Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Magic of Have a New Teenager by Friday

Last week, I read a book by Kevin Lehman called Have a New Teenager by Friday. 

I had previously read Have a New Kid by Friday, and found its suggestions to be helpful and effective, but somehow we fell off track *ahem*  for a few *ahem* years.

I started trying out a few of the methods while I was still reading the book because I just couldn't wait.  Normally, I wait to read an entire book before following a plan that it lays out, but this time, I just had to try it.  Things have been a little out of hand at our house for awhile.

Well, to my amazement, it started working right away.  The book presents a way to force the kids to work out their issues on their own - without dragging the parent into it.  Seeing the way this has played out in our household over the past week or so has impressed my husband.  He didn't read the book (I hope he will someday), but I've been coaching him through stressful interactions with our teen.  He has been receptive (I'm impressed) and I feel like things have been just the tiniest bit more peaceful around here.  Family relationships are getting nicer.  The kids are harbouring less resentment.  Today I saw two of them resolve a fight immediately, without dragging me into it, and they came up with a solution that was effective for both of them and went on their merry ways.  Another fight between two others ended with them coming out of the room composing underarm fart sound music together, and laughing.  I love this.

There are other solutions to other major issues in the book, but the kids fighting has been causing me frustration, anxiety, anger, and depression.  When I and my hubby are out of the equation and the kids are working on their relationship on their own...well, it just brings such joy.  I am proud, and I trust that this will build a strong foundation for their relationships as they head into adulthood.  I hope that they always want to hang out together, share meals, watch their kids build strong cousinly bonds, and just enjoy the fact that they have each other and know they can count on each other no matter what.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Testing, testing, 123

This morning I had an appointment for some lab work.  It was my annual test, so I had to fast for the bloodwork.

Since I made the plan to get better, breakfast has been a mandatory part of my day.  When I was sick, I skipped breakfast because I didn't want to eat and then have it go right through me at an inopportune time.  My body got used to me not eating in the morning.  Since that is no longer the reality, not eating breakfast today was very difficult. 

I woke up reminding myself that I couldn't eat anything, and that I would need to make sure my bladder was full for the urine sample part.  Funny body remembers when I wouldn't eat anything but I drank lots of water for the "full" feeling.  And my body didn't like the memory.  It wanted to throw up the water, then it wanted it to come out the other end.  The ill feeling in my stomach brought on the usual panicky feelings and I had to work to stay relaxed and calm (thankfully I have progressed VERY well in this area). 

I was blessed with an on-time appointment and the best lab tech I've ever had.  I didn't even feel the needle go in.  My bladder decided that it wasn't shy anymore after only a minute, so I was able to get out of there to find some food quickly.  I had planned to attend my step class, but there was no way that I'd be able to make it through the hour with an empty belly (oh how times have changed!), so I grabbed some breakfast and ate it in my van very slowly because my stomach was now in full-on remember mode and had shifted back to the "we don't really need food anyway" mentality.

Seriously, they say the gut is a second brain with a "mind of its own" and they are not kidding.

The thing that scared me about all this is I was thinking about how easy it would be to get used to that again.  My brain whispered, "You only feel the hunger for a little while, then it goes away," and "remember how much you hate all the weight you've put on?" and "if you just do this for a little while, your clothes will fit again."

Interestingly, I had planned to skip lunch because I had eaten a fast food breakfast, but someone is looking out for me and that wasn't going to happen.  I have a soft spot for fast food.  Today was fun lunch day at my kids' school and I headed in to help our fundraising coordinator distribute the meals.  The restaurant had packed us four extra sandwiches and marked them "Free", so my friend sent me home with two, and I ate one for lunch.

I feel like today was one big test for me on the whole IBS/Anxiety subject.  I'm not sure that I've passed yet, but I did make it this far, and hopefully the rest of the day will see me making good choices.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


We have petunias in planters outside of our door.  They smell so wonderful that I sometimes step outside to just breathe in their scent.  They make me so happy. 

We've had flowers there before - my mom got me started on planters on our cement front a few years ago - but there has never been such a wonderful scent there in the air.  I like flowers but not the upkeep, playing in the mud, weeding, or dealing with bugs.  So far, though, my daughter has kept the flowers happy.

My hubby has always wanted a vegetable garden, but I've never really thought it possible here with our limited yard space and crummy soil.  This year, I decided we should try it.

I asked one evening if the family thought we could get rid of the disintegrating playhouse in the backyard and replace it with planter boxes.  Amazingly, the answer was a quick and resounding YES!


My son who loved to climb and jump on that house helped me move it, tear it apart, and throw it into the dumpster. 

My husband got right to work designing the planters, and took our oldest son out to purchase the materials within two days.  He had never constructed anything big from wood before.  Hubby and our third-born spent a day with power tools cutting and drilling.  I'm so proud of their fabulous work!

A friend and her beau had soil left over from a recent project they had done and generously shoveled it into their truck, brought it into the city for me, and shoveled it into the completed planters.

And then my man, my almost-man and my girl planned and planted and watered.

A few weeks later, green bits are poking from the dirt.  It is really exciting for me to see this - I've never eaten food grown in my own backyard before. 

What did my family plant in our garden?  Peas, cucumbers, spinach, corn, potatoes, onions, garlic chives, basil, and carrots.  We also have a pepper plant and a tomato plant.  I'm looking forward to sampling, and I can't wait to see which plants thrive and what just doesn't work out.  Lessons for next year.

I am enthralled by the growth of these plants - all of them.  The beauty of the flowers that are so bright and delicious, and watching the miracle unfold as seeds become food.  Seeing my family work together to build and tend these fragile living all fills my heart with love and pride and joy.

Yes, I think that growth has blessed - and will continue to bless - me this summer.  Beauty and miracles indeed.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Sometimes I get sad about things. 

Things like friends out of touch, and unwritten rules about life.

It's never cry-sad, but more of a ho-humness. 

I wish I could change this without looking crazy or controlling or both.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The People

This past week, I took out a book on the enneagram from the library.  Last night after dinner, I went to bed very early, then woke up just as everyone else was just turning in for the night, so I had some quiet awake time on my hands.  I decided to explore the enneagram and find out what "my" number is.  It was a few hours of reading and re-reading descriptors and figuring out which ones applied to me.  It was a few hours of comparing reactions to situations and examining what characteristics came out in those situations.  I had a lot of trouble deciding between two numbers.  Eventually I figured out that the reason for the difficulty is because I have changed.  I used to be so shy, 100% introverted.  So quiet and guarded and closed.  I'm not like that anymore, but those characteristics do linger in my mind and my body.  They aren't forcibly suppressed; they just happily hang out in the background, lounging and snacking, while my newer more extroverted self develops.

I see it everyday now - being with people energizes me.  I love conversations.  I love to meet new people.  Over the last seven months, I have been studying and updating my professional skills.  My main goal was to receive an Office Administration Certificate, and as I went along, I added on two more certificates - Bookkeeping Principles and Applications, and also Business Communication.  Between the Office Admin and Business Communication certificates, I ended up taking a LOT of courses on communication - writing, speaking, negotiating, dealing with conflict and difficult people, body language, listening.  There was a common thread that ran through each of them and I picked it up very quickly, and set out to improve myself by mastering this one small thing.  Thousands of tuition dollars later, I will give you my takeaway for free - ask good questions.

I have never been a great conversationalist, but I can see myself improving as I seek to ask good questions.  I can feel it.  It isn't scary for me to be around people anymore.  It is not uncomfortable to be with strangers.  Today I went to a large party and had a blast.  I stepped out of my old comfort zone and dressed up in a costume and wasn't embarrassed about it.  I joined a team with my husband and two other couples that we'd never met before, and we raced around a small city gathering clues and performing tasks.  After our 'amazing race', we went back to a house party and I had conversations with five people I know well, two acquaintances, and at least six people that I didn't know before today.  It was great!

The more I realize how much I love to communicate in person, the more I put myself in the position to make it happen.  I compliment people that intimidated me in the past.  I start conversations with other moms after school as our children play (sometimes for hours!) on the playground.  A "hello" to neighbours I don't know well can end up being a conversation with them and their friends about weekend plans and movie recommendations.

I find myself seeking out opportunities for visits, coffee dates, lunch dates, walks, shopping dates, pedicures (!) with friends who express interest in those sorts of things.  I seriously feel like a butterfly coming out of a quiet dark cocoon, ready to explore the world around me.  I'm excited for summertime and I hope that I'll be able to hang out with friends at parks and on the beach while the kids run and play.  And I am looking forward to September when I'll re-enter the workforce and get to grow my world even more. People make my life awesome, and I'm so glad for every one that I am blessed to meet and to know. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Beyond Anxiety

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of documenting a journey.  I wanted to share my anxiety journey with others.  I figured that I was not the only person ever to have experienced this, yet I could not find any help or hope online.  I thought I could be some help and some hope. 

This blog was made to bless others, and really it has blessed me.  I've written about so many sides of anxiety - the anger, the depression, the self-doubt and the relapsing.  I know I am not alone in suffering from these things, and others know that they aren't alone either.

All that said, over the past week, I've been questioning this blog.  I've been questioning myself.  I've been realizing how much more I know now than when I first set foot on this path.  It starts with the title. 

Journeying Through Anxiety.

Here's what I've learned:  there is no through.  There is no through.  You don't 'get through' it.  There is not an exit door on the other side where you return to life as it was before.  There's no window that you finally reach, open wide and gulp in the fresh air and then step through, thinking, "Phew.  Glad THAT part of my life is over and done with."

I've done my best to keep all posts to this blog on the topic of anxiety.  This paints a very dismal picture of my life.  If you notice the dates of the posts - months between them - you will realize, it's a bad day here, a bad day there.  But for those who find my blog (are there any readers who have just landed here by chance?) and read every post all in a row, searching for a glimpse of a bright, happy, relaxed, non-emotional day...I don't think that those days have been recorded here.

I ended my family blog at the end of last year, but I've kept this one going because I'm a blogger.  I use blogs to vent and to share and to give out information to friends and family that I just don't feel is important enough to force on them verbally.  If it's written, people can choose not to read it, and I don't have to see them turning and walking away while I'm mid-sentence.  I've felt that the good and bad of the anxiety was important to share here.

Last night I decided that the good and bad of not anxiety is also important to share here.  Though I've realized that there will always be anxiety - waiting at the edges, in the shadows - I've also realized that there will also be not anxiety.  There will also be 'normal life' and day-to-day and functioning just fine through task and responsibility. 

Starting today, this blog will be about all that - the WHOLE picture.  And I am excited for the change!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Body Image Issues

Well, they've arrived.  I knew this time would come eventually, and this month the feelings have hit me hard. I felt like I prepared myself by trying to expect these feelings of "ugh", but expecting them doesn't make it any easier when they actually finally show up.

I look in the mirror and I don't like what I see.  I see the rolls, I see the fat.  I don't see the strong anymore, and I don't feel it. People can tell me what they see 100 times and I won't believe it.  Because I can't see what they see.  I see what I see.

I was so proud that I gained back those 40 pounds lost in the anxiety pit.  I was so proud that I looked stronger and healthier with the weight on.  I was a little bothered as I watched the size tags in my clothing increase by twos, but I knew that it had to happen if I was going to be healthy again. 

Last year and this year I have participated in a fundraising campaign called Junedresses.  It is put on by United Way and the idea is: you wear a dress or skirt every day in June, and people sponsor you for your efforts.  The money raised goes toward other charities that empower women. 

The irony is not lost on me that as I struggle into dresses that fit me right last year and are a little too snug this year, I am not feeling empowered.  I'm feeling sad and defeated and self-conscious and embarrassed.  While I am confident about my smarts, my intelligence, my brains, my passions, my loving nature, my mothering, my everything else appearance does not make the list.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people complain about something and do absolutely nothing to fix it.  I firmly and vehemently believe that is not okay, and I have been brainstorming ways to fix my problem, and have revived some old habits.  I'm trying to choose the healthy habits and avoid the ones that got me into this mess in the first place.  It is hard.