Category Archives: parenting
Over the last four months, fear has taught me some truths.
Truth #1: Fear is real. Fear is simply a threat to something you care deeply about. It’s a natural and very human reaction that elicits your emotions. It can dominate your thoughts, affect your mental capacity as well as your emotional and physical state.
Truth #2: Fear is real, but it is also a liar. Fear tells whispers in your ear, “You can’t.” Don’t listen; that is a lie.
Truth #3: Fear plays the role you allow it to play in your life.
Beginning on Oct. 10, 2015, life threw our family a curve ball; one that brought about medical conditions that caused severe and continuing headaches, extreme fatigue, numbness in my body and a poor quality of life. We thought it was as simple as degenerative disc disease. I did in fact have that, but I learned that was very manageable.
What was not manageable was what I later learned that I had: sleep apnea and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). My condition causes me to quit breathing about 15 times an hour and wake up, on average, 41 times an hour.
I began to have extremely restless nights getting very little sleep that was non-restorative. My muscles were not getting the oxygen they needed and were fatigued to the point where this avid exerciser had to forego anything physical. Just walking up the stairs took a lot of energy.
During my initial sleep study, I unfortunately had technicians who lacked a servant’s heart (in addition to poor bedside manner). During my sleep study, I was supposed to wear a CPAP machine, which is basically a machine, with a mask attached that blows air into your nose or mouth so that your airway doesn’t become obstructed. Long story short, the experience was horrible (one the business later apologized for).
Fear entered my life. And over the course of several weeks, it consumed me.
How long can I go on living extremely fatigued?
How long can I continue with this headache?
Am I going to get extremely sick because my body cannot get the rest it needs and fight off sickness?
What kind of mother am I right now?
Will my husband lose me?
Will my son have to be raised without me?
What will my husband say to my son when he asks “Where’s Mommy?”
With all this said, it’s important to know that sleep apnea is a treatable condition. Unfortunately, CPAP therapy can take weeks to adjust to, accept emotionally, and beat mentally.
I eventually got a second sleep study and was able to wear the CPAP so the neurologist got the information they needed to give me my own machine.
Though a hurdle was jumped, the fear remained. For many, definitely for me, the CPAP wasn’t something I adjusted to easily.
There were emotional breakdowns due to fear. What if I can’t do this? I am failing.
There were tears due to fatigue.
There were nights that fear said, “You can’t do this.” You’re not who you thought you were. You don’t get the life you wanted.”
Honestly, this is when fear consumed me.
But it was also at this point, that I stopped it. I put fear in its place. I had to, because living the life I was choosing to live left me drained in every way possible.
You see, thoughts of that machine and my life expectancy and condition consumed me. Despite that, I kept working full time. And, I attempted to continue to be the mother my son deserved. I continued to try to keep a functioning home. But, what was in my thoughts despite the fact that I kept putting one foot in front of the other was fear.
I knew it had to stop. So, I stopped it.
I quit thinking about it. I put what little energy I had into things I cared about. Impacting others through coaching. Beginning my reading again. Spending time with my husband, not thinking or talking about my condition. Being mentally present when interacting with my son.
Then, at night when it was time to sleep, I just put the machine on, laid down and didn’t allow fear to say, “You can’t.” I tried to make that the only time I thought about the machine.
I put fear in it’s rightful place in my life.
Is it still there, at times? Sure, I’m human.
But, when it pops up, I put it away. Because it’s a lie. Because if I allow it to, it consumes me.
I am now learning to sleep with the CPAP and beginning to get my energy back. It is still going to be a process and there will still be ups and downs, but fear no longer determines my path. I do.
As I walked into work each day, the kids in our school were learning about courage. One classroom had this posted outside their room: “Courage is the ability to persevere through any emotion.” There’s no promises of this being easy. But the chance is there and the path lies in our ability to choose. Choose the role fear plays your life.
The last four months of my life have been the hardest I’ve ever lived. But, it has provided lessons that I have never experienced to this depth. I am grateful for the experience. I am stronger because of it.
I am the writer of my life.
I have choice in my setting.
I choose the home I live in, based on my values of living debt free and close to family.That means I am choosing to not live in my dream home yet.
I choose my place of refueling–outside, in the solitude and quietness of the morning.
I choose the place where my talents benefit others. For now, that is a school setting, and specifically in a classroom so that dialogue about students can take place with teachers.
I choose the characters written in my story.
I choose my significant other who I will walk through life with. I choose him daily because of who he is. I choose him in the good times and bad.
I choose to bring children into our life. I choose to make our son one of the most important people we pour into.
I choose my mentors, both face-to-face and the ones found in books and virtually. That means being proactive about contacting mentors of my past. And pursuing mentors of my present.
I choose my friends, who add value, joy and connectedness in my life.
I choose my mastermind, a group of ladies who hold me accountable and celebrate my successes.
Within the pages of my book is the plot of my life, constantly being reaped in the small habits that I partake in.
Sure, I didn’t choose my very beginning, the family I was reared in or their values. But, I did choose to allow them to impact me in a positive way or not to allow them to impact me in a negative way.
I chose to study hard, work hard and be my own person in my K-12 education and athletics.
I choose to exercise on a consistent basis.
I choose gratitude in the small moments of the day.
I choose to lead myself and thus lead others.
I choose to see the beauty in the pain.
I choose to see the beauty in others and in myself.
I chose humbleness and confidence.
I choose courage to be honest with myself.
I choose grace.
I choose to believe that I have significance that is special and unique and will lead to the climax of my story.
I am the writer of my life…and look at the degree of choice I have in it all.
“Don’t worry about step 2 or step 222, worry about step 1. What is the next right thing you feel like you’re supposed to do?” ~ Matt Ham
One of my key strengths is listening. Typically, it’s in regard to conversation, but today it’s in regard to listening to one’s life. When I first read about listening to your life in Jeff Goins’s book The Art of Work, it really stood out to me. I instantly knew that’s what I needed to do.
What does it mean to listen to your life? That’s a question that could be a post in itself, but for today, it specifically means listening to those statements, oftentimes singular, but powerful statements, that are said to you that could profoundly change your life.
The statement above about focusing on just the next step is one of those statements.
The summer has brought a lot of contemplation about the future. So much so that I consistently awake in the middle of the night. I’ve never been one to do this. I wake with nothing specific on my mind, which causes me confusion as to why I keep awakening. I do think it’s in regard to the future, the enormity of it, what I want and need it to be, the possibilities that exist and the actions I need to take.
Thoughts like that can be both invigorating, but overwhelming. Thoughts like this:
1) I want a marriage that is solid, strong and one that builds each of us up so much that we can them help one another, our kids and others.
2) I want to significant impact others so that they can live their best life.
3) I want to seize every moment with my son because I know the moment he is little is brief and precious.
4) I want to give all that I need to, all that I’m supposed to, before I die.
Though I think it’s important to take on those thoughts, it can cause us to lose sight of the next five minutes.
Here’s what I believe: If we apply this concept every day, all these small moments will lead to those big moments in life we want to accomplish. In fact, I would argue, it’s those small moments we need to celebrate because that’s when the change happens. That’s when we affect lives. That’s when we live our best life.
So, on my list of my “next five minutes” today, I have:
1) Awake early so that I can have reflection and refuel time.
2) Write this post.
3) Eat a breakfast this is a good balance of protein and fiber.
4) Have a focused and intense work session tonight to prepare for delivering professional development next week.
5) Proactively make the interactions with my husband in a way that shows that I cherish him. Choose not to let the stress of being the wife of a business owner negatively effect me.
6) Be 100% present.
7) Choose patience, love, and light-heartedness as I interact with my son. Know that it’s not the amount of time I get with him, but the quality of the time I do.
What will you do with your next five minutes today?
Why make the LifePlan investment? I had to answer this.
I have said it was because I was discontent, despite a seemingly “successful” life. That was true.
But, the “why” was much deeper than that. Honestly, I think I’m still discovering the why.
I can also say it was because I wasn’t living my best life and I honestly didn’t know what the roadblock was. That was true.
It was about me. But it was also about so much more than me. It was about my three-year-old son. As most parents do, I feel the weight of responsibility to raise a son who is happy and adds value to the lives of others. I have no doubt my husband and I will have conversations with him about this.
However, I am reminded about how my high school softball coach wrote about me in my academic and athletic recommendation letters for college. “Annie leads by example.”
I’ve thought about this off and on through the years. We live in a society that celebrates the extroverted leader. Don’t get me wrong, we need those extroverted leaders, but I think there’s much to be said about the person who is quietly and courageously leading their life in a way that is am example of how we all should.
Parenting is the same. We can have conversation after conversation with our son about how to live his “best life.” But the message he will hear more is the message in our actions.
This is one reason why I needed to do LifePlan. My son needed to know that I’m not afraid to confront my limitations and have the courage to move beyond them. There’s no reason to hide behind them because that’s not living my best life.
What are your actions communicating to your children? Are your actions speaking louder than your words?
Part of the beauty of children is what they teach us.
I received a text from my husband this morning with a picture of construction equipment. He explained how enthralled our three-year-old was and how he could have watched all day. In the next text, he admitted he soaked in the moment as well and had “fun” himself.
Children see the “small” moments in life and simply rejoice in them.
Can we, as adults, do the same thing?
As I think about living my best life, there’s all kinds of things I want to do, all kinds of people I want to impact. I’m on a journey that has ups and downs and lessons along the way. But, what happens when I get too focused on that journey is this: I miss the small stuff. Those moments that are oftentimes so quick that we just skim over. And when I do that, I have less gratitude. As Matt Ham has said before:
“It’s not the circumstances which drive our gratitude; it’s our gratitude which in turn drive the circumstances.”
Are you discouraged by where you’re at? Are you not discouraged, but simply wish you were farther along? Are you just stressed? Do you feel stuck? Choose gratitude then circumstances will improve. You’ll bask in the simple moments and have a much healthier perspective of the big picture.
What small moment will you rejoice in today?
“I want a life well lived.”
I said that multiple times in LifePlan.
I’ve always intellectually known that this meant success in multiple areas: career, family, personal, health, spiritual, etc.
My introverted tendencies and introspective personality has allowed me to grow in all those areas. However, my focus has weighed heavily in career. (Partly due to my root system).
It wasn’t until after LifePlan that I am truly living out A Life Well Lived, with a focus on all areas of my life. Refocusing on health, parenting, being a wife and spiritual life has brought me such peace, focus and motivation. It just feels right. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to work hard (work ethic is one of my core values) in my career, but it just won’t be at the expense of the rest of my life.
But, what has taught me this lesson just as much is some of the conversations I’ve had with others when talking about LifePlan. I found the responses I got from others interesting as I shared with them that I was going to do LifePlan. It was as if they didn’t know how to respond. And, honestly, part of me hesitated to share, because most people don’t do things like this….because that’s not our culture.
Our current societal paradigm has us spending, on average, a cost of $30,000 and $120,000 for a master’s degree. We do this because this is what the “successful” people do, right? We do it so we can “move ahead.” While I’m not here to dispute the advantages of a master’s degree (I have one, too), I do believe a paradigm shift is in order if we really consider what a life well lived means.
Why do we hesitate to spend money in other areas of self-improvement? (And, that’s me included. I flip-flopped on the decision to do LifePlan for months). Why do we hesitate to invest in even $100 for a few sessions with a marriage counselor? Why do we hesitate to improve our emotional intelligence so that we can be a better model of that for our kids? Why do we pause when considering spending money that will bring perspective to our spiritual life? Because when we’re on our deathbed: surely our thoughts would be filled with our loved ones and our spiritual beliefs.
LifePlan is an investment, an emotional investment. A life investment. A financial investment. But don’t let our current societal paradigm on the topic stop you from taking this leap and changing your life forever. Because, the cost of LifePlan is nothing compared to a master’s degree.
And I’m here to tell you, LifePlan has far outweighed the impact on my life as compared to my master’s degree.
This paradigm shift is one that came alive for me in LifePlan. As Matt Ham says, your whole life matters.