New Year, New Start

Happy New Year Ladies!!!

As you might know if you’ve been following this blog for a while…I love fresh starts.  And a new year is just the time to wipe the slate clean.  For myself, I like to say good-bye to the things I didn’t like so much from the year before, give thanks to the things I loved and start thinking about what I want to be intentional about in the year to come.

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Jason and I have a tradition of thinking about some variation of these three areas on our own and then coming together to discuss it all sometime between Christmas and New Years.  Some years, we have a lot that we want to focus on and other years, we keep our lists more small and manageable.  (In fact, some years, I keep it super simple and cling to a mantra versus coming up with specific goals or intentionals.)

Speaking of goals and intentionals – I think now a days, I’m more a fan of intentionals than goals.  Nothing wrong with setting goals (I hear my dad’s words…”if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”) but lately, just focusing on being more intentional in certain areas has felt more manageable.

I’d love for you to take some time this weekend to think through these three questions:

1)  What did I love about 2015?  What am I thankful for?  (And I know this could be difficult for some of you that experienced heart break like you never thought would be possible which is what brought you to this blog.)

2)  What am I SO glad to shut the door on from 2015?  (…and this might be quite easy for most of you to pin point…)

3)  What do I want to focus on in 2016?  In other words, as I look back at what I loved and what I didn’t love so much, what areas need my intentional focus?

Here is a small glimpse as to how I answered these questions:

1)  One of the things I’m most thankful for as I look back at 2015 is my family’s mental and physical health.  2014 was a terribly rough year.  I was dealing with some serious depression and once I started to level out with the help of therapy and medication, Jason started to plummet.  It was Hard.

We also dealt with a lot of sickness in 2014.  For example, baby Norman, just 6 months old at the time, came down with Type II Influenza.  Scary.  Sweet Harrison, who was 3 at the time, broke his ulna (it’s one of the long forearm bones).  And I think Truman had strep throat at least three times. And that’s not everything.

But 2015, well, we fared much better.  And I am grateful to God!

2)  I didn’t do a great job in 2015 of managing bedtime routines at our house.  In particular, my own.  By the end of the year, I was literally rolling out of bed with no more than 20 minutes to spare before walking Tru to school.  This resulted in anxious mornings and me feeling less than grounded half the time.  Jason gave me a brilliant idea – go to bed earlier and wake up earlier!  (And I’ve kinda started that this week.  I say kinda because now I’m rolling out about 30 minutes before I walk Tru to school.  It’s making a big difference people.  Brilliant.)

3) So the intentional I want to share with you guys is something that in just the last year or two I’ve become privy to.  I thought it was reserved only for sex addicts, but it seems it can tighten its grip on others, too.  It’s Shame with a capital S.  In 2016, I want to work through at least some of my shame.  I’m well aware of what it feels like when I feel ashamed.  And I don’t know what to do with it.  I think it will start with educating myself and just like I did last year with working through insecurity, I will keep you posted on what I learn right here on the blog.

So now it’s your turn.  Think through these three areas and write out what you’d like to do differently this year.  I heard recently that if you write out your intentionals, you are 40% more likely to gain ground and move toward your goal. (And no, I don’t have an article to reference to back me up but I really did hear this recently.)

Wishing each of you a blessed 2016.  Thanks for sharing your hearts with me here.  You make this place richer and inspire me to keep it real and work toward whole healing.

Love,

Shelley

To accept and then to love {An update on Insecurity – A 2015 Intentional (#2)}

I’ve been working through my insecurities over the last couple of months.  You can read all about it here and here.  As I look back, I believe my first big breakthrough was being able to name that the emotions I was feeling stemmed from insecurity.  Back to naming it and claiming it.  My second big breakthrough came when I realized that I didn’t need to cure my insecurity overnight.  Rather, I decided to give myself space to breathe, to think, to process the feelings within; label them as stemming from insecurity (or not), and sit in my awareness.  No need to quick fix at this stage!

So here I am.  Awareness is my friend.  I’m trying to accept me even when I feel insecure.  Even when I make mistakes.  This is hard for a recovering perfectionist.  And guess what – there is so much freedom in not having to be perfect!

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As I’ve sat in my awareness, I’ve conceptualized two other breakthroughs that I’d like toshare with y’all.  These two concepts intermingle together so hang with me while I explain:

I wrote in my journal recently that “insecurity isn’t so much about changing me but embracing, celebrating and loving who I am.”  (We’ll call this breakthrough #3.) There is relief in knowing I don’t need to change myself to live security well.  I don’t need to buy a new outfit.  I don’t need to work through my jealousy issues.  I don’t need to lose five pounds.  I don’t need to…  You get the point.  Living security well means not only accepting myself, both the great things and the not so great things; but also loving myself just the way God made me.

I have to say, it’s one thing for me to accept myself (which I believe I am working towards during this season).  It’s a whole other thing to love myself.  For me to love my freckles.  To love my eyes-that-are-so-sensitive-that-turn-red-so-easily.  To love my wayward hair.  And those are just the outward parts of me that are hard to accept much less love.  Then there’s the inside.  To love my sensitive heart.  To love my propensity towards jealousy.  (And I don’t even know that that last one is even Biblical, but you know what I mean!)  To love my desire to go deep.

The second recent breakthrough (otherwise called breakthrough #4) is this:  How is it that I can get so distracted thinking I need to look, act, be like someone else… all the while, when I sit in stillness, I realize that I’m quite alright with how God made me?!  How does that happen?  It seems I forget so easily my uniqueness.  And what would it look like to stay grounded in those moments when insecurity seems to be spiraling out of control.  How can I remind myself that I’m okay being just me.  Not anyone else… but simply me?

As I move towards not only accepting all the parts of me, but loving all the parts of me; I’d like to think that I won’t get so distracted with thinking I “should” act, look, be like someone else.

So here I am. Naming insecurity.  Sitting in awareness.  Working towards accepting all the different facets of me and overtime desiring to love all the different facets of me.

That’s my update.

What about you – those parts of your outward self or your inward self that you’ve never quite accepted – do you think it’s possible to not only accept them but to also LOVE them?  For me, could I start to adore my freckles?  My wrinkles?  My sensitive heart?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

On Working through Insecurity {A 2015 intentional (#1)}

This year, part of what I’d like to do here is share about how I am working through my 2015 intentionals.  You can read more about them here.  Specifically, I’d like to focus on working through my insecurities, being more intentional with my time, and loving myself just as much as I love others.  In some respects, these intentionals go hand-in-hand.  I also know that insecurity, in particular, is something we all struggle with at times.  I’d propose that I was most insecure in the months following Jason’s disclosure; so I think the topic is well suited for us gals that share a similar story.

This past weekend, Jason was away working at the EMB workshop.  I was home with the litttles and my dad came to help out.  On Saturday evening, I had committed to attending a birthday party for a sweet neighbor at a local bistro.  I realized I wouldn’t know a lot of the people there.  In addition, the party was compromised of couples.

As the evening approached, I started to feel more and more reluctant about attending the party.  Would I know anyone?  Would I fit in?  Would anyone talk to me?  What would I wear?  What if all the women were more dressed up than myself?  (This is after I did a total wardrobe overhaul and currently, I don’t even own a dress!)

I started to process this further and realized that it was my insecurity causing me to second guess attending.  I’d feel more secure if someone went with me.  Then I’d have an insurance policy against feeling alone, invisible and ultimately rejected.

(As a side note, I’ve decided for myself, step one to overcoming my insecurities is awareness.  The art of being able to stop, identify and process the feelings within, and label them as insecurity (or not).

On Saturday afternoon, I decided that this experience could serve as a chance for me to work on my insecurities.  So this is what I transpired:

First, I asked myself, what is the primary reason I am attending the party?  Knowing my motivation and intention beforehand may help me focus in on what’s most important  (because I’m pretty sure my appearance wasn’t what was most important).  The reason I was going was to honor my friend and hope that she felt cherished by my presence.  So what mattered was that I greeted her, wished her a happy birthday, and engaged in conversation for a bit.

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Then, I started to work on the “should cloud” infiltrating my mind.  For example:  “I should wear a skirt, everyone else will be wearing a skirt.”  “I should go purchase a nice outfit.  Everyone else will be wearing something special.”  The list goes on.  Instead of “shoulding” in regards to my wardrobe, as I had been doing all day, I thought about what I love to wear.  What I’m most comfortable in.  Not what I felt like would allow me to feel more accepted around others.  I landed on a pair of destroyed jeans and a simple top with a necklace.  Yes, this was my style.  This speaks to who I am.  (Casual, tomboyish flair with a feminine pop.)

Next, I started to recognize what was a lie circling in my head and replace it with Truth.  For example, I kept hearing:  “I’m not going to know anyone.  I’m going to feel invisible.”  Instead, I reminded myself of the reason I was going – to cherish and honor my friend.  I told myself that I could meet new people and engage in conversation with them.  I wasn’t invisible.  I’m a whole person.  A human being.  I matter.  I have worth.

And last, on my drive over – I called a good friend for encouragement.  She is single so I knew she’d understand my uneasiness.  She gave me a couple of suggestions and empowered me to walk in that bistro all alone.

The evening went better than I had expected.  I chatted with people I knew and met several couples that I’d never met that lived in the neighborhood.  I let loose on the dance floor, not really caring what others thought of my moves.  I was there for three full hours and I can say, it was worth the time investment.  And you know what, it also served as an opportunity for me to intentionally take another step towards becoming a secure woman.  And for that reason, I am  truly thankful.

2015 Intentionals

I heart fresh starts.  Whether it’s a simple as a new day or as complicated as when Jason and I chose to try to heal our marriage.  And maybe that’s really at the core of why I love fresh starts.  Because it reminds me of the fact that God can do anything.  He worked a miracle in my life when He paved the way for Jason and I to redeem our marriage.  I’m not saying it wasn’t incredibly painful or difficult.  Because it was.

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I see starting a new year as a total fresh start, too.  An opportunity for us to look back at the year we are leaving and think through what we loved, what we hated.  What we got right (and want to do more of) and what we got terribly wrong and need to readjust.  It’s also a time to reflect, practice gratitude and be thankful for the many blessings bestowed upon – us big or small from the year before.

I’m asking for you to carve out time, soon, to think about what you desire for 2015 as well as to reflect on 2014.  Use the thoughts in the preceding paragraph or the questions here to get started.

I mentioned here some of the things I’m grateful for from 2014.  And now I want to share some of the big things I’m planning to work on in 2015.

1.  Insecurity.  I thought I had nipped this a couple of years ago.  But just like most things, it’s a process and it’s dynamic.  Always changing.  I guess you could say I’m sitting in the ebb of the ebb and flow of security.  I haven’t done much about it other than to name it.  And know that it’s something I need to work through.  It’s a focus for me this year.  What about you, is God calling you to look at a core need, like security, and work through what it looks like to live it well?

2015 intentionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Being Intentional with my time.  Primarily when it comes to my family and when it comes to media, specifically my phone.  This year, I want to make sure I am soaking in my little boys.  Jason and I won’t start the “momma-dadda clock” over.  We are done having babies.  With that decision, comes a reality – they are growing up before my eyes.  I’m not sure what exactly it looks like to be more intentional with them, but I know time is not on my side.  And that’s where my phone comes in.  I’ve already cut way back on TV, as in I probably watch an hour of TV/month.  (If you love TV, don’t feel bad.  Trust me, I could win an award for the amount of TV I’ve watched in my lifetime.)  This is simply my way of making more time for things that are more important to me like reading, writing, playing with my littles and connecting with Jason.  And yet, I think there is more time I can carve out for better things.  What would it look like to retire my smart phone and instead have a dumb phone?  What would it look like to not check my phone every 10 minutes?  These are questions I’d like to answer and hopefully in the process, find a better balance when it comes to being intentional with my time.  What about you, is there anything you’d like to be more intentional about in 2015?  Maybe related to relationships or related to how you spend your time?

3.  Loving me as much as I love my family and friends.  I was with Harrison and Norman yesterday and we walked past a Whole Foods.  I noticed on the window, there was a saying.  It said something like this:  “What if you chose to love yourself just as much as you love others?”  I loved it.  And I realized that it marries up with some of my intentionals for 2015.  What does it look like to put fuel in my body that will make my body skip for joy?  What does it look like to take care of myself just as much as I take care of the needs of my little boys?  What does it look like to encourage myself as much as I encourage Jason or a friend?  I’m pondering this right now and already have some specific ideas of things I need to do different this year to love myself well.  What about for you?  How can you love yourself just as much as you love your littles?  In what areas do you not love yourself well and what could it look like to love yourself well in those areas?

I’d so love to hear what specifically you are thankful for from 2014 and what you are working towards in this New Year.  And I pinkie-promise to keep you guys posted on how I progress as I focus in on these three areas of my life!

Heart,

Shelley