Sunday Storytelling-Be Happy Where you Are

This is a post I wrote about two years ago, and for some reason, I have been thinking a great deal on this subject lately.  Maybe one of you can relate.  Enjoy!

When I was 20, I went on a spiritual retreat.  One day, we were told to be silent.  No talking and on our own as much as possible.  We could eat together, but no talking.  Everyone must remain silent.  We were trying to listen for God’s voice.  Well, I do not know about you guys, but quieting my mind is more difficult than not talking.  I think about everything and worry about more than I should.  When someone says try to listen for God, I freak out.  My mind begins to think constantly about why I do not hear His voice.

Even at age 20, which is almost 20 years ago, I felt this way.  I would like to say that things have changed, but with my anxiety, it has not.

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So that morning, I decided to take a walk.  Our retreat was up in the mountains, next to a beautiful stream with many,many wild flowers.  Oh it was gorgeous!  So I knew I wanted to hike along the stream to look for a place to sit and try to listen.  As I began my walk, I would see the best places to sit and ponder, but they were already taken.  I would get mad and say to myself, “Everyone else has the best place, why can’t I have the same spot?”

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The further I would walk, the more I realized that all the great spots were taken.  Why couldn’t I find a spot like everyone else had?  Why did they get all the good stuff?  Now I was about a mile and a half into my hike, and I was getting so frustrated.  I wanted to hear from God damnit, and I couldn’t because everyone else had the perfect spot. The interesting thing is, I did not turn around and go back, I just kept walking.  I came to a dead spot in the walk where everything seemed to be brown and crunchy.  I became even more mad and actually began yelling at God, as to why he talks to everyone else but me.  Why does he give good gifts to all the others, but me, I get a dead spot?

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Still, I walked.

And walked.

Suddenly, the trail opened up into a huge green meadow.  The meadow was lush, green beautiful, and colorful with newly blossomed wildflowers.  And I realized that God had spoken all along.  And it is a lesson that I have needed to be reminded of.

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The lesson is that I spend a great deal of time looking at other people and what they have.  Not possessions, but family, friends, spiritually.  I get frustrated and wonder why I cannot have what they have.  Why do I get to keep walking?  Why do I have the crunchy dead spots?    But in reality, I do have the most lush green beautiful life. I may have to walk and walk to get there.  I may have to go through the nasty stuff, but when I come out of it, I have beauty.  I have to focus on the beauty in the journey as well, and be happy for the people who are in there beautiful spots.  You see, they had to go through nasty stuff to get there.  I just do not know their story.

Instead of dwelling on what others have and what I do not, it is time to remind myself to be happy for them.  Love them and know that what they have been through to get there has been just as difficult or more so than what I have been through.

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Your time is coming, just keep walking.

Love,

Suzy

Summer

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(Pictures were taken after a huge storm in which we swear we saw a funnel cloud!)

This summer, we have tried to make a conscious effort to take things slowly.  To enjoy summer and savor it with our children.  So often, we associate this with doing less.  I look forward to summer every year because school is out, we can choose activities that are fun and free, we are not bound by too many activities and we can sit around and savor.  But it seems every summer, our schedules still get filled, we still run around and scheduling too many activities does not happen intentionally, it just somehow happens.

I have come to realize that it is not so much the activities as the state of mind.  I get to enjoy the rain, which we have had quite a bit of in drought stricken west lately.  I get to watch my kids play outside until dark as they play “nighttime” games with the neighbors.  I get to read until late hours instead of just plain not sleeping.

There will always be lots of things to do.  Life will happen as will things that we have no control over.  But we do have control of what we think and feel about our business.  We can enjoy the summer and take things slowly.  We can, and we are.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer.  It is getting hot here now, and the rain is slowing down.  The mosquitoes are bad, but we are taking advantage of summer nights!

Looking forward to seeing how you are choosing to celebrate summer.

Love,

Suzy

Our Everyday-Moving Slowly Along

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Just keep shuffling away.  That is all one can do sometimes.  And so we do and are.  We are working hard on finishing the school year.  Since my kids are attending an online school, they must finish a certain percentage by the end of May. This can be a little stressful, but it does teach them about deadlines.  I will be continuing their science, math and reading through the summer with a more laid back and fun atmosphere.  It has been a crazy school year with travelling, but the kids are doing great and it looks like we will be home schooling again next year.  The only thing different will be the online school.  We will be transferring them to a school in which they will actually be attending class, seeing their teacher and discussing with fellow students.  I am kind of excited to see where the online school community is going.  We will also be going to a co-op.  I am helping five other women put together a co-op for next year.  I am truly excited about it as it will be a non religious co-op.  All faiths, all people home schooling people welcome.  There has been a huge response to this already which shows a need in the area!

In other news I am shuffling along at spring cleaning my home.  I have gone through almost every closet, and purging!  I am amazed by all the room we have now!  I will post some redo’s later this week.  I will be putting together a yard sale and in turn putting the money towards Betty!

I keep thinking how there is nothing big or important that I am doing in my life.  I see others making a difference, and I want to do the same.  But I realized yesterday that it is the little things, the simple choices we make every day that make even bigger impact on this world.  Like home schooling, and trying to teach the kids what it means to be a family.  How to help others.  Cleaning out our house so that we are not burdened by what we have.  Making these smaller choices, this shuffling along day by day will grow into a huge deal.  Isn’t that important?  I think so.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Love,

Suzy

Depression and Hope

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I decided long ago when I began sharing with you about my journey with depression, that I would be willing to share with you the difficult times.  I think you guys could tell when I started writing on my blog again that it had and is a difficult time.  Part of me is scared to write about depression because I think that others see it as a weakness instead of a sickness.  I am nervous about how others will treat me because they see it as a weakness, they will treat me as weak.

I am not weak, I just have moments in which it is extremely difficult to get out of bed.  Like when I am sick.  The good thing is, I have kids that I home school, so I must get out of bed.  The day goes well, then nighttime settles in, and I am a wreck again.  I cry, I get angry with myself, my husband hugs me, I become nervous that I am keeping him up, he hugs me again. And so the story goes.

I have been keeping a list of gifts from God.  The list was inspired by Ann Voskamp and her book called One Thousand Gifts:A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  At first I had a tendency to write down only the big stuff.  You know what I mean, home, car etc.  But writing gifts requires one to look closely at all the little things around.  When I go for walks, the gift is not only outdoors, but the black and red bird that flew past my trail.  The sun peaking from behind the cloud.  How excited my kids are when I return.  This list has helped me tremendously in seeing everything the good and the bad as a gift from God.  The bad being this darn depression.  The depression that is causing me to see the love my husband has for me.  How many hugs my children, who do not know how severe the depression is, want to give me in one day.

Not only the list, but the fact that since I got off the medication, which I had to do in order to test hormones, I have realized that it is okay to ask for help from them and from others.  I have recently taken steps to talk to a therapist, and if it requires getting back on medicine, so be it.  I do not want my kids to ever, ever think that I could have done something about this and never did.  I want them to know that their mother is strong and a fighter.  I want them to know that I am someone who can see the good in every situation.  I want them to know that I am willing to work through it.

Most importantly I want my husband to know how much I love him and I am so thankful for him just hugging me.

If you are going through a low point, you are not alone.

Love,

Suzy

Take it a Day at a Time

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Yesterday was a bad day.  No really, a bad day.  The kind of day that makes you wonder if your new year is doomed.  I am not being dramatic.  I even had to go to the police station!  Thankfully, everything ended on a good note, we were not in any danger, and we could actually chuckle about it.  Very small chuckles, but chuckles.  If you want me to go into detail, too bad, still feeling like an idiot.

I woke up this morning with a sense of anxiety.  If you have not been here long, I have struggled with anxiety for a few years.  I have not experienced this type of anxiety for a while.  Feeling like this day was ruined from the start. Wondering what the year holds.  Too many questions.  So I began my quiet time.  I have just taken the challenge of reading through the Bible in a year,  and I wanted my mind off of myself.  During this time I realized that I do not have to wonder, be embarrassed, condemn myself for every stupid mistake.  I just have to take it day by day. Will I automatically stop doing all those things?  Absolutely not, but if I choose to wake up and read, look outside and admire the gift that is given, focus on others and not myself, slowly my negative views will change.  No this is not my “New Year’s Resolution”.  It is something that I must take day by day.  Wake up and choose to see joy.

Notice how I am using the word choose?  Because that is what joy is.  It is a choice.  For me I can wallow in my own anxiety or I can choose to focus my mind on joy, on others.  Not an easy task for anxiety sufferers, but a task none the less.  No task worth doing is ever easy, but it must be done.

I choose this day to be a good day, even with the struggles.

Have a great day everyone!

Love,

Suzy

Taking it as Slow as I Can

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Life moves quickly. Kids grow up too fast.  But I cannot make either of these go more slowly no matter how much I want to.

Instead, I am trying to be in the moment more.  Take notice of the funny things my kids say, which by the way is all the time.  Truly listen to them and not crush their dreams.  Sit down and watch that football game with my husband.  I like football, just not his choice in teams.  Sit and look someone in the eyes as they confide in me. I have a habit of thinking of all the things I need to get done while someone is talking.  Putting my phone down, and seeing what goes on around me.  I have taken Facebook off my phone because it was too distracting.

By trying to slow down in the moment, I have realized what I have missed.  Life.  Not life seen through small updates, but conversations.  Moments that I can savor. Relationships that I can nurture.

The photo above is an example of what I would have missed if I were focusing on the crazy traffic.  The drivers around were cutting people off and I almost fell into the crabbiness of the evening rush.  My kids were talking about their Karate class, and I caught myself getting irritable with them. They had nothing to do with the traffic, they were not even aware of how the people in front of me were missing the green light because they were being nice and letting others merge.  Oh, that drives me crazy.  Can’t they see I want to get home.  As I stopped at the same light for what seemed the hundredth time, I became aware of the awesome sunset.  The realization that I will not always have the chance to hear my kids talk about the fun they had, and see such an amazing sight.  The photo is not great, but the moment will be forever etched in my mind.

Have a great Monday and a wonderful week everyone.  Take it as slow as you can.

On Being a Stay at Home Mom

SAHM- a clever way of making this a professional vocation.  At least this was what I used to think.  When I was a working mom, I felt such prestige.  I could work, take care of my kids, and cook dinner  all in one day.  People would be amazed that I worked with middle school kids all day, and then take care of such a well-behaved family.  I found pride in being the great working mother.  So much pride that I began to think this is what I was.  This was who I am, a working mom, who could do it all.  My identity.

(Look at how little they were!)

Then we got our third, and my whole perfect working mommy world came crashing down.

(This was a bike helmet she had received, and she did not realize she needed to take it out of the box before putting it on her head.  This girl makes me laugh!)

When one adopts an older child, one adopts all of the baggage that goes along with the child.  And depending on what the child has already been through, it can be so very, very tough.

I thought I would continue to work, but we realized, after a year, that I could no longer continue working.  Our sweet little girl had just been through too much in her four years.  Abuse, leaving her country, taking care of other little kids, coming to a new country in which she did not know the language, and then suddenly having to listen to some blue-eyed blonde haired person who called herself her mom!

My identity was so wrapped up in the working mom syndrome, that I could not see past myself.  In fact when I quit working, I realized just how wrapped up I had been.  I went through major depression!  My life was now filled with taking kids to school, and spending a whole day with one who constantly screamed how much she hated me and taking her to therapy.  I was now consumed with how much of a failure of a mother I was.

Is anyone else noticing a theme here?  Do you notice all of the “I’s” and “Me’s”?  You see, I had become so consumed in myself and how I was feeling, that I forgot to think of others, especially my family.  How was my little girl adjusting?  How were my boys adjusting?  Oh and how is my husband and my marriage going?

This year has been difficult.  Being a SAHM is difficult, but I am slowly coming to the realization that being a SAHM is not my identity.  Being a SAHM is molding me into a person who reaches out, who thinks beyond myself and is more in tune with happiness, pain, and needs.

I begin each day with prayer for strength to listen and to love.  I fail, but I realize that this does not make me a failure.  It makes me human, and guess what I am still loved and able to love.

Have a great day everyone!

Love,

Suzy


“The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious  hours, even in a poor-house. The setting sun is reflected from the  windows of the alms-house as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the  snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a  quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”

~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden