Tag Archives: growth

Lessons from the First 4 Months of Motherhood

Motherhood is sure stretching and growing me in many ways. I’m only 4.5 months in, so I’m a total newbie still, but if there’s one lesson that stands out in my mind so far, it would be this:

You are not in control.

Ha. Any mom who is reading this right now is probably chuckling and nodding her head. ย I sat next to a really sweet lady at church a few weeks ago and we got chatting about our kids. Hers were several years older than mine and she asked how I was adjusting to life with a baby. I said, “Well, it’s definitely teaching me that I’m really not in control!” She laughed and said, “Honey, control is an illusion. None of us are ever in control.”

So. True.
But before having a baby, I definitely lived under that illusion at times. Okay, most of the time.
My life was so orderly, running like a well-oiled machine (for the most part). And there’s nothing like having a baby to teach a Type-A, schedule-loving, extremely organized person that life will be so much betterimg_2379 if you just let go of trying to be in control!

You realize as a mom that everything is flexible. I used to hate that word!! ๐Ÿ˜› Now it is my lifesaver and my mantra.

Want to meet for coffee? Ok, I’ll be there around 10:30. Oops, baby had a diaper blowout…be there at 11! ย Need to run to the grocery store? Wait, she’s falling asleep so I think we’ll just go after nap-time. Babies are great at helping us crazy Type-As learn to just go with the flow. ๐Ÿ™‚ It wasn’t an easy transition for me, but I’m slowly getting more used to it and becoming more…dare I say it, flexible. ย ๐Ÿ˜‰ ย let-go-of-control

Because I’ve always been a timely person who hardly ever cancels on anyone and hates to make changes to the original plan, I feel horrible when I have to reschedule or arrive late to a coffee date with a friend. It doesn’t happen too often any more (I’ve learned to build in a 20 minute buffer to get out the door, haha!) but when it does I always apologize profusely and struggle not to feel like an awful person for keeping someone waiting. Did I mention I also have a perfectionist side? I’ve also been learning a lot about being okay with imperfection in my life. (Not that I ever thought I was perfect, but I definitely tried to be.) ย I think I need to re-read the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. My counselor recommended that to me during my recovery from anorexia, and it was very instrumental in my healing. Anorexics are notorious for being perfectionists, and I was definitely not the exception.

Speaking of imperfection, motherhood has helped me be okay with an imperfect house too! While I still maintain a pretty clean home and keep up with the dishes and laundry for the most part, I’ve loosened the reigns a lot when it comes to dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms. I realized one day that my friends would still love me and come over to hang out even if my coffee table was dusty and my bathroom hadn’t seen Windex in a couple weeks time. Imagine that.

All of this to say, I’m really grateful for these lessons that motherhood is teaching me so far. I’ve got a long ways to go, but my other favorite mantra in this stage of life is “one day at a time” so I’m just going to keep chugging along. ๐Ÿ™‚

Not only is this little cutie an amazing joy and blessing, but she’s teaching me so much every single day. I’m really thankful for this mama life. ย โค

Sovereign Over Us

(originally written July 30, 2016)

If you have a Facebook account, youโ€™ve probably noticed from time to time that Facebook will remind you of memories from years past of what you posted on any given day. I donโ€™t usually give them much notice, but this morning the memory Facebook popped up with was one that brought back many emotions along with it.

11694089_667929953306560_6350319234625176378_nA year ago today, I shared a picture of the whiteboard on our fridge. Rob had written lyrics on it from a song called โ€œSovereign Over Usโ€ by Michael W Smith. I wrote in my post about how these lyrics were such an encouragement to me; a reminder that God is in control even when it doesnโ€™t necessarily feel like it at times. I wrote about how this song had been playing on repeat in my car and home for the past week.

What I didnโ€™t say in my post was that the reason this song meant so much to me was that we had been trying for several months to get pregnant, with no success. With each month that passed, I felt like more of a failure. I felt like something was wrong with me. I had already been nervous about my ability to get pregnant because of my history with anorexia, and it felt like each month that fear was becoming more of a reality, no matter how hard I tried to trust God and have faith.

Rob introduced me to this song somewhere around that time, and it quickly became my lifeline, my reminder that God was with me. I literally played it on repeat over and over again in my car during every tough day, and wrote the lyrics in my journal many times. I listened to it on my trail runs, and sung it, through tears sometimes, while I cooked dinner.

One weekend we went to a wedding where it seemed like every woman around me was pregnant. It felt as if everywhere I turned there was a reminder of the ache in my heart that had yet to be satisfied. I felt pretty defeated by the end of the night, despite my best efforts to keep a smile on my face. However, the next day at church, this same song came on the screen during our worship and I had tears of hope running down my cheekse as I sung the very familiar lines:

โ€œThere is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trustโ€

Up until now, I’ve been afraid to talk or write about how much I struggled emotionally with this journey of trying to conceive, because I know there are so many couples out there who tried far longer than we did to get pregnant. There are so many who have had to wrestle with long-term infertility or are faced with the inability to ever have children.
My heart breaks for them. I can’t even come close to imagining or understanding how painful that heartache must be.
I feel embarrassed sometimes with how much I struggled through the months that it took us to conceive.
But Iโ€™m learning as time has gone by that although my story quickly pales in comparison to so many others who are dealing with far more painful circumstances, this is still my story, and I hope that perhaps by sharing it, it will be an encouragement to someone else in their journey too.

I like to think sometimes that I am in control of my life. I love making lists, planning out my day (and my month, if Iโ€™m being honest) being organized, and feeling confident of how “the plan” is going to go. Needless to say, I approached our efforts to conceive with my usual Type A mindset: if I do XYZ, I should be able to guarantee ____ outcome.

trust-godWhen one month after another passed by with no sign of a baby, I was forced to admit that I really wasnโ€™t in control. This is one of the many lessons I was reminded of again and again during those months of doubt and fear. It felt as if the Lord was gently whispering, โ€œLet go of your need for control. Stop exhausting yourself with this struggle. Surrender. I know whatโ€™s best for you and I have good things in store for you. Trust Me.โ€

Itโ€™s a lesson that Iโ€™m still learning to this day. I donโ€™t think Iโ€™ll ever be done with it. Itโ€™s a continuous endeavor, and some days and weeks are better than others. I still struggle to let go of my desire for control. I still try (often) to hold the reigns to my life, but God gently reminds me again and again that I can trust and rest in Him. ย Surrender is not a dramatic one-time event, but rather a journey of many little steps, just one foot in front of the other. And Iโ€™m trying to make those small, moment-by-moment choices to have faith in His sovereign plan. He has good things in store for me, and for you. You can trust Him, friend.

โ€œYour plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over usโ€
–Sovereign Over Us by Michael W. Smith

How to Set Goals You Can Actually Achieve

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me, that I LOVE goals. And lists. Lists of goals. Goals on lists. Basically, any combination of these two things is enough to get me excited.

love listsI’m the kind of person that adds items to my to do list that I already finished 5 minutes ago, just so I can have the immense enjoyment of crossing something off my list.

The other day, as I searched feverishly for a wedding invitation in the mess of papers on my desk, I ended up sorting through the entire pile and organizing everything, quite accidentally. So, of course, I grabbed my to-do list and wrote down “organize papers on desk” and then drew a very satisfied line through it with my blue pen. I’m not kidding.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.)

Without goals and lists, I’m pretty sure I would go insane. Goals keep me focused and motivated. Goals help me push through distractions (i.e., mindless Facebook surfing) and remind me of better things to do with my time.

My daily goals – some people might call this their “to-do list” – are the things I’m hoping to accomplish that day. I love to write down my daily goals first thing when I wake up in the morning (or sometimes the night before) because it helps me prioritize my time.

work from homeSince I am self-employed and work from home, there’s no boss waiting for me at the office, no outside accountability as to whether I worked all morning or laid in bed watching Netflix in my pajamas.ย I’m responsible for making sure I actually get things done every day. So, goals are essential in my world.

My daily lists have various types of goals: some are tasks related to developing my business, others are reminders of client emails I need to send or workout plans that need to be designed. Some of the items are simply errands that need to be done or a reminder that it’s probably time to do laundry. (Especially if my husband has been wearing the same holey pair of black socks for several days in a row because every other pair is waiting to be washed…)

These goal lists help me stay motivated on a daily basis (and ensure that laundry does get done at some point…) but I also like to have bigger, over-arching goals to help structure my entire year.

As you can imagine, the end of December is one of my absolutely favorite times, because, well, there’s Christmas, yes, but ALSO…. I have a socially acceptable excuse to make lists, set new goals, and dream about the fresh 365 days ahead of me. My inner nerd really comes out in full force around the new year, as my husband can attest. (When I asked himย if he thought my obsession fascination with goals was over-the-top, he declined to comment. Something about it being a trap, he said.)

We actually had a date night at Starbucks early in January, just to talk about our goals for 2015 – both personally, and as a couple. Armed with notepads, ballpoint pens, and a steaming cup of coffee, we sunk into the leather couch at our local Starbucks and hashed out our goals for 2015. We brainstormed ways we wanted to grow, learn new things, change our attitudes and habits, and chase our dreams. It sounds corny, I know. The kind of thing you’d read about in Oprah’s magazine. It reeks of rainbows and unicorns and fields of daises with the headline “follow your dreams” in a scrolly font. But I promise, it’s really quite practical and down-to-earth.ย FullSizeRender

We wrote down goals on an array of topics: everything from places we want to travel, special date nights we want to go on, specific ways we want to use our money more wisely, friendships we want to invest in more fully, and new skills we’d like to learn in 2015.

If you’re not the kind of person who naturally enjoys goal-setting, you might think this process sounds exhausting, like yet another impossible standard you’re setting for yourself that can never be reached. But it’s not meant to be that way at all.

As I studied to become a Certified Personal Trainer, one of the things I learned about was how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. You’ve probably heard of this concept:

S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. ย Once you focus on setting SMART goals, you no longer have a list full of vague concepts like “be more financially responsible” or “eat more healthy foods.” ย  Instead, you write down, “put together a detailed budget plan that I can realistically follow, and put $____ ย into savings every month.” ย Or, “Make home-cooked meals 3 nights a week and pack my lunches for work instead of eating out.”ย 

smart goal setting conceptThis is key to setting goals that you will actually accomplish. As an example, for most of my life, I’ve always set a goal at the new year to “journal more consistently” and every year, without fail, I do well for a few weeks, maybe a month, before it peters out and my journal goes un-touched for weeks or months on end. I love to journal, but it seemed I could never make it into a consistent habit.

Then, last year, I decided to make it a more specific goal, and I wrote down, “I want to journal every week day about 3 things that I’m thankful for.” ย And although it didn’t happen every day, it definitely became a consistent habit that I’ve kept up ever since. Because it became realistic (only doing it on weekdays when I’m actually home and around my journal) and achievable (not pressuring myself to journal pages and pages on end), I was able to reach my goal and grew to love journaling farย more than just the “3 things” that were part of my goal.

goal setting

Questions for you:

Do you currently set goals each day? What about goals for the year?

Do you have a good or bad taste in your mouth when it comes to goal-setting? Why?

What’s one goal you might want to make for the month or year ahead?

A Letter to Mothers about Body Image

Several weeks ago, I met a girlfriend at Starbucks for some coffee and conversation. (Two of my favorite things.) We were relatively new friends and didn’t yet know a lot about each other, so we began talking about where we grew up, our sports and hobbiesย during high school, and where our lives had taken us since then. My new friend had read a little bit of my blog and began to ask me about my eating disorder and journey of recovery. After I shared for a little bit, she chimed in and expressed to me that she too had battled an eating disorder throughout her college years. starbucks

There’s often an instant connection, it seems, between two people that have both gone through much the same battles in life. You understand each other in a way that’s only possible because you have similar scars; similar memories, similar struggles and, hopefully, similar triumphs.ย 

As my friend shared with me her own journey and story, she paused for a sip of coffee, and I took that opportunity to ask, “So, what would you say was your first exposure to a obsessive relationship with food? What were some of the factors that caused you to become worried about your weight and body image?”

She didn’t hesitate, tracing circles on the table with her finger as she replied, “Well, even when I was only 6 or 7 years old, I remember my mom always talking about being on a diet, and she never seemed happy with her body.”

My heart sank as I thought about what that must have been like for my friend to grow up hearing such obsessiveย messages about weight and size. This mother probably didn’t mean to negatively influence her daughter’s body image, but sadly, she did. And what grieves my heart even more, is that I’d heard this same opening line countless times before.

In my health coaching business, I often meet with young women who are in recovery from an eating disorder.ย Everyone’s story is unique in various details, but often there are recurring themes that stand out to me from these conversations. And one of those themes that blaresย repeatedly out at me is how a mother’s relationship with food, body image, and weight makes a enormous impact on her daughter’s values in these areas.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that a client or friend has started off their story with a comment like one of these:

“Well, my mom was always really obsessed with her body when I was growing up…”

“I remember my mom ALWAYS being on a diet…”

“My mom often went on about how much she hated her body and needed to lose weight…”

“My mom never really ate meals with us as a family; she would always just pick at stuff and talk about how she wasn’t hungry or couldn’t eat what we were eating because she was on a diet.”

I haven’t been a mother, so I don’t pretend at all to have this figured out. I don’t know how to raise a daughter with good body image and I wish there was a manual or book that would give us all some step-by-step instructions.

True confession: I’m terrified sometimes to think about raising my own daughter one day in a culture that bombards her constantly with pressure to be a size 2 or have a certain hourglass figure.ย I want with all my heart to be able to protect her from the obsession, compulsion, and pain that I’ve experienced because of my eating disorder. I wish there was some guaranteed method that would ensure our daughters grew into well-adjusted young women with positive body image and a healthy relationship with food. But there’s not.

nothing wrongIt was drizzling rain on my way home from the coffee shop that day, my heart heavy as I thought about this cycle of mothers and daughters in exhausting battles with body image and weight.

As I sat at a red light with the rain pattering against my windshield, I began to make mental note of some things I would share with mothers if somehow given the opportunity. I didn’t have it in me to cry that day; I just wanted to be able to vocalize the frustration in my heart, and a mental letter seemed to give me that outlet.

One of my former clients was told by her mother when she was 8 years old that she was fat and needed to lose weight. Another young women I corresponded with over email said that her mom put her on a diet at the age of 10 because she thought her daughter was getting “pudgy.”

These are the more atrocious examples of mothers making a horrible impact on their daughters’ body image, and hopefully they are the exception. I’d like to believe that most mothers probably don’t realize the impact they have on their young daughters with the words they use to talk about weight, size, and appearance. I don’t think most mothers purposefully set out to make their daughters feel awful about their bodies. It seems to me, in most cases, mothers just aren’t as aware and careful as they need to be with the seeds they sow in their young daughter’s heart.

My letter to mothers everywhere would be something like this…

“Moms, please, recognize that your daughters are listening to the things you say about your body. They notice when you make comments about needing to lose weight or being unhappy with your thighs or hips or any other part of your body.

Your daughters pick up cues and signals from you about what is attractive and acceptable and this starts at a very young age. When you refer to someone as “fat” or mention that a certain friend needs to lose weight, your daughter remembers that for years to come, even if you think she’s hardly listening to your ‘adult’ conversation.

Your daughters begin to put together their beliefs and values about weight, size, shape, and beauty when they are very young.

If you place value in being thin, attractive, and well-dressed, your daughter will naturally assume those values for herself and model her thinking after your own.

If you are always talking about needing to lose weight, your daughter picks up the message that being thin is the ideal and something that makes her more acceptable to you and to others.ย not your worth

This is not to say that you shouldn’t care about your health at all. It’s a fine line and a tough balance to strike, for sure. You want to encourage your daughter to be active, to take good care of herself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem becomes when you give her the impression that her worth and value is connected to her weight and size.

Please, be aware of how your words and behaviors are influencing your daughter’s views of beauty and self-worth. Do your best to have a positive and balanced relationship with food, and if you’re battling your own disordered behaviors or body image struggles, consider getting some counseling to help you work through those things, so that you can better encourage your daughter in a positive direction.

My heart aches when I hear story after story of mothers who berate and demean their own bodies throughout their daughter’s childhood. If you’re at war with your own body, how can you expect your impressionable daughter to be at peace with hers? She’s soaking up everything she can from you about what it means to be beautiful. Help her learn that true beauty is in the heart and not the outward appearance. Encourage her to focus more on building character, being adventurous, building friendships, trying new things, and pursuing her passion. Inspire her to focus more on living life than on being the perfect pants size. Show her by your own lifestyle and attitude that weight and size are not what’s truly important. Focus on things that are about who she is, not what she looks like. Compliment her personality and character, and not just her appearance.

Love her for who she is, and communicate that to her daily. And even though you can’t guarantee that you’ll protect her from poor body image or disordered eating behaviors, you will at least set an exampleย through your words and actions every day. In a culture that promotes discontentment and obsession with body weight and size, you have the opportunity to give your daughter an example of a womanย who accepts and loves her body the way it was created and designed. Don’t underestimate the power of your example. Your little girl is watching and listening to you every day.

the way we talk

Just a quick picture to say…

From my Instagramย this morning:

cards game ice cream

“Being ‘healthy’ for me looks like this. Enjoying ice cream at a Cards game because it sounded good, and not worrying about how many calories or grams of sugar it had. After recovering from #anorexia, I have grown to love a life of BALANCE. Everything in moderation, folks!! There’s nothing fun to me about depriving myself of sweets and treats. Been there, done that, been that person eating carrots while everyone else enjoys cookies. #itsnofun ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ย I no longer try to have obsessive control over everything that goes into my mouth. ย Life’s too short to miss out on things like ice cream. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so thankful for my journey of #recovery and that I’ve learned to let go of the obsessions!! I feel better now – emotionally AND physically – than I ever have before. #eatingdisorder #everythinginmoderation #balance #lifeistooshort #dontmissout #iloveicecream #edwarrior #edrecovery”

2013

It’s that time of year…Christmas is over, New Years is around the corner, and it’s time to once again make “New Year’s Resolutions!” Whether or not you officially make new year’s resolutions, the start of a new year seems to inspire most everyone to a fresh start in some way or another. We all love the idea of turning over a new leaf, making good decisions, setting goals and achieving them, and feeling accomplished! The new year seems like a great time to evaluate not only the year ahead, but also the one that is coming to a close.

20121231-085534.jpg

In the week between Christmas and New Years, I love to do a review of the past year, thinking about the major events that happened in my life, the things I accomplished, the lessons I learned, and how I grew as a person. I tend to do a lot of journaling around this time, as well as jotting down ideas and goals for the new year.

I’m most definitely a “list person” and I get a crazy sort of high from crossing things off a checklist. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Therefore, I LOVE to make goals so I have some sort of vision for the year ahead. For me, these goals aren’t typical new year’s resolutions like “lose weight, make more money, clean out my closet, buy a house.” Instead, I like to make more “holistic” goals that encompass all areas of life:

Relationships:

Some of my goals are about relationships that I want to invest in more in the coming year. Friendships that I want to devote more time to, and ways that I want to connect more fully with loved ones.

Hobbies and Interests:

Some of my goals are about new hobbies or activities that I want to try. For example, in 2013, I want to complete one of the infamous “mud runs” because I think that would be hilariously fun! Last year one of my goals was to take up swimming because I’d literally NEVER learned how to swim laps in a pool. I bought a one-piece suit, goggles and a cap, and had a friend teach me the basic form. I’d taken swim lessons as a kid but definitely needed a refresher. Now, 9 months later, I can confidently jump in the pool and swim over 1600 yds for fun. Love it! It’s these kinds of things that make life more enjoyable…taking up new interests and passions just for the fun of it! Not because you have to or to impress anyone else, but just to enjoy the discovery of learning something new. ๐Ÿ™‚

20121231-085554.jpg

Personal Growth:

Another portion of my goals are about spiritual and emotional development. I usually write down some areas of my life that need growth or character traits that I want to develop more in the year ahead. This includes things like: patience, loyalty, joy, good listening skills, more generosity, etc. Another great goal for this area would be to watch less TV/movies and do more reading!

Health Goals:

I also love to think about some health goals for myself that will help me live more joyfully, enjoy each day fully, and have more energy for life! These goals include things like: get to bed earlier, take more walks outside, drink less coffee and more tea, and eat more leafy, green vegetables. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Again, it’s not about a crash diet or a resolution to lose weight, but instead it’s about taking care of my body, in order to live a energetic and passionate life. ๐Ÿ™‚

20121231-085610.jpg

As you can see, my goals aren’t exactly the traditional “New Year’s Resolutions” but they’re definitely good ways for me to enter the new year with purpose and passion! Even if you’re not a goal-oriented person like me, consider setting at least one or two goals for 2013 that will help you grow as a person and enjoy life more fully! Think about a relationship you want to invest in more fully or a new hobby you’d like to learn…and then go for it! What do you have to lose?

Happy New Year!!