In January of last year, I felt utterly crushed–still reeling physically and emotionally from a year of intense struggle, growth, and change.
It was a heartbreaking, wave-after-wave kind of year, and while I definitely saw massive growth in myself, and clear evidence of the hand of God in our lives, I admit I was feeling gray, wrung out, and very discouraged by the time we celebrated the new year.
I kind of wanted to climb into bed and just snuggle under the covers for the next 365 days. How could I even start digging out of this emotional exhaustion and physical unhealthiness?
I craved hand-holding, comfort, validation, and guidance. So when I stumbled across an inexpensive e-course from a mom I trusted called 15 Days to a Healthier You, I figured it was worth $15 for a shot at improving my well-being.
I needed to lose weight. I needed to feel stronger. And I needed help figuring out where to even start. So I signed up.
I got so much more than I’d bargained for.
The Year I Lost Myself
The 12 months before I clicked that sign-up button was a one-day-at-a-time, breath-by-breath, holding-on-with-both-hands kind of year.
My husband, Steve, and I–along with our three kids–had experienced the uncertainty of our first military move: forced to sell our home in North Carolina before we even knew where we would be moving to.
My grandfather, sick for years with ALS, was put on hospice.
I discovered (joyfully) that I was pregnant with our fourth beautiful baby, and then experienced a pregnancy so difficult both physically that I found myself severely nauseated and, later, in so much pain that I was barely able to take a short walk or climb the stairs.
On top of that, I began having frequent, overwhelming panic attacks.
We sold our house (blessing!), and packed for the first of three moves that year.
Then we moved across town into an apartment (with our three kids) to finish out the last months of Steve’s job commitment in NC.
Our Air Force movers scheduled our moving date early, so we spent a week sleeping on an air mattress and sitting in camping chairs or on the floor while we waited for our official move date.
Then, partway through the year, we left the home, friends, and support system we had known for the past 7 years, and drove across the country to a new temporary apartment home in Texas.
We knew no one.
We were totally and completely starting over.
In the four months following our move our baby girl was born, we moved (again), and my grandfather passed away. I took my newborn daughter across the country to his funeral.
Between the huge changes, my first adult encounter with grief and mourning, and my pre-existing anxiety/depression, I felt more than a little untethered from the happy, energetic woman I had known myself to be just a year earlier. I felt lost.
I needed change.
Healing and rebuilding.
And while these things came for me in several ways (like making friends, reading this wonderfully humble-looking book, finding a new counselor, and relearning to pray and be vulnerable with God), this simple, inexpensive little e-course was a surprisingly sturdy foundation for me.
It was a starting place for many big, beautiful changes of heart and body.
Three Small Things That Changed My Year (in BIG Ways!)
The changes I began during this course last year are still paying off in a multitude of positive ways, but I thought I’d share 3 tiny take-aways that I’ve loved living with.
1. Decide to stop doing some of the things that drain you. (And then don’t feel guilty about it!)
One of my favorite take-aways from the 15 Days course was my short but impactful “Stop Doing List.”
On day 7, Crystal went over a lot of things that clutter up our calendars (and then stress us out), and suggested we make a list of things that drain us that we don’t want to do any more.
I felt crazy–and a little selfish and guilty–when I wrote mine.
Jamie’s Stop-Doing List
- Grocery shopping
- Cleaning the kitchen alone
- Daily laundry
- Making my kids’ lunches
- Feeling guilty about the way I mother
Can you imagine?!
The guilt was real, but I am so glad I took the good advice to make these things happen for myself! While I am still working figuring out the right laundry schedule for this season, and I often feel that familiar mom guilt, several of my other stop-doing items have been eliminated!
I stopped vacuuming! We got a Roomba last year during a Black Friday sale, and I no longer have to try to vacuum with a baby on my hip (or, more likely, feel guilty for giving up and not vacuuming at all). It is blissful.
I stopped grocery shopping! I order online with our local grocery store, and they put everything right in my trunk with all four kids buckled in their seats. It costs about $5 a trip, and is worth every penny. Some grocery stores will even do it for free!
When I need something from Costco, I get it delivered to my door via grocery delivery service Instacart. (You don’t even need a Costco membership–they use theirs!) This costs a little more because of tipping, but since I only use it about once a month, it is worth it to me. Plus, I probably break even because it helps me avoid Costco impulse buying. 😉
($10 free credit for new users via my referral link if you want to try it! Be sure to waive the convenience fee at checkout, too!)
I stopped making my kids’ lunches! Last year I taught my kindergartener and third-grader how to make their own school lunches, and added it to their chore chart. They alternate days on which they are in charge of making both their lunches, and when they are home on the weekends they make their own and often help my preschooler with hers, too.
Think about it:
What is draining your energy, adding stress, or throwing you off on a regular basis?
How can you stop doing those things?
2. FIGHT for 8 hours of sleep. It is worth it.
I’m going to admit–I was a little cocky about how good I was at getting enough sleep before I took this course.
I’ve been fighting the self-care-for-mama battle for a good four years now, so I definitely carve out time to take naps when I’m bone-tired. But after seeing that Crystal spent a full day’s lesson just on the value of sleep, I decided to start wearing a fitness tracker–not to track my steps, but to track my sleep.
Surprise, surprise: I was getting about an hour less sleep than I thought I was. And it wasn’t working out well for me.
But finding that extra hour was hard.
It meant making some surprisingly difficult changes–like giving up some of that precious evening alone-time I craved after a day with three kids and a brand new baby, and committing myself to going to bed alone when Steve decided his sleep schedule could afford for him to stay up for another hour or two.
I had to learn how to fall asleep faster instead of hanging out in that hamster-wheel-to-do-list zone in my head when the lights go out.
And I had to sacrifice precious get-things-done time during the day to catch up by “napping when the baby naps” if I fell short of my sleep needs the night before.
But after putting some real fight into logging more sleep hours, I started to see amazing, empowering differences:
- My depression and anxiety both eased up noticeably,
- My energy levels went up,
- I had more patience with my children,
- My general outlook was more positive,
- I felt more able to go with the flow when things got chaotic,
- I was more productive during the day, and
- I was more excited for the day ahead when I woke up.
Think about it:
When was the last time you got a full 8 hours of sleep? (Scary to go back that far, huh?)
What can you do TODAY to start a pattern of getting more sleep on a regular basis?
3. Keep a list of things that ENERGIZE you and make you HAPPY.
As I’ve flipped through my notes from this course to write about it, I’ve noticed that I keep pausing on the pages where I’d written long lists in response to the questions:
1. What makes me happy? and
2. What energizes me?
Just reading through these lists makes me feel lighter–even though I’m not doing anything.
Thinking about all the experiences, people, feelings, and items that fill up these categories for me changes my heart. It gets me smiling to myself. And I start making mental plans to weave these slices of joy into my days again.
Tell me: Does one of these three little things leap out at you? Which one is calling your name today?
p.s. Are you interested in taking this class for yourself?
Crystal just launched a brand-new version of 15 Days to a Healthier You that lets you go at your own pace: so you can do it in 15 days, or 15 weeks–whatever works for your season of life.
She’s added new videos that read workbook pages aloud to you, but don’t skip the original videos! They’re located in the “Bonus” tab, and I loved that they put me face-to-face with Crystal.
They’re great to watch or listen to for some brain food while you’re doing dishes or folding laundry. 🙂 Plus, you also get access to a private Facebook group! It’s only $15, so why not, right?! Find out more here! 🙂
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