Facebook Experiment

For my 2017 new year’s resolution I resolved to take a break from Facebook, to digitally disconnect and sort through my emotions and how it was all connected.  Oddly enough it was the passing comment of a family member that triggered this idea.  I was told with a well meaning intent, “Thank goodness for Facebook, it’s how I keep track of what you’re up to!”  Normally, this comment wouldn’t bother me because it was true, at least in my mind true to all the family and friends that live in another state.  But what caused it to bother me was that this family member lives only 30 minutes from me.

Now, I may behave as though my life is extremely busy, but honestly it is not.  I leave the house at 6 am, drop boys off at school, work until 2 pm, pick boys up from school, run errands or doctor’s appointments if we have them that day and than am home by 4 pm maybe 5 on a particularly busy day.  Other than that I am home, working on my various hobbies, watching movies with kids, and doing my share of the household work.  So to hear thatcomment hurt, but deeper than that I realized I didn’t feel lonely and I couldn’t understand why.  My social world is very dull and limited, outside my coworkers and my immediate family.  So I started to think about  what was going on.  Then a light bulb went on one night while I was perusing through all the FB feeds as was my nightly ritual.  FB had become my social outlet, my social world.  I thought how sad is that?

So, I thought I need to figure out how bad my dependence on FB was for a social outlet.  I backed off on using it.  Unfortunately, I am a bit obsessive and an extreme creature of habit.  I struggled to not click on the app, to not check my laptop at home, or to check my tablet at work.  I even prayed about it in frustration at my weakness over what I was coming to see as an addiction.  I finally came to the realization I needed it to be off!  So that is where my experiment started.  I decided for new years I would take a break until I felt it was safe for my emotional health to get back on.

The past 2 months I learned alot.  I learned I did have a social addiction to FB.  I also learned how little face to face social interaction I actually had with all the people I considered “close”.  I learned I had grown lazy in my time with God, in my desire to fulfill my dream to write a true story, how I hadn’t read a real book in quite a while, I hadn’t completed any of my craft projects in a long time and sadly how disconnected my immediate family has become because we all are guilty of too much screen time.  It was almost like one of those sci-fi movies where technology consumes us that we lose who we are and it upset me.

Honestly, it took me 2 weeks to get over the emotions of breaking away from FB.  I went through the typical, psychological symptoms of loss.  Depression (which is a constant “friend” of mine), loneliness, feeling lost, not knowing what to do with myself, temptation, etc. I was miserable those 2 weeks, but knew I had to stick it out, however, once I got used to it I began to enjoy my time with my loved ones once  more.  And my stress levels dropped because I wasn’t unintentionally hurt by random comments or pictures that are posted (I find many of us don’t realize how their comments and pictures can emotionally affect people, I know I didn’t).  I also began to understand who was really invested in my life and in my family’s life.  The ones who reached out, who asked, who connected with us to see what was going on in our lives.  I also began talking on the phone again to family and friends.  I was even inspired to start socially gathering with people in my life again, more so than I have in a while.

On the flip side, it also showed me how awkward and how truly disconnected I am with many people in my life that I had mistakenly thought I was close too.  This has saddened me greatly and caused a certain level of  broken hearted tears.  To tell you the truth, I’m still figuring out and praying with how to deal with that part, but I won’t bore you with that aspect.

This experiment as painful as it has been though has been a good thing.  It’s taught me about digital boundaries for myself and about what I truly am looking for in friendships and relationships as a whole.

I have reactivated my FB account because I finally feel ready to be on it again, but this time I have set strong boundaries to never cross again.  The app will not be on my phone or tablet ever again,(it’s too easy to access).  I will only view it at home on my laptop from now on. I will limit my weekly visit to check out FB and scale back my posts in general.

I know not everyone needs these types of boundaries and can control themselves.  I also know other people have no problem balancing equal face to face relationship versus digital ones.  But for me I need rules.

I admit I’m glad to be returning.  I have missed connecting with friends via FB that I rarely get to see, but I know now I need to cultivate the face to face friendships just as much.  I also miss being able to post joyous or good news that our family experiences’  like Matthew’s baptism or Tayler’s chance to get a job at bakery (which is her dream).  I also have missed seeing the good and joyous news of friends who have had babies, going on fantastic vacations, announcing weddings, etc.

So with that thought in mind I’ll see you on FB, just more cautiously and what I really would love is to see you in person!  So call, text or msg me for a cup of coffee!  I’d love to really see and visit with you.

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Sticking to It.

Sticking to something is one of the hardest things I struggle with.  It doesn’t matter what area of my life but I’ve struggled with consistency.  It can range from my relationships with people, my study of God’s word, my prayer life, the eating plan I’ve adopted, to training for the next 4 major races I’m entered in to pursuing my dreams of writing a book.  It doesn’t matter what the desire is, but at one point or another I fall off the wagon.  Like I did today with my eating.  I know I will pick myself up tomorrow (thanks to the constant coaching/support of my hubby) but I’m still disappointed with myself.

Also I’m disappointed I’ve dropped the ball on my writing.  The hunger in my soul to write is still there.  It longs to break free. But the monotony of daily life, the responsibilities of my position at work, home and to my health often get in the way. There always seems to be something more important to get done or I’m too tired to fire the old pistons in my brain.  Will I ever get inspiration to write and the will to complete it?  I’ve wanted to write a book since as long as I can remember, but  just can’t seem to stay consistent with it.

I know, I know I’ve read all the blogs and tips/tricks to help myself.  From setting up the same time daily, finding a specific location to write in, sticking to it, be consistent, blah blah blah.

But in the end it comes back to me and my struggle with consistency.  My life is already so micro managed by all my other responsibilities, I hesitate to add one more micro-managed task into it.  But this is when I ask myself why do I hesitate?  It is fear? Fear of being overwhelmed,fear of not having any down time in my already full schedule, fear of failing, fear of when I actually do it that I’m no good? Yes, yes it is all these things.  So what do I do?  Do I keep avoiding it and just pin away after that dream? Or do I actually act on it?

I know what I need to do.  I need to act on it.  I need to stick to it.  I need to stop dreaming and doing nothing, and actually commit to it.  Commitment to a dream,  a goal has never been my strength.  I’m going to need help.  I think I will enlist the help of my hubby.  He may not be able to keep tabs on me as he does with my diet, but he can help me organize my schedule.  Well at least I can use him as my sounding board to find a conclusion.

Back to my responsibilities.

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Traditions change but Christmas still means the same

All year our family has been experiencing various changes.  For the most part I’ve struggled off and on with it and have did my best to process my feelings with the changes.  And I have also tried to help my family process their feelings.  However, it wasn’t until this morning that I didn’t realize how much the changes have affected my kids.

This morning started out as a normal Saturday morning, breakfast, showers, Saturday chores, etc. My husband, the ever industrious man that he is, decided to focus on an indoor project since the weather is making it unpleasant to work outside.  He is now focusing on putting new tile throughout our entryway, kitchen and maybe dining area, which I am excited about.  However, both our sons weren’t very pleased with this plan.  They mumbled and groaned about it to the point it got under the skin of my determined hubby.  

After awhile I went and spoke with them.  I came to learn that it wasn’t the change of just the flooring that bothered them.  It was all the other changes combined.  The grandparents won’t be joining us this year for Christmas morning (due to family flying in), their sister won’t be with us for Christmas morning or day (she is spending the day with her new inlaws), and we won’t be opening the tradtional presents that we usually open on Christmas Eve.  Starting the process of changing out the flooring and repainting  just sent them over the edge with all the change.

I can sympathize with them.  It is alot of change for this year and it is different.  The child-like excitement of Christmas is starting to fade for our kids, and I have to admit that makes me a little sad.  But when I look back on my history I remember that even though the changes hurt it opened the doors to new different traditions.   Traditions that we could only do because we were older and no longer little.  As a result those new traditions become just as fun and just as memorable.

I hope that this year and the following years as my kids transition from teens into adults that I can help them and/or guide them into new traditions.  It’s not easy especially with trying to figuring out the juggle of extended family (and we have alot locally) as well.  But its at this time that I need to focus on the purpose of this holiday season.  Christ coming to Earth to be with us.  This season is to celebrate that wonderous event.  It’s not about the get togethers, the presents, the food.  It’s about celebrating our hope.  Yes, our hope is in our future and our families, but at the base its in Christ. Because the hope of Christ ties everything else together.

So that being said as much as change upsets or scares  us when our “traditions” are changed.  We must remember that the original tradition of celebrating Christ will always be there.  People change, they grow, they leave, they come back but Christ always is.  I just hope I can relay this message to our children as they struggle and in so doing create new traditions with our children who are transitioning into the adult world.

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​This year for my birthday we once again went to visit my grandparents, but this year it was something different that drove me to go see them.  This year it was fear of not seeing them for much longer.  I find, and I know this is true for most people, the older you get the more your mortality and the mortality of your loved ones becomes real.

So instead of escaping from reality, I ran to making memories and reminiscing about the old ones. When we arrived the goal was at first to show our new “son”, Zach, the gems of the area.  We ran in a whirlwind showing him all the wonders and beauties of the northern redwood region. And even though that was fun it was exhausting.  The last day of the visit which was meant to be spent visiting with my grandparents however I realized what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. It was time to go home.

I realized when I awoke in the morning it was time for us to go.  My originally “selfish” intentions of why I wanted to stay an extra day weren’t going to happen.  And us staying one more day wouldn’t be beneficial for the rest of my family.  They had things they were delaying just for me.  And the heart to heart talks I wanted with my grandma wasn’t going to happen.  Our children have reached the stage where they actively join in on the conversations we have, which is wonderful.  But I wanted to talk and in essence cry on her shoulder about things that our children don’t need to hear. So I knew it was time to go.  Maybe next time we go, it will just be Tom and I, then I can cry a bit about the woes of my life to her and celebrate the triumphs of this past year with her.

With that being said, I still had to face saying good bye. This turned out harder than I thought.  As we were packing up I finally went outside to explore the changes of grandpa’s yard.  Memories came flooding back to me. Ones of when Shawn and I crossed over the “forbidden” field to explore the “great” forest beyond the field, to the trees I climbed as a little girl, to playing badmitton with my brother over grandpa’s non existent picket fence and so many more.  I actually started to tear up a bit.  Then we had picture time, which was full of giggles and laughter as we all cracked jokes and grandpa grabbed grandma’s backside in one of the photo opportunities.  We ended with a family prayer and hugs goodbye.  I’ve hidden my tears, but they are there.

The legacy of love, acceptance, laughter, heart to hearts that my grandparents have given me does not have a price. I tell many people that my grandparents are more than just typical grandparents to me, they are my second parents.  They have impacted my life to shape and form me into the woman I am today.  They were the ones that shared Christ with me and lead me to pray with him,  they are the ones that showed me its possible to achieve your dreams and goals,  they are the ones that showed me what forgiveness, healing and moving on from the pain of life is, they are the ones that taught me how to accept people even when those people hurt me or let me down, and mostly they are the ones that I wanted to grow up to be just like them when I was a child.

I think I have achieved that goal.  I’m married to my best friend, a man I love, cherish and couldn’t imagine my life without.  We have been blessed with 4 children (just like my grandparents).  We live in our “countryish” home.  I have a career that brings me joy.  And our life goal besides serving Christ is to help our family stay close and united.

Now I watch them in their twilight years.  My original goal to grow up to be like them hasn’t changed one bit.  It just causes me to desire to spend more time with them.  I just hope that we bring them as my joy, love and memories as they have given us.

I look at their legacy today on my 41st birthday and can only pray that my life has a similar legacy with our children and the future generations.  I am forever grateful and blessed to have the grandparents that I have.  Thank you Grandma and Grandpa.  I love you both with all my heart.

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Finding Joy in times of Stress

Lately, my stress levels have been very high. You would think after tackling the wedding it would go down. But nooo, its only increased but this time its because of my own doing.

I have taken on alot of freelance design work, am starting a women’s bible study at church on Wednesdays, signed up to attend a gym and am doing a strict diet once again (I gained way to much to do stress eating this year). So of course my stress levels are a bit high. Usually when this happens I handle it two ways. One I overeat or two I shut down emotionally. Neither one is healthy or good for me.

So today I read a verse from my daily verse email that I get from KLOVE. It was: “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Psalms 119:143. My first thought was “yeah, right, joy? where? how? If anything my frustration, anger and sadness levels are more of what I’ve been feeling. So where is this joy?” Then I got a subtle nudge from the Holy Spirit. I was reminded by doing all of these things I am following God’s commands, I’m obeying the calling He has put on my heart and I’m not being lazy. I can take joy in that. Joy that I’m not working for myself, but for someone and something bigger and greater than me. Joy that I am busy (which I do enjoy), joy in that I’m making new connections with people, joy that I’m working towards a goal (which gives me satisfaction), joy in His provision (through the freelance work), joy that I’m creating, building, strengthening many aspects of my life. So yes, there is joy in His commands and I need to remember that.

So, I think this verse is going to make it into my verse journal. It’s a good reminder and great perspective changer. I hope that it helps you too!

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Reviving an old Goal

Everyone has at least one weakness or as I call them handicaps.  It’s something we all have to learn to live with or overcome.  I try to overcome mine but unfortunately for me they often go hand in hand and I struggle with them both.  They are weight control/loss and consistency.

Since I had our first born (21 years ago) I have struggled with my weight.  Growing up I was an average, healthy size but due to a tall gene pool, I never had to monitor my food intake to keep my waistline under control.  It wasn’t until after our first child was born that I realized I had a problem.

Through out the years I learned the skills and techniques of watching what I ate and balancing my exercise levels with my food intake.  In my mid-20s I was actually quite successful at it.  But then life happened and my tendency to stress eat and lack of love for exercise caused me to gain it all back plus some.

When we moved to Reno 10 years ago I was resolved to lose it all.  So far I have been half way successful, even though it took me 4 years to drop the first half of excess.  The past 6 years I have been moving within a 20 lb range and haven’t been able to move beyond that.  Recently, meaning this past year, I allowed my old habit of stress eating (due to mother of the bride stresses) to creep back in.  This unfortunately has moved me back up to the top of that 20 lb movement range.

So, 2 weeks ago, I had a heart to heart with my dear husband.  He has been by my side watching my struggle, encouraging me and trying his hardest to help me to remain consistent.  Unfortunately, I am a very social creature in my habits.  I also struggle with disciplined consistency for long term goals.  Overall, this means that I do better and am more successful when I am working with another person on my goals.  Meaning that person see’s me at least weekly and is going through the same routine/pain that I am. But I digress.  Back to my heart to heart with the hubby.  Through our discussion I came to realize running, as good as it is for my body, was not working for me.  I needed something social, some accountability and something I could really enjoy.

So I went through my choices.  I have done the weight loss clinic aspect like Weight-watchers before and early on realized it didn’t really inspire me much.  I then started to consider social methods of working out.  My last successful weight loss/exercise was at the for women only  health club Curves.  I did very well there and lost the first quarter of my initial excess weight there.  Unfortunately there is no Curves that would work with my day to day routine or in a location that works for me.  I had tried Kaia for a short-term, I wanted to try to bond with my sister in law through it and also meet some other women, but since my sister in law was pregnant at the time and the times for the Kaia classes were difficult for my schedule that failed miserably.  I also felt like Kaia wasn’t a very good fit for me with how they did things.  It didn’t have the type of structure and one on one interaction that I prefer.  Also I felt like a fish out of water in that environment.  Not many of the women who were regulars I could personally relate with.  Then there was the idea to join a health club.  I’ve been hesitant to go that route for monetary reasons, and also preference.  My thought process was that if I was going to go to a club it had to have a pool (I love swimming) and it had to offer classes at times that would work for me, not to mention location.  This seemed like an impossible aspect for me, Reno wasn’t known for its clubs with pools, and money wise I didn’t see how it would work with our budget.

Over the course of the next 2 weeks I discussed some of this (with out all the introspection) with some of my coworkers friends.  One particular friend suggested a club she had belonged to previously but when I looked into the pricing it was a no go.  Then another coworker friend went to the actual club and signed up.  She came back to the office with all the details of her sign up.  The pricing wasn’t as bad as I saw on the internet, they were having a special priced sign up.  But here is where the big bright Go arrow came from God for me.  My first friend received an email that there was a very short term special signup price that lasted only 5 days.  The price was unbelievably low.  I immediately forwarded the price over to my hubby and we discussed it.  So with all that being said I am officially a member of a local health club again and it offers weekly aquafit, aqua-pilates, and aqua-zumba classes, plus I will meeting with a trainer to help me get back on track.  My hopes are definitely up for this place.

I know I still have my handicaps of needing to be socially engaged to help me be successful and also I struggle with consistency, but at least I feel I’m moving in the right direction again.  The past 6 years have felt like I’ve been “static” (as our pastor referred to today) in the weight loss area.  I’m hoping and doing my best to move forward in this area, plus a couple of others which I won’t bore you with. So we will see if I finally reach the 2nd half of my long term goal of achieving my right weight and getting to that 10 minute per mile run time.

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Moving on but still Mom

The past 2 weeks our family has gone through a great celebration but also a huge transformation.  We have now in a sense lost a daughter, but also gained a son.  I’ve always dreamed of this day for each of our children but it seems surreal that it has happened.  Even during the ceremony it didn’t seem real, and last week it felt more like our daughter was just on vacation away from us just like last year.  However, last night was a bit of an eye opener to me.

For the past 6 months we have slowly been prepared with our daughter spending half her time with her fiancee, but yet she was always still our daughter.  However, on her honeymoon she entered into the role of wife, both mentally, physically and emotionally.  As we caught up with the newlyweds over dinner last night and then later throughout the evening I noticed little changes in her demeanor, her body language and even in some of the things she said.  They weren’t bad changes, just changes.  But then I also saw some of the young, naive girl still in her. She had grown up a bit in her week away with her new husband.  She now felt more on equal grounds with me instead of my little girl.  It made me proud but at the same time a little sad.

It also reminded me that I still have my other 3 who will be entering into the adult world soon enough, and soon my role as mother will change again.  I’ll still be their mother, but not in the same way I have been.  To be fair though my role as mother has changed alot in the 21 years since we first conceived our first child.  In the baby stages, I was the provider, the protector, the main caregiver, the teacher, the discipliner, the housekeeper, the cook, and even the playmate.  During the children stage I was those things, but more tasks were added on as counselor, peacemaker, confidante, and advocate.  When the teen years hit some of the original tasks fell away as the kids became more self sufficient, but some of the newer tasks intensified in their roles.  Now I’m entering the final stage of motherhood, as adviser/counselor and friend.  But the ongoing task I always have had and will have is prayer warrior for them.

What I didn’t expect was the sense of freedom that would come with this new phase of motherhood.  Freedom of time I expected, but the freedom of the day to day stresses that come from having 4 young adults under the same roof. That I did not expect.  There is still the stresses or emotions of 3 young people but one less is almost relieving.  I know this makes me sounds bad and may imply that our 4 kiddos are highly emotional, but in actuality they are not.  This is a momma who is just worn out emotionally.  After 21 years of trying to appease, battle, sensor, guide 4 brimming with life people, I’m a little worn out.  Don’t get me wrong, I treasure each memory, each giggle, each hug, each milestone little or big, and each tear but it’s been a definite job of love.  So with that being said, seeing one of my chicks leave the nest has been sad but also gratifying especially in the choice of how she left.

Now as to my 3 remaining chicks.  It feels like time is moving even faster than it was before.  My initial instincts are to hold on to the 3 I still have left.   Yet I know in order to help my chicks fly I need to still guide, prompt, nudge and encourage them.  So in essence even though my job as mother to one of my kiddos has altered a bit the other 3 still need me as the same mom I’ve been since they’ve entered the teen years.  It will be interesting juggling and wading through these mixed phases of motherhood, but probably no harder or difficult than mothering 4 children between the ages of 15 and soon to be 21 years old.

Lastly, I have to say I’m at peace about the place I’m in as a mom.  Each of our chicks are growing into amazing people, and we now have our new addition in our son in law.  I look forward to seeing our once little family blossom and grow.  I anticipate the new additions that God will bring into our home.  And mostly I look forward to seeing each of them strive after the dreams that were placed in their hearts.  One thing I can say for sure is that I know my kids are each other’s friends and companions.  That they truly do love and enjoy one another’s company and even like to hang out with Tom and I.  Twenty-one years ago I couldn’t comprehend what this stage of life would be like.  I couldn’t see how we would be blessed, provided for, how much we’ve grown and changed.  It’s definitely been a journey, but its a journey I’ve enjoyed and am thankful for.  This next stage of the journey should be just as great and just as interesting.

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