The stir….

I think it’s common for people to reflect on the year behind as a new one approaches, and it’s no different for me….

I went to a women’s retreat in April this past year through my church, which was scary for me. It involved talking to women. Ridiculous right? My history with significant female relationships in my life has been turbulent, so to say I was anxious about going was an understatement… but I went because there was a stir in my soul that told me to.

.

As part of the retreat we had time to pray, to think of one word that would reflect what we are/need(ing)to learn to practice, or to acknowledge in ourselves and write down on a wooden disc to take home with us. As I closed my eyes the phrase “be obedient” kept popping up. Like an annoying mosquito, I kept trying to swat it away for a few minutes, but it kept coming back. I didn’t want to write that down. I knew in that moment it would be a year of learning, challenges, maybe setbacks… damn it. It wouldn’t go away. I wrote it down begrudgingly. Ironic right? Here we go- “be obedient Autumn, write it down….”

Within a month I was thrown a major challenge at work- and was expected to handle it. So, I did. I survived, but there were weeks of sleepless nights, no eating, sky high anxiety, paperwork, etc…and then other major changes happening within my job as the last day of school approached. Literally up until the last day. Nothing I had asked for, but had to been asked to be obedient to. Okay.

In June I had a break. I listened to that still small voice tell me to take the summer off (normally I continue teaching in my room, but I said no for the first time in 9 years). It was the best summer I’ve ever had- camping with my boys, no agenda, spending valuable time with some of the dearest friends I could ask for (I had best friends that were women)!

Add to that a year of being told by the spirit that I need to be more open, more authentic with others…. I started a wellness journey, and am so f’ing proud of that. I have never been in such a healthy place physically as I was January-September. Mentally while I’ve been challenged, I’ve been growing. I’ve read more books on growth and development that have literally changed me for the better. I’m being better for my husband, my kids, my friends, but most of all, myself. I’ve continued to make lasting friendships with other women, that turns out have very similar struggles- I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know that, had I not stepped out and practiced that obedience. I started going on social media and sharing my struggles, my celebrations , and had others reach out to say “me too!” “I had no idea, thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t for myself”.

During one of my physical challenges in September (a 30-32 hour, 200’ish mile relay with friends/coworkers), I started experiencing a lot of pain… and it didn’t stop when Ragnar (the race) was over.

My workouts slowly came to a halt as the pain continued to be steady and hard. Mentally, it sucked. But again, I had to practice listening to my body. Even doing yoga or stretching gave me such pain that I end up curled in a ball. I lost 15 pounds of muscle I worked hard for, I started sleeping 12-14 hours, I couldn’t play hide and seek with my boys after 5 minutes, because the jogging to a hiding place became excruciating…it has taken away my day to day fun with my boys, and I refuse to be ok with that.

In the past month I have had 3 ER visits, ridiculous amounts of bloodwork, and a colonoscopy, all telling me everything is fine. But my body and mind tell me otherwise. Obedience. Continue to listen and be obedient to my body- don’t push it to pain, but don’t give up on finding an answer..

I have yet another appointment tomorrow…. so to be continued.

All to be said… obedience has been my word this year. Not by choice, but by reflecting, praying, and realizing sometimes the things we don’t want to hear, are the very things we need to.

So. Reflection time friends…. whether it be this past year or this coming year. What is your word? What is your phrase that will lead you to learn, to grow, or to challenge yourself to be better than yesterday?

Whatever it is, lean in. I guarantee the benefits out-way the challenges or hardships. I also guarantee you are not alone….

Spinach, Flapjacks, and Colored pencils

Yesterday was a long day. After a few weeks of pain, it was at its worst in the morning. Long story short, I spent most of the day away from my boys trying to get answers, and came home with nothing but a script to manage the pain.

This morning our clocks gave us an extra hour. Our boys did not. At 5:15 they were up and ready to go. Micah was going to take them in to grocery shop so I could rest. I didn’t want to spend more time away, and went with. 6:45 in the morning, we found ourselves at the store with a few other like minded parents. It was quiet, and fun to be together. We divided and conquered, and completed the trip with window shopping in the toy aisle.

We ate breakfast at one of our favorite mom and pop shops in town. We taught the boys the penny sliding game and kept them entertained, then inhaled our coffee and eggs.

We came home, unpacked, and kept the tv off. The boys have been in coloring moods lately. So while I zombied out to Instagram pages, my sons colored quietly next to me.

I realized in that moment that these days are few. They are growing before our very eyes. I put down my phone, grabbed some colored pencils, and colored.

We talked about the colors minions usually look like, and then made up our own style. We talked about sports, about sharing, and listened to the scratches of crayons and pencil covering our pages. Calvin tore them out and with tape, hung them on our living room wall with a puff of pride in his chest.

Maybe I could have rested with that extra hour today, rest did sound nice. Or…groceries, breakfast and coloring with my three favorite fellas… well, it was a no brainer.

Time is fleeting, enjoy the moments, Even the day to day routines can be some of the most beautiful.

It’s Back.

 

anxiety

I thought I had it under control.

  • I haven’t showered in a week.
  • I’ve been on a cleaning binge. Cleaning out, cleaning up, not sitting still for even a moment.
  • I have forgotten to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • I slept for two hours in the middle of the day, and woke up at 5pm thinking I could keep sleeping through the night.
  • During the week, I go to bed at 9 and by 2am I am wide awake.

I thought about this as I drove in on my weekly Saturday night solo grocery shopping trip.

Anxiety.

I didn’t start talking to anyone about my anxiety until I was in college. After I found my faith (that’s a post for another day), I realized I needed some help and I needed an “outsider” (ie: therapist) to help me.  I went for a couple of months, and had reassurance that it was real.

I take medication for it.  I am not ashamed of that.

Lately I have had a lot going on that has been out of my control. I’ve had physical health challenges that don’t have answers, but do come with a lot of pain. I’ve had work challenges that I can’t make better by the snap of a finger. I have mom guilt for not being “present” enough when I get home from a full day in the classroom.

So my anxiety has kicked in. My personal care for myself has spiraled. I forget to take showers, to eat, and focus on trying to fix things around me. I want to be a fixer.

My physical pain is something I’ve been told “is all in my head” by a doctor over 12 years ago, and it haunts me everyday that I am in pain. When new health challenges present themselves, his voice tells me “it’s not real, you’re making it up”.

My mom guilt is my inner mean girl kicking in telling me I’m not good enough for Calvin and Miles. Miles attitude is because I am getting weak (got forbid it might actually be because he’s a 2 year old), that Calvin is getting anxiety and easily panicking because I’ve taught him to be that way….

So last night as I drove in to go grocery shopping. I checked my recent habits. I realized what was happening. I got groceries. I got home. I took a shower, I ate a dinner at 10pm. I talked. I talked to my supportive, encouraging, and loving fella. Who listened. Who offered advice.

This week I’ve set some goals:

  • I have an appointment to continue to figure out what’s going on with the pain in my body.
  • I’m going to talk to my doctor to see if starting therapy back up might be a good idea to manage my anxiety.
  • I will get my meals ready for the week, and set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to eat during the day.
  • I will exercise, and if my pain it unbearable that day, I will stretch or take a walk.
  • I will talk to someone if it gets bad. Instead of picking up a rag and cleaning, I will talk. As much as I don’t want to, I know it’s what’s best.

This isn’t something to be ashamed of. I know that now. It’s taken years, but I know it now. So if someone you know, is seeming distant, talk to them. Listen to them.

It its you….check your habits. Talk to a loved one, or, talk to a therapist. It will get better. It isn’t an easy fix, it’s always a work in progress. But don’t give up on yourself.

 

 

Mom Guilt

calvinatoffice

I thought I was doing the right thing by telling my son ahead of time that he was going to the doctor for his check-up, and that, there may in fact be shots. I forgot, the son I was telling is one giant worry-wort.

I told him the day before. As he went to bed, he got emotional, saying, “Mama…I don’t wanna get pokes, can we do it another time?”. I explained that the pokes would be quick, and getting those are a lot better than getting the sickie bugs that could follow if we didn’t get them. A four year old can’t comprehend that..but I tried anyway.

I know it’s cliché, but I really do wish there was a manual out there for parents. It’s too bad every kid, every mom, and dad are so different. What works for one family doesn’t work for all.

Maybe I shouldn’t have told him..maybe I should have blindsided him. Truth be told, I have never liked that approach, so I went with what I thought was best. Which is all we can do as parents sometimes…

So he perseverated….he was quiet, he was teary eyed walking into the office. Mom guilt set in.

“Hey Buddy, once we are done with this, lets go pick out a new monster truck, ok?!”

sniffle. “ok mom”.

ugh.

Our Dr. came and went, and then the nurse came in. Cal looked at the needles, the band aids, and started crying. I held him close. Jab 1- instant screams, he tried to push the nurse man and his needle away. I had to hold his arms down…and then before he could see the second needle, I pulled his face into my shoulder to look away. Jab 2.

He wailed for about 10 minutes, we walked down the hallway. Empathetic nurses, receptionists, and patients walked by with a “good job buddy!”, “would a sucker help?”, “how about a sticker?!”. All sweet and kind people. Nothing helped. My heart (and leg) hurt for him.

He’s 4. This is only the beginning. Today was a couple jabs….in the years to come there will likely be a bully or two, heartbreaks, fights with friends, feeling inadequate, not good enough. As a mom I don’t want him to ever have those feelings, but I know that I can’t make them go away either….

So instead I hugged him. I held him close, told him how brave he was. I let him cry.

And got him the toy truck I had promised him.

After picking up the truck, we got in the car. Calvin said, “I hope I’m done with those pokes forever “. All I could say was, “Today, we are all done”.

Sorry, sweet boy. Life is going to throw other jabs at you. But I’ll be here….

 

Transformation Tuesday….yup. I went there

I am not typically one to go for trends. But “Transformation Tuesday” felt important to me today.

I used to hardly have ANY pictures of myself. No offense to my fella, but he wasn’t (isn’t) one to always take pictures of me with the boys. Once in awhile I would get a picture, but for the most part I didn’t ask, and I didn’t encourage, because I was ashamed.

I thought it was physical. I thought it was because of the 110 pounds I had gained from having two babies. From the maternity pants I continued to wear far beyond my post partum days. From the double chin I felt I had in any and every picture taken of me.

I was ashamed of me. The inner me and the outer me. I didn’t see myself as of any value, any importance. So I didn’t try. I didn’t try to be healthy. I didn’t try to see “Me” for who God created me to be. I focused on giving all my energy to others, helping and serving my students and my family.. I would hide behind the camera, snapping memories of my babies and fella together.  It’s always easier to see other people as more important than yourself. .BUT.

*disclaimer* God calls us to love others as we love ourselves (Check out  Mark 12:31)

Crap.

Today I take a LOT of pictures, and truthfully, a LOT of selfies. Here’s why.

I’ve invested (for the past 13 months), and will continue to invest in me. In knowing that I am worthy. It is OK to take pictures of me goofing off with my boys, maybe even pictures pointing out my goofy personality, or showing my progress in taking care of my body.

Some might see it as vain, and you are welcome to that opinion. But my “selfies” demonstrate so much more than the physical change. They reflect  letting go of who I am NOT, and in embracing who I am. Quirks and all. They are memories I am making in a moment, with my family and in my own personal journey of respecting and LOVING this one life I have.

It wont be about 6 pack abs (although I’m not going to complain if they ever make an appearance ;)), It isn’t about getting back to my senior high school physique. My body had 2 bowling ball baby boys via C-section. Did I mention I had gained a total of 110 pounds?!

My body is uniquely and beautifully mine. It tells stories of change, growth, and strength. I’m frickin’ proud of it.

Ps. You should be proud of you too.

Friends, can we stop worrying about what others think of us and start thinking of how we SEE ourselves?

Can we stop judging ourselves to unrealistic expectations and embrace who we are, how we can learn, and where we can grow?

So…here is my Transformation Tuesday.

Physical. Mental. Relational.

It’s a beautiful thing. If you haven’t experienced it, take a step. I’ll be here to cheer you on!

Love and Hugs dear friends.

 

Chill Mama!

I’ve got plenty of things I could be doing…

In the hustle of the week it’s easy to get wrapped up in packing for the next day, trying to catchup on work, cleaning the house, doing laundry..But tonight my 2 year old reminded me with a simple tug on my pant leg… “mama, couch!”


Sit down and take a breath once in awhile. They won’t be young forever, these feet have been busy all day, a little rest is good for the soul, the body, and right now, this mama’s heart.
💙
Thanks kiddo for the reminder

A Shift.

On the Left: Mom of 2, Full time Special Education Teacher, Wife, gym member…
On the right: Mom of 2, Full time Special Ed Teacher, Wife, Work out from home.


The difference in these photos isn’t just
weight. It is discipline, community, accountability, nutrition, and mental health.

It’s realizing that making time to make my health a priority, doesn’t just help me, it helps others. 

I spend more time laughing and finding joy, than being tired, annoyed, and resentful because I did everything for everyone else, and nothing for myself.

The number on the scale doesn’t matter to me. It is the Non Scale Victories that bring me joy.

Here’s what matters to me:
– More energy to play with my two boys.
– Being an example.
– Being comfortable in my own skin.
– Being proud of my physical and (even more challenging) mental accomplishments.
– Filling my cup so that I can help fill others cups.

It didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t, (and still isn’t) easy. I choose to show up, everyday, and do my best. If I fall flat, I try harder the next day. It is progress not perfection.

I became the person on the right when I reached out and asked for help. I was given a community of support, a coach that checked on me, and a wealth of resources that I could utilize on my time, in my home.

I didn’t get to the person on the right by going it alone….

I’m a coach now, and I want to help others see their potential when they stop doubting, and start believing (just as someone did for me 9 months ago).

If you’re curious, you’re struggling, or you want to know more, let me know. I want to help.

“Alone we can do so little, Together we can do so much.”- Helen Keller