Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On Strike for JOY

I've been on strike for the past 3 months.  It was the best thing I ever did. For me, it took a major life crisis to open my eyes to the fact that I was on a rat wheel. I was running endlessly from one task to another, one appointment to another, one goal to another, for what? For the kids! For my family! For my husband! For my team! All of those activities are what held our family together, or so I thought. Our identity was made up of a million things like choir, homeschool, church, healthy eating, essential oils, entrepreneurship, and a million other things and they all depended on me and on my schedule. I HAD to do those things because If I didn't, surely something would explode.

And then one day it did. It was a day just like every other where I woke up at 5am to read my scriptures so I could leave at 5:45am to work out so I could be home by 7:15am to shower so I could be ready for devotional by 8:00am and I could slow dance with my husband so he could leave for work right at 8:15am. But when I got home from the workout, he asked to talk to me and right there in our bathroom, it all fell apart. He was leaving. He wasn't happy in our marriage and hadn't been for a long time. After years of working to overcome our personality differences and trying to keep up with my unrealistic schedules and expectations, He was done.  Done? What do you mean Done?  I couldn't wrap my mind around it. Sure, we had struggled, but done? And in that moment, my whole world felt like it was breaking apart, and I thought I would die. I wished I could die. I had never conceived of a life as a single mom. The words were poison on my tongue. Divorced.

My whole identity revolved around being a wife and a mother, and if those weren't ME then who was I?  Did I have any value? Could my life have meaning and purpose if I failed at the very thing I valued most? Was there hope to ever be happy again? I knew that my life depended on me finding the answers to those questions.

So I went on strike for joy. I hadn't allowed myself to do anything just for the joy of it for years. Everything I did was done because it was right, productive, healthy, educational, spiritually uplifting, good for the kids, or character building. On that day, I decided that I wasn't going to do anything If I couldn't do it for joy. If JOY is the purpose of my existence, I was determined to figure out how to feel it. And I did. I found the greatest joy I have ever felt in the middle of the most painful experience of my life. And because of that, I am changed. I am different. I am better. I am stronger than I was before. I am a better woman, wife, and mother than I was before.

My message to you today is don't wait for a crisis to start living your life for joy. Go on strike now. Stop doing all of the things you are doing because you think you have to. Because other people expect you to. Because that's what good mom's do. Clear your plate and your schedule of all the activities and obligations that drain our cup instead of filling it. Just stop. 

Ask yourself this question: What brings me JOY?

Reading a romance novel? do it.
Eating ice cream for breakfast? great!
Sitting under willow tree and staring? Perfect
Paint your bathroom purple? Sweet!
Holding your baby all day and letting the laundry sit? bravo!

I know that some of you are shaking in your boots right now. It sounds scandalous. If you allowed yourself to do those things, what would become of your family? Your children might starve! The house will be a mess! If you allow yourself this kind of indulgence, you may never want to go back to being responsible again! It's possible, but what is the responsible life giving you? Is it giving you joy? Or is it creating a bunch of resentment, discouragement, and overwhelm deep down in your gut?

Going on strike for joy allowed me to Choose in by Choosing out. It allowed me to intentionally add those things back in that were filling my cup and say goodbye to some things for ever. It turns out that I actually do enjoy making dinner for my family, about 3 times a week. The other nights, we are fine with eggs. I really do love to exercise! But not 6 days per week. I really get JOY from attending church and worshipping my God.  As it turns out, making my bed every day is overrated. Going to bed with a clean kitchen every night is not that important. Watching Poldark with my girlfriends-Pure JOY!

I dare you to take the challenge. Go on strike to whatever extent you can. Promise yourself that you will not say yes to anything unless you can do it with joy. When the phone rings and someone is asking you to take a meal to a sick person, ask yourself if you can feel joy about it.  When your child asks if they can sign up for one more sport, ask yourself if you can joyfully support that. When your neighbor insists that homeschooling is really the best way to educate your kids, ask if homeschooling will bring you joy.

Once you learn how to create JOY for yourself, you will naturally spread that to others. Your family, your community, and the world. Lets start a joy revolution;) I wand to hear about your Joy strike! Join my FB Group Heal Mom First- Becoming Happy Healthy Moms and join the discussion.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Beautiful Beginning

Four Months ago, my whole world came crashing down, or so I thought. The experience was so traumatic that it caused me to question everything I believed about myself, my family, my goals, and my future. It made me go silent, because i wasn't sure if anything I had to say, or do, or anything about me had value. That story isn't complete, its still a process. But as I stare this new decade in the face, I realize that that day wasn't an ending, it was a beginning. I feel compelled to share some of the lessons I’ve learned because they may be a help to someone else going through hard things.

#1 My worth and my value are divine and intrinsic. They are not defined by my house, my children, my car, my weight, my religion. I know that I am a daughter of God and that my soul is eternal. The only true measure of my worth is how HE sees me. Nothing that another person says or does can change that. It sounds kind of cheesy here, I realize. But when you KNOW that, deep down in your bones KNOW it, that knowledge changes everything. Messy houses don't matter, because they are not a reflection of your value. Mean words from others become just words. Your child’s behavior is no longer a reflection of your parenting, but of their choices. Five pounds gained it just that-a measurement of mass, not your worthiness. This knowledge is worth whatever pain you must go through to gain it because it truly makes you FREE.

#2 I am not alone. I am loved. I have felt isolated most of my life. That may be a shocker to many of you. I felt good and worthy as long as I was doing something for someone else. I lacked confidence that any of those people would actually have my back. I was so wrong! Through this experience, I have learned that people are so good. I have this amazing circle of supportive women who love me for exactly who I am. They love me in the middle of this messy space. They love me sobbing, sneezing, no makeup, not even smiling. They have come to just BE with me even when there was nothing they could really offer. My life is brighter and richer than ever because my eyes are open to all the good and love that surround me. Above all, I have a savior, Jesus Christ who LIVES. Not lived, but lives. His love is more powerful than anything on this earth and it has saved me and changed me. He has been there in moments when no one else was and HE was enough.

#3 I choose joy. I used to rely on other people for my happiness. If my kids did their chores, I was happy. If my family got along, I was happy. If my husband was kind, I was happy. If my workout went well, I was happy. I allowed the circumstances of my life to dictate my happiness and that means I wasn't happy very often-because let's be honest- how often do all of those things and a hundred others align in a single day? Never. I have come to understand that JOY is a choice and I choose it. If I want to go out for a lunch date, I call as many people as I need to until someone says yes and we go out! If I want to sing, I play the piano and sing! If I want to create something, I create it! I identify whatever it is that brings me joy and I choose it. Its far too important to give the responsibility to anyone else. 

#3b It's okay to do something simply because it brings me JOY. I used to ask myself ‘Is this productive?” If an activity didn't get me closer to a goal, I didn't see it as worthwhile. When all your goals and plans are out the window, you get to live life a lot simpler. I woke up every morning and said “What do I choose to do today to feel joy?” And then I did it. Some days it meant sewing or refinishing furniture or painting. Some days it means sitting at the base of the most amazing willow tree and drinking in that energy. Some days it meant watching Poldark and losing myself in the story of someone else’s life. I gave myself permission to do things simply because they make me happy.

All in all, I am so grateful for the experiences God has allowed me to go through so that I could become a completely different person than who I was. I never want to be that woman again. So, as I embark on this decade, I am giddy with anticipation of all the joy I am going to experience and all of the love that I am going to give and receive. Here’s to a beautiful beginning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

10 weeks ago, my oldest daughter asked me to join a 12 week fitness challenge with her. Part of the challenge involves attending a boot camp class six days per week. Every single day of boot camp has been hard. It usually involves a mix of High intensity Cardio and Resistance exercises. I always feel like I am going to collapse before the class is over.  I started on day 1 with a good attitude and a mantra of 

"I am getting Stronger every day" 
"My body was made for this" 
"I can do hard things"

I've done really well in the challenge by filling my mind and heart with those beliefs.

This week is Spring Break. In my mind, I feel like life should be a little easier during spring break. I had mental pictures of sunny days at the park enjoying a good book. I thought I would just get a quick workout in before I settled in to the relaxation.

I walked into class today expecting a hard but doable workout. Instead, I saw this on the board:

Push-ups                     100
Jumping Lunges         100
Bounds                       100
Dynamic Plank           100
Jumping Side Lunge   100
Dynamic Side Plank   100
Side Crunches             100
Tricep Push Ups          100

I wanted to turn around and walk back out, but my pride stopped me. These are the thoughts that went through my head:

"This is Crazy
"I will never be able to do all that"
"Whoever designed this workout is evil"
"Whomever designed this workout is irresponsible"
"Whomever designed this workout has no idea that I am not capable of this"
"I shouldn't have to do this"
"I am probably going to die"

I did finish all the exercises. I was the slowest in the room and I had to modify a couple of things to avoid hurting my back, but I finished. 

There was a man if front of me who finished all the exercises as well. Twice. I thought to myself 

"He must be in better shape than I am" 
"This is probably easier for him". 

After I caught my breath, I looked at him and realized that his knees and elbows were bleeding. He probably was in better shape than I am, but it wasn't any easier. He was simply willing to pay a higher price to succeed. 

I learned 3 valuable lessons from this experience:

You can choose Faith or Fear. There is  Creator and He designed the curriculum of life to help you become something better. You can choose to be angry with Him because you do not understand the purpose or you can choose to trust Him because you know it's for your good.

You cannot always control the situations you are placed in, but you can always control your attitude towards them and your attitude makes all the difference. The game of life is won and lost in your head. Pay attention to what you are telling yourself.

You can Have, Do, or Become anything you want to, if you are willing to pay the price. If you are not achieving the goals you have set for yourself, you might ask "What price are other people paying who ARE getting the results I want? Am I willing to pay the same price?"

What are some of the big goals you are trying to achieve?
Are you willing to pay the price?

Monday, March 14, 2016

How I lost 75 Pounds and Found Myself (Part 2)

In my last post, I shared my journey of how I lost 75 pounds. If you missed that, you can read about it Here

I want to share with you the postscript....the debrief. Over the past 10 years, I've had tons of people ask me HOW I lost the weight. As I shared in my last post, the HOW was not complicated. I think most people who are overweight know that if they exercise more and eat healthier foods, they will lose the weight. The reality is that 68% of Americans are overweight or obese. 68%! It is not hard to find information about HOW to shed pounds. There are gyms on every corner and restaurants are posting the calorie counts of their foods right on the menu. Its not the math that people need more of. I think we need a deeper understanding of WHY we are overweight and an action plan for addressing that WHY. Over the past 10 years I've had much occasion to ponder and study this and i'm going to share my top 3 breakthroughs.

1. Each pound of fat you carry represents a negative emotion you "stuffed" of did not properly address. Food is a powerful drug. If you start to pay attention, you will notice that you use certain types of food to numb specific emotions.

Suppose I had a long day and my husband came home in a grumpy mood. That easily leads to a conflict where I feel wronged and trapped, and I immediately call a girlfriend and ask if she wants to meet me for some Indian food. Anger/Frustration = Spicy food. Add a pound. What if I am feeling lonely and trapped in my home with my small children and I start to feel sad and sorry for myself? No problem, the kids and I will make cookies! Sadness/Loneliness = Sweet. Add a pound. Repeat this process daily for a couple of years and you too can pile on the pounds.

With this being said, understand that when you go to shed the fat, your body will release the memories of those toxic emotions which it has literally stored in your fat cells to protect you. This means that you will FEEL those negative emotions all over again as you go through your weight loss journey. You need a powerful game plan to deal with those ahead of time. 

2. You don't think you have much value. You may tell people that you feel great about yourself and that you can be beautiful at any size, but deep down inside you don't think you are worth it. Healthy food takes time and money to prepare. I used to rationalize that I needed to make things that my kids would actually eat, so I would make their food and then be too tired to make something different for myself. So I ate a lot of Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches and Goldfish crackers. There is a basic principle underlying this that their happiness is worth more than mine.

Exercise takes time and sometimes money. Most of us have other people in our life who want our time and attention. That may be kids who need to be fed, clothed, bathed, and carpooled. It may be a boss who requires that we work certain hours of the day. For many years, I did not exercise because I felt like it would make me a bad mom. Good moms meet their kids with smiling faces and hot breakfast when they wake up was my belief. I couldn't work out later in the day because I didn't trust that the staff in the gym daycare would take care of my kids the way I would. And what if they came home with bad habits or germs? This left the only remaining way to exercise as going for a walk with 3 children under 5 in tow. It happened about once every two weeks and lasted 10 minutes. All of these excuses have the underlying message that other people's comfort is more important that my health and happiness. If you place a HIGH value on yourself and believe strongly that you are WORTHY of being healthy and happy, you will see that it's okay for other people to make adjustments to their expectations so you can make exercise a priority.

3. You are afraid of becoming thin. As part of the low self value, I had a belief that I was not good enough to fit in with the "super" moms. I would never be as organized or beautiful or popular as they were, so why try? I actually created stereotypes in my mind about how they were all shallow and stuck up anyway. Being overweight gave me the ability to opt-out. I didn't have to worry about running marathons or entering my home in the Parade of Homes because I simply wasn't one of them. I didn't have to worry about being left out if I chose to OPT OUT. My appearance took me out of the competition I felt sure I would fail anyway.

Another reason we are afraid to become thin is that frequently our food choices are wrapped up in treasured experiences or traditions. These traditions are frequently a big deal in family culture. I have fond memories of so many holidays that all center around traditional food. Cinnamon Rolls and pie for Christmas. Orange rolls and Jell-o for Easter. Strawberry French Toast and bacon for Birthdays. Choosing a lifestyle that doesn't include those foods brings up the fear that we will betray our family. Maybe they wont like us if we become different. Maybe they will think we are snobby, or shallow, or that we no longer belong. Thats a pretty big risk to take when your value is already low.

Do any of these sound familiar? Your specifics may be different, but chances are that the fears and beliefs are the same. I have found some really great tools to help deal with the emotions that are preventing you from achieving your goals. They apply to people who are trying to lose weight AND people who are trying to reach any goal that requires growth and stretching. I would love to share them with you! Click here for free access to an audio training that will teach you a powerful tool to help you release those negative emotions so you can move towards those goals you want.

Monday, February 22, 2016

How I lost 75 pounds and found Myself (Part 1)

I was scrolling through pictures on my computer a few years ago and came across a photo of a woman holding what appeared to be my youngest daughter at about a year old. The baby was perched on her hip and she was looking out the window of MY house. The lady in the picture had short, spiked hair and glasses, but that's not what caught my attention. What caught my attention was her large derrière. I couldn't figure out who would have been holding MY baby in MY house so I called my husband over to see if he remembered the mystery woman.

"Who is that holding E____ I asked?" 
He looked at me incredulously and replied "That's YOU".
"NO!" I responded, horrified, "That's not me. I never looked like that!" 

But I knew in that moment that I was wrong and he was right. I felt so much shame over that picture and a few others like it that deleted them and vowed that they would never be seen by anyone. Ever. As I have blogged about shame and vulnerability here for the past few years, I realize that I've been hiding this past version of myself and its time to fess up because shame can't bear the light of day. If I share this with you, I can't be ashamed of it anymore. I used to be pretty overweight. This is one of the only pictures that escaped my deleting frenzy.

Shortly after this picture was taken, our family moved from California to Idaho to open a franchise of Pump it Up. I didn't realize what a can of worms I was opening when I chose that move. We arrived in Boise Idaho in the winter of 2004 as orphans, with no strong family connections, no friends, no job, no nothing. I felt overwhelmed by the profound loneliness I felt. The process of opening our business was far more chaotic and difficult than we expected. Between bankers and city planners who seemed hell bent on preventing our success, I felt as if I had no control over anything in my life. As the time passed and our precious savings leaked away, I felt increasingly helpless and bitter. I remember crying to God for answers about what I could do and feeling distinctly that even if I could not control any of my external circumstances, I COULD control myself. This one body that I had been given was mine to shape. And so I began. I got on the scale that day and it read 225 lbs.

I did not join a support group. I did not train for a marathon. I did not sign up for a pre-scheduled meal delivery service. I just decided. I decided that the price of staying where and how I was was too high. I was done being a victim of my circumstances. 

Because I know that there is someone reading this who is in the exact same place I was, I'm going to tell you exactly what I did, in all its simplicity.

1. I woke up every morning put on my exercise clothes, which I kept on while I got my kids ready for     school. (its important that you not allow yourself to get showered and ready for the day until the         exercise has happened)
2. I headed straight to the kitchen and blended myself a giant green smoothie.  
3. I got my kids (8,6, 4, 2) ready for the day. I dropped the 8 and 6 year old off at school and took the     two younger kids with me to the gym.
4. I headed straight for the elliptical trainer and didn't let myself get off until Law and Order was             over. I love that show, so it made me want to stay on for a whole hour. 
5. I picked up the kids from daycare and stopped at Subway on the way home for a 6" turkey on            whole wheat with no cheese and no mayo.
6. I made my family a salad or soup for dinner, which I also ate.
7. I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted once per week on a date with my husband and that               frequently included boneless buffalo wings and sometimes even cheesecake.

In 12 months I lost 75 pounds. I tell you this because my plan was far from perfect! I know much more now about nutrition and exercise and there are things I do differently now, but at the time, this was the level of simplicity that I required. This was "good enough" for me and i'll bet it would be good enough for you if you are reading this and wanting to make a change.

The hardest part is deciding. 

Over the past 12 years, I have become a totally different person. I have come to understand WHY I carried those pounds around for 5 years and how it actually gave me exactly what I wanted and needed. I have learned strategies for helping other people and for helping myself. If you want to know more about WHY you are carrying around those extra pounds that just don't seem to budge, stay tuned for next week's post. You can subscribe to my feed to make sure you get an alert when it's up.

If you are local to the Treasure Valley, I invite you to join me for a workshop this week where we will talk about this and other physical ailments that have a strong emotional component and how we can address them using simple mentoring tools and essential oils. You can sign up for those free 1 hour workshops Here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Illness isn't a death sentence. It's a cry for attention.

Watch the first 30 seconds of this video...I dare you not to laugh out loud!

Isn't this how it feels sometimes? Like anytime something goes wrong with your body you might as well just kiss that function goodbye and chalk it up to old age. As I approach 40, it seems like more and more of my friends have a heap of health challenges that they fully expect to deal with for the rest of their lives. You name it and i've heard it. '

"I just have bad knees"
"My digestion has always been messed up"
"Every time I get sick, it goes straight to my lungs"
"Depression runs in my family"

The two questions I always ask myself and my clients are "What is your body trying to tell you? Where is this coming from?"

Every single thing that shows up as dis-ease is your body's way of telling you something is wrong at an emotional level.  In her 1984 bestselling book "You can Heal Your Life", author Louise Hay taught that every physical illness can be traced to a spiritual or emotional conflict. When her book was released, there was little scientific data to support her theory. Thirty years later, the science is clear: Every time we experience a thought or feelings, it begins a cascade of chemical reactions in our body that causes our cells to produce hundred of different Neuropeptides, each with hits own unique function. Hormones, endorphins, cortisol, and adrenalin are some examples. Bruce Lipton PhD and Candace Pert PhD have both done extensive work in outlining the specific pathways different emotions take in the body. 

With this research as proof of the mind/body connection, We can look to Louise Hay's book as a reliable guide for the layperson to discover the probable emotional roots of physical ailments.

Knees: Knee problems are related to the inability to bend, stubborn ego and pride, fear, inflexibility. (This was my most annoying source of physical pain when I stumbled on Louise Hay's book and I was definitely convicted.)

Digestion: Your digestive system is connected to your ability to "digest" life or assimilate your experiences. Its also tied to your sense of belonging and safety in the world. Anxiety is frequently an issue in those with chronic digestive problems.

Weak Lungs: The ability to take in life. Depression. Grief. Not feeling worthy of living life fully.

Depression: Holding onto feelings of Anger that you don't thing you have a right to. Hopelessness.

Once you are aware of the emotional root of your ailment, what do you do? My favorite way to give physical and emotional support is with affirmations and essential oils. The unique chemistry of the oils makes them a perfect choice and they have been incredibly helpful for me and millions of people like me as we do our best to take charge of own physical and emotional wellbeing. Questions? you can contact me via email and I will respond within 24 hours.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Why it's good to yell every now and Then

10 years ago I decided I would never get angry again, and I felt pretty good about it. I hate yelling and its something I decided I would never inflict on my kids. Plus, it was pretty effective at ticking them off when I just spoke in a calm, sugary sweet voice while dishing out whatever consequences they had earned.  My oldest son would actually scream back "JUST YELL AT ME! STOP BEING SO CALM!!!" But I held my ground and whispered.

I actually fooled myself for a long time. I thought I was really not getting angry, but the truth is that I was storing up silent hurts and resentments which festered into anger, even though it never came out my mouth. I totally kept my cool all. the. time. which meant I didn't experience those intense feelings of rage, but I also didn't experience intense feelings of joy. It's impossible to numb the negative without numbing the positive as well.

In light of this discovery, I've been trying to loosen up and allow myself to feel the full range of emotions fully-including anger and hurt. Today I had a breakthrough of sorts.

I was sleep deprived, hungry, late, and stressed about an issue that had nothing to do with my kids. I walked into the kitchen where breakfast was being made and immediately my youngest began pleading for a friend to come over and work on a school project later in the day.
I issued a terse "no, thats not happening." She persisted in her request and told me all the reasons it MUST happen, and I responded by yelling "THE ANSWER IS NO!". She immediately ran out of the room crying and I felt terrible. I had just become the very thing I had worked so hard not to be-a raving maniac who takes her stresses out on her innocent children. I thought for a minute and composed myself, then followed her upstairs and apologized. We had a good talk where I shared some of my stresses and she explained how much she wanted to be able to help her friend. We negotiated and agreed that helping was more important than doing laundry, and the friend could come. She dried her tears, gave me hug, and said "Thank you Mom for understanding."

It was a magical moment. My daughter got to see me, her mom, make a mistake. She got to see that i am a human being with flaws and imperfections. She got to see me humble myself and admit that I was wrong and come to her seeking forgiveness. She learned that her voice is heard and when she speaks up for something important to her, adults will listen and reconsider. She got to experience what it feels like to be part of a living, breathing relationship that sometimes hurts and also can heal.

I'm not proud of yelling at my daughter today and I don't plan on doing it again anytime soon, but I want to fell joy and so I know that I will also experience pain and anger. I am not perfect and no mother is, so today just give yourself a little break and know that letting your kids see you in all your imperfection is a good thing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

If you sacrifice your happiness, you'll be miserable

And so will your children.

I keep seeing these annoying memes online that look something like this...

This is a really damaging message. Its all candy and roses on the surface, but let's look a little deeper. It seems to be saying that if you want to be a good mom with children who will sing your praises, you must "sacrifice your own happiness for (theirs)" and "do everything to make things perfect for (them)" .

I used to buy into this line of thinking. I really believed that if I just sacrificed myself completely and lost myself in service to my children, that they would see my sacrifice and be filled with love for me. I was sure they would stand up in church and tell the whole congregation how awesome I was, and then I would be filled with joy and it would all be worth it.  So I did all the things that I thought would make me a good mom. I baked bread, worked on Scout projects, started Homeschool Co-ops, made cookies, did crafts, woke up early and stayed up late spending every moment with my kiddos. If I was in the shower and they needed me, I jumped out. If it was 2am and my 6 year old wanted me? I was there. If I was talking on the phone to my mother and a child wanted my help?  Gotta go, mom. 
I know that some of you out there know what i'm talking about. You're reading this blog on your phone hiding in the bathroom and there are little fingers shoved under the door looking for you...

Sure I was tired and depleted, but I just knew that if I modeled this kind of selfless giving for my children, surely they would be happy and kind and then we would have a happy family. I never went to Girl's Night Out because then my kids would (gasp) be without me for a whole evening. I didn't dare go visit my sister in California because my kids would miss me. I didn't dare take more than 10 minutes in the morning to put myself together because the kids needed me. I didn't go exercise because it would be shallow and selfish to leave them in childcare just so I could have a beautiful body. 

This went on for literally 15 years. I kept giving and giving and wondering why our family wasn't deliriously Happy. I was sacrificing EVERYTHING for them. There was literally nothing of ME left. I woke up in the morning ready to meet their needs and I did it all day long until I collapsed into bed exhausted. Don't get me wrong-there were moments of joy and i really did love my kids- but I was not getting the results I was hoping for. It hit me like a ton of bricks during a conversation with my oldest daughter (15 at the time) who informed me that she had no interest in being a mother. 
I was shocked...

"Why not? " I asked

"Because it sucks. " she said. "Its hard and miserable and no fun- just look at you mom. You're never happy and you never have any fun; you just cook and clean and boss us around all day long. Why would I want to do that?"

From the mouths of teens. Since that day, i've taken a totally different approach to mothering and marriage and life in general. That approach has been to SEEK my OWN JOY. I decided that I would put myself first and then share what I gained with my family. I started reading books I wanted to read. I started cooking food I wanted to eat. I started calling my mom just to say Hi. I started a business because it makes ME happy. And guess what? Now they all want to grow up to do what I do.

You do not have to sacrifice your happiness for theirs to be a good mom. Please do NOT make everything perfect for them. Let them learn about their ability to create their own reality.  I'm not advocating for selfishness and child neglect. I'm proposing that you find what makes you happy, and do that because happiness is contagious.  Healthy Happy families START with Healthy Happy moms.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I think she actually learned something!

Have you ever heard the principle that your biggest trials will also be your greatest teachers? My oldest daughter has been my greatest teacher since the day she was born, in more ways than I can say. Her entrance onto this mortal scene was itself was a huge lesson. As I experienced the full force of unmedicated birth for the first time, I kept crying out to God for a way out of that intense pain- Surely there must be some escape.  The answer came loud and clear; "The only way out is through" and that mantra that has echoed through every struggle of these past 17 years. This child has been the catalyst for much of the emotional work that I have done and for that I am so grateful. She has stretched me beyond all of my perceived limits and compelled me to re-form myself stronger and better than I was before. She is a force to be reckoned with and I gave up on teaching her anything years ago. I decided that the only person I could change was myself, and set out to do just that.

When this girl was born, I was a total disaster. I didn't know how to keep my bedroom clean, or do the laundry, or really organize anything in my life. I guess I physically knew how to do those things, I just didn't know how to blend them all together in a way that would make a household actually run. I forgot children at school on multiple occasions and let heaps of clean laundry pile up on a regular basis. The kitchen looked like a science experiment most of the time and we used plastic spoons because it was easier than washing metal. It was bad. Over time, I figured out how to keep the house running, and I moved onto other stuff. I took up daily exercise, learned how to eat right,  how to set and achieve goals and on an on. I have loved every step of the journey of self improvement. Every time I learned something new, I was eager to share it with my family, sure they would want to join me in my newfound passion. Wrong. They usually chalked it up to "My mom is crazy" and kept right on doing what they were doing-eating junk food, reading twaddle, and all the things normal kids do.  I was afraid I had failed. Oh well, I thought, at least I am healthy and happy. Then something happened.

A few weeks ago, I got a text from Ms. Independent (from the other room) that said:

I was stunned. I'd been trying to get my kids to exercise for seriously 12 years, and they were about as interested as a toddler is in broccoli.  Was she serious? Exercise? BOOTCAMP? And she actually researched and sent me a link? So naturally we signed up. And we have gone faithfully for almost 3 weeks.

Then this text exchange the other day after she went shopping for a new bedspread for herself (with her own money). I am the texter in blue.

Was this my daughter? After years of begging for the most expensive item available in any given situation, was she CHOOSING the practical option?

Then this morning, I was blow drying my hair, and she came in with another bit of wisdom.

"Will you help me hang pictures in my room? I know I've been keeping it ugly all this time because I was like 'I'm moving to London' but I think we both know that isn't happening anytime soon, so I decided I may as well make it a place I actually like to be."

From the mouths of babes! She has learned, for herself, that if we are constantly refusing to be happy in the present because we are holding out for some lofty future goal, it isn't helpful. She learned to that she is worthy of beauty and joy even if she isn't done yet. She learned that from me as she watched me loathe my surroundings for 7 long years, refusing to make a home until the house was perfect. Thank goodness she saw that struggle!

These may seem like small things to you, but to me, they were HUGE! I share them not to brag or to set myself up as some kind of example. I share them to offer hope. You may feel overwhelmed when you look around at your children and think of all that is needed to shape them into the people you want them to become. I would challenge you to stop looking at them, and start looking at you.  I hope today that you will walk away from this post with a knowledge that when you begin with yourself, it's like tossing a pebble into a lake-The ripples go out for generations to come. The greatest effect you can have on your family is to do the thing you want them to do. Your example will speak far louder than any words you will ever speak.