Finding Yourself

Six Days of No Reading

It’s true. This girl took a break from reading.

This book loving girl who would trace the lines of words before she could even read them.

This girl who was ashamed to stand and read the first word in her Reading class while everyone looked on. She would always have that one bold three letter word which was centered in the middle of the white page blazed into her memory.


And when she scooted her chair back, stood by her desk, and read that one word, she cringed a bit inside. How was it considered reading to stand up and repeat one word with all seven of the other students in her class? How was it considered a milestone to utter one syllable and that meant you were reading?

She wanted to devour whole books. Sniff their freshly printed pages and bask in the black print, clear and clean.

Reading became her life line. Her escape from reality. Her search of one more thing. She read in bed and while she worked and in the bathroom. Shampoo bottles and cereal boxes and chip bags. Children’s books and flyers and encyclopedias.

She was 8 years old when she got her first journal and it was the best birthday gift ever. She wrote about rollerskating and the strange man they saw beside the road and about who was dating and who was engaged and who was pregnant in her church. She wrote poetry in magnolia trees and dreamed of rescuing abandoned babies and working in an orphanage.

And she read.

I’m this girl and I’m doing a course by Julia Cameron on recovering your creative self. Last Sunday when I read the assignment, I nearly quit breathing.

“No reading for a week.”

Now back when the course was written, there was no social media, and no blogs. My reading challenge just got harder.

I never count the pages I read a day. In fact, some days, I don’t pick up an actual book, I dare say. But you can be sure that if I read shampoo bottles in the bathroom as a kid, I read Pinterest quotes now.

The only way I could see this working was to totally go off my regular online sites for the week. Plus leave my pile of current reading books untouched.

No one was forcing me to do this. I had made no commitment to anyone that I would do EXACTLY what the course suggested but something in the challenge stirred me. Often when you feel extreme opposition that borders on anger about something like this, it’s hit a tender spot and you may need the challenge more then you think.

I decided to jump in and try giving up this good thing of reading to see what would shake out of my life or my mind or subconscious. I wasn’t expecting much. I hated the thought. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. But I had to try.

The first two days weren’t too bad. I found myself connecting with friends I hadn’t connected with for awhile (granted it was through messaging, but that’s a bit like writing a letter in my mind). I drew doodles and made a few cards for friends while I waited in the car. I attended a conference with my husband and was more attentive then I would have been if I had been scrolling through my phone to fill in time.

And I did peak at Pinterest. But I tried to limit myself to inspiring pictures instead of wordy quotes.

Day three I woke up feeling angry. It felt like I had been wrestling my toddler all night. He was having a very hard time sleeping and I was exhausted when I woke in the morning. I felt off center, grouchy, and touchy.

This whole ‘not reading’ thing was really getting to me. I felt like I needed a brain reset. I felt like I needed to get outside my head. Think of something else. Find encouragement for my soul. I felt trapped in a corner with no escape.

I knew enough about detox or any kind of change to know that often Day Three is horrid and you think you are truly crazy. It’s also usually just before the break through that you feel the worst. So I stuck it out – this horrible ‘not reading’ thing.

Day four I woke, having slept better, but still feeling frustrated and irritated. I selfishly directed it toward my husband. We had a big discussion to put it mildly. I sat at one end of the table and he at the other and we volleyed words and feelings back and forth and at the end, we sat beside each other and agreed to a plan that worked for both of us. As the old saying goes, ‘we kissed and made up’.

Turned out we were both feeling misunderstood. Turned out we both needed to move toward each other instead of away. Turned out at 1:30 PM he went to work when he had planned to go at 8:30AM.

Day five, I woke refreshed. It wasn’t just that my toddler had slept most of the night; it was also that we were starting a new chapter and that felt good. Would we get stuck on repeat? Most likely, but that was all part of growing and learning.

I drove to our fixer upper that morning and didn’t want to stop driving. After doing a quick coat of sealer on the countertops, I jumped in my car again, notified my husband, and set off on a little road trip. Just to clarify here…I go on drives to relax but never miles and miles out of town. This time, I felt like it was something I really needed to do for myself.

I drove over 160 miles and enjoyed the scenery and listened to music and a podcast, drank coffee and saw gorgeous mountains and wildlife. My toddler rode along and actually did amazing. I stocked up on groceries, found a mirror at a thrift shop for our fixer upper, and got back by 3 PM. It was exactly what my heart needed to recharge and relax.

Day Six, I felt satisfied. Like my experiment had been successful and like I was ready to break the NO Reading spell.

So what did I learn by taking a break from reading?

I learned that not reading makes me feel angry.

I read for inspiration.

I read to get out of my head.

I read to learn and I read to grow.

I read to distract myself or when I don’t want to talk.

I read to fill in moments.

I read to heal and to feel.

What did I do instead of reading?

I made more contact with friends.

Drew small sketches.

Took a drive.

Organized the kitchen cupboards.

Went to a seminar for one reason and came home with a different reason.

Slept more.

Watched my child exclaim over Christmas decorations in a store.

Had a long conversation with my husband.

Made goals with my husband and with myself.

Was it worth it?


Hard and uncomfortable.

But worth it.

I may devote a day a week to No Reading so I’m forced to get other things done. Then again, maybe I’ll just try to be more intentional with my time.

A brain that reads can grow and become. That’s what I am reaching for. That’s what I am grateful for.

Nature Awakens You

The Nighthawk and Freedom

Every evening, just at the the witching hour, the Night Hawk flew on strong wings over the field of wheat and shrilled her cry into the air and dove wild and free. Jabbing the air for morsels of food.

She flew so high, I could scarcely see her but her piercing keening call echoed downward and she would dart into view in a blink.

She came. Every evening and sometimes late into the night that whole summer and no one asked her to leave .

The space was hers. The wind her companion. The air her buoyant cushion and the mosquitos her meal ticket.

Wide open spaces spoke to her heart and only when she was free, diving above the golden wheat fields, did she really feel alive.


Sometimes coming alive means risking appearing totally mundane. Totally foolish. Totally erratic. Totally raspy.


We fly.

We dive.

We follow the currants of our heart. And we embrace the space that opens for us. The provision. The strength. And the wonderful, wonderful freedom.


“If the Son has set you free.

You are unquestionably FREE.”

Nature Awakens You

Finding Your 30 Something Self

It’s been a life long journey. This finding who I am and who I was meant to be. I thought I would arrive one day and have this great future spread out in front of me with clear paths and years of security.

Turns out I’m in my thirty’s and still discovering the path. I’m realizing that security is something you carry inside yourself, not something you surround yourself with. That it’s not so much about the arrival as about what I learn each day. That I may as well forget the illusion that I will ever arrive until the glorious day I arrive in eternity.

Nearly as far back as I remember, I wanted to do something great. To rescue an abandoned child, be instrumental in a handsome guy proposing to my sister, or like Jo in Little Men, have 12 boys in a rambling old house and be the most fun, energetic mom ever. Romantic anyone? That was me. I was always the hero in my story. Perhaps because I felt like I failed horribly at the hero thing in everyday life.

I was an average girl who struggled with math, felt too large for her frame, had a quick temper and a tender heart. I would change faces depending which crowd I was with. In fact, I became so accustomed to reading people and situations and trying to keep everyone happy and all the plates spinning, that I lost track of who I actually was. I could talk myself into and out of the exact same situation and this made me an empathetic listener who felt like a fraud.

I would do tests and read books and write long journal entries, pouring out my heart in an attempt to find myself. The most frustrating quote that others said to me was,”Just be yourself.”

As if I was a powerhouse of my own who could switch on the Anita Setting. I literally had not the Slightest Clue who “myself” was. And around and around and around I went.

There came the day after I got married and we had moved 8 times and my daughter had died and my whole world was shaken, that I sat in the car outside the church house and cried. Great sobbing tears.

I realized without a shadow of a doubt that I could no longer be who I had been trying to be all these years. That the only way to live with myself and find the freedom and purpose God had for me was to make a massive life changing decision. It hurt so badly I thought I would puke but it also came with the deep knowledge that I was opening myself to the journey that The Divine had been preparing me for all along.

It had begun the day my cry entered the world. The cry of a Warrior Woman finding her identity.

While I made radical life style changes and was physically sick to my stomach when I thought of how this would affect my maiden family and other friendships, I realized a paradox. This was all about me. This had nothing to do with me but was about what The Divine had set in place when I was created. I was in for some of the hardest, most authentic years of my life.

I am learning that knowledge and self awareness is power. That finding my voice and speaking my heart is freeing and that the bravest thing I can do is ask questions and embrace change and growth. I’m finding the balance in when to speak and when to be silent. I’m understanding my personality, my strengths and my struggles, and it makes me a more kind compassionate, useful human. I’m embracing the beauty around me and accepting my limitations and facing my fears. It has helped me relax into a better mom and wife. Discovering that every situation is a chance for new understanding and growth instead of shaming myself and fearing the consequences of a less then perfect decision is freeing.

I don’t have to know exactly who I am in entirety right this minute. I will change. I will shift. I will find new paths for the rest of my life. That does not discredit my journey, delete my story, or diminish who I am today.

Who we are and who we were and who we are meant to be may all seem like different people. Thats OK. We give ourselves the best gift of all when we embrace our currant situation. When we shift if our flow is off or our spirit feels the need for movement.

We are powerful. Our story matters. Our voice is unique.

Don’t let anyone else steal who you were meant to be. And don’t bother self sabotaging yourself by hiding in fear and frustration. You don’t have to figure it all out.

Start by accepting yourself just the way you are. Knowing that you are loved right this moment exactly as you are. That nothing you do or say can change that fact. There is no marathon you must run, no weight you must lose, no title you must earn, no goal you must reach to be accepted here. You are simply loved.

Then find something about yourself that is useful or beautiful or brave and work from that strength . Learn to love yourself because if you cannot show love to yourself, you will have an incredibly hard time showing love to anyone else. Open yourself to The Divine. Follow the Leader of the beginning of your existence. Ask for clear direction. Then trust that you will get it and live with your eyes excitedly, widely open.

The Real you will start showing up and you will be amazed.

Nature Awakens You

Falling Green

Frozen has stolen over our portion of Earth again. Our breathe curls into patterns on the air and we blow on fingers and wear slippers. 

Fall came with such intensity and such determination and such dynamic force this year. It was 50 degrees with blue skies and then the cold front crashed in and we were buried under 19 inches of heavy wet snow and grey skies. A winter snow storm in September and then October dawned. 

The very emotion of the storm seemed to silently scream, “Die. Die. Die.” As it lay it’s weight on green trees and summer flowers.

Nature was left gasping for breathe and realizing the only way to live was to stop struggling and release into the flow. To accept that green leaves were falling on snow and the golden glory of fall was stolen before it had danced. 

The words from St. Matthew play through my head, “if you chose self sacrifice and lose your lives for my glory, you will continually discover True life. If you try to keep your lives for yourselves you will forfeit what you try to keep.”

I look at Jesus who shook the cages of earthly expectations. Freed the myths and traditions of earthly humans. He was not afraid to lose it all to gain the best. 

Perhaps we need to lose what we THINK our lives should look like. Neat tidy edges. Upright straight lines. Children who obey without question. Emotions in check. Uncomplicated relationships and feelings. 

Perhaps it’s in living open to change that we find this TRUE life. Being entwined with the Divine. Accepting what doesn’t make sense. Vulnerable to emotions. Shaking up the mundane. Getting unstuck from the perfect housekeeping or the large pay check. Choosing to risk our hearts at kindness and love. 

Keeping your life close and safe and contained by rules and fears and your own ideas can cause you to forfeit the life you were meant to live. 


There is still glory and there is still beauty and there is still grace.

DIY Projects

Simple Watercolor Art For Fall

Fall brings the cozy feels. Hot apple cider. Pumpkin lattes. With it, an urgency to rake up the leaves, mulch the roses, and harvest the apples and plums

Sometimes when you are low on time and space and your creativity is going dormant it helps to have a super simple project to satisfy the artsy part of the heart. 

This is one of my favorite ways to give myself the gift of creating and also bless someone else.

What you will need:

*Watercolor paint and water. *Heavy paper or water color paper. *Paint brush. *Fine Sharpie Maker. *Lead pencil. *Eraser. 

I start by painting pretty designs on my paper. There is no wrong or right way to do this so just have fun. My favorite shapes are inspired by nature but you do you. 

Take your pencil and start drawing fun designs. Leaves, plants, cactus, feather, pumpkins, acorns, or whimsical woodland creatures. Pinterest has great ideas for this! 

Go over your lines with your sharpie and then erase any pencil marks that are still showing. 

You can enjoy these yourself or cut them down into cards for other people. Add words or doodles to make it authentic to you or encouraging to a friend. 

I love how quick and stress free this is! I actually worked on these in the truck while my two year old took a nap in his car seat. 

It’s a great way to relax and refresh your spirt as well. I hope you take time to enjoy a bit of creativity today in the way that suits you best! You are worth some extra love and attention! 

I’d love to see your artwork. Feel free to leave a picture in the comments! Happy weekend!

Finding Yourself

What Makes You Feel Like A Person

I’m sitting outside of Starbucks right now in my Jeep with a Dragon fruit refresher, my hair tied back (because writing is serious business and I always feel more productive with my hair secured) and rain and hail alternating on pounding my roof. My toddler is asleep in the back seat and I’m curled up front, camping dust tracing my bare feet. My shirt says Wild Love and I put a layer of fresh deodorant on before I left the house. There are 10 more things I could have done to make myself feel more presentable. . Well, actually, probably more like 20 since I’ve pretty much lived outside the past three weeks .

Here’s the point though. I feel like a person again. Not so much like a 24/7 caregiver. I mean, yesterday I removed toilet emergency item number 2 from my toddler’s hands. So yeah, at this moment I feel not so much like a burned out momma. Like there may be some spark under the plain old Anita after all.

We all have busy lives. Sometimes in the busyness, we lose track of who we are and what our feelings really are and how to connect with our inner child- the part of us that God created extra special and extra unique and full of His specific plan for the world and for us in particular.

In the past months of craziness, I’ve felt like I lost touch with who I was.

Moving is hard and takes every ounce of energy. Settling into a new routine is hard and coaching children ( and myself) through the emotions and upheaval that comes along is hard. Waking up at early hours with a ‘rearing to go’ (as my mom I used to say) toddler is hard. Losing someone you love is doubly, triply, quadruply hard. Healing is hard.

No matter what you are facing, I can almost guarantee you that if you are breathing, you are doing Hard.

Its just part of life. There’s not even any need to count points on a scale of 1-10 to see where your Hard lands.

It’s truly so easy to lose ourselves in the hard and busy. To forget that while we are serving and being productive and caring for others and bringing home a paycheck, there is that vital source of connection that, without given attention, will simply dwarf its way into oblivion.

It’s got a pretty quiet voice. But it’s persistent and misunderstood and often ‘shushed’

And honestly? Sometimes its just plain hard to hear. Other voices seem so much more demanding and persistent and authoritative.

Losing yourself is costly though.

Losing the person your Creator made you to be is downright sad.

It’s a paradox- this losing and this finding. Jesus said, “if you lose you’re life for My sake, you will find it.”

I think losing the life that Jesus mentioned was losing the part of us that is full of self and pride. Like our ego.

Only by losing the ego can the core of us come alive and that is the part deep within us that is sheltered in the safety of grace. That’s the part that our Creator calls beautiful. It’s where the gifts He has given to us are birthed and nurtured and grown.

I think part of that true identity is revealed by simply discovering what makes you feel alive. What makes you feel like a person and a human. When we connect with those basic life giving emotions, we connect with the core of our being.

Everything is connected in life.

Maybe its doing simple things like taking a hot shower after a hard day of work, watching the sun set, or drinking a steaming cup of coffee in the morning.

I think it needs to go deeper then that. We need to be still long enough to discover it. To hear new truths. To uncover the beauty. To find something life giving and follow through with it. To not give up on ourselves or our passions.

Often our natural passions are actually staring us right in the face, saying ‘use me’ while we are here tearing around complicating everything with the ‘ what if’ and ‘should be’ and ‘maybe’ and ‘can I?’

Just silence the noise. Find yourself. Know that while you will never fully arrive, until you are in Eternity with your Creator, you will come closer and closer to that fullness. You will be making the biggest difference possible in this world. Living the full calling of your Creator on your Life.

Live in your strengths. Learn from your failures.

Know that even mistakes and problems are chances to learn and become more fully alive and aware of yourself. Let’s just not even call them failures. Just growth spurts.

Don’t give up on YOU! Don’t stand yourself up on your own date with yourself. Go all in. Find your passions and follow through with them.

That’s where the magical, life giving stories happen.

I’d love hear the one thing you choose to do today that is life-giving for your inner core.

Rainbows in the East at 9 PM. Now that was soul food!

Mom Life

Parenting Through Change

Sometimes this Mom gig is just so HARD.

Tonight I am weary. Not so much from physical activity as from mental and emotional activity and from biting my strong emotions and retorts back when my kiddos push my buttons.

I don’t even particularly like that quote ‘push my buttons’. It always reminds me of the little toy cash registers where you push a button and a drawer pops open and you involuntary jump every time no matter what. Then there’s the confusion of making change from dollars when numbers are not your strong suit and the whole phrase leaves me feeling anxious and depleted and defeated.

So let’s just say I felt like totally yelling today and totally crying and totally sulking.

One of the hardest things about selling our house and living in a camper is most definitely the stress it has placed on the boys. They love it here at the RV park and we have lots of fun, but the change is always hard.

Always always hard. No matter if it’s joyful change, planned change, or sudden change, it takes bodies time to adapt and become accustomed to new normal. This move is no exception.

Big life changes always come with a price and deciding if it’s what your willing to pay is just part of it.

But back to this whole mothering through change. It’s just not my favorite part of life but learning to embrace it and being OK with not being OK is high on my mindset shift.

As Brene Brown says

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater then our level of self acceptance.

Drop back a few years to when we realized our style of parenting was not bringing the results we wanted. It just wasn’t working the way we thought it automatically should.

I wish I knew who to credit this t-shirt art to, but since I don’t, I will simply say ‘it’s awesome and true!’ Connection is vital to parenting.

We decided to take a connected parenting approach to raising our boys, we had no idea of the personal growth that would happen.

It is incredibly hard to allow my child to express emotions that I was never permitted to express.

(And here I will clarify this whole thing to say that I was raised in a Christian home and I absolutely have a high regard for my parents! I am so very grateful for their good influence and care in my life. I LOVe them! )

Ex: I was taught that being angry is sin.

And we were never permitted to become angry. In other words, we got angry, but absolutely NO angry outlet was tolerated.

It’s been a learning curve for me. To feel anger. and to see anger in my kids. To acknowledge it. And then to find a healthy way to release it.

Emotions are not sin just as anger is not sin.

What we do with our emotions, ourselves, and others in the heat of them surging through us is where the kicker lies.

Since I’m being honest here, I still struggle with panic when my boys get angry.

I want to control the situation immediately. Make the so called ‘bad emotions’ leave. Suffocate the feelings.

I want to push a button and create calm.

My blood pressure rises. I look around to see if anyone else is watching my kid have a traumatic big outburst of feelings. I think of how I was immediately silenced and think they have no right to have this big feeling if I wasn’t permitted to . I feel the fight in me rising, because I have feelings and emotions too and this is not comfortable for me.

Sometime I need to simply stop and write the words of how I feel in the moment to find what’s really happening inside of my own self.

It takes an incredibly larger amount of patience to sit with them in their big emotions and let them feel safe then it does to hand out quick, swift consequences and make the noise stop.

It takes much more self control to help them calm down and wait until their brains are thinking clearly before talking about better ways to handle the situation then it does to throw out threats at them and scare them into obedience and silence.

Did you know that when a child is in total unregulated meltdown mode they can hear about 1 word you are saying? So save your breathe! Wait to share your practical problem solving advice until they (and most likely you) are calmer!

Tonight, I sit beside my two sleeping boys. A storm is rolling in and the wind is picking up all kinds of gustiness. I want it to blow right through my heart and take away all the weary and all the times I made less then good choices as a mom this week.

I honesty feel like a total failure on some levels and then I remind myself that I am doing my best.

That we have grace and forgiveness and second chances in our family.

That the point is not about getting it all right. It’s about learning and growing and becoming stronger. Healthier. Braver.

That at the end of the day, we can lay down to rest, knowing we are loved. Loved in our weakness. Our pain. Our joy. Loved for our wild glory and our unique low lands. Loved for being ourselves.

Finding Yourself

Remodeling My Soul and Home

Its 2 AM and the burning to write drove me out of bed and into the kitchen.

I brewed myself a cup of tea, and curled up on the couch.

The other night , on my solo time at Barnes and Noble, I wanted to cry more then anything else and so I wept all the way up 10th Ave and drove myself to the Walmart parking lot because that has the best views in town of the Full Moon and the Highwoods.

What ever reason it is that my soul is stirring, I know I will sleep better and be more relaxed tomorrow if I write the words and give them wings.

We are doing this crazy thing. This thing that makes me wonder if we have lost our minds. This thing that my ego ( the perceiving, analytical, logical part of my mind) calls ‘out of my mind’.

We are sorting through our stuff, getting rid of tons of it, finishing up our house remodel, putting it up for sale, and living in a camper for the summer.

Let me back up. Seven years ago, in March, we moved across country to do Doctoring for our daughter who had a severe genetic disorder. Five years ago in January, we lost our only daughter. We moved nine times in the past 11 years of our married life. That’s a lot of change and disruption and well, MOVING. Priorities change when you move a lot. STUFF doesn’t look so beautiful or necessary anymore.

When we bought our first and current house, about 3 1/2 years ago, we never wanted to move again. But deep inside, we knew we might. The house was a foreclosure and needed a lot of TLC. It was a perfect house to flip. We put hours and hours of work into this place. We saved money. Very slowly, over the years, we’ve made significant transformations.

Resodding the back yard, reshingling the roof, remodeling the kitchen. Repainting basically every surface in the house and a lot outside more then once 😉 New flooring in our living space. It’s transforming into a sweet home.

Sometimes, I feel like the transformation is happening inside of me as well.

Three years ago, back in the initial stages of remodeling, I sat in the bedroom on the mattress that was laying right down on the floor,and cried my eyes out, with the realization that I was broken beyond words and that Jesus found me.

Like the woman at the well in the ancient days, He FOUND me….I didn’t find Him.

I had searched all my life for a deep identity. I felt like there was a missing key that would magically help me understand myself and life.

So gently, God has lead me along. Never giving up on me. Always taking me to a another scene. A new level in life as I am prepared for it.

I knew I was loved,forgiven, and God’s child, from a young age , but that day, I came to a deep, deep understanding. It was like scales fell off my eyes. The years of my searching and my reaching and grasping…every single bit of that desire was from HIM.

He was there.

All along, when I thought I was finding HIM,

HE was actually finding ME.

I didn’t have to worry anymore about saying or doing the perfect thing.

His finding me had nothing to do with logic (ego) or perfection.

It had everything to do with grace and believing and soul truth and BEING FOUND.

I could stop searching for that inner core that I always thought was missing. My brokenness and my weary heart that never got it right…it could REST because He found me.

From here on out, I have been on a whole new level of JOURNEY. I still ask the question, “Who am I? What is my purpose? What if I miss who I am suppose to be?”

I am learning slowly but steadily. I try new things. Just as our house took years to transform ( and technically, we could go on improving it ‘forever’) my heart and soul takes its own sweet time to grow and blossom.

I am finding that when I start listening to my soul instead of my brain, transformation happens. It’s been a long process. I’ve fallen flat on my face in the most uncomfortable, ungraceful ways, more times then I can count. I’ve misunderstood others and been misunderstood by them and goofed up and rambled off on rabbit trails and cried and laughed and worried.

There is never any level of perfection that I reach in life. I’m learning to be ok with that.

Life isn’t about perfection. It’s about always reaching forward. Opening to the next thing that shows up at your door. Listening closely to see if it’s for you. Trying something new.

Going after dreams is not as risky when you are open to learning all you can from the situation.

Like new coats of paint that totally don’t go with your intended color scheme, there is always room for change.

When my ego is in play, I’m logical and I look at facts and details and decide if it’s a good fit or not. That’s all good, but way too often, I listen to my ego instead of my heart or soul. I miss out on some of the best moments when I let fear and logic creep in and try to keep me ‘safe and perfect’.

I Watch for that deep inner tingle. That thrill of -THIS! This is something I could get into! This is the opportunity I’ve been handed.

When you feel a sensation of excitement and a deep stirring. When you wake up excited to work on your dream. Then you know you are following your soul truths.

Our ego can quickly write it off as ‘wishful thinking’. Snuff it out as an ‘ unrealistic dream’. Shame us into thinking we are NOBODY when we are actually a very real, very breathing, very valuable SOMEBODY.

It’s alarming how many dreams crash and burn before they even have a breathe.

Here’s a truth I’m learning though.

Every single dream you allow to breathe and burn in you, will lead you somewhere. Fear of following the wrong dream does not need to cripple your style or your dream.

One step leads to another.

If you are growing and changing and finding fulfillment and passion in life, it is not wasted.

So how does this play into the whole ‘sell your house and live small’ notion?

A few years ago, my husband and I were captivated by the tiny house living that was popping up all over the world. We watched documentaries, hashed and rehashed the pros and cons. It sounded so intriguing. So freeing. At the time, we had our plates absolutely full, our schedules crammed even while trying hard to enjoy the small moments. We had bills to pay and more renovations to accomplish on this house before we wanted to sell it. At the same time, we helped our friends downsize their home. As much as it looked adventurous and fun, we knew it wasn’t for us at the moment.

Fast forward to a crazy busy summer last year, hours of work put into our businesses and house, a hard season in our marriage, and a hard season in our son’s lives.

We took a deep, straight up look at ourselves over the past months.

Here’s what I found was my personal truth when I dug deeper into my life. I was dying inside. Not because I wasn’t passionate and following a good path. But because I was starving myself of soul food. All the steps I took to get to where I was had lead me to this massive realization. As productive and together and wonderful as life was, my soul was shriveling up inside of me.

When you begin listening to the deeper part of you, instead of covering it up with work and volunteering and more obligations, you will be amazed at what you hear.

Now before you read further, you need to know something about me. I never learned to Say ‘No’. Being a ‘good person’ meant always putting everyone first at the expense of myself and even my family. Ouch.

So here’s what I did. I stopped volunteering. I would not have understood myself if I had seen this version of me a few years ago. Serving is good. Working hard is great. But this was my season in life where I had to say ‘No More’.

I needed to create space for Jesus to find me in a new way.

I had to take care of my own soul because if I didn’t, I would die a bit more every day and eventually, the skeleton of who I was meant to be would rattle in my own ears.

I stopped always being ‘ON’. I started doing little things just for me that spoke to my soul. Like artwork. Reading more. I got myself some Moleskin journals even if I thought they were extravagant. I started writing my story.

God had told me to write it over a year ago, and I had thought about it in my heart, but hadn’t really gotten the words on paper. Perhaps that year of self growth WAS writing my story. I was constantly thinking and analyzing and growing as a person.

One thing I knew. I had to put more time and action into actually creating the life I loved. The life that made me truly feel alive.

I started thinking about how I wanted my day to start when I woke up in the morning. The feelings I wanted to thread through my body and home. The way I wanted to end the evening.

Life is never perfect. Ever. But we can always make adjustments in life and allow space for the things we dream about to exist. Let’s be real. When you are up multiple times at night with a baby, you likely won’t have a perfect face in the morning, a pot of french press coffee brewing and a steaming cinnamon roll with Morning Vibes playing on you iPad.

But you CAN make small changes. You can wash your face and sip coffee while you watch a You Tube video with your kids because you’re still too groggy to string words together. You can choose to spend time on a soul filling project instead of having the bathroom mirrors polished.

Now returning to this whole downsizing thing…

Fast forward several more months. My husband and I had honest conversations. Some heated, some soft, some raw, some healing.

Change brings change. There was a stirring and a movement in both of us.

A busy winter and a crazy February with nearly record snow fall and relentless subzero weather let us both gasping for breath and warmth.

All the tiny thoughts that had been stirring our soul.

All the work we’ve put into listening to what really matters to us.

Coming to a better understanding of our priorities and the steps we can take to work toward them.

They all begin to collide and morph together.

We didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to sell our house and move into a camper. This was a step by step process that took years to come to.

Seasons came and went in our lives and right now, we realize that this ONE life we have will never change, unless we change it.

We are opening spaces for change to come. To Happen.

Our initial plan was to remodel, and Air BNB our house out while we lived in the camper. Honestly, though? That would mean being more busy, and we are trying to get off the treadmill.

The more work we put into our house, the more we realized we were wanting something else. We were wanting freedom. Freedom from our stuff. Freedom from trading one busy for another. Freedom from a mortgage payment. Freedom to work and then to shut off the work and to be fully present with our family, others and ourselves. Freedom to let go of excess. Freedom to live in contentment with less stuff and more of what makes life real and complete.

I am far from living my days out perfectly. I get frustrated at the chaos of this season in my house every day. There is still painting and finishing touches to do all over this place. There is sorting and boxing up and deciding what gets sold, what gets stored (what is truly valuable to us) and what gets taken to our camper home. There are two boys who need love and security and attention. There is the fact that our house may not sell immediately. There is the being ok with that. The plan that no matter what happens, we will be following our deep intuition that this is what we want to do at this season in our lives.

It’s not like we have arrived. This will simply lead us to another place in life ( whether geographically or just through self growth, I don’t know.) It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are doing what we know deep in our hearts is best for us and our family right now.

When you are in the best place for YOU, you will be in the best place for those you love.

Not all our questions have to be answered right now. Not everything needs to make sense. We just need to take a step at a time. Embrace the moment , even when it’s uncomfortable, and know that it will lead us to the next thing. And the next thing.

And by the way, if you are looking for a great family home with the option of continuing the AirBNB in part of it, come chat with us….this may be the next ‘thing’ you are being led to 😉

Finding Yourself

The Obliger

I’ve been on a bit of an uncomfortable journey the last few months. Sometimes life goes so skippingly along and you find beautiful picnic spots, laughing streams, glorious mountain lakes and sun dampled fields.

Life seems to make reasonable sense, or so you convince yourself. One day, you wake to a strange sensation and you realize that not everything is as it seems, and foreign clouds are rolling in, threatening your brain waves.

What do you do when faced with change and expectations? Those deep inner rumblings reveal so very much about who you really are.

Sometimes sunshine hides the shadows of the soul and only when storms and night take over do the true colors come into existence. Sometimes it’s just a bit hard to actually get to know the person hiding out in those shadows. The person you thought you are and the person you actually are and the person you were meant to be do not always play nicely together. It can be confusing to sort them out and also a bit scary.

Recently I picked up a book at the library that has been on my list for quite awhile. It’s a book that reveals the four general ways people relate to expectations/deadlines.

To do a complete, quick survey, google the website above and check it out! There’s a lot of fascinating information to read through, and lots of great tips in understanding why you react the way you do to expectations.

But back to this whole reaction thing, recently the company I work with had an amazing promotion. You could earn a cruise to the Bahamas, by helping your team members build their businesses and build your own at the same time.

Guys, I was ON FIRE. Years ago, my husband and I had booked a cruise, just the two of us, through a deep discount offer from a credit card company. It was all paid for, and we were going to have an amazing, relaxing time. That cruise never happened because of circumstances that we felt were beyond our control at that time. Honestly? It wasn’t fair. But that is history. 😊

Now this cruise that I could earn, well, it was right down my alley. I wanted to take my husband on that cruise. I knew about hard work and facing fears and dreaming big. I even felt like God wanted me on that cruise in a really big way. I had a talk with Him about it, and He told me to go for it….to jump all in and work hard and He would take care of the rest. So I did.

One of my default modes is busyness. I can stay up crazy hours of the night and run on fumes the next day if I have a fire burning in me. That’s what I did. I worked until midnight and one night until 2 AM . I had goals, baby, and nothing was going to stop me. I could feel it happening. The magic danced in front of my eyes. I tasted the sting of ocean water. I was up early to accomplish more goals. I hired a sitter for my boys once a week so I could have uninterrupted time to work. I lived, breathed, and dreamed work. I bolstered myself up with other people’s hard work as well. I watched videos, took training, planned events and lived my business as whole heartedly as I could.

The weeks slipped by and I realized that only a miracle would get me on that ship. Spots were filling up fast and I still had miles to go. Then the rejections began to set in. It was nothing personal. Just walls and closed doors every way I turned. I was tired. I felt like my family was not getting the care they deserved. The self doubt crept in and one morning, I knew that this was it. I would likely not make it. I sat on the bathroom floor and bawled my eyes out. I was mopping tears from my face, ugly crying, angry, and horribly disappointed in myself. Everything I had worked so hard for seemed to be at a standstill. I heard only silence and the scoff of my own heart. I was eventually asked to accompany my friend as her guest, and my heart thrilled with the hope that I actually HAD heard God correctly and I really would go. Circumstances prevented me from going with her as well, and my heart died a bit more.

Though this painful disappointment, I learned some vital things about myself. As much as I wanted to be on that cruise, I wanted to prove something to myself even more. I wanted to prove that I could do something hard. That I was not a fraud or a fake. When I didn’t meet my own high expectations that were truly a far stretch, I began a mantra of self blame. I felt like a failure and a loser and all the times I never stuck something out came back to haunt me. All the lies I believed as a girl pounded on my mind’s door and I felt like a scared, confused, helpless child who could never measure up to expectations of others. While in my heart, I knew I was going to be ok eventually, my mind was a battlefield of questions and accusation.

One thing became evident. I was feeling worse about ‘failing’ in the eyes of others then I was about not going on that trip. I was more disappointed in myself then I was about not getting on that boat. I questioned the very core of who I was and was ruthless in the pursuit of discovering it. Ironically, I faced a paradox. The more I dove into the core of my heart, the more I discovered that most of all, I needed to give myself grace and space and quiet. I needed to find time to sit in silence and learn the art of stillness. I needed to stretch into the fullness of who I was and let God lead me into who I was to become. I needed to let go of the idea of perfection and revel in the beauty of humanity. I needed to embrace myself so I could embrace others.

Reading the Four Tendency’s was a clarifying reality check for me.

As a general summery, there are 4 ways, that people relate to expectations.

The Obliger- “You can count on me. I’m counting on you to count on me.”

The Questioner- “I’ll comply – if you convince me why. ”

The Rebel- ” You can’t make me , and neither can I.”

The Upholder- ” Discipline is my freedom.”

I am a classic Obliger. It’s why in the past, I have volunteered for things, and then unfairly expected my husband to help out or pick up the slack when I was too tired or overwhelmed to finish. It’s why I have a hard time knowing what I want to do or when I want to do it….” what ever you want is fine with me.” Classic Obliger, Anita.

I am happy when others are happy. I have set expectations for myself that no one even asked me to set simply because I took the responsibility to do it a few times…so doesn’t everyone expect me to continue? I also bury myself in helping others and working my tail off, then crashing into bed, feeling sorry for myself because no one appreciates my hard work or tells me to take a break. If you are not an Obliger, this is likely Greek to you. Why would some one work themselves to the bone and then expect sympathy? Why wouldn’t you take care of yourself so you can perform at higher levels of efficiency ? And why is everyone else’s problem your responsibility?

On the other hand, I am great at caring for others. I can sacrifice hours of my time quite happily and if I know that going to the gym is important to my husband, then I will go work myself into a sweat. I give. I love. I laugh. But I also burn out.

My burnouts are not pretty or glorious. They look like a shut down and feel like a rebel. I have unhealthily buried myself in ‘another project ‘ in the past to avoid feeling that rebel. Part of my struggle over the past months has been a deep disappointment in myself. I found myself saying, ” I NEVER stick to anything successfully.”

Here’s the eye opener. Being an Obliger has that exact tendency. In the past, I was seldom given credit at sticking something out, because I was constantly flitting from idea to idea. One helpful ‘progect’ to the next. Life also threw me lots of curve balls that made long term accountability impossible in some areas. I jumped around a lot. That is prime country for Obligers.

As an Obliger, without accountability and deep mindfulness we can easily fall into the trap of performing for the love of performing for others. Losing our hearts for the expectations of pleasing our family and friends can look like the deepest satisfaction, but one day, we wake up, and realize that we have lost ourselves and our vision in the progress. What started as a good thing has morphed into an unfamiliar sense of overwhelm. That’s where silence, rest, and self care come in. That’s where goals need to be revisited, genuine gifts called out, and lost of praying done. It’s where accountability to oneself and others needs to be firmly established and the curtain raised on a new beginning. It’s where self care is not selfish.

I’m still trying to find my way, but through this whole realization, I came to a fuller understanding of why I have been so disappointed in myself in the past. I have an impossibly hard time of keeping any commitment I make to myself. I need people around me to remind me of my goals and how important they are before I wonder off and get sidetracked in emptying the dishwasher or chasing another idea of service.

I also remembered that earlier this year, God asked me to write my story. That perhaps He wanted me to work so hard and then miss that cruise so He could get my attention and tell me to take time for other important things as well, like following through with His direction. That I need accountability to sit down and write daily instead of doing the 100 endless other things that are never going to go away. That dreams are worth pursuing and my company will have more great adventures available in the future.

I’m an Obliger and I am a romantic and although it’s crazy unhandy at times, I know that I have a job to do in this world that is specific for me. I’m proud of my God. Proud of the work and love He has poured into me. I will shine. It may be a strange glow of rubbing my lamp at midnight, but with His grace, it will be beautiful.

Join me? The Rebel. The Questioner. The Upholder. The other Obliger. ( by the way, we Obligers dominate the population according to research) ☺️

Together we will find our strengths and change the world.

Mom Life

Of Toddlers and Tantrums

Here’s the real story. It’s not easy being a toddler mom.

It’s incredibly fun and nothing else quite compares to the sweetness of those little hands against your face, and that little Eskimo Kiss. The laughter and the silliness and the total cuteness.

Joy just explodes from his little body. He hugs the cat and rides the dog and picks tomatoes for a snack. He is incredibly cute and sweet.

He’s also incredibly fast and dynamic.

When he has a goal, nothing and no one can stop him. His mind is intent on ONE thing. It usually has to do with Daddy, food, or anything on wheels. Sometimes it’s just the sheer joy of running and the chase that thrills him.

And sometimes it’s the little “catch me if you dare”.

Today I thought he was being the most amazing, quiet toddler, drinking his bottle in the comfy little space I made for him, only to discover that he had escaped out side and was vroom vrooming happily on the lawn mower seat.

It isn’t always pretty though guys! He has a BIG voice , a STRONG opinion, and an unquenchable spirit.

That brings me to to tantrums. I’m starting to look at this whole tantrum thing in a different light. I’m starting to put myself in his place.

Whispering at 5:30 AM?

No thanks! I was just quiet for 10 hour and I’m ready to rumble!

Time to come in?

Of course not! It’s way more fun outside with all the exploring to do!

Go to sleep?

Why would I DO that? I may miss out on the fun!

Sit in my car seat?

Are you out of your mind? Those things have STRAPS!

Don’t hit my brother?

But he’s so much fun to tease!

Water is for drinking.

But have you ever let it run out of your mouth. Repeatedly? Just for fun?

How about emptying the tissue box? Or spreading the snack on the floor?

I mean, who actually swallows peanuts! They are made to chew and spit.

And checkout lines? I mean that’s where I am DONE . No, the bottle is only a trick and Mercy no! I don’t want a SNACK right now. I JUST WANT TO RUN.

Sometimes it’s like chasing a whirlwind. Sometimes I can’t have a decent conversation because I’m talking to the air or over my shoulder 90% of the time.

Do I believe in boundaries? Yes. But honestly guys, if your child is safe, fed and clothed (well …we may be a bit sketchy on the clothed part) then give him the world to conquer!

I feel like our kids have so many negative words spoken over them. Like naughty. Stubborn. Rebellious. Manipulative. It makes me sad to hear these words even In My own brain.

What I used to call a tantrum, I look at as a grand disappointment. What I thought was manipulative behavior is often a plea for attention and understanding and connection. To really be heard and valued. What I thought was stubborn is often just a great big personal preference.

Our children are little people, after all, and too often we treat them with very little respect and a whole lot of authority. Then we demand that they respect us. It usually doesn’t go over too well with me when I feel shamed, forced, or manipulated into doing something. It doesn’t feel good to our children either.

I’m learning to take a moment and look at life through little boy eyes. To take a breathe and feel the feels. It takes time and work and isn’t exactly convenient when the pressure is rising and people are watching and all my triggers are firing. But having that trust and connection guys, it’s going to be so worth it!

Don’t give up on pursuing your children’s hearts, my friend! It’s HARD! I know! We mess up! I SO KNOW! But knowledge is power. Failure is FORWARD. Connection is key.