Friday, March 23, 2018

Stay in Your Own Lane

I'm not sure about you, but I can't even believe that it's the second half of March right now! Where did the time go? Sometimes I feel like winter drags on, and believe me, I'm ready for it to be over, but I just feel like I blinked and suddenly it's the first week of spring. I couldn't be more ready for sunshine and 50 degree weather. I'm over this "wintry mix" crap.

At the same time, I'm feeling like the "busy" of my life never really stops. It ebbs and flows a bit, but I don't think there is ever a moment where I actually feel chill. Right now, I'm feeling the pull at work with the end of the quarter finishing and report cards being due, trying to get kids reassessed and finish standards that need to be taught. Having Friday off last week was a well needed breath of fresh air. With Easter coming early, I have a feeling that April on will be a killer!

If you know me, I tend to be a procrastinator. I don't know if it can really be helped a whole lot. Looking ahead doesn't do much other than remind me of all the things on my to do list, so sometimes, I just have to look at my week and say, "what needs to be done today?" However, when I looked at the calendar this week, I got this all to familiar pang of dread that sweeps in ever so slightly around this time of year. The one that reminds me that I (again) didn't "find my beach body" or at least take care of it like I should. It reminds me that another summer is coming- one where I probably won't shop for a pair of shorts for the 4th year in a row. One where shopping for swimming suits literally makes me sick to my stomach. One where I will forget that this body made three beautiful children when I look in the mirror and instead will add another mark of failure on her imaginary check list for not taking care of it like I should.

I hate that I feel this way. I hate that I feel guilty for the body I've been given. I hate that I can't see past the stretch marks to the children that God has blessed us with. I hate that I constantly critique my double chin and love handles when choosing an outfit to wear. I hate that I forget to be grateful for a body that is capable  to do whatever I ask of it. Some people would only be so lucky. I hate that I let comparison of my friends, family, and strangers rob me of my joy when I feel like I've failed myself for the millionth time. I hate that I don't have the self control or where-with-all to meal prep and stick to a plan.

Friends, I've come along ways on my journey with depression and anxiety. I'm learning to take better care of myself all the time, but this is an area I really struggle with. Those thoughts^^^^^ are all too familiar in my head. They wreak havoc in my brain on the daily. One of the gals I've followed on Instagram for quite some time says this a lot. "Stay in your own lane". It's not my job to compare my part of this journey to anyone else's. Everyone has different starting points, and most definitely they ALL come with their own struggles and ugly self talk at some point. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm making progress in small baby steps.

 I'm trying to remember that I have a daughter who is watching me. A daughter who is starting to feel the societal pressures of looking a certain way. It's terrifying because I know too many people who let that voice that told them they weren't good enough, skinny enough, or pretty enough rob them of their joy as well. In some of them, it manifested in the form of eating disorders, or like me, depression and/or anxiety. So I'm hoping to let those fears propel me forward. Jae and I are talking about staying fit together- trying out new recipes, working out together. I don't want this to be a taboo subject. I want her to be able to share her feelings and feel validated when she does. I want to be able to tell her that I too feel that way sometimes. I hear a lot of moms sharing about how they watch how they talk about their bodies when they are around their girls/kids. That's a great start, but I want to make sure I'm not ignoring the subject altogether. Instead of having her hear me say "I'm fat" or "I need to lose weight" or "I hate the way I look", I want her to hear me say "I want to feel strong", "I like how my body feels when I eat good foods", "I like this outfit because it makes me feel confident". Reframing how we talk about ourselves will hopefully do more than be a good example for our kids. I hope that it also helps us see our own bodies in a different light as well.

We are all made differently. Nobody's body reacts the same way to food and exercise. It's not fair for me to compare myself to anyone else even if our workouts and meal plans are similar. Staying in my own lane is definitely a challenge yet a goal for me all at the same time. On most days, I feel like not only am I not making progress, but I feel like I've gone so far backwards that it's hard to gain the momentum to move forward.

On the flip side, I feel like I'm learning to be more aware- aware of when I eat poorly (for the record, it's when I'm feeling overloaded, so pretty much almost always), aware of how sleep patterns and exhaustion affect my hunger levels and my ability to work out effectively, aware of how stress dictates the course of my day. What I'm finding is not new news. I do poorly when I don't plan because my life is a giant ball of chaos and disorder. I tend to hole up and ignore any responsibilities when I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and those responsibilities include taking care of myself. It's easier to make myself a bowl of mac and cheese or ramen noodles because they are easy and I love them then it is for me to make something more nutritionally sound. It's easier for me to say no to my morning walk when I haven't gotten enough sleep, and I'm exhausted. It's easier for me to have a glass of wine when I'm stressed then to do something more productive. So while the physical evidence doesn't quite show that I'm making progress, being aware is a very small step in the right direction. Remembering that I can't change it all in a week is the next bridge I have to cross. Taking every decision as it comes and trying not to allow myself to live in judgement or guilt will really be a giant step in the right direction into helping me make better daily life choices. I have a lot of trouble with the "all or nothing" concept. I want whatever I do to be healthy to be sustainable and maintainable, and because of that, I know this will be a longer journey than it is for some. I'm learning to be okay with that. The final piece of this puzzle that is mandatory in my opinion, is that I need to learn to love myself as is. I need to be okay with the journey even if I don't "see" progress. I'm committed to staying in my own lane, and while I know I'll need reminders, it already feels like a load is off my shoulders.

Those are my epiphanies for the day. I hope that if you find yourself in the same position I am in, that you will remember you aren't alone, and that your journey is far from over. There is no "too late" for anyone until we're dead, so keep putting one foot in front of the other, and don't be afraid to share your story with others as well. When we are able to see others be vulnerable and authentic, it creates space for the rest of the world to do the same. That's really what this world needs more of #amiright?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Just Another Day in Paradise

I've been back in the frozen tundra for a few weeks. My fingers are frozen, and I'm counting down the days until spring is here for good. But for five seemingly short days, I was able to escape this place for a small sliver of paradise with one of my favorite people.

Shelley and I have been friends since high school. She's been around since Jae was tiny. She's seen me through some pretty happy times but also some very dark ones. She holds a very special place in my heart. And even though adulting gets in the way a lot in the stage of life I'm in, the moments we do get to spend together are never dull. So when she asked me to tag along on the trip she worked very hard to earn in her company, I couldn't say no for many reasons. I mean, c'mon. It was -11 degrees here. There's not much that you would need to do to convince me to go to a tropical locale for 78 degrees and sunshine. ;) But more than that, I was excited for some uninterrupted time to focus on a very important friendship that often gets pushed to the side while I try to be a mom and a wife and a teacher.

Our trip started off with a very snowy drive to Sioux Falls to spend the night in a hotel so we could be up at 2:30 in the morning to get ready to head to the airport. We stopped to grab supper at Applebee's and then a plethora of snacks at Hy-vee before we turned in for the night, crossing our fingers that our flight would not be delayed the next morning due to weather. Thankfully it was not, and we were off for a few days of sunshine, laughter, and relaxation.

We stayed at the Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana. It was a great resort with lots of entertainment to keep us busy for our stay. We spent lots of time in the sunshine by the ocean and the pool playing volleyball, engaging in activities put on by the resort staff, trying different restaurants, and just enjoying each other's company.One of the best parts was getting to know all of Shelley's people. I love meeting new people. I loved learning a little bit about their stories. They were all truly great people, and I wish I had more time to get to know them more.

I'll let the pictures do the talking, though, as they are typically better story tellers than myself.

I've never won anything in my life. 50 bucks richer after this night. :)

Japanese steak house on one of the last nights!

The drink of choice in the Dominican. For the record. Ew.

One of my favorite past times of the weekend.

They may have to rebrand with the new spelling. :)

Thanks Shelley for letting me be your plus one. My absolute favorite part of this entire trip was getting to see you through the eyes of others. I always knew that you put everyone else above yourself, but to see that the people in this company truly love and respect you and talk so highly of you was such an awesome experience. One that I'm honored to have witnessed. You are one of a kind. You have a heart of gold, and I'm truly blessed to be your friend. Thanks Rifly!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Hey guys! I was hoping to blog a bit during break, but I just never made the time to do it. We enjoyed our Christmas as a family. Dan took off the week we were home, so it was very much a family staycation. It was a nice balance of family parties, get togethers with friends, and our family overnighter to Sioux Falls, but we also had a few days to just be home and enjoy nothing on the agenda. Those days are few and far between, so I'll take them any time I can get them!

I pray your Christmas was a great one and that you were able to relax a bit and connect with friends and family. It's been a hot minute since I've been on here. We've enjoyed the finale of the year pretty well. It's been busy, but we've finally figured out how to make it enjoyable instead of stressful. We spent lots of time with family and friends. I particularly love the end of the year because it means lots of my friends come home for the holidays. I was able to spend Thanksgiving break with my childhood besties again, third year in a row. Many other friends have come home for Christmas, and I also found time to reconnect with some friends closer in distance for lunches, dinners, and coffee dates. Quality time with my people is one of my love languages for sure.

We also spent time watching Carter play basketball these past few months. He will continue to do that in January and February. It was a little different with Jaedyn deciding not to play basketball this year. She didn't have AAU, but instead filled her time managing the boys basketball team. She really enjoyed being able to watch them play. She will also manage the wrestling team for the next few months. Jae begins AAU volleyball, and Sawyer is in wrestling this winter, so we will have full weekends from now through March. I absolutely love this time of year for that reason, despite the busy schedule.

Another thing I love about this time of year is that it always feels like a fresh start. I feel like this in January and again when school starts in September. I know that you can always change for the better any time of the year, but it's always a good reminder that we can start fresh and shake off the negative in our lives. While I don't do resolutions, I do reflect on what changes I want to work towards in the coming year. This year God just kept whispering the word "self" into my heart. It wasn't until this week that I realized that giving yourself a "word" for the year was trending, so I guess I hopped on the band wagon without knowing it. I decided that this year was going to be the year of Self- self care, self love, self confidence, self actualization. I am going to take care of me- mind, body, and soul. What's different about this than an actual resolution you ask? Well, this comes with the knowledge that I will fail at times, but self care will ensure that I give myself grace and hop back up. I'd like to commit to a word each month that I can really hunker down on. I'm not going to make it another to do item that doesn't get checked off, but I'd like to really be intentional about taking this seriously, so I'm not giving myself a list of twelve words for the year, but rather really listen to my own heart and body and figure out what it needs from me. This month, I really want to focus on balance. I don't believe that life is black and white in any facet, so I'm going to be intentional about balancing things in my life and doing what feels right for my family and myself. This includes food, time spent at home and away, money, work, you get the picture. My hope is that this will keep my anxiety and depression at bay and lead me out of the tunnel of survival mode and into the land of the living. No more being paralyzed by fear. Baby steps, but I'm coming for ya 2018. #dontcallitacomeback

Anways, what's a blog post without some pictures? Here's what you've been missing over the last few months.
Giddy excited to hear Jen Hatmaker at Dordt College- October 26, 2017

Listening to Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman was the equivalent of coffee and pjs on the couch with a best buddy. Super blessed by them and the besties I went with. :)

Love my team- Our Halloween costumes this year were all "Idioms"
From Left to Right: It's a piece of cake, raining cats and dogs, smart cookie, wear my heart on my sleeve, hold your horses, smarty pants, and don't let the cat out of the bag. Cute right?

Substate Volleyball game- onto State!

Hanging out after our 2nd win. Onto the championship for the first time ever in Sioux Center Volleyball!

All in one week, we went from Cedar Rapids to Nebraska to celebrate Dan's cousin getting married.
Reuniting with bridesmaids and family from Jenni's wedding! Fun weekend regardless of the 20 hours spent in the car. :)

Favorite tradition- cutting down the tree

You know we posed this with the bundle of wood and the trees in the background. #werelame #lumberjackstatus

Annual childhood bestie overnighter on Black Friday! Love these ladies and our shenanigans

Saturdays watching Carter play basketball

Blessed to catch the last tournament our niece Adelle played in this year. 

School Christmas program for Sawyer

Our very first "Friendsgiving" feast. A fun night that I hope will be a tradition to carry on!

RFKC (Royal Family Kids Camp) Dinner and Dessert Auction

Church Christmas program- Only Sawyer left to participate. Makes this mama's heart a little sad.

Dance for a Cause- Jae and the girls had fun getting dolled up at our house with their moms, lots of bobby pins, curling irons, hairspray and makeup! They look so grown up here! 
Just shy of two years, but the braces are OFF

Lee and Matthew came home at Christmas, so we got to have some quality bonding time!

Our tree. Cause I like it. (Fun fact: Still haven't taken it down. Needles are dropping. Pretty sure it's dead. Kids and hubby say it's time. I say over my dead body. ;) )

Christmas at the Wolfswinkels and the ONLY family picture we took in 2017. For as many pictures as I take, this is weird for me.

This one just feels a bit magical. My kids under a comfy blanket, reading the Christmas story with twinkly lights reflecting in the background. Blessed. 

Spending some time with Grandma on Christmas Eve. I love her so.

Obligatory picture in front of the tree. 

Off for our family overnighter to Sioux Falls- Jae's choices: Shopping and Texas Roadhouse,
Carter's choices: Chuck E Cheese and Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sawyer's choices: Air Madness and the food court.

All four of us under the same roof! Merry Christmas to us. Mr. P's Friendsmas

New Year's Eve 2017- Love these girls

First wrestling meet of the year- 3rd out of 4th place. Proud of his growth, confidence, and perseverance this year!

Hoping that you are finding happy in the normal nooks and crannies of every day. Trying hard to do that over here! Excited to see where this year takes us! Lots of fun plans already for 2018. Can't wait to enjoy with all of you!