I haven’t “arrived” in the land of flourishing, but I have come so far this last year. If you feel like you’re just surviving your way through your life, I’d love to encourage you by sharing what I’ve learned, changed and planned to get out of survival mode and into a more meaningful, intentional and peaceful way of living.
Although it may seem like it at times, I haven’t always lived in survival mode. My life used to be very well balanced between active and restful, social time and alone time, work and fun… it just didn’t seem that hard to say to myself, “Hey, I’ve been out and about a lot this week. I need to get more sleep and spend some time alone to recharge.” That was back before I had my wonderful girls, my successful business, our farmhouse fixer-upper and several health challenges hit me square between the eyes.
It all began to snowball almost 9 years ago. I could go into a lot more detail, but here’s the bullet point version of my last 9 years.
- We moved from Texas to New Hampshire with a verbal job offer (yes, we were young and naively trusting) and it took 3 months for the position to open up for my hubby. We had no income, no furniture, lived in a 100-year-old apartment with black mold and the job was commission-based, so no hope of getting out of there quickly.
- We found out we were pregnant and I was horribly sick with morning sickness. No health insurance until 3 months after the job started, so no medical care.
- After a few miserable months with him in a job he hated and me losing 15 pounds from morning sickness, we decided to move to Ohio where my parents lived.
- Hubby got a good job (though it wasn’t at all a good fit for him and the hours were insane), we bought a house and I had our first baby (hello 36 hours of back labor and a 9lb 9oz darling little girl!) and thus began serious survival mode.
- Normal newborn-induced sleep deprivation and hardly ever seeing my hubby during the day due to his demanding job left me exhausted. We eventually settled into a new “normal” and things seemed to start getting better.
- I coordinated and decorated for my cousin’s wedding (I lived in Ohio, she lived in New York and the wedding was in Iowa) which was a ton of fun, but a massive amount of work. It was something I truly enjoyed, but I have learned that just because I find something fun, doesn’t mean it can’t take a toll.
- By the time baby girl was 18 months, though, I wasn’t doing well. I was sick and we didn’t know why. Breathlessness, heart arrhythmia, weakness (I couldn’t even climb the stairs while holding our baby) and more. The doc ran heart and breathing tests, checked for autoimmune diseases (he was thinking lupus) and tested my white blood cell count for signs of infection. All normal. Turns out that I had an abscessed tooth from a badly done filling that never bonded correctly and got infected. You can read about that here. Not fun, but it was good to get an answer and start recovering. The damage to my heart never fully recovered and I still get heart arrhythmia when I am too stressed or don’t use enough magnesium lotion.
- Recovery was slow, but I had about a year of calm and it helped.
- Then I did some research into “real” food, completely changed our diet and…
- I got pregnant with our second baby (yay!!) and went through the same horrible morning sickness (boo!).
- I started this blog to share all about the many things I was learning and it was a great way to spend my extra time when my hubby was working late and my daughter was sleeping.
- After a beautiful home birth with a fabulous midwife (read about why we chose home birth and read baby girl’s birth story!), we had some serious struggles with breastfeeding. It turned out to be upper lip-tie and partial tongue-tie, which caused her to not be able to nurse correctly (causing me excruciating pain) and we were all exhausted and stressed. We were incredibly blessed to have a local dentist who specialized in correcting tongue and lip-ties. Sadly, even after correction, nursing was a struggle for many months and our new baby didn’t sleep well.
- By the time our second baby was 1, we were constantly sleep-deprived and the stress of hubby’s job was weighing on him. He began looking for a job in a part of the country we were interested in moving to and God opened up a great one for him!! We moved to the Black Hills in South Dakota and we still love it here. 🙂
- The move from Ohio to South Dakota was sudden and stressful. We decided to rent for at least six months and that was a… special experience.
- As hubby got settled into his new job, I did a post on here about something amazing that I had discovered made a huge difference in several of my health issues (including my heart arrhythmia, leg/foot cramps, tension headaches, sleep trouble and more). My post about making magnesium lotion went viral and I was immediately bombarded with requests to make extra to sell. It had never been my plan to have my own business, but I didn’t expect it to really become more than something I did on occasion. The whole things just ran away with me and before I knew it I was spending every extra second of my days working on making and shipping magnesium lotion all over the country and even to other parts of the world. It was a huge blessing to us financially, but the constant work took it’s toll.
- We bought our 1940’s fixer-upper farmhouse less than a year later and we have been working on it ever since (and probably will be for years to come) and we love it! (Check out week 1, week 2 and week 3 renovations to see what we had to do just to make it livable!)
- The store continued to grow faster than I, as a wife, mama, homemaker, homeschooler, homesteader, blogger etc. could keep up. Downtime didn’t exist for me at all anymore. I was running on empty and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. I closed my 7,700+ “likes” Facebook page.
- Some blogging friends posted about adrenal fatigue and I was stunned to see that I have most of the symptoms listed. It finally occurred to me that it wasn’t “normal” to wake up feeling just as exhausted as I had when I went to bed the night before. I tried to make some changes and slow things down, but I wasn’t successful. I could see that I need to make serious changes, but I just couldn’t seem to do it.
- At the beginning of last year, hubby quit his job to become an independent insurance adjuster (so working from home and having his own business), which was a great decision and has been a fantastic fit for him! The first “busy season” last summer was complete chaos, though. I was still running my store (minimum of 30 hours a week, usually 35-40) and helping my hubby start his own business. I was parenting and homeschooling my girls and trying desperately to keep us all fed with healthy foods and dressed in clean clothes. My eyes started becoming ridiculously sensitive to light, my head ached and I was EXHAUSTED. I was hanging on by my fingernails and I just couldn’t do it anymore.
- So at the end of the summer, I closed the store (which is actually OPEN, again!). I had already mostly quit blogging, too.
I had stepped back and honestly evaluated my priorities, my responsibilities and my health and knew I couldn’t keep going like I had been. It was hard. There were several books I read around that time that helped me make that, and other, decisions. I cut out a lot of other things and changed a lot about how my days look. I changed the way I make my decisions and commitments. I changed what my “free time” looks like. I’ve changed my responses to the things I “ought to” or “should” do and I have changed the way I take care of myself.
My life now is so very different and I love the changes I’ve made. There’s finally real progress and I can see where I’m going. Yes, we still have some crazy days, but not every. single. day.
I am so excited to share what I’ve learned and the changes I have made that are really changing my everyday life! If you’ve just been surviving, I encourage you to think back to before. Think about when you were really living, before you moved into the 24/7 survival mode. Make a bullet point list like mine to really see what has kept you there.
Some things may have been optional, many will have been things you couldn’t or wouldn’t change. There are many good things in that list I wouldn’t change but that still caused a lot of stress. Children, moving, new jobs… good things, but all are demanding. Include all the major things in your list and then watch for the next post in this series.