AHA! Moment

It has been a rough month……year, actually. Every step forward was followed by multiple backward steps……and then this past month happened.

And I am struggling, trying to be strong, trying to take care of my family, trying to help my son through this hurdle, trying to help my son and family navigate the court, jail, probation system while navigating the addiction treatment options and still managing the mental health illnesses…..all while continuing to navigate and manage the “normal” day-to-day responsibilities……..and I have forgotten, somewhere along the way that I need to take care of me, that I need to make time for me, that I need to save some energy for me.

And I am struggling……..feeling as if I am drowning, trying desperately to just get through the day, to just breathe.

I have had many conversations with members attending the Weight Watchers meetings I work about making time to take care of themselves during times of stress and crisis. I ask my members who are going through difficult times, what they are doing to take care of themselves, even if it is just 5 minutes, just a moment where they can step back and just breathe.

And here I am……

I am exhausted, emotionally and physically…..too tired to add “me” to the “to do” list.

Then yesterday I had two conversations that made me think…..both of my friends asked me what I was doing to take care of me and asked me to set some time aside for me, because otherwise all of THIS is going to drain me…..leave me empty.

I am already there. There is not much left in the tank. But what they said to me made me think.

I am an addict. My addiction is food. I have not had the easiest life……the abandonment, the abuse—physical, emotional and sexual, my mother’s death at a pivotal point in my life….all left me needing something, needing comfort. And I turned to food to deal with the emotions and the emergence of long repressed memories……food is how I deal with the difficulties in life.

I realized that I was a food addict while on my journey to lose weight and get healthy with Weight Watchers. And that day, when that light bulb went off, I began to make changes…..I began to deal with my emotions and the memories and the worthless feelings in ways other than to eat them. And it worked. And I lost the weight. And I found my self-worth.

But this past year has brought about some real difficulties. Testing just how strong I can be. And last month when my son hit his most recent bottom, I was tested again…..and old habits came back. I am tired…..tired of being strong……tired of not having my life as my own…….tired of the fear, worry and yes, anger……….I am JUST TIRED! And I stopped doing the things that work for me, that re-energize me, that help me to navigate my emotions……

Instead I ATE them.

And now I am struggling……

But the conversations yesterday, reminded me of what worked…..of why I had made the changes all those years ago…….of why I don’t want to go back to that girl again.

And beginning this morning, I remembered what worked for me, I remembered that I am worth it. And I remembered that I can get through anything as long as I rely on those things that help me to take care of me.

So, I started writing. Writing about life and about my emotions helps me to clear all the clutter in my head and to breathe. My time spent writing helps me to take care of me. And I decided that I need that 5 or 10 minutes to write, to reflect and to deal with my life. To think clearer. Old habits creep in so quickly that before I knew it I was on my way back THERE again.

But like we talked about in meetings, the past couple of weeks, slips happen…..life happens and then we find a way to get back on track. We figure out where we veered, how we fell into the hole and what we need to do to get back on track.

I kept telling myself that I just needed to get back to tracking my food and then things would get better. So I would track and then go right back to feeding my emotions.

I would tell myself, just don’t buy that food…..and then I would go right back to feeding my emotions.

I would tell myself to get some exercise….and then I would go right back to feeding my emotions.

And then yesterday, after those two conversations, I knew……yes, I need to track—it works. Yes, I need to buy the right foods—it works. Yes, I need to exercise—it works. Yes, I need to go to meetings as a member—it works………….But NONE of that works if I don’t TAKE CARE of me, if I don’t make me a PRIORITY and find that moment each day when I can step back and JUST BREATHE!

My AHA moment!

And despite the stormy morning I had today, I have found a few minutes to just breathe. And it makes ALL the DIFFERENCE.

Life isn’t going to be easy for a while…….but I know now that if I find a way to take care of me, then I can get through this, WITHOUT eating my emotions and going back to THAT girl again.

I just needed to be reminded. Thankful for friends on this Weight Watchers journey, who get it and who ask the questions that get me thinking……..

Much Needed Me Time

I almost didn’t go this morning…..I have so much to do for work and around the house and things to get ready for what we will face, what my son will face these next few weeks. Lots to do, so how could I be selfish and take a little time for me?

But I went anyway.

I realized that I have not left the house these past couple of weeks, other than to go to work, to go grocery shopping or to go to court with my son. I have not done anything just for me……

And not taking care of me, leaves me drained and unable to take care of others.

These past couple of weeks have been tough and emotionally draining, leaving me with little left for anything else.

So, I did something for me today. Something that would help me reenergize my body and my soul and yes, even my heart.

I went to the Zoo and Botanical Garden this morning.

Alone.

I needed the time to escape my life, to see beauty and to breathe.

And I did!

I find peace and serenity when I visit the Zoo and the Botanical Garden. I walk at my pace, stop and view what I want and sometimes just sit in the quiet. Today I did all of that. I find real joy in watching the animals, finding unexpected flowers and walking through the garden.

And though I found joy in my time at both the Zoo and Botanical Garden this morning, I also found that some of the joy was hidden under the shadow of this current storm.

And under that shadow I did find some peace……rejuvenating my soul a little……

I needed this morning.

I needed to find me again, amidst the wreckage left by the storm.

I needed to just…..breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

Family

We are born into a family, related to them by virtue of birth.

And some of us, me for instance, are adopted into a family, related not by blood but by love, chosen to be a family. My mother often reminded me that she CHOSE me.

We have family that we marry into and family we gain when our children marry.

We have family born of old friendships from our years growing up.

Families come in ALL forms…….Thankfully!

And then there is the family that is related by a common bond, born out of a shared nomadic life—a life in the military.

My husband served 30 years in the Air Force and we moved A LOT. Everywhere we moved to was new, foreign and a little scary for this shy girl.

Our first move away from home was the hardest for me. We were moving many states away and it would be the first time I moved out of the northwest……away from my sister, my in-laws and my friends. It would just the three of us—my husband, our three-year-old son and myself…..alone. I was nervous and scared. I was shy and making friends had been hard for me every time I moved as a child. And now we were moving to a state in the northern tier, in winter.

I didn’t know how I was going to survive the cold and snow, let alone survive without my support system.

Despite the long months of snow covered ground and roads, and despite the isolation in a time when we did not have internet or cell phones to stay in touch with long distance friends and family, I thrived in our new home.

I made friends.

And I learned during that first assignment away from home that the Air Force was a family. We were all related through this common bond of service. My support system grew and the bonds of those friendships grew stronger every day, lasting all these many years later.

Each time we moved, our family grew. We were so very blessed to be given this family and to be there to support each other through moves, deployments, long hours, births of children, deaths in families and so much more….through everything–the good, the bad and the difficult–our Air Force family was there and I could always count on them. We celebrated together, we spent holidays together, we laughed and cried together and we took trips together. This was a family I did not originally choose, but am so very grateful for, Every. Single. Day! My Air Force family made the good days better and made the struggles survivable.

My husband retired from the Air Force a couple of years ago and we are no longer moving around the country. But that does not change the family we have in the Air Force. We are blessed to still count all those friends we made through our military life as our family. And no matter where we go, we have family to visit—around the country and the world.

It is a blessing to us when we get to visit with our military family—to catch up with their lives and laugh with them again. When we see them, we pick right up where we were the last time we were together, no matter how long it has been.

Over the past couple of months, we have had the opportunity to visit with those family members while we were traveling…..such a blessing to have so many to visit wherever we go.

And we have been visited by family as well, while they were traveling through……just last weekend we got to spend a few hours with friends, family really, who were in the area for a short visit.

Families come in all forms—through birth, adoption, marriage and shared bonds.

I am truly blessed to have such a large family, in ALL forms!

Anchors

When thinking about Anchors, one usually conjures up images of anchors used by ships and boats to keep them from drifting in the current of the river, sea, bay, etc. Those anchors keep them from moving……forward, sideways or backwards. I grew up with a dad who loved boating. We would take his boat out in the summers for days, sometimes weeks, exploring the Washington and Canadian islands. And we used the anchor to keep us in place in quiet inlets, near isolated islands that we would row our dingy too so we could explore them. The anchor kept us from drifting and kept us safely in protected areas…..safe from rough open waters, and safe from getting lost at sea while sleeping the night away.

Yes, anchors were necessary.

And anchors in our personal lives are just as necessary.

I spent this past week leading my Weight Watchers members in discussions about our “whys” and about anchors.

An anchor is something that grounds us to our “why”, our motivation. An anchor is a reminder of where we want to go, how far we have come, the things we have accomplished and what is important to us. An anchor can be a strong motivator.

Anchors come in many forms…..Things we can see, touch, feel, smell…..Things that we say to ourselves…..The people in our lives……Things we visualize in our minds. These anchors are important in reminding us just how much we CAN do, HAVE done and what we WILL do.

I shared in my meetings some of the anchors that I used on my journey to reach my goal weight and some anchors I still use to keep me from going back to where I started, going back to my before….something that I could easily do if I did not have the tools, skills, motivation and anchors that keep me grounded to, or anchored to, why I started this journey, what I have learned and where I want to be in the future.

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During my weight loss journey, my anchors kept me moving forward, especially after I discovered the POWER that an anchor has in keeping me motivated. My first REAL anchor on this journey with Weight Watchers was given to me by my leader—a popsicle stick to remind me to “Stick to it”. THAT popsicle stick was instrumental in leading me to my “aha” moment…the moment that changed the course of my journey….when I realized that I didn’t think I was worth the effort. And that realization led to another anchor—a phrase said every morning while looking in the mirror….”I am Worth It”. Both of those anchors play a role in my life today.

Other anchors came into play throughout my journey to my goal weight—my Weight Watcher “bling”—kept where I can see it and bling that I continue to add to today as I continue attending meetings as a member, a reminder of how far I have come. And my before picture…..a POWERFUL reminder of just how far I have come, physically and mentally. After reaching my goal, a special necklace given to me by my husband many years earlier, became a strong, emotional anchor….I had never been able to wear the necklace….I was far too big…….and then I put it on. It FIT. It was perfect! I cried……tears of joy, pride and tears for the girl who had been so lost before. This necklace still inspires me and motivates me.

I have anchors that remind this once exercise phobic girl, that I CAN accomplish an activity goal—my 5K medal from my first Disney World 5k race, a strong reminder of the HUGE sense of accomplishment and the incredible PRIDE in doing so. And a Half-Marathon medal that I have not yet earned, that is kept safely set aside as a reminder of the commitment I made to my family and to myself and that I WILL accomplish this goal and EARN this medal when I am healthy enough to do so.

And this week as I talked, listened to the members and reflected on my motivation and anchors, I realized just how important it was for me to continue to set goals, to challenge myself and to remember why I started this journey in the first place. Sometimes we forget why. Sometimes we lose our motivation. Sometimes we think that since we have reached our goal we are done…..but we are not. This is a lifelong journey and one that needs anchors.

I also found this week while contemplating and getting back in touch with my anchors that mine are not just about my journey with Weight Watchers. I have powerful anchors that remind me of what is important in my life, that remind me joy can be found even in the darkest moments….something that keeps me going and keeps me finding the pleasures in this life. Anchors that remind me that I have the strength to get through anything thrown at me……even when I doubt. And anchors that remind me how important my family, my friends and my faith are in sustaining me and bringing me joy.

A bracelet I wear often to remind me of my faith and family…….two bracelets too remind me to never give up and that anything is possible…..necklaces that remind me of hope and that I am worth it……t-shirts with positive, uplifting phrases, bought to inspire my exercise and worn to inspire my day and remind me just how strong I am…..a framed phrase on the wall to reminds me to trust my faith and to hold onto God’s hand when I am feeling weak…..a stone etched with my favorite bible verse reminding me that I CAN do anything, as long as I do it with God by my side…..Instagram photos taken by a dear friend and given to me, remind me of the beauty in the world around me and remind me to appreciate what is here, in this moment right now. There is always something beautiful!……..photos of my family to remind me just how very blessed I am to love them and be loved by them…….. and so many more reminders…anchors.

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Anchors that keep me grounded and connected to what is REALLY important to me and anchors that keep me grounded and connected to my support, my faith, my family and to just how much I CAN accomplish in this life.

Anchors give me the courage to take the leap and help me to just breathe when I am facing challenges.

 

Clearing the Clutter to take back control

Clutter.

Cleaning.

Control.

I spent some time last week talking with members about cleaning up the clutter, in our physical space and in our mental space.

Clutter is stressful. Clutter makes it difficult for us to live a healthy life. Clutter makes it difficult to take care of ourselves. And clutter in our physical world can reflect the chaos and clutter in our head.

The past couple of weeks I have been clearing out clutter, cleaning out and rearranging the physical spaces in my house.

And with each closet, drawer or room, I have also been clearing out my head.

When you love an addict, your head becomes quite cluttered. And when you live with an addict the physical and mental clutter collides with the chaos of their cluttered, chaotic life.

Today I have been cleaning…..and as I scrubbed my cabinets I realized I was scrubbing……or rather trying to scrub away the visuals in my mind…….the images that threaten to suck me into the spinning funnel cloud that hovers above my life, always there ready to touch down and rip apart all that I love.

That is how it feels to live with and love an addict.

And I HATE what this has done to my child. The child I carried inside me. The child I dreamed about and loved before he was born. The child I read to at night. The child I cried with when he was hurting. The child I laughed with while watching a beloved show. The child I watched become a man. The child that is a part of me, who had so much to offer this world. My child, who is funny, kind, impulsive, daring, creative and opinionated.

Addiction has robbed me of my son. And has robbed my son of the life he should have had.  He is lost inside the spinning tornado. And I have no idea when or where this tornado will drop him.

Every day is filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. And every day is filled with prayer.

I love my son. And I want him back—whole, healthy and full of life. This is not my son right now.

So, today, as I scrub cabinets, floors and walls….as I sort through the physical clutter, I am also sorting through the emotional clutter created by a life I never wanted to live in……a life I never imagined I would HAVE to live in. And through de-cluttering I am trying to get back control….control of my life, my emotions, my home.

I am trying to find my way and navigate through this funnel cloud so that when the tornado touches down again….and it will…..I am ready and more prepared. Making it so that I can recover more quickly and so that I can help my family through the debris.

As I clean and de-clutter today, I am just going to breathe……and trust that God will help me.

A Promise of a New Day

I am a west coast girl. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.

We have lived all over the United States—the Midwest, the northern tier, the south, the east coast, the southwest and the west coast. No matter where we lived, my heart was always out west.

Being a west coast girl, I have always preferred sunsets to the sunrises. And everywhere we have lived and visited, I have watched the sun set. The sky is beautiful as the sun sets on my day, reminding me of the beauty in the world even on the days that were difficult. The sunset was a reminder that I survived the day.

I have seen the sunset over the Aegean Sea, over Europe, over the English Channel from France, and all over the U.S. But my favorite place to see the sun set is over the Pacific Ocean. There is nothing more calming for me than to sit on a beach and watch the sun slowly dip into the ocean, disappearing in a fiery horizon. I LOVE the sunset on the west coast!

When we lived on the east coast and would visit the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, I would rise before the sun and walk the beach as it rose above the water. The sunrise was beautiful and the morning alone on the beach was so serene. But….I still preferred my sunsets and missed the west coast.

I guess I just wasn’t ready for what the sunrise would come to represent for me.

Now, living here in Arizona, I get to see spectacular, colorful sunsets. The blue sky is painted in shades of reds and purple as the sun disappears on the horizon.

But the sunrises are just as spectacular.

And I am discovering that I LOVE the sunrise.

I am up early, often on my way to work when the sun awakens and the glow of the sun illuminates the sky in hues of yellow, orange and red.

The sunrise has come to represent a promise of a new day…..a chance for change……a promise that today is going to be better. And that is what I need.

The sunrise brings a smile to my face and more importantly it brings hope to my heart.

This longtime, west coast girl who preferred sunsets to sunrises is falling in love with the morning sunrise….the beauty and peace found in the promise of a new day and the hope that it brings.

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Watching the sun rise gives me a moment when I can step back and just breathe.

Lesson in Patience

Patience…..something I have struggled with at different times throughout my life.

I was so impatient as a child that I would hunt for the Christmas presents and peek……and I continued to peek at presents well into my adulthood. No one knew I looked…..it was so easy to delicately peel back the tape, unwrap the gift and then rewrap the gift. My husband and boys figured it out though and each Christmas they would pride themselves on the massive amount of tape they would use for my gifts so I couldn’t peek. A lesson in patience.

Patience is difficult.

I want it NOW! I wanted to lose weight NOW! I wanted Christmas to come NOW! I wanted my babies to arrive NOW! Though I can find ways to be patient and can go long periods of time where I am living in the moment and slowing down, I do struggle with it.

Right now, I am struggling with being patient……

I often turn to God to help me learn to be more patient, too slow down and enjoy the moment rather than constantly look to the future.

And God has shown me that He has a sense of humor when it comes to helping me to learn patience.

Many years ago, when my youngest was in junior high, I had another lesson in patience…….a lesson in which God showed me His humor. I had been very impatient at that time and for weeks had been praying for patience and for help in slowing down. On this particular day I was late picking my son up from school and found myself behind one of those line painting vehicles on the highway…..we were driving 15mph in a 55mph zone…..ugh! At this rate I would NEVER get to the school and my son would not know why.

Then I remembered there was another route to take to get to his school, and though it was slightly longer, it would be faster on this day. So, I pulled a U-turn and stepped on the gas….I did not want to get rear-ended by a car coming up behind me. Before I knew it I was going FAST (not my fault….my husband’s car picked up speed too quickly) so I pulled my foot off the gas……too late!

Coming toward me at that moment was a sheriffs car……..and in my rear view mirror I saw his lights go on and he u-turned to catch me……..Yes, I was caught speeding in my haste to get somewhere quickly. Not only was I speeding, but the speed he tagged me at was high enough to warrant a reckless driving charge and a summons to go before the judge………..

I was mortified. I was scared. I had NEVER been pulled over. And I was now even later getting to the school to pick up my son…….lesson learned. Okay, God, I got it. I will slow down and breathe.

A lesson in patience was learned.

I would love to say that it only took one or two lessons to teach me to slow down, to appreciate the moment and to be patient…….but no…….I still struggle.

And now I find myself struggling to be patient in the healing of my foot. I want to go hiking. I want to go for a walk. I want to go to the zoo and Botanic Garden. I want to be pain free. And I want it all NOW!

And I am astounded that I miss being active, I miss my walks and I miss exercise. Me, the person who detested exercise, who made a million excuses to skip it, now misses it. And I am getting very impatient to get back to it.

The pain in my foot reminds me to slow down and be patient. Sometimes impatience can lead to unwanted consequences and I do not want to permanently damage my foot.

So patient I must be.

This injury to my foot is a reminder to take it slow, to step back and enjoy the moment and just breathe.

And is another lesson for me in patience.

Got it! Now it is time to move on…………