Finding Something Of My Own

I used to be a social worker.  I always wanted to go into Social Work.  I have always had a heart to serve and help the community.  It was something that I dreamed of doing as a child.  It was a big deal for me when I decided to leave my career behind (at least for now) and stay at home with my children.  In the course of working in the field of adoption, I realized the importance of being a mother.  I wanted to give my own children what the children that I worked with each day did not have.

When I decided to stay at home, I had a romantic notion of what it would be like.  Picture Leave It Beaver….. The house was going to be spotless each day, the children of course would obey perfectly, a perfect dinner would be on the table each night.   I am not sure what planet I was living on when I actually thought this would be what life was like, but reality soon followed, and so did the yoga pants.  My house is not perfectly clean, in fact it is usually the opposite.  I get one room clean and feel pretty excited, just to walk in to the next room and discover my sweet darling children have messed it up!  I am doing good to just maintain things.  Dinner is generally on the table each night, but I confess sometimes it is pizza or chicken nuggets.  Coming into reality was difficult.

I would say the hardest thing for me is this feeling that I have no idea what I accomplished today.  I  was ending each day and I wouldn’t have the first clue what I did that day.  I was busy, but what did I actually accomplish? I cleaned the dishes but thirty minutes later it looks like I haven’t done them in a week.  I would clean the living room and thirty minutes later there are toys out as far as the eye can see (this is improving as my kids are getting older).  The stuff I had to do each day was painfully mundane.  I also struggled with a distinct feeling of isolation.  I didn’t really talk to adults.  The extent of my conversation was at a two year old level.  I struggled emotionally a lot!  There was the part of me that was incredibly thankful for getting to spend so much time with my children and there was the other part of me that was fighting off depression.  Then as ridiculous as this sounds, I would feel horribly guilty for feeling depressed (I should be happy, I am with my babies) that I would actually get more depressed.  I really felt trapped.  My entire life now revolved around the kids and cleaning house, to the point that I could hardly remember who I was and what I enjoyed.  I some how gave up every hobby and interest that I had, outside of Jesus and my family.

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I read articles that would knock Stay at Home Mom’s for complaining.  These articles did not help me when I was struggling.  In fact, they did the opposite.  I started to pray and as I prayed I started to realize more and more that I was not trapped at all.  I started to see that I needed to have stuff in my life that had nothing to do with my kids or the dishes.  Things that I do just out of sheer enjoyment.   I gradually started putting things back into my life that I enjoy.  I found as I did that, the emotional struggles went away.  I am happy to be a mother, but I needed something that was mine.

I have this to say to you Stay at Home Moms that might be having a similar issue and to those mom’s considering becoming a SAHM.  Make sure you keep things in your life that are yours!  I don’t know what those things are, only you know what they are.  For me, I write this blog, I run my own small business, I get together with friends and I am involved with my church family.  For you, it may be different but you need to have those things for yourself.  Those things you can go to for a rest.  When you have little ones in your home, it is really easy to allow all of your attention and energy to go to your kids.  Your primary job does not stop, you are a mommy 24/7, being this fact it is all the more important to keep those things in your life that brings you joy and rest.

Very Berry and Orange Smoothie

This morning I woke up with a terrible sore throat.  I am not sure why, it could be allergies, since it is unseasonably warm here and the wind is blowing so hard that I am pretty sure we might get blown away.  It could also be a sign that it is time to fight off a cold.  Regardless of the reason, an ice-cold smoothie sounded really good on my sore throat.

When I first started making smoothies I used a smoothie recipe book, so I can have an idea of good proportions of fruits and veggies.  The recipe book also educated me on what health benefits are in various fruits and veggies.  Now that the book has given me an education, I am having a lot of fun inventing my own smoothies.  This is the smoothie I made this morning.  It tastes great and it has lots of vitamin C (go away sore throat!).

VERY BERRY AND ORANGE SMOOTHIE

1 Orange peeled and chopped

1/2 cup of Strawberries (you can use frozen or fresh here)

1/2 cup of Blueberries (Frozen or fresh are fine)

1/2 cup of Low fat vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup of kale (remove the stems)

1 cup of Almond milk (you can use whatever milk you prefer, milk from a cow and my tummy do not get a long)

A couple of ice cubes

Blend well.  If it is too thick add more milk or water.  If it is too thin add a couple of ice cubes.

This smoothie ends up being such a pretty color and it felt great on my sore throat.  I have heard a lot of people say that they are not so sure about drinking a “Green” smoothie but this is delicious and pretty.

Enjoy!

Why I Decided It Was Time to Take Care of Myself! Another New Journey

As a mom, it has been my tendency to take care of everyone else before I take care of myself.  I was feeling really run down both emotionally and physically.  I felt achy, no energy and generally have found myself being cranky.  I knew I wasn’t being very fair to either myself or my kids.  Frankly, I didn’t think there was much I could do to change it.  I really just felt stuck.

In November, we got our annual family picture taken.  Oh how I hate getting my picture taken.  After I saw the picture, I had a realization.  Not only am I not feeling good, I am not looking so good either.  I am thirty pounds over weight, I have dark circles around my eyes, and my skin isn’t looking particularly healthy.  I am not saying this to knock myself, it was just the moment when I realized how I have felt on the inside is coming out on the outside.  My honest thought was, “No wonder my mom is worried about me!”  I am not forty yet, but if this is how forty feels, I don’t really like it at all.

At that moment, I thought I really need to sleep more.  I get big dark circles around my eyes when I get tired. My husband has bizarre hours at work.  I was staying up late to spend time with him.  Not a little bit late but a lot late, like midnight or 1 a.m.    I was getting up at 6 every morning to babysit.  No wonder I am tired!  I retrained my body to go to sleep.  This took me a few weeks and definitely was tough.  I am now happy to say I sleep like a normal person 🙂   Sleeping helped some but I still didn’t feel all that great and I was still 30 lbs over weight.

I really started to pray about this issue and realized that I have basically ignored my own well being in every area.  I realized I need to exercise, I need to eat right, I need to have time in the Bible each day for my emotional and spiritual health, and I need to change my view on the importance of taking care of myself .  My view has always been, everyone else comes first.  As I prayed a particular verse stood out to me.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinithians 6:19-20 NASV

I prayed and questioned whether I was treating my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is and became convicted when I realized the answer to the question is definitely not.

The first major change I made was to wake up a little earlier.  I got up early and read my Bible.  This gave me that critical time I needed before Jesus, before I started hearing the words, “Mommy, mommy.”  It’s funny how you need that time to gather yourself, and fill yourself back up, before you start pouring into those little hearts and lives.

The second major change was the decision to go on a walk each morning, after I am done with Bible time.  I have been walking two miles each morning by myself.  I have found this to be an amazing time of quiet, prayer and peace.  I come back home feeling more awake, refreshed and ready to go.

I started to do a bible study book called Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst (I highly recommend this book by the way).  It deals with a biblical view of food and satisfying your “deepest desire with God, Not food.”  I came to an understanding that food is meant to be the fuel that keeps your body running.  I know that sounds obvious, but that is not how I was treating it. I treated it as an after thought for myself.  Funny enough, I didn’t treat it that way for my kids.  I made sure they ate every meal, veggies, fruit and all.  For me, I ate on the run or forgot to eat all together.  I ended up starving mid way through the day and having intense cravings for fatty, salty and sugary foods.   Even when I did eat a healthy meal, I followed that healthy meal by downing something sugary because the sugar cravings were so intense.  Which really was a vicious cycle for me.  Every time I gave in and ate that sugary thing I craved, the cravings got worse, not better.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God 1 Corinthians 10:31  ESV

So after extensive prayer and study, the third major change was the decision to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into my diet, and by default my family’s diet, as possible.  No we are not vegetarians, but now a large amount of what we eat is fruits and vegetables.  What I did not do was make sweeping changes of everything I was not going to eat.  Frankly, I don’t think that method would have worked well for me.  I just decided what I was going to eat needed to provide the appropriate fuel my body needed to function.  If the food served no purpose, I simply did not buy it.

I made the biggest change to my diet.  I replaced breakfast (or more like started eating it) by drinking green smoothies every morning.  This particular change has made the single most drastic change in how I feel physically.  I was absolutely shocked at the result of this one simple change.  First let me say, you have to make sure you put healthy ingredients in to get good results.  No skipping steps here.  No buying prepackaged smoothie mix at the grocery store and no adding unnecessary sugars.  Stick with fruits, veggies,  and other healthy ingredients.  I have become a big fan of flax-seed and chia seeds.  I also enjoy putting in Greek yogurt, milk, water, nuts, and various spices.  I have found I don’t usually notice the flavors of the veggies.  The smoothie keeps me feeling full all morning.  In general, I think the smoothies are delicious and I don’t feel like I am denying myself anything at all (I am not recommending everyone rush out and change their diet.  I am not a nutritionist here.  This is just my personal experience).  I do take one day off each week to enjoy a big home cooked breakfast with my family.

I immediately felt an incredible energy burst that lasted the entire day!  I mean seriously, who needs coffee.  Within a couple of days, my digestion was much improved.  I also stopped craving all of those high sugar, high salt and high fat foods, that I literally craved twenty-four seven. That one difference right there has made it easier to lose weight.  I also felt like my mind was clear.  I wasn’t having what I called foggy mommy brain any more.  Within a week, I started losing weight.  I have now been drinking green smoothies for over a month.  My skin is clear, I have lost ten pounds, I have energy, my mood is much better and even my nails are stronger.

I started drinking smoothies in hopes of helping myself lose some weight.  If you would have told me that this would make such a drastic difference in my life, I doubt I would have believed you.  Fortunately for me, this diet change has been affordable, easy and is definitely something I plan to stick to for the long term.  Even better, my kids love the smoothies so much that now, I get to sneak all kinds of healthy food into them and they never even know it 🙂  I still have another 20 lbs to go, but I feel like a different person.

I am not telling you that suddenly I have it all together, because I don’t.  Far from it, but what I am telling you is I have learned something.  If you expect to pour great things into other people’s lives, you need to take the time yourself and get filled up.  Take care of your heart, soul, mind and body.  If you are running on empty, you won’t have much to pour out.  If you let God fill you up, then good things will just overflow from you.