January, Philosophy

The Evolution of a Story

Yesterday was January 23, which is a significant date for me. For the past two years, I have struggled to come up with some way to commemorate that date, to turn it from a very negative memory into something positive.

This year it passed without me realizing it, until bedtime.

The 2017-18 school year, which was my 14th year of teaching special education, began with hurricane Harvey ending the first week early. Which was a wonderful blessing, because the first four days of school already had me considering a career change.

My class was overwhelming, but I was not physically injured until after we came back to school. I spent my birthday on assault leave, with a shoulder injury that was never properly diagnosed or treated. (It is only because my yoga teacher–who is not a physical therapist or doctor–worked with me, doing stretches, while I was waiting for access to medical treatment that never happened, that I currently have a full range of motion with my left arm).

When I returned from leave, nothing good had changed. I am not going to tell the details of what ensued over the following 4 months, but it was escalating, it was constant, and it was often sexual in nature. Yes, I sought help, repeatedly, but I am not retelling that part of the story either. It is in the past, and it is fine staying there.

January 23 was the beginning of the end.

It was that morning that I received the worst of my injuries, and I still have scars from it today. It was when I got people’s attention, and for a short period of time, it seemed that things would change.

And things did change.

Yes, after that day I was at less risk physically, but not only because of the inconsistent support I received. That was the day that something shifted inside me, where I realized that maybe I was worth more than this. Maybe it would be less scary to leave and to chance losing income and possibly losing my career. Maybe the status quo was absolutely unacceptable.

We will celebrate March 1, because that was the day I finally left. I took unpaid leave until my contract ran up, and during that time I rested, joined Weight Watchers, and cared for myself, rather than planning my next moves.

When I started working again, I took two years off of teaching, until I found my current position. There were initially some challenges in going back. I would get emotionally triggered by situations that reminded me of what happened at my previous job, and in the two years where I wasn’t teaching, I noticed that my memory and ability to multi-task were not nearly as good as they used to be. But all of that improved with time, and other than the scars, I seem to have no lasting negative effects from the trauma.

Which brings me to today. I nearly missed the “anniversary,” and I noticed that realizing the date, did not bring up any strong negative emotions for me. In fact, writing this did not either. Yes, I skipped over some parts of the story, but that was only because I did not think telling them was necessary for writing this post.

However, I do feel strong emotions today. But rather than anger, vengeance, or fear, the emotions I am feeling are appreciation, love, and gratitude.

I am grateful for my yoga teacher, who never cancelled a 6 am class during that time, even when I was the only one who showed up. I am grateful for the conversations we had, and especially for the time we prayed for the student who was hurting me.

I am grateful for my friend at work, who helped me to find a more supportive union to work with, took me out for coffee after work, and encouraged me through texts during the day.

I am grateful for my union rep, who tried to find a way to help me and acted as my lifeline of sanity.

I am grateful for the lawyer who helped me to get out of the situation, even when there was not anything he could do beyond that.

I am grateful for the assistants in my program, who did what they could do to keep things running and moving forward.

I am grateful for the co-worker who came to check up on me that day and was able to intervene.

I am grateful to myself, as I was ultimately able to leave and to find a much better path for my life to take.

During the situation, one of my friends shared a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, which said that, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” But I don’t remember the silence of my friends, although there were plenty of people who looked away and pretended they weren’t seeing what they were seeing.

I remember being surrounded in love and feeling more connected to those around me, than ever. I remember the many people who were not silent in their words and actions.

And that is why I never want to forget this date.

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Minimalism, Philosophy

Why I Love Facebook

Clearly, I love Facebook.

I have deleted my account three times now, and two of those times I ended up creating a new one within two years. I have deactivated numerous times, never for more than a month. Most times, I only made it a few days.

On Wednesday, January 13, I deleted my account for the third time.

I don’t need to tell you why I deleted it. You might not know my specifics, but you know what kind of environment exists on social media, and you know how much time can be wasted on something that causes stress rather than joy. I deleted my account for the same reasons that I deleted it the other two times.

So the question is, why do I keep going back? I know how much stress and unhappiness Facebook causes in my life, so why do I love it?

I actually had to do some research, as well as introspection, to get to the bottom of that question.

So here are the reasons I love Facebook:

1. It makes photo sharing very easy.

Face it. There is nothing easier than uploading a picture from my phone, so that I can show my adventures in real time. Sifting through and posting them on my blog takes more time. (And never mind that I actually have to make the post interesting!). I could probably share albums from my Google Photos or Photobucket accounts, but that requires having email addresses.

Now that I have left Facebook, I will not be able to share our adventures in the same way. Not as many people will read my weekly posts, and the pictures will not be posted in real time. I think the solution here lies in finding other fun ways to connect with pictures, such as sending photos as post cards. Also, I can remind myself that this inconvenience is a small trade-off, considering how much I did not enjoy facebook.

2. It makes me feel like I am doing something.

First there was the pandemic. People were getting sick, losing relatives, and staying inside to try to avoid getting sick. Then there were the BLM protests. Then businesses were struggling during the lockdown and families were having trouble making rent. There was the election, with the hateful, polarized sides. And finally, the attack on the Capitol and the increase in division that seemed to bring.

It is easy to feel helpless. Facebook gave me a place to try and do something. When I could do nothing else, I urged people to work together and to support one another. I couldn’t save the world, but maybe my uplifting words would help. In this way, Facebook was therapeutic.

The problem with slacktivism is that it diverts us from what we actually can do. Maybe I was a refreshing voice in a negative cesspit. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a negative cesspit.

In real life, there is a lot I can do. I can teach my students to read. I can teach my students to discuss issues respectfully, listening to both sides. I can seek to understand my friends who have ideas that are different from mine. I can write positive notes and hide them where friends and co-workers will find them. At my yoga studio, I created a gratitude tree, where I hang heart ornaments with reminders of the things we all can be grateful for.

Yes, in real life, there is downtime. There are times when I am at home, just itching to do something that matters. But turning to Facebook eventually becomes draining and all-consuming. It is so easy to get sucked into debates, and it can become disheartening when my message is not received. It can get to the point where, after Facebook, I have no energy left to do the things that actually make a difference.

The solution, I believe, lies in redefining downtime. The times when there is nothing to do, when there is nothing that I can do, are times for rest and renewal. Because there will come a time when I can do things. The tiny things that we all can do, the tiny things that matter so much, require us to take care of ourselves.

3. With Facebook, I never need to let go.

I quit Facebook for a sizable amount of time, the first time around. Then I moved from Michigan to Texas and started a new account so that I could stay in touch with my friends and relatives from Michigan.

By the time I deactivated, I had friends from high school, friends I had grown apart from but kept on my newsfeed, friends from middle school, and even friends I had not seen since the days when I attended Chippewassee Elementary School! I met up with friends I had long since lost touch with. We would usually have a chat on Messenger after we found each other, then fell into the rhythm of liking and commenting on each other’s posts.

While this is definitely a fun plus, the reality is that I live in Texas now. My attention belongs here, in the new life I have created with my family. Sure, I will keep in touch with some of my friends and relatives. We will exchange the occasional text and read everyone’s Christmas letters. But there will be people I never hear from again. And there will be people who drift away and then drift back. That is how relationships and friendships work, and being less focused on the details of everyone’s life and thoughts on Facebook, opens up my time and energy to my actual life.

4. Facebook is a relaxing boredom buster

This is the tough one for me. When I am bored or need to relax, I like to have something relatively mindless, that does not require my full attention or a long chunk of time. Facebook easily fits the bill. I have peeked at my newsfeed while waiting in line, unwound while catching up on Facebook when I have 10 minutes until I have to go somewhere, and rewarded myself with a little Facebook break on a stressful day.

The thing is, Facebook works better than anything else I have found, in this respect. This is probably the biggest reason I have kept going back to it.

However, the boredom-busting quality of Facebook does not outweigh my reasons for leaving. Therefore, I need to find a replacement. I am still working on this, to be honest. I think magazines and possibly simple games life Solitaire might work well. I enjoy loom knitting too, but that requires a little more concentration.

5. Facebook helps me to feel less lonely

Sometimes, especially during the shutdown, I feel lonely, and Facebook provides that connection that I have been seeking. My friends don’t feel like texting all day (and neither do I , really), and Facetime conversations can only go so far. Facebook is something we can all use at our leisure, to stay connected during times when we feel anything but.

Sometimes this was a great thing, but there were also many pitfalls. I encountered well-meaning strangers in Facebook groups, who misinterpreted a simple lonely mood and overreacted. This often resulted in me receiving bad advice, or in me overthinking and causing my mood to feel worse.

Sharing ideas is a fun way to connect, but Facebook tends to become an echo chamber where dissenting ideas are not welcome. There is not always a lot of effort to find common ground or to learn from each other.

Instead, the blogging community is a much better way for me to socialize and connect. Different ideas are welcome, the discussions are thoughtful, and everyone is warm and respectful.

And after I have read all of the blogs I care to? Then it really is time to enjoy my own company and learn to be alone without getting stuck in my head.

So here I am, living life without Facebook once again. I have felt much better since deleting my account, and I am confident that this time will be the last time I leave the site. I am addressing the strings that kept pulling me back, while remembering the reasons why I left.

What are your thoughts on social media? If you no longer use it, how do you meet the needs that your newsfeed once filled?

Philosophy

Soul Tired

I live in the U.S. Not only that, but I live in Texas, which is arguably as American as you can get in America. We might pretend otherwise, but politics are on the forefront of everyone’s minds here, right now.

Last Wednesday was a perfect day for me. It was the first day that the students were back from break, and a number of virtual students had started attending in person. One class doubled in size! Our campus was full of excitement and energy, and I loved getting reacquainted with families I haven’t seen in person since last March.

Teaching takes time, energy, and focus. Teaching special education and leading a team takes even more. And doing all of that during a global pandemic takes everything you have. Nobody had time to look at news articles or social media during the day.

So I found out about the attack on the Capitol on my drive home, while I was stuck in traffic.

Immediately, my heart sank. We have been moving further and further apart, more and more polarized. And social media provides the perfect echo chambers, where these misunderstandings can grow.

I worried about the fact that our country seemed to be in chaos. I worried about my friends who have different views than I do, and whether our friendships could weather whatever storm is coming.

Discussing anything that is going on, is impossible. Because we can’t even agree on the basic facts. With information so readily available, anyone can be an expert on anything, and it is easy to publish lies unchecked. Who am I to say that the story I believe is the real one? All the research and fact-checking is hurting my brain. One of my co-workers put it best, when she said, “I am soul tired.”

Here is a thing that I learned about the brain, when I was focusing on losing weight, stopping drinking, and making other changes. I learned that willpower is a finite resource. Willpower is regulated by the prefrontal cortex, which is also responsible for decision making, emotional regulation, and planning. (You can read more about that here and here).

When the prefrontal cortex has to work overtime, it becomes fatigued. When we have to make too many decisions, we have less brainpower left for willpower. When we rely on willpower alone, we eventually get tired and cave. (Here is an article on that).

When I went back to work, I knew that I would be making a lot of decisions throughout my day. So, I set myself up for success with my habits. I set up grocery delivery and planned my meals. I got into routines with housework and yoga. I limited extraneous decisions, so that I could focus on my job. I limited options for overeating, and alcohol was off the table.

However, I slipped everytime something new was added to the equation. We are in a pandemic with no leadership. We are not doctors, and we are not economists. Yet we are expected to sift through information on both. Vastly different reports of the “truth” are out there, and we are expected to become instant experts and discern the facts from the fiction.

No wonder I have become more emotional and fallen back on old coping mechanisms! My prefrontal cortex is at its limit. My brain is tired.

For me, revamping my old routines and focusing on the things I can do that actually make a difference (and the information that allows me to do those things) is key. I don’t need to read any predictions about the pandemic. They will paralyze me with worry and keep me from doing what I can do now. I do not need to read about the minutiae of what is going on in Washington. I do need to be aware of the cases of Covid in our county, so I can take precautions accordingly. I do need to know that status of the vaccine, so I can get it when it is my turn.

I am not going to change the world. And letting myself fall into survival mode is not going to do any good for anyone. But no matter what happens, children still need to learn to read. People still need the positivity I have to offer.

In caring for myself, I can give the things I am able to give.

Philosophy

Why I Don’t Believe in Emotional Vampires or Toxic People

Let me tell you about two women I know.

“Sarah” is nothing but kind. She senses everyone’s emotions, and she always tries to help when she can. She donates to every Go Fund Me campaign that she sees, even if she can only give $5. She cooks for most meal trains, even if she doesn’t know the recipient. She donates to the food bank when she goes through the grocery store checkout, and she has spent hours chatting with friends who are going through a hard time. Sarah chose her career based on her desire to help others, even though the income was less than other fields with similar educational requirements. Sarah is well-liked and tends to bring a smile to the faces of those around her.

“Clara”, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. She overreacts to the smallest situations, dragging everyone she knows into the drama. She talks about herself constantly, not caring what the other person is going through. She will text friends constantly about her drama, only texting more if they do not reply. Clara is also very passive-agressive, choosing to manipulate other people’s emotions rather than speaking up when something upsets her. She takes everything personally and assumes the worst about others’ intentions. And when her needs are not met or she feels excluded, she can become downright nasty. Clara is negative, complains a lot, and does not see how she contributes to her own misery. She constantly looks to others to fix it, but is not willing to take the steps herself.

Classic case of an empath and an emotional vampire, right? Sarah is a good person, probably like all of us, and Clara is toxic. While Sarah tries to build up everyone around her, Clara tries to suck the life out of everyone. Sarah is a ray of sunshine, while Clara is an emotional black hole. And Clara will never change. Best to cut her out of your life, right?

What if I were to tell you that Sarah and Clara are the same person? And what if I were to tell you that Sarah/Clara’s real name is Bethany Rosselit? Everything about both of them is true about me.

The reality is that I am not unique in that way. The world is not divided between empaths and emotional vampires, between good people and toxic people. We are all both. Sometimes we are calm and aware of those around us and able to care and serve. Other times we become so wrapped up in our own crap that it is all we can do to get through a day.

Face it. People who are drowning don’t stop and worry about world hunger or war. You could be the kindest saint ever to walk the earth, and if you were drowning, your only concern in that moment would be to not be drowning.

The same holds true when we feel like we are drowning in stress, trauma, or even our own misperceptions. When we are struggling, we often don’t see past our own pain and our own situation.

Sometimes we are Sarah, and sometimes we are Clara. And every Clara can also be a Sarah.

So be careful when you read articles about emotional vampires and toxic people. Do we need to set boundaries with people who are in a negative or needy season of their lives? Of course. There are even times when we need to step away from people, for our own mental health.

However, that does not mean that these people are toxic. It does not mean that they are vampires, trying to suck away our happiness. In fact, to call them “toxic” or “vampire,” implies that we think we are better than them. It implies that we never act in such a way.

But we all do act in such a way. The people we call “toxic” and “vampires” are just going through a difficult place (whether it is a short period of time or a lifetime–we don’t get to decide that). They are at a point in their lives where they are where they are.

We don’t need to go there with them, but we do need to remember that we, too, have had similar seasons in our lives.

January, Philosophy

One Word for 2021

I know that our calendar is arbitrary. And that the craziness that happened and the challenges that we faced had absolutely nothing to do with the number “2020.”

And yet, still, the turning of that number always feels like a victory. It feels like we have met the challenges and learned the lessons of the previous year, and now it is time to start over.

January is a calm, consistent time, following the hectic holiday season, and it always feels like a good month for establishing new habits and becoming more disciplined.

2019 was a year that ended with discipline for me. I reached my goal weight in early December, right after Thanksgiving week. I did my 6 weeks of maintenance during the holiday season, tracking every bite that I ate at our Christmas feast. I was successful, and made Lifetime membership in Weight Watchers in early January!

January was also a time of optimism, as Iliana was adjusting to her new school well and had finally gotten out of her arm sling, after her second broken arm!

I began 2020, three months away from my one-very sobriety anniversary. I worked in a place that I loved, in a position that I liked, and my boss and I were already talking about the possibility of me moving in to the special education department, which was my area of expertise.

February brought Rob’s birthday, and he had one day off. I booked us a studio apartment in Montrose, the artisan neighborhood in downtown Houston, for two nights. We work up at 6 am, with the Jeep already packed, and headed out there. We ate breakfast and had coffee when we arrived!

What followed was an incredibly fun day of bicycling (using the folding bikes Rob got me for Christmas) on the Buffalo Bayou trail and thrift shopping. Everyone downtown had cropped peasant shirts and fun colored hair. I couldn’t do the hair, but I did finally have the figure for the clothing!

That weekend was the beginning of the end. Rob started to have problems with a sore right after, and he was in and out of the doctor’s office. Soon he was sick “with a bug,” which I caught shortly after. I attributed it to stress. While I was taking a day off, I had to pick up Iliana due to emotional and behavioral issues, and soon she was sick too. But before, that, Iliana got to enjoy her Valentine’s dance!

Happily, we all recovered before spring break, not thinking that we had experienced anything other than a nasty bug. By then, we had heard of the coronavirus, but we thought it was just another problem that would soon be solved, not unlike H1N1. I saw people getting worried, but people in Houston are germaphobes. We headed off to Elijah’s retreat, for a completely normal getaway.

Iliana cried on our last day there, which is typical, but she cried more than usual. Miss Cheryl, the owner, was there when she cried, and she suggested that we reserve our next trip. We ended up booking a trip in July, right after Iliana was scheduled to get back from camp. We had no idea how important this trip would end up becoming.

There is no need for a spoiler here, because you already know. Spring break never ended, and camp was cancelled. We had signed up for Camp Be an Angel in April, which was also cancelled.

I have lost 60 pounds. I have quit drinking. I left a job that was physically and emotionally abusive to me. And through all these changes and challenges, I have had one thing. And that one thing was my yoga practice and my yoga community.

Our last yoga class was March 18.

Nothing seemed right. I was losing my community, and my biggest support. Since I was still being paid, I continued paying for classes and encouraged everyone who could, to do the same. But there was no guarantee that anything would still be there, once this was all over.

For awhile, we thought Rob would be laid off. Due to the large live aboard community, his store was deemed “essential,” and we were planning to sublet the apartment above the store. However, we had no idea how the store would weather the upcoming storm.

And then there was my job. While I love school breaks, being stuck in limbo without a consistent routine made me very anxious. Iliana did wonderfully with distance learning for about a week, until she didn’t. Everyone was down, and everyone was worried. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I saw Easter items in the store, and I cried.

I read Facebook posts about Italy, where hospitals were overfilled and people were being left to die.

My parents have health problems.

I have a friend who is in remission from cancer.

Another friend’s husband got sick on ended up on a ventilator.

We knew people who had friends who died.

Nothing made sense. There seemed to be no leadership, no direction.

And then my yoga teacher told me to have faith.

In our last class at the studio, I said that my sobriety birthday was in a week, but it didn’t matter (because everything would be shut down). She said, “It matters to me,” then, looking me straight in the eye, “Don’t let this break your spirit.”

On Iliana’s second day of distance learning, I needed to go to the store. I am not sure what I needed to buy, since I had already hoarded an insane amount of food, thinking that grocery stores would be closed during a lockdown. But that is where I saw exactly what we needed…

When I returned to the car, Iliana had texted me, asking what she needed to do next. I texted her back, asking if she wanted her hair to be green or blue!

While it felt like the world was falling down around me, I walked around with my blue hair and sparkling eye shadow, smiling at those around me. I may have only been trying to keep myself from falling into despair, but Iliana and I did create some fun memories during that time!

A sign found me during one of my shopping trips…

And so we made the most of it!

Easter was our first pandemic holiday, and nobody knew how to do it yet. So while we really tried, it was very bittersweet.

April brought moving day, still during the shutdown. Mother’s day was underwhelming, of course, but Iliana did surprise me with a very sweet present!

My school sent me a wonderful decal for my coffee mug, which I still use today.

Later that month, we received news that the lake we used to live on no longer existed, after two earth dams broke in our hometown in Michigan. Luckily, nobody died in the disaster.

Iliana’s birthday party took place in the early days of Zoom parties. She ate cake, decorated, and sent gift certificates for Dairy Queen to all of her friends. The kids played Pokemon over Zoom, which left all of them emotionally exhausted!

And so I became the mother of a teenager.

Things began reopening in June, which was more disconcerting than reassuring at first. But I felt safe at yoga, where we were taking a lot of precautions. And it felt good to be back into the routine.

However, late June and early July were difficult times. We were in the middle of a surge, there was talk of more shutdowns, and school was still completely up in the air.

Then, at the end of July, it was time for our reservation at Elijah’s. Things had come full circle, and I knew we had made it through the hardest part.

School was a roller coaster. At one point all schools were required to have in person classes without masks. Then, things became more sensible. Our school was one of the first in our area to open with an in-person option. We chose to send Ili back along with me. Our school took a lot of precautions, and we both were a lot happier going back!

We made it a week…

We prepped.

And then we got to dump the water out and not buy groceries for a few weeks…

A lot of teachers resigned this year, at various schools. This included the teacher I had been working under. And so I ended up teaching full time again, and being Iliana’s case manager!

Going back to teaching full time, was an exercise in self-belief and self-doubt. I alternated between wondering if I could do it, and knowing that it would happen if it were meant to be. Of course, I was offered the position as soon as I arrived at that last point.

With school back in session, holidays were much more enjoyable. Plus, we knew how to celebrate around other people, while still social distancing and staying safe.

Yes, in between the happy pictures, there were times when I heard rumors of another lockdown and completely froze. There were times when I received reports of a cases at work (not many) and became fearful.

There were times when articles shared on social media stopped me in my tracks. I detested the phrase “new normal.” I tried to be positive, but was often countered by friends who were “being realistic.”

But what is realistic? I have a long history as a worrywart, but I can’t think of a single time when my worst fears came to pass. Even the most difficult times in my life, have paved the way for changes that were better than I could have possibly imagined. While being in complete denial is not helpful, instantly assuming a negative outcome is also a form of denial.

Which brings me back to what my yoga teacher said. “Have faith.” I had always equated faith with religion, with believing that some bearded old man in the sky would come and carry us all over the rainbow on doomsday. If we were good enough, of course.

But the faith that she demonstrated was a different sort. It was a determination to move forward, to remain human, to take every challenge as it comes, and to trust that there will ultimately be a positive outcome. We all have challenges, but they are often not the ones we anticipate.

Faith is believing in the goodness that is in all of us, and in the love and kindness that we share for each other. It is believing that we will hold each other up in difficult times. It is believing that the love that is at the center of the universe–you can call it whatever you want, but I prefer the term “God”–will never exclude us.

I have learned many lessons from 2020, and while I would never want to repeat it, I am glad that it is something I experienced. And so I look forward to moving into 2021, in faith.

Family Fun

Week 3 (not really) Away from Facebook: Merry Christmas!

What a fun and crazy week!

This is the seventh Christmas that we have celebrated in Texas, and it was definitely the most fun.

We started out the week by dressing up, decorating our adult tricycle, and piling on it to look at the lights on Clear Lake Shores island. Of course we brought music and hot cocoa!

The next day, we allowed Iliana to open one present early!

At the last minute, I ordered Christmas cards! Then I made one special card, from our Roomba (named Jojo) to my yoga teacher’s Roomba (aka Big Ben). Big Ben appreciated the gesture!

We met up with my friend Jocelyn and her daughter, Ava, Iliana’s best friend, at the Shard Yard, where we made creations out of repurposed glass! It was a wonderful time, especially since we haven’t seen each other since March.

Christmas eve, we celebrated with my parents. My brother, Jon, cooked dinner…

Then we opened gifts…

And then we played a game where we unwrapped a ball of plastic wrap for prizes. It was a crazy fun time!

That night we had a visitor in our apartment! Good thing he wore a mask!

Ili and I wore our matching pajamas the next morning, but Rob had his own style…

I poured us the traditional mimosas (made from sparkling cider!).

Iliana was very excited to find a pair of heelies under the tree!

And we had great fun digging into the mountain of other gifts!

Rob and I took my new camera out to the walking trails later in the day…

And I was treated to a breathtaking sunset that evening!

I hope your holidays were equally as magical! Here’s wishing you the best for the end of such a crazy year!

About Us, Family Fun

Week 2 (sort of) Away From Facebook: Downhill Toward Break!

So here we are on week 2, a bit late! What a hectic week it has been…

The last week before break is always crazy, but with the pandemic, of course it was crazier.

However, we did have some fun! Each day had a theme, and here are some of them:

Once we were on break, Ili and I did some Christmas shopping, including buying Jasmine a a sweater! I don’t think she loved it…

I played Christmas music on our new piano, and Iliana joined in on her saxophone!

Ili completed another puzzle! I hope Santa knows about her new hobby!

So now we are on the downward spiral to Christmas! Next week I will share pictures of our celebrations, and I will probably write a post about my (slightly offbeat) New Year’s Resolutions. I am thinking of having a non-picture post midweek, when I feel like it.

How are your Christmas preparations coming? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Family Fun

Week 1 Away from Facebook: Christmas Prep

Wow, so it is Sunday already…

It has been strange being away from Facebook. I have gone off of social media before, but this time I can definitely see how I was using it to numb emotions. And going back to teaching, during a global pandemic, can definitely cause one to have many emotions to numb! I am grateful for my yoga practice and working on sitting with emotions, rather than trying so hard to escape them.

One thing that I have really noticed is that I am becoming more focused on solutions and less defensive. I have been thinking of ways to meet my own needs while still looking out for everyone else. Being away from the polarized environment of social media has led me to begin to stop feeling guilty about taking care of myself, which has in turn led me to get out of the tunnel and stop being so focused on my own needs.

Once we put on our own oxygen mask, we can think more clearly to help those around us.

While it would be a lie to say that our lives have been stress-free, we definitely have been having fun getting ready for the holidays! This will be our eighth Christmas in Texas, so we have had many years of celebrating with just us and my immediate family. While we were sad to have to cancel out on some of our friends and miss out on work and marina parties, overall, we have had to make very few adjustments due to social distancing.

We began the week by getting matching pajamas!

We make a cookie house every years, and I found a pre-assembled one that took the stress out of the project!

We made hot cocoa cookies…

Iliana sang in the school choir! They recorded their performance and wore matching Christmas masks. Ili sings alto, like her grandma.

Iliana has been counting down the days with her advent calendar….

And doing puzzles!

And our week ended, of course, with us buying a piano! Getting it up into our upstairs apartment was an adventure!

So that has been our week! We are now in the last week before Christmas break!

How has your holiday prep been going? Let me know in the comments!

Uncategorized

And We’re Back!

Hello everyone!

It’s been awhile, but I have decided to come back to this blog, to keep everyone updated on our life. I tried keeping in touch on Facebook, but I have such a love/hate relationship with that platform and with social media in general. Right now, I need a break from the barrage of news and doomsday predictions. I plan to try updating here once a week, with pictures of stories of our family’s adventures.

So what have we been up to?

Well, last December, I met my weight goal. In January, I became a Lifetime member of WW.

Over spring break, we traveled to Elijah’s retreat, where I took my “After” picture.

And then Covid hit, and we didn’t go back to school after spring break. However, in April, we moved from our boat, to an apartment over the store where Rob works.

We went back to school in the fall, and through a strange chain of events, I ended up teaching special education again. It has been working out well for me.

So here we are, in our very “Martha” decorated apartment, ready for the holidays! I look forward to sharing our adventures every weekend!

January

January Reflections Day 2: Into the Fire

Image result for bonfire

For my meditation today, I imagined a large fire, built slowly and lovingly.  Into this fire, I threw everything that no longer served me.

Resolutions and goals often involve adding new habits and patterns to our lives.  However, with this adding must come some subtracting.

These are the things that I will be throwing into the fire:

  • My perception of myself as needy or annoying.
  • My perception of myself as mentally ill or otherwise not whole.
  • My perception that something is wrong with me.
  • My perception of myself as socially awkward.
  • My eating disorder.
  • My need to use alcohol to numb emotions.
  • My perception of myself as not being accepted.
  • My fear of setting boundaries or confrontation.
  • My perception of myself as being weak (emotionally or physically).
  • My perception of myself as not being physically flexible.
  • My need for validation.
  • My perception of myself as incapable and irresponsible.

Everyday this month, I will envision burning these habits of the body and mind, and then I will visualize what my life will look like once I have gotten rid of these things.

There are so many things–addictions, habits, misperceptions–that stand in the way of our dreams.  While it isn’t good to constantly think about what we don’t want, spending a little time imagining those obstacles burning away can be incredibly freeing.  It can open up space for us to more clearly picture what we do want.

This exercise can also help keep us from addiction-hopping.  I know so many people who gave up alcohol but began overeating.  It is the same pattern, but with a different substance.  Being committed to letting go of the pattern and being open to learning new ways of coping is what leads us to freedom from all addiction.

So today, think about what it is that you would like to release.  What would you throw into the fire?