Stop and reflect: October

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One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall. The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all.  – Bruce Cockburn

The start of October 2017 was full of tragedy. The world felt very dark. As the month went on, more cracks of light started shining through. Here’s some short reflections from the month:

Music: Switchfoot was my go-to (in particular, their Beautiful Letdown Album was my anthem for the month).

Reading: Rob Bell’s “What Is the Bible?”, Steven Curtis Chapman’s Autobiography & Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection.”

Writing: examples of some of my thoughts shared on Instagram & Facebook that received meaningful feedback:

October 5th – on loneliness being the worst type of poverty
October 8th – a confession and encouragement
October 12th – on getting to know our literal neighbours
October 13th – on allowing people to change
October 19th – forgetting about numbers and helping one person at a time
October 29th – what the heart knows by heart, heals the heart

Travel: we took advantage of good weather days and did a couple day trips. The picture above was from visiting Brockville for the first time.

Theme: Today will soon be GONE (Switchfoot) & am I living scared or brave? The latter has been a new thought that arrived at the end of the month. Going to chew on that some more.

Tip: If you’re hungry for community, be willing to put yourself out there. Example: ask someone new to go out for coffee.  You just never know when it will be the start of something beautiful.

What was October like for you? Would love to hear your reflections. Ready or not, November is here. Together, we can face it and maybe even have some fun.

Letter to my daughter after the Las Vegas shooting

Dear Daughter,

On Sunday, we asked you how old you are and you happily replied, “I’m two years old!” Later that same day, a mass shooting occurred in Las Vegas at a country music festival. Many lost their lives and many were injured.

You are only two years old. As you grow, you’ll begin to understand things like hate and tragedy and injustice. You may wonder if it’s better to “stay home/play it safe” or live your life and risk being caught in crossfire (these hate shootings have happened at school, at a movie, at a concert, etc). And how do we respond after tragedy? Baby, your momma doesn’t have all the answers. But I want to share with you what I do know to be true.

After first learning of the shooting and through out the day, I couldn’t help but cry. As Glennon Doyle says it best: “you are not a mess. you are a feeling person in a messy world.” That describes me well. Your momma feels things deeply. You may too. Despite what society may tell you, this is OK. The Bible even instructs us to “mourn with those who mourn.” After tragedy strikes, you aren’t weak if it impacts you. You are a feeling person in a messy world.

Unfortunately, life is not safe. Even for those of us who live in the 1st world. Life is fragile. There’s no guarantee on how our lives will play out. Life is not fair. Bad things happen to really great people. Baby girl, safe can’t be the goal. I can’t even keep you safe all of the time. Despite this reality, we can be brave (doing the right thing scared). And we can focus on the things within our control like living and loving well by doing “small things with great love” – Mother Teresa. With whatever number of days we are given, we can love God and others more and more, and we can find joy in ordinary moments. Life is short but we can live it well when we live with this understanding “there’s a reason I’m alive for the blink of an eye” – Mercy Me.

Lastly, when tragedy strikes, remember this quote by Mr. Rogers. And in addition to noticing all the helpers, be one of them.

Rogers

I love you baby girl. Always & forever.
-Mom

How to get yourself out of a funk

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Saturday was a bad day for me. While we rarely fight, Derek and I had an argument first thing in the morning. Even though we resolved the insignificant conflict, I remained in a funk for the rest of the day. I’m not at all blaming my husband for this. It was a gloomy rainy day – I could blame the rain! But that wouldn’t be accurate either. It seemed to be everything and nothing that caused my mood to majorly drop. The entire day was a struggle. Sunday was better. Much better.  Here’s what seemed to help me our of a temporary major funk, I’m hoping it can help if you or a loved one find yourself in such a state:

  1. Journal. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can do wonders. It’s like a free therapy session! Also, as a social worker, I understand the importance of being able to identify when significant mood changes first began. Often, clients comes to their first appointment with no timeframe of when they started to go downhill. Writing in a journal can help you to process and cope as well as have a record should you need professional support.
  2. Exercise. For me, this was a walk in the pouring rain with my dog. I walked fast. I enjoyed seeing how much my dog was loving walking (despite the rain). I noticed ducks on the river not at all phased by rain. I may have felt gloomy on the inside but it was encouraging to see animals enjoying the rain. And the change of scenery + exercise was good for my mood as well.
  3. Read. I picked up a book that I had hoped to finish before baby arrived (and I didn’t!) and read a few pages. It was helpful to “escape” in a good book. To put aside feeling glum for several minutes.
  4. Get a break. For all of the above to happen, I needed a break from caretaking. My husband and I traded off caretaking for our daughter though out the day. I haven’t left her for more than 1 hour but if the funk continued into the next day, I may have had to get in the car and go somewhere for a couple of hours to see if that helped.
  5. Sleep. During my funk, I wanted to go and hide under the covers but I refused to go there. Sleep is necessary for survival but can work against us if we use it to escape. My advice would be to anyone in a funk to try and use sleep to recharge your batteries and not to as a way of hiding from the world. Also, remember that tomorrow’s a new day. Even if you don’t sleep great, things often seem better the next morning.

The above list if fairly biased re: what has been helpful for ME when experiencing low mood or being in a funk. I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list. Remember that just because you’re in a significant funk today doesn’t mean that it will be just as bad tomorrow. It could be MUCH better. Take good care of yourself. And if the funk lasts for 6 weeks or you experience any thoughts of suicide (no matter how fleeting), seek professional help. Funks can come and go. They can be very short lived. Or they can last awhile and turn into clinical depression. Taking good care of yourself as soon as you notice mood changes can sometimes turn what could have been ugly into a short lived episode. In your experience, what’s been helpful for you?

5 Reasons Why I Need Non-Mom Friends

We all know that Moms need other Moms to survive the child-rearing years. But there’s a friend that every mom needs: a Non-Mom friend. Here are 5 reasons why:

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  1. Your chance of having a meaningful coffee date is 100% greater when one of you is child free

If you could be a fly on the wall of a mommy get-together you would hear a lot of this: “Sorry, what were you saying again?” Seconds after this common question is asked, the mom is off running after a toddler who is determined to find the most dangerous or breakable things. And if they can’t find something dangerous, it’s time for an epic meltdown. Believe me, it’s so much easier to have a decent conversation if at least one of you isn’t also worried about your child dying as you talk.

2. Friends without kids can offer great support and even advice!

I really don’t like the notion that only those who are Moms can understand or contribute to a discussion about children. I think Non-Moms can sympathize and offer tips more than we give them credit.

3. They remind you that you are more than just a Mom.

Often, your Non-Mom friends were your friends before you had children. There may be interests that you shared. If you stop hanging out with them, you lose that part of your life. Odds are that eventually, your children will move away from home. If you lose your Non-Mom friends during this season in life, you may find yourself completely lost when the empty nest years begin. You may forget who you were before kids, therefore forgetting the non-children aspects of your life.

4. The Golden Rule

I remember what it felt like to be on the outside. The outside of the mommy club. Friends all of a sudden disappeared when they had a child. I understood that their life had changed, that they were busy but….they often were busy hanging out with other moms! People they barely knew seemed to take priority over little old me with no children. Treating others how we want to be treated is another reason to keep your Non-Mom friends.

5. It’s boring to have just one type of friend.

Why have only vanilla ice cream when there’s so many flavours out there?! I think you’ll find life more fulfilling when your friends are varied. And you may find that you grow more as a result. .

Are you a Mom that’s been intentional about keeping your Non-Mom friends? What’s helped to foster those friendships? Or if you’ve been a Mom for a while, do you wish that you had more Non-Mom friends? Why or why not? And for those reading who fall into the camp of being a Non-Mom, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Looking forward to your comments!