Category Archives: Daily Happenings

Stress. Anxiety. Self-Doubt.

What do these words have in common?

They often are buzz words that we hear today, driven by a society that leaves us little time to reflect.

How do we change it? Does it mean because they are buzz words, they are inaccurate?

A relative was telling me how anxiety is the plague of the modern generation. They are fearful of things that are not something to be afraid of. It is controlling their lives to the point that they are disabled by it. Does that mean the anxiety is not real?

No.

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The reality is our lives are fast paced. We are on a hamster wheel that we have created for our society, but we are unable to get off.

We spend energy on things like not using rain water collection, restricting raw milk, and other laws that have had good reasons, but waste people’s time and energy in forcing the matter.

We have a higher need than ever for people that have Emotional Support Animal’s, but some people care more about themselves than anyone else around them. Other people care so little for themselves, they will do anything for someone else, but restrict their mercy to others, and will not extend it to themselves.

So how can we change our lives?

This is the million dollar question that no one seems to have the answer to.

I work three different jobs at the moment, plus a side job as a doula.  I am making a living, but at what cost?

How will my health be affected?

Yesterday I went to get my oil changed. They always take forever, but I enjoy it. It is like a mini vacation. You are stuck in a comfortable chair with your book, free wi-fi, tea and snacks.

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I got to thinking though. If this is the closest we get to relaxing, reflecting and slowing down, is this the way we want to live?

I live fairly simply. But for example, my phone stopped charging well recently. I investigated what it would cost to replace it. I could get a used one, that may die again in about a year, or I could spend over $600 for the bottom of the line phone on a similar system to what I am used to. They offer a payment plan, which is not something I am ok with usually, so it irritates me. Why I am trapped now, in a society where if I do not have a good cell phone that meets my needs, I could lose my business.

It is a business expense, but one that I was not counting on the moment.

Expenses that come up like this can drain you of energy, but also make you feel slightly trapped.

What is the answer?

I long at times for reducing my expenses to a minute amount where I can be earning less and thriving more.

I am mystified at this battle I am engaged in.

Recently I had to decline going to something I wanted to go to because I had a previous engagement. Do you know what the previous engagement was?

It was my shower. Yes, I had been battling to find time to take a shower, in bussing kids to college, running bank disbursements to the bank, mailing packages, dealing with delinquent UPS drivers that missed packages, settling insurance claims, and just the basic stuff, it is the really basic stuff that gets missed. When it comes time where I have to schedule a shower and eating in so it can get done, it is to a point that is not healthy.

Last night I woke up at 4 am in a pool of sweat from anxiety. I walked the house to make sure everything was ok, which it was, but the temp in the home was about 50’s-60’s. It was not hot.

On the surface though, I am here. I am thriving. I am keeping up. I am “amazing”. I am working hard. I am here for everyone else. I love that, but I also don’t want to collapse and fail.

What are the answers you have found to reduce Stress, Anxiety and other evils of daily life?

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First World Blindness?

I was listening to a speaker give a talk recently and had thoughts flood through my brain.

I started scribbling notes as I thought, and figured I could share them with you all.

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We live a fairly sheltered life when it comes to poverty, many people would say. But still in that, comes a certain amount of blindness to the kinds of poverty we have here.

My mom is visiting Africa right now, and no, our poverty looks different than it looks there.

(You can find some of her adventures here on “Adventures of a Midwife”)

This was a new kitchen that she shared a photo of.

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For us, in most First world countries, we would be thinking that this was not something we could live with.

This would not be a grocery experience that we would think was adequate.

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I often see posts on social media how they can’t make ends meet, or make their special diets work. They have to have gluten free, dairy free, soy free, nut free, low carb and the like. I am not anti-special diets. They are needed to help people remain healthy. But sometimes I think, we allow our mentality and freedom to choose take away our common sense.  I think sometimes reframing how we think about nutrition and food, and what we think we “need”, we could be much healthier eating simply.

What if we walked everywhere? Could you eat rice, beans and squash every day?

What if you only ate what you could grow in your yard? Would you take the time to cultivate your yard more?

I struggle with this as I lack time. I am so busy working to survive, that I don’t have the time to often do everything needed like that. But what if I simplified things, so that I needed less, and gained time?

Often when you hear people talk about saving money in the USA, at least, we hear the old adages.

“Stop ordering coffee once a week and you will save $260 a year.”

“Everyone has $5-$30 to spare. You can find it somewhere to share with us or save.”

 

What if you never order coffee? What if your grocery budget is $5-$30?”

Often people think that in this country of plenty, there are not any hungry people. They talk about food banks, food stamps, and other programs to help those in need.

I will say that I have been a starving person in America. I did not have access to food banks, food stamps or any program to help with food. Later when I had access, I had been taught how wrong it was to use those programs, so refused, and even if I could get past that, the judgment from others that went towards the people that did was enough to make it more worthwhile to starve.

I remember standing in the grocery store, staring at the apples and wishing I had the money to buy one. I had $5 to spend for food. I bought a loaf of bread, some flour and yeast and a thing of turkey ham, if I remember right that time. It was enough when combined with things in my pantry at home that I could make some meals. If I could get a vegetable, I would buy cabbage or lettuce.

There were times that I had $20 for the month to purchase food for the family. It is shameful, but we would go dumpster diving to look for expired food that was in packages to use. If it was still cold, we would wash off the packages and eat good. I remember being so happy to find some meat and tortillas.

We read books on wild foraging. Rose hip jam with homemade bread, soups with wild onion and garlic, steamed cattails were things we tried or my friends did. We didn’t like everything. Wild meat from hunting or animals that were raised was used as well.

You learn how to survive, but not always thrive. I lived in a brain fog. I would frequently pass out from exercise, even though I was a healthy person. I suffered a broken bone from lack of nutrition and poor medical follow up caused me long term issues.

Poverty in a first world country is not as rare as you think. Sometimes it is caused from people making poor choices. Occasionally it is people ending up in abusive situations that cause them to be stranded in those poor choices. We were eventually restricted from dumpster diving for food as the leaders felt it was a poor example to the community. The issue still remained that we were lacking food.

So, what is the answer?

I think that sometimes there are multiple avenues you can go with this.

  1. Identify the poor in your community.
  2. Seek out ways to help them to find safety, choices and healing not by always giving them a hand out, but offering them a helping hand to find resources to be independent.
  3. Don’t assume that there are not any poor in your area that might need help. These are not the ones you will see at the food bank usually. These are more likely the ones serving in the community.
  4. Look for the overwhelmed that seem like maybe they need help with yard work, they have extra stuff around or might need help in more physical ways. Often we don’t realize that poverty can mean you can’t do landscaping, or afford to get rid of things. It might mean you are stuck with repairs that need to be done, and you just live with it the way it is.
  5. Don’t be entitled. It can be hard to realize that something that is so simple to you, like hiring a plumber, or mowing your grass, might be out of reach for them. They may not be able to pay the plumber or buy a mower, if they want their kids to eat that week.
  6. Watch for things like being unable to obtain medical care, they don’t have socks, their shoes are old, or perhaps struggle with personal hygiene. Toothpaste, deodorant and soap can sometimes be out of reach, especially if all the money is going to food or electricity.
  7. Never shame someone for taking government assistance or using programs to help get out of the situation. Don’t say, “Well, someone is paying for that. It isn’t free.” While true, those words can shame the very people we are wanting to help, rather than stopping the ones that abuse it.

It is easy when we have never experienced it, to think that someone is lazy. It is easy to think that they just need to pull up their boot straps and get it done.

The poor in America are not like in a third world country, but they in some ways, have a greater disadvantage. They are the working poor. The overlooked. Others do not see them. They are most likely sitting next to you in church. They are likely working with you. They may be a teacher at your school or a student.

Don’t turn a blind eye on the poor of America. They need us to be able to be the support of the nation.

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Failure.

Have you ever felt like a failure? IMG_0914

That was supposed to be a world cake. What? You can’t see it?

What happens when you feel like your life is categorized by the little or big things in life and determine your value?

Do you listen to the voices that tell you that you are a failure?

Recently one of my children had a decision they had to make. I knew I needed to be there on the journey and support their decision, even if I felt it was not the right one. But I couldn’t stop hearing the nagging voice that told me that if they made the decision that I felt was wrong, I had failed.

Had I?

Was I a failure because someone chose to walk a different pathway than I would choose?

No. I wasn’t.

Did I fail at making a tasty cake and decorating it in the photo above? Yes. I did. Did that define me as a person? Determine my value?

No.

Many times other people in our lives will make decisions that impact us. They may circle around and make us look like we failed.

A spouse abandons their family. Someone refuses to get a job. A meal gets ruined because of a mistake. The list could go on and on.

Do those define us as failures?

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Those do not define us as failures anymore than something going right determines we are a success. We may have had a failure in our life. Something may not have gone right, but we are not what we do.

Stop, look around at the people instead. Do horrible things happen?

Yes. But they do not define us. Make wise choices in the chaos. Make healthy choices in the places you can in your life. But don’t allow others choices to dictate your success or failure.

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Diminishing Value?

“You are too young to know anything about that. Wait until you are older to talk about such things.”

“You only have young children, you have no idea what it is like to have teenagers. Your advice is basically useless.”

“You only have teenagers, you have forgotten what it is like to have young children.”

“You don’t know what it is like to have a healthy marriage since you are divorced.”

“You are not married, what would you know about a marriage relationship?”

“You struggle with depression, how can you talk about being happy.”

“You don’t have a degree, so you don’t know what you are doing.”

 

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We can always find reasons why someone who is talking us does not have value. Could it be that the advice they are giving is wrong?

That can happen.

Sometimes though, many times, we dismiss people because of age, experience or what we see as lack of knowledge.

I will never forget when at 28, I offered to help with a class on cooking on a budget. I was quite reserved and it was fairly difficult to even offer. I had extensive experience for the previous fifteen years minimum of cooking on an extreme budget. It was second nature to me. I had more experience than most people would have in a lifetime, including cooking for 17-50 on a regular basis with little resources.

The woman laughed that I spoke to. “Dear, you are too young to be teaching other women. Wait until you are a bit older.”

It took me aback a bit.  I had been told many times in my life that what I had to offer was not of value because of my age, my perceived age, stature, education or the like. “Your children are too young to know how homeschooling might actually go. Wait until you are older.”

Recently though I heard, “Your children are too old to understand and remember what homeschooling young children was like. We need to hear from people who have young children.”

Another thing I heard someone say, “We need to stick to being around and hearing from people that are only of our belief systems, our kind.”

It got me to thinking!

We need a mixture of varied ages, influences and experiences in our circles. We need the people that have older children, younger children, large families, small families, different levels of education, and from all areas and walks of life. We need diversity in our lives.

If we only surround ourselves with people that are in the same place, with the same experiences as we have, we will end up with a very narrow minded point of view.

Instead when a child speaks the truth to you, but it stings a bit, don’t disregard his truth because he is a child. Thank him for it. He may be young, but truth is truth.

If a younger woman can teach you something, like budgeting or cooking, accept it with joy. It is a gift to learn from others.

If an older person shares a truth with you, and you feel like they are not qualified to deliver it, but it is truth, accept it and thank them. Truth is truth, no matter who it is from.

Sometimes those that we least expect truth to come from, are the best teachers.

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“They have it all together.”

How often have you looked at someone you know and thought this.

“They have it all together.”

“They have the perfect life”

“Their marriage is fabulous.”

Sometimes it could be true. It is doubtful, but it could be true. No one is perfect, has it all together, has the perfect life, marriage and children. It just is the fact of the matter.

Why do we believe this lie when we see others?

I remember when someone told me that they thought this of me. I laughed. Despite having always been frank about my failings, I somehow had showed perfection.

Yes, I was the mom that you saw in the store that you wondered why on earth she didn’t control her children better. I worked day and night to raise my kids to be obedient, but I didn’t want robots. I wanted them to think for themselves, be willing to test boundaries and ask questions. But sometimes I just wanted them to go take naps. Or sit in a cart too.

So, I would ask, who are we really judging when we see that perfect family? Are we judging them, or ourselves for not being able to live up to the ideal we have placed on ourselves?

What burdens are you placing on yourselves that you think others have put there, when in reality, most people never had that thought cross their mind?

Oh, there are judgmental people out there, I will give you that. But sometimes being able to not hear the judgment, means we have to stop putting our expectations to a level that no one is called to.

Give yourself grace.

Don’t compare yourself by others. They likely have messes you don’t even want to know about.

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The Bible- Weaponized.

That title alone could bring about a lot of confusion. For some, they are imagining “The Sword of the Lord” as in Christianese terms, the bible could be referred to.

For some though, they may be thinking along the lines that I am. When the bible has been used to hurt, kill and wound other people that believe in it.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Galations 5:13, 14″

I think often this verse is not one that is pulled out too often.

This week, I was in a car driving along a road near familiar places to me. As I traveled and the road signs went flashing by, memories flooded in.

Unbidden. Unwanted. Painful Memories.

The bible being used as a weapon, rather than loving on ones neighbor. “Christians” that claimed love, biting and devouring one another while seeking to use chains of legalism to bind others.

“You know the bible says to submit to your husband. You should do whatever he tells you, as long as it is not sin. Oh, you think that is sin? You are just trying to avoid your wifely duties. Smile and bear it. Take up your cross.”

The words sound good. “Take up your cross.”, “Deny yourself”, and other biblical terms. But how are they applying in cases where people are harming others, and using biblical excuses to cover them up?

“The bible doesn’t talk about self care or taking care of yourself. You should be careful about how much you think about it. Depression is likely being caused by sin you have not confessed. Instead, work harder to deny the lusts of the flesh and sacrifice yourself. If you die, isn’t it to the glory of God?”

They are taking advantage of something. The fact that many people are willing to do just about anything for God. But when they are taught about a false god that demands so much more than he gives, it ends up being a false religion.

I was willing to do anything for God. I still am. But I know God, and what He will ask of me. I am not listening to the voices of others telling me what God is saying as as cliche as it sounds, I know His voice. When those others butt in and try to tell me in different voices that they are the voice of God, that is when I can easily reject it.

As I drove down the highway of memories, I rejected those thoughts of legalism and condemnation that rained down, and put up my umbrella. “Not today.” I’ll say. “I am walking with my Savior today.”

I am rejecting the use of the bible as a weapon to kill and heap death on others, and instead embracing using it to show the Love of God.

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What Box do you belong in?

 

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“Are you Catholic?” The straightforward question from the stranger in the row behind me at church caught me off guard, but I smiled as I turned to answer him. “You have a lace thing on your head and Catholics wear them.”

I struggled to know how to answer him as I knew that he was simply trying to figure out why I obviously did not belong where I was. His question formatted in a different way than many others before one, was one that I have faced pretty much all my life. Yes, it is one I expect will happen. Generally the odd comments come from children who have not learned social skills yet or the people that simply state what they have on their mind. I used to want to answer sarcastically, or could come up with something very pious.

In their mind, there is something here that does not belong. I am in a Baptist church. I don’t fit in. As I generally sit alone in a pew, engaged in my thoughts, I thought about what I could have answered, than how I did.

The truth is, I have never fit into any box that people have tried to put me in. Thankfully, I hope I never do.

I grew up among Mennonites, and loved it, but as an imaginative tomboy of a girl, I didn’t quite meet the standards given to me. I read too much fiction, made up stories, loved playing alone, and my dresses were not always neat or tidy, and my hair even less so.

Among other groups, I tried to do what I could, polite, kind, but things didn’t always make sense in my mind as far as belief systems.

I had to ask myself, “Who am I?” and “Why am I doing things to meet others standards instead of living how I believe is right?”

I am a conundrum to many people, including the man in the pew behind me today. He may have walked away today thinking he found the answer, thinking I was a Mennonite girl that somehow was there on accident. But in reality, in his eagerness to place me in a box, he missed out. He didn’t learn anything about me or who I am as a person.

Many people do that with others we meet. We place them in a box, and put a label on it. We struggle to allow them outside of that box. We see mistakes they make, the way they dress, the words they say, and we assume they are something associated with that.

What if we forgot the boxes and labels we place on people, and get to know them without trying to place them in a box, I think we would discover a whole new way of living.

I totally get wanting to be with people of similar lifestyles, belief systems and culture. But for me, when I get outside of that, I learn so much more.

I don’t want to be stuck in the box that someone puts me in. I don’t want to place people around me in boxes.

Sometimes we place ourselves in a box as well, close the lid up and wait to be discovered. We are angry when others don’t open it to find out who we are, and instead read the label we wrote in fury on the side. Sometimes the angry letters scare people off from opening up the box and discovering the real you. Then there are other boxes that place themselves high on a shelf, refusing to allow themselves to be opened. Fear stops them, or belief that we are of no value to others or fear of being contaminated by others.

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Whatever box we are in, whether someone put us there or we did it to ourselves, let us open up the boxes of our hearts and allow other in.

Let’s not try to define someone by what their appearance gives us, but instead learn to know what is behind that exterior, words and the public persona.

No, I am not any of the labels that people love to place on me. In fact, most of the people that really know me are surprised when they dig into what is beneath the exterior.

The curious gentleman and his companion walked away today thinking they had me figured out. In truth, they tried to put me in a box, and one where I didn’t belong.

Thankfully, I am really good at jumping out of boxes, and making something else out of them.

I would encourage you, the next person you see that you think from their exterior, you got them all figured out, stop yourself. Ask yourself what you can learn from not putting them in a box, instead of assuming you know everything they are experiencing.

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The Passion of Life

What is your passion?

I was asked this question yesterday. I almost didn’t hesitate in my response, as I answered what I love to do.

However, as I thought about it more in the quiet moments of my work hours, I realized I had not answered correctly.

What am I passionate about?

My life has been filled with many wonderful things. It has also been filled with many moments of pain.  In both of those times, I have found that my passions became small and at times, I could not even articulate what I enjoyed, let alone had any type of passion. That sounds really bad. It does, because it was really bad. I will spare you the details.

So, what did I discover was my passion?

I have many things that I enjoy. I love literature. I love reading. I enjoy writing. I thrive on visiting bookstores, discussing books and living through the experiences of others to educate and learn.

So while I said that my passion is reading and writing, I realized that in truth it more about the passion of learning and helping others not only desire to learn, but to enjoy experiencing the process. This extends far beyond just fiction, which is a big love of mine. It extends to childbirth, to education, and the reason I write on Quora. 

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It is why I love volunteering my time when I don’t have extra time to give.  It is why I seek to offer service in many ways on a weekly basis for education and building the community.

It is why I am there for my kids even when it is hard to get everything done.

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I believe that if I want to complain about the abuses in life, I need to do something about it, to change it on the most basic levels. It means starting with the small people that get overlooked in every aspect of my life.

It also means I get a bit worn out at times. Sometimes you feel like a superhero, but most of the time, you feel like the gum stuck on someone’s shoe. You might have been good at one time, but now you are nothing more than something to be scraped into the garbage.

So, how can you combine your passion with your work? How can you prevent yourself from being swallowed up by your passion until you are too tired to follow it anymore?

For me, I am finding that step by step, setting some good guidelines for yourself to follow is so important. If there are not guidelines in life, we fail.

-Make a plan

-Don’t try to be the savior for everyone, let others help out as well

-Watch out for the “White knight syndrome”.

-Realize that it is okay to fail sometimes

-Follow your passions, but make sure you don’t let them drive you. Always realize it is okay to make a U-Turn.

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Homeschool Enrichment Classes

For the past few weeks, I have been very busy. My life has taken some major turns and twists, but I am keeping it full.

One of my life challenges was to teach enrichment classes to other homeschoolers! It has been a fun challenge and I have really enjoyed it.

 

In the middle of the first class day, my aunt dropped off boxes of books for me to sell. I have sold a few boxes, but still have several to get out of my living room.

Below, we learned the Chemistry of fat by demonstrating it with making butter cookies, as well as the importance of following a recipe carefully. Messing up the order your ingredients are mixed can change the chemical makeup of your dough. We are loving using Guest Hollow’s Kitchen Chemistry.

 

I am also teaching an American history through fiction class. Last week, we had skits acting out some of what we had learned.

I am also teaching an outdoor PE class with yard games to a large group of children. That gets rather exciting and I get a little exercise too. I am thankful to have some helpers.

We started out with some stretches to warm up and end usually with Duck, duck goose as everyone is a bit tired!

We have read Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow already and will be moving on to “Sarah’s Land” by Ann Rinaldi in the next section. I am working to come up with fun, hands on activities that really cement American history into their minds during the hour I have. Last week, besides the skit, we examined documents from the time period and tried to relate to the authors of them.

In all the changes that take place, it is always good to know that perhaps you can share your talent!

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The Truly Important things of life…

What is truly important to you?

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Is it your job, your house, your kids, your family?

What do you hold in highest regard?

I do a lot of observing of other people. I see families that are close to one another, but seek to portray absolute perfection to others. I see other families that show their flaws, are open about their shortcomings, and don’t let it stop them from seeking to be better. I see those that spend time with others as well.

This last month my grandmother was ill, and passed away in the middle of the month. The funeral was last weekend. I spent several hours sitting by her bedside. I was reading or just observing, sometimes visiting with other family which she said made her happy. It took more emotional strain to know that she may not have long with us, but in the end,  the time was worth giving up. I left my meetings, my garden, my children, all things that were important to me to spend time.

We live in a time of culture where spending time is anomaly. We push achievements. If someone fails, we badmouth them or avoid them. We don’t seek for change and success.

Instead I see people focused on the latest fad or diet. Everyone has kids, little ones that are not eating normal diets. In fact, if someone does not have a million food restrictions they are the unusual ones. It is totally a first world issue, and most of the time science is not being used in these many food restrictions. But it does appear to help some people. But again, I noticed that this can limit the time those people spend with others. Their time is spent cooking, avoiding others that eat foods that they cannot eat, and working hard to just focus on what they can eat. The social isolation of people, down to young children is tremendous right now. Or if you eat normally, you feel odd that you can eat a slice of bread and cheese.

If you are someone that has to restrict your food choices, make a conscious effort to not isolate yourselves. Work to have an alternative food so that you can join in social activities occasionally. If you are introverted by nature, it can be easier to just isolate.

I realized though, the gift that others bring into our lives is something we should cherish. We may not realize how little time we have left with them. A 23 year old young woman died this last week, and another person lost their 28 year old cousin. While my grandmother lived a long full life, it still did not seem long enough.

You never know when you will lose someone. If you can spend time, do it. It may mean picking berries alongside them or unpacking boxes for a friend. It doesn’t always have to involve talking. =)

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Who can you connect with this week?

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