Disappearing Act

I was rereading my most recent post, from almost six months ago, and if I had only known then how my life would change, on the very next day…..

The day after that post, I found out that was (very unexpectedly) pregnant with my third child, a “surprise.” I was terrified.

In addition to that, on that very same day, other more personal changes occurred, and everything I had planned in my life crumbled in my hands. My Plan A dissolved. We weren’t even on Plan B, or Plan C. We found ourselves on Plan Z.

Suddenly, I had to shift goals and priorities. I had to work harder to rebuild and strengthen what my husband and I readily admit was a struggling marriage. I lost individuals in my life that I loved dearly. My future, my dreams of happiness, of returning to graduate school…everything changed. Nothing was what it used to be, and it only took 24 hours.

But, you know what? Even the darkest, most terrifying storms in our life can lead to renewed ground to stand upon.

For a while, I lost myself in the tempest of that storm. I forgot who I was, where I belonged, that I mattered. I felt ashamed of past decisions, loathed myself, felt myself overcome with bitterness, hurt, and anger. I was overwhelmed. I simply didn’t feel good enough.

But, this is where I am now, after the storm….

My husband and I are making changes and accomplishing goals that we never thought we could tackle together, at least not easily. It’s a long road, but we’re taking that road step by step, solid.

I’ve learned to let go of those who treat me poorly, who don’t have my best interests at heart, who don’t love me, who hurt and use me.

I’ve embraced the third chance I’ve been given to be a mother, and I’m anxiously awaiting the birth of another wonderful daughter, and all of the cuddles, the bonding, the sweetness that a new baby will bring into our lives (I’m still not a fan of the idea of sleep deprivation, but we’ll manage).

I’ve refocused on new priorities, and have centered my life around my family and home, and less on selfish pursuits.

I am (slowly) learning to forgive myself.

I’m bonding with my children in ways I never expected as they grow and learn every day. My four year old tells me every day, “You are my friend,” and I feel so blessed, so humbled, so inadequate.

I very nearly lost myself to the disappearing act of guilt, depression, and pain, and yet, here I am, having weathered the storms in my life, still on the path, finding my way, one day at a time….

Here’s hoping I stay on said path, and that I can fully find myself again.

 

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I am a creature of habit. I like routines. I need to-do lists and schedules. I generally order the same meals in restaurants, wear the same standard ensemble every day (jeans and a basic shirt, with a possible hoodie, and tennis shoes or Chucks), and I’m more comfortable with familiar friends instead of mingling with new people. I crave comfort foods in times of stress. I read before bed every single night. I don’t like change.

Yet, this aversion to the new and the unsettling has led to a lack of confidence within me, in many ways, and for many years. When you fear change, it’s easy to grow scared and nervous when encountered with something different or outside of your comfort zone. You lose out on chances to try something special, to meet great individuals, to make necessary (and potentially wonderful) changes in your life.

So, I’ve been on a mission to shake things up a bit.

I took a yoga class this week. I’m terrified of group athletic settings. It brings back memories of always being picked last in high school gym class (and middle school gym class, and elementary school gym class…..). I’m self-conscious about my post-baby body, and I’m definitely not in the physical shape that I want to be (though I am losing weight, which brings me some happiness). And you know what? Yes, I was exhausted after ten minutes, and yes, I might have knocked over a display rack while trying a difficult position (the class was held in a small local shop), and yes, I’m a bit sore two days later. But, I felt so exhilarated afterward, so proud of myself, and I’m desperate to go again.

I wore a dress to my grandfather’s funeral today. I haven’t had the confidence to wear a dress in years. YEARS. I wanted to make an effort, to break the “hoodie” cycle. Originally, I wanted to walk into the store, buy some jersey knit maxi skirt and a t-shirt, and call it good. But, I found myself gravitating toward the dress racks, and I ended up in the fitting room trying on “real” dresses. Dress shopping, and trying on clothes in general, is torture, absolute torture. But, by the end of it, I had a new dress, new pumps, and all of the “trimmings” that needed to go with them. And I want to buy more dresses after the reaction I received wearing it.

The thing is, these little things have boosted my confidence more than I can say. It’s like a chain reaction–one thing different and new leads to another, and another…… It is my hope that the small things can lead to bigger changes–the courage to conquer my financial situation, to do what makes me happy (even if it’s terrifying or stressful), the desire to live a simpler life, to broaden my horizons.

This isn’t high school gym class anymore. I can’t treat life like it still is.

Back on the Path

It’s been so long since I’ve posted here.

I have a problem with goals and dreams. See, I throw myself into them, as a rule, almost to a fault. When I started this blog, and I saw (slight) success when it comes to interest and readership, suddenly I wanted to do ALLTHETHINGS. Everything from scratch, mending, making do, doing with less, all natural, all local. I wanted to turn the blog into a networked business–advertisements, product reviews, classes in the community, affiliate links, obsessing over Facebook likes and shares. ALL. THE. THINGS.

And you know what? I lost the joy for it. I became exhausted. I can’t do it all. I lost my therapeutic outlet, my desire to share my story, stumbles and all. This blog is supposed to be about my path to self-reliance and a more natural, simple life. Turning it into my obsession wasn’t me, and it wasn’t what it was supposed to be about.

In addition, there were struggles and adjustments in our personal lives as a family. My husband was laid off for six months. We both started new jobs. I switched from a part time job to a full time job which was a career change for me. I’m contemplating going back to school. I’m potty training a reluctant three year old. I’ve been reminded that marriage and parenting are really, really difficult jobs, and it’s not always easy navigating the challenges. I simply couldn’t do it all.

Some things I haven’t been as diligent in maintaining. Our finances still need work. I don’t have time to cook at home as often as I would like, and when I am home, I’m too tired to want to do it all from scratch. My house is an unorganized mess and is chaos. I’ve lost almost forty pounds due to a number of factors, but still find myself lacking a true workout regimen. Natural medicine and remedies have frequently given way to conventional treatments, so I’m trying to learn a balance there.

In other ways, I’m meeting goals and making changes. We still support as many small businesses as we can. We buy much of our meat and produce from local farms. I do exercise, even if it isn’t as consistent as it ought to be. We’re renewing our CSA this season. I feel like I am a more patient parent who yells less and tries to understand my little ones more and their motives and feelings. I still use natural skin care products when possible, still try to clean with healthier, less toxic alternatives when able. It’s a balance. I’d rather be consistent with a few things than fail at trying to do it all.

And there are the victories. I have been under the weather for a week or so, and we still managed to go strawberry picking as a family for 45 minutes, and ten pounds of berries later….. These are the moments that matter. It’s the little things and moments that add up to a true lifestyle change, and not obsession and extremism.

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What Falls By the Wayside

So, if you asked me what my goals were as of, say, a year ago, they would have sounded something like this:

–Get out of debt, and spend as little as possible.

–Eat healthier, consume more “real foods” and less processed junk.

–Eat in more and buy take out less often.

–Learn to fix, to mend, to do more from scratch.

–Figure out a cleaning routine and organize all of the chaos that is the clutter in my house.

–Be more patient with my little ones.

–Figure out what I truly believe in (I’m in a bit of a religious/spiritual crisis, if you will).

–Pottytrain my toddler.

Yeah, so these things aren’t going so well.

This wannabe homesteader, do-gooder, “simplify, simplify” sort of mama has gone off the rails a little bit between working more than I am used to with little ones in the home, plus trying to support a husband through a months-long job loss.

“Get out of debt?” Ha. I’m happy that we haven’t accumulated more than a small amount of new debt since the lay-off. In fact, I’m simply content to get the bills paid. And trust me, when we do have a little extra money, that shopping twitch that I have suffered from my whole life turns into a hellacious urge, and I then find myself knowing all of the cashiers at TJ Maxx on a first name basis.

Eating healthier and cooking more meals at home is a joke, too. On one hand, we keep a fair amount of fruits and veggies in house, but it’s simply finding the time, and the energy, to do anything with them. I mean, seriously, do I really want to make pesto from scratch, or slice countless veggies, or cook ANYTHING after a long day at work, when the pizza guy totally delivers?

Fixing things and learning how to do things from scratch? Again, time and energy.

My cleaning and organizational routine is still having our housekeeper on speed dial. That is another expense I have refused to cut.

My patience with my little ones has increased only because I have mastered the art of bribery. See, I’ve always been a big believer in bribes (“bwibery” was one of my son’s first words, and I am NOT kidding), but I find myself offering up Skittles and Peanut Butter M&Ms just to get the adorable little boogers into bed at a halfway decent hour. When in doubt, negotiate–that seems to be this #1 mom’s M.O. of late, and it’s worked, for the most part.

I don’t even know where to begin with spirituality and religion. It’s hard to even find faith in much of anything when your hard working husband was let go from a job he was devoted to for years because of some gluttonous, foolhardy corporation’s bottom line.

And pottytraining my toddler? Let’s just say that bribery doesn’t work with someone who thinks it’s AOK to play in cat litter, who only answers to the siren song of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and who is firmly convinced that the potty is a hat. NOT. GOING. WELL.

And I don’t even know what to say, really, about any of it. I don’t know whether to be frustrated with myself for basically starting our lives over again from scratch (because little in our lives right now is stable or totally secure), or whether to say the hell with it and that this is entirely normal. Someone, somewhere is going to read this and think that these things are just so easy, and even easier to do or learn when your family goes down to one part-time income (“Well, this is the perfect time to learn to do such and such, to figure out how to spend less, etc.”). The thing is, it’s not. Each of those little goals of mine has become all the more difficult. I thought a job loss would propel me to a more simple life by default, but it’s just made everything all that much harder. I’m too tired, too worn out, too stressed, and sometimes, honestly, too apathetic. Feeding the kids Crazy Bread with their pizza dinner, and calling a housekeeper once a week falls into the “pick my battles” realm–is it worth adding more stress to worry about each “mistake” I make, or is it better to eliminate what stress I can, even if it means diving into processed foods and putting aside goals?

One thing I’m doing well in is finding a workout routine. I’ve never been much into formal exercise, even if I have tried repeatedly and failed, but this summer, I’ve found a system, a routine, and a schedule that works for me, and I’m shedding pounds, between that and the lack of appetite (stress related, I’m sure). So there’s one thing I’m doing kinda okay with, in spite of myself.

Everyone’s gotta do one thing well, right?

 

A Different Direction

This blog was meant to be about a path. My path.

I had all of these good intentions.

In the beginning, my main objective was to write about my family’s experiences as we worked toward a simpler life–I was going to learn to make do, go without, create from scratch, clawing our way out of debt throughout. I thought that, by sharing our struggles, our dreams, our hopes, that somewhere in the process, we might help someone else with the same goals and desires. And if we learned something along the way that we could share, well then, that would be great, too.

I daydreamed of classes, presentations–I wanted to share myself with those around me. I planned series centered around CSAs, farmers’ markets, natural remedies, recipes, getting out of debt, emergency preparedness–you name it.

I wanted to document the good, the bad, the ugly–the everyday things we go through as spouses, lovers, parents, productive members of a community.

But, like many paths, directions don’t always go as planned, and the trail veers suddenly.

I didn’t expect to find our family reeling from a job lay off (my husband’s), let alone months later still collecting unemployment, mucking through job interviews, phone calls, dealings with recruiters.

I didn’t plan on losing my way spiritually and desperately trying to figure out who I am and what I truly believe in as a thirtysomething wife and mother–shouldn’t I have figured out these things years ago?

I decided to stray from my career path of many years (teaching), and now find myself in a reasonably new job that I love dearly, but that takes up a different schedule and requires a new daily routine.

And as a result of so many new changes in our lives, I find that this blog will too take a different direction. It will still be about our journey toward simplicity and happiness, but it’s going to be less formal for a while–I’m not taking on any challenges, any scheduled postings, and I’m relieving myself of my blogging commitments for a time. That means that I’ll talk about our CSA, or the farmer’s market, or post recipes if I choose, but not because of some schedule I’ve set for myself. This blog needs to refocus on our journey and needs to be more of a therapeutic release for me instead of some “business” I’m trying to promote.

Sometimes, when you lose your way, you have to fight to find your way back. And isn’t the journey what this blog was supposed to be about all along?1376428_10101757308836059_1488033380_n

 

 

 

Explaining the Hiatus

I’m only behind on CSA postings by, oh, a month and a half. I planned on writing an entry each week on the experiences we have had working with a $15/week budget used at farmers’ markets and local farms–I’m missing roughly six weeks’ worth of entries.

Honestly, I feel guilty to a point. I don’t like promising things and not upholding my end of the deal. On the other hand, this isn’t a paying gig, and I doubt I have loads of readers waiting in trembling anticipation for a post on my CSA shares.

I’m not trying to be overly cynical–but when your family is still reeling from the job loss of the main breadwinner–it’s hard to stay motivated to write much of anything. It’s a day-by-day job just to try to stay happy, to keep going. We’re reasonably content all things considered, but it’s exhausting trying to make do, to wonder where your family will end up within the next couple months. The hardest part of this process is the uncertainty–what will we do, where will we be, how will we get there? Our routines are out of whack–I am working while my husband plays the role of “Mr. Mom,” a role which I knows leaves him tired and feeling out of sorts because he wants so much to work. He’s always been willing to help with the children, so it’s not that. It’s just that neither of us are really where we planned to be. I love my job very much, but it was supposed to be supplemental income and not the MAIN source. He never expected to be the one at home with the little ones.

So, be patient with me and mine as we work through job interviews, adjusted routines, uncertainty, and a new phase in our lives. I’ll catch up my entries in time. The reality of this blog is that it is meant to be a documentation of our journey, the good and the bad. It would be a disappointment if things were perfect all of the time, and I’d run out of things to write about. 😉

CSA Share for June 25th, Plus Farmer’s Market Challenge–Weeks #3 and #4, and a Recipe for Au Gratin Potatoes

Hello again, friends!

This week’s CSA share consisted of shiitake mushrooms (a pint), a pint of broccoli, a bag of salad greens, a quart of peas, a pound of farm fresh bacon, and a bag of peanut butter granola. Many of the items are similar to last week because I didn’t use those quickly enough and many spoiled. 😦 (However, I’ve made up for this and have consumed most of the items we brought home this week; hence, I am lacking photographs.) 🙂

In addition, for Week #3 of our Farmer’s Market Challenge, I spent $2.50 on a quart of peas (out of a $15 budget), and I didn’t use those soon enough either, so they went to waste. I am wondering if there is something in our refrigerator’s produce drawers that is hastening the decline of our other veggies (supposedly, some vegetables don’t play well with others in storage), as things spoiled sooner than usual.

For Week #4, since much went to waste last week, I spent $3.00 (of $15) on new potatoes, and those I have used. We made au gratin potatoes with them, as well as adding ham to the recipe (ham from a previous week’s CSA share…was stored in our freezer).

Here is a link to the recipe…we added diced ham to ours: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/creamy-au-gratin-potatoes/

The taters….

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Slicing them for use….

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The ingredients…

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Mixed in the bowl….

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Finished product…verdict? Yummy.

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