Why Are We Doing This

 Little over a year ago we launched this blog already asking ourselves… Why are we doing this? 

“So, here’s to learning, growing, and living in community with you and with each other as we all strive to create a more Happy Mind and Happy Home.” We three women, mom’s, friends and co-counselors are done just that. We have learned and grown with this community over the past year. We each wanted to share our reflections.

be brave

Lisa:

What a difference a year makes! Now that it has been one year since the birth of this blog, I can truly say I understand the truth of this statement. When we first began this blogging journey we asked ourselves, and each other, what is my intention? Why am I doing this? What for? My resounding answer was: personal growth.

I knew instinctively there was something waiting for me on the other side of opening up, speaking out, and sharing myself on a level I never had before; Not in this way at least. What I found right out of the gate was that my choice to be vulnerable and authentic was met with a heavy slap of fear, insecurity, and shame. It kind of sucked actually… for a little while.

After the waves of self doubt started to settle I began to experience a new sense of freedom; liberation from perfectionism, and a deep sigh of relief that when I was met with the good company of other imperfect woman such as myself. A reunion of self acceptance, support, and understanding. What a beautiful place to be.

My life this past year has been full of change and challenge. The blog gave me an outlet, a place to process, and a place to gain understanding of myself while simultaneously offering the same to others. From here my purpose in blog writing shifted from a place of personal growth to one of offering support, encouragement, and understanding to myself and our readers. This has been my growth.

I have gained new friendships and deeper friendships from finding out that it’s not about getting it right all the time, but about being REAL all the time. I am not sure where the blog will take me this next 365 days, but I do know I intend to continue on the journey of being real and encouraging you to do the same. Thank YOU for being with us. I hope you stay and find a little or a lot of encouragement, laughter, and support along the way.

be brave

Andrea:

As I sit to reflect on this first year of blogging my brain automatically starts making lists, so here are my top 3 things I have learned from blogging thus far.

1. Flexibility is an Art

When we first began this blogging journey we asked ourselves, and each other, what is my intention? Why am I doing this? What for? My resounding answer was: professional growth. My goal was to focus on my training in The Gottman Method. Writing about what makes marriage work and frankly what does not make marriage work. Well, obviously that did not happen. With all the twists of life this blog flexed in to a more personal form of growth and expression. The biggest tragedy of my almost 40 years happened this past year, losing my father. This blog gave me place to process and share through this crisis. As I have often seen through my work on the couch, crisis often is followed by change. I have enjoyed sharing the changes in my home as we have worked on a lot of redo’s and updates in the time since my father passed.

2. Vulnerability sucks

Since my original plan was to stay safe with “professional growth” I was also safe from public displays of emotional vomit. Obviously, the Man upstairs knew I needed to get in the fire more than I have been. Allowing myself the time to sit, feel, think, feel, write, feel, talk, feel, share MY stuff was at times painful, at times freeing while at times scary. BUT, I needed that. I do a lot of vulnerability selling to those on my couch, so it is better if I have a fresh dose of what I am selling. This has made me more real, inside and out.

3. Self care really is the foundation

As we started I worried about adding yet another ‘thing’ to my to-do list. And lets not be fooled, managing a blog requires a lot of time, hence why I am so thankful for Lisa and Angie going on this HMHH journey with me. I have learned that when you add the right things to your to-do list they in some ways themselves ARE self-care. Sure, this blog thing can be a lot of work, but since I was flexible and allowed this to twist into what it has organically become it does not often feel like a task on the to list. It feels more like “ahh, I have time to write tonight” or “I get to share this” and at times has been “I have to get this out of my head.” I honestly, am not sure where my emotional state would be today if I did not have this blog and my tribe by my side.

perfectly imperfect

Angie:

What a difference a year makes!

It is hard to wrap my brain around the fact that it has been 1 year since Lisa, Andrea, and I started Happy Mind Happy Home. As I was reflecting upon Why am I doing this? What for? My resounding answer was: to give a voice to other moms trying to balance being a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, what stood out to me most was the daily challenge to be mindful…..and present: for our families, selves, and friends.

My other goal was to resonant with women out there who say, “You struggle with____?” “Me too!” I have grown to tremendously love and respect Lisa & Andrea both and I can’t imagine having taken this journey with anyone else. Each of us has faced our own unique life changes and challenges. We each have faced those obstacles with a little bit of grace and a whole lot of humor….For trust me, there have been times when, if we didn’t laugh, we would surely cry….and let’s face it…never stop crying.

What strikes me most about my two friends, fellow moms, and bloggers, is the forgiveness & grace they often give me that I do not afford myself. My perfectionist tendencies often get the best of me & overcoming the unrealistic expectations I set for myself is often a daily struggle.

Therefore, it was more than ironic that near the 1 year blog anniversary, I stumbled upon this message in a devotional that was given to me by a during a particularly dark chapter in my life. It ccertainly resonated with me, and I hope it does with you too:

Here’s to everyone out there just trying to survive their journey. Have faith and know that you are fearfully and beautifully made. God is with you & so are we, as you become everything God intended you to be.

Blessings & Love…From my Nest to Yours!

Learning To Talk About Pain

I never thought I’d be someone who struggles with chronic pain

(the following entry is written anonymously by a mom in my tribe sharing about her daily battle with pain and her stepping into using her voice for healing and support)

chronic pain

I’ve always had headaches. It’s just part of who I am, and my momma used to tell me to make sure I ate well and often (as we thought they were related to blood sugar). I remember I would throw up in 5th grade due to them fairly regularly, and then I grew out of that phase. I continued just having occasional headaches, only needing ibuprofen to deal with it. Even right before becoming a mom, when I began having ocular migraines (seeing an aura prior to the headache), I didn’t need much for the pain. The pain was worse, and the vision problems were scary, but after being told it was normal, I moved on and didn’t get on a preventative medication or even use the abortive one I was prescribed very often.

My true difficulties began in February of 2017 when my kids and I all got the flu. At the time, they both needed me in the middle of the night if they woke up. My daughter was still somewhat adjusting to our family changing when we adopted our son in 2016. I did not do a great job of taking care or myself during that flu apparently. I remember not eating very well and not wanting family or friends to come over to help for fear that they’d get sick. I was doing it all myself, which was something I was comfortable with. I think I really like being the only one to take care of my kids even more than some, because I did not get the first years of their lives with them (as they were adopted as toddlers). So I tend to want to do it all, even if it’s hard, especially for the sake of our parent/child bond. It’s my privilege and my job as their mom to do it.

So about a week or so after the flu left us, I began to get a headache. I just couldn’t shake it.  My husband didn’t understand what was wrong with me because normally I got better faster from headaches or migraines. Five days later, it was worse than ever, and I asked my husband to look at a small spot on my forehead. I figured he would dismiss it, but his eyes got big and he said, “That’s shingles.”

And hence my life changed.

chronic pain

Nothing has been the same since that terrible diagnosis. It started with horrific, debilitating pain during which I thought I was dying multiple times. As a professional therapist, I eventually recognized that I was having panic attacks with the waves of intense pain, so I utilized mindfulness strategies with my pain medications. It was brutal. I thought it would be gone within a few weeks, at least.

It has now been over a year.

I don’t have the intense pain that I had during that initial outbreak when the rash was active, but I have daily, chronic pain from the horrible virus of shingles. My trigeminal nerve was impacted, so the vision in my right eye is not great and my right ear aches often. The worst thing though is my ‘pain spot’ in my head; it is a bundle of angry nerves that apparently don’t want to heal yet from shingles. Post herpetic neuralgia is nerve damage; I just have to wait and see if it will fade away or if it won’t. There are preventative medications I take for the pain now, but there’s nothing that works for the pain spikes other than ice and rest. It is different from migraines in that way. It has also interplayed with my migraines terribly, so now they are worse than they were before shingles, and I do have to take preventative and abortive medications.

chronic pain

My children are wonderful. My home and job are amazing. My husband is my biggest supporter in life. My family is always, always there for me. However, it has been the hardest year of my life. And in the past I’ve gone through things that should’ve been much more difficult in my opinion. My close people know the events that I’m talking about, both emotional and physical things. Those things should’ve been harder, and I’m a little angry that this issue is what is taking me down. Chronic pain, as I have just now claimed it for what it is, has clearly been the trial I’ve been the most humbled by.

It’s been helpful to let my shame about this go and to start talking to people about it. I mean, people knew I struggled some physically but no one knew the extent of how much this has taken over my life. I’ve been evaluating lately: what exactly do I feel so ashamed about?

Clearly, I didn’t want to get shingles, and being the 5% who maintains the nerve pain (called post herpetic neuralgia) wasn’t on my to-do list either. I can usually talk about emotional issues relatively easily, and even with infertility, I found a way to share that journey with people. With this, the pain has been so intense for so long that I’ve recently noticed I have isolated myself in some ways. I didn’t want to bring others down, constantly complaining of pain; I couldn’t stand the thought of being that negative person. I also didn’t feel good enough to talk. I am at my worst, and somehow telling everyone all about that isn’t priority.

migraines

However, I am learning. I did not choose this, just like I didn’t choose other paths that I more easily processed with family and friends. Just because post herpetic neuralgia from shingles is not as easily measured as strep throat or something- that doesn’t make it less. It is an invisible pain, people aren’t going to know anything about what I’m walking through unless I tell them. And I have not wanted to tell people. I have wanted my interactions with others to be lighthearted and not about this draining thing. I have wanted to ignore it, but it will not be ignored.

I think others with ‘invisible’ pains will know what I am talking about here; it is extremely difficult to know how much to share before I’m oversharing. It’s like opening up a dam; I don’t want to open that up to everyone I speak to. Sometimes to even ask others how they are doing is near impossible with the throbbing in my shingles spot; I am so sad I can’t even hear their answer through the gnawing in my head. I’ve never been this debilitated before, and most people have absolutely no idea I even suffer.

I’ve watched primarily my husband (& my mom) see me change. Because at the end of each day, I can finally let go, and often times that means crying with an ice pack on my head. I cry so often in the evenings that I have stopped knowing how much is the pain and how much is my medication making me more emotional.

Both things make me cry; I can’t tell anymore. I am drained entirely, and I miss being me.

Side effects from medications are hard, but not as hard as the pain. I’ve never been so vulnerable to my loved ones, and they cannot fix the pain I am constantly in. My hopelessness in those moments turns to despair and depression. I have just now begun recognizing that I do have depression, especially during pain spikes. I don’t want to be the Christian who puts all their joy in circumstances; I have always known in my mind and heart that that isn’t the right thing to do. My body, however, has been failing me; I am not sure how to go through this painful season. I certainly don’t know how to coach others on how to help me through it. Humbling to my core.

support

I recently switched doctors, and my hope is renewed. There are certain friends (& of course family) who DO know my whole story and have walked me carefully and kindly through this whole ordeal. I’ve stopped asking God when it will be over, and now I’m asking Him what His purpose is.

And so, I wrote. I write today to validate the person struggling in silence. Maybe you can’t quite figure out how to let others into your story because it’s too sad, too awful to bother other people with. Let them in. Let someone in, not everybody in. Somebody or two somebodies or even three – they will support you in moments you think you can’t go on. Suffering in silence isn’t brave. It’s not the right thing to do or the kind thing, as I once thought, no matter the type of suffering. Don’t refuse anyone into your world, however hard it is. Claim whatever season you are walking through. “Hello, my name is ******, and I have had difficult, life-altering chronic pain for over a year now.” This is me, learning to accept my season. I didn’t want this season, and I didn’t ask for this season. However I better accept it. I’ve been refusing to for long enough, and that has gotten me nowhere.

So, my first step has been to claim it, to accept it. And to talk to my people about it-with a grateful heart for their loving kindness and patience. I know I can endure the pain, as I’ve been doing so. I just pray that this season of chronic pain does not go without the ability to touch someone else’s life. I want to give this to God to do what He will with it; I want it to produce something worthwhile if that makes sense. So with that, I give you my ‘rough draft’ of this year of pain. It’s not wrapped up with a pretty bow yet. The pain is still here and wreaking some manageable havoc, both physically and emotionally. However, just knowing I’m not alone in this and that I am loved fully through this has meant the world to me. And I won’t be seeking isolation from my loved ones anymore, no matter the temptation to protect them from this. Scripture is my refuge:

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

faith

I’m praying that my Rescuer will once again rescue me from this. However, I am okay whether God brings healing or if He doesn’t.

Is it STILL Winter

Does it feel like Winter never ends?
My kids keep saying, “…It’s still Winter?….” as if they are reading my mind.

 Augh, YES it is still Winter.

Winter in my house means more video game time since it is too cold (and WET) to play outside. Winter in my house means Basketball Season, which to us is easy peasy compared to Baseball Season. Winter in my house means house projects. And house projects mean I lovingly enlist hubby to donate his muscle and power tools. Continue reading

Controlling the Christmas Chaos

 I’m not sure if my Christmas anxiety is giving my everyday anxiety anxiety but I know for sure the Christmas chaos is here!

I know I am stressed when I find myself staring at my planner and making lists of lists. I get excited when I get to move into my new planner for the upcoming year so when I noticed my 2018 planner has this month in it I quickly did the switch. I also started laying out my bullet journal for 2018, which of course meant I needed a marker upgrade.

chaos control

All the planning in the world does not stop the Christmas Chaos from trying to steal your Christmas Cheer. So with Christmas Chaos swirling in the air I am reminding myself of ways to stay sane (aside from making lists of lists).

 I am Keeping it Simple.

Yes, after convincing hubby to help me get the 10+ Christmas trees and 10+ boxes of decorations out of the attic I found myself staring at it. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t want to win the “I have the most Christmas trees in my house” award this year. For the first time in over 10 years we are NOT hosting Christmas so even more reason to keep it simple. I decided to not even put up the “BIG” tree. Settling for a pencil tree in our living room, stockings hung on the mantle and our annual pictures with the Big Guy out to see.

After a slight panic when hubby questioned if I had “underdone it” I have concluded the keep it simple theory helps my sanity this year.

I am not subscribing to all the holiday “you have toos”

I do not have to come up with the “perfect” teacher gift, I know a gift card is many times preferred. I do not have to find the pajamas for my Chihuahua that matches my boy’s Christmas morning.  Disguising my Baileys as cream is my only goal on Christmas morning. And I don’t need my Christmas lights dancing to the music, I will settle for the Grinch trying to steal my lights.

I am not over committing

With all the Sign Up Geniuses landing in my inbox the last couple weeks I have taken a step back to ask myself what I really want to commit to and what I just don’t have time to do. Sure, I will buy skittles and marshmallows for the holiday party, but I am not baking 3 dozen homemade cookies for the teacher cookie exchange. Sorry, I cannot sell yo-yos at 7am on Tuesday and I will bring the snacks to the last game of the season (in January).

I am making sure to do my favorite traditions

Our multi family gingerbread decorating party, going to see the Big Guy at Northpark, donating gifts to the local toy drive, donating to the school angel program, sprinkling reindeer food out on Christmas Eve, baking Neimun Marcus Cookies to deliver to neighbors and dear friends, sending out the annual Johnson Christmas card, baking Jesus’s birthday cake and eating Hibachi after Christmas Eve Service.

christmas choas

I am saying No

I am saying “No” to the party I really have no desire to go to. I am saying “No” to the invite to go look at the same drab Christmas lights we have seen for years. I am saying “No” to overthinking gifts for everyone. I am saying yes to the events I want to genuinely go to like our friends fabulous Christmas pajama party (so my kind of party, in my PJs!) and holiday dinner with my close girl friends.

I will find Joy in the Pain

I am reminding myself what brings me joy during the holidays, being with the ones I love the most. This is going to be difficult this year because we have an empty seat at the table since my father’s passing. He is missed. His annual trip the John Deere dealership on Christmas Eve to let the boys pick out what ever they want, his perfectly cooked meat of choice and his snide comments and snickering leading to my mom to tell him to “hush.” Amidst his absence I will focus on the joy of my family, because without him my family would not be who we are.

Truth is many struggle with emotional pains of all kinds during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. I will have grace towards the crazy driver who almost hit me while picking up my dry cleaning today. I will have empathy for the lady in my way in the aisle at Target. I will have compassion for the new client on the couch who is dreading sitting across the dinner table from her mother who will never really know her.

My wish for you is to keep it simple, stay with your truth, and don’t over do it.

Remember the “Reason for the Season.”

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

 

On The Road Again

Make New Friends But Keep the Old. Those Are Silver, Old are Gold. Girls trip to La Jolla, CA.
Friendships have been on my mind a lot lately....

Probably because last weekend we said goodbye to a beloved member of our mom tribe. She is moving to Houston and taking her cute hats, her humor, and piece of all of our hearts with her.

The “big girl panties part of me” knows that we are not really saying goodbye, but rather, see you soon. The “pull-up” part of my heart says, knowing that doesn’t make it any less painful.

Old times with Golden Friends!

Saying goodbye to friends is not exactly new territory but it did get

me thinking about my mom’s take on friendship. She shared her wisdom with me a few years ago, when I was mourning the loss of another friendship.

“In life, there are there are both road friends and heart friends. In your lifetime, will have many road friends, but you’ll be lucky to have even a handful of heart friends…those are the important  ones.”

. “How will I know the difference?” I asked.

“If I throw my whole heart into most of my friendships (which I do), aren’t they all heart friends?”

“Road friends,”she said, “are the ones you’ll meet along your journey through middle school, motherhood and midlife. They will make life a little less lonely for a time. They will share memories and mimosas, midlife madness, and more. You’ll find yourself drawn to them because you’ll share something in common; kids, summer camps, careers, and kindness. They will love you dearly and you them; for a time. They will fulfill their purpose in your life and you in theirs.”

“There may or may not be a dramatic ending, no break up or blow up. Just as you looked up one day and they were there, you may look up one day and they’ll be gone.”

It’s being ok with the later that I’m struggling with lately.

And heart friends? “Well, it will take years sometimes before you know which ones those will be. They will be the ones who will come into your life and never leave. You may not see them for months at a time, not talk to them as often as you would like, and then one day you’ll need them and they will be there. They will call you to check on you, be there in a crisis, and invest their time and energy in loving your kids as though they are their own. The two of you will pick up right where you left off and then you’ll understand that this one was meant to stay. It took me 43 years to finally start recognizing the difference between the two….

Pay attention to those who reach out to you, not just when they are in need, but when you are. They will make an effort to be a part of your life; not matter how busy they may be in their own.

Heart friends are sometimes miles away, but often closest in your heart.  So here’s to road friends and heart friends & to the wisdom & insight to know the difference. Thanks to both for making the journey more fun.

Grieving is A Process

The following post is from a precious member of my tribe, who tragically lost her brother recently. She was brave enough to share the following:

 

I wrote this social media post in March 2017 after finally acknowledging that I was in a process of grief about the death of my younger brother. I say “a process”, but really it is MY process. Because mine is different from yours, or anyone else’s. Just like every life and every fingerprint, loss is as individual as the person grieving.
Since I wrote this, I have had countless blessings. And my moments of happiness stretch further and further each week. I am still sad, but empowering myself enough to acknowledge it, has given me the room and time to find joy again too.

“Please forgive the length of this post. I have been feeling a tug inside of me to share these words, so perhaps there is someone else who needs to read them. Or perhaps I just need to let them out.
Sometimes it feels like grief for the loss of my brother Daniel is an unwelcome guest in my heart. It is very polite & doesn’t make too much of a mess most days. But I would still prefer for this grief to move on.
February 2nd was the first day since January 17, 2017 that I felt joy for a moment. And then moments free from grief and sadness began stretching out a little bit each day. But sometimes, grief will pop up and spin my head around so hard it hurts.
I know that so many before me have traveled this path after losing their own brothers, sisters, parents, children, spouses and dear friends. And I know that as broken as my heart is right now, God is slowly putting it back together the same way he has put together all of the others before mine. God is granting me the strength, blessings and peace to journey on to the point where Dan’s life becomes more bright in my mind than his death.
So my strength right now is only borrowed.
Because when I arrive at the fork at the end of this path, and when the grief in my heart has eased into something more bearable, I will look at this journey I have taken and see His footprints behind me.
So I am going to stay in my sadness for awhile longer. But through His Grace, and with the support of the amazing people I am blessed to call family and friends, this grief inside my heart is slowly being healed.
I have so much gratitude for the love, messages, prayers and laughter everyone has sent my way. Thank you!”

Friendship: Comes in Different Shapes and Sizes.

Friendship. What is friendship, really? According to Merriam Webster, friendship is defined as:

One attached to another by affection or esteem; A favored companion.
There are many definitions actually but I liked this one. I’ve had friendship on the brain because, well, I think about friendship, often. In a longing way. A gratuitous way. A confused way. So, I’m finding these definitions helpful in shedding a little light on what friendship is, and what it isn’t.

Continue reading