Baby Steps to Whole Health

…steady is as steady goes.

On Empathizing Loss

Friends, today my grandmother passed away. And while I am sorrowful for my own loss, my deepest, saddest sorrow comes from knowing that today, my mom lost her mom.
A few days ago, I called my mom. I called her because I was entering new parenting territory, and I needed to know how she did things when I was younger, so I could determine how I would do things for my kids now.
“I’m texting because Easter is almost here and now we have a teenager who knows the Easter Bunny isn’t real. What should I do? When did you stop hiding our baskets? What did you put in them when we were too old for bubbles and chalk? Just candy? ” I asked.
Her response? “I stopped hiding baskets when you moved out. You can get him a sketch pad or some sunglasses, anything really. Just something.”
Now, while I do have a great immune system, I do not have an amazing memory. Can you believe I had to ask my mom what to put in my teenager’s Easter basket?! Can you believe she hid baskets until I moved out?!
Anyway, all that aside, even knowing my mom doesn’t need her mom for teenaged parenting advice anymore, I’m still just SO SAD that my mom doesn’t have a mom living on earth anymore. No mom to call and say, “Hey, I’m frustrated and having a bad day,” and receiving unconditional support and encouragement through the phone lines.  No mom to call and share accomplishments with – my own or my children’s. No mom to just call up to make feel special, to say, “Hey, I was just thinking of you…” The mom who listens to your sorrows and your joys, who gives you good advice and loves you even when you fail to take it; who sees your need and does her best to fill it; the mom who sacrificed in her own way to provide for you, who continues to sacrifice in the hopes of leaving you a legacy…
I cannot even imagine, nor do I want to, the day that the thought
of a phone call crosses my mind, yet it’s no longer an option. I am so very, very sad for the loss of my grandma, but mostly, I’m heartbroken for my mom and her sisters.
May you hold on to the good memories and the good advice of your mothers – biological, adoptive, surrogate or otherwise, friends; and if you haven’t yet suffered the loss of your own mom, may you grow in empathy for those who have.

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Where I’m (already) at, Part 3

Today is the final part of letting you all know where I’m at in each area, so as we know we likely have a similar starting point in which to work toward whole health.

I’ll start with relationships. I’m talking about relationships outside of the family circle, those things called friends. I’m not a terribly social human being, I’m not usually the first to strike up a conversation and I kind of like having my kids as an excuse to leave a conversation – or a distraction to keep me from looking lonely. I have a couple of good friends, but I can honestly say I don’t place as much priority on maintaining them well as I’d like. I have 3 or 4 good friends in Arizona, but phone calls are few and far between, if at all, and really, they’re more ‘Facebook Friendships’ now that I’ve moved. I also have a friend in Canada, and we do a girls weekend once a year – she will be visiting me this winter sometime! Otherwise, our relationship is relegated to BlackBerry Messenger. When I do find a good friend, I do think that I AM a good friend, offering help in times of need and investing in the things that are important to them (going to the candles and bags and cooking supplies parties type of investment). Since I’ve been in Georgia, we had a car break down, and since my husband needs my car to get to and from work, I really don’t get out much, so we haven’t had the chance to try to meet people and go to library story hours and such. That’s not to say I haven’t tried otherwise – my daughter made a friend and started hanging out with her, so I invited her mom to breakfast and we’ve begun to spend time together on occasion. I don’t foresee any options of getting out in the near future to make more friends, so going to library story hour and chatting up another mom isn’t an option as a baby step at this time. I don’t even know what to do as a baby step in this area, but I do know that maintaining relationships outside of the family unit is important to whole health, so I’ve got to come up with something! Suggestions will be considered until I come up with something!

I could title the finances section “My Kids Have More Money Saved Than Me”, because it’s true, they do. They do because when we started paid chores, I made them create a goal, and 50% of their earnings each week have to go into their savings jar until they reach the goal. If they decide to put more than 50% in, they aren’t allowed to take it out. The reason I made this rule is because we’ve tried paid chores in the past and they would spend all of their money on junk toys and candy, and then be disappointed that they didn’t have enough to buy something that they would have rather had. I’m hoping to instill the value of saving, as well as some consumer consciousness in their spongy little brains. Back to my own financial health – we are FAR from rich (no rich-white-girl privilege talk on this blog!) My husband works full time and is the sole provider for our family of 6, which includes a 13 year old boy. I know there’s only one direction our food budget is heading!! My present way of budgeting is to pay all the bills when we get paid, and whatever is left over is what’s available for food, gasoline, and any extras we may need. We still live paycheck to paycheck. We rent our home but would like to buy eventually, and preferably a place with some land (so I can have a big vegetable garden, of course!) We do have some credit card debt that we built up over the move, which we’re now working on paying off. We do generally live by the ‘don’t buy what you can’t pay for’ rule, as we’ve struggled through creditor phone calls before in the past and learned our lesson. Up until this summer, we had been debt free since 2009. It bothers me very much to owe anyone anything, so I work quickly to get things paid off. What isn’t paid off on these cards before tax season, will be paid off with our tax returns. About 10 days ago I started logging and tracking all of our expenses on an Xcel spreadsheet in the hopes that I’ll get a good idea of where we’re spending our money and ways that we can save instead. My baby step in this area will be to continue logging our expenses and to go over them each week to see where we could be saving. I will also open a savings account and start contributing something to it each paycheck.

That concludes my synopsis of where I’m starting in each area. A quick review of the baby steps in each area: Spirit – continue with the short Bible study I’m reading (10 minutes a day). Mind – continue reading the books I got at the library for at least 10 minutes a day. Family – spend at least the first immediate 10 minutes with my husband when he gets home. Body – continue with logging food, yoga for 10 minutes, and choose water over coffee after the first cup or two. Relationships – still need to spend some time brain storming on this one! Finances – Open a savings account and put SOMETHING in it each paycheck.

How about all of you? Have you done a mental inventory of where you’re at and decided on a baby step in each area to work on?

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Balancing the Whole Self

I’ve tried blogging a few times. I never completed one and invited friends and had readers who followed me. My heart wasn’t in it. I had too many unrelated ideas and couldn’t bring them together under one roof to make a sensible focused blog. So again, I will try.

As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve realized the necessity for balance in my life. I’m an all or none girl, which I suppose can be a good thing, but it’s not ALWAYS a good thing. Every time I attempt a goal or activity, every other part of my life suffers at my absence. If I determine I’m going to lose weight, my mind and my day are consumed with planning and tracking and logging and exercising. If I determine I’m going to get the house in order, my mind and days are consumed with noting (and then doing) all of the little things that no one notices (baseboards, tile grout). I spend money buying things created for a specific job (ceiling fan duster!) rather than buying something that can get more than one job done. And then in two weeks, I’m burnt out, bored of cleaning, and I find something new, and then the clean house once again falls into a horrible state of disaster. In each goal obsession, the rest of my life suffers. For me, balance is necessary, and it isn’t easy to come by. But balance is part of whole health, because if I’m focused only on cleaning things, I’m not eating well, and if I’m focused only on eating well, I’m not feeding my mind, and so on.

My goal (let’s not get obsessed here!) with this blog is to share the small steps I’m taking in each part of my life to achieve balance, and with that, whole health. I read so many articles written by people who seem to have already ‘arrived’. They’re at their peak physicality and are sharing with us HOW THEY GOT THERE. And it seems hard. They saved $1000 in a year and they want to show us HOW THEY DID IT. We don’t get to see the walk, just the after effects and how it has created a perpetual fling forward into great successes. For me, today, I’m not there yet. I’m barely beginning (it’s been a long time coming – lots of thought over the past year!) this portion of my journey. I don’t have the eating habits I’d like to have, I don’t feed my spirit the way I would like, I don’t have the amount of money I’d like to have saved, and I don’t pour into relationships they way I would like. My recipes are STILL little bits of paper thrown in a drawer, my meal planning is another of those obsessions that gets tossed to the wayside when other things get in the way.  I would like to achieve a healthy balance of care taking in my mind, family, spirit, body, relationships, and finances. I’m sure there are more areas, but for now, it’s a place to start.

Tomorrow, I have planned to share where I’m at already, so you all may know where I’m starting from.

Maybe we could walk through this together. Take baby steps together. And while we’re in the journey, we can encourage each other and watch the baby steps outward become a balanced life. Will you join me???

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