Surviving the Holidays – Part 2

So we’ve talked about surviving the craziness of the Christmas season and some simple things we can do to slow down and enjoy this time of year versus hiding until sometime after the new year.

Now let’s talk about what we can do to survive (and thrive) as we engage with our immediate family as well as our distant cousins.

If you are new on this journey…

I want to start by saying – if you are new on this journey and this is your first holiday since your world fell apart – I think it’s really important to take some time to decide what you will be able to handle and what you won’t be able to deal withAnd don’t even think about apologizing for what you can’t manage!

For instance, you might not be up for going to your in-laws house for Christmas, even if it’s just for Christmas morning.  And while you might feel terrible saying no – I encourage you to think through what you feel safe engaging in and what you need to bow out of.

Some women feel better going to family functions with the understanding that the grief and pain is on hold until later in the day or even a couple of days later.  (I remember Jason and I taking these “time outs” for family functions early on in our process.  I was so afraid that Jason might forget that we are NOT okay.  I made it real clear that I was putting this on hold and we would revisit it at xyz time frame.)

Some women, on the other hand, can’t even imagine engaging family and prefer to alter their plans all together.  Jason and I did this as well and it helped that Jason would absorb the repercussions, not me.

Whichever you choose – remember the key is what do you need?  And what would help you feel the safest?  Think this through and if your husband is working his recovery (not just checking the boxes mind you but also doing the heart work) and if you feel safe talking to him about this – share with him what is doable for you and what isn’t.

If you are going to be around his family…

Two things come to mind that I think are really important to work through before celebrating with his family.

First – it’s super important to be on the same page before the gathering.  Jason and I literally have to have no less than three conversations as we prep for time with his family and one of the biggest things that we plan for is taking time every day to check in with each other in order to keep the lines of communication wide open.

We will usually try to go for a walk or a run but if that isn’t possible, then we will make sure to connect before going to bed.  The focus for us is on intimacy so we share what we are struggling with, what might feel tender, and also what we feel is going smoothly.  Remember men – defensiveness is the enemy of empathy so watch for this and work toward caring for your wife’s heart more than anyone else’s.

Second – is to have a conversation about the role he played in his family of origin.  For instance, was he the golden child?  Was he the funny guy that kept everyone laughing?  Was he momma’s boy with some unhealthy attachments?  Whatever it might be – it’s important at some point to explore this together and gain awareness so he can take the initiative to not slip back into the role that made the “system” function back then.  Talk about triggering for us wives.  Whew.

If you are going to be around your family…

More than anything – I needed Jason to show his character changes to my family.  And even today, I still need that.

So if you are second guessing yourself on what you need from him – don’t.  God created us with needs and when we are around our families – those needs go way up!

For instance – one of the things that can really send me into a tail spin is if Jason just lounges on the couch and doesn’t help with the dishes and food prep or with the boys.  Another thing that drives me crazy is if he doesn’t engage with my family and retreats to the bedroom for hours on end.  Um – no.  Totally triggers what he used to be like before his sexual integrity issues came to light:  self-absorbed, checked out and basically not even there.

While Jason loves his time alone (going to a coffee shop to journal or going on a bike ride) – he is always careful to plan it at a time when it won’t impact the entire family and/or put extra stress on me.  Likewise, while Jason doesn’t always love playing games with my competitive family – he will engage in a game or two here and there because he knows it’s important to me.

So think about what you need from your husband before the event or trip and again, if you feel that your husband is engaged in his recovery and if you feel safe having this sort of convo with him – talk to him about it.

A note for those of you whose husbands are not in recovery

I know this can be tricky because if you explore what you need and yet your husband isn’t about to listen to you or care for your heart in that way – then what?

If this is you – it’s still important to still get your needs met (think: needs met by God, self and others) and to also set boundaries with your husband in order to survive and thrive.  It might be that you focus on your kids at the family gathering and don’t spend energy focusing on your husband and the way he behaves when he is around extended family (I would call this healthy detachment).  It might be that you alert your go-to girls that you are going in and it might be ugly and you need them on stand-by in case you find yourself locked in your aunt’s bathroom and unable to leave because of the anger or the tears.

___________________________

Hear my heart as I wrap this up – I want each of you to know that you are not alone and there are women across the world in similar situations to yours.  Trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas with grace and ease.  How to honor their families and children and also honor their emotions as they walk through one of the most difficult seasons one could go through.

If all else fails – I encourage you to put on some comfy clothes, grab some of this and turn this on right away.  I promise, you will feel better almost immediately.

Would love to hear your ideas for how you are going to survive and thrive with your extended families this holiday season.

xo – Shelley

Surviving the Holidays – Part 1

There are two things we must talk about when it comes to this time of year.  Surviving the holidays.  And surviving the holidays.

I see this “survival of the holidays” not only from the stand point of surviving the madness of shopping, decorating, partying, etc. but also (and probably more importantly) from the stand point of surviving the family dynamics that we walk into as we celebrate with loved ones near and far.

I know for myself – I tend to bury my head in the sand starting just prior to Thanksgiving alllll the way through to New Year’s Day.  Whew.  I get SO overwhelmed with putting up the Christmas tree, decorating the house, purchasing presents, gifting our neighbors, attending holiday gatherings, shopping for outfits for the Christmas photo,  traveling to celebrate with family, delivering Christmas cards, baking – oh my gosh, I am about to have a panic attack just listing all of these extra things that are supposed to be fun and bring us closer to our families and help us draw closer to Jesus – and yet, they just put me in a really bad mood.

This year – I am determined more than ever to do it differently.  Here are three things that have helped thus far:

We wrote out all of our holiday options / responsibilities and looked at my list and decided what we were really interested in doing and then we let the rest go.

And that means saying “no”.  For those of you that might have a hard time keeping boundaries – this will be hard.  I know it is for me.  What can you say no to this holiday season that isn’t adding any value to your already packed schedule?

The other tricky yet rewarding aspect that goes with saying no is that we have to know ourselves well.  We have to know what we like and don’t like, what we are passionate about and where our values lie.  For women walking through betrayal – this is especially hard because betrayal is pretty much just like a mid-life crisis and what we thought we liked or were passionate about – all of a sudden goes out the window.  No doubt – this journey is an opportunity to really dig into who we are and who God created us to be.

I started thinking about presents before December.

For real, most years – it’s December 20th and I’m thinking it might be time to do some Christmas shopping.  But not this year.  No way.  I ended up taking notes on my phone when I heard the boys or Jason talk about what they would love to have.  It’s not even December yet and I’m more than half-way done with my purchases!  This is unprecedented for me.  And it will help me with my last pointer, below.

I want to actually slow down and practice advent versus it being an after thought.

So much of my journey over the last decade plus has been about figuring out how to wait well.  And not just waiting well but waiting with hope.  In other words, an expectant wait.

Not only was I waiting to see if Jason would become the man God created him to be, I was also waiting for my broken heart to heal.  I was waiting to see if my marriage would survive.  And if we’d have a family and share a life together.  (And to be clear, I wasn’t waiting with my legs propped up on the couch watching The View – my wait involved working the process in between bouts of the View.  bahaha!)

What I didn’t realize at the time was that what God was doing within me during that wait was just as important (if not more so) than what I was waiting for.  The wait is brutal, painful, not glitzy and oh-so-vital to our journeys.

So we are planning the most wonderful day of the year (thanks to the suggestion I found in this magazine) and allowing anticipation to build as we think about the games we want to play, the lights we want to go see and the cookies we want to bake.

This is the same kind of anticipation that we as Christians get the opportunity to experience every Christmas season as we await the birth of baby Jesus – the One that bridged the gap for us, making things like forgiveness, restoration, healing and wholeness even possible in the first place.

I’ll be back with Part 2 here soon.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  xo – Shelley

Photo Credit

 

 

Starting and Ending our Days Well

Hello Ladies!

Weyall, I had every intention of getting this out last week but – and it’s a BIG but, this is where my computer was situated by Friday mid-day.

If you have no idea what you are looking at, let me tell you – you are looking at my 4 week NEW laptop in a Pyrex dish of rice. (Don’t mind me, I’m just going to rock back and forth in the fetal position a little while longer.)

Here’s the situation:  I was innocently moving my glass of water from the left side of my computer to the right and a small, almost unnoticeable splash of H2O spilled on my keyboard.  I thought – meh, no big deal, until about ten minutes later when my computer started FREAKING out.  Calling Apple not once but twice was incredibly humbling and after a friend prayed over my computer (I’m exaggerating a little), a rice bath, and a weekend of me recuperating from the pain of it all, I’m elated to report that both me AND my laptop are back up and going this morning.

Oh, and the water I keep by my side?  It’s currently about 10 feet from my computer with a spill-proof lid (sippy cup, anyone?!) securing it from going anywhere but inside my mouth.

M’kay.

Now that I’ve shared that, I’m ready to move on.

Girls, I have six weeks under my belt of the littles being back in school (2 in elementary and 1 in preschool and just to be clear, it’s not full-day preschool and just to clear, it just started 4 weeks ago – but I’m not bitter or anything) and I must say – I am realizing that staying on task and having some sort or a routine is key, people.

In addition, I believe the hours just before bed and upon waking up are the MOST critical.  Now, please don’t give me credit for this realization.  I heard about it here and thought, I think they’re on to something!  I’ll link to it if I ever come across it again.

No matter where you are at on this journey, being intentional about self-care is key and the evening and morning hours – they will help us either sink…. or swim.

So let’s talk morning.  I set my alarm using my iPhone and I realized recently I’ve been getting in this terrible horrible habit of turning off the alarm (after hitting snooze for an undisclosed number of times, ahem) and then trying to check my texts and emails.  Girls, I am literally barely able to see – I usually have one eye that won’t even open, and I’m trying my darndest to find out what in the world I might have missed during the night.  News flash – the texts and emails can wait!  So, kinda like when I used to weigh myself first thing in the morning, I had to ask my go-to girls to hold me accountable to NOT look at my phone first thing.  Sheesh.

Instead, I put on some warm clothes (’cause Fall has suddenly arrived) and cuddle on the couch with a blanket to read a bit.  As of last Thursday, I started working my way through this study because as most of you know, I am obsessed with KM.  We would so be besties if I lived in Nashville.  I told her this once when I met her.  She backed away a good 3 feet.

Something about those 5-25 minutes on the couch starts my day off in the very best possible way.  Grounded, Truth-filled, I see the world through a different set of eyes and it’s so so good.

Now let’s talk evening – this one is harder for me.  I could share my best case scenario with you – but as I sit here and think about my evenings, I have to chuckle.  Because best case and reality are so so far from each other.

Best case:  boys are in bed by 7:30, asleep by 7:31, not a peep or a stir.  I whip up a homemade dessert and then sit fireside with Jason as we ponder our day and share our insights.  Time goes so slowly, I wonder if my watch is in need of a battery replacement.  Jason says all the right things and we are nothing but feeling the love.  I take a warm shower and get into bed and read a little.  Jason asks if he can rub my back and I fall asleep to this….

bahaha!!!

Reality:  boys get into bed, finally, after what seems like an eternity of asking them to take off their clothes, go potty and brush their teeth.  Once they are in bed, they pop out of bed about 73 times to ask if they can go poop, look for a toy, or cuddle.  Jason and I agree that our conversation will have to wait until we are 54 or so, the age when our youngest might go off to college.  I cuddle with each of them and then they continue to pop out of bed until I threaten them with their lives.  It’s pushing 10pm so I take a shower and fall into bed.  Jason is already asleep next to me.

Clearly I have some work to do here.

So what about for you?  Have you found a morning and evening routine that is helping you get through the rest of your day?  I’d love to hear and for you to share with the rest of the readers here – what do you do to start and end your day on the right foot?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking – if we can sandwich our days with some really wholesome, inspiring, grounded and intentional things – wouldn’t it make a big difference the rest of the time?  Especially for those of you that are either early in the journey or smack dab in the middle of it – sometimes it’s the small tweaks that can make such a big difference.

xo – Shelley

 

 

 

Saying “no” so that we can say “yes”

Alright ladies, it’s official – I now have 16 whole hours each week without my littles.  {I can barely STAND it!!!}

It’s bittersweet, this is true, AND… I must say – this momma is really really happy about it.

It really couldn’t have come at a better time – I was at the tail END of my ever-lovin’ rope last weekend.  All I wanted and needed was a BREAK!!!!!  I even started crying one night because I was so. tired. of being. a mom.

With that said, I have a TON of items that I want for us to discuss here on the blog this Fall that I’ve just been storing up in my head all summer long.  So many, that I’m going to have to organize my thoughts or else I’ll be ALL over the place.

Since we are all transitioning from summer to fall, for today, I thought I’d talk about a little project I’m working on.  It’s a very small project and one you might want to take on yourself as you reorganize your life after a summer of chaos. (Or was I the only one living in complete and total chaos this summer?!)

Do not fear, ladies, this isn’t a big project.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite and it was all inspired by this podcast.

It’s called – a yes/no list.

In effect, it’s me deciding what I’m going to say “yes” to and what I”m going to say “no” to.  Because again, I only have these 16 hours of completely free time.  So I want to maximize as much as possible.  (To be clear, the yes/no list isn’t just so I will maximize my alone time, it’s really to fully live every day and make time for the things I really want and need to do.)

Honestly, I consider this to be essential when it comes to self-care which is something I harp on a LOT in my groups.  We are all incredibly busy and when we are in the thick of this process of restoration, whether we are separated, divorced, or remain married – self-care is CRITICAL.

Along with that self-care, it’s critical that we learn how to say “no”. As a very sweet and sassy and oh-so-wise woman in one of my past groups would always say, “no, no, no, no, no…”.  She had it down!

Just to give you a flavor of what is on my list – here are a couple of items in the “yes” category:

  • Exercising 4 times a week.
  • Reserving Friday mornings as a date morning with Jason (this is a new thing that we are starting this week – I’m just hoping and praying we can keep from fighting… why is it that we tend to fight when we go on dates?!).
  • Waking up early so that I can have a little quiet time before the boys start to rumble and roar.

But I can’t do these things unless I say “no” to some other things.  So here are some of the things on my “no” list:

  • Facebook (total time robber and makes me feel like the biggest loser after spending any amount of time on there).
  • Not working on the weekends.
  • Hustling with friends that aren’t that interested in me (I realize that hustle has a very negative connotation and thus I find it fitting for the things we do that we don’t need to do anymore!)
  • Limiting my email time to only 2-3 time blocks per week (’cause I think we could email forev and forev if we allowed ourselves to!).

I’d LURVE for you to join me in creating a yes/no list so that you have more time for the things you want {and need} to do and also so that you have clarity about the things it’s really okay to say “no” to.

It is SO hard to say no.  And it’s too early to tell if this yes/no list will help me say no with confidence.  But I have to tell you, I already feel more empowered as I look over my list and continue to add to it as the days tick by.

Would love for you to join me!  And I’d also love to hear – is it hard for you to say “no” to the things that you really don’t speak to your heart?  If that’s the case, know that boundaries might also be hard for you.  That’s a topic I want us to really dive into this fall, so stay tuned.

xo – Shelley

 

 

Shaking out the blanket

Hi Ladies!

I’ve been yearning to sit here and write to each of you – and it’s been a bit cRaZy over here so I haven’t been able to.  This morning, I’m putting everything to the side,  I’m sitting in my comfy pants and I have my favorite chartreuse blanket wrapped around my legs.

So here we go.

What’s been keeping me so busy,  you ask?  Well, several things –

I’ve been prepping like crazy for two events coming up.  If you live in the Seattle area, I’d love for you to come to this one day event.  And if you find yourself sinking and in need of a weekend-long intensive, I’d so love for you to come here.  This is six months of healing wrapped up into one weekend and let me just say – you are worth it!

As if prepping for these events wasn’t enough, Jason had a bit of an emergency a week ago that landed him in the ER.  Ten hours later and one surgery later, I brought him home.  My parents were absolute life savers as they immediately drove seven hours to come help and took the littles back to Texas with them the next day.

So it was just me and Jason in this home of ours.  And it was incredibly quiet.  I loved it.

I realized like never before how much I love this man.  How thankful I am that I chose to stay.  How thankful I am that he did the hardest work that any guy could do to save our marriage.  Thankful.

We had some sweet conversations this past week – and realized some things that need to change.  I guess that’s what a surgery will do to a family.  Allow us to see things in a different light.  To recognize the importance of family and friendships and love and connection like never before.

Why do we keep landing here?  Asking ourselves – what are we really doing?  Why are we limping along like this?  Should it really be this difficult?  This stressful?

The answer – maybe, maybe not.  Certainly raising little boys makes life a bit more intense.  Trying to keep our marriage a priority makes things, well, messy.  At the same time, we are asking ourselves, where can we simplify?  What can we say “no” to?

(And before you start to think that I do it all, please know that I don’t.  And if I’m brutally honest, the truth is – these speaking events I’ve been prepping for?  Well, I’ve sacrificed other really good things like time with Jason, time with my littles, time with friends to make them work.  And I don’t know that that’s even right.  Sigh.)

Reminiscent of the breakdown I had almost three years ago – where we had to completely shake out the blanket and re-prioritize almost everything.

Anyone feel like they are here?  Like they are just barely making it through their day?  So much on their calendar and on their to-do list that life really is all about that and not about celebrating, loving, connecting and enjoying?  Well, if you are feeling me here – know you aren’t alone.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was saying that by the end of the week, they are ripping off pieces of a paper towel to use as toilet paper in their house because they’re all out of the TP.  She asked – what are we doing??  All I could do was nod and say, I get it.  Completely.

So maybe, like me, it’s time for an overhaul.  It’s time to set all commitments and priorities out on the table and look at them one by one and decide – does this stay?  Or does this go?  Shaking out the blanket.

This is always scary for me, is it for you?  I’m sitting here as I type and asking myself – why is this so scary?  Why not exciting?

There is relief, that’s for sure.  Anytime I get to the end of myself and realize, there must be a better way – there is relief.  But I don’t like change.  I don’t like facing the reality that I can’t do it all.  It taps into my incompetence like none other.  So maybe that’s why.

I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9 when Jesus says – “My grace is sufficient for you.  For my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Okay, God.  Maybe this is an alright place to be.  To know I can’t do it all, to know I have limits.  To know that when I am weak – that is when You are strong.

Would love to hear from you – are you feeling like you’re barely making it through the day?  And if so, what could you say “no” to?  Likewise, if you are reading this and thinking – I was there but I’ve made some changes, thank goodness I’m not there anymore – then please tell us, what did you do different?

love you gals – Shelley

ps.  I promise, I will come back to worthiness soon.  I hope you are still keeping track of the lies in your head like I am.  My list is growing.  Holy cow, can’t believe how I shame myself.  xoxo

Training Ground

Alright ladies.  The week has begun whether we like it or not.

Some of us might be ready to face our days and others of us might want to run and hide under the covers.

Not to worry if the latter is you.  We all have days and weeks like this.  Oh you know what I’m talking about – couch days.  The good news is, they don’t last forever.  At some point, yes, you will rise up and stand again.

And actually, that’s what this blog post is all about – strategies I want to share with you that helped me early on in my process with Jason and strategies that I continue to use today to Get. Me. Through.

For myself, walking out the devastation of betrayal was definitely the {hardest} part of my life to date.  So clinging to self-care strategies is critical, a non-negotiable, massively important (yah hear?!).  And little did I know, those first few years after betrayal served as training ground to develop coping strategies that I could continue to use as the years ticked by.

Are you ready?  I hope so – ’cause here we go:

Strategy numero uno:  Music.  Last week I was running and I thought I clicked on a recent playlist I put together.  It has songs like this on it. (Don’t even get me started on Mat Kearney girls.  My fav fo sho.) But what I started hearing were songs that took me way back.  Way back to the first couple of years of recovery.  My anger music.  Click here and here for examples.  I was NOT a happy camper.  And here is another one with a little more hopeful undertones.  I forgot how much it helped for me to play music that allowed me to get in touch with my emotions.

Strategy numero dos:  Exercise.  As you girls all know, hitting the pavement and running has been a go-to of mine for years.  If running isn’t your thing, it’s all good.  Figure out something, anything to get your body moving.  About a year ago, I started getting back into a women’s only workout class (a place I’ve gone to off and on since 2012).  There is a workout there called Femme Fatale and most of the exercises are geared toward self-defense.  The instructor encourages us to leave our pain there and let me tell you, I can always find something I want to punch the socks off of:  Sin, pain, hurt, resentment.  Oh yes, I try to get it out.

Strategy numero tres:  First 30/ Last 30.  This is a new one I’m trying to be more aware of.  It’s all about being more gentle with myself and loving myself well the first 30 minutes after waking up and the first 30 minutes before bedtime.  Apparently this is also the time when our subconscious mind is more receptive to input.  So if there is a lie that I’m struggling to work through, repeating the truth these two times each day is critical.  (I will do a blog post sometime soon expounding on this idea and will come back and link it here.)  I also find that if I can squeeze in a little Bible reading during those first 30 minutes of the day (which girls, let’s be real, I’m about 50/50 on this), it makes a huge difference on the lens I see the world through.  {I wish I’d done this 13 years ago, but that wasn’t the case.  I was way too confused and angry with God to crack my Bible.  The end.}  The sky is the limit with the first 30/ last 30.  It could be a warm bath, a good book, hot tea…  Whatever works for you.

I would LOVE for you to share what strategies you implement to make it through the day.  No matter what part of the journey you are on – this is important!  Let’s share some ideas and make this week count!

xo-Shelley

 

Taking a break

Okay, here’s the deal girls – this journey – this recovery – it’s a marathon not a sprint.  Sure, for some women, the process goes much quicker than others.  I don’t know exactly why that’s the case except maybe some of us (ahem, that’d be me) have a history of dragging our feet kinda like Jonah did when God asked him to go speak to the Ninevites.  {Oh my goodness, God has had to be SO patient with me!!!}

takeabreak2

Anywho, lately, it’s been on my heart to write here about what it can look like to take a break.  Because coming up for a breath of air ever so often is a really good thing.  In fact, I think it’s really good self-care to take such breaks.  And at the same time, be REALLY cautious because you don’t want your little break to turn into a year long break (or three years which was the case for me!).

Below are four different ways to look at taking a break –

Permission to take a break throughout the day:  For those of us that work, parent or need to be “on” in their day to day, it’s okay to tell yourself you are going to put recovery on the back burner and pick it back up after say the work day is over.  I know for myself, working as a physical therapist helped get me through the day some 13 years ago.  But it was important for me to pick it back up starting on my commute home.  This was usually followed by Jason and staying up well past midnight talking, crying, processing.

Permission to take a break for an evening of fun:  Especially once you are months into recovery, you might find that you need to put recovery on hold and just go enjoy yourself for a bit.  Options include going with a group of girls to your favorite restaurant or out for drinks.  If your husband is pursuing recovery, you might feel safe enough to do this break with him.  Simply agree that for the next three hours, recovery is going to go to the back burner while you guys enjoy an evening together going to dinner or sharing in a hobby you both find enjoyable.  Again, after the set period of time expires, it’s okay to pick up where you left off and process a little more.

If you choose to do this sort of break with your husband – beware – it takes an extra dose of courage.  I know for myself, I had to dip my toes into the pool of “trusting Jason” to even go out to dinner with him and enjoy his presence.

Permission to take a break from recovery:  There will also be times when recovery as a whole is put on the back burner.  It might be that you feel you are getting no where.  It might be that you feel you need to simply sit and wait (which, by the way, waiting is so. NOT. simple.)  Just be aware of when you feel God asking you to start moving again.  For myself, I KNEW I had work to do but I resisted for years.  Three of them.  My heart started to turn into a cold stone.  And I saw Jason moving forward without me.  I resisted, resisted, resisted.  It felt terrible.  If you know what I mean and it’s where you are at now, ask yourself – what am I resisting and why?  (As a side note, a sweet gal on one of my support group calls this morning said, “Hands down, the things that I resist the most are the exact same things that always move me forward in the process to more peace and joy.”)

Permission to take a break one day a week:  I’ve been reading a bit about taking a Sabbath.  It’s been fascinating to learn about this spiritual discipline.  So upstream in our culture to take a day each week where we stop doing the things that help us feel accomplished like work, laundry, exercising, etc..  What we take a break from can look different for everyone (for instance, I keep reading about people that choose to not do any shopping on Sunday, others don’t use electronics…) and I want to note that the important thing here is that in releasing some of the things we do – “we act out the reality that ultimately our worth comes from being loved by God, not from what we do.” (From Sabbath Keeping, by Lynne M Baab, p95.)

takeabreak

Again, Sabbath can look different for each of us.  As I think about some of you in the thick of this process, I want to ask:

What would it look like to take one day each week where you don’t carry the heavy burden of recovery?  What would it look like to let it go, whatever that might look like, and be fully present in your life – with your children, in nature, in the moment?

I’m not asking you to deny your reality or your pain.  The burden will be there the next day, so will the pain – I just want you to consider the beauty that could come from, in the midst of this storm, taking a break.  For you.

Would love to hear if you have any additional thoughts on taking a break – what has helped you?  What has made it hard to take a break?  xoxo-Shelley

 

On what’s helping me survive (Oh summer, you’ve been a bad friend) – Part 2

So yesterday, I backed up the dump truck and shared a bit about why summer hasn’t been the easiest for me.  I know I’m not alone in this.  The transition to summer can be hard for a lot of us for a variety of reasons.

Maybe the summer is when your world started to fall apart because you discovered your husband’s secret life.

Maybe the summer is difficult because you have littles at home and you feel stretched in many directions.

Or maybe you love summer and find nothing wrong with it.

This is much less about summer and much more about figuring out how we can survive during difficult seasons.  None of us are immune to hard times.  And it’s important that when we are in the thick of a hard season, we pin point practicies, activities and rituals to help us survive.

With that, I want to share with you guys, as I have before, some of the things that are helping me survive right now:

#1 – Waking up even just 10 minutes before my littles so I can read in the Bible and say what has become a breath prayer as of late.  (I feel so churchy sharing this one.  Please don’t be too impressed…back in 2012 I decided I wanted to read through the entire Bible and I’m STILL in the Old Testament!  This practice definitely is one that ebbs and flows.  It just so happens that it’s flowing right now.)  To make this happen, I have a little spot in the living room where I keep my Bible and study guides.  I plop down on the couch every morning, curl up in a blanket, and literally try to read one chapter at a time.  Yesterday, I was sharing with Jason some of the the things that are helping me survive.  When I shared this one…he said, “Ten minutes?  I thought thirty minutes.”  Me: “No babe.  Ten minutes.  That’s it.” (I might have then snapped my fingers and waved my arm in Jason’s face.  Maybe.)

Live shot of the spot in my living room where I plop down every morning.  As much as I'd like to fluff the pillows and make it look pretty, I'm going to keep it real and show you what it REALLY looks like!

Live shot of the spot in my living room where I plop down every morning. As much as I’d like to fluff the pillows and make it look pretty, I’m going to keep it real and show you what it REALLY looks like!

#2 – I mentioned above the breath prayer that seems to help keep me focused on what matters most.  Every morning, I pray that God would use me for His purposes.  That I’d be His hands and feet.  I remind myself that His plans are better than mine.  A surrender of sorts.  And that I want to follow His path and His purposes for me.  This has really helped me stay centered and grounded.   Otherwise, I start to to feel like I’m being stretched like Gumby.  I want to chase after what God has put on my heart ministry-wise, but then realize He has given me these three sweet boys and an energetic husband to care for.  I can’t do it all and when I start to behave as if I can, it’s not healthy for any of us here in this house of mine.

#3 – Planning out in advance the days each week that I am going to exercise.  If you struggle with anxiety like I do, exercise is by far one of the best tools to combat it.  With summer here and my alone time feeling compressed, knowing that I have that hour reserved four days a week to hit the pavement or take a class soothes my soul and lowers my anxiety.

#4 – Picking one or two things that help me feel fully alive and making sure I fit them into my schedule no matter what.  This is not something I’ve been good at lately.  It seems I’ve had just enough time to tackle the must-do’s on my to-do’s and I’m not building in any margin for the things on my list that feed my soul.  I’m reading Hands Free Mama by Rachel Stafford which seems to be driving this home even more.  In the book, she talks about developing a life-list – a list of activities that are most valuable and important to you.  Her suggestion?  Burn the to-do list and start making sure everyday that you are investing time in the activities on your life list.

Me and my girlfriend met author Rachel Stafford (center) at a spring tea a couple of weeks ago.

And that, my friends, is why I put the to-do list to the side, picked up my laptop and started writing.

What about you?  What are you doing today that is helping you survive this season of your life?  Let’s share our ideas here.  I promise you – taking the time to identify what is helping you survive right now or what you’d like to add to your non-negotiable summer survival list could be just the thing you need to get over the hump.

xo-Shelley

On what’s helping me survive (oh summer, you’ve been a bad friend) – Part 1

Hi Girls!  I’ve missed y’all!  I’ve been wanting to write, write, write but end of school year events took precedence over typing away on my laptop.  More later as to why NOT doing things that make me feel fully alive is a bad idea.

This week marks the first week of summer break around here. It’s something I’ve been gearing up for, for quite a while.  I’ve decided transitions might not just be hard for my five year old – they’re hard for me, too!

summer

You see, two short years ago, summer got the best of me.  I was going, going, going and then I crashed and burned.  It led to what Brene Brown calls a spiritual awakening.  (Also known as a break down.)  It’s something I’ve shared a lot about here because I know I’m not alone.

Although my breakdown didn’t have to do with Jason’s infidelity some 12 years ago, it did have many similarities to what I dealt with back then.  In addition, I know that what I dealt with 12 years ago predisposed me to being more sensitive to hard times in the future.

It also gave me a very fresh perspective on what many of you have dealt with in recent months and years as your husband’s secrets have come to light.  For that, I’m thankful.  Because I’ve been there.  I’ve been to the end of myself.  Not once in this life, but twice.

So just to be clear, I’ve been a little a lot anxious about this summer.  I’m currently reading The Body Keeps the Score and in it, Van der Kolk asks – “How do horrific experiences cause people to become hopelessly stuck in the past?”  After I read this – I thought yep, that’s partly why I’ve been so anxious.  I remember two summers ago and I never want to go back there again.

I don’t know the answer to Van der Kolk’s question (and if he answers it in the book, I will share the knowledge with you here) but I do believe that we can work through hard experiences and be oh-so-much better on the other side.  I’m sure it would be lovely about now to insert a Bible verse given I’m a Christian and all – but the first thing that came to mind was Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”. 

Because what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.

So I’ve entered into this week with a bit of trepidation.  Do I have what it takes to be a good mom to three little boys?  What about me – will I get any personal time?  Will my boys have fun this summer even though I want to teach them responsibility and respect?

The questions go on and on…

Enough to overwhelm this girl.

So in the spirit of making sure this post isn’t forever long, I’ll be back tomorrow with the things that made my short list for what’s helping me survive right now.  In the meantime, be thinking about what’s helping YOU survive.  I want to hear!

xo-Shelley

On what’s saving my life right now…

We talk a lot about what we are struggling with.  Rightfully so.  How else can we work through it if we aren’t talking about it, right?  Speaking of, you guys are AMAZING and I so appreciate all your kind words as I shared about my recent struggles here on the blog. Thank you for not running away and for hearing me and allowing me to be known.  It feels so good.

fireplace2

So today, I want us to shift our focus and consider what’s saving our lives right now.  Because for most of us reading this blog, we are in the thick of an ugly, messy betrayal that we never ever thought would be a part of our story.  And if we don’t have some strategies in place to help us get through the hour, the day, the week… well, we’re going to sink.

And if you aren’t in the thick of betrayal work, it’s something else.  For instance, it might be that you feel like the enemy is on your back (that’d be me).  This is another time when it’s so important for us to identify what is helping us survive.

I stole was inspired by this idea from a blog that I enjoy following.  And felt much better when I read that she was inspired by someone else to write about what is helping her survive.  Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve used this question at the beginning of my group calls.  It’s been really encouraging to hear the practical things women are doing in order to survive.  So without further ado, here is my list:

  • My wood-burning fire place.  I love everything about it.  The smell, the sound, the warmth.  It is so soothing.  Most evenings this winter, it’s where you can find me.
  • My running shoes and music or podcasts.  I guess to take it a step further, I have to get outside and start pounding the pavement.  All of this combined is helping me survive.

running

  • My newest wool blanket from west elm.  This puppy is warm and soft.
  • Chapstick (if you’re red neck) or for those of you a little more refined, it’s lip balm.

lipbalm

  • Warm showers.  I’ve been taking them about twice a day as of late.
  • Chocolove.  Almond and Sea Salt to be exact.  If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

chocolove

  • Downloads with Jason.  Seriously girls, lately I’ve gotten a ton of free counseling sessions from him.
  • Praying for protection.  I’ve come across some verses lately that have opened my eyes to the fact that angels are fighting for us. (See Daniel 10:20-21, 11:1.)  I tend to forget, this battle is real.
  • My girls.  Not just my support group but the groups I facilitate.  I confessed something to them this week that I’m so not proud of.  It has to do with a certain word that came out of my mouth when I really wish it hadn’t.  And they loved me even still.
  • Rocking my little boys.  Lately, I’ve been yearning to pull them into the rocking chair with me for cuddle time.  (And I think they like it just as much as me.)  Something about this cuddle time this week has been so heartwarming for me.
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  This book was a fantastic read for me.  Just finished it last week and I’m on to The Gifts of Imperfection.  Where has she been all my life?!

daringgreatly

the list goes on and on, but I’ll stop there…

So what about you?  What is helping save your life right now?  I’d love for you to share.

xoxo-Shelley