Skip to content

Whole 30: Week 1

Start Weight : 215 lbs ….. End Weight: 204.2 lbs

 
The whole 30 is often referred to as a diet or a cleanse – but for me, I’m hoping for it to become a whole journey… one in which I spent angry or frustrated for the first 3 or so days and then happy shortly after. In an attempt to fully prepare you—or deter you—for what you might face on your own 30-day battle against your cravings, this 24-year-old Mexican food and ice cream addict will tell you exactly what happened—the good, the bad and the downright torturous. I know that I listed my weight at the top but this isn’t just about weight for me. I’m trying to manage my ulcerative colitis so I will feel better (which is why I’m doing Whole 30 rather than joining in Kate in Keto – I need things like grapefruit and other things for my digestive system and leaky gut to heal.)
 
Before I even considered starting, I wanted to know exactly what the fuss was all about. It Starts With Food is a great book that outlines all the basics you need to know to begin. It’s a great reference to keep and refer back to. The Whole30 website also offers a TON of information for free.
 

I could go on for a 7 hours about the restrictions and the food swaps involved in the Whole 30, but here’s the gist: You eat only meat/protein, vegetables and fruits for a whole 30 days. You cut out all the things your body has learned to love and crave, including dairy, grains, gluten and any added sugar whatsoever.

So WHAT convinced me to take the Whole 30 plunge?

1. It seemed so simple. Ridiculously simple. Eat foods with very few ingredients or even none at all.  The list of what I could eat {meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and fats that included oils, nuts and seeds} was concise and I could easily wrap my brain around it.

2. The list of what I wouldn’t be able to eat for the duration of Whole 30 was MUCH longer. Believe it or not, the restriction of grains, dairy, alcohol and legumes weren’t as terrifying to me as the number one restriction… NO ADDED SUGAR OF ANY KIND. No honey, no maple syrup… oh, and no ice cream. 

3.  It’s ONLY 30 days. There is a “tough love” section of the Whole 30 website that says something like, “It’s NOT hard. Beating cancer is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black Is. Not. Hard.” After I read that line, I knew I was up for the challenge.  I’ve been through quite a few painful experiences in my life, and while 30 days of no added sugar seemed terrifying, my track record for getting through hard and terrifying things is pretty good.

If that didn’t scare you away from this then you must truly be desperate—kidding… sort of.

The point of the Whole 30 isn’t to lose weight (though you probably will.) The point is to cut out the food groups that are wreaking havoc on your body. Once you finish the eating plan, you can reintroduce certain foods little by little, and then make your own decisions based on how you feel. For example, if you finish your Whole 30, drink milk and the next morning you feel bloated or your stomach hurts, then you can make an educated decision to cut dairy from your diet permanently.

Some Background on Me

Before the Whole 30 I would essentially eat whatever I wanted. I’d wake up for breakfast and eat my grapefruit and drink my cup of coffee with tons of sugary creamer – sometimes even a chicken biscuit or an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese spread if I was feeling frisky. My typical lunch would involve some sort of left over takeout food and I’d probably get dinner out three or five times a week – let’s be honest, I live off Mexican food. The worst part of my diet though—and this was what I wanted to concentrate on the most during my Whole 30—was my late-night snacking. What can I say? Ice cream is my kryptonite. 

 
Day 1-2: I complained…a lot. Poor Kate. Every 3 minutes I was discovering something else I had to give up that was ‘ruining my life.’ “What about grapefruit? Well… what about ice cream? Hmm… But I really feel like I should be able to have coffee.” PS. I can have coffee – just not the things that I put into it that make it worth drinking. The first night I went to bed hungry and angry because I wanted something sweet and I just couldn’t have it. *insert eye roll followed by me laying on the floor kicking my feet like a 2 year old* 
 
Day 3: So I caved… I ate grapefruit and had half of a cup of coffee with a tablespoon (half the amount that I usually use) of my normal sugary add ons for breakfast. I was at work on a Sunday, I was exhausted and hungry….. whatever. Going to eat mexican for dinner that night just made it worse… WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DIP IN MY GUACAMEX IF I CAN’T HAVE CHIPS? Yep, basic brat fest. My dinner was actually super good though once I got past the “I can’t have nachos so I hate everything else” state of mind. 
 
Day 4-5: My partner and I both love to cook so if nothing else this was an excuse for us to cook and eat at home more often without being able to ‘just grab something.’ It became easier to eat at home than to go out and pick apart a menu trying to figure out what in item we couldn’t have. I was doing much better on Day 4/5 until I realized I couldn’t have my lipton’s green tea in the bottle….that I drink every single day. (I hadn’t realized this before because I was out of them and was working through the first 3 days.) Fail. 
 
Day 6-7: By the end of the week, despite being hungry more often than not, I actually felt great. My stomach wouldn’t hurt when I woke up in the morning, indigestion was a non-issue and I genuinely felt like I had more energy to go on runs or hit the gym and I began walking on the treadmill at work during my breaks on Day 7! Wahooo!
 
Week 1 Weigh-In: ( 10.8 lbs lost)
 
Week 2 is going to run a lot smoother than Week 1, I’m bound and determined… and I’m posting this purpose more than anything for accountability, so thank you. 

Foster Thoughts: You are our greatest adventure yet.

It’s absolutely crazy to me how something can completely consume you – completely take over every emotion and quite frankly your entire being for SUCH A LONG TIME and then not effect you at all.

There are children… many, many children out there in this big world who did not fall asleep to a mama wondering how on Earth she could ever love that child more. There are millions of children who might never get to experience all that a child should know. THOSE are things that which now break my heart.

It’s kind of funny how things change… you know, since not being able to get pregnant used to be what broke my heart daily.. and the way the conversations of “starting your own family” used to be what made my stomach turn.

I’ve been head over feels, jumping for joy since the very first adoption/fostering meeting we had so many months ago. I no longer wonder about an unborn child, but instead about the millions who are here and whose own, little hearts break daily waiting on love.

These things have been stewing and brewing in my heart since we began this process, especially since we started and now finished IMPACT classes and are standing by with our hearts on the line, waiting for a call.

I do not have a baby bump, nor will I EVER have a baby bump but this doesn’t make this a “second hand” experience or outcome for either one of us. This is a child’s life and we will ensure that this baby knows that he/she was loved long before our paths crossed and we locked arms to find him/her.

Those of you who can’t have a child, I want you to think of it like the daddy – the daddy who is never able to physically carry a child. It doesn’t matter, the second that child comes into the world, the daddy’s heart melts. Your heart doesn’t know the difference the moment they place that child into your arms.

We have been preparing the kiddo’s room and for the arrival of our child(ren) honestly just as if I had a baby bump. We’ve had the same discussions new parents often have when preparing for a new child – what are we going to do for child care arrangements while working, how would you like to decorate the bedroom, what pediatrician and dentist we will use, and of course the MANY things we want to do ‘once little Travis gets here.’

I wanted to contribute to the discussion, but I wasn’t sure how to contribute and which emotion to share with you. I’ve had so many during these past few years and even more during these past few months, and I feel like it’s all sort of reaching a climactic point as we are getting closer and closer to these steps within our “fostering” process where it’s all beginning to be REAL.

But we will stick to the script and I will stay real as I promised to do so from day 1 of beginning this journey as I share it with you guys (and with myself.)

I have been afraid of many things in my life….big moments, big decisions, big surgeries. But if I’m being honest, this could be the most fear I’ve felt yet (which seems crazy, considering I have fearful thoughts around my job daily.) This is a little person coming into our lives. This is a little person that I am going to love from second number one. The thought of that child being anything but ours forever is scary. There is a fear that cannot be described, and yet I know that this fear must not lead me. Fear must not have control, and fear must not determine emotions. No matter what, we remember the true goal here – even more than “Gotcha Day”, which is..love. To give our love to a little person, while keeping the faith that the right little one will be placed with us – forever.

“Gotcha Day” isn’t as close as it might seem, kind of like two pink lines were never as close as so many people thought they were. Friends and family ask us about our adoption process all of the time. Most just assume that when you receive your call, you meet up with the child, take s/he home and live happily ever after. This is not the case…at least not when you adopt through your state, through the county and especially through the foster care system.

I know that we will not be able to adopt all the children in the world, but it is my hope, to be able to help foster and/or orphaned children in whatever way we can. I now understand things about life and about children and about love and heartbreak that I could have never known even a year ago. These things I am now able to understand have made my mission will so much more clear.

An open letter to the other family members of a foster family.

Fostering a child can be an extremely rewarding experience for foster carers and their families. So, who can foster and how do you tell your family that you intend to become a foster parent?

The foster care process and becoming a ‘foster family’ isn’t about qualifications, it’s about your ability to offer a young person a stable home to grow up in. No matter what your relationship status, gender, age, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, or whether you have children of your own or not, you can be considered to become a foster parent.

“The fact that I’m a grandma has no bearing on my ability to provide suitable care –age provides great experience. We take part in lots of family activities together, my own children and grandchildren with foster children all together, having lots of fun.”

(Linda Tellwright, a grandmother & current foster carer to a 17 year old)

But this isn’t just about you. It’s about every other person in your life also. Your own decision to become a foster parent was unlikely to be something you decided to do in the spur of the moment and therefore telling your family also needs similar consideration and planning.

Be pragmatic – some family members will be more supportive than others and it is absolutely your choice as to whom you share your news with. Ensure that when you do, share your news with wider family members, you have a list of facts to impart AND answers to their trickier questions that are likely to come up, because believe me, THEY WILL HAVE QUESTIONS.

But during their questions… Try not to feel that you are justifying your decision, you are simply paving the way for fostering a child and ensuring that your wider family understands how they can best support you and be involved with your foster child. I have a fantastic support network of family and friends around me and this is important to any foster parent.

Be clear that it isn’t always going to be about ‘arrivals’ but also ‘goodbyes.’

Foster Grandparents, I know you have hesitations about how all of this is going to impact your life. I know you have fears and I’m not going to tell you they aren’t warranted. You’re worried about the work that is going to fall on the shoulders of your children, the time it might take from your other grandchildren, how your family will deal with loss, and you worry about safety issues. You want to be supportive, but you’re also unsure about how wise it is for your child to pursue this hard life– the life of a foster parent.

The role of a Foster Grandparent is important, but you probably don’t have people in your life to tell you how to do it well. I don’t know of any support group meetings for foster grandparents or resources written for them. No one can tell you how it is going to feel the first time you see that child who needs your family– that mix of love for them, sorrow for what they’ve gone through, and apprehension about how they may break your own child’s heart. You may be unsure of how to react or what to say. If you’re open to suggestions, here’s what I wish I could have communicated to my own parents when we started this process.

I know you may have reasons why you don’t think we should pursue this because you anticipate the pain we will go through. We know there will likely be pain and we’re okay with that. As my parent, sister, loved one, I know you don’t want to see me struggle, but WE are willing to struggle so a child doesn’t have to. I’m willing to do that, but I need you to be willing to support me even on my hard days.

We need to feel safe to cry to you. If I sense you aren’t supportive of our decision to be foster parents, I’m not going to feel safe sharing my pain. I’m afraid if you knew how hard this was you’d encourage me to quit. I need you to be someone who wants to hear my heart and can love me and this child without trying to fix the situation. Many problems in foster care just can’t be solved quickly or in ways that are going to make us all happy. I’ve got to be okay living in that tension and I need you to be there with me.

Remember when you had fights with your spouse during those newlywed days? You were always encouraged to forgive, to stick it out, to choose love. You’ll need all of those reminders again as you work through this difficult relationship with your foster child, their family and a frustrating legal system.

I want you to love this child. I know their future is uncertain. I know they may not exactly “fit” in this family right now. I know they don’t have my nose and my partner’s eyes and you weren’t there to see their first yawns and smiles. But I need you to be all in with them. I need to know you aren’t drawing boundaries to keep YOUR grandkids in and this foster child out. Please be thoughtful of ways you might be drawing hurtful distinctions– not giving them gifts the same way you would your other grandkids, not offering them physical affection, using language that implies they aren’t your “real” grandchildren, leaving them out of family traditions (even if it’s because you assume they wouldn’t care,) doing family pictures without them. I need you to realize how important you are in the life of this child. You may be the only healthy grandparent relationship they have and if you intentionally leave them out, they won’t ever get to fully experience it.

It’s important that you respect this child’s story. We have to be careful about confidentiality issues and we need you to be careful, too. We don’t want the private, painful details of this child’s story to become the topic of discussion at your prayer group. It doesn’t need to get passed around to the neighbors. We may also need you to be respectful if there are questions we just can’t answer. We need for you to be able to hear the hard things that might impact your interactions with this child and know that conversation stops with us. Please don’t think of that as a limitation on your ability to be honest, but as an important role in this child’s life– a keeper of their story.

Please be willing to learn along with us. I may be struggling to figure out how to do hair I’ve never worked with before. I may be dealing with health issues that are all new to me. I may be trying to problem solve behavioral problems, school issues, developmental  questions, and emotional outbursts that I don’t have the answers for yet. I’d love for you to be a student with me. I need you to know that traditional parenting answers may not work for this child because of their history. We might need to adopt some new family traditions and cultural practices as we learn to understand and value this child’s ethnicity. I’d love for you to be excited about the learning process and embrace the changes we might have to make.

I’d love your practical help. Bringing a new child into our home is a difficult process. If I gave birth to a new baby, there might be a shower from our friends and family and you might come stay with me and help out because we understand bringing home a baby is challenging. When we bring in a foster child, we have all those same challenges PLUS the need to build an attachment with this child who is likely fearful and angry. We’d love for you to be part of our support team.

I want you to be proud. In general, I don’t want the rest of society acting like I’m a saint because I love these children who are entirely lovable and worth loving. But, I do want to know you see how hard this is, you appreciate what I’m doing and you’re proud of me as your child. I want you to talk to your friends about the important work of foster care. I want you to see this as your own calling, too. I want you to take pride in your important role as a foster grandparent.

I asked my mom once when she changed from being nervous about us becoming foster parents to being supportive. She told me it was all about seeing the child. That’s what really drives the point home and minimizes the worried wonderings. We are in it for these kids. And Foster Grandparents, we’d love to have your support.

“I have a 19 year old son and a seven year old daughter of my own. They’ve adapted really well to being a foster family – my daughter was only two when we started and doesn’t know life without foster children. They are all the same age and are like normal brothers and sisters; one minute they are arguing and the next they’re full of love for one another!”

(Malika Azahri, 37, and husband Phil, 36, live in Norwich and have been foster parents for just over five years)

2018: Looking Forward

Leaving 2017, if you want the truth I could almost pinch myself because of how well things are going. It truly doesn’t feel like the last day of 2017 – Christmas came and went before we knew it and now we are headed feet first into another year.

In 2018, I want to feel peace within. I want all of the scars on my soul to fade away. I will fight every thought I have about not being able to do something. Because I have had enough negative thoughts and energy in the last 2 years and that is NOT something I plan to keep doing in the next year and the years to come.

“So 2018, ready or not, here I come – stronger than ever, one year smarter.”

In 2018, I am leaving my past where it belongs.

I don’t want to continue to think about the mistakes that I’ve made nor how they have affected my life. Instead, I want to focus on what’s in front of me. I don’t want to be harsh on myself just because I failed to do something right, or heaven forbid I focused too much time and energy on something that absolutely destroyed me – after all, everything is a learning opportunity. All of the things that happened have shaped me into the person I am today. I don’t want to feel bad about it anymore – I just want to let it go.

Speaking of letting go, I want to let go of something else – all of the toxic people who made a mess out of living my life.

I don’t want to have any contact with them because I love my life, those who are special to me and the positive energy they add to my life, and I don’t want them to ruin it. I don’t want to listen to them gossip about others because they’ll surely do it about me, as well. I just want to be far away from them because they don’t have the positive energy I crave. I will let go of anyone who makes me think I’m not improving or succeeding. I’ve already had my fair share of temporary people who were supposed to be my friends, I’ve had people telling me that they love me in one moment and turning their backs on me the very next – and I’ve also had people who promised me to be there to just go and disappear when I needed them most. I won’t tolerate people coming into my life to make me feel sad – if they’re a part of my life, they need to earn their place there. Positive Vibes.

In 2018, I want to stop trying to be someone I am not just to fit in.

I don’t want to be someone people will mold into the shape of their own taste. This time, I want to be the real me, even if it means that others will turn their backs on me (see above.) So far I’ve learned that it is better to be alone than in bad company…. hence my solitude? I will make myself a priority, not an option. I have decided that is the way to happiness and I’ll get there sooner rather than later.

In 2018, I am focusing on my story.

I don’t want to be a side character in someone else’s story. And when I turn back at the end of 2018, I want to tell myself that this year was the year when things actually changed. I want to know that in that year I made some new goals I was able to achieve. I want to feel that I made some of my wishes come true and that I put myself on the path I’ve chosen.

I’m in this skin forever and I need to fall in love with the girl inside. 

So, goals… 

I love, love, LOVE setting goals for myself. I think that maybe it’s my stringent Type A personality, but goals make me feel alive – they truly add fuel to my fire. With that said, the 2018 personal goals I’ve set look vastly different than the 2017 personal goals I set last year.

(By the way, happy one year anniversary, you guys! Sip Wine, Share Thoughts turns one next week!)

This year, I’m making a list of just 5 goals because, well, change. The changes that are happening, as well as the ones that are upcoming require me to just embrace them vs. trying to go above and beyond x’s 100 and trying to control them like I am normally used to doing.

  1. Family.Commit to helping my dad through this roller coaster that he’s dealing with every single chance that I can. This, besides just embracing the other changes in my life, is probably my number one goal. I don’t talk a lot about what’s going on with my dad, simply because he’s such a private person but he needs me more than this is worth right now.
  2. Health.This isn’t about weight loss – although my weight will be effected. I need some serious gut healing so I can start to feel better – physically and mentally. This is going to take some work – I’m doing a lot of research on ‘gut healing’ and what I can do to fix the issues I’ve been having (that have been pretty ongoing for the last few years…few meaning like 10 or more.)More on this later.
  3. Blog.Sip Wine, Share thoughts has grown immensely over the past year. I’m looking forward to continuing with that as I’ve got more expansion topics planned, as well as roughly 6-7 posts I’ve been working on. In addition to the usual things I love sharing with you – fostering, minimalist lifestyle changes, and solitude mindsets – there are so many other topics I have been tucking away that will surface this year.
  4. Younique.I know some of you probably just rolled your eyes and that’s totally fine! I’m looking forward to hitting Elite Green Status this year – sit back and watch! And if you think in the back of your head you’d like to try some epic mascara – pencil me in and I’ll hook you up!
  5. Financial.This is a major goal that we’ve already put a pretty good dent in over the last few months. I more than anything would like to become‘financially sound.’ Consolidate some things, pay off even more things. Here’s to becoming more financially stable!

happy-new-year-quotes

 I am super comfortable with where I’m at right now and only have plans to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing the last several months with a few extra set in ‘mental stability goals’ that I mentioned at the beginning of this post – because it’s working, all of it. Consistency works. It really, truly does.

I don’t expect that the year ahead will be predictable – If anything, I expect it to be anything but. It’s going to be super unpredictable, so I’m prepared to just roll with my 2018 personal goals one day at a time. Here’s to 2018, here’s to 25!

What about you? Did you create 2018 personal goals? If so, what are they?

Foster-to-Adopt: But what happens when they go home?

Foster care has gained a global spotlight over the past few years thanks, in part, to movies and media coverage. Many people are choosing this path. But, there’s a right reason and a wrong reason to choose this journey, as well as a right and a wrong mind set to have as you enter each process with each child.

“I wish we could do away with the term foster-to-adopt,” a co-foster parent used these exact words a few days ago on the ‘Foster Parent Support Group Facebook Page’ that I often times refer to on here. “It communicates the wrong message to people who are entering the process. We should call it, foster-to-reunify.” She was referring to the underlying intention some have in entering the journey, to build a family by fostering. Not specifically the program of fostering-to-adopt. I nodded as I read through this and the comments. She was completely right. Foster to adopt IS misleading at times!!

Harsh, right? I even used two exclamation points at the end. But I need to drive home a strong point here: You don’t enter the foster care journey to build your family. You don’t enter to adopt. You enter to care for children in need. The point is reunification….always…unless it absolutely becomes an adoption case. If you’re doing foster care for anything else than caring for vulnerable children or reunification, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Double harsh!

Let me be 110% honest and 110% vulnerable for just a second.. WE do want to eventually adopt, and YES as we fall in love with each child, we will in the back of our mind want to “adopt every single one” but we know that the end goal is and we say the same thing to every person we talk to about it, “if there’s a chance for a parent to turn their life around and be a family with their child, they deserve for that to happen – both the child and parent.” We must remove our feelings from it, we must not be selfish, because this process isn’t about what we need – it’s about what that child needs.. it’s always a little mix of both, just sometimes it’s more of us, sometimes it’s a little more of their biological family.

A few years ago I was talking with a friend of mine, she had just started fostering – tears streamed down her face as she shared their story. Six or so months earlier, when they began the journey, they had been told by their agency (DFCS) that their first placement, a 6-month old boy, was more than likely going to turn into an adoption situation. This moved their hearts as they had always dreamed of adopting a little boy or girl (back story – they had issue after issue with IVF treatments prior to this.) But the conversation with the case manager was casual and there was never a follow up after. A few months later, visitations with birth mom had been re-instated. She had turned a corner and began showing signs of progress. This prompted a judge to order visitations, even though it had been nearly six months since her son was removed from her care. All signs were pointing toward reunification (at least from the foster parent’s perspective.) Fast forward another 3 or so months and that child went home to his biological mother.

I listened, I empathized, I hurt for them. What a devastating thing to be told this by their agency, allow your heart to go there, and then have the carpet yanked out from beneath you, I thought. But I realized they had been led astray from the beginning. The case manager should have never mentioned adoption until it was absolutely a certainty. For the well-being of this precious couple, and their heart, as well as the child they were caring for, it should not have been a topic of conversation. (Post Note: They tried an additional IVF treatment about a year later and they now have a beautiful baby girl! Yay, happy endings!)

You don’t enter foster care to build a family, or to adopt. Could it turn into this? Sure. Can you sign up through an agency to be a foster-to-adopt couple? Yep. Those are both possibilities and there are designed programs for each. But, to set out on the foster care journey with an expectation of adoption in a general case is dangerous for your heart and the heart of the child you’re caring for. Make your focus reunification as a foster parent, but be open to adoption if it leads to this. Here are a few other things to focus on while you care for children through foster care…

1. Advocacy. Be an advocate for the child and the child’s family (if you are able to do this.) They need a cheerleader throughout this process.

2. Leadership. Make your focus to genuinely and authentically lead the child you’re caring for (and also the family.) You have this amazing, distinct opportunity to be a positive influence and guide along this journey. Be a role model for what parenting should look like to both the child and the parent – heighten the parents goal standards, heighten the child’s expectation standards for what parenting should look like.

3. Healing. Chances are, the child in your care has come from some pretty traumatic stuff. They may even be behaving out of this trauma. Or they’re afraid. They need time and space to heal. You can give them this space. You also have the opportunity to be a catalyst for hope and restoration in their story.

Make your focus reunification as a foster parent, but be open to adoption if it leads to this.

Listen, I get it. Can I just tell you that? I get the struggle you are having if you have fallen in love with the child in your care, or been told something pre-maturely by your foster care agency. I understand how your heart and mind can jump to adoption or permanency. In many situations during our time as foster parents, our hearts will go there, but we have to keep the right perspective in place. We have to keep reunification in focus, until it was absolutely certain a child was never leaving. We allow our hearts to love children deeply while they are with us, and then we grieve and celebrate openly when they reunify with their family. It’s the painful, tragic, reality of the foster care journey.

This isn’t just a letter to fellow foster parents, or to the potential foster parents, but to also myself, my partner, our friends and family… literally every single person who asks the question, “are you guys going to adopt?”

You are setting yourself up for potential heart break if you foster with the expectation of adoption. Can I give you some parting advice that will spare you pain and agony? If adoption is your expectation, you should adopt, not foster. No harm, no foul in choosing this path.

True Life: I have high functioning anxiety.

High Functioning Anxiety : Constantly busy. Perfectionistic. Juggling a hundred different projects and responsibilities. Constantly scanning the future and laying the plans and groundwork for what you want or don’t want to happen. Feeling motivated and pulled forward by the hot energy coursing inside of you. Being described as super Type A. Having a mind that races and obsesses over your to-do list if you accidentally wake up at 4 in the morning. Covering up your daily anxiety with overthinking, overdoing, over-performing, over-preparing, over-everything…

Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when it’s the loudest voice in the room, no matter how much you try to get rid of it, it’s just there.

Having no control over your own mind, your thoughts, your worries is scary. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, especially when everything could be perfectly fine, but your mind tricks you into believing everything’s so wrong.

It makes you question: “is something wrong with me?” and apologize for being crazy, irrational and a mess, days on end. It’s tiring, frustrating and something you can’t really control. No matter how many times you tell yourself to calm down, tell yourself everything’s fine – you still can’t help but worry about the “what if.”

Your mind will convince itself that things are worse than they really are.

Not only do you not understand why you’re this way, the people who care most about you don’t understand either. And as much as you try to explain what’s wrong, no words come out. Just tears – from sadness, anger and frustration.

I have one of those minds. I know what’s it like to not be able to explain what’s wrong, especially if nothing is really actually wrong.

I’ve always been hard on myself. I’ve always stressed myself or thought the worst of every situation. But never like this. Maybe it’s because I graduated college and everything began happening so fast? Maybe a little too fast for me to handle. I’ve been unhappy, not sure why but my mind wouldn’t let me be happy. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that ‘everything was okay.’ Whatever it is, it slowly gets better – every single day, I’m learning (or at least trying) to not let anxiety win.

People underestimate what anxiety really is. You want to call those who overthink everything, or make up scenarios in their head crazy, but you don’t understand: those with anxiety can’t control it.

It doesn’t make us crazy and we definitely don’t need you telling us we’re crazy either.

Loving someone with anxiety can be hard, but the worst thing you can ever do is give someone more reason to worry. If you truly believe in them – try to understand. Know that it’s you vs. anxiety vs. them. The best thing you can do is just listen – or be there if someone can’t explain why they feel how they do.

Understand that sometimes you may be the reason for an attack, even though you haven’t given us a reason as to why you or your actions should be. Don’t take it personal. Be careful with your words – don’t say we’re overreacting, to calm down or to stop worrying. Don’t you think that if we could stop worrying, we would have by now?

I’m drowning and you’re standing 3 feet away screaming, “learn how to swim.”

People try to understand what’s going on in my head, why I worry about things that haven’t happened or why I let my thoughts make me so unhappy. My answer is “I don’t know.” And no matter how many people I talk to, my answer is always I don’t know. I wish I had an answer, and someday, I probably will.

One thing I have learned is: do not lose yourself in your fear.

I tell myself everyday. With a million thoughts and worries running through my head – I try to tell myself to not let it control me. Don’t lose yourself worrying about something that may, or may not happen. It’ll begin to eat at you and ruin your life. It’s hard, trust me, and you might not be very good at not letting those thoughts control you but you can try and that’s really all you can do.

2017: Reflection

*Trigger Post – take this as your warning. I may be weepy, which in turn means you may also end up weepy.
 
Yeah, I have changed a lot and that is totally fine with me. Finally, I learned to love myself. I learned to respect myself and to care a lot less about what other people have to say. I’m not be the one who doesn’t take chances because she thinks that she can’t handle them. Instead, I try. I try to do things that I never have before and if I fail, I will surely learn a lesson from it. But one thing is for absolute certain – I will keep trying.
 
“In order to have something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
 
2017 was a lot of things for me – a learning process being one of them. In 2017, I learned to let go. Of my past, of my previous learned patterns, of a few people that I thought would be around for the rest of my life or atleast a little while longer but they’ve taught me a lot and for that I’m so thankful.
 
Lessons Learned – There are too many temporary things in life and love shouldn’t be one of them. I’m SO GLAD this is something that I realized and learned in 2017.
 
Patience – Whoever said ‘patience can’t be taught’ never made an honest effort to do so. This doesn’t just have to do with people throughout your life but also just gaining patience within yourself. 98% of getting through life is gaining the want/need to be patient, to be more understanding, to gain closure and such with things you don’t understand that you need to let go of. 
 
Papa – You went quickly, for that I am almost thankful. I want to say that “I’m glad” that you went so quickly but doesn’t that sound a tad bit morbid? What I mean to say is, “I’m glad you didn’t have to suffer very long” and “I’m glad you get to be reunited with the love of your life now.” But I will say that I wish we could’ve had more time… More time together when you were healthy, that you would’ve had more time to spend with Kate so she could’ve known you when you were healthy, happy, and whole.. and more than absolutely anything that you could’ve spent time with our new coming kiddos – that they could’ve enjoyed your sweet, welcoming spirit… that they could’ve enjoyed your love in the ways that I got to growing up. 
 
Aid & Little Miss – I love both of you so much. More than words could say, more than I could ever put into words, more than you’ll ever be able to realize. I won’t pretend my heart isn’t still broken, anyone who knows me, communicates with me, knows the devastation I still feel to this day, and the confusion I continue to cope with. How even a mention of either of your names will light up my world like no other, only to force it down a deep hole a few minutes later when I realize how things are now, and why. Please don’t ever question the fact that I love you, think of you, and miss you every single day. Although you were only a part of my life for a short, little while, the impact you made on me will forever change me.
 
“The broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you’ve been in the dark, you learn to appreciate everything that shines.”
 
During 2017 I also learned to hold on, to try harder, to make more honest efforts for things I wanted to succeed in and although I lost a lot this year, I gained even more – for that I can be nothing but thankful. I gained strength, I gained ‘wholeness,’ and I gained the state of ‘completion.’
 
Daddy – I’ll just leave this right here. 2017 was tough but so are we, so are Y O U. I love you, I will always be ‘your baby’ and nothing will ever change that.
 
Kate – Although our journey began at the end of last year and I’ve known you well beyond that, I’m still going to mention you (of course.) We’ve been through a lot together this year, we’ve grown beyond imaginable measures, and we’ve come a long way together. I’m excited to see us “top this year” next year – but what I’m looking forward to even more is watching our journey continue and watching our love with our family grow.
 
“Never be afraid to start over… it’s a chance to rebuild your life the way you wanted all along.”
 
This year has been especially turbulent for me. It was a rollercoaster for sure – but I’ve found the light at the end of the tunnel… this is one thing I’m especially thankful for! I’m putting all of my hopes into the year that is yet to come – I’ve had my fair share of hell and it’s finally come time to experience the happiness that stays and a love that doesn’t leave… Out of all of the wishes from this previous years reflection – I’m so thankful that I found, “the love that stays.”

Technology doesn’t ruin our relationships…. we do.

It’s 5AM when my alarm goes off for work every morning. I open my eyes, and my mind automatically starts racing. Things I need to get done at work that day, project deadlines, and all of the things I’ve got to get finished up around the house once I get off work that evening all loom. Why is there always so much stuff on my to do list and never enough time to get it all done?

I grab my phone while I’m waiting for the shower to heat up and scroll through my notifications, half awake. Knowing she’s not up, I could send her a text message, “Good morning, beautiful. I hope you’re sleeping well and I wish I were still sleeping next to you.” This text serves as two reminders: I want her to know she’s the first thing on my mind. And more importantly, I need her to realize that, regardless of how stressful or busy my days are, she’s still priority. But this isn’t normally reality, is it? I won’t say, “I never do this” but I will be vulnerable and admit I don’t do this nearly enough as I should. Instead I’ll log into Instagram or Facebook, nosing into everyone else’s life, and maybe, just maybe I’ll send that text to her on the way to work.

I’m sure you’ve heard these thoughts. “Our generation is the worst. Millennials don’t know how to be loyal. Social media is killing love.” You’ve heard it all and probably felt it, too. We’ve all been there – laying on the couch with your partner, both mindlessly scrolling quickly through Instagram or Facebook. That’s just become the norm.

Relationships these days lack direction. People “date,” but what the heck does that even mean anymore? Hanging out a couple nights a week? Texting all day? It’s safe to say something is missing, but what is causing relationships to falter at the rate they are? Did the previous generation have to deal with DMs and hundreds of other people ‘liking’ their partners selfies? Nope. But guess what? It’s not technology’s fault. It’s our fault for using this as an excuse and accepting the behavior.

If you meet someone and go out on a date and they never text you – that’s their problem, not the phone’s problem. If they only want to snapchat or text to get to know you, that’s your dates choice. In case you are wondering, PHONES DO STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO PLACE CALLS. If they don’t take you on a real date – that’s not a technology issue either. Real dates still exist, you just decided not to go on one. (Yes, I’m also guilty of this – in fact we all are, my partner and I just had this conversation yesterday.)

Relationships thrive on communication. Our most intimate emotions are reserved for the person we love, so how is it acceptable to never show this to them?

We’ve accepted so many unacceptable things: sitting at the dinner table with our phones in front of our faces, arguing over text messages in the middle of a busy work day where you’re only half committed to your work and the conversation you’re having with your partner, publishing every live second of our lives on social media.

The same principles apply that always have. It was never socially acceptable to be with someone and cheat on them with another person. Maybe 30 years ago it was leaving a note with your home phone number or sending a love letter in a mail – regardless it was still inappropriate. You may not be “cheating on your partner” but I would definitely say you’re cheating yourself and your partner out of a valuable relationship. We experience lack of communication, attention, passion, intimacy, and even lack of love. So why are we okay with this and all of the communication shortcuts that have become so common?

Blaming social media for our relationship problems is no different than blaming the car for a drunk driver – it’s all about how we chose to use it. Instead of blaming technology and social media, raise your standards! Call your significant other during the day even though you could just text them to tell them whatever you need to say, GO ON DATES, spend uninterrupted time with your partner, and put down your phones – this doesn’t mean you can’t look at your phone, but there’s a time and place and date night isn’t it.

So set new standards – there are plenty of people out there who want the same things you do, you just have to be patient and hold onto the new standards you’ve set – it’s a learning process for everyone, including me and you. Make an effort. Old-fashioned love needs to make another round. Take a minute and tell her she’s beautiful. Call her on your way home from work and say, “get dressed, I’m on my way home and we’ve got plans” for a date night rather than just the common conversation of, “what do you want for dinner? I don’t know, what would you like?” The days of holding hands, opening the car door, taking her out “just because,” sending her flowers just to make her smile, and leaving her notes should never be gone.

We have to be children when it comes to love. We have to be vulnerable and free. That can’t happen when we’re preoccupied with the details of everyone else’s lives. Focus on each other – when it’s all said and done, that’s all you really have. Appreciate her, and show her how much she means to you. Bust most importantly, put your phone down and dial into what’s right in front of you.

Project 333: SIMPLE is the NEW BLACK

Inspired by a blog I recently discovered called: BE MORE WITH LESS

A few years ago, I used to dream about one day having a big, spacious walk in closet to hold more stuff. Today, I crave to one day be able to easily store my clothing and accessories without even needing an actual closet (and I am so much happier) so here is a challenge I have taken for myself and would (of course) like to challenge you guys to also!

This is for those of you new to minimalistic-ness (like myself.) You may have just heard about it, or perhaps you have been quietly watching others live with less for the past three years and you are ready to jump in – let’s do this together!

Beginning December 1st I will be participating in Project 333! The idea behind this is super simple: for the next 3 months you are only to have 33 articles of clothing in your closet. This is ALL CLOTHING, ACCESSORIES, SHOES, ETC. – which is where it gets tricky for me because as a lot of you know I have tons and tons of shoes and about 1,569 scarves. Exceptions include things like underwear, bras, sleep-wear, ‘around the house lounge’ clothes, gym clothes, etc. But let me just say real quick – if you’re gym clothes see the grocery store more than the gym, they count towards your 33.

*Side note: although I will be donating, throwing away some of my clothes – there’s exceptions to out of season clothes. My tank tops and shorts will go in a tote and go into the attic during the next 3 months. Then I will be doing this AGAIN in the spring for my spring clothes and then again in the fall for my fall clothes and so on and so forth.  

Originally I decided I was going to try this for a few different reasons…

  • I NEED an extra push for me to truly commit to this minimalist lifestyle that I’ve been craving to have for so long.
  • I need boundaries in order to help myself follow these guidelines for my minimalist changes.
  • The challenge sounds both reasonable and challenging – and I love a good challenge.

Now it has become an experiment that I value and will continue to recommend to others.

First step, put it on your calendar. Depending on the state of your closet, you may need 2-5 hours or more. Clear the day, hire a sitter, unplug and make it important. (I’ve chosen Thursday because I will officially begin my 33 days on Friday, December 1st.)

Next step, take inventory. Empty your closet, yes the entire thing. Don’t worry about sorting yet, just throw everything onto the bed. (If you put everything on your bed, you’ll be motivated to complete the project before bedtime.) If you have clothes in drawers, storage containers, or other areas of your home get those, too. While you are at it add your shoes, accessories, and jewelry. All the things.

Take a break. This is a great time to take a walk. Get away from your closet, clothes, guilt, frustration, or any other emotions that are coming up. Walk and breathe. Let it go. Take a walk, eat a snack, walk away from the chaos for a few minutes.

Next step, turn up the music. Move the clothes on your bed to piles on the floor with a ruthless first pass sort. Don’t give it too much thought, just go with your first reaction. Sort items into the following piles…

Love: I love these items. They fit me well and I wear them frequently.

Maybe: I want to keep this but I don’t know why (you know you have those items!)

Donate: These items don’t fit my body or my life.

Trash: These items are in poor condition (repurpose if possible!)

 

  • Keep going until your bed is clear and you have 4 piles on the floor.
  • Box or bag up your items to donate and bring them to your car or garage. Get them out of sight immediately.
  • Take out the “trash items.”

Take a second pass at your remaining two piles. Try on the clothing you aren’t sure about and ask the following questions: “Would I go to the store and buy this today? Will I wear this in the next 3-6 months (or ever?)

Box up all of the remaining items from the “maybe pile” and put the box in the back of your closet for 30 days. If you didn’t miss the box after 30 days, DO NOT OPEN IT, donate it.

Sans titre 3

There’s the challenge – I will be doing mine on Thursday so expect an update from me at some point over the weekend with pictures for accountability! I’m excited to share, I’m excited to see yours!

2018 Book Bucket List: For The Eager & Hopeful Foster Momma

Yes, this is a LITTLE EARLY… only like a month, so who cares? Haven’t you guys learned by now that I don’t do things on a reasonable time schedule?! I’m always early or late – never on time! So let’s get ahead of this one and be early, shall we?!

There are plenty of research-driven, practical and informative books written for foster and adoptive parents. They’re great books, but they’re not really ‘book bucket list material.’ These memoirs (and even a few thrown in self-help books) are “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry,” break-and-warm-your-heart type books that any foster/adoptive mom would love (and ‘normal moms,’ too!)

Beyond Consequences, Logic, & Control: A Love-Based Approach to Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors

Beyond Consequences, Logic, & Control: Volume 2

The Adoptive Parent Toolbox

The End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care

Garbage Bag Suitcase

Born Broken

Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac

Blessed Chaos: A Journey Through Instant Motherhood

Another Place at the Table

Three Little Words: A Memoir

Terrified (Angela Hart’s Books are AMAZING! This is the first book in one of her series!)

Living Between Danger and Love: The Limits of Choice

Welcome to the Roller Coaster

The Garbage Bag Kids

Cruel to Be Kind: Saying NO Can Save a Child’s Life (Seriously anything by Cathy Glass)

Self-Care for Foster and Adoptive Families

No Matter What: An Adoptive Family’s Story of Home, Love, & Healing

Groomed: Danger lies closer than you think (Seriously anything by Casey Watson, too)

The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family

A Different Beautiful: Discovering and Celebrating Beauty in Places You Never Expected

The Mystery of Risk: Drugs, Alcohol, Pregnancy, and the Vulnerable Child

There you have it, my friends… our 2018 reading list is complete! You’re welcome. Seriously though, I promise you will not be disappointed by any of the titles I listed above – I’m super eager to read all of these. 98% of them were recommended by fellow foster mommas! I’ve chosen them for this list because they speak directly into our journey from an authentic and been-there-done-that point of view. That’s precisely the kind of resources I need to help me through this often-lonely and isolating journey!

I’ll give some updates as I finish these and hey, if you guys want to pick one a month or so we can read them together and I’ll reflect with you guys via facebook or even here! (Anyone interested in starting like a book reading group where we share thoughts on what we’ve read from the books each month? JUST A THOUGHT!)