up my nicely folded laundry basket and freaked out over leaves tracked in at the backdoor. However, what I do know is this. Until I learn to breathe I’m going to keep feeling like I can’t. Until I learn to be grateful for the little things, the big breakthroughs will continue to elude me. Until I embrace my own normal and quit searching for the idealized perfection I’ve created in my mind I’ll remain stagnant and dissatisfied. May I become grateful for the bellows and disorganized mess because someday I shall grieve its absence. May I accept my own reality for its beauty and may I stop seeking normal.

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The Witch in the Mirror

home-2318457_960_720There are seventy five days left in this year at the moment I am writing this. Seventy five days to stay focused on the routines that I pray continue to bring me better health. Truth is that I see amazing progress, but slow progress. I can run upstairs, button jeans I couldn’t before, not get winded dragging my laptop and work bag to the car, and I am not completely exhausted by 3pm every day. Changes less visible to other but obvious to me is that my skin feels better and is less dry, my gut health is tremendously improved, and I feel more confident in my own skin. Let’s be real in ten months I’ve really only lost twenty pounds but I have gained the world in many ways.

My gym friends are my people. We are a dozen different sizes and abilities but we have seen each other at our most vulnerable. Even if you never see someone other than those three sweaty hours a week they are yours forever. No, seriously, it’s a crazy bond you can’t explain. They’ve seen you ugly, sweaty, whiny, and spent yet can still look you in the eye. They’ve seen you conquer challenges that to be honest were more mental than physical and cheered you on with encouragement and the right amount of sarcasm. They notice the little things like that you can push that sled faster, or that the bar has gone from fifty pounds to eighty pounds. They’ve laughed with you when you tripped over your own feet. They have been there when your family thought you were nuts and when well-intentioned people say things like, “you’re working really hard I just expected to see more change.”

I stand here with seventy five days left to accomplish sticking to routines. I didn’t set New Year’s resolutions because I always fail and I’m consistently left feeling abandoned by myself. However, as I look at what remains I’ve got to be honest I feel just as abandoned. For the last week I’ve told myself that four days a week of meeting those routine goals is better than nothing and that is totally true. I’ve tried to convince myself to remember there are weeks I was seven out of seven. However, what keeps allowing myself to breath in my own condemnation is what has allowed me to stay off course at times. When I take a moment to completely be honest with myself I am my worst enemy. I am the only thing that stands between me and what I long for. I can blame clients, kids, and caring for others. I can truthfully point fingers at mean people, and a work regimen that is in constant metamorphosis.

However, the reality is my only arch enemy is me. I’d never ask a client to put off what they need to take my call, but I’ll stop mid-stretch to answer their call and never return to what I started. My heart would never dream of telling my family that I’m just not feeding them today, however, I’ll go all day without a bite and then feed like a ravenous wolf on nonsense that was processed from the bowels of hell. Beth is Beth’s worst enemy. Now listen, I’m a realist in many ways despite my reputation for Pollyanna optimism. Those closest to me in my immediate family think I can’t see the forest for the trees and I always see the best in folks. Truth is I try to. However, at the end of the day I know people gonna talk and start stuff no matter how hard I try. I know that I have screwed up and there are people that will ride that hate train straight outta this life and that is on them not me. I can ignore those people most days, not every day but most.

The one thing I cannot fight, the one nemesis for which I have no cure is the person in the mirror. That witch wears me out! She tells me daily every mistake I’ve ever made. She’s in my ear at the gym every morning I enter asking what I am thinking even trying. She steers my car to every drive thru when I am tired. She plants seeds of discord and doubt at every turn about the people who I know love me, and she whispers at every turn, “JUST GIVE UP.” Learning to lay her down and ignore her kills me. Learning to love her enough to refute her discord exhausts my soul. However, I’m 100% sure that I am not alone and that she haunts most of us. She will not win because I am certain that she can be loved into success and today I choose to not give up on her. May my new normal embrace her, may my new normal cherish her, and may your new normal join me.

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Color Me Beautiful

treeIf you had to draw a picture of yourself what would it look like?  No I’m not sharing mine here.  Not yet, it’s still a work in progress.  Although it likely always will be.  Truth is if a drew a self portrait, whether it be of what I see in the mirror, of what what you see when you look at me it would be very different from reality.  Mostly because my creativity far exceeds my talent and I’m certainly an abstract creator for my own reality.  So if you used symbolism for your self portrait what would that be?  What best represents you and where you are right now?  As I’ve pondered this lately I’ve come up with creative answers to this question.  I’ve settled on my obsession with trees.  I love trees and their ever changing beauty regardless of the season.  In the new year the tree is dormant and leafless yet the ice lingers on it shimmering in the daylight and moonlight. Even in dormancy it promises new life and potential.

In the spring the new growth slowly emerges and then explodes on the scene with beauty and still yet promises to change in the summer to a glorious harbor of safety from the sun in it’s shade.  In the fall the tree burst into flaming colors and assures us it’s still here even as it fades back to sleep for the winter.  Promising us another glorious and joyful display similar but ever changing from the year before.  If I had to create a self portrait of me it would certainly be that tree.  I have moments that I cannot find a creative morsel anywhere in my soul.  Then there are days that all I have to offer my existence as I go through the motions, however, slowly I rise to my full and wonderful potential and it’s amazing to live and wonderful to watch.  I try desperately to be a refuge for those I love and I see to give it my all in those summer and fall moments.  Sometimes I give too much and I plunge from fall to winter like the first storm of the season and then the cycle continues.

I’m starting a project today… for just me.  A creative project that I’m going to give all that I am to.  In order to start and to keep my focus I’m working on the image of this tree in my mind.  I’m working to see it’s potential and to see where it can improve.  I’m seeking where it needs pruning and where it needs light and I pray that when the end of the year rolls around I’ve got a finished piece of artwork and of creativity that I am both proud of and that I can share with those I love.  I’m going to have to beat the odds because truth is consistency is simply not my super power.  However, I know I can live up to the potential of my self portrait and I pray that you will soon join me as we create our own new normal.

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A Deeper Look at Self and an Amen from Mom’s Everywhere

comparison-is-the-thief-of-Today my supervisor and dear friend sent me a personality test to take.  Being the knowledge junkie I am I was excited to dive in and anxious to see what I needed to embrace and what I needed to improve.  I invite you to try this out as I found it to be incredibly interesting and insightful.  You can find it by clicking here!

What I quickly learned is that I am a campaigner.  Okay, I know clearly this is not headline news! However, the rest of what I learned is what I feel will spur me to a better balance of embrace and change.  One of the things I learned – or maybe was just brought to light – was that tons of my decisions and reactions are emotion based.  I love new ideas and love embracing those but when they become routine I quickly get bored and move on.  If I’m discontent I’m happy to move on without fixing things… ouch! I’m terribly self-conscious and extraordinarily compassionate even when there’s likely no need to be.  As I dig deeper into this entire report, and trust me, it’s lengthy I see answers to many why’s in my past.

Here’s what I know to be true.  Nobody should be defined by such an analysis but we should all be self aware enough to look at something like this and not only see the room for improvements but also allow ourselves to shine in the areas that we see good.  Truth is I love to rally the troops, now this leaves my heart on my sleeve.  I have to do better at finding a balance in that.  I’m open with my feelings yet I’m easily discouraged when someone challenges my passion or questions my sincerity.  The point I’m trying to make here is that we all need to learn to embrace who we are and be defined by both the positives and the negatives others see in us.  I was found to be very “turbulent” meaning, I’m pretty self-conscious and have a great deal of inner conflict.  More glaringly important is that my youngest son took this test and was also very “turbulent” and I cannot help but to wonder if this is who he is, or who he’s watched me be and learned that behavior.  It’s truly made me spend some time today in reflection.  I’ve now fussed at all three of my guys to stay out of the room so I could finish reading and typing my thoughts.

Turbulent is a tricky word.  It’s definition is characterized by conflict, disorder, or confusion; not controlled or calm.  Ew…. not a great word association.  However, I will challenge myself, and you to think of somethings that could be potentially driving our internal angst.  A couple of weeks ago I again removed social media from my phone.  I left it on my tablet, which I don’t as frequently access.  While sharing this with my spouse who is pretty annoyed with my on again off again relationship with social media, he said, “I just think all that stuff makes you unnecessarily anxious.” Offended at my resemblance to his remark I scoffed his comment and moved on to what I wanted to read.  However, similar to my last blog post I am realizing the truth in that statement.  I never set out to create comparison, but the reality is it happens.

I feel like I have to run at full tilt and accomplished a great deal to log in to see super mom who is perfectly framed in head to toe Lilly Pulitzer when I’m in my t-shirt and one of three pairs of black workout capris with smeared eye liner and bed head that mystifies me because I can’t remember the last time I saw my bed!  I feel accomplished when my kids eat a protein smoothie for breakfast instead of sugar cereal only to see some awesome friend of mine has prepared a three course packed lunch in coordinating containers with artesian water.  My house is lived in, it’s not filthy, it’s not June Cleaver’s and I want the kids to feel welcome bringing friends home.  However there are moments that sends me into a panic because their mommas have posted pictures that I am certain came out of Better Homes and Gardens.  Suddenly my house appears to be an upset of “What Not to Wear”, meets “Hoarders; Buried Alive.”

I’m internally conflicted because on any given day I will get up at 3:45am and work my large ass off to come home and prepare healthy lunch and dinner, only to give into my desire for Blizzard and Ale-8 at 9pm!  I’m internally conflicted because there are days I am an encourager and an amazing mom by day and tumultuous Roseanne meets Frankie Heck at night.  I’m turbulent because I’m completely unaware of how my size 16 butt could begin to be sexy at forty-one.   There’s a hurricane inside me because for the 150 things I crossed off my to-do list today their 2000 cousins decided to hop on board.  My insides are in knots because there are really adorable women posting amazing articles about everything they get done in a day and I cannot find time to read the damn article!

So okay, maybe the hub’s has a point, all the information is giving me overload and it is possible that ignorance is bliss.  The reality is I have good, involved, balanced kids.  They didn’t create themselves and despite my mess, with God’s mercy and grace they are doing well.  My house is a place my children embrace as their personal sanctuary.  They adore the mangy mutt on the front porch that leaves his hair everywhere and drags our trash about when the boys forget to hinge the lid on the can.  The truth is my teenager has now said more than once that I “look pretty good for a mom without looking like you try to hard”, I’m taking that as a compliment.  My kitchen is never completely tidy because I love to cook for my guys and their friends.  I use my Vitamix no less than three times a day and yes it takes two crockpots and an instant pot all out for me to function on a daily basis.  I work hard and I’m back to wearing heels and jeans I couldn’t button, and my gym crowd in my tribe so who cares if I mess up from time to time.  (Note to self: Blizzards at buy one get one .99 today!) The fact that the to-do list grows means I’m good at what I do and get the chance to keep doing it.  I read what I can and glean what I must and maybe the social media is about to leave the tablet too because I want to be more expressive and less turbulent.  Maybe the only new about my normal is that it’s ever-changing, but the reality is I’m not alone and many of you are shouting amen in your stained t-shirt and workout capris as we speak!

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No Fuss No Muss Just Bliss

IMG_20170902_201538007I just rejoined society this morning.  Logging into social media I smiled at the pictures of folks gathering with family and friends.  A tinge of guilt struck as I noted two parties I was invited to and didn’t attend this weekend.  I wanted to, but I needed not to.  A wave of mommy guilt as I noticed the kids’ friends at things they were invited to but I didn’t take them to the last three days emerged but I quickly strove to dismiss it.  By Friday last week the weather boldly imitated my heart.  Cold, tired, weathered, and gloomy. The complete opposite of my typical personality.  Nobody but me to blame.  I had ignored my need to relax and decompress to the point of completely running myself into the ground.  Putting on a smiling face, and a snarky tude to those who had to deal with me daily I alone had chosen to push myself to this embarrassing and ugly place.

We had Friday evening commitments and I would rather have been beat than fulfill them.  I adored our son’s theatre company, I wanted to spend time alone with our youngest son.  However the idea of maneuvering the rain and the muck to get everyone where they needed to be took my battery light from red to non-existent.  We had a cross country meet the next morning, we had parties I wanted to attend over the weekend.  In between it all we wanted camp at least one night on the farm to try our new tent and there was food to prepare, laundry to do, and a house that looked abandoned.  I just wanted to disappear.
Due to the weather our meet was cancelled and I was grateful, yet felt so very guilty.  My very practical and sensible husband pushed me to cancel everything else and we have enjoyed three days that my rear end has not yet been placed in the seat of the car.  We fulfilled our Friday commitments and then shut it down.  Creating a campsite on our farm we cooked over an open fire, slept until we didn’t want to anymore, read through articles we’d saved for “later”, tried new recipes and only checked our phones a couple times a day.  I let my children have treats I normally don’t, I let myself go without makeup or to be honest even a hairbrush.  I let the dogs lay at my feet and get hair on the hem of my pants (a normal pet peeve!), and I left the grass we tracked in on the living room floor for two whole days before I cleaned it.
It was freeing to just shut down and to sleep under the stars in my own backyard.  It was also stressful as I thought of the to-do list that could lengthen as I walked away.  Yet today, as we rejoin life and get back to things I feel a refreshed vigor for my journey and I certainly like the people I share my home with much more! We were all getting so grumpy with each other over absolutely nothing at all.
I listened to a sermon by Steven Furtick this week that I found to be extremely pertinent to how I have been doing life over the last few months.  The discussion was on why are we so anxious and one of his points really hit home to me.  Summarizing and not quoting, God cannot give me the peace I long for until I make room for peace.  If my brain is full of social media, and focused on all that’s going on in local and world news then He cannot grant peace because there is simply no room.
Truth is I’m an information junkie.  I clip articles and pin to my heart’s content on Pinterest to the point that my brain is so full that my primary reaction to everything becomes overwhelmed.  By leading me to stop the madness so to speak, my husband gave me an opportunity to recharge and to rejoin life to my full potential.  Allowing him to lead could create a whole new blog post for another time, but I’m grateful, even if I’m a bit anxious about what I’ve missed.
As I speak we each have a to-do list for the rest of the day and we are working together to clean our home and tear down our campsite in an effort to present our best selves for the rest of the week.  I don’t feel hurried this afternoon and I can’t name 10 things I’ve accomplished but I am satisfied that I tried a couple things on that Pinterest board today and they were huge successes.  I’ve had serious writer’s block for weeks despite a list of potential topics that would overwhelm the busiest writer, yet today the words flow easily.  No make-up, no fuss, I’ve worn and washed the same mission trip t-shirt three times since Thursday because it’s just comfy, and I’m delighted at how the dishwasher hums in satisfaction of home cooked meals for my family.  My boys slept under the stars again last night with bellies full of s’mores and the scent of campfire lingers on the laundry I’m washing.  It’s been a truly simple few days, yet for the first time in a long time I’m really excited to go to work tomorrow.  I’ve always loved my job but felt inadequate lately.  Now I feel ready to be challenged again.  Maybe the one huge takeaway from all this is that we create our own peace just as we create our own chaos.  True, other factors play into our life, however, we control us.  Maybe my new normal will include more campfires and tents and less calculating my success in my ARC planner.  Maybe I’ve learned to spend more time listening than doing, or maybe I’ll just be glad my husband has so he can keep teaching me.