Exhale

IMG_0595

For quite a while now, I’ve been unsettled, restless, almost irritated, and I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on the cause of it all.  My life this year has seen a lot of change and transition, which is actually pretty normal for me, but there’s been an undercurrent of something, something which identifying seems elusive and just out of my grasp.

At the centre of  it I know is stuff, the stuff we have and the time it takes to manage it all, the self-resentment I feel for feeling burdened by my choices and having to keep myself and the kids in line to not let it all get out of control.  First world problems, I know, and ones that are so common to so, so many people around me.  But it’s been even more than that, and today I had an experience that gave me a little moment of clarity and a great deal of encouragement.

I’ve been going back through the pile of e-mails in my inbox (yes, more stuff, albeit of the electronic variety), and I came across a blog post from Michael Hyatt, where he discussed Chris Guillebeau’s new book ‘The Happiness of Pursuit’ and a quote from the book stopped me in my tracks:

“Properly examined, feeling of unease can lead to a new life of purpose.”

The words resonated deep within me in relation to another area of life, but as I sat writing out my brain this morning, trying to work out the core of this discontent, I thought of this quote, and let it sit over how I was feeling about the current state of my house.

Stifled and scattered.  That’s what immediately came to mind, and initially I felt despair over trying to work out how to fix it all.  Of course, I knew I couldn’t in the space of a day, but I could start.

So, I started to make a list.  And then realised that was a really bad idea, because it would potentially be never ending and even more discouraging.  I then asked myself ‘what’s stealing my joy today?’, and I immediately knew the answer.

The back of our house is primarily made up of what we call ‘the back room (original, I know) – it was originally the back porch, and 20+ years ago was enclosed to become an extra living area.  After having floor covering put down nearly a year ago, we were finally able to start really living in this space (previously it had bare concrete, after I got rid of the old carpet squares), and it’s currently zoned into tv/gaming, my office and sewing/creating space.  As so often happens, the flat surfaces become holding areas for things that get dumped, and I was at my limit of coping with it all.

So, I just starting clearing it out and cleaning it up.  Which didn’t take that long at all, even sorting the pile of ‘to deal with’ paper that had been getting higher and higher, and eventually, I got my room back.

181

183

Like the rest of my house, this space will never appear in a magazine or a design blog, but it works for us, and I have plans to make it even brighter and welcoming.

But the moment of clarity came for me today when I was driving around later, getting some jobs done around town, and I felt like I could take a big, deep, unrestricted breath for the first time in a long time, and I just felt peace.  Re-setting my space and getting rid of the excess had shifted something inside me and left me feeling lighter, and I just got it – the peace of not just less, but of simply having what I need.  As I prayed this morning in the early waking hours, simply speaking the words of The Lord’s Prayer to my Father, the prayer to ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ became more than just words.  It was an awakening to the fact that that is all we can truly ask for – what we need for each day as it comes, one day at a time.  And to learn to live in that, nothing more, trusting God that He knows what we need to get through the day.

By examining what it was that was making me feel uneasy today, I got something done that felt purposeful and encouraging – a very small example of what Chris Guillbeau talks about, but one that shows me that listening to this discontent might just be what I need to find where I need to go.

What is it that brings those little – or even big – ‘aha’ moments for you?

Advertisements

Eat well, live well, love well

Woolf Inked

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

Hoooo boy.

This is one of the biggies for me.

And probably the hardest, most challenging-every-day part of my life.

I believe in heating whole, clean, as-close-to-its’-natural-state-as-possible food, for me and my family.  I’m intolerant to gluten and sugar, dairy and grains in general don’t agree with me, and forget anything artificial.  I have an auto-immune disease that can be crippling, the symptoms of which are very much affected by my food choices.

Basically, the cleaner I eat, the better I feel.

Period.

You would think that would make the choice really easy for me, wouldn’t you?  Eat well = feel great.  Eat rubbish = feel like death warmed up.

I wish it were that easy.

I am so very blessed to live in a wonderful part of the world where I have very ready access to beautiful, wholesome food.  We have a small farmer’s market once a week that provides seasonal produce, and great fruit and veg shop sand butchers  that provide a range of local/organic/fresh produce and meat.  There’s really no excuse for not eating whole and clean, all the time.

The biggest problem is what goes on in my head.

I struggle constantly with want vs need, and I give in to the wants way too often.  Sugar, anything baked, creamy cheeses, carby goodness, and my brain is satisfied – for all of about 30 seconds.  It doesn’t take very long for my stomach to start processing.

When I don’t eat well, I get tired, grumpy, foggy in the head and simply just don’t function well.  I certainly don’t love well, that’s for sure.

Reducing the amount of processed rubbish and replacing it with wholesome, home-cooked food is important to me, as it is one way in which I can love well.

Love my family by taking the time to think about what will nourish their bodies and meals they’ll enjoy, and to prepare them and share in them together.

Love my community by supporting local farmers and producers.

Love this planet God has blessed us with by choosing food that hasn’t been modified or tampered with, or required being shipped thousands of kilometres (that is not to say that I don’t buy out-of-season or non-local food, because I do, I try to keep that to a minimum).

Love the people I do life with by encouraging them to do the same, and walking alongside them in their own journeys to eating well.

Loving myself and my body, being grateful for this amazing creation I am thanks to God, by making choices that only enhance my health and well-being.

The choice to live like this isn’t hard.  Resisting the temptation to give in to temporary, fleeting satisfaction in lieu of being intentional about what I eat because it is good for me, not just because I want it, is the challenge.

My choices haven’t been great of late – I could blame the ongoing tooth infection and resulting pain I’m living with, losing my job this week, or any number of other life stressors, but here’s the thing:

There’s always going to be something.

There’s always going to be something that will make me want to turn to comfort food, to seek out instant gratification, to feel like it’s too hard to fight the resistance.

So I’m simply going to make a choice.  To eat well, and to love well.

It really is that easy.

original(4)

When enough is enough

Norris Inked

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

It’s a funny thing, life.

Just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, there’s often a great big reminder that actually, no, we don’t.

I was made redundant from my job today, so it seems like a very appropriate day to talk about work – only I’ll be writing from a completely different perspective than when I read Notes From A Blue Bike a few weeks ago.  A perspective that changed in a few moments, with a few words spoken by my boss who has the responsibility of delivering the news.

I’ve run the gamut of definitions when it comes to work – I’ve volunteered, worked full-time/part-time/shift work, studied whilst working, worked before I had kids and as a parent, worked as a full-time mum and in the workforce as a single parent.  Now, for the first time, I find myself unemployed.

Funnily enough, I actually asked for this.

Not in the sense that I asked to be made redundant, or wished that I wold lose my job, but last year, I awakened to the true desire of my heart to work more at home as a wife (to-be) and mum, more than in the workplace, but felt that I wasn’t in a position to be able to make that happen.

In the 3 years and 2 months I worked in my job, my working hours ranged from full-time, to 4 days a week, back to full-time, until I finally settled on working 3 days a week as the best balance for our family.

It took constant assessing, experimenting, give and take and just being intentional to find my rhythm – not just when it came to work, but to life in general, because paid employment is just one aspect of work in our lives.

2013 presented many learning opportunities for me to work out what does and doesn’t work in my life, in our family, and I had a rude awakening as to just how much I struggled with saying ‘no’, for fear of disappointing people – and the impact that had on all of us.  I had to eventually say ‘no’ to some things that I should never have said ‘yes’ to, and it was a painful experience.

But they were some of the best, most enlightening experiences I have ever had.  They were lessons in saying brave yes-es and strong nos, and working out what it takes to keep the rhythms of life more gentle than discordant.

They helped me define what work – paid or unpaid –  is important, and what isn’t.  And you know what?

Most of it isn’t.

Working to provide an income is important.  Working to please other people isn’t.

Working to give my family what they need is important.  Working to get more stuff that they want isn’t.

Checking Facebook/ Instagram/ Pinterest/e-mail a hundred times a day on my iPhone isn’t important.  Checking in with my kids and my love every day is.

Cooking basic, clean, healthy food for my family is important.  Stewing over any number of things that I *could* worry about isn’t.

Boundaries are important.  Constantly wanting more isn’t.

Enough is an ongoing, constant evaluation, when it comes to working.  Sometimes the balance requires less effort and more intention, sometimes it’s simply knuckling down to just do what needs doing right then and there.  Sometimes it’s more giving and less taking, and vice versa.

My working life looks very different right now, and I don’t know what enough will be.  I love Kat Lee’s personal motto, ‘Do as little as possible, as well as possible’.

Define.

Refine.

Assess.

Put boundaries in place.

And when you work out what the minimum is that is required for your life, do it to the best of your ability.

Work out what the essentials are for you to live a truly authentic life, and live them well.  With passion and joy.

Get rid of everything else – stuff, the yes-es that should have been nos, worry and fear, expectations.

This is how we find our definition of enough.

I have no idea what makes up enough for me right now.  And that’s ok.  It an ongoing process for life, sometimes requiring more focus than at other times.  I do know quiet, contemplative time is needed, and that I need to find it amidst the everyday of my life (that generally involves *a lot* of noise).

I also know that right now requires coffee, books, knitting and conversations – for now, that is part of my work.  That is a big part of enough.

There will also be walking, and baking (gluten-free) bread, and doing laundry.  And the dishes.  And cleaning the toilet.

And it will be enough.

original(4)

One down

via molipop

Did you hear that?

Whoooosh.

That was the first month of 2014.

I’m struggling to wrap my head around the fact that it’s the end of January already.

I know that the older we get, the more quickly time passes, but seriously?

The speed with which this month has passed has served as a reminder that time is finite, and we are to use our time well.  I came into January planning to take the time to think about my goals and intentions for 2014 and beyond, and to really look at how I would implement all this into my life.

Just like I have for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years.

But for the first time, I’ve actually done what I set out to do – the difference this time was that in being intentional, I’ve realised this wasn’t an activity that would take a few hours and I’d be on my merry way.  So far, it’s taken all of January to sort through allthethings in my  head and to get them on paper, to see them take form in a way that makes me think ‘this can actually happen’.

It’s all still a work in progress, but I’m learning that that’s the point – it’s always a work in progress.  It’s taken me all of January to sort and tease out and plan and listen for God’s words to see what this year is going to look like, what changes need to be made and what goals will be made real.

I’m nowhere near ‘there’ yet (finishing planning) and it’s a step forward, a step back in implementing changes and new habits, acting on my intentions.

But it’s still progress, because even when I stumble, I’m falling forward.  I’m learning to breathe in grace and breathe out love when it doesn’t go to plan.  I’m learning that the unknown doesn’t have to be known now, and that whatever fills the space I can’t see clearly will be ok, because God can see what I can’t.

So tomorrow is a bit like January 1 for me, figuratively speaking.  Some new things to come, and old things to put away.  Onward and upward, keep falling forward.

What about you?  How is 2014 panning out so far?  How is your dreaming and planning and goal-setting progressing?

The beginning of the beginning.

10 years ago today, I made a decision that changed the course of the life of our family forever.

I decided to leave my husband.

And the crazy thing is, if I hadn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

It took the complete breakdown of our marriage for us to learn just what it means to love someone, to learn what marriage is really all about, and for us each to find out who we are as individuals.

If we hadn’t gone through the breaking, the threshing, the refining, we wouldn’t have been ready for the rebuilding.  We wouldn’t have been ready or available for new foundations to be laid, for the construction of our new relationship to be built out of hope and faith and love.

Now, just to clarify, I am not an advocate of divorce.  I believe in fighting for a marriage with every ounce of your being, even when it feels like you’re being turned inside out and dragged along the ground, if that’s what it takes to save what you vowed and declared you would commit to forever, that day it all began for you and your spouse.

I believe that as a society, we give up on marriage too easily – we give up when it gets too hard, when it doesn’t feel like we think it should, when we feel like we’re not getting what we deserve, when we feel like our needs aren’t being met, when we’re wounded and hurt and feeling like our spouse isn’t living up to our expectations.  And we collectively give each other permission to do the same.

It’s no wonder the divorce rate is as high as it is, because all of us feel like that in every relationship we have, not just the ones with our spouses – family, friends, work colleagues, but our spouses are the only ones we can legally dissolve a relationship with.

When we say ‘I do’, they’re not just two little words.  They are a seal on a contract that binds us together for life – not just for today, and tomorrow, and maybe in ten years time, but forever.

That’s why I left my husband.  For all the reasons above, and more.  There was no specific ‘incident’, or ‘problem’ as such, just a collection of wounds and hurts and bitterness accumulated over time, each of us constantly wishing the other would change, but not realising that it was ourselves that had to change.

The moment of truth came quietly – it was the day before our youngest child’s first birthday, and we got into a fight over the proposed birthday celebration.  As it always did, the argument turned to ‘you always, you never, I wish you would….’ etc, etc, etc – an argument I could have scripted, we had had it so many times.  But that time, something shifted, and in a moment of stunning clarity, the thought came – ‘I can’t change him’.

I was never going to be able to make him change into who I thought I wanted him to be.

But I couldn’t keep living the way we were, none of us could.

So a couple of weeks later, I left.

And it was the beginning of who we were always meant to be.

It took a long haul through court, a divorce, years of healing before we could speak to each other again, and more years of learning to communicate and trust, for us to rebuild our relationship as co-parents and eventually as friends.  We were laying the foundations of our new relationship, or more to the point, God was laying anew the foundations of the relationship He has always planned for us to have.

And now here we are.

ID-100130940

via

Living a real-life mosaic, building something beautiful out of the broken pieces of our lives.

10 years later, what feels like a lifetime wiser and with a whole lot of life lessons under our belts , we are both very different people to who we were when we really didn’t understand what marriage what supposed to be.

That it’s putting someone before yourself every. single. day.

That it’s knowing that the whole deal is messy and complicated and frustrating, and that there are going to be times we just don’t like being where we have to be.

That it’s working out what someone needs and doing what we can to give it to them.

That’s it’s simply doing things we don’t feel like doing.

That it’s beautiful, and wondrous, and amazing that two people can make the choice to keep turning up day after day and facing life together.

That in committing to for better or worse, there’s always someone to walk through the pain and difficulties of life with.

That it is always, always worth it.

We are building our relationship based on what we’ve learned through our experience, and what we want our marriage to be.  It looks very different now to what it did so many years ago, and I thank-God every day for that.

10 years ago, as a young mum with 3 little kids and my world falling down around me, I had no idea what the future held in store.    Thankfully, my God did, and because He is in the business of making all things new, we now get to live out the story written for us.

We’re living proof that there are always new beginnings, sometimes it just takes getting through the endings to see what they are.

And it is always, always worth it.

2014 – The best year yet

I have lived the vast majority of my life in fear.

Fear of failure.

Fear of getting it wrong.

Fear it won’t be perfect.

Fear of disappointing someone.

Fear of offending someone.

Fear of conflict.

Fear of never being good enough.

Fear of not having enough.

Fear of not having control.

I could go on, and on, and on, but I think you get the idea.

It’s taken me until I’m 37.5 years old to truly realise that every area of my life has been shrouded in this cloak of heaviness, greyness, despair and hopelessness, to varying degrees, just subtle enough for me to not really recognise it for what it was.

But now, this year ahead, and for as long as I have left here on this earth?  No more.

No more letting fear stop me from doing what I was created to do, distracting me from my purpose and convincing me that I’m not enough.

I’m not under any illusion that there won’t be times when I will be afraid, but I don’t have to make choices out of fear.  I’ve known this intellectually for a long time, but it’s only now that that head knowledge has filtered down into my heart and soul.

And it comes from knowing that I am loved.  Wholly, truly, completely, wildly and unashamedly loved.

It’s time to start living in the truth, and not in fear.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  – Marianne Williamson

One of the biggest frustrations I’ve had with myself in my life is my lack of discipline and following through with goals I’ve set and intentions I’ve had. Virtually every time I’ve failed at something, it’s been because I’ve given up when it got too hard.  My inner spoiled brat would throw a tantrum and whine and cry and I’d give in and give up.  Funny, I don’t do that with my own kids, and yet my inner brat gets the better of me nearly every time.

Baby’s now being put in the corner.

2013 ended on a great note in regards to goal-setting and achieving, in that I completed my first Whole 30 program, and completed a 6.8km local fun run (the longest distance I’ve ever run).  It took me four goes to stick to and complete the Whole 30, and there were so many times I wanted to give up during training for the fun run.  But I didn’t, and that sense of achievement that came from following through on both goals was amazing.

So I’m taking that into 2014 with a new mindset –  a very intentional one, as I know that long held self-beliefs and habits and ways of doing things take time to change.  But the old has gone, and the new has come, and I’m choosing new.

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Paul Colman live at the end of 2012, where he sang a beautiful Irish ‘drinking song’ that he had written, ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’.  It’s become one of my theme songs for 2014, I’m saying ‘here’s to the failures we’re leaving behind, cheers to the future, ’cause it’s just begun, and the best is yet to come’.

Tell me, what is going to make 201 your best year yet?

I am here

 

I originally wrote this post just over 6 months ago on a previous blog, and came across it whilst looking for some work to re-post while I do some ‘behind the scenes’ work on this new space.  Funny, very little has changed in the last 6 months, and what I wrote still reflects where I am right now.

via

I read a lot.  Not as much as I used to (i.e. before kids.  And knitting.), but still a lot.  Blogs, books, magazines (IRL and online), e-mail, newlsetters, general miscellaneous.  So I take in a lot of information, and am still constantly surprised by how God uses what I read to speak to me at certain times in my life.

Now would be one of those times.

When I started this blog (a whole two posts ago), I wrote about how I’m trying to work out who I am (oh dear, yes, I get how pretentious that sounds…).  I’m figuring that I’m on the right track with exploring this path, because over the last few days, it seems that everything I’ve read has been bringing my focus back to this journey.  Nothing more so than Emily Freeman’s e-mail newsletter that landed in my inbox today (if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do today, it’s to go and meet Emily.  And sign up for her newsletter, I promise you won’t be disappointed!).

Emily recounts a story of going to a mall and having to work out where she was, which meant going to a map and looking for the red dot on the map that tells you where you are.  She then goes on to talk about an experience of having to introduce herself at a retreat, and being instructed to ‘share your red dot’.  Where she was right there and then – not her past, and not her future.  Her present.

In trying to work out what to do, to work out where to go, I haven’t stopped to see where I am.

Where my red dot is, right now.

I keep reflecting on where I’ve come from, and setting goals of where I want to go – all good exercises in seeking God and His purpose for me, but how do I move forward if I don’t know where I’m planted right now?

Huh.

Right now?

I’m tired.

There’s an ever-present longing.

I want to cry, but I can’t.

I’ve become so good at managing and containing my emotions (i.e. not letting them out), that I can’t even feel the fullness of the joy and gratitude I’m living right now.

God has answered my longest, most desired prayer in the fullness that He promised, and it still feels like something’s missing.

My house and daily life is a mess.

I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up at home and at work.

I’m re-evaluating my priorities with my time committments, and making some hard choices.

I am blessed beyond measure.

There is so much I want to write right now to temper what I’ve said, to balance what I’ve written with the positive take on things, and it’s really hard for me not to, because all that above?  Feels so whingy and whiny, but it’s where I am right now.

Maybe it is whingy and whiny.  And selfish.  And self-indulgent.

Even so, it’s honest, it’s me and my life right now, and might be the most truthful thing I’ve written in a while.

I’ve been encouraged by these ladies and their honesty in the last few days (and weeks), and I know I’m not on my own in this time of life.  Not in my real life, or in my online life.  I have been so encouraged – and challenged – by reading words that come from a real person’s heart, and grateful that they have had the courage to share, to lay their words bare for me to be blessed by.

I had the absolute joy to take part in a live Influence Network class today, hosted by the beautiful Ellen Parker (being home sick has to bring *some* joy, surely!!)  My participation was somewhat fragmented, as my internet connection dropped in and out, but I was so filled with joy and encouragement by Ellen’s teaching and the other ladies, and I was reminded, yet again, just how much God has created us to share, to teach and to connect.  To think and explore, and to dwell.

I am here.  Wherever ‘here’ is.  And I will be content in the knowledge that here is where I’m supposed to be (somebody please remind me of that when I get all whiny again…….)