Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year Yearnings

Man, that seems like such a futuristic date, but it's not. It's today. The present. My life. It's cray. Like many people, I like starting a new year and getting that "fresh start" to set goals, hope and dream, and gaze expectantly towards what is to come.

For me 2015 was a bear. I became a full-time mom of a 9th grader virtually over night. Talk about life whiplash! This 24/7 responsibility was brand-spanking new and shocker! - NOT EASY. Given the unusual details of our situation, Allie has had many challenges to overcome and we have truly given it our very best to parent her well, even if our newfound parenting legs are shaky and our steps sometimes feel like a teetering toddler.

Although it was crushingly difficult at times, it was also incredibly humbling to see God so at work in Allie's life, and I suspect ours as well. :) I hope one day she is able to look back on this season and really see God's hand upon her life and his intentional plan for her every step of the way.  I am so grateful for the gift of God's visibility during this time. It brought us much hope and encouragement when we needed it most.  I am also grateful for so many in our life who have encouraged us, supported us, and walked with us every step of the way. One person in particular has been our lifeline on many occasions and that's my MIL. I am SO thankful God led her to move here in 2014 because we desperately needed her for the unknown journey ahead. She has stepped in and helped so much - like picking Allie up from school every Tuesday when Zach had meetings, always looking for ways to help at our house (from cleaning to sewing to handywoman skills and more), and always lending an ear to talk to. I am forever in her debt. Seriously!

The end of January will make 6 months of Allie living with us full-time. In some ways, I feel like Allie has been here forever and in other ways, it's like no time has passed at all. Although many have celebrated Zach and I for our newfound parenting skills, there is one major misstep I am hoping to correct in 2016.

For years I have observed moms of all ages and noticed a common trend- a trend of the responsibilities and day-to-day "wear and tear" of motherhood creeping up on moms and silently...slowly...almost invisibly strangling out almost all of the other non-mom related characteristics in that woman.  I have agonized over this in others and I swore to myself that if I ever became a mom, I would never be "that person"; that I would maintain interests, passion, balance and an identity apart from my mom role, but alas... what do you think completely blind-sighted me? :) I woke up one day a few months after Allie moved here and found myself in a place like so many others - where my thoughts, time, money, and heart were swallowed whole by being a mom. Although motherhood requires a lot from me, in order for Zach and Allie to get my best, it cannot demand ALL OF ME and I must fight to maintain this balance. It's the whole airline safety "secure your own oxygen mask before helping others" mentality. The only way to serve my family to the best of my ability is to carve out time, energy, and money to take care of myself and in 2016, I am committing to do just that.

For me, this practically means getting serious about my health again. HELLO (sung like Adele..) auto-immune condition I have pretty much ignored completely over the last 6 - 8 months. (I hope Dr. Song is not reading this... Ha!) Since I prefer to practice holistic medicine, this means I have to make time to minimize inflammation through proper diet, take my supplements as scheduled, and exercise. I cannot continue to ignore my physical needs if I want to be at my best and live a long, healthy life. For a commuter mom like me, finding time to exercise has been virtually impossible, but there are two tools that are helping me squeeze it in whenever I can. #1 is "the FitBit". Last year my company did a team step challenge and issued us all FitBits. Having a FitBit has made me so much more aware of my daily activity (or lack thereof due to having a desk job) and challenged me to set daily goals for myself. #2 is the 7 Min Workout app. For me, there is no excuse for not having 7 minutes to work out. Even I can find 7 minutes and let me tell ya, those 7 minutes kick my butt!

Apart from health, carving out "me time" includes everything from making time to see friends regularly (which is BRUTAL in Atlanta because everything is so spread out, we might as well all live in other states) to simple ways of finding time to relax alone - like taking baths, going on walks, reading/Bible study/journaling, sneaking away small moments to eat chocolate and watch Downton Abbey, etc. I am an introvert (I know some of you won't believe that, but it's true) so having alone time to decompress is a MUST. As a mom, it's really easy to just constantly sacrifice what you need or want for those around you, but for me- taking a few minutes here and there to do something I want goes such a long way! Things like, making a special lunch just for me, taking time to make something beautiful/dabble in food photography (or any photography), go shop and blow a gift card just on me. Gasp! It's the little things people and it matters. More and more I am finding that if I set smaller goals - daily goals instead of big lofty long term ones, I'm much more likely to achieve them and that includes even daily goals to #treatyoself.

Spiritually, I have been so laser focused on what God is doing in Allie, or in our family as a whole, that I haven't really been paying attention to what he has for ME personally. Again, another indicator my oxygen mask is not properly on. :) I must work to clear out some mental space and time to listen to what God has for ME - not just the role I play as Allie's stepmom/ Zach's wife/ family manager extraordinaire.

And lastly, one of the best ways to get your head out of the sand and recalibrate your heart is to do something for others- to serve, and regularly look for ways to positively impact those around you. I'm not sure exactly what this looks like in this season and what I will choose to get involved with, but I really want to do something - not just around holidays, but as a regular part of my life. I have admired this so much in my parents and grandparents who have truly lived out their faith and given their lives to help those around them. This year I wanna find my place of influence, my little corner of the world to do for one (or for a few) what I wish I could do for all.

So here's to 2016 and a brand spanking new year, that feels all shiny and bright. Truthfully, I know it won't be, but that's the beauty of hope. It rejuvenates even in the darkest of times and always believes something better is to come. It's the beauty of the gospel lived out day to day because thanks to Jesus, there is always something better to come!

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