Facebook App and My Brain

I’ve been severely ill. The kind of sick that has hijacked my entire life, week, etc. I’ve found myself napping, resting, and otherwise counting the days in number of hours until my next dose of medicine.

My thought life has been my real life. My prayer life has been exposed. And I have a love hate tension for these trials because of the nature of conviction that comes from having to identify areas of compromise or failure. 

Being so sick and laid up causes me to reevaluate. What are my priorities? Am I planning for these or flying by the seat of my pants? What are my goals? Am I creating actionable steps to accomplish them? Or Am I allowing the day to get ahead of the plan? 

One area of conflict in my life lately has been my use of Facebook. At first, I blamed my makeup business. I figured that I was having an adverse reaction to direct sales, and that maybe being a “salesperson” was creating the feeling of my soul being sucked out of my body. (This is not a good – feeling soul-robbed.)

See, I’ve been using Facebook to spread the word about my Younique business. I love the makeup and skin care products. So, I have done what many others are doing, and I posted the information to Facebook for all my friends, family, and acquaintances to see.

But it wasn’t Younique that was actually causing my soul to evaporate – it was a very simple little thing.

The red circle with a number indicating notifications. Below is what I posted to my Facebook group about the problem.

FACEBOOK APP and My Brain:

Being so ill has allowed me a lot of time to just rest and think. I have a hard time with the forced stillness, but it always proves helpful to me in reflection. Because of this reflection, I’ve stumbled upon a problem that must be rectified.

I can’t stand the distracting nature of notifications. When using any app, the first thing I do is go to my phone’s system settings and disable the notifications (or I “hide” them). But with the FB app, the red circle still pops up with the number of notifications which could be anything from someone else commenting on a picture of a friend (which most of the time I just ignore these, I mean why do I need to know?) to someone actual engaging with me personally.

When I started regularly using Facebook as a means of spreading the word about Younique’s sales, I immediately had a lot of “reasons” to check Facebook – answering questions, posting promotions, filming live videos (fun!).

Slowly, but with gaining momentum, I started using Facebook more and more. My connections with people were really growing too. I loved the engagement, the opportunities to pray, the laughs from clever memes, etc.

What I didn’t love was the SWISS CHEESE my brain was turning into. Gradually, my ability to focus on a specific task was lessening. I was constantly aware of where my phone was and I wanted to “just see if there are any new notifications. I won’t spend lots of time on the News Feed, just notifications.”

But my prayer life was starting to suffer. Instead of staying focused, my own soulful thoughts intimately shared with my Savior were now peppered with distractions from what I had shared or wanted to share…

I realized that I was falling for “Facebook Addiction” – hook, line, and sinker.

I don’t think what has happened to me is unusual. A lot of people in direct sales get over excited about their products and want to connect to drive their business, and when a person isn’t disciplined and grounded often they burnout and blame the business model or products for their negative life circumstance. That isn’t the case for me.

I’m not burnt out on Younique. I honestly only spend a few hours per WEEK working on “business-y stuff.” The products are EXCELLENT and I will continue to stand by that.

I will continue to use this group and Facebook for that matter! BUT I will be disciplined about it —>

1. Only on my computer or Chrome on my phone – but not on the app.
2. Only during 3 time slots: 6:30 – 7am, 1 – 1:30pm, 8:30-9pm
**More boundaries to be created as my behavior is assessed after these two are trialed.

Facebook was robbing me of being educated. The time spent checking and rechecking the app was splitting my attention span in half, quarters, and even smaller. I was finding that I couldn’t complete a mental thought even while in silence.

This is unacceptable. I prize mental fitness, yet my mind was becoming flabby and lazy.

Photo credit.

So! Back to my year of READ with renewed vigor, resolve, and boundaries. It isn’t that I was wasting hours on Facebook, but with Facebook on the brain I was not able to use my time well when I had the time to do something purposeful.

Back to the books folks!

 

Present Over Perfect :: The Year of Read

20170512_142819I’ve read everything by Shauna Niequist except her devotional “Savor,” and only because I’ve been busy doing other Bible studies. I learned long ago that while I would enjoy doing multiple studies at once, it simply just isn’t possible to dedicate the amount of devotion necessary to more than one.

The desire to study, learn, grow, push on is a good starting point for revealing how this book Present Over Perfect* has effected me.

Before this book, I would have never considered myself a workaholic. I don’t nearly have the amount of demands or deadlines that an author like Shauna does. I never thought of the verb “hustle” when thinking about the activities of my daily life. But what’s interesting to me is that I read this book back in February when I wasn’t trying to run a business in addition to home educating and keeping a home. Now that I am trying to add one more thing onto my plate, I can quickly and easily identify myself with her.

But I don’t think you have to be a working mother – at home or outside the home – to value what Shauna has to offer in the pages of this book.

I wrote back in February:

I learned things about myself that I never admitted before. Like Shauna, I did not honor my body or soul – I pushed to tackle someone else’s list, some expert’s method, some guru’s diet, and I believed that on the other side of all that pushing I would receive affirmation, security, and comfort in my own skin. I would frantically try to ride a seesaw alone. One side I would push with all my work, work, working to achieve someone else’s ideals. On the other side, I would plop my tired tush down in self-justified huff because the idol of work often comes with a twin – the idol of ease. I worshiped this idol with thoughts like “this shouldn’t be so hard,” “there has to be more short cuts to this,” I deserve a break,” and “since I meet everyone else’s needs, ________ is what will meet my needs…”

Having this dual idol confronted within these pages was a difficult but freeing experience. As I read, I related to Shauna. She isn’t trying to be a theologian. There isn’t a dogmatic 3-step guide for eliminating this idol from your life. She doesn’t point her finger out of the book and wag it at the reader.

She writes her story and invites you to reflect – no altar call, no burden of guilt, no message of superiority, no “I’ve got it all figured out now, and so should you.”

She stays human throughout every page.

I pulled out a number of quotes that resonated with my soul, and I hope that in sharing them you will be blessed by the reminder to be present in your right now life.

“I’ve always trusted things outside myself, believing that my own voice couldn’t be trusted, that my own preferences and desires would lead me astray, that it was far wiser and safer to listen to other people – other voices, the voices of the crowd.” – page 27

“It seems to me that Christians, even more than anyone else, ought to be deeply grounded, living a courageous rhythm of rest, prayer, service, and work. That rhythm is biblical, and it’s one that Jesus himself modeled. It seems to me that Christians ought to be free in meaningful and radical ways to bow out of culture’s insistence on proving and competing. Again, like Jesus. It seems to me that Christians ought to care more deeply about their souls than their bank accounts and pant sizes. But I am a Christian, and I am guilty of all these.” page 84

“It’s very hard to be loved and connected to the people in your home when you’re always bringing them your most exhausted self and resenting the fact that the scraps you’re giving them aren’t cutting it.” page 109

“There is a way of living that is so sweet, so full, so whole and beautiful you’ll never want to go back once you’ve tasted it.” page 161

“This is what our culture wants women to be: skinny and tired, from relentlessly shrinking and hustling. To be clear, I have nothing against people who are really skinny, whether that’s just how God made their bodies or because fitness and nutrition are central parts of their lives. You do you, skinny people. But I’m going to do me, and me is not skinny.” page 186

I think I might be pushing the limit on how many sentences I can quote without permission, so I better stop!

For me, the most important part of reading this book is living in the reality that my past operation – feeding the idol seesaw with more, more, more efforts – has to completely stop. I can’t close the cover of Shauna’s story and think – well that was nice for her, I hope some day I’ll be able to understand this in my own life.

In my life, reading Shauna’s story is a right now confrontation. It calls, tenderly, for a right now change. A right now stillness. A right now reflection. A right now filling because the “Present” part mean so much more than simply counting my attendance in life.

Present to me means: Spiritually awake, submissive to God’s sovereignty in the right now, open and surrendered in active prayer, conscious of the state of my soul, and patient and prayerful while stewarding my schedule – allowing for both work and rest, and learning the dance of being still within even while there is chaos around me.

Thank you, Shauna Niequest for sharing your story. Thank you for sharing your wrestlings and wonderings – the Spirit used them in my life to help me connect and correct.

I hope you are reading something that is feeding your soul! If you are – tell me about it in the comments! And check out what else I’ve been reading by clicking here.

*Afflink

My Experience with THM

My "why" is to be healthy for these 4 blessings!

My “why” is to be healthy for these 4 blessings!

I had this post written 3 weeks ago…but I’ve been scared to share it. I know a lot of people have been watching my Instagram account with expectation – curious to know more about Trim Healthy Mama. And I realized that there might be some who would skip reading the books for themselves and just take my word for it. So, I just want to preface this post by saying that I have not mastered this plan. I do not operate on plan everyday (yet). I can just tell you my experience, the why’s behind my choices, and encourage you to read it for yourself!

My Experience with THM

Emotions + Food

I don’t own a scale. If you have one in your bathroom, I may jump on it out of curiosity. I normally have an idea of how much I weigh based on how I feel and how my clothes fit.

But I broke up with the scale years ago. I couldn’t handle the temptation to judge my “health” based on that 3 digit number. When that number was stuck in my head, I would make bad decisions. If I felt like it needed to go down, I would eat less even when truly in need of nourishment. Or I would indulge in plain old junk if I felt like the number was low enough, because of course, I had proven that I “earned” it.

To say that I had an unhealthy relationship with food, and more specifically sugar, would be to state the obvious. But to change this relationship, I would have to let go of more than just the scale.

I would have to learn to surrender control over my own body – size and all.

Through 4 pregnancies, I was forced to learn (more deeply every time) the beauty of God’s design. How a woman’s body can grow and carry life is an ever-awe-inspiring miracle. I have learned to honor my pregnant body.

But that wasn’t easy.

See, I loathe gaining weight. The simple thought of food (while pregnant) would make me gain a pound – or two. During the first trimester of every pregnancy, I gained around 15 pounds. This is during the stage of pregnancy when the baby isn’t actually gaining any weight and it’s considered “healthy” to only gain 2-3 pounds – losing weight during this time due to lack of appetite is also considered normal.

15 pounds! All fat for the most part. And every ounce felt like a taunt. For whatever reason, personal or cultural, I am scared of gaining weight. I don’t like to feel my clothes getting a bit “tight.” With limited resources, I can’t just buy a new shirt every time a couple extra pounds create a bulge or a roll. When my clothes fail to hide my insecurities, I start to panic.

Brain healthy smoothie - full of special ingredients, no sugar, and lots of mental boosting power

Brain healthy smoothie – full of special ingredients, no sugar, and lots of mental boosting power

Structure + Food

Not only do I have issues in my head with the way my body changes from food, but I also have physical problems that are food induced.

For seven years I was a vegetarian because whenever I would eat meat, my belly would bloat to painful proportions. It took a year of testing and experiments to finally come to the conclusion that meat wasn’t my friend (that all changed during my 2nd pregnancy when I was known to get aggressive in order to have a burger).

In 2015, I was beginning to go through weird food changes again. I went to an allergist after a couple weird reactions to food – itching and swelling – and I found out that I was extremely sensitive to a handful of everyday foods.

I decided to commit to a Whole30 as a means of cleansing out everything that was causing my body to be so inflamed and “angry” all the time.

After that experience, I can say that my body wanted to stay clean and pure from a lot of foods – dairy, sugar, and wheat. During the “reintroduction,” I felt torn. I could technically eat whatever I wanted now, but if I did then the risk of a stomach ache, inflammation, or whatever was high. I tried to stick closely to a Paleo plate, but it just wasn’t economical. I was feeding my family conventional foods and buying double so that I could not eat what I fed them.

It just wasn’t adding up. So, I gave up. I ate whatever sounded good. I struggled with structural pains and negative physical side effects. I tried to keep the worst trigger foods at bay – dairy and chocolate – but even then, sometimes I just wanted cheese or a mocha.

After having Naomi and going through the whole pregnancy cycle of body-crazy-awareness, I was not about to diet. Now, I am convinced that the fat from pregnancy is all a part of the design! I no longer fear it, but embrace it for a season – the season of spending my physical life to sustain the physical life of another requires that I have a few extra pounds so that both of us can function stably.

So, I ate whatever sounded good. I did my best to balance my diet, and I was eating a boat load of calories (nearing the 3K mark). But the pain was getting to be more than I could manage. Since taking meds for pain while nursing isn’t a great idea, I knew that my only option was to pursue getting to the root causes of my pain.

Perfect evening snack: THM baking blend, no sugar, frozen blueberries, and a pad of butter...yum!

Perfect evening snack: THM baking blend, no sugar, frozen blueberries, and a pad of butter…yum!

So, I finally booked an appointment with a Kinesiologist. (I say finally because I’ve wanted to do this since I first heard of the work Dr. Boven was doing back in 2003!)

I wanted to be ready to change. I needed relief, but when she started detailing the relationship between my physical structure and food – I felt discouraged. I didn’t want to hear that I would have to make changes in my everyday life. I just wanted relief from the pain in my back and hips. Coming to her for help with my back still seemed separate from what I ate. I thought something like: I appreciate your encouragement to eat well in order to feel well, but I just want relief from the pain. Let’s deal with food after that.

And she did help me with a lot of my structural issues. Out of every doctor that I’ve ever seen in my life, she actually found and addressed the root issues to many of the physical problems I have had. With her help, I was getting close to feeling whole, but I still had nagging issues. So, I took a break from the weekly and biweekly visits for a couple months and in that time I enjoyed all the crazy bad foods that the winter holidays have to offer.

But even with all my eating, I was never satisfied. I could eat thirds at dinner and still feel a bit hungry. I knew something just wasn’t right. My back and hips were feeling okay, but the rest of my body just felt fragile. I felt frayed.

THM + Healing

20170421_210859[1]

Enter Trim Healthy Mama.

I was introduced to this plan 4 years ago. And like I do with everything I’m interested in – I borrowed the book from the library and jumped in to understand all the facts. Back then, I wasn’t in a place of interest in healing. I just viewed the plan as a nice way for women to eat in order to quit sugar. (And at the time, that was a deal breaker for me. Man, do I love my sugar.)

With my mind set on finding foods to not only satisfy my raging hunger, but also to balance my hormones (and thereby my whole world) I found myself staring at the Trim Healthy Mama books. I was sucked into their ideas – including all food categories, balancing fuels and blood sugar, and introducing healing superfoods.

"Thin Thick" is a drink that does-it-all! All the special ingredients mixed into one power packed pint. This shake basically fixes everything - I think clearly, feel full, and more. Caution though: don't drink on an empty stomach (i.e. first thing in the morning).

“Thin Thick” is a drink that does-it-all! All the special ingredients mixed into one power packed pint. This shake basically fixes everything – I think clearly, feel full, and more. Caution though: don’t drink on an empty stomach (i.e. first thing in the morning).

THM + Superfoods

I recognize that many people have tried the THM plan without ever purchasing a “special ingredient,” and that is even encouraged in the books! But for me, I was coming to the plan with no weight loss goal in mind – only the hope of healing through foods.

Enter Superfoods.

Just to give you a glimpse at one of the intriguing ingredients – here’s integral collagen’s resume*:

  • Support the immune system
  • Release fat-burning glucagon
  • Soothe anxiety
  • Aid sleep and ease insomnia
  • Improve digestion
  • Help heal a compromised (leaky) gut
  • Detoxify the liver
  • Decrease allergies and food intolerances
  • Increase production of human growth hormone
  • Boost metabolism
  • Satiate and dampen cravings
  • Beautify and strengthen skin, hair, and nails
  • Remineralize teeth
  • Fight arthritis
  • Strengthen bones and joints
  • Reduce cellulite by improving connective tissue
  • Help prevent heart disease
  • Reverse atherosclerosis deposits
  • Battle against prostate cancer
  • AND MORE (but you’ll have to read an encyclopedia to exhaust all that this superfood can do.)

Can you believe all of this? I can honestly say that I wanted every single one of these properties (minus the prostate one) to be active in my diet.

So what is the THM Plan?

In a nutshell, I understand it to be a plan that can help me balance my blood sugar, heal my hormones, and fuel my body with foods that will satisfy, energize, and nourish my mind and body.

Even though all foods are allowed (carbs, proteins, fats, etc.), they are not all eaten in the same setting. For example, an “E” meal is an energizing meal that consists primarily of healthy carbohydrates and protein. There are also “S” (Satisfying meals – protein and fat), “FP” (Fuel Pull – foods with low/no fat and low/no carbs), and “XO” (Crossovers – meals with fats and carbs, these meals are primarily for those wishing not to lose weight).

Everything in the cookbook is labeled with these identifying letters so that you can design your own menu based on the meals you need in order to make best use of the plan.

In the plan, the authors include specific guidelines for all different preferences and life stages – for example, there are specific recommendations for a pregnant or nursing mother, someone trying to lose weight, and even for husbands and other family members.

I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of understanding the depth of the implications of what eating this way will be. I just know that it has been difficult to implement without owning the Plan. I own the cookbook, and I use it daily for the drinks, muffin in a mug, meals, and so much more – but in order to understand what I can eat that isn’t in the cookbook and how to plan a day or a week to stay “on plan” is contained in the plan.

Do I recommend this plan to others? Definitely. I think that everyone will benefit from quitting sugar and all of the seriously damaging over processed foods that are common in the American diet.

Find these books at your local library – go online and place a hold because I’m sure they are probably popular in your area too.

Or you can purchase them on Amazon (afflinks):

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments about my experience! If you have specific THM questions, I’ll try to answer or point you in the right direction.

Watch my video update on my THM journey and see inside the cookbook!

*List of health benefits copied from pages 143 - 144 from the Trim Healthy Mama Plan.
I am not affiliated with the THM plan at all. This post was written by my own design and not because I was contacted by anyone at THM. If you are planning on buying the special ingredients - I do recommend buying from TrimHealthyMama.com only because they are much cheaper than Amazon. But do your own research and make your own educated decisions!

Extras to Earn, Not Expectations to Receive :: A Week of Boundaries

leaving the house and boundaries

I read Boundaries with Kids in February (which feels like so long ago!).

While I felt like I understood the concepts, I floundered on the follow-through. I could see the issues described in the book being played out in my home, and like the true brainiac that I am – I just watched and I couldn’t seem to connect the dots.

I felt like I couldn’t come up with consequences that made sense. My kids would cross boundaries and disobey while I just watched, feeling paralyzed.

Instead of being constructive, I lectured and over explained how their actions made me feel. I saw their little eye glaze over again and again. Here she goes again… I reacted with words which doesn’t help at all. (And now I know better. This is explained in detail in the book.)

For a couple weeks, I felt like a train wreck.

So I did the only thing that made sense: I prayed.

Help me, Lord! I am so broken and needy. I know what’s right but I can’t do it! I keep repeating the same mistakes. I want to love my children by creating and maintaining loving limits but I honestly don’t know how.

For weeks, I felt like my prayers were going unanswered.

I was grasping at straws.

Then I saw our routine chart (you know, the one we never use and have visually learned to “not see” anymore – yeah, that one), and I realized that I had already done the work of creating boundaries. No reinventing the wheel necessary.

So, now I had my boundaries clearly laid out, but what about consequences for crossing the boundaries? Because as the authors said “It’s their job to cross the boundaries.”

And then I realized that the consequences should be the loss of the regular, weekly extra activities that we enjoy. In my desire to shower my kids with comfort and joy (great things!), I made the “extra activities” in our life the expected activities or dare I say the entitled activities. For example, a trip to the library is great! And when you take due dates into view, a trip is a need. But do we need to go there or do we want to? For us, the line between needs and wants in our schedule was blurred.

Not only was our schedule a blur, but our household chores were getting muddy too. Because there weren’t consequences for failing to follow through on tasks, I was turning to money to motivate them to obey. When I would engage with my older kids (7 and 9 years) to train them in some personal responsibility, they were beginning to expect monetary rewards instead of just doing the tasks for the sake of obedience. So, I allowed my lack of boundaries to fool me into the mindset that I should try to bargain, bribe, or beg them to obey.

And I’m not joking! The words: I’m begging you! Were becoming a part of my weekly vocabulary.

(Whoa.)

I took a hard look at my own life: why is this behavior so important to me? What is most important to my kids? How can I move them from consuming our schedule, home, resources, etc. to contributing to these? What will motivate and correct?

I already learned that money didn’t work. Like a cupcake with too much frosting, they bit a little and then scraped the extra off and continued without changing the behavior I was trying to change.

So, I considered my life again but more practically. If I want to enjoy something, what has to happen? If I want to have a peaceful morning, I put in the work the night before to wash pans, tidy up, and write the plan.

Plain old life requires work, but there are natural rewards in that work too – like peace!

(Lightbulb.)

I decided that I needed to train my kids to see life’s rewards as extras to earn not expectations to receive.

And this week has been so different.

Monday: I wanted to follow the routines. Now hear me, I’m a flexible person. I’m not hyper strict about most things. I enjoy my Type B personality (or my adult ADD) most of the time. So to reward my kids for their participation in our daily responsibilities, I said that I would take them to a new play place by 2pm as long as we each put our responsibilities first. I built free time into the schedule too. There was no need for anyone to feel burdened, just loosely guided.

One additional condition was kindness. No out of control arguments. I’ve been working for months on training my little people to treat each other with kindness and respect, to see and anticipate the needs and feelings of each other.

They were on board and super excited to go and play! What a treat. Usually Mondays are “stay home” days.

But they argued – again and again. I had to correct and redirect. I warned without lecturing or showing any emotion, until finally I had to say “You’ve lost the privilege. We will not be going to the play place.”

Boy, was it hard to stick to this consequence! They straightened right up, got back on track, and asked again if we could still go. Considering the fact that we actually hadn’t fallen behind in our routine. We could still make it – no harm, no foul. But I couldn’t give in or change my mind.

This is vital to establishing real boundaries. Boundaries that are consistent.

I told them that we could find another time in our week to add in this fun extra, but that they would have to continue to show me that they could respect the routine.

Tuesday: Library day. They couldn’t keep it together. Squabbles and dawdles robbed them of their “need” to go to the library.

At this point, I could see that I was really getting through to them. Not only was I being firm on the limits of their behavior, but I was being loving! I was calm, compassionate, and willing to listen to them. I wasn’t willing to compromise or change my mind. I asked for the routine to be followed without fighting (little arguments and disagreements aside – they are kids for heaven’s sake), and I meant it.

Wednesday: we got out of the house and enjoyed a little perspective from the outside, which brings us to Thursday and the picture of us leaving the house!!!

We enjoyed the library and the play place! We got out of the house (easily!!) by 9am with chores done and no fighting!

Am I being too strict? Is it fair to cancel plans and make they follow the routine? (Side note: we [my older kids and I] created this routine together, so this isn’t just a “my way or the highway” plan. It’s a collaboration.) I don’t think so.

This is parenting. 

 

*I am not a parenting expert. This post isn’t written to diagnose or treat any parenting issues. If you see yourself in my experience or my kids’ behavior, I pray this post will encourage and not discourage. I would love to connect with you personally too! Click here to read my previous post reviewing the book on Boundaries with Kids.