Read and Grow.

Photo credit.

It’s happening again. And I’m so utterly excited and thankful. Life has presented me with a challenge, and God has birthed in my heart a craving to grow.

The desire and motivation are a gift. I didn’t design it nor can I contain it.

This happened once before, a little over 7 years ago. I wrote about my desire to change, to fix a character flaw. It was truly the beginning of my blogging journey as well. I had no idea that writing my way through that year would serve to fundamentally define me as a writer.

Isn’t that just the way God works? Those mysterious ways that come upon us, altering us in areas beyond imagination.

Last year, I tried to manufacture my growth by setting up a reading challenge full of deep and delightful titles. But even while creating the list, I could feel my own distance – reluctance that I ignored because I wanted to teach myself a lesson in discipline. I was tricked by my own success with growing productively into believing that I could force growth in any area. I didn’t honor my limits, I wasn’t being gracious with my weakness, I over estimated my strengths.

I was sick of being held back. I thought pushing through, trying harder, and thinking big would free me from my own struggle with my brain.  

Dealing with my ADD brain can be tricky. Sometimes I do need to “sit myself down” and “obey the list.” I’m learning that I can only make progress through this type of firmness in the area of productivity not the area of contemplation. I need to budget my energy to fuel these two parts of my mind (there’s a post brewing on this topic…). I’m realizing again that God gave me this brain with all of it’s limits and talents for His purposes to be used in His timing. 

So, I’m excited for this year and the growth I can see up ahead, but I’m not ashamed of last year’s “failure” because I recognized an important, personal limitation and learned to respect it. More on this later.

For now, I can see that the challenge in my life is CHANGE. There is change all around me. My kids are all coming out of a coasting season. Their interests, competencies, and complexities are on the rise. Taking just this area of change into view, I see that I will have to change in order to rise to the occasion of being the kind of mother I want to be for my loves.

Questions: How can I rise to the occasion on my own? What strength or talent do I possess that will allow for personal growth? Can I contain or conjure up a motive that will sustain growth over a long period of time?

Answers: I can’t. Nothing. No.

What gives? Why am I excited if I can’t do this on my own? Exactly because the desire, strength, motive aren’t coming from my decision, I can trust that I won’t have to worry about controlling or maintaining them.

It’s like the “Field of Dreams.” I feel like the Lord is showing me how much great change is ahead of me, and all I have to do is pick up the book and read. He will grow me from the inside.

And He already has. Since the beginning of 2017, I’ve been reading. I’ll do my best to share the most of what I gain from the titles this year. And I’ll keep the list here as a reference.

Books read in 2017 (I’ll link the ones I review):

  • BFG by Roald Dahl*
  • Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally by Chris Davis
  • Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
  • Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl & Serene
  • Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae
  • Managers of Their Homes by Steven and Teri Maxwell
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • The Unveiled Wife by Jennifer Smith
  • Currently reading: The Life Giving Home by Sarah & Sally Clarkson, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth, Gameplan by Sarah Harnisch 

Are you interested in following me in this process of change through reading? I’m ready to really GROW. Let me know in the comments what books you’re reading and what you recommend! Who doesn’t want to GROW their TBR list even more? 😉

Here’s my Amazon list for easy reference. If you make a purchase, Amazon thanks me at no cost to you.

* Audio book

Photo credit.

Procrastination: The Real Problem

“Why does it seem easier for some people to make new habits than others? Maybe it’s not so much that it’s easier… they’re just forming a new habit in a way that works best for them. Gretchen Rubin loves studying this sort of stuff, so she and Tsh talk all about habits. Her research led her to this idea that we can each fall in to one of four tendencies – upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels -and knowing which one you are is monumentally helpful in habit forming. ” -From Tsh Oxenreider’s podcast episode with Gretchen Rubin* on The Simple Show.

Planning ahead, setting goals, and organizing my life has not come naturally to me. It makes me shake my head and smile when I get comments from sharing my “Day in the Homeschool Life” that I’m so organized. Because I used to be the mom writing that same comment to others who I thought had it all together.

The first question in the quote by Tsh seems to be something that is assumed about me. But I want you to know (and my husband can testify) 2 things:

I’m a recovering procrastinator.

And I’m a huge work in progress.

See, I started creating new habits – fighting for them – because I got to the point where I was completely and utterly sick of the way I was operating.

Dirty dishes always in the sink, junk mail always hanging out on the counter, kids’ laundry always lingering days in baskets (this one still needs addressing), and so on.

How do I know that procrastination was my biggest issue? 

Because if I knew someone was coming over, or if for whatever reason I had a “deadline” of sorts then I could amaze us all and accomplish all-the-tasks without needing a week to plan it all out.

Being a homeschool mom made this even more apparent to me because the mess, inconsistency, and failure to start spilled over into planning and executing our daily routine and lessons.

Again, the only reason I fought to start changing is because I was fully sick of what I had created as “normal.”

I think that at the root of an inconsistent homeschool is procrastination. Not knowing what or how to start, no deadline from an “outside source,” no concrete rule or method for what order to do things, and the belief that I couldn’t possibly create a routine that would work.

At the root of procrastination is fear of failure. Oh, how the irony is heavy here. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely, 100% passionately do not want to fail my children in how I raise them. I want them to be excellently trained, educated, and nurtured. But procrastination has the power to trick me into delaying everything because of fear to start anything. How sad!

We don’t want to start what we are afraid we won’t be able to do well or to finish at all. At the end of the day, can we agree that doing something in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all? 

Right. This question is what helped me brave the beginning of change. It gave me the courage to just start.

I deeply hope you don’t live like I did in constant fear of failure because most of those fears you hear in your own head are lies. You can change. You can create new habits. It does count to try again today. Your efforts do matter.

And small change in the same direction over a long period of time does produce a drastic difference. (Just ask me how I know.)

Ready for real change?

I encourage you to be counted as a goal-setter. It doesn’t matter if you have never successfully completed a goal before in your life! Actually, if that’s you, then you are the perfect candidate for Crystal’s course.

You won’t find prescribed methods that must be followed precisely to Crystal or Jesse’s (her husband, the course is co-taught for the dual perspective and fun of it) taste – you will be led on a journey toward being able to chart your own course for your life.

I want you to check it out for yourself – and bonus – there is a 100% money back guarantee. Buy it now, on sale through midnight Monday, March 21st.

Over the course of four weeks you’ll learn:

  • The secrets to successful goal-setting – even when you have young children
  • How to break big goals down into bite-sized pieces and doable action plans
  • When & why you should delete a goal before you even set it
  • The 3 most important accountability sources for goal-setting
  • And more!

The course includes a handbook, weekly videos, worksheets and projects – all for just $25!

* Gretchen Rubin well-known for her bestselling book The Happiness Project (which I am currently reading – and loving!).

And her newest book, Better Than Before is now available in paperback.

Not in the Accountability group? Well, join now! I’ll be sharing more on what The Happiness Project is teaching me this week. You won’t want to miss it. And contact me with any questions.

As always, thanks for reading! There are affiliate links in this post. To learn more about how and why I use these click here.

Salvation isn’t found there.

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I had (have) a tendency to search for the answer. The perfect solution to life’s challenges. The one size fits all cure for clutter, chaos, and chores.

I just recently wrote out our day, and one thing I’ve learned through the process of living and learning at home with my children is that routines change. Good things come to an end. All my effort and discipline to match our needs to our nature and time things out in order to accomplish all the things works only for a season. And then it all fades and something new needs to take its place.

This happened to me the very same day I published that day in the life post.

My toddler stopped taking naps. And in its place, he picked up a nasty habit of coloring all over everything – couch, desk, table, floor, windows, chalkboard, himself…

Exhibit A:

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And shortly before this, my older children stopped doing their chores. I fearfully ignored their failure to comply with the routine. I told myself that we were in a funk and that we would recover in due time.

But we haven’t recovered.

All roads point to a need for a new routine. Am I excited about this? Not at all. It doesn’t seem productive to have to keep switching up the time of day that we normally perform certain tasks. If I were left to myself in this home life thing, I would do everything at the same time – eat the same foods, accomplish the same chores, and take the same breaks each day. I would be perfectly boring and predictable. I would cling to the sameness as if it could save me from all things uncomfortable.

But I can’t cling to my old routine because salvation from the uncomfortable isn’t found there. I can’t stick my head in the sand and pretend that our routine is working just fine. I can’t avoid the change-pains of trying new things. And I can’t believe the lie that hard things = bad things. This just simply isn’t true.

What is difficult can be far more rewarding than what is easy.  

So, here I am. Leaning into change. Searching for solutions that may only work for 3-5 months. I’m accepting that my beloved autopilot has quit and I must redirect the whole thing or we’ll really crash.

I’m embracing my responsibility and disciplining my mind so that the changes we make are thoughtful and practical – things we can actually follow through on.

Have you found a good way to reorder your days when the routine stops working? Share it with me in the comments or by contacting me. Or if you have a favorite blog, pinterest board, or book on the subject – please share those too.

Day 21: Building a (better) home school library #B2S #31Days

B2S Day 21 Building a better home school library 1

In 2010, my personal interest-led learning journey began. As a family, we were living in Florida. My kids were 1- and 3-years old at the time. I was the only stay-at-home mom that I knew, and most of my days were spent just managing chaos.

I was alone and lonely, distracted and defeated, and feeding my fear of failure by not even hoping for anything better.

Until the day I became desperate enough to change.

The only downside of this change was an unhealthy attachment to books. In all my youth and intensity for loving to read, I equated happiness with buying a new book.

And bookstores are made for people like me, placing – conveniently by the door as you walk in – their discounted titles for easing your mind that buying 4 books today at $3 really isn’t all that hard on your wallet.

Now I laugh at some of the silly books I bought. The titles reveal what I felt I lacked knowledge of – history, politics, self-help, parenting, etc.

Books, books, books.

And it got worse before it got better.

Because to be a successful homeschooler, I reasoned that I would need to have a lot more books.

But what use is any tool if it sits on the shelf?

Or what good is it if I can’t find it when I need it?

So what I’ve come to understand through 11 moves in 10 years and by the inspiration from others, is that it is simply impossible to live holistically with my life’s purpose and be surrounded by piles and piles of stuff. Even good stuff like books.

My life lately has been one big call to action: Simplify, Set Boundaries, and Organize. And today’s #Back2School in #31Days Challenge is:

Set up a simple home school library.

Since my kids are still young it’s hard for me to expect to have perfectly organized bookshelves. Especially kids’ bookshelves – when the reason I bought the books is for them to read. I can’t expect them to be great readers and great organizers at the same time – I have to pick one or the other.

So, in order to help them in their reading and learning journey, I’ve identified the need for a home library system of organization that works for everyone.

First of all, I had (and still have) to go through all of our books and get rid of the twaddle.

Second, I had to decide how I wanted things organized. One blogger that I follow, alphabetized her children’s books using a simple poster with a large black alphabet stickers.

I bought the supplies to do the same (see the project details below), but then I realized I didn’t want to alphabetize my books just yet.

My kids are still young enough that they don’t know all the titles or the authors, and it wouldn’t be fair to expect them to be able to replace the book where they found it. I think reality hit me, and I saw my future self endlessly re-alphabetizing.

Instead, I decided to categorize my books by subject matter, unit, or curricula.

B2S Day 21 Building a better home school library 3

Here’s my key:

  • FIAR – Five in a Row
  • EAH – Early American History
  • SCI – Science
  • LIT – Literature
  • SS – Social Studies
  • NF – Non-fiction
  • REF – Reference

Third, for now all pleasure reading books like chapter books or easy readers they still enjoy, go in the book nook. I’m not very picky about how these books get organized only that they’re well taken care of.

Finally, I hope to model not only a love of learning through reading great books myself, but to also model discernment with how many books I own and how I take care of them.

Useful tips for getting rid of books:

  • My experience with Paperbackswap.com
  • Donate to:
    • The library: You can always borrow it if you need to read it again.
    • The local mission: Imagine the person who may be waiting for just the right book to help them break through whatever barrier that’s holding them back.
    • Thrift stores: Think of thrift stores for books like a library that charges late fees up front. Be sure to bring with you the same number of books to donate as you intend to take home.

B2S Day 21 Building a better home school library 2

Project Details: I bought a simple, white poster board and alphabet stickers. I cut the board into strips (which left ragged edges, so I covered them with Washi Tape) and applied the stickers to the strips. Then I simply separated books by subject and placed the poster strip between them.

This is Day 21 in the #31Days to #Back2School series; check out Day 1 and the Index by clicking here.

Break life’s tasks into manageable chunks: download One Bite at a Time by Tsh Oxenreider today!
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Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

Curricula: What We Use, Part 2: 1st & 2nd Grades

I knew I needed to switch things up for my daughter from Sonlight’s PreK to something else when half way through our year she started writing “No mommy” all over her language arts worksheets. (Notice the common thread from Part 1. Worksheets are not her favorite.)

Then My Father’s World was “boring,” but there was a bigger problem that year which caused the negative feelings from my daughter.

Up until this point, I was trying to do all our learning time together. Both kids at the table, all the resources handed out at the same time, and I tried to keep things relatively at the same pace. I was completely unfamiliar with learning styles or teaching styles.

And my son’s learning style was driving my daughter capital-C: Crazy.

She couldn’t stand it that he would interrupt the best part of a book just to ask a question about how that would work, or why it would be that way and not another way.

She gave him I don’t like you eyes whenever he would blurt the answer out loud. She knew the difference when I asked a question that I clearly wanted them to raise their hands for. (See the Traditional Model in action here? Yeah. I didn’t know better.)

Then when she saw that he was clearly excelling at all things “school,” it was as if she had had enough of being taught in a way that clearly was missing the mark and thought I don’t like school.

So the biggest change we made before starting the next learning year was to separate some of the subjects to give them individual time with me. Subjects that were separate were: Bible, math, writing, spelling, calendar time, and reading. Subjects that we kept together were: Science, read alouds, and history. By having the kids separated, I could focus on presenting the materials in a way that supported their learning style.

This was also the year that we lived with my parents. We faced atypical homeschooling challenges. I wanted to keep my focus on creating routines that were simple and not too demanding as far as projects went. We did a lot of reading together.

What we used for 1st and 2nd grades:

Bible

  • All the kids attended Bible Study Fellowship and the older two also attended AWANA. We worked on their lessons and memorization work during the week. This is my favorite Bible for kids to read on their own: Curricula What We Use Part 2 1

History

      • Diana Waring Presents “A History Revealed” Ancient Civilizations Elementary Activity Book with CDsCurricula 1st 2nd History
            • The CDs are a mixture of Waring teaching chronologically through the sections of the workbook but also lots of interesting facts or probing questions about the way the secular worldview understands a certain portion of history. These CDs are intended to supplement the textbook which is written for older elementary, so even though we listened to them while building Legos – I had to interpret or repeat a lot of the information to my kids at ages 7 and 5. It wasn’t intended for their ages, but it wasn’t bad for them either.
            • This package for younger elementary does not include the history text that goes along with the CDs for older kids, rather it includes a list of recommended books for each section. We really enjoyed:


Science

      • Dr. Wile’s Berean Builders Science: In the Ancient World – This is over my kids’ heads because it is written for 5th/6th grades, but I love it and it’s worth keeping around for later elementary years. Plus I can summarize and teach the concept without reading word-for-word.
        • We didn’t make it through the whole year with me summarizing each lesson. It was the hardest topic to keep my daughter’s attention, and with our other homeschooling challenges – by November I was completely ignoring the Science drawer in our subject cart. By doing this, I realized by January or February that my son was deeply interested in science and missing it greatly.
        • We also invested in Jonathan Parks Volumes 1-2: these are great audio dramas for the whole family.  Some of the action can be intense. The episodes are focused on creation science and the evidence that proves the young earth position and the Biblical account of the flood.
        • For my son, I continued to take the time to simply answer his questions: How does electricity work? What is lightning? And lots of listening to his connections between cause and effect. This year revealed a heavy interest in science. He really enjoyed watching the Science Channel at my parents’ house too – “How Things are Made” and “Outrageous Science” were his favorites (with adult supervision though – episodes are rated differently based on content of individual shows.) Curricula 1st 2nd Science

Math

      • Horizon’s Math
        • We started with Horizon’s with our Sonlight PreK package. At first I chose Singapore Math, but it was way too colorful. The pages were in full color, no white space. We were able to return that and switch to Horizon’s for level K. We used the teacher’s manual for a quarter of the way through and then stopped. The rest of the book was basically practice. For 1st grade, I did not buy the teacher’s manual and it’s been fine.
      • Life of Fred for 1st grade – 3 books – It recommends that the student “take out a sheet of paper for practice” at the end of each chapter, and sometimes my kids would do this – but since we were already doing Horizons for practice I did not require them to. Reading the Life of Fred was more for the enjoyment of the story and exercising our brains to think about how things work mathematically in everyday life. Both kids loved Life of Fred.

Language Arts

      • Institute for Excellence in Writing: Primary – Reading and Writing
        • The letter stories and games made this curriculum worth the expense. Each letter has a “story” and an image that resembles it. Like “c” is a cookie with a bite taken out of it. In the games, the kids learned about “helpers” – 2 letter combinations that make certain sounds. For instance, “ee” is called “squeely e’s” because when 2 of them get together they are so excited that they say their name – like in the word green.
        • This has taken us 2 years to go through – there is so much here and so many resources that the slow pace has allowed for much deeper appreciation. DVD/CD-ROMs are included with the package so we print the resources. The games, however, come in a spiral bound book to cut and assemble. There are readers, lesson sheets, poetry pages, craft pages, etc. on the CD-ROM for printing. The kids are in the “All About Spelling” part of the program (included with the package) right now and close to being finished – then it’s on to the 3rd student book. Curricula 1st 2nd LA

Calendar

      • We also do The Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Learning Notebook for our “caledar time.” The kids loved this, especially when we celebrated their 100th day of school with 100 tokens at Chuck E Cheese. Curricula 1st 2nd Calendar

I buy Dollar store reward charts and they earn 3-6 checks per day. There are 25 boxes per sheet so they earn rewards every 10 days or so. Rewards like time on the computer or a Dollar Store toy are huge motivators to be disciplined daily.

The kids have kitchen timers (isn’t that one super cute?) that they set for 20 minutes to read after they’ve finished their work which earns them another check mark on their reward charts.

And one more tip – for me, going to the Homeschool convention is always way more helpful than any “curriculum” has been. I’ve learned more about how to parent and train them through the teaching and sessions there that I can apply to any “subject” – that has been way more valuable than trying to force a boxed program to work.

I have had to work through major insecurities in order to do this thing called “homeschool” and the homeschool convention has been a major part of the process of change for me.

This past convention, I learned most from Steve Lambert (mentioned in this post – your child’s fav teacher, this one – brains & books, and this one too 10 tips) but I think this quote from him struck a cord within me that confirmed that God is using this process to mature me into the woman He wants me to be. Yes, it is for the good and growth of my children, but it is also for the good and growth of me. Nothing is wasted – especially the hard things.

God invited us to work on an area of ourselves; we refused. God invited us into marriage to deal with it; we refused. God invited us into parenthood to deal with it; we refused. So God invited us to home school – and this is where we deal with it. – Steve Lambert

I hope this helps and doesn’t overwhelm. If it does, just read it again in chunks. Don’t try to take it all in at once. Give yourself time to process and pray. And ask any questions you’d like. I’m not shy.

Further Reading:

Thank you for reading this post. If you've found it helpful, bookmark or share it for future reference. There are affiliate links in this post, because that's just good business - they are all marked by underlining. If you want to know more about affiliate links read my disclosure. As always, be sure to subscribe for more free content and to download your free guide to writing your own Parenting Purpose Statement.

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When You Feel Desperate to Change

January 14, 2010 was a day that sparked a great change in my life.

Actually, it was probably the 13th that was the spark and the 14th was the first flame.

I came to a crossroads moment. I was watching a movie that was a true story of a woman who was determined to make a change in her life. She started with a small, almost silly goal, but it grew into the motivating factor for everything in her life.

I knew I needed a motivating factor too. I felt paralyzed by the struggle of raising a toddler and a baby – everything in my life felt like work – hard work. I was desperate, and I didn’t have anything to show for it. (Important side note: I had so much to show for the work I was doing – two beautiful children who were loved and cared for! I hope the pictures in this post prove the point that the hard work of raising littles is worth it, and the hard work of setting small personal goals is worth it too.)

On Developing Better Follow Through toddler and baby

When I thought of the one thing I enjoyed doing most – reading – I felt like a failure because most of the books on my shelf were only half read.

I needed to change. I wanted to change.

The half read books symbolized the challenge I needed to overcome. If I truly wanted to become a finisher, then I would have to create a challenge for myself to fight my way through to the end.

It was easy at first to turn off the TV at night and curl up with a book instead. I believed what I was doing was worth my time and attention. What I didn’t realize was happening under the surface was – I was becoming a finisher. I had my goals and they were time sensitive. I had to prove it to myself that I could follow through.  

After a few years of homeschooling now, this mindset has transferred over to how I set goals and follow through for my kids. I finish what I start because they are worth it.

On Developing Better Follow Through worth the work

We started a book* back in October 2014. Life interrupted and we had to set that book down for another one. We left the first book on the shelf until just this month because I can’t stand the idea of leaving a story unfinished. And more importantly, I told them I would finish it – I gave them my word. Following through has everything to do with trust.

Being able to follow through doesn’t mean that you have to do everything. There are books that we have started and not finished. Our science text for this year isn’t finished. I chose to put it down and save it for later. My kids are in 1st and 2nd grade material and this one was written for 5th and 6th graders.

Don’t over think things that aren’t worth it to you. Just like following through on the read aloud was an important choice for me to follow through on, it’s okay that I didn’t follow through on the science. It’s also okay to set challenges and goals for yourself that look differently from the families around you.

Comparison is not only the thief of joy, but also the jailer locking you in inactivity. Just because my friend is able to set what I think is “higher” goals for her family, doesn’t mean that my goals are “lower” and inferior. The more I set goals that are attainable, the more success will inspire me to set higher and higher goals. At the end of the day, it’s not about how impressed you are with me – it’s how satisfied I am with myself.

So set goals, make plans, chart the course for what you want to accomplish – personally or for others. Then memorize the plan. Make your personal challenge something easy to rehearse so that you don’t forget it and go a week without fighting to attack it.

Just like the book we put down, life gets bossy with all the activities and demands on our time. So use one calendar. My husband and I share our Google calendars with each other so that we can see potential conflicts, and we can plan accordingly for times when one of us has an engagement. (Don’t like digital only calendars? You can print your Google calendar and put it into a cool notebook like this.)

Synchronizing calendars feels like more work to do, but it aids in communication, follow through, and has a better impact on the lives of everyone in the family.

Character is at stake – theirs and mine. I don’t commit to plans quickly. My friends joke that I am over-protective of our schedule. It’s true. I am very committed to follow through, and I feel like it’s a mark of poor character to not finish well.

I also recognize that certain plans will enhance teaching good character to my children and other activities will test that character. It is important to have both. Struggle, hardship, busyness – these can teach perseverance and good work ethic. So my key isn’t to avoid all difficult plans in order to ensure a 100% success rate of follow through, but rather the key is balance. It’s letting my yes be yes, and my no be no.

With my young children, I have come to recognize that they need me to answer their questions about our schedule and plans. It’s good to hold their hand and walk them through carefully. They are little for such a short time.

On Developing Better Follow Through

In order to have balance and peace of mind – knowing I’ve taken the time to tend to their heart and prepare to arrive on time for our plans – I use timers, simple instructions, and I mean what I say. My kids can feel time. They know what “5 more minutes” really is. Because I’ve committed to follow through they can’t be tricked by loose standards.

Follow through is a work in progress for me. When I started my personal challenge back in 2010, I was an entirely different person that who I am now. The seemingly insignificant challenge I set for myself was just the sort of distraction I needed to keep my focus in my mothering positive and separate from my self worth. I’m living proof that little choices in the right direction make great change over time.

Only the link marked with an asterisk is an affiliate link in this post. The rest are provided for further reading and reference. Enjoy!

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Redefining the Bottom of the Well

Filling the Well

Two weeks ago I sent out an email to some mom friends; I had hit a dry patch. It was rough, and it wasn’t the type of feeling that shakes off after a nice latte or fresh air.

I was stale.

I felt like something had to give. I was questioning my writing, my influence, and even my teaching style. Maybe it all had to change.

I felt at a loss.

Contemplating choices for the future turned ugly, and I began to feel like a failure in what I was doing. The successes and efforts paled. Getting back into a place of living color felt impossible.

I turned inspiration into a burden and felt overwhelmed.

My greatest gift had become my greatest need.

So I boldly asked for encouragement. Hey, I’m feeling down and funky – and I don’t mean the spunky, dance moves kind – would you please be able to give me a lift?

A miracle sparked. I’m not sure why or how, but just the asking and the receiving – the process of figuring out what I was needing and pursuing it – gave me the momentum I lacked. I got back on my feet.

And just like that, the season changed.

We started exercising again. (By we, I mean, my son and I.) We got haircuts. We went to the library again. I wanted to read for leisure again.

fills the well haircut

Again.

Accidentally, I had stopped prioritizing these things or life had gotten in the way, but one thing was certain – I learned that I couldn’t encourage from an empty well.

I learned that coasting on a full well doesn’t last long either; I need daily, quality connection with life to feel fully alive.

And reaching 50 degrees helps too.

fills the well kids fresh air

In recent years I’ve learned that I have so much responsibility to own for how I feel. Steady emotions aren’t reserved for those of a certain disposition or personality type.

My emotions require more maintenance or inspiration to function at my highest potential. So I have to own the work that it takes to function and stay stable. It’s a balance, and it’s a process.

Emotional progress can be tricky when I take into consideration circumstances and seasons, so I’ve decided to redefine the bottom of the well. I need to create a false bottom. In order to prevent the total dry out, I’ve come up with signs of dryness:

  1. TV watching instead of book reading
  2. A bunch of demanding little commitments: daily, weekly, monthly – regular engagements that drain without the balance of commitments that fill and inspire. (This one isn’t usually a problem when church attendance is regular, but it has been lately – we’ve had someone vomiting or running a fever every-single-Saturday for the past 3 months.)
  3. More than 3 life experiences that I need to share with my spouse: I know I’m headed for an emotional dry place when I have a backlog of things to update my husband about. I need him to know me, and when I’m waiting or unable to share with him – my feelings fade.
  4. Lack of fresh air, color, music
  5. Too much sugar (And now I have guilt. I just ate a tootsie roll. Maybe I should move this to the #1 spot.)
  6. Clutter and a lack of concern to clean, avoiding simplifying because it feels too hard
  7. Sleeping in, I need to be a self starter – no one else will start my day for me.

I’m committed to learning how to live life to the fullest. And I’m truly thankful for the grace to live with a full well, feeling inspired and satisfied. I hope you do too.

Affiliate links to the books pictured above (at no cost to you, these links support this site – high five!):
Persuasion (Vintage Classics)
No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are
The Writing Life
Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids
Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, 2nd edition
You and Me Forever Workbook: Marriage in Light of Eternity