WHY DO WE PRETEND IT'S ANY DIFFERENT?

Two weeks ago I woke up pretty depressed. I knew what it was because I’ve battled depression for 20 years. Of course, for many years now, it hasn’t played its part like it used to. It has been a good 7 years since I’ve just laid in bed crying or had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I’ve struggled. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. And the most important thing I’ve learned is that when I start to feel depressed, I have a choice. I can let those feelings drag me down into a pretty nasty spiral or I can fight. I can win my way out of the darkness if I recognize it early and take action. So that is what I did.

As soon as I realized what was happening I thought, “Kiersten, you can let this take control of you or you can take control of it. What do you need to do today to take care of yourself and heal?” You see, if I had broken my arm that morning, I would have rushed to urgent care to see a doctor and spent time and energy to have it heal quickly. But we don’t always do that with mental illness. We just keep thinking that we can ignore it and it will go away. It’s not so. I need to give the pain immediate attention so that which is broken does not break me.

So, I called a friend and asked if her son could come play that afternoon. I know. This doesn’t sound right. But I needed her son to keep my son busy that afternoon so I could get a few things done and feel better. In the end, she offered to let my son go to her house. Just knowing that I would have a few minutes to tackle a few action items on the “Kiersten” list was enough to lift my spirit that day. I spent the morning excitedly getting things done for my family and home because I knew my time was coming. And it did. I spent the afternoon working on things for myself. Filling my cup. Taking care of Kiersten. She needed it. I felt more energetic and my anxious nerves calmed.

It wasn’t a big thing. I didn’t make any miraculous progress that day but it was just enough of what I needed to heal. It was enough of a boost to create some momentum for the following days and keep me from heading the opposite direction. Broken bodies need rest, exercise, and repair. How can we believe that broken minds don’t require the same care? So find something to heal you. What would bring a smile to your face? What time, energy, and resources do you need to heal? Find them. Make them. Whatever it takes. Just heal. Rest if you need to. Forget about the to-do list because, quite honestly, it isn’t going to get done anyway if you’re depressed.

Visit a friend. Go for a walk. Read a book. Take a nap. Meditate. Exercise. Work on a project. Practice a skill. Enjoy a hobby. Indulge in some chocolate. Garden. Dance. Listen to music. Play with your dog.

Just don’t ignore it! Don’t pretend it’s going to go away without rest, exercise, and repair. Take care of your Self and heal. I promise that today- and every day- you will be stronger.   

I CHOOSE LOVE

My oldest daughter turns 13 in three months. The next one is only twenty months behind. Pray for me.  

The first is a typical Type A oldest child with a drive for independence and assertiveness that qualifies her to run for public office. I admire her tenacity, work ethic, and drive for excellence. I also fear her wrath. She’s moody and fiercely defensive. Anyone relate?

For a long time, I’ve felt that it’s my place to keep her temper and backtalk in line. I reprimand and chastise in an effort to teach her manners and respect. But this year is all about LOVE. Showing my children love definitely doesn’t mean letting them be disrespectful or obnoxious but it does mean teaching them how to hold their tongue and that is often best done by example.

Two weeks ago I dropped my daughter off at a new barn for her third riding lesson there. She is still learning where everything is and trying to please. I wanted to stay but she asked if she could “do this on [her] own” so I said goodbye and started my drive home. Halfway there, she called to tell me that lessons were canceled that day. She was embarrassed and upset. When I retrieved her, she was not happy. “This is why I asked you if you confirmed with them...You didn’t read the email well enough…They already hate me and this just makes it worse…This is so embarrassing.” No, I hadn’t confirmed. Yes, I had misread the email. No, they don’t hate her. To me it was no big deal. She got there and no one was there to teach so I just picked her up. So what? To her it felt much bigger.

I made the choice to hold my tongue. She went on for a few minutes then fell silent. We sat there with nothing but the sound of the car and her brother chattering in the background. I kept wondering if there was something I could say to make things better but knew there was no help I could offer. I had already apologized for not confirming. I felt any words I would try to offer would only be to talk her out of her feelings instead of validating them. Then, out of the silence, she said, “I’m sorry I talked to you like that. I was just really embarrassed and had asked you to confirm before we went.”

Just like that, it was over. She needed to get it out. When her frustration was given a voice her mind was able to settle. She is a good girl. She knows what is right and wants to make good choices. Sometimes I just need to let her vent and then let the silence work its magic.

I have repeated this approach since then. Sometimes it doesn’t work and tension lingers longer than I’d like, but she always finds herself again. I know there is a place for discipline and correction, but at some point my children have to be allowed to fall. And when that happens, I will hold on with love...it always comes back.

Announcing. . .THE MOM CONFERENCE

So... my friend, Ramona Zabriskie, invited me to attend this year's Mom Conference and I am so excited that I want to pass along the invitation to all of the moms out there. Starting tomorrow October 11, for three days, The Mom Conference will send you a link to 7- yes, SEVEN- talks on amazing subjects by amazing people FOR FREE! Yes, FREE. There is no charge for the conference and you have 24 hours to listen to the talks once they are sent. After the conference you can purchase a recording package if you want to hear what you missed or if you just want to have it available all year long. Follow this link to find out more.  I hope you will join me for this fun and inspirational event. 

Excuse me, but do you know where July went?

I can’t believe we are halfway through the summer this week. Every spring I dread the end of the school year as I fill with anxiety over how I am going to keep my four children entertained for 10 weeks. Fortunately, Snowmageddan 2016 took off one week of our summer vacation so I only have 9 weeks to fill this year. As the weeks have passed with camps, the pool, swimming lessons, day trips, the Maryland Ice Cream Tour (if you live here, check it out here), horseback riding lessons, my violin teaching, playdates, and other activities, I am wondering where the time has gone and how I am going to fit in everything I had planned.

As my children grow and my life changes year to year, each summer brings new challenges and new opportunities. The older we all get, the more fun we have because the possibilities of activities expand. It has only been this last year, with my oldest child in middle school, that I have begun to realize how quickly my time with them is passing.  Everyone has told me that one day I will miss the noise and the activity. I still struggle with that but I have definitely begun to understand how fast time moves.

I used to wish that time would pass more quickly and my kids would grow up so they were more independent and I could have more fun with them. Well, guess what? They are fun now and I need time to slow down so I can fit in all the fun that is in my head. Don’t get me wrong, they drive me batty some days. Seriously. Batty. I do wish on a regular basis that I had more violin students and speaking gigs to give me a break.

But, just for this summer, I am letting that all go and trying to make memories that won’t be at my fingertips much longer. When fall comes and they are back in school, I will have hours to work on presentations and practice charts but, for now, I am working on my kids while they still want to spend time with me. We will squeeze in another Adventure Day, another Pinterest Day, another Party with Friends Day. We will have a blast at the beach next week, be inspired by Olympians, each chips by the pool (the only time they get such things), and savor our delicious homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers.

Then, when they are back at school and the house is quiet each morning, I will sit down at the kitchen table to work, knowing we made memories none of us will ever forget. Summer will pass- it is just one season of the year. Young motherhood will pass- it is just one season of my life. Both go too quickly these days. I want to make them something to remember. How will you remember the summer of 2016?

Now, go MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Please Make Mistakes

During violin lessons in college, my teacher would often say to me, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make a big one.” He did not want me to play wrong notes but he did want me to play with conviction and passion. He knew that people would never pay to hear a halfhearted violinist who made mistakes but they would pay for a great performance.

 

You may have heard people say, “Sing as though no one was listening.” Do not focus on what may go wrong because it will keep you from reaching higher. Things will go wrong, they always do. That is part of life. Just keep going and, when the inevitable glitch occurs, be ready for it. When overcoming fear of the unknown, preparation is crucial and the same holds true for a fear of failure. Be ready for those things which might go wrong. Have plans B, C, and D laid out ahead of time so that failure does not mean defeat, only a detour. Those around you who mocked your gumption will watch in amazement as you consistently move past stumbling blocks, both internal and external and make something great out of what you have.

 

Live with passion and courage and your missteps will be scarce and slight. Live with boldness and, when you stumble, brush it off and go again. In these turbulent days, the Lord needs us not to be afraid of failure but to embrace it and grow from it. Getting unstuck requires a little bit of faith and a whole lot of courage. Pack those with you and get on your way to making it happen.

Ode to Unfinished Projects

My life is full of unfinished projects. I am great at a lot of things. I can clean and organize and take care of my family like it’s nobody’s business. What I can’t do is get to my violin daily, take my violin studio to the next level, finish redecorating the family room, fully get my garden planted, finish the mending, work on my website and manuscript, yadda yadda yadda. The difference between the former group and the latter is that the latter tasks take perseverance and consistency. Oh, consistency, where art thou?

 

I am a superhero at starting projects. I have the drive and determination to get just about anything started, I just really struggle at seeing it through. I didn’t use to be like this. I practiced violin 6 hours a day on top of rehearsals, school work, recreation, and fitness. But now. . . .

I’ll tell you what happened. When projects get tough and really require tenacity and perseverance, I get overwhelmed and discouraged and “find” other things that need to be done. Oops! Can’t get to the garden, we have company coming and I need to clean. Ah oh! There’s more laundry to be folded so I have to skip website building. Darn it.

What I’ve learned from all of this is that I feel a lot better when I just buckle down and get one thing DONE. Finished. Completed. Check. Ta-da! It feels so good to be DONE with something. So, when the going get’s tough, from now on, I’m going to just keep going. Finish it. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Will you? 

Fake It Til' You Make It

Do you know someone who is happy all the time? Sure, we all put on happy faces at church or when we're out shopping. But I'm talking about people who radiate a peace and contentment that you know they really FEEL all the time. They travel through life's ups and downs and never seem flustered. There are just some people who were born with a cheery disposittion.

That is not me. My mind and emotions seem to naturally settle at grumpy and irritable. No lie. Ask my kids. Most days I have to consciously think about how I want to feel if I want that feeling to be good. If I remember, I will stop for a minute when I'm done with my workout in the basement, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths before going upstairs. I put a smile on my face and then start my interactions with others.

This weekend was really busy and we were all together alot. People were grumpy at times, I didn't get to finish my workout yesterday morning, and I ate horribly which all culminated in a bad start to Saturday morning. But as I quickly showered yesterday morning before running a daughter to a horse riding lesson, I thought, "I have a choice today. I can let the day define me or I can define what kind of day I'm going to have." I put a smile on my face and mindfully decided to live in "Happy Calm" all weekend.

Do you know what? I really did feel good all weekend. I stayed calm in the midst of chaos. I spoke kindly when my kids were fighting. I was patient. I took control and felt the Lord bless my efforts.

Sometimes that's all it takes. Sometimes, when we feel awful, we have to plaster a smile on our face and create the peace from the inside instead of relying on the outside to make us happy. Don't get me wrong, I've gone through the ups and downs of this before. It won't last forever but, each time, it seems to last a little longer. You have the same control. You hold the same power. The Lord wants you to be happy and He will bless your efforts to create a life you love. Now, go
MAKE IT HAPPEN