33 days to Morning Glory

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Our church has a media kiosk with books and cds to help is grow in our faith. This book is just fabulous!

It includes history and theology from the lives and writings of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa and St. John Paul II. It was all so good. It was amazing to see the significance of every interaction with Mary in the New Testament. How Jesus was preparing her for her role as our spiritual mother. She was there for the birth of our Savior and the birth of the Church. It stands to reason that she is there for our births as children of God through our baptism.

The best part was about her title as Immaculate Conception meaning she was born without the mark of original sin. Kolbe believed there were two immaculate conceptions. Mary is the created Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception. The Holy Spirit is a conception in that he springs from the love of God the Father and God the Son.

So why not say that the Holy Spirit is the Immaculate Conception and Mary was just immaculately conceived? It is rooted in the union between the Holy Spirit and Mary that brought about the Word made flesh, Jesus. Mary essentially takes her spouse’s name just as a wife takes her husband’s name. That is so awesome! Our honor (not worship) for Mary is rooted in our strong teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Beautiful!

I began the retreat January 31st and it ends tomorrow on the Presentation of Our Lord. It has been a fabulous experience!

You’re not the only one who struggles

A friend called me. She and I had been trying to coordinate something by email and she called to discuss details. My kids had a cold and cough. So did hers. So we began to share our struggles that we had in common. I thought she had it all together, but she admitted to days where she felt overwhelmed. She said, “I thought you were like supermom.” Well maybe some days but definitely not every day. It meant a lot to not feel alone in our struggles. We committed to pray for each other.

I have dealt with low periods for decades now. I contemplated suicide in my late teens. Can’t even remember why I was so upset, but basically feeling like a screw up. I ended up deciding I would probably screw up a suicide attempt and end up a vegetable which would be worse than dying. So I abandoned the idea thankfully.

I wish I had spoken to someone then but I thought it was character flaws. And sometimes I felt alright. Sometimes I could function well. And even on the bad days, I got out of bed. Surely I didn’t have depression.

I would have a few weeks of great. I would organize and plan and determine from here on out that I would keep it together. Then a few months of low energy would follow and the whole plan would fall apart. Why? Wrong plan? too much stuff? A rebel inside that just didn’t want to follow the rules? It was incredibly frustrating because I did it all a couple weeks ago and now I can’t even tackle half of it. I beat myself up a lot. I allowed the voices of my critics to become my inner voice because surely they must be right.

I struggled like this for twenty years. During the middle of last year, I felt like I just might understand why my father needed to drink. How maybe he just needed to feel better and a drink was a temporary solution. That scared me. Empathy and understanding are good but I don’t want to become an alcoholic. So I went to see my doctor.

He gave me an antidepressant for fatigue. What mom of five isn’t fatigued, right? After two days, it was like wearing glasses for the first time. A weight it seemed had been lifted from my head. My head felt clear and light. I couldn’t believe how badly I had felt for so many years.

I began having anxiety over social situations. I could want to leave the house but would have my heart racing and breathing shallow and just physically could not go. I called my Dr. He didn’t understand my struggle. I talked with moms from church and they suggested therapy at the university.

I went for four sessions. She has me track my moods. This was so helpful. Just being aware was huge. If I was having high energy, I could remind myself to take care of myself by getting a cup of tea and relaxing. If I had low energy, I could break down my tasks into small parts and talk myself into just tackling one small part and the law of motion often helped more things to get done.

We discussed bipolar but while I seem to have high energy or mania after a depressive episode, I am not out-of-control enough. That is good because I get amazing things done during those times and if that’s my normal then that is pretty awesome.

It turns out that I was anxious because I had lost my confidence. Once she had discussed with the director and determined that I didn’t have bipolar, I felt immensely better. I think feeling so much better on the antidepressant made me think I must have been seriously ill for so long without realizing it. Turns out I have major depressive episodes and I was on the right track with what I needed to do to address that issue.

Consistency is what I lack. I wish I could be normal all the time but that isn’t likely to be the case. I have tried system after system and method after method. Not all were a waste of time because a few things stuck. But none are designed to withstand the ups and downs of episodic depression. So my goal for this yr is to create boundaries for my time and focus. Instead of specific tasks, I can be elaborate with my energy and creativity or simple whatever the case may be.

I am creating a routine with specific parameters so that I can see when the job is done even though with dishes and laundry the job is never truly done. I fold the clothes that were washed the previous day so I am not waiting for loads to finish to finish my routine. I am tidying for ten minutes five times a day. No more cleaning all day. Even the kids are more pleased to help when they know it’s only ten minutes.

I am making caring for myself more routine. Pampering, eating well, reading, writing, and stitching help to fill me so that I have more to give to those I love.

The best help has been a mini index card. It can hold 8-10 to-dos. I write out a list of what I need to tackle. The tiny list is not overwhelming. I usually feel good afterwards. Some days I fill five index cards. I can add fun stuff to the list as a reward motivator. I write the date and time on the back and drop it in a clear jar. It is fun to watch the cards stack up. Writing the date and time is weirdly satisfying because it is like clocking out. Job well done!

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I hesitated for months about sharing my struggles. I know there are some that will speak my fears and insecurities back to me and others who will use this information as ammunition of why they think I should or should not do something. But I want to share this for the mom who feels she is the only one who struggles. None of us have it all together. While some may have fewer vices and more virtues, we all have room for improvement and we are all deserving of understanding.

Focus for 2016- Make each day a success

Happy New Year!

My past two years have focused on slowing down(being present) and making the most of my time. I feel I am still learning in those areas. But with a new year should come a fresh focus.

Make each day a success

I am amazed at how much I can accomplish in a day and still feel inadequate. The problem is not what I do or how I do it. While there might be some helpful tweaks, the primary issue is how I have framed my day in my head.

What is a successful day?
The house cleaned.
The kids happy, healthy, clean, physically, mentally and spiritually fed.
The errands run.
My faith grown.
My husband loved and served.

I am wondering if these lofty ideals are attainable. So how do I gain a value-driven but realistic view of a successful day? Build it one piece at a time.

I read this book called Yesterday plus by NC Garcia. She started with one walk around the block and built momentum with one successful day after another.

Today will be a success for drinking 32 oz of water this morning. I will add one more thing each day and consider each day a success. How would it feel to have 366 days of success? What would my day look like at the end of this year? I’m looking forward to finding out.

No yelling

I have worked over the years with natural consequences, positive motivation and setting the kids up for success so that yelling would be at a minimum. For example, I was reminding them an hour before taekwondo to be ready and sometimes we were scrambling to get shoes or elbow pads to get out the door. Being late is a big trigger for me so it was too hard to hold it together and not blow up over the wasted time and irresponsibility. I switched it to whoever is completely ready 15 minutes early gets two pieces of candy and whoever is ready on time gets one piece. If late, they are disappointed.

I was working on my memory verses and adding lots of psalms. I came to Psalm 106. It was telling of the Israelites and their rebellion in the desert after seeing all God’s power in their deliverance from Egypt.

Verse 33 says

Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with His lips.

I couldn’t help but smile. See even God lost it on occasion!

Now this is no excuse not to work on managing our emotions and speaking words with grace and kindness. But sometimes we just have to cut ourselves a little slack. And try again tomorrow. With a little sense of humor about it.

Magazine clippings and new recipes

Am I the only one who pulls out recipes from magazines and they sit for years with me never trying them? I had this great plan years ago to put them all in sheet protectors in a binder. Still didn’t use them so I tossed them. I got a few subscriptions so the stack of magazine pages have accumulated again.

I have started storing holiday editions of Southern Living and Cooking Light in the box of holiday decorations. That helps but that still left a stack of everyday recipes in need a solution.

I divided my week into more suitable categories that reflected our family’s tastes.
Mexican Monday
Slow cooker Tuesday
Pizza Wednesday
Veggie Thursday (Asian mostly)
Fish Friday
Italian Saturday (pasta dishes)
Big Meat Sunday

I made folders for each day of the week and each month of the year. I also made one for game night and craft night. I say down with my magazine clippings and sorted them. I added breakfast, sides and desserts folders.

Now when I make my menu plan, if I am stumped one day for a dinner idea or just want to try something new, I pull out the day’s folder and look for inspiration.

Recently I tried Mexican Hot Fudge Sundae Bowls from page 148 from the August 2015 Cooking Light.  I used a little sugar and water instead of corn syrup. Great way to use up corn tortillas.

I tried Ricotta-Spinach dumplings from page 54 in October 2015 Cooking Light. Scrumptious! But bits of it fell off in the cooking water. That was sad. I think it would be better as a lasagna filling. My husband said it was the best meatless pasta dish he had ever had. I may add meat sauce to the lasagna but I like that it is hearty enough to go with or without meat.

Crocheted basket

I made this for my daughter from some yarn we got from Hobby Lobby. It was her favorite color, but stringy and almost impossible for a beginner to work with. These work up quick and can be adjusted for height and width.

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I used a pattern from this book. I have enjoyed several patterns from this book. I’ve checked it out from the library twice.

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