My Journey in Pounds

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I don't set New Year's Resolutions

As I'm staring at my laptop I have two dogs next to me, sleeping.  I have a cup of Spearmint/Peppermint/Tarragon tea.  I have my feet up.  I am sore all over - my back up to my neck and shoulders.  I feel tired.  I smell lavender and peppermint because those are the essential oils I was in the mood for today.

I've made breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, taken the dogs out to play, worked out for 12 minutes, stretched and did yoga for another 8, fed the kids lunch, and started prepping for dinner.  I read my daily devotional and my Bible.  I've spoken to my husband, spoken to my boss, perused Facebook and Weilos.

I... feel... so...blegh!

If I don't even feel like reading, it's not a good thing.  The exercise lifted my mood a little bit.  And talking to the hubs, I'll be going to the gym later tonight.  And I did sleep ok the past two days - much better than last week.

I ran another 5K in the snow, yesterday.  Beat my original time by a minute and 19 seconds.

I have no reason to feel blegh, I just do.  I'm not worried or stressed.  The kids aren't behaving bad.  I'm not hungry.  Nothing is bothering me except that I feel blegh.

It has been a good month.  Christmas pageant at the church, some hard-put hours at my job.  Time as a family, playing board games, watching movies, and eating food that I put my heart into.  Then spending time with friends and eating food that they put their heart into.  The kids got great presents and are super happy.  We're doing Bible devotionals every night.  I could recall wonderful after wonderful moment from my last blog until now!

On Sunday, after my work shift, I went to a holiday party sponsored by the church at the mall where I work.  It was free ice skating and bowling.  I did ice skating for 45 minutes - and held my balance, didn't fall, didn't spend the whole time holding the wall.  I did spend some time holding a kid... but I was pretty happy with some exercise, some fun, some food and fellowship.

So why am I so blegh right now?

Maybe I'm just tired.  Maybe I'm tired of the same ol', same ol', needing something new to excite me. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful.  I feel peace, joy and thankfulness when I count my blessings and I realize that we're doing great.  Maybe it's not Reality TV type awesome, but God has been good to us.

I'm just wondering if what I need is a fresh new vision to motivate me.

I don't want my feelings to be dependent of my circumstances.  December looked exciting on the calendar: Hawaii, caroling, parties, Christmas. Woo-hoo! Put the scale away this month. It's time to be merry and bright!

I don't even have a January 2015 calendar.  And if I did, except for this Saturday, I'd have nothing on it.  But my work schedule (blegh).  Should I be less joyful because my calendar isn't full of fun and exciting things in January? No.  And yet, I feel so blegh.

Maybe it's SADD.  I go through this tango every winter, from December through February.  I lose all motivation and inspiration - I just mechanically get through my day, checking things off my list as I go.  We have lived through 5 Alaskan winters and this tropical South American girl just doesn't thrive here this season.

It also doesn't help that finances get tighter... So all the things I think, "Ooh! I'd like to do that!" Then I realize, "I probably won't be able to do that until March or so when the cash is a bit more free flowing."  I shoot myself down before I start dreaming...

If I allow myself to dream, for the sake of this blog post, I'd love to join a CrossFit gym, particularly condition my body for obstacle courses.  I'd like to do a pull up and get across a set of monkey bars - something I've never done in my life.  I'd like to do the Spartan race and about 3-4 5ks, maybe even a 10K next year.  I'd like to attend classes at a gym and not just show up to lift weights and use the treadmill.  I love Zumba!

I would like to sign up for two medals a month through US Road Running and other virtual races, and run my little heart out, and keep one set of medals every month for the Christmas tree next year, and gift the other medals to close friends and family.

There are restaurants I want to try out - I have not eaten out in a while! Once this month - Christmas weekend - and in Hawaii (we didn't have a choice there).  And there are places in Anchorage I want to go eat at.

I'd like a heart rate monitor to see how hard I'm exercising so I don't fool myself.  Just because I think I'm dying doesn't mean my body is really at it's limit.

And then there are dreams that seem so far away I don't even picture them clearly in my head - I won't allow myself to envision them, and feel the pain in my heart that follows...

But I read in my devotionals that God keeps a record of all my tears, and some of those tears are grief over dreams I've let go of, that I revisit in my heart's cemetery of sorts - where I walk by, remember all the things that won't happen, and mourn my losses... and move on.  I've prayed and asked God about these matters, and He didn't respond the way I wanted Him to, and now I lack the faith to ask God to do much of anything else.

Just our daily bread.  And our health.  The kids' safety.  Nothing more.  I don't know if I can handle more disappointment in life, and the best way to not be disappointed is to not desire or expect anything.  That way if it comes, it's a pleasant surprise, but if it doesn't, then you've learned to live without it.

If you're reading this, you're probably thinking, "Well, that's why you feel so blegh!"  And I'm sure there's a gazillion things unbiblical about how I'm feeling in this post.  And I know that others, with stronger faith, could offer a reprimand or two and tell me to read more Joyce Meyers or Max Lucado and just "believe".  I can give the whole, "be spiritual! You're a child of the King!" talk to myself as good as anyone, because no one has learned the art of fake-it-till-you-make-it better than me.

But the point of my blog as a whole wasn't to impress you, but rather be transparent.  The confession is, I don't set New Years Resolutions.  I hate goal setting period - I feel like it sets me up for failure.  I don't put numbers or measurable statistics up for me to visualize.  My goals are more of suggestions, things I'm going to try to do, if I can, when I can.  I choose to make smaller, daily choices that I can manage.  At the end of the day, God is the one who opens doors and closes them, so I might as well just wait to see what He allows into my life instead of beating my knuckles bloody on closed doors as I did in years past.

You may have read this far and thought, "You still say God is good?!"  Yes, and I believe it with all my heart.  Our relationship issues are a reflection of my weaknesses and failures, not of His power or His love.  In His amazing kindness God gave me amazing blessings this year that I didn't ask for or deserve; I lost about 30 lbs.  I ran four 5Ks when I only aimed for one.  I read through my Bible this year.  I started this blog (and I haven't given up yet!).  I honestly did not believe I was going to see Hawaii until the plane took off - I thought for sure there was going to be some error or tragedy to keep us from going, up until the last minute at the airport.  I wasn't expecting to go.  Vacation in Hawaii is something nice that happens to other people, but it's not really my lot in life. I was healed of Rheumatoid Arthritis - all while I was more than prepared to live with it until the day I die, but my husband had the faith to reach out and ask God otherwise... it was during a prayer of healing that wasn't even meant for me, but for youth pastors, which I am not.  And a month after that event I walked in to my last Rheumatologist appointment, and blood work confirmed I was healed. I didn't have the faith to ask God for any of these things, and yet in His kindness towards me He blessed me anyways.  Just to show me that He knows my heart and He cares for me.  Yup. He's good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting Past the Winter Blues

Does anybody else find themselves up a notch on the cranky level during the holidays, or is it just me?  It can't be just me.  The kids are getting on each other's nerves, the animals have gone nuts, and I can't seem to focus on anything...  It's the longest case of Cabin Fever ever... And I'm trying to work through it.

We are still surrounded by ice and no snow, which stinks.. It's all white outside but you can't build a snow man and you can't go sledding.  You can't run the dogs outside.  So we figured this was the best time to catch up on indoor stuff:

We went to see the Nutcracker Ballet.  A live performance is always inspiring because the kids can see skills that require practice and talent, and it's not all CGI'd!  Then we saw a live basketball game.  I highly recommend icky weather for museums, plays, ballets, etc when being outdoors is not as pleasurable.

We are catching up on books. Best time to read! Except we don't have a lot of good reading light, so our window is narrow, but we read as much as we can. 

We are crafting. Knitting, drawing, sewing.  Practicing recorders. Baking/cooking.  Doing Christmas art.

We leave plenty of room for pretend play.  It's amazing how my children can take legos and use their imaginaitons.  They make block people - like something out of minecraft - and off they go.  They don't even need actual dolls!

In all this, it doesn't quite cure the restlessness.  So the kids have made it a point to do the exercises on my 21 Day Fix program.  They pick one and do 30 minutes every so often.  I'm doing them too and going to the gym at night with the husband.  Exercise cures my grumpyness.  If I find myself annoyed by things that really shouldn't, I pop in a DVD and just start lifting weights.  Then I'm too tired to be grumpy about anything.

On that note, when I first did the 21 Day Fix in March, my light weights were... none... and my heavy weights were 3 lbs.  Sometime close to May I did 3lb light weights and 8lb heavy weights.  This time around my light weights are one or both of the 8lb dumbells and my heavy weights are one or both of the 15 lb dumbells.  Progress!

It's not enough for me to work out inside though.  I have to run.  So I have to go to the gym.  And I like squats and deadlifts with some real weight - around 80 lbs.  So I have to go to the gym.  At the beginning of this blog I prided myself in exercising without stepping foot in a gym.  But now that I can't run around the block or do real strength training for my legs, I feel that the gym is necessary.  I'm totally  looking forward to being off the treadmill and outdoors again!

I'd like other work out programs too.  Not P90X.  But Piyo, or Jillian Michaels, or Zumba/Dance related work outs.  I'd even try Boxing/Mixed Martial Arts.  Possibly even Barr. I just get bored.  Sometime next year my husband and I are going to join a CrossFit gym in town and train with a trainer.  And I'd like to take some live classes. But finances being what they are, I have to wait on that, and I'd like to do stuff at home.  Plus, stuff at home is fun because the kids join in.  It's nice to see them try!

And the older two kids are starting gymnastics in January, and possibly swimming if I can coordinate it for February or March.  Gymnastics will definitely challenge them physically.

Unfortunately, the dogs are still exerting all their energy in my tiny living room, and my furniture and Christmas tree have paid the price for it occasionally.  But that's temporary.

Just like it's temporary for the youngest one to not really be in anything or do anything.  Except he doesn't get it and he feels left out.  Caleb wants to take classes and read books and do book reports.  His all-time phrase is, "Mom, what do I do now?"  And it can get exhausting.  But he's also very helpful.  He refills all the water bottles with filtered water.  He sets the table.  He feeds the fish.  He just wants to DO something all the time.  Caleb and both dogs... Constantly following me around, counting on me to DO something.

And all I want to do, in the winter, is take long naps, drink good coffee, and snuggle under a blanket.  If I don't exercise at home I'll fall asleep!  But this is temporary.

I miss Hawaii... I don't think that's temporary. I think I would love to live in that climate and have access to the beach.  I can spend the rest of my life swimming, surfing (I will learn how before I die!!), and running in the sun.  I think the vacation there ruined me from Alaska life.  I think it made the Winter Blues worse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Inspiration has left the building... I guess I should chase after it.

I am writing this blog finding myself kind of ... dull... on every side.

As I write, I am finally - at noon - getting a little natural sunlight coming in through the balcony, not quite enough to be able to read by it, but it's all I'll get until about 3pm when it starts getting dark again.  I have chest and nasal congestion and I feel sicky... 3 cups of coffee, not really eating, barely moving sicky.  Yesterday I sprayed chloraseptic into my eyes.  And it's been a weather pattern of melting snow, freezing rain, then freezing temperatures - creating everything outside my door step an ice skating ring.  So I can't exercise outside and I'm too claustrophobic to work out inside with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a cat (we got a new-ish foster-ish lab/husky-ish runt, who had me chase him around the neighborhood yesterday after he slipped through a hole in the fence of our yard, but that's a whole 'nother story). 

So I've lost the inspiration for everything, and I go through this every winter for a little bit.  I'm not exactly dieting or eating healthy.  I'm not exercising.  I'm not really into writing... I'm not really into the homeschooling either... just blegh...

But this is always temporary.  Vitamins and meds kick in, I turn on my SADD lamp a few minutes every morning, and within a week or so I get past it.  Christmas is right around the corner and there will be so much stuff going on that I will be back to my old self.  So I am writing this post for two reasons:

1) To encourage you!  Everything we love to do, everything we're meant to do, doesn't always FEEL great. There are seasons where life feels a little dull, where even special things feel like a job.  But it's only a season, and like winter, it won't be this way forever.  Review your priorities, find the top three or five things that are important to you, and choose to do something every day - even if small - towards those priorities whether you feel like it or not.  Breakthrough is coming as sure as spring is around the corner!  Now is not the time to quit!

And if need be, go hug someone or surround yourself with some encouragement to remind you of why you are doing what you're doing in the first place.

2) To remind me, in writing, of all the good things that have been going on, all the dreaming I was doing, and all the things I was excited about since last post.  It is a physical exercise in counting your blessings.  I learned this from a dearly loved, now departed saint - Nettie "Jo" Gorder, who could answer any of life's conundrum with the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and a reminder to think of the positives.  It's been a few weeks since I attended her celebration of life ceremony and I still miss the way I felt when she prayed for me.  But if she was a phone call away right now, inspite of her health or her personal problems, this is what she would tell me to do.  So here I go.

I still have not seen the Northern Lights, and we took a break from chasing them around Thanksgiving.  We had glorious, over the top, eat-till-you're-full dinners with friends, stayed up late, and filled with love.  We cleaned our house and took a break from educational work to help get the house in order for Christmas and for our 10 year anniversary trip to Hawaii - I knew I did not want to come home to clean after a few days in paradise, so we pushed hard.  I was super proud of the kiddos!  They scrubbed walls and windows, organized shelves, did laundry, and even though by now all that "clean" magic is kinda' gone, I did get to relax after we got back thanks to their sweat equity.

Before I left to Hawaii, I had a few things in the works which got me excited.  For one thing, I was looking into for corporate sponsorship for blogs.  I didn't necessarily want to bombard this page with ads, although I don't mind a few, but I was interesting in writing product reviews for cash.  I'm in!  As soon as I find a way to try a product or service that will ship to Alaska, I will be more than happy to let everyone know my thoughts about it in writing and get paid to do it this time.  I do it all the time anyways.  Might as well make a little money of the side.  I was also praying about a book idea - I've been wanting to write a book for a while.  So I'm reading on that... And I have an idea for a fiction romance, which has a funny back story to it...

... so very early in the year, in January, I was depressed about being unemployed and finances were tight.  I read that there was a government program that researched why "50 Shades of Gray" was so successful, and they basically spent millions looking into "adult romance" which, from my perspective, contains no real romance and it's all about sex... anyhow, I read this and thought, "Really?! Millions of dollars going into this trash?  I've been in the wrong industry all this time! Here I was trying to work in the veterinary field - forget that! I'm going to write romance novels and become a millionaire!"  At the time, I had not even HEARD of 50 Shades and when I said I was going to write GOOD romance novels a lot of friends hinted at this, but I didn't get the reference at all, so when I looked into it at my friend Angie's house and she shed some light on what the 50 Shades hype was about, I e-bought the first book in the trilogy and speed-read it.  There were points in the story line that had me curious enough to read the second one, because I was sincerely looking for romance - and it's there, hidden behind a lot of dark, psychological issues and far too much sado-masochism to skip over in order to find it, so I didn't bother reading the last book in the trilogy.  But I was still convinced that I could write a better love story.  And now, at the end of the year, I think I finally have some sort of a plot I can work around. But when I said, "I'm going to write a romance novels and become a millionaire!" I was in no way serious... I made that Facebook comment dripping with sarcasm and bitterness, and God is up in heaven like, "Well actually... funny you should mention that... I was hoping you'd redeem romance from this secular industry and write a more believable love story..."

I also am working with other lady bloggers and have little projects to help write and participate in their blogs, with Bible or parenting devotionals and short little thoughts.  I am a writer, and I cannot help it.  And writing I will do.

Another thing I was excited about was running.  And since I'm training for a 10K (on a treadmill, when I can get to the gym, if I ever get back...), I was looking into some resources.  I ran a 5K in the snow around my house post-turkey comma to relieve some of the guilt of recreational eating... And I connected, one way or another, with a non-profit organization called "Girls on the Run", which mentors young girls and trains them to run a 5K.  So I'm in communications to see how involved I'll be there, and I'm praying about it. Peak season is February through May, I don't know how involved I'll be yet - I still have some phone calls to make but I feel icky when I talk right now.  It still gets me excited.  I learn a lot from running; about myself, about the world, and about my faith.  I've learned a tangible, practical, I-can-use-this-now form of perseverance through running that I apply as a part of every day life.  I would love to pass this on.

And in working with younger kids, I talked to our Children's Pastor at church to see if my husband and I can get more involved in the Wednesday night Bible Studies with the 6-12 year olds.  Two of those kids are mine.  And they all read and know their way around the Bible.  With the right curriculum I can totally do this, it's only about an hour and a half at the most.  And our church has the best kids in the world.

And I plugged in with a faith-based homeschooling cooperative and agreed to help teach a class or subject next season, since they have blessed me so much by taking care of Fridays for me, and it's very well organized.  This is the group my kiddos and I are going caroling with on Friday, through Providence Extended-Care (a hospice facility).

And the older two kids asked our Pastor and were baptized before we left! We were all pretty happy, they had been wanting to do that most of this year.

Also before Hawaii I got tickets to see the Nutcracker Ballet this Friday, and Paul secured tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters comedy show on Sunday, so my kids will have a blast this weekend!

And Hawaii was glorious! And much needed! That's a blog in and of itself.

Except when we got back, I found out my kids were pretty much spawns of Satan while we were gone, and we spent the weekend back in mourning as they permanently lost their hand-held video games and dealt with other disciplinary actions...  It was a sad weekend that started this week in the slumps.  Which is why I was stuck in the slumps.  Christmas cheer literally evaporated when all I felt was disappointment and anger at the kids, and Paul and I had a strong parenting point to make: Disrespect is never okay.  And there are severe consequences to burning bridges, as they had, that isn't fixed with just saying "I'm sorry" as if the damage wasn't done.  It was HARD for me to forgive them, and even more difficult for them to comprehend that even though I do forgive them, the disciplinary actions were not vanishing.  Harder still for me was not to punish them until next year - at some point I thought that if the kids opened a single Christmas present I was leaving my husband and them for good... and through tears and prayer I realized I had moved past discipline and I was seeking vengeance upon my children for the pain they had caused me.  What a dark place to be for a homeschooling mom.  What a dark way to start this week.  I have friends tell me, "it's just because they missed you", and "they were only being kids", but I do not accept that as justification and I hope and pray that we can build a bridge, get over this, and not revisit this again... because if they disrespect another adult in our absence, it will NOT be pretty.

Another reason why I needed to write this blog, and review, and remind myself that things were going good before we left, and desperately trying to pick up where we left off, trying to re-focus on positives, gripping the message of Christmas and the Gospel with both hands because it's so crucial that I apply it now!  So my confession for this post is that I have forgiveness issues from which even my children are not exempt from.  But my humanity reminds me that I need to rely on Christ and I can't do any of this on my own strength.  I don't want to be that mom that drags an issue out and brings it up for days and weeks and months or even years.  I don't want to be the kind of mom that punishes the children all month, long after the disciplinary value is gone.  I definitely could be if I was parenting out of my own strength.

But just like I'm seeing the living room a little bit lighter than yesterday, I'm also seeing the light at the end of the dark tunnel.  The perseverance I've learned through running I haven't done since November 29th is telling me, from my gut, to suck it up buttercup and move forward - in all things; at home, as it relates to my health, and as I write.  I am in a gloomy, dark spot but I will stay right here unless I put one foot in front of the other and head towards the light.  If I wait until I feel like moving my feet I will stay here for a lot longer than I care for.  So here I go...