J is for Journaling

For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

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Our pond & deck.

When I was young, I was a big journaler. From the time I could write, I would record my thoughts. I had diaries. I would write letters to my parents when I was angry (both the type I gave to them and the type I didn’t.) I would write notes, poems, stories, and wishes on scrap pieces of paper. When I was really young, I was especially fond of the adding tape for my grandfather’s calculator. It seemed like it went on and on indefinitely; I could write until my little heart was content. My love of writing what was in my heart continued until my junior year of high school.

When I was a junior, my mom found my journal. This particular journal was a plain ol’ red, 1 inch three-ring-binder. It was so full that it was expanded at least the full one inch. For whatever reason, my mother was in my room one day, saw the gap between my mattress and box spring, and confiscated my journal. She read the entire thing. Perhaps I should have hidden it better. Perhaps she had a right to read what her minor daughter had been writing. Personally, I don’t agree with either one of those statements.

My journal contained an all-too-detailed record of my young life and all of my most intimate thoughts. After reading it all, my mom grounded me for all the horribly sinful things that she discovered. I was literally grounded for 6 months. That wasn’t fun. But what really upset me the most was this intense sense that I had been violated. My inner most being had been unwillingly exposed to her, to the last person in the world that I would ever share those thoughts with.

After that time, I quit writing. No more poems. No more silly thoughts. No more records of my sinful behavior. And, most especially, no record of my feelings and innermost thoughts.

I tried a few times in college to start journaling again, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just had this feeling like I was no longer writing to express myself. It felt like whatever I was writing could be discovered, so I couldn’t write freely. Writing had lost the sense of freedom – the sense of escape and expression that it had once provided me.

Back when I did journal, it was a great way for me to process my thoughts. It was a great way for me to express my emotions, but it was more than just expression. Being able to see my emotions in writing somehow allowed me to see them in a different light. It gave me the ability to step back and process them and use reason to decipher those emotions. When I process situations in my head, I tend to stay stuck in my emotions, but when I process on paper, I can let my emotions out, and then begin to move past them or work with them to make some kind of positive progress. It was a great outlet for me. I know that it still would be.

Sometimes, this blog plays the role that my journal used to play. I think that’s why I’ve had such success in dealing with my stress in these last couple of weeks. I do really well when I have to put my thoughts on paper. Reflection alone isn’t enough for me; I really benefit from writing out what I’m thinking or feeling or struggling with. I need to find a way to reincorporate journaling into my life. I don’t know if that means pen and paper or if it’s something I might do on the computer. Regardless, it’s something I think I could benefit from.

We have a great pond in my backyard with a deck over it. I can see myself sitting out on the deck and journaling my worries away. It feel a little more relaxed just thinking about it. It’s something I definitely need to make room for in my life.

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The A to Z Stress Project

atoz-theme-reveal-2015If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you may remember that I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge last April. I know I haven’t blogged much at all lately, but, somehow, the A to Z Challenge popped into my head. I really liked doing the challenge last year and learned quite a bit about myself and blogging in the process. When I set out last year, I hoped to grow my blog, fuel my desire to blog regularly, and, perhaps, transform my blog into something with a regular readership. I was also testing the waters of my dedication to writing, since someone had invited me to write a book. In the process I learned that I didn’t care about any of those things, and would much rather stay true to my original reasons for having this blog. Aside from being a great learning experience for me, I really did have fun doing the challenge and really like many of the posts I wrote for it.

So I’ve been thinking about what I might want to write about this year.

The reason I haven’t posted anything on my blog recently is because I have been too busy drowning in my life to do anything else. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s how I’ve been feeling lately. I have just been so overwhelmed, and I just can’t seem to get a handle on anything. I have been praying and reading and talking to my husband and anything else I can think of to try to drag myself out of this pit, but I just haven’t managed to do it yet. I am perpetually exhausted and so stressed out that the smallest, little every-day-incidents induce major freak-outs on my part. Somethings gotta give.

I’m not the person I want to be. I’m not the mom I want to be. I’m not the wife I want to be. I’m not the member of my community that I want to be. I’m just a raving lunatic who is in desperate need of a nap.

SOoooooo….

This year for the A to Z Challenge, I’m going to write about ways to relieve stress. Practical ways. Ways that even a crazy busy homeschooling mama of five wild kids can handle. Not only am I going to write about them – I’m actually going to do them. Or at least try them. And, hopefully, in the process find some new ways to relieve my stress. Because I desperately need to decompress.

The Homeschool Laptop!

One of my pesky kids using my machine to do his schoolwork.

One of my pesky kids using my machine to do his schoolwork.

Exciting news from our little homefront: We got a new laptop – “The Homeschool Laptop!” This means that for all of the kids schooling activities, computer-based curriculums, and other academic internet exploring endeavors, there is (FINALLY) a machine in our house set aside just for these tasks. Among other wonderful things, this means that my laptop has finally been returned to me!

Ok, so my laptop isn’t really mine per se. Or at least that’s not why we purchased it. It was supposed to be the family laptop, but, after a couple years of graduate school and blogging and other miscellaneous activities together, I’ve grown quite fond of my little machine, and I don’t really like to share it.

I tried using the iPad for my personal machine, but it’s just not really my thing. I’m not sure what’s different about using the iPad vs. using my phone. I do a lot of “interneting” (That’s officially a word. I decided just now.) on my phone, but I don’t like writing blogs or emails or anything that involves extensive typing on it. (Extensive being oh, you know, anything more than like two sentences.) Same goes for the iPad. Typing is a little better on the iPad if I break out the wireless keyboard, but..well I don’t know why…the iPad just doesn’t float my boat.

All of this rambling about my computer preferences is leading up to a point and that point is – I haven’t been around a lot lately, but I’m hoping that is about to change.

Now that my laptop has been returned to me, I should be able to use it whenever I want. Before we got the new laptop, anytime I might want to sit down to write a blog or do some other form of “extensive typing,” some pesky kid was on my machine. Since that pesky kid was usually diligently doing his schoolwork, I couldn’t very easily kick him off, so I just had to wait. But, by the time he was done, it never failed that the baby needed me or it was time to cook something or clean something or yada, yada, yada. The moment had passed. The ship had sailed. And no extensive writing had been done. Sad story.

But the page has turned and the new chapter is looking happier.

I have my beloved machine back at my full disposal – to use how I want and when I want. Which means I should be blogging more.

Woohoo! :)

(A to Z Fail)

FSo I’ve obviously fallen way behind in the A to Z Challenge.

I had two major papers and an exam all due around the same time. Being the organized and responsible person that I am, I waited until the last minute to get started on any of it. I’ve pretty much been working around the clock for the last week scrambling to get everything done. Now, I need to get started on another paper that’s due Monday.

Nevertheless, I’m determined not to completely fail at this A to Z Challenge. It may take me until the middle of next week to get caught up, since I’m supposed to be writing a paper and not blogging, but I will persevere. Or at least use my A to Z entries as a way to procrastinate when I get stuck or bored with my next paper…

In the meantime, stay tuned. And be patient.

Somehow, it will all come together.

A to Z April

a-to-z HEADER [2014] - april

I’m thinking about participating in this Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. Basically, if you participate, you plan to blog every day in April, excluding Sundays. Each day corresponds to a letter of the alphabet beginning on April 1 with the letter A and ending on April 30 with the letter Z. I think it would be fun. And a bit of a challenge. But a fun challenge. Not the stressful kind. And I’m all about that.

But considering this challenge leaves me with a few concerns:

  1. Will I really be able to keep up with daily blogging?? Come April, I’ll have a newborn and be in my second to last month of grad school. That’s a lot. Not to mention I have 4 other kiddos. Whom I homeschool. Life is busy.
  2. What would my overarching theme be?? Now, just to be clear, you don’t have to have a theme to participate. All you have to do is write a blog that corresponds to the letter of the day. But I’m me. I need coherency. I want a theme. So what would mine be? What would I like to write about for an entire month? The things that immediately come to mind are those things that I know a lot about: Catholicism, parenting, homeschooling, etc. But that all seems kind of bland. I want a theme I’m really excited about. (I tremendously value all those aspects of my life; I just don’t know that I want to write about them…or that you’d want to read about them…for a month straight.)
  3. Will this really be fun?? I look at this opportunity as a fun escape. But with the chaos of life will it actually be fun? Or will it just be one more task on my to-do list?

I’m really thinking about just taking the plunge and signing up. I have plenty of time to come up with a theme. And I really do think it will be fun. I just don’t want to sign up and flake out. That would be really disappointing. And setting myself up for disappointment over a silly internet activity would be really pathetic.

There’s a big “theme reveal” link up on March 21. I guess I have until then to decide….

Here We Go!

Making brunch. Spring 2009.
Thank you, God, for giving us a bigger kitchen!

I have several friends who, for quite a while now, have been strongly encouraging me to spend more time with my blog, and to write more about daily life. I can’t possibly fathom why they think it would be so interesting to read. Granted, we aren’t exactly your every day, mainstream family. And we’re certainly juggling a lot right now. So maybe they just want a good laugh from the shenanigans that I lovingly refer to as my life. Who knows? But, somehow, they’ve talked me into it, and here I am.

I have to admit, I’m a little perplexed as how to approach this whole ordeal. I’ve mentioned before that, despite the enjoyment I find in my blog, I find the whole blogging concept to be a little strange. Especially for a fairly private person like me. Not to mention, I’m not really sure how to approach sharing our everyday life in such a forum. If I’m excited about something that’s going well, I suspect it will come off as if I’m bragging. And, if I share something we’re really struggling with, I fear it will only fuel my critics’ fire. I can already hear them saying, “Well if you just wouldn’t __________, then you wouldn’t have to deal with _______.” Sure, some of the choices we make bring us different problems than other families face, but I’m of the belief that there’s no such thing as an easy life. Regardless of your circumstance, there are challenges, and I believe we’re better people for it. If we made different choices, we’d just have different struggles. I don’t think that’s rocket science, but that won’t stop those who seem to get such endless pleasure out of wagging their fingers at me.

Anyway, I guess I wrote all that to say, I’m going to attempt to share more about our day-to-day life. I’m a little nervous about it, and I certainly can’t promise it will be worth reading, but nevertheless… Here we go! :)

update

So it’s been a minute since I posted a blog.What have I been up to lately? Hmm…

San Antonio was amazing! It was seriously one of the best trips of my life. I’m thinking it was probably number 2. After all, it would be insanely hard to top Key West! We stayed with my sister and spent the entire trip downtown on the river or at the Alamodome. It was a super short trip, but it was seriously amazing. If you ever look at my pictures, you know I took about a million. Josh and I are planning to go back sometime in the very near future.

After San Antonio, we had to come back and finish packing the house. We left the boys with my parents for a week, so I was able to get a lot done. And, yes, I mean I got a lot done. Josh literally packed like 3 boxes. Really those don’t even count because Michelle helped him! By the way, I sincerely want to thank the amazing people that helped us move. Michelle, thank you so much for helping us pack and for putting up with Josh’s poor packing skills!! :) Brian and Emily, you two are amazing! Thank you so much for all of your help loading and unloading and cleaning. You two made the move so much fun and you definitely helped keep Josh and me from killing each other during all the stress! Lastly, Logan, thank you for your help loading and unloading and running miscellaneous errands for us over those two days! The move went really well. The only big problems came from Comcast. It literally took 3 weeks to get everything taken care of, but I worked with several very nice people. Note to anyone who cares: You know how comcast runs those commercials about transferring service to your new address online?? DON’T EVER USE THAT SERVICE!! That’s where all our problems stemmed from. It was a disaster. All the phone reps I talked to said they hear that all the time.

We’re currently living in a temporary apartment. We moved into a brand new complex (which is absolutely amazing!!) and because of all the rain, our 3 bedroom apartment wasn’t ready yet. They moved us into a brand new 2 bedroom, where we will be living for FREE until our 3 bedroom is ready. It’s inconvenient not being able to unpack (well I could unpack, but I’m not going to since I know we’ll be moving again in like a month) but it’s not like I can complain. I mean come on. How often do you get to live in a beautiful place for free?!

Aside from our fabulous apartment, which, mind you, is WAY less expensive than our apartment in Cordova and MUCH nicer, I love love love Marion. This is seriously the perfect place to raise a family. No crime. Decent schools. Super friendly people. Plus, we’re literally 10 minutes from downtown. It’s so cool to hop in the car and be walking on Beale Street in 15 minutes tops. If Josh and I didn’t have kids, we would totally live downtown, so this is perfect: close to downtown but in a nice, family-oriented community.  I love riding around, looking at all the different neighborhoods and thinking about where we’ll buy/build one day.

Speaking of which, we’re slowly on our way to accomplishing that goal. We’re doing really well with paying off our debt. If all goes as planned, we should have everything paid off by December 2009. That means we’ll own both our cars (Well, we already paid off the civic. How awesome is that?!) and have no credit card debt. We’re not so worried about paying off our student loans. They don’t hurt your credit. The only way they’ll effect us in terms of buying a house is by reducing our debt-to-income ratio. That totally won’t be a big deal since that’s all we’ll have being factored into that ratio. We’ve weighed all of our options and decided to forgo the “starter home.” We’re going to wait until we can buy or build the home we want to raise our family in. Our plan is to avoid incurring any debt in the future, with the exception of our mortgage, so we really want to save a 20% down payment. That will keep us from paying PMI, and we’ll have equity in our house from day one. However, being fiscally smart unfortunately requires delayed gratification. It could take up to five years for us to be ready to buy/build. That makes me sad because I’m ready for our house NOW. I know it’s what’s best for our financial future though. Despite having to wait for what I want, which is something I’ve never been good at, I’m really proud of us. I feel like we’re making good, solid decisions for our family and our future.

So, I guess that’s about it for now. I love my blog. I think it’s fun to talk about myself. This way, I don’t have to worry about boring the person I’m talking to. If anyone reading this gets bored, they can just stop. It’s perfect. I can ramble on and on and only interested parties have to pay attention to me. Haha. Yeah, I pretty much love my blog!