Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Beginnings

Tonight is a night for closing chapters that need to be closed and opening the door to all the beauty that God has in store for your future.  It's a time when we naturally reflect on the past and attempt to become hopeful about what is to come.  We set goals, establish new habits, shed the old, and search for the new.

Today we embrace what is to come.  We seek our future with open eyes, open minds, and open hearts.

But I challenge you today.

I challenge you to take this new beginning and invite God into it with you.  To open your heart to what He is trying to say and to allow Him to guide the path you will be on.  Don't just consider the options, prayerfully consider them. 

Take time on your knees today and give thanks for all the blessings you have had this past year and if you think you have had none, the simple fact that you are able to read this says you have had far more than your mind can even begin to imagine.  Praise Him, even if you are in a storm, for all that He has done, and is doing. 

Reach out as you embrace your future and know that as you travel on it, I will be here, lifting you up in prayer and His light as we move forward.  Never doubt that you are loved.  Never doubt that you are valued.  Never doubt that you are worth far more than you could ever imagine...and know in your heart that no matter how far your journey make take you, it will never take you further than just one step from being back in His arms again.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Moving Forward

Yesterday I opened up to you about what the past few years have looked like in my life and a long but brief synopsis of how I got to where I am now - sane and mentally healthy for the first time in a very, very long time.  I mentioned toward the end that a particular event the day before had led me to want to write again and promised you a follow up article today.  Thus, welcome to a new page in my journey.

I will freely admit that there are two modes to my housework: psychotic overkill or non-existent.  As the child of two people with serious overkill cleaning I kind of rebelled as I got older.  So either it's perfect, or why bother.  I also am the type of woman who believes that my primary job is to care for my children and husband.  I need to focus on my children when he's not home and focus on all of them when he is. 

The problem is that when I focused on all of them 100% of the time, I never took care of anything else.  Anyone with a brain can see where this went.  I don't have "before" photos - and if I did I'd be too ashamed to post them.

In order to overcome the clutter, I had to come to a new mindset that involved 5 key issues:

  1. Throwing things out is a good thing. 
  2. My children are capable of far more in this matter than I give them credit for. 
  3. My children will also try ANYTHING to get out of proving me right on #2. 
  4. If I ever want it done and want it kept that way it's up to me. 
  5. I need to learn to get over spending 24/7 with people I love and just GET IT DONE.
#5 was the big wake up call.  Time to ditch the antiquated notion of perfection and get over myself.

Yesterday was my first day trying this new concept.  My husband and son sat down to play a video game together (just gifted for Christmas), and I went into the kitchen and proceeded to organize my pantry.  No guilt because they were both happy and content, engaged and excited.  That was revolutionary.

XBox may just save my house cleaning!

Yup - you heard me correctly.  Thanks to them gaming, I could just GO.  And I didn't feel guilty, or left out, or like I was being punished.  I went and organized a piece and then would check in on them from time to time, have a laugh, and get back to the grindstone.

Tonight they watched a movie together while I organized the kitchen utensils and "specialty" cooking items.  Then after they went to bed I organized my soaping supplies and then spent some time doing the end shuffling that was necessary from all the clean up.

Our new cleaning schedule is as follows:

  • Between 3 and 4 PM I hop up from hanging out with the kids and grab the vacuum.  This is their cue to start cleaning up their daily crazy because I'm coming in there soon.  I quickly run over the main traffic areas in the kitchen, dining room, hallway, and bathroom and then spend a few extra moments on one particular room in the pile.  When I'm done with the details it's into their playspace and I handle the living room quickly and then head on out.  Once that's finished I quickly wipe down the counters in the bathroom and do a quick clean of the toilet and the cat's litter box.  Then into the kitchen for another fast wipe down of the counters and sink.  I put away dishes as needed (or load them into the dishwasher), pull out dinner, and start getting that ready to run on time.  It takes 30 minutes tops, including meal prep and the house is nice and fresh when hubby gets home from work.
  • After dinner I take care of the dishes and put everything away again.  I'm trying to learn to clean as I cook and so far that's going fairly well but will definitely take some time before it becomes a true habit.  I load the dishwasher, start it if needed, wipe down the counters again, and hen I'm back to hang out with the family.  Worst case scenario this takes 15 minutes tops.
  • Last, but not least, I tackle a few areas that need help every day.  The house is by NO means perfect yet - but by knocking out some of those every day the progress continues to move forward.  I try to do 4, some days I manage more, some days less - but for now 4 is doable most of the time.  Some days the projects are large (reorganizing the pantry), others are quick (clearing an area with a clear game plan in advance or relocating a handful of boxes that were presorted but didn't make it to their new home yet).  

That's it - that's ALL I'm doing.  I will freely admit I had a metric TON of help by my family who came to visit over Christmas and worked endlessly to get us to this point.  I will also freely admit I still have a LOT of work to get done.  But for now, I can cook in a clean kitchen, I can play with my kids on the floor.  I can take photos of my kids being themselves without having to panic and prestage the shot so the background won't reflect something I don't want seen.  HUGE steps. And now I get to take fun photos like this one of tonight's dinner! (BONUS!)

And every time I don't want to do it, those are the things I think about dealing with - and I remember those anxiety attacks.  I remember worrying constantly and feeling overwhelmed.  I remember what it felt like to constantly have the state of my house looming over my head.

And then I smile because as I clean, I sing.  I haven't just randomly sung whatever popped into my head out loud for years.  I'm a musician - and I had lost my song.  Today I sang "Getting to Know You" from The King and I as I danced around with the vacuum.

It feels good to have it back. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Getting Back on Track

First things first, I owe you all a minor apology.  I kind of fell off the earth for awhile there but please bear with me while I explain a bit about where I was, how I got to where I am now, and how I am continuing to move forward.

I know for a fact that many other moms out there suffer from depression and anxiety so I'm going to come clean.  After having my second child I had severe post-partum depression.  Thinking I could just "power through" I went off my meds and ended up in a deep, deep, deep hole.  This past more than 2 years that hole got deeper and deeper as our family struggled through my husband's job loss due to his disabilities, my father's stroke, the passing of my beloved grandfather, and many other smaller trials.  It has been a journey that was immensely personally painful to go through.

Last summer I choose to attend Wood Badge.  I started trying to rebuild my life and though the daily struggle was still there, I started to feel support and some wind under my sails again.  I wasn't doing great - but I was starting to try again. 

In September, I was stung by a wasp and surprise - I'm allergic!  For the first time since giving birth I HAD to go see a doctor so I could get an Epi-Pen prescription.  This was the first visit I would have had in years.  Self care had been at the VERY bottom of my list in a perpetual state for 10+ years.  On top of it, this was also my personal low.  Every time I saw a bee or wasp I had a panic attack.  This is incredibly unproductive...especially for a mom with a family who loves to be outside.

I went into the local clinic and was promptly given several surveys completely unrelated to the bee sting.  The alcohol screening and "at risk" behaviors were a piece of cake.  I'd had a drink on 2 days in the past year.  A mental health assessment was the last piece of paper I wanted to see and there it was staring me in the face.  To lie or not to lie....that is the question.  If I tell the truth, I'm back on meds and in a fog.  If I lie, I'm not going to move forward from this horrid place either.

I told the truth.  So along with my Epi-Pen prescription I left with one for anti-depressants and a follow-up appointment in a month.  For the first week everything was starting to get better and then we discovered that halfway through the day, I CRASHED - hard - like sitting on the floor of my friend's kitchen rocking back and forth and hyperventilating hard.  I called the office and they started having me take a 1/2 dose in the AM and my regular dose at night.  That worked - no more falling to pieces at 1 PM. 

Then something new started to surface.  Now that my body had figured out how to have a panic attack, when provoked I couldn't stop it.  It would take me over an hour to recover from stressors.  I was a mess!  The rocking became more and more frequent and by the time I got back into the clinic (6 weeks after my initial appointment), I had another choice to face.  Tell her, or not.  Total no brainer this time.

So now I went home with a new prescription for what she called a "rescue med".  A fast acting medication that I take when my anxiety is getting the best of me.  Fortunately I only need a VERY tiny amount (1/8 of the pill) to make it stop most of the time.

Which brings me to the next part of my journey.  No longer in sheer panic or depression I was able to start cleaning up my house and my parents came for Christmas and were a HUGE help on this leg of the journey.  Last night I made dinner in a completely clean kitchen for the first time in we won't say how long.

After making that dinner I was clearing out and organizing my pantry while my husband and son played a new video game and I couldn't help but think "I need to blog about this".  I came here to write that article and this one came out instead.  I promise that one will be here tomorrow and many, many more will be coming.

Watch for a new blog to be coming in the next few months.  Watch for LOTS of new changes in my world.  Enjoy laughing along with me as I continue to make mistakes and fail miserably.  Cheer along when I finally get it right.  Welcome Back.