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!

2019 Check In

 

Well, we are almost half way through February but honestly it feels as thought 2019 has been here forever.  Anyone else feel that way? I usually don’t relate a lot to January being the longest month of the year but this year it really felt that way! Despite that, I think we had a pretty good month around here.  Nothing huge or spectacular but nothing memorably terrible either – so that’s a win!

Health wise my back seems to be progressing in the wrong direction, but I’m feeling at peace with my health team.  I’ve also been doing a lot of my own research on possible solutions (there’s not really any, and nothing is straightforward) and physicians who are more specialized in Marfan syndrome (the condition that predisposes me to all these issues).  Though my research hasn’t led me anywhere that gives me more hope, it’s helped me secure my feelings of peace about the physicians who are already working on my case.  In the last two weeks I’ve also become uncomfortable with my sedentary lifestyle that has been necessary but that has contributed to weakness and muscle loss as well as a 20 pound weight gain.  I’ve expected weight gain from the beginning but I was already 20 pounds heavier than my most comfortable weight when this all started so another 20 pounds on that makes my body feel much more uncomfortable to me.  Of course my diet has also been a huge contributor to the weight gain.  I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do about the sedentary lifestyle but I’m giving some serious consideration to increasing my pain medication frequency to accommodate some light exercises.  I’m also trying to make small changes to my eating habits – limit my after supper snacking, eating more salads and drink more water are the ones that come to mind right now.  Food has been difficult during this time because aside from my back issues I’ve also had a lot of GI issues popping up that we’ve been trying to deal with and figure out.  Loss of appetite, intense heartburn, and food aversions have been the biggest issues that has led to poor food choices just to get some food into my body.  Some of those have gotten significantly better so it’s time to COMMIT to making some changes to my habits.

In terms of my one little word and goals I have for 2019 I feel as though I’ve made a pretty good start.

  • In January I read 2 books (goal is to read one book per month): The Knitting Circle by Anne Hood and Educated by Tara Westover.  I recommend both, they were easy reads and really good stories.
  • For self care I got out of the house for an entire evening for some much needed girl time.  It was perfect and I’m so glad my husband nudged me to go when I was feeling doubtful that I should.
  • I have also made some clothing purchases! This is huge for me because spending money on clothes has been really hard for me to do in the last several years.  Making sure that I’m buying as much ethical clothing as I can has made me a lot more mindful of how and what I purchase.  Instead of just going out and checking items off my list to get it over with, which is what I would have done in the past, I am researching and thinking about decisions for days (sometimes weeks) before making a purchase.  Given that these items are much more expensive than fast fashion items I’m also going to be trying to take advantage of discount codes and sales which makes the process slower as well.
  • I have yet to get started on any new hobbies which actually makes me irritated with myself.  I have everything I need to start sewing and for some reason (fear of failure? Not wanting to go through the learning curve? Wanting things perfect on the first try? Having no one to hold my hand? All of those things most likely) I haven’t yet started.  I’ve made a lot of excuses that are truly not valid, so it’s time to just COMMIT.
  • The transition to plant based has been up and down.  I’ve tried more vegan products and meals and have enjoyed them but I’m not making any huge drastic changes (see above paragraph haha) beyond picking up new vegan food items each time I go to the grocery store.  I know it’s a long drawn out process but it seems more sustainable to me than doing an all or nothing approach.
  • One thing that’s not on my goals list (because every year I add it and every year I fail miserably) but that I’ve finally made the jump and COMMITTED to is a budget. This will probably be a whole other blogpost but I’m feeling really good about it and feeling much more in control and at peace with my finances and it’s only been a couple weeks!

OK, this is a lot longer than I anticipated! I don’t know if I can keep up a monthly check in but I think there is value in taking some intentional time to look at where I am versus where I want to be.  Seeing the small steps I’m already taking is encouraging and takes away some of the overwhelm I often feel when thinking about big goals.

Tell me how your 2019 has been going!

Live in the Grey

Hi friends! I want to tell you a story, it’s long and it’s mostly because I need to do a little more processing but here it is.

Yesterday I stumbled upon an Instagram post of someone expressing their disgust with the recent news of New York’s change of law on late term abortions. Initially I skimmed and internally nodded my head in agreement because I generally don’t believe in abortion (this isn’t a post for or against abortion stay with me). Then against my better judgement I opened the comments and started reading. When I did that I drug myself into an entirely different world. A world that seems to be full of black and white views, hate, and lack of empathy just to name a few (on both sides of the topic). I was immediately thrown into the grey of the subject, the extraordinary circumstances, the what if’s, and the buts because I used to be a very black and white person but along the way I developed a realization that love lives in the grey. The grey is very uncomfortable though. The grey says I don’t really believe what you are doing is right and it might go against every single core value I possess but I understand why you did that(said that, believe that etc). Don’t get me wrong, there are still many many topics and situations where this is so so hard and seemingly impossible for me to do, but I do think that if we can throw ourselves into the grey areas of life we will find that love lives there. Also, hear me when I say this: Living in the grey does not mean you don’t take a stand for what you are convicted of, it only means putting away your need to fix something or argue someone to your side and instead saying “I love you anyways.” Jesus definitely had black and white views but also definitely lived with people in the very messy middle grey area and that’s the kind of person I want to be.

Now here’s the other part of the story:

Last night I was fortunate to get a girls night out for a really good friends birthday. We were discussing TV and I mentioned how my sensitivity to news and the terrible things happening in the world has grown to the point that I find it difficult to even read a news article. I mentioned that I didn’t feel like I NEEDED to know everything happening in the world. My friend responded by saying she had felt the same but is now becoming aware that maybe she should know so that as a Christian she can join in a solution (this is highly paraphrased). Enter the abortion post, I used the example of that abortion post because of the initial way it had made me feel – anxious and upset. Then we had a long discussion about it, the ins and outs. I took the devils advocate side I think because of my knee jerk reaction to the hate I had been reading in the post. It was a very civil, respectful discussion but I could not get it out of my head. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and more than anything I’ve been thinking about how as humans we need community. We need community to help us hash out these hard parts of life, to help us process our own internal battles. Without that discussion last night I would have let myself dwell in the toxic feelings of others. I would have become upset and then put it out of my mind without properly processing how I actually felt about it. It is because I felt I had a safe space to verbally dump my brain even though most of what I was saying wasn’t actually how I truly felt that I could then have a clearer mind to think about and wade myself through the messy middle. Community is so so necessary and it’s something I’ve been missing for a really long time (for many reasons but myself being the biggest obstacle). Yesterday was vital for me to realize that as amazing and incredible the online community I have is, I still need a real life, face to face community and I think we all do.

Moral of the story?

Love people in the messy middle and get yourself into a safe amazing community of people.

❤️

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!

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?