March – One Little Word Update and Lent

I’m entering March in amazement that I don’t have a baby to cuddle yet.  I’m at peace though, although I’m ready for this babe to come I’m ok with whenever that is going to happen.

With February gone (and boy did it fly by!) I thought I’d do a bit of an update on my one little word and what I’m doing this month to try and rest.  February I tried to incorporate meditation to my daily routine as well as a spending freeze.  Neither went perfectly but as I  was reflecting I realized that none of this is to achieve perfection, but to gradually better myself.  I did meditate over half of the days but never found a perfect routine – I’ll continue to meditate and try to get a routine going that works.  Of course with adding a newborn to the mix I’m sure this is going to take a while!  The spending freeze also was not a complete success (again) but much better than January – an improvement!  More than anything it made me very aware of what I was spending and where it was coming from.  My goal this year is to become and stay credit card debt free.  In a few days I’ll be able to officially say I have no credit card debt.  The trick is to keep it that way.  Sounds so simple but with a household on one very small (and about to get a lot smaller) income sometimes there are things that just have to be bought and the only way to do that is with a credit card.  The real challenge is deciphering wants vs needs and making sure that if I do need to charge something to the credit card that it is 100% needed.

Now for March.

I thought it was fitting that Lent this year started on March 1.  When I realized that I thought I could try and combine both my goal of resting more and of giving something up for Lent.  One year for Lent I completely gave up social media.  I thought about doing that again this year but then I realized that I wanted to do something that was actually long lasting beyond just Lent.  So I came up with limiting my phone time.  It’s a conversation I see a lot around social media and amongst my friends – the amount of time spent scrolling and looking through various apps on our phones has gotten out of control.  For me it’s really sky rocketed since being home on modified rest.  I’m often bored and to try and combat that I just look at my phone.  It was getting to the point that I would have to charge my phone twice a day just because I was spending so much time scrolling for no reason.  It was distracting me from really engaging with Ezekiel, it was making me procrastinate on things that are actually productive, it was numbing my mind.  When I was out standing in lines or waiting for appointments I’d scroll and scroll and scroll.  I had stopped engaging with the world around me as I stared at my phone engaging in the cyber world.

As I was thinking about this I tried to come up with something that would be sacrificial, encourage rest and realistic for long term.  I don’t want this to just be 40 days and then back to mindlessly scrolling my phone.  So I came up with limiting my scrolling to 3-15 minute sessions.  The first being after waking up, while drinking my morning coffee (if Ezekiel is still asleep).  The important part here is that it is not while I’m laying in bed right after waking up, it’s at least 30 minutes after waking up, giving myself time to think about my day and set my intentions for my day.  The second being in the afternoon while Ezekiel is either napping or having his quiet time.  The third being after putting Ezekiel to bed but at least 1 hour before going to sleep to ensure that my phone is not the last thing I’m looking at during the day.  Notice that all of my designated “scroll” times are when Ezekiel is not around to see it.  I don’t want him to grow up thinking that mommies phone is more important than what he is saying or doing.

I’m on day 2 of implementing this and it is actually way easier than I thought it would be and has already had such a positive impact on my day.  Yesterday I was at a long appointment that had several minutes of waiting at various points and instead of scrolling my phone I read a book.  Then I had several errands to run and while waiting in those lines I looked around and engaged with what was happening.  Again, while at home and not doing anything instead of pick up my phone to scroll, I read a book, baked an apple loaf, knitted, made supper.   It felt freeing and when I was scrolling it made me more aware of the things I was actually interested in seeing and what is important to me – there were certain people that I’ve been praying for specifically whose updates I wanted to see and so I scrolled quickly through photos and accounts that weren’t important to me to find the ones that were.  This was instinctive but was eye opening.   Today I am at home doing not much of anything because I am so exhausted from what I did yesterday, it’s a bit harder to not just pick up my phone but again it’s been so rewarding.  Right now my phone is still quite close to me at all times because I have to use the contraction counting app on it but that’s the only app I open outside of my designated “scroll” times.   I have the sound on in case I have a call or text message (which are NOT off limits during this) and then I mute it overnight.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much more impactful this is going to be in my life!

One Little Word Check In

As part of my One Little Word (R.E.S.T.) this year I’ve decided to intentionally focus on one thing each month that will help me to dig into resting.  I recognize that this year is going to be full.  With adding two people to our household – one being introduced to Canadian culture for the first time and the other being a newborn who will need a lot of care and attention – it’s bound to be crazy and at times stressful.  So resting is even more important for me this year, it will be absolutely necessary for my health in every way.  My mental, spiritual, and physical health will all need to be nurtured and paid attention to.

January I decided I would do a “spending freeze”and not spend any money beyond groceries, medications and gas.  I wanted to be able to not stress about money and wanted to start the year off with responsible and healthy spending.  Well that was a complete and utter failure.  I brought it on myself by not planning properly.  I didn’t look ahead at the month and anticipate expenses, and so necessary (and super expensive) things like car maintenance came up and because I hadn’t budgeted or anticipated for it I ended up feeling like a failure.  After that I just threw it to the wind but at the same time I always had this nagging in the back of my head.  So instead of completely giving up on my financial goals this year I am picking myself up and trying again in February.  Today I sat down and mapped out a budget that included expenses that I could anticipate.  My knitting obsession was included in the budget so that I didn’t feel like a failure when I know for sure I would give in and just go buy yarn.  I also know that I have a ladies date day with some friends that will cost money so that was included.  Lastly this month is seed starting month and I need a few extra supplies, so I built that in to the budget.  I’m ready to be financially free this year and I am determined to make it work.

Instead of just use my January goal for February I decided to keep on going and also focus on meditation as planned.  This summer I started practicing meditation in the early mornings but once I got pregnant all of that fell to the wayside.  I know that there are so many benefits to meditation and I am looking forward to including it into my prayer life as well.  Mentally I know that I will need an outlet and a coping strategy when things get overwhelming this year.  If this pregnancy goes as predicted that stress is probably going to start soon with a babe born a bit too early (although we are trucking along very well so here’s hoping the predictions are wrong!).  I know that I am going to become obsessive over certain things like pumping enough breastmilk to meet the demands of a growing preemie and getting the house ready for two new people.  On top of that I know I will be stressed about splitting my time between home and the hospital.  I am hoping that being intentional with meditation and learning coping strategies to deal with stress will help me to recognize my stress early and take time to deal with it instead of push it aside.  I rarely feel stressed mentally but I have come to realize that although I don’t feel it mentally I am still stressed and my body eventually manifests the stress in other ways.

I am so looking forward to this year, to being able to have the capacity and time to focus on becoming a happier, healthier me and in turn becoming a happier, healthier wife and mother.

One Little Word 2017

Christmas is over and I’m feeling all sorts of emotions over it.  On one hand I’m sad that I don’t have my pretty tree up anymore.  I’m sad that the anticipation and Christmas with a toddler is over.  On the other hand, I love the new year, I love the new start and everything that comes with it.

This year especially we have a new start as our family grows.  Not only are we welcoming a brand new baby, but we will also be welcoming my husbands first son into Canada around the same time.  A short time after that my husband will start to work in the area he’s been studying for the past two years (and another 2-3 years before that he was studying English just so he could get into the program).  So 2017 is going to be a big big year.  I’m not huge into changes – yes I love fresh starts and new beginnings like the New Year, but these big changes and new starts that are coming are a bit over the top for me.  I like routine and predictability.  New borns are easy enough to deal with, beyond exhaustion and the normal newborn challenges you get to pick the routine as a parent to some degree.  You get to decide how that first year will go and from that a routine is eventually formed and it’s usually within your comfort level. Add a full grown child into the mix with their own ideologies, and ways of doing things at the same time as getting used to a newborn and a little bit of anxiety creeps in.  Then add a husband with a whole new routine and the unknown of where or when a job will start and my routined predictable life gets thrown out the window.

When I think of each of these situations on their own, none of them cause me any anxiety.  I can break them down, rationalize and deal with the changes (in my head of course).  If I put them all together into a timeline and how fast they will all happen, I get a little overwhelmed.

2016 was nothing like I had wanted or imagined.  It started with a lofty goal and dream that quickly got brushed to the side due to multiple health issues.  That dream is still on hold and I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever pick it up again.  The health issues that the year started with are still there and not figured out, although they did start to improve slightly in the summer.  Then, enter pregnancy and EVERYTHING that entails this go around and I feel like I spent the year barely surviving while trying to juggle family life and working like crazy to keep our heads above water.  Of course there were a lot of good times and good memories, Ezekiel grew in every way possible and seems to get more and more amazing with each day.  We are beyond elated to have been surprised with a pregnancy and cannot wait to meet this little one (well we can wait until March!).  We had a few little day trips and a couple longer trips that were all fun and worth it.  I discovered just how much I really love growing things and my gardening hobby grew a lot.  So yes 2016 wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t terrible.

My one little word for 2016 was INTENTIONAL.  If you go back to this post you can read how I broke down that word into how I was envisioning it to work into my life.  When I read through that post again the other day my initial thought was that I had completely failed to work “intentional” into my year.  Yet as I reflect on 2016 I see that I was quite intentional in a few areas.  My health being the first, I finally allowed myself to recognize that something was wrong and I spent the first half of the year at appointments and tests trying to figure them out.  I had started to exercise again more regularly with walking.  I was intentional with my health.  As a mom  I was very intentional with Ezekiel and continue to try to be just as intentional – this one is simple for me, it’s actually just my parenting style.  I was also intentional with gardening and making sure that I was prioritizing my hobby into my life because I realized how much JOY it brought me.   I was intentional with my time off of work, I cut back my working days a lot and made sure that I prioritized time off with family and I allowed myself to not feel guilty about it or anxious about it.  So although my one little word didn’t get worked into my year like I had imagined it was still a year of being intentional.

When I was thinking of what my word would be this year it wasn’t hard to realize where God was guiding me.  December has been spent with scares of pre-term labor and other pregnancy related complications which has landed me on modified rest.  It was and has always been one of my biggest pregnancy related nightmares and here I am on week 4 of rest (with hopefully 10 more weeks to go).  Ironic that the last two years have been spent on high speed just trying to survive and finally I literally have no choice but to stop.  It was a rapid stop, one that almost gives you whiplash.  Once I settled into resting I realized that this is exactly what 2017 needs to be.  Not literally sitting and doing nothing, but making REST a priority in my life.  It will come in many forms and ways and I’m not going predict or theorize how it will happen.  What I will say is that I’m going to be reminding myself often that 2017 is about RESTING.

Have you made resolutions or picked a word for 2017? I’d love to hear them!

Overtired Ramblings

A day of feeling severely unwell followed by two night shifts and very little sleep has me so exhausted and in a state of constant reflection.  What better way to process overtired thoughts than to type them up and share them with the world right?

If you know me, or follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’m fairly addicted to that little social media app.  Apart from Pinterest (is that social media?) I don’t have any other social media accounts, Instagram is my one and only and I’m far too attached to it then is healthy – but everyone’s gotta have their guilty pleasure…. am I right? Anyways – if you’re in the know about what’s going on in the Instagram world you’ll know that they are bringing in an algorithm to change the way you see posts.  It will no longer be chronological but based on what Instagram deems most appropriate for you to see.

Bummer.

The fact that I have been mulling over this since I learned the news gives me flashing red warning signs.  I am far too emotionally attached to something so minute and so virtual.  So instead of being upset about it I’m just accepting it as an opportunity to put that one little word I chose at the beginning of this year into action – INTENTIONAL.  I took some time this afternoon to go through my list of people I follow, narrowing it down to accounts that are people I know and love, to local small businesses, and accounts that have tangibly taught me things throughout my time following them and who I feel have really invested into me.  In the end I was able to shave down my list to 3/4 of what it was.

Less time scrolling, more time investing, paying attention, making memories and being intentional with my life.

It’s actually EXACTLY what I need right now.  So after all that emotional investment into the change I’m really thankful for it.

Speaking of being intentional, it seems like a good time to do a quick check in on how the year is shaping up.

If you’ve been reading my posts recently you’ll know that I’ve been dealing with some health issues.  I wish I could say that I have answers, or that things are looking up and getting better.  Neither of those things are true, and I’m quickly going from my optimistic upbeat self (it’s fine, it’ll all work out, it’ll get better) to a state of frustration.  I’ve actually forgotten what it’s like to eat for enjoyment, right now I’m eating purely out of necessity.  In a way it’s really helpful for my nursing practice – I now know exactly what my patients are talking about when they explain nausea, lack of appetite and struggling with eating.  I crave nothing and want to eat nothing so preparing food for myself or my family to eat is getting more and more difficult.  I suppose it’s a really good thing that I’ve spent the past two years focusing so heavily on diet and nutrition, I know exactly what I should be eating and so I’m doing my best to continue to fuel my body with food that will feed it best.  It’s actually not hard to do since “treats” only mentally tempt me because my brain still remembers that at one time I really enjoyed them, but recently each time I try and eat a treat I’m left with so much disappointment (and nausea) and so the treats are getting few and far between.  I am also doing my best to make sure that I am eating enough calories – I’d love to lose a few pounds but right now is just not the time to do that.  Enough with with debbie downer talk – here’s the good news: my family physician is AMAZING and disregards my downplaying (I have no idea why I have such a hard time being my own advocate when I spend my days being such a strong advocate for my patients – it’s a real problem).  He listens to my symptoms and even though each test has come back with results that provide no answers he’s committed to finding the answers.  He has a specialist visiting his office and doing consults on some of his patients, he made sure that I was guaranteed an appointment and I’m optimistic that some answers will be found soon.

Anyways, back to the point – all these health issues that are getting worse instead of better have made being intentional so very difficult.  I haven’t made 10,000 steps in weeks, I haven’t done yoga in even longer.  I have had to put the MCAT on hold because I literally cannot muster up enough energy to open a book.  My husband and I have done a date night each month which is a WIN and it has been so rewarding we both love and look forward to those nights.   I try so hard to be intentional with Ezekiel but often on my days off I’m feeling my worst just trying to recover from the days working so this has been a struggle.  I’m so thankful for a carefree, easy going, loving, adoring and amazing toddler – we were created for each other and God’s graces in our relationship are so evident.  I’m not worried about this but I am really looking forward to feeling well enough to be far more deliberate with our time together.

I guess in the end the moral of the story is that life is never static is it?

It’s moving, flowing, like a river through the mountains.  Obstacles get in the way but it never stops the movement of life does it? We do our best to adjust, go around the obstacles and find another path.  My path is not what I would have chosen or dreamed of but I know that it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be and I’m trusting that once I get through the current obstacles I’ll have a moment of smooth flowing.  Today in my over-emotional, overtired state of mind I’m holding on to that hope and I’m praying that you can too – no matter what you’re current obstacles are.

 

Goals Check In

Is it too early for a goals check in?
  
Probably but I’m so excited about this tracking tool that I bought from Elise Blaha Cripe that I can’t help but write about it! It’s seriously has made a huge impact on pursuing two of my concrete goals.

  
At the end of December I wrote about my One Little Word and I talked about how I was going to be intentional with myself.   Part of that means moving my body more.  I decided for this year that everyday I wanted to make it to my yoga mat for some practice and walk 10,000 steps.  I have been following Elise for almost two years and I’ve seen her use a tracking tool that she created to achieve her goals and I thought maybe they would help me in moving my body more.  So far so good!

I kept my goals very simple with little expectations behind them.  Literally the only expectation I’m putting on myself is that I just do it.  Yoga everyday does not mean I’ll be sweating it out for 60 minutes a day.  This week it’s meant I’ll be doing a very gentle yoga sequence for 10 – 15 minutes (and I missed a day in there).  I don’t expect to be able to do handstands or crazy poses at the end of the year, I don’t expect to advance to any great lengths.  I’m purposely not taking pictures of myself or comparing my practice to anyone else’s.  I’m simply getting to the mat, I’m focusing most on my breathing during the practice and being completely present.  I’m making it work with a busy schedule, sometimes I’ll do it before bed, or at Ezekiels nap time or bath time just to fit it in.  If you are a newbie at yoga like me I suggest check out the Yoga By Candace YouTube channel, it’s the only videos I use and she has a huge variety of lengths and skill level.

10,000 steps every day was hard for me before I made it an absolute daily goal using the goal tracker.  I bought a FitBit in October and I’ve loved it but I have been lacking in my steps even with using it. Now – it seems so simple! With the use of the goal tracker my excuses went out the window.  I’ve been doing laps around my house while listening to one podcast episode.  When I put something in the microwave I walk laps until the timer goes.  Ezekiel and I will have a 20 minute country dance party which he absolutely LOVES and is a great workout for me! I’ve realized that just because I am at home all day for a lot of days I don’t have to be so sedentary.  I can move just as much at home as anywhere else, I just have to be a little more creative.  I’ve consistently been going OVER 10,000 steps each day and it feels GREAT.

I’m pretty confident that using this goal tracker is going to not only help me achieve my daily goals but have such a huge impact on my overall wellness.  

Reflections and Hopes

Hello again!

It’s been a long two months of absence and I’m not about to make any empty promises of a regular return.  In truth I haven’t even thought a lot about this little space in the past two months.  Life has been stressful, more professionally than personally but it’s taken a huge toll on me.  I’m ending 2015 feeling very abnormal, very not myself and frankly it’s been a bit scary to realize how unlike myself I have become.  Physically I’m run down, I have symptoms that are vague but scare me.  Mentally I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be, I find it hard to be upbeat and cheery and some days although I don’t feel depressed I wonder if this is how depression can sneak up on people.  Spiritually I’m almost completely absent, I just don’t have the energy to invest.

Once again I find myself in a precarious employment situation, and once again I’m trusting that the Lord knows – always – and something will inevitably work itself out.  It always does.  Yet, it’s still stressful – funny how our hearts speak the truth but our minds continue to wander to the lies.

I’m smack dab in the middle of a 4 night run of night shifts and instead of sleep on my break my mind was racing and I thought what better time to try and get out in words the storm of thoughts that have been accumulating.  December does this to me, as much as I love Christmas (gift giving is my favourite) I also love the end of the year and beginning of a new one.  Time for reflection and clean slates.

In 2015 I dubbed my “One Little Word” to be THRIVE and in some ways I feel like I achieved that but in more ways it was a complete and utter failure.  I’m ok with that though, I’ve learned more and more that extending grace to ourselves in our weaknesses is far better than expecting perfection.  I feel like I thrived professionally, I owned my responsibilities and I did the very best that I could.  I tried hard to go above and beyond expectations, I learned SO MUCH and grew immensely as a nurse.  As a Momma I also feel like I thrived – not without stumbles of course, but overall I feel like that was one part of me that survived and did well.  In taking care of myself I fell flat on my face.  There was no balance in that regard – the way I fed my body was not all terrible but wasn’t even close to how I want eat.  I barely moved my body at all this year and I continued to be on a downward spiral in terms of how I feel overall.  If 2014 was the best year for my body 2015 was almost opposite – only because I now know what it feels like to feel WELL.  As a wife I struggled so much.  My husband is one of the most amazing people I know but I really struggled with having enough energy to invest in US.  Don’t get me wrong – we aren’t struggling in the slightest as a couple, but we will before too long unless I step it up.

Although 2015 brought so much joy, happiness and fulfilment I’m not sad to see it go.  I’m ready for a new word and a clean slate.

My “One Little Word” for 2016:

INTENTIONAL

So many areas of my life deserve and need some intentionality:

  1. Marriage – I’m determined to be present in this partnership, to push past the exhaustion and go the extra mile.  I don’t think it has to be big and extravagant but it has to be intentional.  Instead of going to bed early because I’m too tired to even think about having a conversation, I’ll stay up that extra 30 minutes to simply ask “how was your day?”.  Once a month I’ll set aside a budget for date night and make sure that it happens.
  2. Myself – I deserve some intentionality, I deserve some focus.  I can’t even recall how many times I’ve been sick this year, how many times my body has been so exhausted or how many times it’s been in insane amounts of pain.  Some of this is out of my control but I would be amiss not to admit that a lot of it is completely within my control.  In 2016 I will again be going gluten free and I will again be moving my body more those are the 2 absolute promises I’m making myself and I hope that the domino effect occurs and that one by one bad habits will dissipate as new good habits form. Instead of crawling into bed at 730 or 8 I’ll make sure that I’m staying to do the things that bring me life – creating!  I’m also going to be starting on a lifelong dream of mine – I’m not ready to write about it yet but it’s already in the works and I’m excited to start!
  3. Friendships – This is the area of my life that 100% fell to the wayside this past year.  I can probably count on my hands how many times I met up with friends this year.  It’s terrible and one of my biggest regrets.  Thankfully I have friends full of grace and love and I’m learning to have grace with myself as well.  This year of learning how to be a full time working momma and how to teach my heart not to rip in two every minute I’m away from Ezekiel has taken a toll on my friendships.  Ezekiel is a bit older now and although my love has only intensified for him, I’m learning to let go just a little bit more.  Where I wouldn’t leave him home to meet up with friends, I know now that if that’s the only way I’m going to be able to invest once again, then that’s just what I’ll have to do.
  4. Motherhood – This is probably the area in my life that I was the most intentional and the area that is the easiest to be intentional with.  Yet there is always room for improvement!  I plan on doing a lot more one on one play and reading with Ezekiel this year, far more exploring and adventuring.  Instead of spending 30 extra minutes in the kitchen I’ll spend it on the floor diving into the imagination of a 2 year old.

Well, there you have it – the reflections of what was and hopes for what is.  2016 is bound to be another year of immeasurable growth but I’m more than ready! 

2015 Goals

It’s been quite the month around here! I’ve been really contemplating this blog and where I want it to go now that I’m back at work and don’t have as much time at home.

One thing I know: I love writing and I love this blog so I don’t want it to become something on the back burner. I’m going to try my best to get onto a better schedule.  Forgive my absence and bear with me as I continue to transition into this working momma role.  It’s amazing to me how long it’s taking me to get to a “normal” place in this new role I find myself in.  Of course starting a new job has made it even more difficult for life to feel “normal” because my transition in a new job has also had it’s challenges.

Anyways, more on all that later!

I promised a list of goals in my last post and I’m about to make good on that promise.

GoalsSo here they are!

Office : Our office is the bane of my existence! The thought of the disorganization and clutter in that room drives me batty, but it also overwhelms me to the point of paralyzing me.  This year I will conquer and finish that room if it kills me! I’ve already cleared out the closet and organized it.  Next up is the filing.

Monthly Dates : Carlos and I hadn’t been on a date since before Ezekiel was born! Now that I’m back to work and life is busier than ever and finances are a bit more stable we are making it a point to go on one date a month.  That might mean staying home and watching a movie.  It’s more about the intentional act of spending time together just us.  Marriage needs to be a priority, and this year we are making it that way.

Home Binder : This will be our finances, cleaning and maintenance, warranties and other things.  Just another way to organize our lives.

Gluten Free : After going back to work in November I let my diet go and eating gluten again has wreaked havoc on how I’ve been feeling.  So I’m making it a point to maintain a gluten free diet to allow my physical body to thrive.

No Credit Card Debt : while on maternity leave I was forced to use my credit cards for various things and was never able to pay them down.  This year I will pay them off and leave them locked up and put away to use only for emergencies.  I’m already over half way to this goal! I’m excited to thrive financially this year.

Past Years Picture Books : for years I’ve had pictures printed and stored in a box, and pictures stored on my computer.  Just sitting there, forgotten.  I wanted to get those printed pictures into photo books and also create digital books for the digital pictures.  Last year I found an online deal for digital photo books and bought five of them for $5 each and I finally got them made! I’m so happy to say I am all caught up on my photo documentation!

2015 Project Life : I realized last year while documenting Ezekiel’s first year of life that I really dislike digital photo books.  So I’m committing this years documentation to Project Life.  I have to be careful about the amount of supplies I buy.  I was drawn to Project Life because it can be as extravagant or as minimalist as you like and of course I’m going for more of a minimalist look.  The problem is that it’s just so tempting to buy all the cute supplies! So far I’ve almost completed January and I’m quite pleased with it!

So those are the big goals for this year.  I’m confident that they are all achievable and I’m ready as ever to thrive in 2015!