how it really goes

I would like to start my day off strong and early, a mug of bulletproof coffee in hand as I review the day’s schedule and go over the tasks that need to be done. I begin my day, free of distractions.

As the rest of the family gets out of bed, I have breakfast waiting for them. Everyone knows what is needed to be done and we transition yet into another day. Husband goes off to work, baby does as babies do, and 10-year-old does her thing.

But of course, this is what REALLY happens.

I forgot to plug in my phone before climbing into bed last night so it died, not waking me up at 5:15 this morning. My baby managed to not wake me up either, because BOTH of us managed to somehow sleep in until 11:00. 

So I finally get out of bed, at this unorthodox late hour, with a pounding headache. My baby is lying on the bed, her happy, cheery, morning self. I find my 10-year-old watching MLP (My Little Pony). My head is pounding.

After my 10-year-old starts on what she’s supposed to be doing, I manage to guzzle down water and make a cup of coffee in between taking care of the baby and trying to work my business. It’s 12:30 by the time I put on food for myself: eggs and sausage that I don’t eat until about 1:30 after I put my baby down for her afternoon nap.

My head is still pounding. I throw back some keto energy, try to get focused. 

Baby wakes up way earlier than anticipated. I’m trying to get work done. I’m failing at welcoming the interruptions with love and grace.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old is making progress in her room.

I’m too blessed to be stressed, right? 

I spend my afternoon juggling baby and trying to work and laundry. Not much work is getting done, which makes me anxious, because we need the money I’m trying to make.

It’s at this moment I want to call my husband and tell him to fix it. Unload everything onto him. Because that’s what I’ve done in the past, to both of our detriment. 

But I don’t. I stay strong. I breathe. I pray. I wonder who I could call and talk to and then get really sad about the fact that I don’t know who I can call.

My husband hasn’t been home in the evening all week, because he’s been driving for Lyft all week, making extra money that we need. We decided TOGETHER that he should do that this week. So I’m not going to call him, unload all my trash on him, giving my stress so he feels obligated to leave what he’s doing and come home to save me.

I’ve done that before. It doesn’t help. It actually only makes things worse.

I’m in no state to try to even think about making dinner. It’s Friday night. I’ve been home all day. I was hoping for productivity, but not a lot has happened. In fact, my 10-year-old got more done that I did!

I call Papa Murphy’s.

Baby is crying. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to Papa Murphy’s anymore.

I go after I get the baby to sleep. She’ll be asleep for at least half an hour, right? I’ll only be gone for 15 minutes. Papa Murphy’s is just in town. The 10-year-old knows I’ll be right back.

So I go, praying, trying not to cry, not understanding why today is so frustrating for me, feeling anxious about money.

As I’m leaving the store with my pile of pizzas, I recognize the lady sitting on the bench. Mrs. Kathy Troll, a principal and teacher from my high school past.

The last time I saw this woman, I was single, living with my parents, and at the tail end of my fight with depression.

We catch up. And as I tell her my story, it suddenly hits me all over again that God wants me here. That this frustrating afternoon is a part of the plan. I’m supposed to be married to my husband, raising my two daughters, and working to make ends meet. This is my place, as difficult and stressful as it can be sometimes. 

It happened so quickly, I tell her. A complete 180 from the life I had. I was planning on going straight back to Taiwan, and now this.

And THIS is wonderful. This is how it really goes. 

(After such a frustrating day, I stayed up with my 10-year-old doing clay face masks and cucumber eyes while the baby slept. Because that’s just what you have to do sometimes. Make lemonade out of lemons.)

Cliche ending and out. 😉

 

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the trap of self-pity, the pressure of catching up, & the danger of making excuses

No time to read? Then listen! Click here to listen to the audio version of this post. 

Yes, that title is a…. what is that word they use these days…. doozy? Wow, I just looked that word up in the dictionary, and I actually spelled it right! I believe this is the first time I’ve seen that word in print! Anyway….

So, yes, my title is a doozy. But I was SLAMMED with a doozy of a personal epiphany yesterday, so “doozy” is officially the word of the hour (for this blog post anyway).

I. the trap of self-pity

I spent the better part of 3 years of my life trapped in depression; so, without trying to compete with anyone, I can say that I understand self-pity and the downward spiral of self-sabotage that it can start. Self-pity generates an emotional blind spot, allowing you to only notice your own pain, anger, suffering, difficulty, bad day – it doesn’t matter how minute or significant the issue. This blind spot in turn disables our own ability to reach out to others. All that to say, self-pity is BAD. 

My self-pity these days has been triggered by things I never thought would be triggers for me: people who own houses, people with kids close in age, people who have space in their homes, people who are gallivanting around the globe and climbing mountains. A pattern has emerged. My self-pity is all about other people.

It’s ironic and sad, because I’m not even focusing on myself at all, only coveting after the lives of other people; and as a result, I’m going nowhere. 

II. the pressure of catching up

In my first “Happy Thursday Live” face book broadcast, I briefly mentioned how much pressure there is in catching up. Let me expound here: catching up on dishes, laundry, reading plans, time lost doing other random things. I’ve even tried catching up in my journal before, and it takes forever! 

Somehow, I feel like my life is incomplete if I don’t catch up, and this gets me ALL MESSED UP! And here’s another thing: I’m actually pretty bad at catching because I procrastinate too much! I keep telling myself I’m gonna do it, but I make the killer mistake of waiting until I have a chunk of – I don’t know – a million hours to work on stuff. And of course that never happens. And so I never catch up.

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

III. the danger of making excuses

I just went live on facebook Thursday and went public with some struggles I’ve been having. As I was thinking about things today, it hit me that all those “struggles” were just excuses! It’s almost embarrassing now, but let me just list out these “struggles” I was sharing:

  • phone games (specifically Clash Royale)
  • feeling tired
  • not knowing where to start

Well, earlier tonight, after I put my baby to bed, I literally spent half an hour playing Clash. I decided I was sick of it. What was I doing? Of all the things I could be doing – sleep being one of them – what was I doing!!!??? So I deleted it off my phone.

There are so many ways to healthily combat feeling tired all the time – and sitting on the couch watching Netflix is NOT one of them! Unfortunately, watching Netflix just doesn’t get the dishes or the laundry done.

Let’s be honest: I know exactly where to start. I just don’t… want to… feel like it… whatever! I just don’t do it!

Excuses are dangerous because they pretty much harm all of your life goals and cause you to do nothing. 

So, now what? I’ve pretty much gone public with these things that have been haunting me ever since my life drastically changed the first time when I got married and went from single to stepmom and then drastically changed again when I went from stepmom to birth mom.

So now, I stop making excuses, having pity parties, and trying to catch up. Now, I just need to go for it. 

Because last time I just went for it…

I got a scholarship to go to a college in another state. I lived in Taiwan and became fluent in Chinese. I joined a champion dragon boat team. I ran two marathons. I married my husband and became a mom. 

There’s no more argument here. I just need to go for it. 

The Year of Integrity

 

My “bridge book” between 2015 and 2016 was Oola. That’s right, pronounced just the way it’s spelled: OOLA. The subtitle read, “Find balance in an unbalanced world.”  The subtext read “The 7 areas you need to balance and grow to live the life of your dreams.”

I have no intention of doing a book review or summary here, but I will say that this book – that the concept of Oola, rather – has had and is still having a profound influence in the way I am approaching this new year. In fact, it’s completely altered my perspective of living life.

Timing is everything, and I got this book at just the right time: at the tail end of a 3-year trek through a valley of sunshine, depression, self-pity, and pain, during which it sometimes felt like I was doing what I love but mostly felt like I was simply doing what I had to do. It was a stagnant and difficult season.

“The 7 areas you need to balance and grow to live the life of your dreams” are fitness, finance, faith, field, friends, fun, and family. In the book, these areas are actually referred to as OolaFitness, OolaFinance, etc, as they all relate to living the OolaLife. There are also Oola BLOCKERS, obstacles that get between you and your OolaLife, and Oola ACCELERATORS, the things that maximize the forward motion of you OolaLife. (All of these Oola concepts and more can be found at  oolalife.com. If you are intrigued enough to go read the book yourself, you can buy it at the Oola Store.)

One of the Oola accelerators is integrityI found this chapter of the book particularly inspiring. I suddenly saw how keeping integrity WITH MYSELF is the key to consistent self-motivation. Integrity with myself? Yes. As in, keeping my word to myself. 

How many times do you break a promise….to yourself?  Aw, next time. I didn’t get around to it today. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow. How many times have you lied…to yourself? I was gonna start working out this week but there was just no time. I have yet to read that book I said I was gonna read last month. How many times do you let yourself down? Man, I really needed to buy that, but I just don’t have enough money. I have to cancel tomorrow’s hike; too many other things came up. 

Suddenly, Oola blockers like self-sabotage and guilt made sense. I feel lousy and unreliable and therefore am not up to a challenge. My lack of integrity with myself has been keeping me not only from reaching goals, but also from setting them! Productivity, time-management, and finance-control have been serious struggles over the last few years because I haven’t been in living in integrity with myself!

In 2016, I am resolving to live with more integrity, integrity that starts with ME holding MYSELF accountable for the things I say I will do, things I want to do, things I need to do. Integrity that drives me to take  ownership of my life. 

Life happens. You can find those two words on plaques, t-shirt, coffee cups. But those two words aren’t enough. The life that was happening to me for the last three years was really not the life I wanted to live. Today, I am still not where or what I want to be. That changes now. 2016 is the year I make life happen.

Happy New Year! May 2016 be the year you make the life of your dreams happen.

DON’T FORGET: JANUARY IS READER APPRECIATION MONTH! IF YOU ARE READING/FOLLOWING/SUBSCRIBED TO THIS BLOG, I WANT TO GIVE YOU A THANK YOU GIFT. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR GIFT!

 

 

2014 in 365 words

An unbearably rough start. An incredible 26-mile victory. Facing pain and beginning a journey of letting go. Creating new memories through celebrating the Lunar New Year the local way. An involuntary sabbath. Finding stability through maintaining physical strength. 8 weeks of counseling that changed my life. Rediscovering independence through shedding unhealthy layers of dependence. Rowing with my dragon boat team to the championship. Honesty; not just with the people close to me. The emotional phenomenon of simultaneous closeness and distance and coping with it. Emotions. Reopening up my heart. Rebuilding and re-establishing community between me and other people. Practicing thankfulness as a lifestyle and releasing my hopes and expectations. Crying all the time about everything – in a good way. Completely losing control simply to find the true meaning of happiness. Making plans, finally moving towards my future after almost 2 years of dormancy. Going home and finding healing, fostering connection, loving my family. Rediscovering myself. Saying good-bye to depression. Reaching new heights. Actually completing goals. Stepping into a radically different season: working less, studying more, moving into my own apartment, a new residency status. Launching new things. Getting completely knocked off balance in the storm of transition. Regaining balance through routine, relaxation, productivity, friendship, and rest. Sifting through thoughts in search for truth that has somehow been forgotten. Re-discovering contentment and personal fulfillment through independence, spirituality, and acceptance. Enduring the sea of transition and all the pain and victory that comes with it. Writing more. Reading books again. Reviving personal tradition and making new friends. Discovering the doorway of repentance, the only way that brings one closer to God. Accepting the constancy of change. Re-embracing progress. 

And as 2014 comes to a close and the eve of yet another year is upon all of us, I realize the only clean slate any of us get comes at birth. After that, a clean slate is a choice. So in 2015, I am saying no to self-pity, no to bitterness, and no to every distraction that has ever kept me from what I REALLY want. Because this is truly the only way I can start again.

To 2015! Happy New Year, everyone.

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Toxins

Comparison is toxic. It brings about jealousy, which is like poison penetrating your bones. Once something has penetrated your bones, it affects your movement; and the way you move suddenly becomes indicative of the toxin that has permeated the system. It also keeps you from doing certain things without great anger or pain, such as smiling, saying thank you, helping other people reach their dreams, or having general happiness for you neighbor’s welfare.

The truth is, I am an invaluable individual. We all are. As soon as we start comparing one to the other, we became mere merchandise, lined up on shelves for retail. Inventory and profit take priority over uniqueness. Being different doesn’t matter, nor does being yourself; you just need to be better. You need to win.

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Mark wrote in his Gospel.

Inventory and profit, being better, winning the game – these things don’t take our souls into account. They don’t give us the benefit of the doubt. They don’t listen to the excuses: “I’m tired today so my performance was a little worse than yesterday.” “I’m busier than normal right now, so I didn’t get everything finished today.” They don’t listen to the apologies: “I’m sorry I forgot today was your birthday!” They only see the people who did remember, those who won.

This is not how human souls interact with each other. The beauty and grace of existence is that my soul is loved, no matter how good or bad a person I am at the moment. That people care for me, whether or not I show I care for them.

And if we can truly grasp the truth of our invaluable existence, all comparisons will die away. Alas, we can finally wash the toxins from our lives. 

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re-growth

She stepped back, afraid. Afraid of herself. Things she was once so confident in she now doubted. It was like she could no longer read these feelings that she had. She didn’t trust them. She didn’t trust herself. 

She hated the barricade this produced. the feeling of being cut off that came as a result. But she didn’t know what to do, how to take it down. How to reconnect freely.

She especially doubted herself when she was with him. She didn’t have any freedom anymore; progress with him felt impossible. She didn’t even know what that was supposed to look like. She didn’t know where to start.

So many things that were once there were now gone. The fire had taken everything but the roots, the basic truth that still held her reality together, the reality she now clung to for dear life. But as she experienced old things, they felt new; and this scared her. She didn’t trust the feelings they evoked.

She reached out, tried to touch what she was feelings. But she was so scared. So scared to fall back into the hole and so scared that she would end up digging another one.

It was so odd, this position. Nothing had changed around her, yet everything was completely different.

Moments

Part I

Moments.
Moments missed, moments passed, moments seized
All of them shape who we are at this very moment
A moment of hurt
A moment of triumph
A moment of shame
A moment of love
The moments we want to last forever never do
And the movements we wish would pass never do
A moment is all we ever have
And every time we don’t see that, it’s another moment wasted
A moment shared
A moment alone
A moment of stupidity
A moment of genius
We can never choose when these moments will come to us
What are we left with then, if all we have are these moments that lead us forward to the next?

Part II

When we’re in it, feelings on fire and emotion all we know,
It’s hard to believe the moment will pass.
In fact, many times it’s impossible to even believe there is life outside what were are currently experiencing.
But that is where the resilience of the human soul is stronger than you may realize.
Do not sell yourself out in the moment.
Esau’s moment of hunger cost him his inheritance as the first born son.
In the moment…
Don’t make decisions; just breathe. Let yourself experience the present intensity of your feelings.
Some moments last for seconds, others for hours, still others years. But no matter how long you find yourself with these feelings, don’t give it power.
Because the moments we experience in life do not have the last word. They don’t control our destinies. Life is bigger than the momentary happiness or sadness we experience.
We must take 4 simple words to heart. We must repeat them to each other and repeat them to ourselves: THIS. TOO. SHALL. PASS.
Say it again: this too shall pass.

Even the moments we want to last forever will come to pass. But the passing of present happiness doesn’t mean you’ll be sad the rest of your life. And the moments we feel might end us we must endure, because this to shall pass.

This too shall pass.

Whatever it is right now. THIS. TOO. SHALL. PASS.

moments

poison

It had been days now since the drug had been removed. All of the emptiness and dissatisfaction she had once been hiding and even ignoring was now revealed for what it was. The poison had deeply penetrated her soul. She writhed in pain almost every night, and it was all she could do to not cry out. 

Slowly but surely the poison was working itself out of her system. It was being driven out, and now had no way to fight back, the source having already been cut off. But it was a slow process; and as the poison diminished, she felt a new kind of pain.

It was a pain that was accompanied with memories and reminders of what once was. It was the pain of letting go. Because unless she did that, she would never be made new. She would never rediscover herself. She would never take back what was lost. 

designed

SHE WAS DESIGNED to live in union with her Maker. This union does not negate who she is; it actually makes her more fully herself. When she tries to live independently of Him, she experiences emptiness and dissatisfaction. She may gain the whole world and yet lose everything that really counts.

She must find fulfillment through living close to her Maker, yielding to His purposes for her. Though He may lead her along paths that feel alien to her, she must trust that He knows what He is doing. If she follows Him wholeheartedly, she will discover facets of herself that were previously hidden. He knows her intimately – far better than she knows herself. 

In union with her Maker, she is complete. In closeness to her Maker, she is transformed more and more into the one He designed her to be. 

**Taken and paraphrased from the book Jesus Calling


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