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 momsaffiliate.com 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...