April 1 Check-In

Whew! April 1 already! Spring is here and it is glorious.  We are in the full swing of the start of gardening season.  Lots to clean up thanks to not properly getting ready for winter and lots to plant (that’s the fun part!).

Before we get there let me do a bit of a check in.  We’ve finished the first quarter of the year and I think more than any other year I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m at goal wise.  Momentum brings with a certain type of motivation, one that doesn’t necessarily come every single day but over the course of time it’s consistent.

Let me catch you up, it feels like it’s been forever!

Truthfully February wasn’t an awesome month, but I think it was like that for a few families.  Between the Polar Vortex and two separate illnesses in our house we only left the house a handful of times. It was long and lonely for us but it also meant I got some things accomplished that had been on my list for far too long.  March flew by and brought the sunshine and happy days! We celebrated my baby girls second birthday with my parents which was so good.

So what have I been up to goal wise?  So much! To see what I’m hoping to do in 2019 check out this post.

  • Investing in hobbies was something I took seriously in March – meaning I maybe spent more than I intended ha! I bought yarn and fabric, I bought many many plants and purchased lots of pens.
  • My hobbies have expanded drastically!
    • In February and beginning of March I sewed two outfits for my little girl.  I also purchased materials to begin sewing for myself.
    • I gifted a lettering class to one of my close friends and we attended together.  It’s definitely not something I’m naturally gifted in or good at BUT I enjoy it and I’m going to practice lots over the next 100 days for the 100 Day Project (I’ll post more on that later I hope).
  • In book reading I’ve become an overachiever.  February I did only read one book but March I read 7!!! I didn’t even know that was possible and I definitely was not aiming to overachieve but I’ve cut back a lot on my phone time and I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping due to pain.  Those two things combined means I’m getting a lot of reading done.  Maybe I’ll do a bit of a round up this month.  I’m really not a great reviewer of literature but I feel like the more I read that better I’m getting at understanding what I’m looking for in a book and what I don’t like.
  • I honestly can’t remember if I did a self care act in February but March I think I could name a couple.  One was getting a full day alone with my parents – that hasn’t happened in years and years and we did nothing special other than run errands and repot plants but it was still wonderful.  The other was getting out for an evening with a friend for a little birthday bash at one of my favourite local businesses.
  • I haven’t purchased any clothes the last two months and that is a bit of a disappointment because there have been many things I think I would like but I just haven’t been able to commit.
  • Transitioning to plant based has been more difficult than I anticipated only because I have zero appetite and the only things I really ever eat because of it are full of carbs and quick.  It is still very much on my mind and when I can muster up the motivation I do prepare lots of veggies.
  • We really haven’t done much adventuring yet because we’re really not into cold but I hope that changes now that it’s warming up.

I think that’s it! I do feel as though my word COMMIT has been huge for me this year.  I’ve started and continue to be diligent with a budget, I’ve committed to my hobbies, we’ve been far more consistent with our homeschool.  Overall I’m feeling pretty great about it!

How are your goals going so far this year? Have you been checking in with them periodically?

 

On Being Consistent

This month and especially this week I’ve been trying my best to be consistent in my actions.  I am typically very inconsistent and I lack a lot of self-discipline.   I notoriously start things and rarely complete them – whether that’s a craft project, diet, exercise routine or simply establishing a routine.  I think my word COMMIT goes hand in hand with being consistent.  When you commit to doing something there has to be an element of consistency to see that thing through.

This month I’ve committed to establishing and following a budget and have so far been consistent with using that budget.  I’ve committed to getting our office in order, getting papers organized and filed, getting tax documents in order, and finishing any unfinished paperwork that needs to be done (that ridiculous GST number I’ve never got rid of from 9 years ago and avoid filing the zero dollar claims each year because #procrastination),  I’ve accomplished most of that list. This week I’ve committed to snacking less at night and beginning to exercise in order to get my body into better condition. It’s only been five days but I’ve cut back on the snacks and done three days of very light exercises.  I’ve committed to being more routined in our day to day life – being less go with the flow (because that usually leaves me feeling unproductive and lazy) and more structured.  I’ve also committed to getting into a real school routine to get us ready for September when Ezekiel officially starts Kindergarten homeschool.

All of the above commitments have lead to more consistency and discipline.  There are definitely days that have been harder to follow through on and I’ve had to pep talk myself to get through them.  Usually if I get myself into the shower and ready for the day before 9am I am able to push aside the voice in my head that is fighting the discipline and consistency.  There have been far more benefits than struggles though and I am so happy with the results.  Consistency in action has lead to

  • a calmer household
  • children who are more cooperative and happier
  • fewer fluctuations in moods for me
  • large jumps in learning and confidence for Ezekiel
  • more free time that actually feels like relaxation because I’m not thinking of what I “should” be doing
  • more productivity and less agonizing about the “to-do” list
  • feeling a load off my shoulders and in control of parts of my life
  • less fear about what’s to come

Discipline is definitely a learned behaviour and it’s not easy but it’s so so rewarding! I’ve got miles to go to get where I want to be but I’m learning to focus on one baby step at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed and freeze with intimidation.  I’m excited to see the progress I make this year and the impact it will have on mine and my families lives!

Now for More Me

I started this blog with the intent of sharing the ways I attempt to live a more slow and simple life.  I was making huge changes in my life by way of clean eating, exercising, mindful parenting and the like, and I was passionate about it all.  I wanted to share all.the.things.  Yet somewhere along the way life ebbed and flowed, I felt less passionate, less inspired to share and less desire to write.

That brings us here, to right now.

I’ve had a blog for YEARS – I started one in high school as a project in either 2001 or 2002.  I continued blogging on and off but this blog is the first blog I’ve had that was supposed to be intentional with it’s content.  When I started it I dreamt of having a calendar full of ideas, generating content and “making it big” in the blog world.  Obviously none of that has happened!  I’m actually continually surprised by the little bit of traffic I get considering how lack-lustre my efforts have been in recent years.

Here’s what I’m beginning to understand about myself:

  1. Writing is something I love to do.  It’s therapeutic and necessary for my own internal processing.
  2. I really don’t do well with constraints, limitations, expectations etc. in writing but more so just generally in life. When I write I want the freedom to write whatever flows out of my fingertips.

So it is with all of this I come today to say – I’m going to write whatever and whenever I feel like it.  I’m not going to limit myself to “simple living” and I’m not going to be paralyzed by the completely made up need for a content calendar.  I’ve never been good at being anyone but myself and I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to realize this.

With the amount of time I have on my hands I think I’ll be here more often – but again I’m not going to promise or commit to anything at all!

I hope you are all having an amazing weekend, I look forward to more sharing of ideas and stories in the near future!

Ciao!

2018 Reflection

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Well it’s been a minute or two since I’ve been here.  I only wrote 7 blog posts in 2018 and truthfully I wanted so badly to write more but my capacity to do so was just not there.  I needed to step away from constant evaluation, my brain was (is) in such a fog that processing life was incredibly difficult.  I couldn’t make sense of my current life, my day in and day out.  I lived in a dichotomy of hating not being able to work but also feeling very blessed to be with my babies day in and day out.

The pain I now live with is unlike anything I’ve experienced.  Not too long ago I was claiming that I could deal with chronic pain, that it didn’t change my life or what I was able to do and accomplish.  I’ve had pain as long as I can remember and it was true that it didn’t greatly impact my life.  This new pain though, it’s stronger, more intense and greatly impacts my life.  I’ve been humbled and have gained a new perspective and compassion for those of us living with invisible illnesses.  The pain definitely seemed to take over my year and if I allow it it could steal the blessings and joy that 2018 also brought.

I’m not about to let that happen.  So here’s what 2018 brought into my life that was amazing. I’ve been able to watch my toddler grow and develop, I’ve been able to be by her side and she hasn’t had to deal with as much separation anxiety as she would have.  She is highly attached and us being together has made her year much more comforting.  She’s growing into such an amazing and hilarious little girl and it’s been such a privilege and blessing to watch that happen so closely.  I’ve also watched my five year old learn and explore and imagine and create and have been astounded at his capacity to learn and his passion for learning.  We’ve embarked on homeschooling and I’d be lying if I told you it went amazing, we are still learning our rhythm and figuring it out but it’s definitely been a blessing.  I’ve learned to live in the moment, to adapt my need for control, to trust in the One who holds me close, to live despite challenges, to dream bigger, to crush fears, to pursue the life I desire, to accept help, to lean on others, to be humbled, to slow down.

My one little word was ABUNDANCE and 2018 did not bring much of the ABUNDANCE I was hoping for but it did bring an ABUNDANCE of blessings in the midst of challenges.  When I re-read my One Little Word post for 2018 I still resonate with everything I wrote. This year was the first year I continually had my word in the back of my head, I thought of it often but was usually sad at the thought of it.  Perhaps I am a step closer to where I wished I would be, though I haven’t even come close to that place.  I am still learning to let go of my poverty mindset, to switch my thinking but I do think that 2018 helped on that journey.  It’s a lifelong journey, not one I imagine I will actually arrive at but it’s time for a new word and time to focus on a new journey.

Abundant Living

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying about living abundantly.  If you’ve been here for a bit you’ll know that my One Little Word for 2018 is Abundance and that it’s less about having MORE and actually about appreciating what we already have.  It’s less about the physical and more about my mindset.  A couple weeks ago as I was praying through this I had such a clear message placed on my heart, I wrote it out on a piece of paper and left it to resonate for a while and I think it’s time to share it here.  I pray that it blesses you.

In times of hardship we tend to just “survive” to just “get by.”  We don’t live our best life and feel as though that’s an impossibility, we feel trapped because our circumstance is unable to change and so we accept defeat.  In our acceptance we probably make poor choices which don’t line up with how we “wish” our lives could be.

I’m using “we” here very lightly – maybe you can’t relate to this at all and I’m sorry if I’m clumped you into what’s actually my own reality or I guess what WAS my reality.

I spent the last 3 years in a poverty mindset.  I was working as hard as I possibly could just to keep our heads above water financially and because I was just barely making it work I thought we were poor.  That mindset that was initially only applied financially eventually trickled into all the areas of my life.  I came out on the other side quite literally broken thinking there was no other option and that it was just an inevitable consequence of my circumstance.  My question after reflection is: what if there was another option?  What if changing my mindset from thinking we were poor to thinking we had everything we needed could have changed the outcome?

Is it possible to be living a seemingly unbalanced life and still thrive rather than just survive? When our circumstances are not what we had hoped can we change our mindset to accept them and learn to live well within them?  Can we dig deep, work hard and get to the other side stronger, healthier and happier rather than beaten, broken and barely alive?

If we can (I really think we can!) what is the formula?

While I don’t pretend to think I have this all figured out, there are some things I think will definitely help.  These are things I’m going to try my best to adopt into my life:

  • Daily “me time” of at least 30 minutes.
  • Daily prayer and surrender – acceptance of what is.
  • Compromise – we can’t do it all, pick your priorities and let the rest go.
  • Accept the sacrifice and know it’s temporary, stop feeling bitterness towards it.
  • Find a tribe, confide in them and accept help from them rather than isolating yourself.
  • Eat well, sleep well and make time for movement.
  • Use oils daily for emotional, mental and physical wellbeing (the Abundance oil pictured above has been very helpful!)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have anything to add to my “formula.”  This isn’t an easy journey to abundant living but I’m convinced it will be worth it times a thousand!

Homeschooling

If you would have asked me when I became a mother if I wanted to Homeschool I would have said HECK NO! I was 100% on the side of public school, and actually thought that homeschool was detrimental to the development of children.

Not joking.

I also was under the impression that only crazy Christians who wanted to protect their children from the corruption of the “real” world homeschooled.

Guys – have I ever talked about that time in my life that I thought the entire world operated in black and white?

I’m so thankful for personal growth, because WOW.

Over the last year and a bit I’ve started to have a passion for homeschooling. There are a number of reasons for that and the closer we get to Kindergarten the stronger this grows.  The more we talk about it the more my husband and I feel like this is what needs to happen.

So, why homeschool?

Well, one of our biggest reasons is the fact that I can tailor my children’s learning to their unique interests and learning styles.  I never thought about this until this past year while watching Ezekiel’s love of learning develop.  He’s such a little sponge and actually gets upset if we don’t do school every day.  What he doesn’t realize is that all throughout the day we are actually doing school – just not sitting down writing and colouring.  I try to tune in to his interests (currently we are back to being completely obsessed with Thomas and Friends) and then use those interests to challenge his learning.  Right now we are working on pen control, confidence with writing, counting, letter sounds and sight words and most of what I do outside of our workbooks centres on Thomas and happens during Ezekiel’s “playtime.”  For example, we might count the number of freight cars that Thomas is pulling, talk about what letter Percy starts with or try and draw Gordon while colouring.  All of these things are done intentionally but seem like they are just part of our day.

Some other reasons we are leaning towards homeschool is:

  • Freedom of time to travel without being “pulled” from school.
  • Ability to homestead and not have to worry about formal school hours during busy seasons.
  • Ability to help develop strong work ethic and life skills beyond school work.
  • Ability to focus on our children’s unique personalities and skill sets.

Of course there are definitely downsides to homeschooling but at this point we really feel strongly that the benefits far outweigh the downsides.  So with that in mind we power forward and work hard to try and make that a reality for September 2019, which primarily means paying off debt in order to be able to bring me home at least for the majority of the time.

With this being our ultimate goal I figured that this year at home with Ezekiel would provide a great “trial” run with homeschool.  I decided that I would undertake home preschool.  I had grand plans, I tried laying it all out and building a curriculum while I was on bedrest and waiting for our sweet babe.  Then I became a mother of two, life was hectic and I was trying to figure it all out.  So my grand plans became my “good enough” plans and we’ve done everything very informally.  I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a bit disappointed with my inability to make it more formal.  Yet I recognize my limitations and honestly I think we’ve done pretty good considering all things.  I try to do some form of school at least 3 times a week and that looks much different each week.  What I am so excited about is the fact that I’ve seen Ezekiel advance leaps and bounds from a year ago.  He’s a really easy student to teach given that he’s the one asking daily if we can do school and he would honestly sit for a few hours and just learn.

So, this year hasn’t been perfect, and there’s a million and one things I would like to change once kindergarten hits but it has solidified our desire to homeschool even more and for that I’m saying it’s been successful!

Would you consider homeschooling your children?

I plan on sharing a bit more in detail our homeschool journey so feel free to ask some questions and I’ll try and answer!

Rest First


When I imagined this maternity leave I had ideas that it would be similar to my last maternity leave.  My first maternity leave I ended up focusing on being healthy, and it was the first time I had felt healthy since high school.  It was like a body reset and I learned a lot about myself and my health that year.  I’ve mentioned several times that when I went back to work I really lost that feeling of being healthy due to stress and all that comes with that.  When I dreamt of this maternity leave I dreamt of losing all the weight by the 6 month mark.  I dreamt of loving being in the kitchen and inventing good healthy food.  I dreamt of walking every day and being super active and busy.

However, this maternity leave has been so much different.  I still have 15 pounds of weight to lose to get to pre-pregnancy weight and 15 more to lose to get to my ideal weight.  I can count on two hands how many walks I’ve been on in the last 3-4 months and my husband can attest that I’m not cooking like I used to.

Reflecting on how different these past six months are compared to what I thought they would be it’s easy to think I let myself down, that I didn’t motivate myself enough, that I was lazy.  All these thoughts try their hardest to creep in and bring me down but the truth is that I’ve been listening to my body and I’ve been honouring what it’s telling me.

REST

I’m giving myself time to rest and heal and that’s looking a lot different than I thought.  Honestly I thought that healing would mean exercising and building physical strength but my body has been showing me that healing first starts with resting.  This last week I’ve been feeling a rhythm start to our days, my body has been allowing for that to happen.  Up until recently I had no idea what I would be waking up to – would it be an Ashley full of energy or an Ashley unable to move much at all.  The past couple weeks my energy has been fairly consistent – even with Eden having VERY unpredictable nights.  So I can see how beneficial it’s been to listen to my body, to go to bed early, to stay home when I needed to, to relax when I was feeling run down.  With each passing week and month I gain a little bit more endurance and strength to just get a little bit more done each day.  Of course having a baby that is growing and maturing also helps with this but I can also feel the change in my body.  In August I barely had the ability to clean my whole house one day and be up moving a lot the next.  I couldn’t stand for longer than an hour doing things in the kitchen because my body just hurt all over and didn’t have the endurance.  This past month I’ve been up the majority of days canning, cleaning and just keeping busy and my body feels pretty good! Not awesome, but not awful and that’s a happy medium that I gladly welcome after a couple years of feeling terrible.

One thing I’ve been incorporating that last couple months is taking Sundays off.  That means that mentally I allow myself the space to not have a list of to-do’s.  If I wake up and have some energy to do a couple things I will, but I put zero pressure on myself to accomplish anything.  I sleep in an extra hour or two (which means up at 6 or 7 instead of 5), I rarely clean anything, I don’t do laundry, and my husband usually does the cooking.  This allows me to read a few more books to Ezekiel, to sit on the floor a little more with Eden, to write and read a bit more and maybe even spend some time on a hobby – which, with the changing of the weather means knitting!

Lots of lessons have been learned this year and resting is definitely one of the biggest.

Do you force yourself to rest? Is it hard or do you welcome it with arms wide open?