Life Lately: Letting It Out.


I had a good cry the other morning. It isn’t something I do often. I don’t handle vulnerability well. But I couldn’t hold it in, couldn’t hold it together. I walked out of Reilly’s school and it all came pouring out of me.

Life with two kids is more challenging than joyful on some days. I am not one to put on airs about parenting. I love raising two wildly different girls, but there are days I wish I could hide in a closet for a little bit in an effort to preserve my sanity.

All families have their own set of challenges, and we sure are not short on those around here. Everyday it seems we are learning something new as we navigate these waters. Each child has their own strong willed personality, their own special needs, and both require nearly constant attention during waking hours.

I constantly feel pulled in every direction but forward. I constantly feel as though I am falling behind in my own life in an effort to always be present in theirs. And I constantly feel like I am falling short in providing for them what they need emotionally.

To me, there is no sacrifice too great for those girls. Things I may want to do for myself pale in comparison to the mutual joy of spending time doing what they want to do. I may not get to go out for dinner, go to the gym, or even pee alone, but as long as they are happy in that moment it’s worth it.

As independent as these girls are they still yearn to be noticed at all times. They need constant security that we are going to be there for them, and obviously I see it more in Reilly as she is getting older. She wants so badly to grow up and make her own decisions, and we are working on negotiating the latter, yet she needs to feel the security of having one of us nearby.

At times it’s difficult for me, as an introvert, to constantly provide what they need emotionally. I cherish my alone time. I recharge by settling into the comfort silence brings and, needless to say, that is hard to come by these days. It can feel daunting and draining to fill up their cups without adequately refilling my own.

I constantly fear being authentic in my own emotionality will cause negative repercussions in their behaviors and their sense of security. I worry that by sometimes showing my own negative, human emotions I will cause this negative ripple effect that will somehow shatter them from the inside out.

How do I find balance in that? How can I express myself, and teach these kids to always express their wide range of emotions, without making them feel less loved, less cared for or less secure?

In recent months we have taken action in helping Reilly learn to better express herself, to manage her emotions in a healthy manner, and doing so without compromising who she is innately. It’s tricky territory and all very new. And it forces me to face more of my own emotions and how they cause me to react in relation to hers.

I have my own struggles with vulnerability and verbally expressing myself. For so long I would shut down, shut out the world, and go about my business stone cold. I can’t do that now that I have children to take into account. The old ways have no place here, and so I have my own growing and expanding and expressing to do.

How does one do that though? Well, I’ve started by being a lot more honest, with myself and with others. Stuffing down how I feel about someone else or a certain situation does not serve anyone well. It creates unnecessary strain on the relationship and adds to my already accruing amount of stress.

I’ve learned to buck up and say the things that are hard to say. In the past I have had a tendency to ignore or keep quiet in an effort to not hurt other people but I knew deep down I was only adding to the problem. So I started opening my mouth. Respectfully, of course.

I have started to weed out who and what isn’t serving my life in a positive way as well as what I am no longer serving. I say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ a lot more, and I mean it each and every time. I am no longer interested in giving into what other people want from me. And this is most definitely a lesson I am trying to teach Reilly at a young age. I don’t want her to ever feel pressured to conform to other people’s expectations. I did it for far too long, and it hasn’t ever gotten me anywhere.

My writing has also expanded over the last nearly 600 consecutive days during which I have written at least 750 words each and everyday (see: 750words.com). It went from just wanting to write more and more consistently to venting, to digging, to expanding, and creating. I have used it as a tool for growth. I have used it as a means to express myself. I have used it as a means to hold myself accountable for my actions and feelings.

So much good has come out of my writing. I have dug deep into my subconscious and I’ve dragged out to the surface so much that has been repressed over my lifetime. It has been and continues to be a transformative experience for me each and every time I sit down to write.

Which leads me to expression. I encourage Reilly to use her words, to use her emotion cards we made together, to let it all out but in a way that is healing and productive. It’s a tall order for a seven year old. She has already had to deal with so much in her short life. I can completely understand her frustrations and outbursts. They are justified.

But they are not healthy. They are not the best way in which to ‘let it all out.’ I want her to learn that, yeah it’s ok sometimes to scream and cry and throw a fit. That should not be her go-to method of expression though. It isn’t constructive. It won’t help her to work through her feelings. She then becomes a slave to her emotions instead of being in control of them.

So how do I work with her to make sure she feels more in control and understood?

Well, I like to think of myself as fairly progressive when it comes to self care and self expression. I may not have mastered it but I have sure done my fair share of research with plenty of life experience to back me up.

I know what it’s like to feel erratic and misunderstood. I know what it’s like to feel as though there is an overwhelming amount of emotions swirling through my head. But I also know it’s possible to regain control of how I react to the world around me. I don’t, however, know how to teach that to a child.

I read plenty. I ask the right people. But that only goes so far because children are by no means cookie cutter. What works for some doesn’t work for others. What professionals suggest doesn’t always work. It’s a cat and mouse game. You win some, you lose some.

I won’t ever give up trying. I know I will never be a perfect parent. I will never be the parent I envision myself to be when I close my eyes and breathe in deeply. That is something I work daily to make peace with. It is another bullet point on my never ending to-do list.

This is all part of my human experience though. And while at times in writing this it doesn’t feel as cohesive as I want it to, I want to convey to other parents and caregivers that not a single one of us has this figured out.

We are all doing it right and doing it wrong at times. It’s ok to be a little messy and scatterbrained and not know what day of the week it is. It’s ok to be a jumble of emotions. Because we are all human. And we are doing the best we can.

So let’s cut ourselves a little more slack. Let’s offer up a tired yet genuine smile to one another. Let’s have each other’s backs. And let’s vow to always forgive ourselves and wake up the next day with a little more love in our hearts, for ourselves and our kids.

No Excuses November.

I will freely admit that I am very much like other working parents. Your entire world revolves around your little one(s) and not much time is left over for yourself.

Your health, your goals, your dreams and your hobbies start to slide farther and farther down the ladder as you prioritize your littles over yourself. By the time the kids are fed, homework is done, teeth are brushed, and they are down for the count there just doesn’t seem to be enough time left for yourself before having to do it all over again. Raise your hand if you’re with me!

Not everyone is like this, of course, but I tend to think there are plenty of people out there who can relate.

Our situation here varies from the ‘norm’ and changed dramatically at the end of Spring, when we went from a family of three to a family of four. As the weeks and months have passed, I have fallen farther and farther behind the kids in what needs to be tended to everyday. I haven’t been taking care of myself well enough, and the longer I’ve allowed it to continue the worse I’ve felt.

Truthfully it happened because I continued to make excuses. There weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. There wasn’t enough help in order to accomplish one task or another. I didn’t have enough money or my energy reserves had bottomed out. I didn’t have enough willpower. It wouldn’t make a difference anyway. I fed myself so many lies and got so far away from myself.

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I think I kind of needed this period of change though. I have spent so many years living fairly rigidly so to have let go for a while has taught me some valuable lessons. Now I am ready to sort of wipe the slate clean and step outside of my comfort zone in order to start achieving great things.

As October started inching to a close I felt the pull to put the wheels into motion. After a little bit of brainstorming I decided to do my own No Excuses November challenge in order to give myself a good kick in the pants.

What does No Excuses mean to me?

It means doing the dirty work. It means showing up everyday. It means doing things that are uncomfortable, doing things that feel impossible, doing things that will get me closer to that next place I’m supposed to arrive at. It means asking for what I want. It means standing up for myself. It means not allowing life to happen to me but for me. It means not making excuses for poor behavior and taking responsibility for my actions. More living out of intention instead of habit. It means fighting for what I want even if at times I’m fighting myself. It means sacrifice, sweat, and maybe even some tears.

I’m not even quite sure I could put my finger on what changed, on any one thing that lit the fuse. I think it’s been everything over the last several months piling up and finally I feel ready let it all go. I feel more ready to take back control of my life, continue making positive changes, and put the past to rest.

In no particular order, some of my intentions this month are:

  • Practice more patience.
  • Eat more for health than pleasure.
  • Cook more, with and without the little one.
  • Finish one book.
  • Work on being Kris a little bit more and not always Kiki (myself vs my parent self).
  • Deepen my connection with my small circle.
  • Keep an open mind to new experiences.
  • Begin to pave a more fulfilling path for the future.
  • Ditch fear.
  • Move my body more.

These are all general ideas that I’ll define more and more along the way in order to figure out what is realistic and works best for me. I’m not looking for quick fixes. I’m not looking to impress anyone. I want to finally feel good in my own skin, and I want to feel at home in my own life.

Because when I am better for me I am better for everyone else, especially the little ones.

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Feel free to join along with me! I would love to hear what some of your excuses are and how you plan to turn things around.

 

Happy Halloween!

Wishing everyone a fun and safe Halloween!


We trick or treat on Halloween Eve due to the parade on the 31st. We had tons of fun with our friends – Cooper the assassin and Izzy the cupcake! We adults had our own little treats to get us through, too, 😉 and we all had a great time. It felt like a summer day! I was sweating in my cowgirl hat!

Happy Halloween!!

The Future Freaks Me Out.

I try not to get too far ahead of myself. I don’t like to think too far into the future because it causes major anxiety and self consciousness. I have long term goals and I am very much a dreamer, but I prefer to keep myself planted as closely to the present moment as I possibly can.

So when my mom started talking about ten years from now I started to get a little skittish. She began the conversation with how old she will be by then, continuing on to how old the girls (my nieces) will be, and then comes the bomb: “At that point things are going to start falling more on you.”

This momentarily paralyzed me.

Not for the fact that this thought had never entered my mind. It is with me in nearly every decision I make about my life and my future. To hear it coming from someone else though, actualizing the thought and reality, terrified me.

I’m not ready!

My situation is somewhat unique, although sadly not uncommon these days. Due to circumstances outside of our control my mom and I are raising my two darling nieces, ages 7 and 1. And even though I have chosen not to have my own children, I do love parenting these two little ones, watching them evolve as people and being a big part of their everyday lives. For not wanting to ever be a mom I do love and appreciate my role as a “parent.”

This is not an easy situation to be in. It seems like just as we start to gain some footing there is another wrench thrown into the wheel. It is highly unpredictable. But we manage. We do the best we can, we love as much and as hard as we can, and we do it because we are family.

It has been my goal for a few years to be the main caretaker of Reilly, my eldest niece. She and I have this intense bond and anyone who knows of our relationship would attest to that. So needing to have a plan, stability, and a means to get by have been at the top of my list. I knew I needed to be able to provide for her and give her the best life possible within my means. It felt manageable and inspiring.

Then along came baby and everything was turned upside down, especially because of the situation from which she came to live with us. It has been a rough few months for me. My depression was raging for a long while. The intense motivation I had at the beginning soon crumbled all around me leaving me exhausted, bitter, and out of sorts. Only recently have I been able to really face the situation head on and begin to make peace with it.

I want to heal the broken parts of me so I can be better for these kids. And coming to grips with the reality of being more responsible for these two precious lives is a heavy weight on my shoulders. I often wonder how I will ever be able to do it and God forbid I have to do it on my own… I try not to let my mind wander there.

Thirty three is inching closer and closer with each passing day, and I am so far from being “there,” from feeling “ready.” I am the type that likes to be prepared ahead of time for everything. So the thought of being mostly, or solely, responsible for two more lives is freaking me out!

And I know this is exactly what parenting is all about, but it is completely different when you are planning for and wanting it than when it is thrust upon you with absolutely no warning.

I constantly wonder, will I ever be ready? What are my next moves? How do I prepare for this?

I have absolutely no idea!

All I can do is my best though, right?  I have to keep these kids at the front and as the reason for nearly everything I do. And head toward the future face forward.

Is that how this parenting thing goes? Am I doing this right?

Checking In.

If I had to pinpoint one of my weak points it would be consistency. I have so many ideas and plans, and typically I am full speed ahead right out the gate. Until life starts to interfere, other plans and ideas and responsibilities pile on, and I get farther and farther away.

That is exactly how I feel about my little blogging space. I want to nurture it and water it and watch it grow. I have this intense desire to connect, and writing has always been my preferred method of doing just that.

But then I start to doubt myself and what it is I have to say. Who really wants to read what I have to say?

So I start trying to plot out all of these ideas and what I could write about. And sometimes what I come up with feels so authentic and I have this urgency to get it out. When push comes to shove though I get stage freight. Is that really the best way I can say it all? Does this encompass everything I want to convey?

I become paralyzed by my perfectionism.

 It’s a frustrating cycle and one I am working hard to finally break free from. I have been doing a lot more meaningful writing every single morning, before the sun rises, before the littles rise, before the day can get its hands on me. And I think so much more is starting to come up to the surface. I think I am finally ready to share more of myself with a little slice of the world. Consistently.
 
So… hello.
I’ll be back soon.
xx

Falling Down.

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The mind is an amazing thing. One day you feel so full of hope, optimistic, like you’re making headway. And then the next you wake up feeling out of sorts, feeling ill at ease in your own body, and having no idea what happened in those few short hours between falling asleep and rising.

This is life with depression.

While I may not hide my struggles, I don’t wear them like a badge of honor. I can be open to a point about the weight I carry around but I try to remain detached from it. I don’t want to feel it. I don’t want to wear it. I don’t want to be defined by it. It’s part of who I am but it’s not my whole story.

There are plenty of people who don’t understand it and plenty more who don’t even try. And this is why I tend to hide. It’s far easier to tuck myself away than to give into vulnerability. There are so many people lacking in basic compassion and in my state of being I don’t have the patience to explain it.

This is life with depression.

It isn’t always about a specific reason either. Depression doesn’t need a reason. And it sure as hell isn’t about anyone else but me. Can I not claim one thing in my life as my own?

There are circumstances beyond my control, and yes they lend themselves to the weight on my shoulders at the moment. So much of my life has been spent resisting, attempting to control that which is outside of my control. I made decisions long ago in order to be able to carry on my life in the way I wanted, and to have that compromised is a huge blow. My life is no longer about me, as selfish as that may sound, and it is an extremely hard pill to swallow.

I want my life back.

I don’t open up about this for attention. God knows that is the farthest thing from my mind at all times. I don’t want to be treated differently or like a fragile little bird. I want to be treated like a human being, maybe cared for a little extra in time of need, and always with love.

So if you don’t understand depression, if you can’t comprehend why I am the way I am, simply take the time to listen. Both to what I say and what I don’t.

I will always do my best to believe in tomorrow. And it would sure be nice if others believed in me.

xx

‘Clean Eating’ Is Not A Cure All.

Eating nothing but whole unprocessed foods does not erase years of torment over caloric content. It does not eradicate self hatred or judgment, labeling of food as “good” and “bad.” The word “cheat” still exists when eating something unhealthy.

Knowing it takes weeks and months to transform my body into a better version of itself does not omit frustration from my daily repertoire. It does not lessen my impatience.

Learning about how food-like products negatively affect every little inch of the body, inside and out, does not keep me from wanting to drown my sorrows in a bag of one thing or another. The wiring of my emotional state has not been instantly cured.

Deep down I am still that broken anorexic girl. Still searching for comfort in all the wrong things and trying desperately to heal.

I won’t discredit just how far I have come. Over the years I have spent counteless hours learning about how to take better care of myself mind, body and spirit. And to a degree I have made strides. I can eat fairly normally, especially dining out. The guilt has simmered. MY weight has steadied.

Behind all of that though still lie the negative emotions toward food. I still make judgments on myself. I still worry about eating too much and moving too little. Most days, as much as I don’t want to be, I am still consumed by a flood of thoughts and emotions surrounding my eating habits and my weight.

Following Whole30 has been a big eye opener so far. But I still have lingering negativity about what I am eating, even though it is all “clean” or “good.” Most days I under eat and on those I don’t I feel compelled to workout a little harder to compensate. It’s a constant negative reinforcement even though I am doing everything “right.”

Having completed 20 days (as I write this), I know for sure I am headed in the right direction. I have removed emotional crutches and forced myself to face everything head on instead of filling up on empty distractions. I have started to put myself first. For once. And it feels great.

For years I didn’t know what true hunger felt like. I kept myself from the joy of connecting with what was on my plate. I placed far too much emphasis on what I should or shouldn’t have and how my body should or shouldn’t look. I allowed a dark place in my mind to dictate who I was at every moment. But the buck stops here.

Learning what I have so far and knowing there is still so much more to absorb gives me hope of one day really unshackling myself from the past. While I don’t feel as defined as a recovering anorexic as I once did, I cannot deny it is – was – a part of my existence. It ruled me far beyond those days of complete suffering. It was so entwined in my recovery and where I wanted to go in life. And I feel as though I have finally set myself free.

I still have 11 more days to go until I can start reintroducing certain foods back into my diet but truthfully there are so few things I am missing. There are a slew of physical discomforts I am happy to see go and none I want to attempt to bring back into my life. My mind has felt so much clearer over these last three weeks and not only in relation to what I put into my mouth.

I have finally been able to dig in deeper and pull up the motivation I had always hoped to find. My body is being shaped into what it was meant to be by birth, not the cover of a magazine or someone else’s opinion. And I can drink black coffee with a little more ease than I used to!

I already have plans to do another Whole30 in the future, likely after the holidays, because I have gotten so much out of it already. And I am really stoked to see how I will continue to grow and move away from my tortured past and into a brighter, healthier, yummier future.

Is This All There Is?

Over the last several months of making more time and space for myself I’ve started to confront some very real concerns about my future.

I have been put in some less than desirable situations involuntarily and others, well… I dove head first into those messes. While I’ve moved on from and let go of a few things that were no longer serving me, I still have a long way to go before I’m able to look around and say,”I’m good here.”

I have a steady job which generally I like. But it doesn’t challenge me. It doesn’t push me to learn, to better myself, to believe I am capable of greatness. I have a few good friends, and they are lovely. But none I can look up to, none too ambitious, none pushing me to let go of fear and embrace all possibility.

And so I started wondering, is this all there is?

From a young age I believed in my heart I was different, and I believed I was special. I was determined to make something of myself, for myself. Success was my driving force. I knew I was smart. I knew I was creative. I just needed a focus.

The focus has come and gone in so many ways. None of which I’ve been able to cling to long enough. The years jaded me, aged me, and started to kill off my long held beliefs that I could do and be anything I wanted. I’ve gone so far into survival mode that anything other than is merely a blip on the radar.

So where do I go from here?

The future scares me. Losing my ability to learn scares me. Not being able to provide for myself or Reilly terrifies me. Some days the fear is so overwhelming I literally feel like I’m choking and cannot breathe.

Yet I soldier on.

Deep down I still know I am destined for more, far more than this. I am more than the hustling 9 to 5 grind. I am more than this environment. I am more than being someone’s secret. I am more than other people’s mistakes. I am more than my fears.

And there is so much more than this.

It all awaits me, as long as I stay in the driver’s seat.

Whole30: Day 14.

I am officially two weeks into the Whole30! Yay!

I am still very optimistic and loving this program. I’m reading the accompanying book It Starts With Food as well, and I have to say it’s been an eye opener. It’s so easy to overeat or eat non-whole foods when you don’t understand just how damaging they are to your body. I feel far more critical of what I am willing to put into my body the deeper into this book I get. Go read it!!!

My caloric intake has definitely improved, although it isn’t always easy. My workouts are improving, and my body is definitely getting stronger. While doing cardio fix this afternoon I definitely held on longer than I thought I could. I felt amazing when I finished!! Not only because I completed it without much modification but also because Reilly was there watching me. She was pushing me on and motivating me when I needed it most. Showing her how we can keep going despite being tired and how we build strength and stay determined, these are all things I do my very best to show her as often as I can. Being able to set a good example for her is important to me, and these past two weeks have given me plenty of opportunities.

My psoriasis hasn’t really been bothering me, but the other day my skin was red. It’s much better now and hopefully it continues to stay that way. That is something I am really wanting to keep at bay by eating better. I’ve had a little more bloating since I’ve been trying to eat more but not too much discomfort in that area. My sleep is still kind of awful. The lucid dreams that wake me in a panic to catch my breath are no fun but that’s a product of my overactive mind. I’m doing my best to make changes in that area as well.

I did start to experience something outlined on the Whole30 timeline this weekend: cravings for foods I used to eat. Since I increased my physical activity, dealt with a little extra frustration and also lost out on some decent sleep (coupled with that darn lingering fatigue) I started to feel lazy about cooking. I really didn’t do much of it this weekend, instead opting for really quick throw together meals. There were times when I wanted to grab a handful of this or that or finish Reilly’s sandwich instead of wasting food. It would have been so easy to give up and let myself have the junk but I didn’t. I reminded myself that I made a commitment, not only for 30 days but for the rest of my life. I wanted to feel better long term, not just for a short stint. And so I quickly snapped myself back into my new reality and grabbed something better. I made sure to keep plenty of fruit, veggies and nuts on hand. It made a world of difference. As today has gone on the cravings have decreased, and I feel mentally back on track.

It feels great to officially be over the halfway hump. It has been easier than the last time I gave it a go. I’m confident that now it will be a little bit of smoother sailing and my body and mind will continue to transform for the better.

Week 3, here I come!

Why I Go Home.

I left in a hurry the other night. I went home to a situation I didn’t want to be in in that moment. I let my emotions get the best of me for a brief minute and knew I needed to get out.

I left in search of something. A better feeling, steady ground, calm, peace. I landed amongst too many people but where I needed to be, with a cool wind stroking my face telling me there will be better days. My negative mind fought against this comfort, insisting there was no true purpose to my existence, my recovery should never have been, and the life I desire is so far out of reach it is basically impossible. But my legs carried on although my mind raced and attempted to strike me down. The sun set, the air cooled, I couldn’t get out of my head.

Then I got in my car to head back to where I didn’t want to go. There waiting for me was a tiny little voice. “I miss you,” she said. Two seconds is all it took to shatter my heart.

I went home to her. She is always why I go home.