Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Intentions #1

I have gotten distracted as of late, a bit chaotic and disorganized.  There was no distinct decision to adopt sloppy habits (that rarely happens).  There was just a gradual downward slope.  Some weeks I moved mountains and other weeks I accomplished astonishingly little, and pretty soon the latter became the norm.

There are times when we need to step back and relax, not worry about busyness and schedules and lists.  However, I need balance.  Too much of something tends to make me lazy and unfulfilled.  It's like I'm eating endless dessert with no control--lots of sugar provides a temporary meal of sorts--but then I feel sick and eventually crash.

As I'm getting myself back on track, I've started taking the Brene Brown course, The Gifts of Imperfection, an online course offered through the Oprah Network and website. The discussion on setting intentions has been a wake-up call for me given my recent "sugar high" of no discipline.

I've learned over the years that my personality absolutely thrives with lots of activity and expectations. I rise to challenges and become energized.  I am fulfilled when my ego is stroked with achievements.  I admit it...I know it's not supposed to be that way, but I enjoy earning and receiving my "gold stars" in life.  When I'm not in this type of setting, I have to work much harder to create my own challenges for fulfillment.  Staying at home with one child who has unique needs has presented me with this opportunity.  There is no one to award me praise for my parenting, no great glory in potty training (especially when it appears I'm not particularly gifted with potty training motivation!), there is no hum of collaboration with a team of colleagues brainstorming a project and no great inspiration in housekeeping.

Setting intentions has become crucial for me to create purpose and meaning when I feel discouraged and wonder if my choices are right.  Brene says it better than I can,

Setting intentions helps you get clear on why you're doing something (clarity), why it's important to you (meaning) and how it moves you closer to your values (purpose).

Sometimes when I get a bit lost in the muddle of preschool, therapy, potty training, cleaning, etc., it's good for me to be clear on why I've made the choices I've made.  It helps me get the most out of each day and enjoy the life I've been given.  I'm reminded that I'm responsible for my choices.  The exercise develops more integrity in me, doing unseen tasks well because I'm being the best person God created me to be and not doing them for an audience to recognize me.  Setting intentions calls me to be present, rather than wishing for another time and place.  At the same time, setting intentions can sharpen focus to clarify goals for my present and future.  

Some intentions for this week...
  • Be on time.  No excuses.
  • Finish the mundane tasks without procrastinating.  No excuses.
  • Find something to be grateful for every day and write it in my journal.
  • Work on Paleo diet changes.
  • Practice being present in each moment, staying centered on myself and God's truth for me rather than wondering what other people may or may not be thinking about me.

Linking here...

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trying the Paleo Diet

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A couple of years ago we discovered my little guy has a couple of issues that require additional support.  If you have been through anything similar, you can relate to exploring numerous strategies to help your child.

Enter the diet discussion. Some doctors think it's absolute bunk and other professionals are strong advocates for using diet to help with various issues.  Our household is not big on dairy consumption, with the random appearance of cheese on our plates, an occasional serving of greek yogurt and a splurge of ice cream when my husband and I get a Friday night craving.  We drink almond milk and don't eat creamy foods.  We've tried gluten-free meals for brief periods of time, although we haven't been strict with a truly gluten-free kitchen. But when a professional we work with suggested eating a Paleo diet, we decided to give it a go.

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I have a little head start with this concept since we've already reduced gluten and dairy intake.  However, this will require some definite changes on my part with shopping and cooking.  Notice I said we've reduced intake, not eliminated intake of gluten and dairy.  We cheat.  Quite a bit.  My husband, who detests all manner of gluten-free baked goods, will have to make some sacrifices. 
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Truthfully, I'm in the research-and-gather stage of learning about the concept and looking for ways to implement the diet into our home.  I'm not sure yet how this will evolve and how we'll handle dinners out, birthday parties, etc.  It's all a journey!  I've shared a few links to resources I'm reading right now.  Michelle Tam was a Nutrition and Food Science major and now is a pharmacist, wife, mom and CrossFit athlete who blogs about the Paleo diet she and her family follow.  My favorite so far!  Robb is a former biochemist who wrote the bestseller The Paleo Solution--The Original Human Diet.  He trains athletes and shares his experience and knowledge on several platforms. This is another great site.  A team of fitness and nutrition specialists give recipes and helpful information on eating well.  Whole9 founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig are the authors of It Starts with Food.  Mark Sisson provides a wealth of health and fitness information related to the Paleo lifestyle.  Information and recipes are given for families and children eating a Paleo diet.

 Let me clearly state that I'm new to this and certainly not making recommendations for anyone else.  The above links are helping me to learn but careful research should be done by each individual before trying something new!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Less is More

You just need to relax and everything will work out the way it's supposed to work out.
Trust in God.  He'll take care of it.
Keep praying about it.  Everything happens at the right time.
Here's a book to read.  This is really great information.
I heard this sermon and it really spoke to me about [that issue].
Just hang in there and it will get better.
God knows best.  It's not for us to understand His ways.
Well, everything happens for a reason.

How many times have we heard women complaining that men are in fix-it mode when they offer support to us?  "I just want him to listen to me!" is the cry of frustrated women. 

Yet I've often encountered well-meaning women, quick to offer "helpful" advice like the comments above instead of being willing to listen without fixing.  Sometimes I feel that I can hardly share a messy feeling about God or about life in general without a spiritual SWAT team swooping in to the conversation.

Now hear me out--some of this is good.  I'm not arguing that the statements shared are without truth.  I love that women want to help, that they want to see others heading in a healthy direction.  I love that they offer resources. Yet the most effective support I've experienced has been with those women who listen without jumping to advise.  I have one friend who shares a common life situation with me and her most frequent response when I'm struggling to find a solution is...ready for this?  I don't know!  I don't know what's best for you.  But I know that you are a great mom and that your constant efforts to improve and grow are a gift to your family.  I'm struggling too so I know what it feels like for life to be messy.  I get discouraged too.  I get it.  I'm here for you whenever you need to talk. 

From that springboard, she and I dive in to parenting and family and faith and theology and home decorating and gardening (she's not just a great friend, she has great taste!).  She models for me the concept of giving grace with truth.  She understands that a quick platitude, spiritual or not, often shuts down conversation instead of opening it up.  She stays in the trenches with me instead of striding ahead. She answers truthfully, even if it's not easy.  She doesn't draw premature conclusions about what it is to walk in my shoes, but respects that each of our stories is unique and valuable.  I walk away from her feeling HEARD and reinvigorated, instead of feeling diminished and unseen as a result of well-intentioned "counseling."

I'm a talker, a chatty woman who can talk a mile-a-minute, as the old saying goes.  I often have so many topics on my heart and I'm pretty open about sharing.  This listening thing doesn't come naturally, but I'm trying to take my own experiences with me when I engage with other people.  I'm developing awareness in myself to...
  • Stay present in the moment, not letting thoughts wander to another distraction.
  • Stay true to my feelings and thoughts, not saying what I think would be most palatable to the listener.
  • Practice staying focused on another's story and not quickly transferring the conversation over to mine.
  • Truly care about the other person, demonstrating empathy.
Friends like this can be rare.  People like this are rare.  I'm thankful for those rare people!  You help me become better and lift me up when I need it most.  I'm learning how to keep my mouth shut and open my ears and my heart instead.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Plenty of Light

My husband and I have moved a lot.  When I say that we have moved a lot, I mean that in ten years of marriage we have moved six times.  That may not be a record, but it doesn't take rocket science to know that we have moved at least every other year as an overall average.

I know quite well how to navigate all the realty sites and hone in on the features that are the most pleasing to us in the current house hunt.  What I love, however, usually cannot be found on a realty listing.  I'm talking about--of course--finding plenty of light.

I have often endured tight spaces and dated bathrooms and awkward designs in favor of a home with light that pours in generously through windows and doors.  My husband has learned by now that I am willing to sacrifice many "must-have's" for a beautifully bright home.  As soon as we are all appropriately clothed so as not to offend the neighbors in nearby driveways climbing into their cars, my blinds and curtains are open to allow as much natural light as possible to illuminate our space.  Initially, my husband was somewhat frustrated with the nightly routine to untangle cords as we lowered all the blinds that had been pulled to the very top of the frames.  While I try to do it myself, now he doesn't mutter a word of protest as we cover windows when dark closes in for the evening.  Fortunately he has learned to accept yet one more quirk in his wife and is willing to go along for the ride.

Light illuminates.  It brightens.  It provides the way when we can't see to find our footing. It invites.  It reveals that which has been hidden.  It glows softly in a gently-lit room at night.  It beams rays of sun in a cloudless blue sky.  It brings a new sky after stormy weather.  It exposes the true nature of an object slightly concealed by darkness.  It warms our bodies and hearts after a season of winter. It fosters growth and nourishes life. 

Illuminating new discoveries, looking up and ahead to bright skies, showing the way, inviting others in, revealing secrets that have been hidden, unveiling truth, glowing with beauty, bringing joy and new beginnings, giving warmth after cold, fostering growth, nourishing life.

Plenty of light.  Living with plenty of light in my home, in my family and friendships, in my faith, in my spirit, and in the daily pursuit of life to the fullest. Finding light in daily adventures that make up the weeks and months and years--that's what this blog is about.  It is a journal of finding light on sunny days when you don't have to look too hard, finding it on the miserably stormy days when it take more intention, and all the days that fall somewhere in between.