Konmari Part Two: My Revised Mission Statement for my Current Living Situation

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and performed several steps of the festival while I lived in a condo I rented with one other roommate. She graciously gave me free reign with decorating and… I ended up accumulating much more than I needed. I had a gigantic master bedroom with 2 closets to myself, and common area storage for all extras. Now my living space is more compact, with less storage, and sharing a home with many people. I thought it was time to revise my mission statement and restart my festival for my current situation.

My Konmari Mission Statement:

I want to end the cycle of overspending, over-consuming, creating clutter and wasting time tidying the extra, so I can spent my time and emotional resources on more valuable things in life.

It is important for me in this moment in time to not live beyond the space I am given. I trust God to provide for me when I move again with the extra furniture and appliances I may need. I understand that not buying nor storing these items now and saving money now, I can get the item again when it is needed, not wanted, regardless of price or discounts. I seek to not be tethered by what I own to any particular place. I seek to get to the point of surrendering fully even what I prize if God asks it. My horizon is most open with possibilities when material possessions to do not limit my outlook. He has always provided.

I seek to keep a more orderly living situation so that I can freely practice hospitality and open my home to those I love or want to know better without hesitation. I will be gracious with myself to not deny fellowship and friendship if and when my home doesn’t look its best. I desire order also for accessibility of resources: for quick dressing in the morning, art projects, and planning for the future. I hope to lead by example by keeping my portion tidy, so that those who live with me might seek the same.

My current priorities and investments include nurturing my body with healthful food, consistent exercise, good company, and commitments that will produce creative, academic, personal, or spiritual growth.

I see myself unbound from long weekend mornings of cleaning. I see myself ready to move freely, with a culled amount of items to bring with me into a marriage one day if that is in my future. I see myself wholly devoted to what I choose to do, and not weighed down by the trivial. I see myself getting better and longer sleep, having less decision fatigue, and being less frustrated. I see more peace at home with others. I see the freedom to save money for the future and a more honed-in sense of self and needs. I see the ability to give my best yeses, guilt-free noes, and do things passionately. I see a life enriched with gratitude and purpose– achieving more with having less to worry about by only keeping what sparks joy.

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2018 Finances and 2019 Goals

This Sunday my pastor asked people to raise their hands honestly if they desired to be rich. Because of hesitation, he asked twice. First round, I slipped my hand up quickly. Second time I had it raised more surely. He mentioned that if a family of 5 lived above the poverty line in the US , they were most likely in the 1% worldwide. A sobering a view. He assured that riches were not bad, and it’s the lust of the love of money that can make people falter, for creating compromising intentions.

“You are already rich,” He said. “It’s just not in the way the world describes it.”

And I am. I am so grateful for all the blessings I’ve been provided. I’ve never known true hunger, or feared where my next meal would come from. I’ve complained about big bills, but I have them because I’m fortunate to pay them for things I have, like a car, or a job with health insurance so I could get my sinus surgery and experience relief. If I’m truly honest, I would love to be rich. I would love to be a cheerful giver and give above and beyond. I’d say of the five love languages, the ways I like to show I care are words of affirmation and gifts. Because I realize that physical objects don’t show love, but they can help take care of someone’s very real need. Future philanthropist? Sign me up. But before then, God would have to align my desires for sure and I would hope I would never misuse what I’ve been given or let greed overtake me. May it never be.

2018 Spending Pros

+ I gave more: Tithing and to non profits and not-for-profit organizations and causes. I consider that a win, even though it means being more careful in other categories.

+ I spent less on eating out and on entertainment.

2018 Spending Cons

– I spent way more on (preventative) health care

– I spent more overall, and on merchandise.

All in all: I would have spent about the same as 2017 if I hadn’t spent so much on health care, so it really evens out. I’d say 2018 was neutral. I neither did well nor poorly.

2019 Goals

Be faithful with my payment plan for the surgery bill. Pay it off before 2020.

One of the sucky parts of last year was finding out I couldn’t have my sinus surgery in an out-patient facility and having to spend nearly double to do it in a hospital. I want to kick this huge bill (thousands of dollars) by the end of the year even though it’s going to be a challenge.

Buy less with more intention

I’m still swimming in a mountain of clothes and despite konmari’ing my clothes a couple years ago, I still find my attachment to them quite strong. What worked when I had my condo with 2 master bedroom sized closets is not working in this smaller living situation. I plan to set aside a Saturday to go through the process again, reviewing what I want out of my clothes and style and how it affects my overall goals. Last year I started buying less makeup and skincare but giving myself room to spend more per item on quality products. I really saw a benefit in it. I’d like to do so with clothes and shoes. Especially shoes. I have always been thrifty with shoes and used to sacrifice comfort for style, but now that I have some swelling type issues, quality shoes have never been more important. I also want to buy less snacks and pantry type items in bulk. I’d rather spend a little more overall to only purchase when I need it and not have items everywhere or more than I can use before expiration.

Stop subscriptions to things you aren’t loving anymore

I loved my Sephora play subscription until I didn’t. It helped me try things as deluxe samples for $10 rather than wasting double that or more on full size items just to not like it. I stopped walking down the makeup aisles and being tempted when shopping as a byproduct. And, I probably only paid for mascara twice this year. But, after a while, I realized I wasn’t using them all up in time and the $120 annually could be used differently now that I have a better idea of what I like. I might stop my Scentbird subscription too now that I have quite a few new perfumes to try. I can also re-sub if I find it worthwhile later, but I intentionally bought a pricey perfume and was generously gifted one, and they are worth every penny and will be enjoyed often. I am also a consultant for an essential oils brand and have been enrolled in a program where if I guarantee a monthly order of $50 I can get rewards. Well, sometimes because of the auto-renewal I forget to change my cart or sink $50 into stuff I didn’t really intentionally want. So, that is most likely my next goodbye. I thought I was doing so great, then I saw that with these services I was investing a total of $75/mo and while it is a good deal overall, it no longer fits me or what I want to spend my money on.

Think Bigger.

I don’t like stereotyping, so let me say this isn’t always the case, but from observation, it seems like women (myself included) tend to splurge more often on little things and feel guilty with bigger purchases. Guys on the other hand (my boyfriend included) tend to do less smaller frivolous purchases and save up for bigger purchases. They also tend to care less about spending more on something they want to get (like a sandwich at lunch or say, laundry detergent) since they are spending it very specifically, whereas women set price allowances but will get what they don’t need on sale. I think some of this is society.  It in part is a repeated pattern we observe in from parents or the general public. I think being a good steward of what you have is always good practice, but I’ve learned with a little more life under my belt that frugality is a flawed concept for a lot of women. We’re praised for being frugal by society, but in that cloud of thought, also limit ourselves. Because with frugal, you make do with what little you can. Frugality has personally limited my train of thought and I’m trying to replace the quality of frugality with intention. I’m not stuck with this little bit, I just need to make plans and proactively work towards “the bigger.” Instead of limiting myself and my potential, I should be maximizing my potential to attain the bigger and better. Part of thinking bigger is budgeting/saving up for larger things down the road including retirement, and part of it is pursuing opportunities with intention of getting closer to those goals. I think it’s empowering to not limit myself and dream bigger.

Vacation Fund

I’m itching to go on an adventure new somewhere new — particularly on an international trip. As part of the think bigger I’m saving up for something fun. I meant to go to Europe for my 30th birthday but didn’t have the means, especially when I decided to opt for much needed surgery. I’m going to begin not only setting aside but planning some trips for myself. My cousin’s wedding is set for the latter half of the year and I might try to do some vacationing on that coast while I’m out there.

Word of the Year: “Devoted”

I thought hard about choosing a word for the year and the one that kept coming to me was “devoted.”

It’s a word that is often seen on tombstones, and used during awards and commending speeches because it carries this incredible weight to it. It describes one who gives all their emotion/efforts to something.

de·vot·ed
/dəˈvōdəd/
adjective
1. very loving or loyal.
2. given over to the display, study, or discussion of.
I have a hard time sticking to things. I will have amazing bursts of creativity, start working on an idea, and then never see it to completion. I’ll join something and then grow weary. I’ll give 110% to my friends when they call or visit but then sadly be around 70% in touch otherwise.

I could have used the word committed? But sometimes commitment is a ball and chain: something that must be done even if begrudgingly. No, I needed a word that conveyed love in it. I wanted a word that meant all in because that’s where my heart wants to be.

I want to be more devoted in my walk with God, first and foremost. To spend time with Him faithfully in prayer, reading, and study. I’ve heard it all, how He should have the first rights to my time, not what’s left, but if I’m honest, that’s usually what ends up happening.

I want to be more devoted to my family and important relationships. I think this will be the easiest to fulfill but the hardest to not get comfortable in. How do I devote myself when my parents and I have strongly conflicting feelings about something? How do I reach a better “us” with my boyfriend and openly communicate my needs and do the same for him? How do I show my friend miles away I’m thinking of them and invest in them?

Lastly, in my career and everyday life, I want that notion of devoted to help guide me so my yes means yes and my no means no. So I actually love working on myself and applying myself. So I can press on when I grow weary or start to feel indifference. So I can love the changes I am making and chances I am taking.

It’s funny, every year I am very excited to make long lists of resolutions. This year, like writer’s block, none have truly surfaced, and I don’t think it’s not from being less mindful. I truly think, as I have only started to work on “be still and know”, that in my being still, all those little things have faded and a greater objective awaits me with this one word.

Here’s to a strong 2019. Did you pick out a word for the year, or write down some resolutions?

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning…or How My Brother and I are Tackling the Garage

There are so many new fads out there. Some of them stick and really do provide great results. Methods, procedures, lists,  exercise groups, you name it. You’ve already heard me gush about the Konmari Method…now let me introduce to you The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.

I’ll admit outright that I haven’t picked up the book and read it, but I’d read reviews and excerpts and think they’re on to something. But since my parents would never be the kind to browse a Barnes and Nobles and pick up a self-help book, especially one with such a title, I will need to…erm…evangelize them a different way. I plan to read the book soon, but it’ll be a library loan not a buy since I’m not needing it for this point in life for myself (not a homeowner).

The family house has a lot of stories in its bones. It has, at some point, housed ever single one of my mom’s siblings and my grandmother. There are rolls of fabric in the rafters from sewing days of old for one of my mom’s sisters. They started life here as refugees with nothing, and without accepting any government aid, just the generosity of a local church furnishing and helping them settle in, they went from an apartment to getting their own slice of the American dream: a nice modest house with a sizable backyard. One by one, however, these siblings married, had kids, and outgrew the living space and pursued a home of their own. That left my eldest Aunt and Grandmother in a home all alone, not really able to afford a mortgage once split 3-4 ways. So with some deep conversations, my parents decided to secure their living situation by moving out of their town and into that house.

Twenty-four years later, this memorable house is piled high with stuff. Stuff accumulates so fast. My grandmother has since passed, and my aunt had moved away for work purposes but intends to retire and live once again at the family house. That leaves three seniors in a home saturated with a lot of…junk. My brother and I are tackling the garage and slowly but surely taking it on knowing we can do it now and improve their quality of life, or let it continue and be stuck one day with overwhelming grief and many dumpsters to unload. So we are “gently” doing it now.

I’ve quietly sifted through the coat and towel closet in the living room and left it with breathing room. Replaced heavy fragile dishes with lightweight and extremely durable Correlle. They’ve installed grab bars in the bathroom for a bit later in life, and a built in shower bench with the last renovation. The newest couch has three recliners perfect for cat naps in the afternoon.

This garage though? It’s seen so many ebbs and flows of a semblance of organization and cleaning and then been filled to the brim again to the point it’s a fire hazard and nearly inaccessible as a route of escape in case of a fire. Last year, my brother and I installed a clothes drying rack for delicate clothes to air dry. We removed a large pesky second bookshelf, and used it to arrange the excess appliances. We piled my aunt’s boxes up high where leaks and spills wouldn’t damage her years of papers (she’ll have to tackle that herself). We did quite a bit, but then a fire blazed dangerously close to my brother’s home and their items ended up in the garage and they spent a few months at the family house. Now it’s the end of the year, and we’re geared up to do round two. Quietly, during times when my parents are away. Tossing and donating things we don’t have to be careful with. And checking between the two of us, what is worth keeping for my parents to sort.

Not Gonna Write You a Sad Song

I’ve written two entries since the last published post and couldn’t get myself to post them. They were full of sadness. The last one mentioned the mass shooting and fires near me. I just couldn’t.

While life has had more down than ups as of recent, I’m still incredibly thankful for the bright sides, silver linings, and “how are you doing” check-ins from close friends.

2019 brings a lot of changes, and I am hoping they will be good ones. I’ve been occupying my mind when it’s deep in the pit of despair of good things coming, and things I can plan for.

A relative is moving back home and so one of the big items is making room in a house that hasn’t been her primary residence in 10+ years. While my parents are gone on a vacation, my brother and I plan on tackling the garage for the umpteenth time, and hopefully this time with better success [the last time we did so, there was a gruesome fire and they had to evacuate to that home, and their stuff went in the garage]. My parents haven’t understood the thought of downsizing as seniors, but with my mom’s retirement in a nearish future, and my relative retiring and moving back, it’s time to get the house ready for the years to come. I’m giving myself a year-ish to help them settle and make home changes, and then looking to move out again for both our sanity, but mostly mine. 😉

I have a planner ready, and I bought a new type of notebook system to help me start 2019 right. Have you heard of discbound journals? They’re a little pricey initially, but I like that you can customize and move pages and the pages themselves are thick quality paper. Instead of devoting an entire notebook to one subject, I have the flexibility of moving each page around if I wanted, and dividing it however I see fit. That saves real estate as I lessen the amount of notebooks I own and is more eco-friendly considering I don’t have journals/notebooks with unused pages. I have the fitness inserts to help me track weight loss and am going to spend more time tracking finances and spending as well.

Now that Rosina is no longer here and I haven’t got painting on Mondays I will need to dedicate my own time and space to cultivating creativity. I plan to bring that attitude into the new year. Keep exploring, keep attempting, keep trying.

One of my best friends and I have played with the idea of an international trip in 2019. And my closest cousin to me is getting married. There’s other exciting family news that will keep 2019 full of happy things. I look forward to all of it.

And in this holiday time, as I remember the human birth of Jesus and the promise it brought humanity, I think of all the hope in store for all of us. We have promises to hold on to and good things shining amongst the hard times. Keep hoping. Keep seeking that goodness and light.

Goodbyes and Updates

My beautiful friend and art instructor Rosina went to be with the Lord on August 30th. Whenever there is a spectacular sunset in the sky, I still remember her fondly. Every time I go to paint, I will think of her. True to her nature, she planned her entire memorial service out herself. It was so full of love. She gave everyone she cared for her whole heart. I got a call a week after the memorial that she had left all her acrylic paint supplies and brushes to me. I now have probably a lifetime of quality brushes thanks to her, and plenty of paint to continue creating with. She also gifted me one of the custom painting easels she inherited from her dear art teacher and that means so much to me.

I finally had my sinus surgery, and things went so smoothly! I was really blessed with a great recovery time. I had all these plans to read through all these books and get all this stuff done and in the end, I learned to rest. Rest in God and rest my body. I was beyond stressed before the operation. I went to my formal pre-op early, discovered there that I needed clearance from cardiologist, frantically got that done and imaging, just to find out all was well, and barely did that all in time. So when it was done, it was clear my mindset needed to change to heal not only my sinuses but myself as a whole.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but after about a week and a half, my sense of smell started to return. It’s something others may not ever understand, but when one of your five senses doesn’t work for a few years, it’s such a joyous thing. The smell of food wafting…the smell of your perfume lingering…being able to practically smell food to see if it’s gone bad, sense smoke, or *ahem* your pits to make sure your deodorant is still going strong…literally being able to stop and smell the flowers…I feel so blessed to experience all that again.

My dad’s leg is also significantly improved. Even though the necrosis is not completely gone, he’s able to put weight on his leg more and has enjoyed ditching his walker for a cane. If all goes well, he should be on track to go on a planned international trip with my mom.

I’ve been attending life group with a friend of mine that is for a church I don’t attend and have fallen in love with this group of ladies. I’ve even had 2 girls nights with a couple of the ones closer in age to me and my friend, and it’s been so nice to have a very informal “girl gang” of like-minded individuals in town.  I feel slightly guilty I’m not doing a small group with my own church? But I think God gave me this opportunity because I needed to connect with people in my area and zip code. It’s funny because I drive about 25 minutes out to my church and my friend’s church is about 25 minutes the opposite way in the valley.

My boyfriend’s grandpa has stage IV cancer and that has been a big shock to both of us. He checked in to the ER with intense pain in a certain area and tests came back with cancer. This weekend his grandma mentioned the word ‘hospice’ to me and so much of what happened with Rosina came flooding into my memories. His grandpa is such a fun and upbeat person that it’s hard to see him like this. Even when we visited him in the hospital he tried to keep things light but also choked up and was emotional at times. The only grandparent I got some time with passed when I was 6. On the other hand, my boyfriend’s grandparents are all currently alive. I can’t completely understand what it’s like to have grandparents be such an integral part of my life and idea of knowing after all these years and memories one of them is very possibly heaven bound very soon. But I hope I can be a good support to J during this time.

God’s Timing and Riding the Storm

Life has gone full rollercoaster lately.

My brother returned from his intensive brain therapy changed. What a rocky time it was for him to be exhausted in every way to try to make better neural connections for concussion recovery! The imaging and testing from when he started to when he finished the week long therapy had measurable differences in many areas while showing the need for drastic improvement in certain functions. It was a time of intense prayer and empathic distress. We are so joyful in the progress he made as a family, but still know he has a ways to go.

I was scheduled to have sinus surgery last Thursday. For some reason, despite pre-registering, I was admitted and put through 2 gruesome hours of hearing medical staff chatter behind the curtain about me, and finally having the anesthesiologist come to tell me the outpatient center had a policy that discriminated against people of my weight and BMI. He told me he felt confident administering anesthesia to me but couldn’t go against the facility’s policy and the board of directors finally put their firm “no” in. For some reason, I had this anxiety I couldn’t quite shake while preparing. Something felt off, but I also wanted to lean fully on God. When that happened, I was shaken, but also grateful for God’s peace knowing He is ultimately in control.

My dad has been in a lot of pain lately. We first thought it was his meniscus. It was hard to hear him cry out in pain, and see my once very able-bodied father go from a brace to a cane to a walker. They discovered with imaging that he is dealing with spontaneous necrosis of part of his femur. Umm. Whoa! His bone is dying off. That’s serious and absurd, and so not what we anticipated! He’s been ordered to avoid being on his feet and bearing weight on it for 2 months.

My sweet art friend has been a big cheerleader and prayer warrior for my surgery. I called her Thursday and her hospice care person said she was tired and sleeping. I called Friday and Saturday and no reply. Finally, on Sunday, I called and her son picked up. He told me she could have hours left and that she adores me and please come out if I can to see her one last time. I rushed over there and saw my friend, so fragile, laying in a hospital type bed in her living room. Her son and girlfriend were there and we let her sleep and watched TV together. They showed me her last chart update from the LVN and it said “actively dying” “pain 10/10, crying and moaning” He woke her up for some medicine around 9 and she woke up and we prayed together and she cupped my face and told me she loved me. Her voice was gone, a raspy low whisper is all she can muster. Her body so overwhelmed, we had to remind her to close her mouth and suck from the straw to take a drink of water. Her daughter flew out Monday and we think she is holding out to spend a little more time with all 3 children. I’m so grateful I got to see her one last time, and am continuing to pray as her kids come together for these last moments.

I’m currently calling other surgery centers and my ENT and insurance trying to sort out a rescheduling, while taking on some extra work to help my dad out, while dreading a call from one of Rosina’s kids to say she has passed. It’s Tuesday and I’m exhausted and I’ve cried two days in a row. I’m a mess. This little slice of life is currently riding out the storms and waiting on God’s perfect timing.

What I’ve Learned from my Friend in Hospice

I should title this “What I’m learning” I suppose, as my dear friend is still here with us today, as far as I know. But I’m afraid her time is drawing near, and she desperately desires heaven over her cancer-ridden, pain-filled body.

We became friends in a very special way. She was a painting instructor at Michaels and I was an art enthusiast who had no formal painting knowledge and too many canvases. I stopped by her promotional booth and chatted quickly but knew I couldn’t afford lessons. I had just moved out and into my first apartment months ago and there was no way I could fit art lessons into my budget. We met a second time in the paint aisle, chatted some more, and as fate would have it, she offered to trade fine art lessons for digital art lessons and our friendship grew from there.

When we met, she had been cancer free for a few years. I didn’t know this right away, but she had survived staged IV lung cancer when she only had a 5% survival diagnosis. She’s very spirited and told her doctors God let her know she’d make it through. And so she did, to their astonishment.

But we are beautiful souls trapped in bodies that malfunction and age, and even with her prior miracle, she found herself hospitalized with pneumonia about 4-5 years later, and that is when they found nodes of cancer sprouting in her body, in her bones this time.

She was given until Winter 2017, and by God’s grace, is still here, and may see another birthday very soon. But all this time she’s been in hospice, and grows weaker, thinner, and lives in more pain.

Here’s what I’ve learned in this year and a half of her slowly dying:

1. Cancer is a horrible, horrible thing…
I would not wish cancer on my worst enemy. This deterioration I’ve witnessed is heartbreaking. My friend is a spirited, spunky, opinionated, lovely Italian lady. She was very high energy, and now needs to gather strength to speak. 

2. It is important to let your friend have what independence she has left.
Sometimes there is victory in the struggle. I vocalize my want to help in the beginning, and wait for her to ask for assistance unless it’s relayed through body language. If I feel she might be at risk, I’m by her side to keep her from falling, or I ask specifically to give a hand then. Letting her feel able-bodied is very important. When someone grows weak and is unable to do many things on their own, they take pride in what they can do. Don’t take that away from them.

3. There will be tears and conflicted feelings.
We’ve cried together a lot. In the earlier parts of hospice there were dark days with crying and regret for a life snuffed short, and other days were infused with hope for another healing to take place. I wept when she wept, and I laughed when she laughed. And while the spectrum of feelings was hard on me, I felt honored to share those moments with her of absolute despair or wonderful hope.

4. Don’t disrespect their vocal wishes to die.
This is particularly hard on me. No one wants a friend to die. It hurts to hear them want death. I wanted to bawl every time she mentioned it. And I was there when other friends were present, and reacted by saying, “Oh don’t say that!” or “You’ll get better, I know it.” I can’t blame them. Those responses are almost default. But you know what that does? It disrespects my friend’s raw honesty and discounts her feelings. As much as it hurt me to stifle my desires to react the same, I try to reply. “I know. I’m sorry this feels unbearable.” I know there is solace for her in confiding the desire to die with someone else. I don’t want to take that away from her.

5. There is a de-nesting period.
There was a point where the cancer spread and more pain medicine was required and my friend knew chances were very slim for recovery. At this point, she began to think about end of life tasks. This was also hard. She would look around a room and try to note who she would pass things too. She didn’t want to burden her kids. Many times I visited she’d give me little things, useful things, that she wanted to clear but knew others could use. Packs of pens, office supplies, very appreciated paint brushes, and little crafting odds and ends. Sometimes if it was a larger item I’d politely let her know I didn’t have room for it, but for things she didn’t ask if I wanted and just gave, I accepted it graciously. We worked on gathering photos for a slideshow at her future memorial. Things that seemed morbid to me were just preparation for the future, and I had to learn to see it that way.

6. There is a unique intimacy.
This intimacy is two-fold. One is practical, as in, they may show you what is wrong or feel comfortable with you being the room when nurses or aids are helping them. She has lifted her nightgown to show me the way cancer has affected her, with the nodes and bumps all over her back, the way her ribs poke through so prominently now. The other is a deep sense of connection and friendship. We don’t know if this meeting is our last, so we enjoy each other’s company that much more.

7. Visitation is hard. You will leave depleted.
Visiting her leaves me tired. Sometimes it leaves me pretending to be stronger than I am emotionally around her, and crying the entire drive home. It is not easy seeing a friend grow weaker knowing she could go at any moment. I feel very drained. But I do not regret our weekly meeting. It is always worth it. 

8. There is hope in heaven.
I know that one day, whenever her last breath is breathed, that there is hope in heaven. She is a devout Catholic, and I am a Christian, and while some of our doctrine does not align, we both have our hope and salvation in what Jesus Christ did for us by living a perfect life as God and a human man, dying on the cross, and resurrecting three days later. I have hope that she will be in the presence of our savior. And that is beautiful, to know her body will be cancer free and she will never be sick again. I wish that hope for everyone I know.

Her birthday is next Monday, and I know she doesn’t want to be around for it. I have peace knowing whether or not she is granted heaven before her birthday, that she feels ready and we’ve shared many Mondays over the last few years together. 

Praying without Pessimism

Wow. What a whirlwind of a week. My brother is currently in a treatment facility for an intensive week-long study and rehabilitation for his concussion. This is the home of last resorts. Most people who end up there have sustained a long term brain injury or have battled atypical effects and have pretty much exhausted every other resource out there.

I can’t even put a number out here for you, but I’m guessing the medical costs these last two years have exceeded my income earned the last two years. All because he was rear-ended by a careless teen who had no idea he was wrecking someone’s life. This has changed his life, his quality of life, his everything.

At first, doctors said give it a month. That became two. That became six. That became a year. Now, we stand at nearly two years with minimal progress. Life has been hard. Damn hard. Mostly for my brother and his little family, but trickled down to my parents and I, and all those around him too.

I bought a CD from Target about a year ago and played it as I was driving. The song below drove me to absolute bawling. I parked and let it cycle three or four times, as the lyrics and the beautiful violin cathartically gave me release.

“We’re sailing
We’re sailing aren’t we?
Its hard to tell the water from my tears
Don’t worry
Have faith they told me
It was easier than in my younger years
Now than I’m older, now that it’s colder
Life keeps on crashing
Day after day, like a wave after wave
We did everything right and now I’m asking
Where do we go? oh
When our prayers are answered
Where do we go? oh
When our prayers are answered but the answer is no

For once, a song finally addressed something my heart had tried to untangle for so long.

What if my brother isn’t meant to get total and complete healing? What if the answer to prayer is no? 

I can be so pessimistic in my prayer life. I can pray God’s will but still not deliver a heart cry. And I don’t know if that is the best most faithful way to pray. I am working on coming before the throne of grace boldly. I want to pray with the faith for God to work something incredible, but understand the limits and not make expectations for God.

I haven’t wrestled with prayer this badly in a long time. I can only hope that the Holy Spirit is uttering what I can’t fathom but feel, and that God is gracious on my messy pleas.

Do I have the faith to pray big? Do I have the faith to do so?

I’m working on it.  I’m also working on accepting that God’s plans are not mine, and trying to find balance in that. But I don’t want to just decide God is done with him either.

I reached out and asked specifically for 20 people to commit to praying for him with me, for 8 days of continuous prayer for him. Thankfully, I am not in this alone. There are people more firmly rooted, more seasoned in prayer and petitioning, that have come alongside me, to lift him up in prayer. The outpouring of love and support during this time has helped me so much.

God, help me to trust you in the yes, no, or not yet.

I am Strong/I am Humbled : What Weight Training has Shown Me.

Guys. It’s my 5th anniversary on WordPress! I’ve been blogging here half a decade!

I’ve decided to go dark on weight loss updates because I feel like my progress is personal, and speaking about it sometimes sets me up for lofty expectations. I will just continue to work on it in silence, and let any success be the noise.

This past month and a half, I’ve added weight training to my exercise regiment. I’ve done some in the past, but just weight machines I was familiar with. Now I’m adding free weights and exercise moves I’ve never done before. Planks. Goblin box squats. Romanian dead lifts. Those terms were all Greek to me just a month and a half ago!

I used to devote 45 minutes to an hour like a hamster on a wheel on a cardio machine. While I still think cardio is a healthy part of working out, weight training has been more challenging and fun, especially since my calories are in control and I don’t necessarily need a cardio burn calorie deficit. I’ve cut down cardio to 10-20 minutes and upped my weight training game, with thanks to my cousin who developed a plan for me.

I am strong: Nothing feels more exhilarating than handling a newer, heavier weight, and knowing your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is changing.

I am humbled: Kinesthetic learning is one of my weakest areas and weight training is something I am not naturally gifted at.

My first workout with weight training was a mind game. I’m at a good place with who I am at the gym. I know I’m obese, and I’m not jealous or afraid of the buff guys or the fitness model looking girls. I’m not ashamed of my oversized form next to theirs. I can acknowledge they’ve worked hard to get where they are, or have an advantage in this realm and I don’t. However, I didn’t want to look stupid, or be perceived as not knowing things. I had to bring up some YouTube videos to confirm form and motion because I don’t process kinetic movements well. I felt so awkward trying to not flail my dumbbells in the air as I moved them them upwards for a chest press. I realized one of the things I needed to work on was a pride issue. I was afraid of looking dumb and was frustrated with not getting things right off the bat. Lifting heavy is so different from the things I pride myself in being good at, and that was mentally really hard for me! I have a natural inclination and knack for cooking and art. I just am pretty good at those things. And in school, even if I wasn’t particularly good at a subject, I was able to study my butt off and get pretty much straight A’s. But this? This was a whole new world, and one I found difficulty in. That’s been good for me. 

Each subsequent workout has been better for me, and it’s really fulfilling to see progress. I am so glad it brought to light a pride issue so I can work on it too. Tackling the “I’m not good at it and am afraid to feel dumb” aspect in fitness can also be applied to life in general, and I really think bringing that area to light will help me get past mental blocks I’ve chained myself to over the years.

Do you lift weights? Have you recently done something that has helped you with a mental block?