Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reflections

As each year draws to a close, I am faced with two lines of thought. Reflection of the year that is past, and the determination for the year that is to come. This past week I've been remembering the good, the great, and yes, even those not so wonderful moments that this year had to bring. Last year, I wrapped up my blogging year reminded that some years are years of survival. Some are years of growth. Some are years of finding yourself, and some are all of those things. I am realizing that I am ending yet another year where I feel like I haven't found the answers to the things I'm looking for. I've spent another year in a predominantly numb state. Gliding through life on autopilot waiting for my life to begin. Last year I said that this wasn't a tragedy, but I think that I was wrong. It's incredibly tragic. To be numb while living your life isn't really living at all. I've trained my brain and my body to be so resilient that I'm losing the ability to feel. I thought that perhaps if I shared my story, I'd be able to find those connections with others or draw myself closer to people, but that hasn't been the case at all. I still find it amazing to use this platform to share my story and to be a shameless truth teller about this journey of life that I am on, but it hasn't torn down the walls that I've created to survive. I feel more disconnected this year than I ever have, and as I've been reflecting this week, I've found myself asking profound questions that really only I have the answer to.

How do I beat this disease? How do I come out on top above the depression, above the anxiety? How do I stop it before it permanently leaves me broken? I'm going to go a little cliche on you for a moment. What if the old adage is true? What if life is what you make it? I am and have always been in the driver's seat of my life. I have also, however, allowed my anxiety and/or depression (depending on the day) dictate where I'm going for the last 2 years. Hear me out. I definitely know that there are moments where depression and anxiety can take over your entire being. Where you can physically not get out of bed. Where you are too paralyzed to move. Those feelings are real, and they are valid. But I've noticed that they are also fed by my inner self talk or lack there of. I've stopped fighting for myself. I've let myself stop caring, and because of that, I have stopped living. I have changed the trajectory of my life just by choosing not to get back into the driver's seat.

What this year has taught me is that nothing will change if I don't start fighting back. Somehow, I need to be numb and paralyzed less. I need to use all of my emotions. That starts with connecting to humanity again with my heart and with my head. Reflecting daily and sometimes more than once a day. It means I need to stop using things like social media, alcohol and sleep as forms of medication to step out of my life, and start finding tools that will help me step INTO my life.

This brings me to next year. I used to be a big resolutioner, and then it became too much pressure for me and so I stopped. I feel like resolutions are just goals for the new year, and the reason they get such a bad rap is because people have goals but no real game plan of how to make them happen. Part of what stopped me from carrying any of my resolutions out was the fear that I would fail. What I know now is that I will fail. Probably a lot of times. But what I need to keep in mind is that the only time I can't pick myself back up is when I'm dead. So really, I have an infinite amount of chances to be who I want to be. Let me emphasize that I want to be....not just become. Life has to be a balance of striving for something and loving exactly where you are.

My aspirations for the next year are to step back into my life. To be present for my life. To connect to my tribe. To feel all the feelings. To taking care of my body. To giving myself grace. To surrounding myself with positive people and positive thoughts. To reflecting regularly. To stop waiting for my life to begin.

Here are some of my favorite parts of 2016.
Playing wally ball! I don't have a picture of my new team, but I love this sport.

Watching my boys wrestle. This was the last year both of them did it. This year, Sawyer is wrestling and Carter is playing basketball.

Johnny Holm band with my people

Jaedyn and her friends started a drama club and performed a small production of the Velveteen Rabbit. This is where I began seeing 

Jae's first middle school play: The Music Man

Surprising Dawn for her birthday and enjoying a Crab Broil

Sean's first prom

Shopping weekend with the girls

First fire of Spring

Mud Volleyball for the Quasqui

Winery with the Valentines and Mulders

Florida with my family


First ocean sunrise

Bachelorette party in Kansas City!

Royal Family Kids Camp

Standing beside Jenni on her wedding day

Ozarks in the Fall with some of my favorite people

Who swims in October? We do!

Road tripping to Cedar Rapids for State Volleyball

Watching all my kids' sports

Cutting down our Christmas Tree

RFKC Dinner and Dessert Auction

Surprising my mom with tickets to Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and Jordan Smith for her birthday

Making time to see each other despite busy schedules

First Christmas at the new house

Here's to jumping into 2017 with hope, grace, vulnerability and love. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent and the Art of Waiting Well

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year by far. (Ironically, winter is my least favorite season.) My Christmases of years past hold a monumental amount of memories from my lifetime thus far. It has always been the grand finale of each passing year. The time when I was the happiest. In the midst of turmoil in my life, as a child and as an adult, Christmas was a constant state of happiness for me. Some years I had every reason to be down in the dumps or angry or closed off, but I always somehow felt at peace at Christmastime.

As I got older, I think I expected that to be the way I always felt. And it was for a very long time, but over time, my child-like wonder and hope has waned a bit. I grew up a very positive, resilient person. A glass half full kinda girl. When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I think I thought that it would come for a season, and I would "heal", and then it would pass. However, like most things in this life, my plans are not His plans. Instead of bouncing back or gradually getting better, this season has been a tumultuous journey of hills and valleys. Moments where I feel great and alive and full of purpose and then there are times when I feel numb, paralyzed and disconnected. It hasn't gotten better. There have just been good days and bad days.

 Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I have longed so very badly to feel merry and happy and carry child like excitement for what the month of December would bring. Excitement for traditions and family and waiting to see my children's eyes light up with wonder. Instead, I've felt numb. Stressed. Overwhelmed. Paralyzed. I've been in survival mode. I feel broken. This devastates me. This isn't what it's supposed to be like. Christmas is supposed to trump all of these feelings of hopelessness and despair. But it's not. And so I wait. Wait for change. Wait for joy. Wait for hope.

This brings me into the season of Advent. Advent means "coming" or "arrival". It is essentially a season of waiting. Waiting for Jesus to come into the world. It's a beautiful season of reflection and hope. Reflection used to be somewhat like prayer for me. I would sit back and think of all that I had to be thankful for, those things that I wasn't proud of and wanted to change, and at other moments, I would reflect on my future-goals, dreams, and aspirations. With these diseases come fewer moments of reflection for me. Perhaps this is my body's way of staying stable and resilient. No emotions mean fewer ups and downs, but that also means that I function more like a robot and less like a human being. We were made to emote, to feel.

While I haven't been so much in the Christmas spirit this December, I have in fact spent more time reflecting. In fact, when you take away all the glitz and glamour of the holiday, you are stripped down to the bare bones. You're left with a little more simplicity. I've somehow found myself reflecting as of late on the past year or two. Though without much clarity, I'm asking more questions in hopes that I might find the answers within myself. I am allowing myself to experience this season of Advent- both the Christmas kind and the one that's stirring in my soul- with grace and simplicity. Maybe this year, Christmas spirit doesn't mean Christmas baking, tons of holiday parties, and hustle and bustle, and maybe some years it will. In 2013, I wrote a blog post on the 25 Things I want my Kids to Remember about Christmas. You can read it here. I went back and reread it this week, and those are still the things I want. So, instead of regretting how things were done and getting upset about the moments that were stressful or overwhelming, I'm going to jump into the week and vow to be as present as possible. I'm going to try to smile more, soak in the memories, and not set any expectations that are too hard to achieve. There will be no bar to be set. There will just be family and friends and Christmas. And when Christmas is over, I'm going to spend some time reflecting on how to make next year better in spite of my anxiety and depression. I'm going to set some manageable goals with a LARGE margin for grace.

Until then, here are some things I've been enjoying the last few months. After all, this is where I'm coming back to smile when my kids are all grown up, right?
Watching Jae play basketball

Midweek movie dates with my oldest

Sun slivers and the wonder of the first snow

Slow Thanksgiving mornings with apple cider and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Spending quality time with your family and remembering how lucky you are that your kids have such amazing aunts and uncles

Reuniting with friends old and new

Family traditions and cutting down the tree


And them

How funny it is that he can hardly lift her up anymore, but tradition is tradition

My silly one

My mild one

Birthday dates with my momma and feeling nostalgic over a little Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith Christmas music from the 90s and then The Voice winner- Jordan Smith performing as the cherry on top

Wishing you and yours A Merry Christmas- full of family and friends and laughter and memories, and I pray that even if this one is a somber one for you, that you find your tribe. Lean in. Hang on tight. We're all in this together.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hello, Goodbye

"The very nature of life is impermanent, yet we are constantly surprised at how things change. It is then that we realize to not take things for granted, to be able to appreciate the value of life, people and treasures of the heart. We must embrace the changes as opportunities to always value our joys." ~Sherry Petro-Surdel

I am perpetually reminded the older that I get that nothing is ever made to stay the same. Not only are we ever evolving and becoming new, but so are our surroundings- the people we spend our time with, the places we live, the activities we find joy in. For someone who actually doesn't mind change, this is a little scary for me. Not in the small things, perhaps, but in the more life changing things. The older I get, the more things seem to change on the more "life changing" end of the spectrum. This year has been no different.

For anyone who follows me or Dan on social media, you know that we recently moved within the last few months, and while this was a very necessary and positive change for us for many reasons, it was still incredibly life changing. Fifteen miles is all that separates us from the space we called home for the last nine years, but sometimes it seems like light worlds away. In fact, my husband would attest to the fact that the process of moving- from the moment we stepped foot into our current home during the showing until now- has been almost like going through the five stages of grief-for me at least.

I remember laying in bed knowing that I should be happy that we were finally going to be moving. Our lives would get exponentially easier. We would no longer have to wait in town all night long for kids to get finished with practices. No longer need to make several trips back to town in a week for church or to drop the kids off at a friend's house. We would already be there. That should have felt like a win, and instead it felt like I was grieving the death of a family member. I spent a lot of time crying and withdrawn.

Over the next few months, we would spend a lot of time frustrated that our house wasn't selling fast enough. We'd get our hopes up and then have them crushed. We'd spend too many hours cleaning and sorting and trying not to "live" in it to much, so the next time we had to show it, it wouldn't take so much time to clean. It was excruciating to be frank. However, it also gave us time to process. Instead of moving out in 6-8 weeks, we were given the gift of time. Time to spend with our friends. Time to do the things we loved to do in our little town during the summer. Time to slowly pack our lives into boxes and sort through years of memories.

Saying goodbye to our home was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It meant closing a chapter in our lives that we really didn't want to be finished with. On the flip side, I'm loving our new home. I love the ease of being in one place. I love that my kids have friends that they can easily spend time with. I love that my older two can walk to school. BUT... I hate that my brother and sister are no longer a block away. I hate that my nieces can't bike on over to our house for a hug and make memories with their cousins. I hate that my best friends are that much further away. I hate that I can't Bodypump with Melissa in the wee hours of the morning or text Dawn and say "Wanna meet for a walk in 10?" I hate that I can't run on over to Casey and Amy's to borrow a cup of cheese or swing on by for a spontaneous chat for 5 or 10 minutes just because I can.

With this move there was grief but also lots of happiness, but some of our hellos and goodbyes have just come with heartbreak. Lately those have come in the form of Sawyer's best friend moving to Illinois, Jaedyn's grandma being given less than 6 months to live, and anxiety and depression that just don't seem to give me a break.

Change is hard. Life is hard. But I'm figuring out that change is exactly the catalyst that it takes to grow and shape us into who we are and who we want to be. Not all change is bad even if it at times it feels as though our worlds are caving in. In fact, the one major component I have been forgetting is that gratitude is EVERYWHERE. I've developed tunnel vision for what I don't have or what I'm missing which is preventing me from focusing on what I DO have. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of change, I need to begin to focus on everything I have to be grateful for. I'm not in Hospers, but I am ONLY 15 miles away. It is my responsibility to keep my relationships a priority. The substance of our time together has changed, but it can still evolve into amazing things. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? If that's the case, then we will be just fine. I will be just fine.

I choose gratitude.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Hokey's been a hot minute since I've blogged. I even missed my 7 year old's birthday post. Poor kid doesn't stand a chance with his birthday being a few weeks before the end of the school year. I'll try to do a make up one soon! We can't have him thinking he's not loved.:)

Anywho, if there is one thing that I've discovered during this summer break, it's that I don't adult well. I'm clearly not meant for this stay at home mom gig. You stay at home moms are like super heroes in my book. How in the heck do you keep up with schedules, especially ones that change 57 times in a week? I feel like all I've done is clean my house for showings, ship my kids to and from camps and ball games, and do my best to get to the pool as often as I can. Being an adult is super stressful. We'll save that for another post.

These past few months, I've been working with a friend who has been trying to help me be more accountable in my fitness/nutrition journey. She's done everything short of kicking my behind into be accountable, and I tell you what. I'm a stubborn ass. I've never met anyone who has self sabotaged their own efforts as much as myself. I'm sure she is so sick of working with me. It wasn't until I stepped on the scale today after many weeks and realized that I had GAINED a pound, that I felt like maybe I'm still not being 100% honest with myself. I've done a piss poor job of being consistent in my workouts. I'm fairly certain that I don't log accurately with my food, and I'm realizing that besides a few reflecting pep talks from my coach and a few to myself, that I've ended these two months coming out more behind than I was ahead. In fact, I may be the only person she coaches that increases in inches when she measures me instead of loses.

So what gives?

Last year at this time, I was a hot mess of sadness. I was swallowed up in the thickest of my depression with no light at the end of the tunnel. I was drowning. I wasn't able to take care of myself or my children properly. I was a crappy friend. A crappy mom. A crappy wife. Worse than that, I didn't know if I cared that I was all those things. Well my tribe was phenomenal. They helped me see the benefits of getting help. They sat with me while I cried. They wrapped blankets around me and hugged me tight. They made me laugh. They took my mind off of my sad. They asked how I was doing. They knew when to talk about it and when to steer clear.

They showed up.

Now you may be wondering why I'm jumping from fitness/exercise to my depression. You may be wondering how in the world they even connect. I've learned that in fact every single part of who you are is connected. We can't extract one piece of anyone's journey and know their entire story. We are all a great many things with a great many pieces that are stitched together to make us whole. Both of these parts of my story are connected in more ways than one.

Last year, the fact that I had gained so much weight (literally) weighed down my soul more than life was already doing. I knew that if I could somehow get back to being active, my endorphins would kick in and I would be in a better place than I currently was, and hopefully, by default, the weight would come back off. It took an entire school year, but I had managed to lose 15 of the pounds that I had gained, and truthfully, even that felt like an accomplishment as this past school year continued to push my anxiety into overdrive. So here we are. Back to summer. Back to more time to think and reflect. Except this year, it feels like I have a little more control. I still get tossed into anxious and depressive episodes weekly, but they come and go a lot quicker. They aren't enveloping my entire being this year.

However, I still can't seem to be consistent when it comes to my health. This is so important to me because I want to have the energy and drive to be a go getter and live my life to the fullest. I don't need an extra load holding me back when depression/anxiety already take their turns beating me up. They don't need any help with that. With that being said, this morning, I couldn't get out of bed to run when my alarm went off at 6:00. So at 9:30, after trying to talk myself out of doing it for the 20th time, I stepped on my scale and was once again disappointed with myself. How many times would I have to feel that disappointment before something changed? Clearly, no one can do this for me. It has to be something I do on my own. By myself.

And then I thought, now wait a minute. I'm a firm believe in the fact that humanity is connected. That we all belong to each other. That being someone's village and being kind are some of the greatest powers that any single person can possess. So even though I need to physically do this on my own, to physically get my butt up and DO something about it instead of TALKING about it, that it's also okay to have a tribe that plays a part in getting you there.

If you are still with me here, you are a trooper. I'm going into stream of consciousness mode. I'm just typing my heart and my brain which is a very scary thing. Bear with me. I'm almost to the punchline. So as I was getting dressed to head out for my run, I thought, what if I served others as a motivation for getting my workouts in? What if every time I worked out, I did it for someone else. Would that push me harder? Would it make me get out of bed to do the job? It was worth a shot! So this morning, I thought of my friend Sheila and my friend Stephanie, and how their husband and dad was going into surgery today to get his foot amputated. I thought of all the pain and suffering he has gone through in the last few weeks physically and emotionally and how his family is mentally preparing to walk this journey with him, and I decided that today I run for Jon. So I did. And as I did it, I prayed for them. It made me think less of me and more about someone else. It felt pretty darn good.

So then I got home and I went to a couple of the fitness groups I'm a part of on Facebook, and I typed this up:

 So I've always bought into the idea that humanity is connected. That we all belong to each other. That whole "It takes a village" sentimental crap is right up my alley. 
😂😂😂 Anyways, a few years ago, I was really getting into the hang of this running/lifting thing, and then depression and anxiety came out of nowhere and put me into a tailspin. I stopped working out. I gained 35 pounds in a year. I ate ALL the chips and queso, and life seemed a lot less colorful. I'm SLOWLY turtle pacing my way out of this crap. Anyways, I can't seem to stay consistent with my workouts, but thought maybe if I had motivation to workout that came from somewhere outside of myself, I'd be more consistent. So.... That brings me to you. I thought that maybe if I did my workouts FOR someone, I'd push myself harder. This is out of my comfort zone, but I have nothing to lose so I'm just going for it. My goal is to lift/run/exercise for someone new each time I head into a workout. If you would like to add someone you love or yourself to the list, drop a line in the comments or send a private message, and tell me a little of their story. I'll make a list of your loved ones and work my way through it, sprinkling my tribe in there as well. Today, I ran for a man in our community that was riding his motorcycle and got hit by a car that accidentally pulled out in front of him. He is going into surgery today to get his foot amputated, and so today I ran for Jon.

And the responses started rolling in. I heard so many "me too's", and "I want to do this", and I am constantly reminded that we are connected. All of us. 

You guys, there is SO MUCH NEGATIVE on social media, on media in general. So much judgement and comparison. However, I have found that when I'm searching for negative, I find it ten-fold. Would it be the same if I was searching for the good? It is! I've tried! In fact there is SO MUCH MORE GOOD than there is bad. We just have to drown out the bad. We have to come out of the wood work and stop responding to bad. We need to share our stories and build people up. We need to tell others they matter. We need to show up and ask how we can help. 

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to show up and push myself for someone every time I workout. I'm going to be someone's village. I'm going to tell them they matter. That's what life is about anyways isn't it? Showing up. Saying sorry. Trying until you get it right. People suck sometimes, but don't write anyone off. Everybody has the chance to start over. Heck, God gives us forever chances, so we can do the same for others.

If you'd like me to add you or someone you love to my list, let me know. You can comment below or send me a facebook message, or you can even send it to my e-mail:

Now go #besomeonesvillage.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Letter to My Ten Year Old

Dear Carter Dean,
Ten years ago I was terrified that I wouldn't have enough love to go around. I was so afraid of becoming your mother that I thought I’d have to love Jaedyn less in order to love you more. Boy was I so wrong. You came into this world, and you grabbed onto my heart and never let go. 

 I can’t help but think, how did we get here? How it it possible that now you are 10 years old? How did 10 years pass so darn fast? I have loved being your mama. Guiding you and loving you and letting you teach me all about life. I know you are not perfect, but I think you are so amazing. 

I know I don’t always get it right either. I yell too much, swear too much, and talk too much when I should just be quiet and listen.  My standards may sometimes be too high, and I often scold you for not being quiet or behaving when you are just being a kid. I am easily frustrated, short-tempered, and cranky, especially when I hear a hint of whine.  I’m working on it.  Some days I get it right, others I fall way too short of the mark.
But despite my shortcomings as a person and as your mom, I hope you never spend one day of your life ever doubting my love for you.

These next 10 years will go by even quicker than the last, but these will be the years that you will learn all the hard lessons and truths about the world. I want you to maintain your caring heart. Your heart will hurt. You will feel pain. The world and people will let you down and you will feel discouraged. But I beg you to not lose yourself on things that are meaningless. Do not allow life's mishaps to harden your heart. Pour yourself into things that are really, truly important and are capable of making a difference, even if it’s a small difference. Love people deeply and forgive them quickly. Keep finding the good in everyone, even in those who are overlooked. Don’t get caught up on things that are of this world and don’t measure your success by money. You are much more than what the world tells you you are. God wants to do great things through you. I know your loving heart will be capable of making big things happen. Your dad and I truly believe in you and your capabilities. You were given an immense amount of talents, so don’t compare yourself to others. It is really a killer of joy. Don’t be too quick to overlook the small miracles happening all around you, like a beautiful sunset filled with magnificent wonder. And always know that you have grace, that God always forgives and always loves you. Always.

Carter Dean, as you embark on the second decade of your life, I hope that you will never forget that you are indeed loved for exactly who you are right now and for the young man you are growing into.  We are your family and you will always be loved no matter what. This is the soft place you can land where you will always be OK, where you will always be welcome and you will always be loved — no matter what.  You are one of the most kind hearted and amazing individuals I have ever met and my love for you is unconditional, forever, and always. Happy Birthday buddy! You are so very loved.