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!

One Little Word 2017 Reflection

December 31, 2017.

How did this day get here so quickly? Where did 2017 go?

I’ve been reading and following some others who have reflected on this year and I’m seeing a mix of reactions to the past year.  Some had an incredible year, and others had difficult years but what I have noticed is that regardless of how the year was everyone has been grateful.  Some grateful for how wonderful their year was and some grateful for the challenges and lessons they brought.

I am definitely in the latter category – the year was difficult, far more difficult than I was anticipating yet I am so grateful for 2017.  We welcomed a beautiful baby girl who is our miracle girl.  She is feisty, determined, stubborn, and so so sweet and she fits perfectly into our family.  It’s safe to say she is so loved and so adored by us all.  We watched and followed as our now four year old grew and matured and learned so much.  His deep desire for knowledge is inspiring, his drive to learn is what spurs me on daily to live as a present parent and teach him what he wants to know.  Truly our schooling has been 100% led by him and he has advanced leaps and bounds.  Every goal I set for our homeschooling journey has been hit and it’s only because he has so desired to learn.  Carlos finished his schooling despite so many obstacles that would have stopped many in their tracks and made them quit.  His perseverance in the face of trials has always been inspiring for me.  Truly, he is incredible and if anyone can inspire you to chase your dreams and crush your goals, it’s him.

As I watched my family have an incredible year I tried so hard to follow in their footsteps.  I had so badly wanted to reach so many goals, to accomplish so much and it seemed the harder I fought the less I accomplished.  Last year at this time I felt the Lord was asking me to use REST as my guiding word for the year.  I honestly didn’t anticipate just how much rest I needed.  I didn’t realize how broken and worn down my body and spirit was.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to stop and rest.  Quite literally I spent this year in deep rest – almost like a hibernation.  The first part of the year was spent resting, having a baby and resting more.  The second part of the year was me feeling like I was ready to go, to accomplish, to be productive and being shut down every time I tried.  I fought hard against REST, sure that my body was ready to GO.  Maybe my body was but my mind, my heart, and my soul needed more rest, more reflection, more intentional attention.

When I look back at the year, I’ll be honest, it’s a hard pill to swallow.  It’s hard not to be disappointed, and not to dwell on that disappointment.  It’s hard to not feel like it was a “year wasted,” but I know those are lies designed to make me feel inadequate.  The truth which I’m reminding myself of minute by minute is that my year was EXACTLY what I needed.  The truth is that my year was orchestrated perfectly to give me what I needed – time to REST.  I’m thankful for the challenges of parenting two children, for the joys of watching those children grow and learn (even when that means more challenges for me).  The truth is I was stretched in ways I wasn’t anticipating, I discovered parts of me that I wasn’t proud of.  The impatience, need for perfection, the struggles for control – all things that came out and tried to rule my life.  I struggled to fight against those things, I struggle(d) to know my worth and adequacy.  I struggle(d) to mother in the midst of being faced with my worst self.

Yes, 2017 was hard for me, but it was necessary.  I was forced to rest in the hands of my Father, to search for and know His truths in my life.  I was forced to cling to a God who knows and loves me and I’m going into 2018 with the knowledge of these deep truths:

  • I am worthy
  • I am adequate
  • I am beautiful
  • I am enough

The beautiful thing about my truths, is they are your truths as well.  So whatever your year brought I hope that you can also cling to these truths.

A Tiny Light in The Long Tunnel

Ah, the trials of being a parent are endless.  I mean I’m only just in the beginning of this life long journey and sometimes I feel like I’m a rockstar and other times I feel like I’m just barely keeping my head above the water.  Yesterday was one of those treading water, barely surviving days.  I mean I’ve had worse days for sure but I’ve had much much better days as well.

Let me be 100% honest here. There are two things that are essential to life that if I don’t have adequate amounts of I will turn into someone I despise – sleep and food. I mean probably everyone struggles if they don’t get enough sleep or don’t eat well, but I feel like my reaction to exhaustion and hunger is extreme. I don’t want to talk to anyone and give Carlos a glare if he tries to talk to me. My answers to Ezekiel’s incessant toddler questions are short and impatient. That’s just a very small sample of my outward reactions to people – if you knew my internal turmoil you’d probably think I was a terrible person – and you’d be right. The worst part is that I see it all, I am 100% aware of my behaviour and I loathe it but find it incredibly difficult to change my attitude. It’s like I’m watching myself and yelling “ASHLEY GET OVER YOURSELF!” I might be able to change it for a few minutes, maybe even an hour, but it won’t last long.

That was me yesterday.

Eden has been having trouble sleeping at night and after several consecutive long nights in a row I was done. Not only that but I questioned every single thing I was doing, I convinced myself that I had created her inability to sleep at night and that there was nothing I could do to change it.  I mean, probably I am to blame for some of it but I was in full on “woe is me” mode.  Poor, poor pitiful me.

Do you hate the person I am explaining?

Me too.

On top of not sleeping well, I was also not eating well.  I have struggled this year in this area.  It’s not that I’m eating junk food, it’s that I’m not spending time planning and preparing food and so most days I’m falling short on the nutrition I should be getting into my body.

So yesterday, despite my terrible attitude, I knew I had to eat better because that’s at least one part of this equation I can control.  I can’t control how well Eden is sleeping but I can control the food I’m putting into my body.

After a long day I put the kids to bed, falling into bed myself right after at 6:50 pm.  I drifted off to sleep at 8:30, was woken at 10 pm and wondered how I was going to make it through another night like this.  I feel back asleep at 10:30 and was woken again at

5 AM!!!!!!

Cue the angels singing.

Seriously.

A little tiny glimmer of hope.

A small tiny pinprick of light at the end of this long tunnel.

The first year of life is one full of so much.  So much growth, so much development, so much learning, so many challenges, both for the babies and for their parents.

It can feel long.

It can feel hopeless at times.

Then there are these little moments where you understand that, yes, you can absolutely do this.

So for all you parents out there wondering if you’re going to make it.

You will, and you are.

Keep on going, you got this.

It Takes a Village

As I write this my parents are driving back to Saskatchewan after a 4 day visit.  They came for Ezekiel’s birthday, which happened to coincide with two very hard weeks.  It’s made me realize just how hard this motherhood thing is when we try and do it alone.

I’m a naturally independent person, I pride myself on my ability to do a variety of things on my own.  I enjoy being alone, I enjoy challenging myself and I enjoy looking back and saying “I did that.”  Be it finishing school while working several jobs, buying a car, getting a job, building something for our backyard, planting a garden or working on a house project.  I rarely ever ask for help and that is a huge downfall.  Now that I’m mothering two little beautiful humans I’m realizing just how big of a downfall it really is.

A couple weeks ago both Ezekiel and Eden ended up getting sick, and Eden was/is cutting some teeth at the same time.  So, besides going to a few essential appointments we were quarantined to our home.  I don’t often mind being quarantined to the house but it makes for long days and lots of isolation and too much of that just messes with my head and heart.  Once they were starting to feel better (aside from Eden’s teeth) I thought we were in the clear, but I ended up getting really sick and losing my voice over the Remembrance Day long weekend.  At the same time as being sick I had to plan and prepare for my parents visit as well as Ezekiel’s birthday party.  I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least and honestly feeling awful.  Also, this week Eden has decided that she’s no longer satisfied with sitting and playing, she wants to go, go, go, go but can’t actually get anywhere on her own.  This results in a lot of screaming and a lot of me holding her and trying to appease her which means I get next to nothing done while she is awake.  Sleeping at night is a challenge with teething and such a big developmental milestone so we are all exhausted.

Enter my parents arrival, they swooped in and allowed me to relax.  They cooked meals, folded laundry, did the dishes, played a million games with Ezekiel and tried their very best to get Eden to not be a permanent attachment to my body (they succeeded for the most part!).  Instead of running around trying to do it all I allowed myself to sit, drink copious amounts of coffee and knit many projects (I finished three items and got another half done!) Of course my husband also is a rock of support but with working part time and stressing himself into his own illness over his last class at school, this past week he couldn’t be a lot of help either.

Honestly, I’m surprised at just how hard I have found adjusting to two children.  In some ways it’s not hard at all and it’s all kinds of wonderful.  In other ways – especially when there’s a lack of sleep and sickness – it’s the hardest thing ever.  I’m surprised at how defeated I can allow myself to feel, I retreat into myself and become introspective trying to solve the problem of how hard this really is.  I look at the situation and try and figure out how I can survive and still get it all done.

You know what the solution is?

Ask for and ACCEPT help. Not only that but BUILD your village.  Invest into people around you, offer help when you can, lend an ear when you can’t and ask for help when you need it.  We are all on this journey together, just trying to survive but also trying to be the best we can for these little humans that rely on us.

Would I have survived without my parents being here?

Yes.

BUT

It would have been a million times harder than it was.

I’m not saying I’m really good at being in a village – in fact I think I actually suck at it but I’m trying harder each day.  It’s essential, not only for our own well being but also for the benefit of our children.  So today, whatever challenges you are facing find someone you can trust and rely on and allow them to help you.  If you’re not in a time of challenges I bet you know someone who is – reach out to them, offer help because this life takes a village, a great big village.