Today’s Take Care, Make Care post comes from someone I admire, respect, laugh with, cry to, and have shared a ridiculous amount of life experiences with for the past 15 years. Meet my best friend Jules. If ever I need a sounding board, cooking buddy, or walking partner, she’s there. (OK really if I need anything, she’s there.) Hers is a constant faith, well-fed with reading and prayer. That faith saw a huge test this past year for she and her family, and I really wanted her to share the self-care tactics that got her through. She gracefully agreed, so without further ado…
Hello readers! I’m beyond honored to have the opportunity to write on Rachel’s blog. Rachel and I have been best friends since we met in the hallways at Northwestern College back in 2000. From the early days of freshman year where we thought it might be entertaining to take a Friday night and dine at McDonald’s in our high school prom dresses, to spending all of our flex money on whole pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, to planning our weddings, and finally, starting our families, we’ve gone through most of our big life changes together. She’s loyal to the core, funny, steadfast, encouraging and one of the best people I know.
I’m thankful for her desire to encourage others by sharing her life joys and struggles through her beautiful writing, and am delighted to share my own journey with self-care as a Fellow Passenger.
A little bit about me: I am a stay-at-home-mom of two beautiful children (Jameson-3.5 years and Lila-9 months), I have been married to my dear husband Brad for almost 9 years and live in a quaint riverside town called Marine on St. Croix. We spend our days going on adventures around our village, reading books, and naturally, pretending to be some kind of prehistoric creature.
The past year has been something of a whirlwind for our family. In July 2012, we made a decision to downsize from our house in Roseville, MN, as we were hoping to have more children and my desire to stay at home with them wasn’t financially possible. After 3 1/2 months, we had a purchase agreement on our house and sold it in December of 2012.
We spent most of 2013 paying off debt, looking for homes, and saving money by living with my dear in-laws who housed us for 9 months. We moved into temporary housing for a couple of months starting in September of 2013, and finally closed on our home in November.
Needless to say, 2013 was a tough year; a baby on the way, homeless for nearly 11 months and house hunting. I found out quickly the transient life was not for me. In addition to all of this, I was dealing with anxiety / postpartum depression, and it was in full force about a month after Lila was born. Self care at that time felt difficult to nearly impossible, but it was something I had to start prioritizing or else I was going to sink.
Today, I’ll share on a few different areas that have helped me in balancing my own care routine: Exercise, Counseling /Prayer, Caring for my own Interests and Simplification.
This isn’t new information, but exercising daily is proven to reduce stress levels, boost happy chemicals, help prevent cognitive decline, boost brain power, sharpen memory, tap into creativity, and get more done. My exercise goals right now basically include getting some movement in every day. Baby steps. We have a P.O. box in town since mail doesn’t get delivered to our street address. This offers us one daily errand that requires a short walk of about 8 blocks or so. It’s a small but effective way to get out of the house and move around, especially if I’m pushing a 40 pound toddler in a stroller or hauling a 20 pound infant in my backpack, or both.
Counseling / Prayer:
For the past couple of years, I have been seeking treatment for OCD / Anxiety through a couple of different Christian counselors, as well as a Christian Psychiatrist. Being a believer in Jesus, it was really important to incorporate my faith walk into my mental health. I wholeheartedly believe that mental health and spiritual health are connected. In addition, I have a group of friends/family members who pray for me and who I know will be there to encourage me through the struggle. Having a circle of prayer support is crucial for me as I continue in the battle.
Music is a huge love for me and one that’s very important to incorporate into my life as much as possible. A few years ago, my husband and I bought a piano off of Craigslist for $50. Most days, the kiddos and I will sing songs and play around with music for maybe 30-45 minutes. It’s a way for me to do something I love and have an outlet for my own creativity, but it also teaches my kids about the importance of music and helps them learn through song.
I realized pretty early on after having kids that I wanted to stay home with them. Unfortunately, our mortgage didn’t coincide with that desire. If I was going to give up my job, something else would have to give. We needed less. Less mortgage, less debt, less stress, just less. We sold our home and did what we set out to do, just 12 short months afterward. Today, we are basically debt free and finally settled in a house that we can afford on one salary. By simplifying our financial life, we’ve been able to care for ourselves and also our children more effectively.
It’s easy to see what a strong impact that properly caring for yourself has on those around you. You’ve just got to make the time to do it. My therapist reminded me that our children see us as a reflection of who they are. When I stopped to think about that, it struck me. If I’m not actively working on making the best version of myself that I possibly can, what will I be reflecting to my children? What am I saying about who I am and who they are? Ultimately, I want to exemplify the spirit of someone who can laugh easily, love deeply, and trust the God whom I serve that he made something beautiful when He created me. Only then will I be able to be that reflection of God’s grace and mercy at work.