Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On Mistakes, Growing, and Moving On

I messed up. The error felt epically huge. And I didn't know what to do other than to own my mistake. But I wanted to fix it, to undo it, to not feel SO terrible about the problem I created. Brene Brown writes that, "When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the annoying back seat driver." I am a perfectionist, a recovering one, I think, yet I keep finding my perfectionism keeps cropping up in new places. And in this situation, it was definitely present because I was definitely afraid, so much that I dreamed about consequences of my mistake for most of the night.

After the night of difficult dreams and haunting reiterations of my mistake, I woke up and read these passages from Sarah Young's Jesus Always:

"I can smooth out all the tangled up places, including those in your mind and heart."

"Be willing to take responsibility for your own mistakes and sin without feeling responsible for the sinful failures of others."

"I am here to help you untangle your complex problems and find the best way to go forward."

"Beware of getting stuck in introspection or obsessing about how to fix things. Instead keep turning to Me, seeking My face and My will."

"Wait with Me, trusting in My timing for unscrambling things and making your way clear."

"Be willing to live with unresolved problems, but don't let them be your focus."



As I read, the Holy Spirit convicted me that my perfectionism was present, even in my shame. I wanted to fix everything...perfectly. I wanted to take all the blame for the problem so that I could find a perfect fix for the issue. I wanted a perfectly pretty resolution. The Spirit clearly showed me that I am not in control. I can only own up to my part of the issue. I cannot take responsibility for the way others respond. The issue at hand might not resolve, or it might not resolve like I want it to resolve. God is in control, not me. He's the only perfect one. I have to let go, admit my imperfection, and let God clean up the rest of the mess. Easier said than done.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Afghan 54

Pinterest is a great place to find baby blanket patterns. (Find my Projects board here.) The book of patterns my friend game me has been wonderful, but something I just want to search for something new. That is how this afghan came to be.



The pattern is baby bean by Left in Knots. The stitch is a variation of cluster and is repeated row after row. (I completed about 108 rows before edging in a single crochet stitch.) For the afghan, I used most of a Super Saver Jumbo skein of petal pink from Red Heart. The finished product measured 22 by 33 inches.

As for my hand, it lets me do about three rows of crochet a day, which is better than nothing when it comes to stress relief. The last shot of botox did not hurt much, but did not seem to help with the clenching and discomfort. The next step is hand therapy with a physical therapist. We'll see how that goes. This focal dystonia might just be something I have to live with.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Perfectionism, Rejection, and Authentic Living

I waited over a year for this opportunity. I attended multiple trainings, underwent a background check, and even sat through an interview process in order to get accepted. And now, after just a few times of serving, I asked to be taken off the list. I felt so shameful in doing so.



I wrote a few months ago about the rejection of children's church service and the pain of growing. And now here I am again. I don't know if children's ministry is not for me, or if this is just not the season. But for now, after receiving a, "Yes" to service from the church, the answer to my availability is, "No."

I wanted to justify myself today when I asked to be taken off the church ministry schedule. I wanted to give a reason for my request that would make sense. But I realized that the children's minister didn't need my explanation. She needed honesty and forthrightness and that was all.

But I didn't fully understand my own decision. I couldn't figure out why I felt so terrible and ashamed of myself for "resigning." God graciously brought me into the book Uninvited by Lysa Tykeurst this afternoon, however, and specifically to these sentences:

"This rejection doesn't mean I'm [whatever negative label or shame-filled feeling you are having], it makes this [opportunity] [person] [desire] a wrong fit for me right now. Instead of letting the feelings label me, I'm going to focus on God and His promises for good things." (p. 132).

All of a sudden, I had this realization that the shame I feel is a product of rejection, not the rejection of the church, but rejection that stems from perfectionism. The perfectionist side of me says that I have to be all things to all people. The perfectionist side of me asks why I can work with kids at my job five days a week and not add on a day of service at church. The perfectionist side of me condemns me for my lack of endless energy. The perfectionist side of me creates guilt and shame when I rest.

But guess what? I'm human. I'm not the Energizer Bunny. I can't be perfect, and I need to be honest about that, instead of ashamed of it. This is the real me, the me who needs to say, "No," right now. The me who needs to do less in order to focus on GOD, and what He sets before me to do. The me I need to learn to accept, instead of reject.

This is raw. This is real. This is hard. But this is authentic living.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Patriot Run 2017

I remember the day, June 30, 2013 that I heard the news: The Yarnell Hill Fire had overrun and killed 19 of Arizona's best firefighters. I felt sick. I wanted to do something to help. I wanted to go home. But I was in Arkansas and going to graduate school, so I couldn't.

Four years later, here I am, back at home, working in my hometown community (not necessarily with these families, but with other families like theirs), having the opportunity to give back. I am so thankful.

One of the ways I give back is by running the Patriot Run each year. This run commemorates the lives of the victims of September 11, as well as honoring the Granite Mountain 19.The race starts and ends at the Prescott Valley Healing Field which contains an American flag for each September 11th victim, and a black and purple flag for each firefighter. Each flag contains a card giving the name and background of each person. Walking through the field is powerful. Reading the tags can be excruciatingly painful.

After the healing fields, the race course wraps around the civic center and goes through the town plaza. There a bagpiper plays. The course is a little confusing, but at least this time they had good traffic control so that I wasn't stuck waiting for lights to change in order to cross the street.


Last year, I ran the Patriot Run thanks to an invitation from my mom. I ran that race, my first back in Arizona, in 29:08 minutes. This year, I've been running slower, so I didn't expect to finish as well. (I also didn't get enough sleep last night.) But lo and behold, I finished in 28:17. I'm so excited! And thanks to my wonderfully supportive parents, I had cheerleaders and photographers on hand for the event. 

Here are a few of the photos from the race:





And I have to admit, this t-shirt logo is pretty cool:


Tell me: How do you commemorate important events in your community's history? What fun activities have you been up to lately?

Please share below.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Coincidence?

"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days."
~Ecclesiastes 11:1, KJV

I mentioned a few posts ago that I bought and sent some t-shirts to friends. A few days later, this arrived in the mail:

Can we say coincidence? No. As a follower of Christ, I don't believe in coincidence. I believe in blessings from God, and I see this gift as just that. See, I didn't buy and send t-shirts to friends to get something back. I did it because I love my friends and something (someone-The Holy Spirit) prompted me to do it. I'm guessing it was the same with the friend who sent the gift to me.

This shirt came at an especially difficult time, too, as I'm struggling with life decisions, work boundaries, and self-image. I need the reminder that faith is vital and can move mountains.

Coincidence? No. God knew I needed this. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Role of Privilege in Self-Care

I made another "self-care" shopping haul a few weekends ago. I've been shopping for myself a lot more recently, buying things I don't really need, like neon green nail polish, Dairy Queen blizzards, more nail polish, and recently, a new brush, glitter hair elastics, and pens.



(The nap t-shirts are gifts for friends.)

Did I need this stuff? No. Did this stuff make me feel better? Slightly. To be honest, it's kind of a rebellious response to all the years that I spent denying myself "extras" because I didn't "deserve them," and sometimes, just because I didn't have the money. Now I have resources, and I'm using them.

As I've thought about my recent splurges, though, I've thought of the privilege involved in them. I'm a single, white woman blessed with a good job that pays good money and awesome parents that allow me to live with them for cheap rent. Were I an unemployed woman, a woman without the privilege of education, a woman without a good job, or even just a resident of a different geographic location, I might not have money to spare. I might be living hand to mouth, or even relying on community resources like food banks and church pantries to put food in my mouth. Were I a single mother, I might not have time to spare for self-care. My point is that self-care is a privilege, one I am grateful for, but not one that everyone has.

Self-care is all the rage right now, and sometimes I think I judge people who don't practice it. (Forgive me.) But what if those people legitimately can't care for themselves right now? What if they're just surviving? What if they're expending all their time and energy and resources to care for others? That's to be valued, too.

Self-care is care for self, and it's important. What self-care isn't is others judgement and self-aggrandizing. Let's watch out for that. Because ultimately the point of self-care isn't to be selfish, but to have energy to care for others, to care for those who might not be blessed with the same privileges we have.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I Just Couldn't Do It

I'm normally one to persevere, to keep going when it hurts, to do the max I can. But last week, I just couldn't. I had some stomach pains after lunch, and when I went to go to my next activity, the more I moved, the more I hurt. The more I hurt, the more I got hot and cold flashes. The more temperature changes, the more nausea. I could hardly move at times and rated my pain at a 10/10 in some moments. I didn't know what to do. I was with kids and didn't want to make a scene, but I wasn't moving like I should to coach and guide them. 
I wasn't supposed to leave the other adult alone, either. I thought I might need to go to the bathroom to throw up, but couldn't figure out how to make it there without crawling, and that would be a scene.

Eventually, another coworker arrived and I told her I wasn't feeling well. I told her I thought I needed to go home and asked if she could stay. It was embarrassing. I hate to admit weakness. The kids got upset and I felt like I was letting them down. But I really had to go.

I still feel embarrassed and sheepish and weak, but you know what? That's life. Real people get stomach pains sometimes. Real people have to leave work sometimes due to illness. Real people have to admit when they can't do it anymore.

This experience wasn't fun. It was painful in many ways. But it was real, and isn't that the journey I'm on? Authentic living in sickness and in health, I guess.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Detox

I've been realizing lately how vital Saturdays are to surviving the week. If I don't rest on Saturdays, I'm toast for the next week. I need self-care every day, but it's crucial on the weekend. Saturdays are my day to detox, to let go, to go slow, to refill. Here are some of my go-to habits for Saturdays:

1) Walking with Mom: To let go of the stale air from indoors and to inhale some fresh air, as well as some quality time and wisdom from a woman I greatly admire.

2) Superfoods: I often overeat on Friday nights, and wake up feeling sluggish the next morning. I wish this wasn't my habit, but for now, I'm accepting it and combating it with better nutrition on Saturday, like cinnamon turmeric chocolate milk, coconut oil, green tea (my favorite is Honey Lemon Ginseng from Celestial Seasonings), and plenty of vegetables.

3) Naps: Tiredness out, rest in. I read that drinking caffeine before napping helps the person wake up more energized, so I've been drinking tea just prior to sleeping.

4) Quickie yoga: A few minutes of calm, most of the time after the nap. This wakes me up a little and helps keep my mind in a calm state. My favorite current source of yoga is Lesley Fightmaster's YouTube channel.

5) An earlier bedtime: I'd really like to stay up late on Saturday nights, but when church comes early, I just perpetuate the cycle of sleeplessness form the week.

These are some of my Saturday self-care habits. What are yours?
Please share in the comments.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Easy Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

A few Saturdays ago, I found myself in need of a creative outlet. It had been an exhausting week and my brain just needed to make something new. (I read this week that the best self-care tasks for my personality type, ISFJ, are simple tasks that provide sensory input. Hello, cooking!) I wanted to recreate my favorite chocolate applesauce stove-top oatmeal in baked form, but couldn't quite find a recipe. So I adapted this one from The Conscientious Eater.



These oats were soft, fluffy, and popped right out of the greased pan. If you're looking for a make-ahead or on-the-go breakfast, this might be it!


Ingredients:


1 c. quick oats
2 T cocoa
1 T ground flax meal
1/4 t baking powder
1/8 t salt
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c milk of choice (I used Almond Breeze's almond coconut blend)


Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a small loaf pan. (I used coconut oil.)
3. Stir together dry ingredients, and then add wet.
4. Pour mixed ingredients into the loaf pan and smooth with the back of the spoon.
5. Bake for twenty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Most Important Thing

"Is your faith important to you?" The man at worked asked me.

"Yes, I replied."

"Is it the most important thing?" He queried.

Fumbling for a minute, I replied, "Yes, I guess it is."

I'd just never thought of my faith that way. I'd thought of my faith as innate, as vital to my identity, as important, but I guess I'd never thought of it as the "most important." I guess I'd never pondered what was "the most important thing" in my life. I'd just lived.

But now that I've had my co-worker's prompt, I've begun to examine why my faith is the most important thing in my life. It's my foundation, the reason I exist, the reason I have hope. It's the reason I can do the work I do, how I cope. I believe someone bigger (GOD) is in control. 

My is internal through the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. But it's also external, and should be visible in how I live my life, in how I practice my profession, in the way I interact with others. And that should show.

Is my faith perfect? Is my expression of it perfect? No, but I want to work at it. And that's also part of why my faith is most important, because it motivates me to become better, not to earn my salvation or eternal life, but to be more like Jesus. Because HE is the most important person that died for my sins to save my soul and give me this faith. And He lived a life that showed His most important faith by his actions.



What about you? What's the most important thing in your life? Please share below.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Chocolate Cinnamon Cantaloupe Oatmeal

You might have noticed that chocolate oatmeal is one of my favorite things. With the heat of summer, I've still been craving it, but well, it's hot, so not as enjoyable. This lovely combo is the best of both worlds, though. Sweet, spicy, warm oats topped with cooling cantaloupe:


I included cinnamon in this recipe (to sweeten the oats), plus a little ginger. Eating each bite of cantaloupe with a bite of chocolate yields just the right ratio of cold and hot, sweet, and not. Enjoy!


Ingredients:



1/2 c quick cooking oats
1 1/2 c water
3 t dark cocoa powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger

1/2 c (or more) diced cantaloupe


Directions:



1. Bring oats and water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. 
2. When oats reach the desired consistency, stir in the cocoa, cinnamon, and ginger.
3. Transfer oatmeal to a bowl, and top with diced cantaloupe.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What's Helping Me Get Through

Work's a little busy. Life's a little crazy. How am I getting through? These five self-care practices help:

1) Slow breakfasts: Giving myself 45 minutes to sit and eat and scroll through my phone. Admittedly, I can get overly caught up in negative research on my phone, or fall into the comparison trap of social media, but overall, it's a good habit.

2) Sleep: I can't get enough of it, and weekend naps are key! I sometimes give up other social engagements or activities to get in my time. Sleep is just so important right now.

3) Podcasts: Filling my mind with positive thoughts helps fight the negative ones. External noise also helps quiet the internal noise. Right now, I'm a major fan of The Chasing Joy Podcast with Georgie Morley. It's positive content and helpful tips for living a life of overall wellness. Double win!

4) Eating more protein: Days are long and being hungry/having low blood sugar just isn't good. So even though I'd like to be vegetarian, I've started eating more meat. I've also started supplementing my diet with and protein powder and protein bars. Right now, I just need that little "extra."

5) Moving: I still haven't quite figured out the right rest and exercise balance, but moving feels good, especially when I sit at a desk or ride in a car all day. Sometimes movement is walking, sometimes slowly running (or trotting, as I prefer to call it), sometimes yoga, and sometimes weightlifting and/or HIIT. Movement just makes the day go better, and sometime being sore gives me something to focus on other than ruminating about the craziness of life
These are the current ways I'm practicing self-care, but what about you? What's getting you through right now?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Afghan 53

I've been crocheting three rows a day, almost every day, since I started my new job. It's a self-care practice, a way to de-stress, time to listen to podcasts and get in "the flow." Completing crochet projects is also a reminder to me that life isn't perfect, that things can be beautiful even if flawed, and that sometimes finishing is all it takes.

Take for instance, the afghan below. The pattern confused me a bit and I improvised to make it work. The afghan turned out smaller than I would have liked. (I also omitted the fringe since I didn't think that would be good for a baby.) In all honestly, I'm a little bit embarrassed to show it, but here it is:



I pray that this afghan will bless some baby somewhere, even if it's just in the form of covering a baby carrier or being drug around as "blankie."

This pattern is another from my friend's great pattern compilation: The Southwest Afghan by Katherine Eng. I completed it using my favorite size J Boye ergonomic crochet hook (the only one I use anymore) and Red Heart soft navy yarn.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Date with Dad

Today marks my second annual date with Dad to the Watson Lake Car Show. I'd argue that it's one of the largest car shows in our area, and it happens every summer about this time. Dad like cars and I like spending time with Dad, so it works for us.

Our date started with breakfast at Panera, my suggestion since it is kind of on the way to the car show. Dad had suggested a local breakfast place in our town, but I countered, and he agreed.

We then continued on to the car show. Thankfully Dad drove the pickup truck as the parking was in a field and a bit dicey. And there was mud. My little old four-door car wouldn't have liked that so much.

Dad usually starts at the front of the car show and works back. That's okay, except that the front part is the small engine section in the shade while the back part is the actual car show in the sunny field. Dad also likes to talk to the guys at the front which is fine, but sometimes results in it getting late and us not making it to the back of the show. So this time, I asked Dad if we could start at the back to see the cars first and we did! (We also saw some interesting swap meet items.)

There were some pretty fancy cars in the back, like a wheelie truck and an Opel and a Jaguar. Some of the coolest cars are at the front of the show with the small engines, though, like this old sheep herder's truck:

And this shiny red truck (I'd have to ask Dad what it is):


It was a good morning spent out in the sun with good company, but I think the key thing that made this date with Dad enjoyable was compromise. I used my voice to speak up and ask Dad for things that would make the time more enjoyable for me, and Dad compromised. Sure, I might not have stayed so long at certain booths or talked so long to certain people, but that was my compromise. I don't know about Dad, but I came away satisfied and content, which is the ultimate goal in any compromise. I also got to spend time with Dad which is rare, due to our work schedules, and something we're trying to work on since I didn't get along that well with Dad that well in high school and then moved away for ten years.

End of story? Second annual date with Dad to the Watson Lake Car Show = Double win!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pursuing Rest via Yoga


I started a more intensive yoga practice last fall while working at a school that offered after-school vinyasa classes for staff. Our teacher was a wonderful woman that knew just how far to push and challenge us. I'd come out of each hour class feeling sweaty, tired, and at peace. I thought that was how yoga was supposed to.

I couldn't go to yoga classes in January, so I committed to Do Yoga With Me's 30 Day Yoga Challenge. I realized that not all yoga classes were an hour in length, and I had to accept the fact that sometimes yoga didn't stretch me and energize me like the vinyasa classes. Sometimes it just rested me.

Fast forward to March and another yoga challenge that involved way too much lying on the ground and philosophizing, and I was pretty set in my yoga ways. I wanted the classes to be long and tired.


But then life got in the way of yoga, our yoga teacher left, and I didn't find time to fit in my weekly hour of yoga. I put yoga off or just did it occasionally. I toyed around with a new video yoga instructor, Lesley Fightmaster, and did a few short classes. But I wasn't committed.

After reading HummusSapien's Love Letter to Anxiety last week, however, I think I'm ready to recommit to a more regular yoga practice. Though building strength to survive those hour yoga classes is cool, what I really need from yoga are the components of muscle stretching and brain rest. Lesley Fightmaster's classes have just enough chatarungas to keep me moving and she always ends with an inspiring quote, so for now, I think I'll still with her classes. So long, hard, sweaty vinyasa. Hello, rest, because right now, that's what I need more of to moderate my life. 


*And if you're like me, living a busy lifestyle but in need of  the rest of yoga, I recommend Lesley's Fightmaster's "10 Minute 'Emergency' Yoga Sequence." As said in the video, some yoga is better than no yoga.*

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Self-Improvement

I recently completed Paige Schmidt's 10-day Authentically You course. (I'm kind of a self-improvement junkie and jump on courses that are free and not gimmicky-which Paige's aren't.) In completing the course, I kept coming back to the idea of approaching self-improvement from a stance of worthlessness versus from a place of worthiness. Let me explain.

When I try to improve myself to gain worth, I fail. I can never do enough to please my perfectionist self. I can never do enough to please my judgmental peers. I can never do enough to gain complete, unmerited favor with my family. Simply put, I am not enough to please people 100% of the time. So improving myself to gain approval isn't going to work.
On the other hand, if I operate from a place of worthiness, I work to improve myself because I love myself and want my life to be better. When I learn to love myself more, I get out of the head space of trying to earn worth. When my life is better, I have more energy to attend to the needs of other people and serve them well. So operating from a place of worthiness is not necessarily selfish or self-centered. How do you operate from a place of worthiness? That is probably another post for another time.

For now, I encourage you to stop trying to improve yourself from a place of worthlessness. Stop saying:

"I'll be beautiful when I lose X pounds." 
"I'll be strong when I gain X pounds of muscle."
 I'll be happy when I get a promotion at work."
"I'll be content when I find a person to marry."
"My life will be worth something when I make a difference."

Don't stop working towards self-improvement and healthy goals. Just approach them differently. Approach them from a place of worthiness:

"I'm trying to improve my nutrition so that I'll have more energy to play with the dog I love."
"Weight-lifting is a good habit to have for relieving stress."
"I know I am capable of moving up the ladder at work and am working toward it."
"I love myself and can't wait to find a person to share love with for the rest of my life."
"I believe I have something to give to the world, so I work with integrity and hope."
Changing our self talk requires work. But I think that work with be worth it, and actually contribute to more success with our self-improvement projects.

Thoughts? Comments? I'd love to hear you motivate yourself to work towards self-improvement. Which strategies work, and which don't?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Self Care For Me Right Now Means More Rest

I recognized that I needed to amp up my self-care when I started my new job. So I began looking for and pinning self-care challenges. I did one in June and another one in July. A few days ago, I deleted the rest of them from my Pinterest board, however. Why? I'm tired. Too tired to commit to another challenge.

I can complicate almost anything, and I've done it with self-care, too. I've made completion of the self-care challenges an item on my "to-do" list, rather than using them as opportunities to rest and take care of myself. To be honest, completing the self-care challenge has made my days more stressful at times (like when I needed to run on a rainy day or buy flowers when I didn't have time to stop at the store).

One day, I got rebellious and didn't complete the daily challenge. I sat on the floor of my room and scrolled through my social media accounts instead. Shauna Niequiest talks about wasting time in Present Over Perfect, and this was a precise example of that. Scrolling social media was also my version of play, which Brene Brown mentions as important in The Gifts of Imperfection. Engaging in play over productivity felt SO good.

As I listen more to my body and try to live more intuitively and authentically, I'm realizing that self-care for me is less about self-love, and more about self-compassion. Practically, it's about accepting when my body is hungry, tired, or scared. It's about accepting when my mind won't work or just doesn't want to be productive. It's about stopping and resting.


Am I abandoning self-care or not doing the things I need to do to remain healthy? No. I'm just focusing more on self-acceptance and self-compassion. I'm resting more and doing less. This is the only kind of self-care that will yield the kind of renewal and growth that I need.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cooking with Fruits and Vegetables (A-Z)

Back in 2016, I made it a goal to include more produce in my diet. I always try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but sometimes it's just hard. I'm the kind of person who tends to eat the same fruits and vegetables over and over again, too. So to motivate myself to branch out, I decided to try cooking with new fruits and vegetables, as many as I could find, A to Z. See my results below.

Now before you go commenting that I missed a few letters, I know. I decided not to special order fruits like quince or ugly fruit. I never got around to the letters "I" (iceberg lettuce) and "W" water chestnuts. I challenge you to find a "X" vegetable. As for the rest of the letters, I think I did alright.

A is for Avocado 
B is for Black Beans


C is for Chickpeas

D is for Dill

E is for Eggplant

F is for Fennel

G is for Green Beans

H is for Honeydew Melon

J is for Jalapeno Pepper

K is for Kiwi

L is for Lemon

M is for Mushroom

N is for Nectarine

O is for Okra

P is for Pear
Gingerbread pear crumble from the OATrageous Oatmeals cookbook

R is for Raspberry

S is for Spinach

T is for Tomatoes

V is for Valencia Orange

Y is for Yellow Squash

Z is for Zucchini