Digging Deep into Bravery

Digging deep, sigh, it can be tough. I had one of those days yesterday, but instead of digging deep and finding my inner strength and peace, I think I just ended up digging myself into a hole. A hole filled with frustration, emotion and lots of chocolate. Yep, I confess I was not my ‘best mummy self’ yesterday as I screamed at my two-and-a-half-year-old and messaged Tim telling him I didn’t like our kids very much at that point in time. Apparently, having one of my kids deliberately (and defiantly) pour a cup of water onto our laptop brings out the Hulk in me. My bravery abandoned me as I questioned what we are doing having baby number 3 and how on earth I was going to mentally cope with an extra little person in the house. However, even in my moment of (let’s be honest) blind rage, I could hear my sister encouraging me and reminding me that I had chosen to be brave and bravery is only present when there is something to fear or overcome.So, I write this little note to myself and to any other readers out there who have decided to be Ten Times Braver.  To one and all, remember that during your bravery journey, you will come across difficulties. You might find yourself wondering what you have gotten yourself in to and question if you have what it takes. Can you really dig any deeper into your faith/inner strength/reserves and find hope in this situation?

We all have days (or months) like this. Sometimes it’s during a busy workweek, other times in chaotic family life, perhaps friendship dynamics or creative blocks. Whatever the reason, there are days and seasons where digging deep is hard and the sense of bravery we felt before is just a little bit on the thin side right now.

But… We can do this! Yes, YOU dear friend, CAN do it. You can try again tomorrow. You can rise again from disappointment. You can give it another go. You can try something different next time. Keep being brave, keep pushing forward and remember… it’s ok to feel fear or confusion, frustration or discouragement. It is in those moments, when you choose to believe things will be ok, that your truly brave self emerges. If it’s not difficult, you wouldn’t need to be courageous would you?My girlfriends and I frequently encourage each other by send this pic (below) as a powerful reminder of how we see each other. This lady right here, the characteristic she exemplifies, are there inside you too – Dig deep, big breath, here we go (again).

As a side note, you’ll be pleased to know that the laptop was not damaged from its little baptism by Bella and I do still love Miss B, despite the epic battle of wills that occurred most of the day.

Love Jess xxoo

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Ten Times Braver

One day I sat at work with some people, and over terrible mocktails (I don’t know what I was thinking) I asked the question: “What would you do if you were ten times braver?” The answers they gave were varied, but all very brave and transparent.

I love asking people this question. I like to connect with people in a deeper way and see what is under the surface. This question pushes people to look deep into their hearts and find their secret desires. It also allows people to be encouraged to pursue something they may not have done. When you sit around with people and share something you wish you could to face, they will automatically be encouraging you to go for it. They help you find the reasons why you should overcome your fears; it’s hard to walk away from this question feeling discouraged. In fact, most of the time, people will realise that they were ten times braver all along.

Would you like to know what my answer to this question was?

I said I would have another baby. I confided that I would ignore the (realistic) concerns about finances, I would push pass the possible struggle of actually trying to conceive and the anxiety around the whole process. I would face the physical and mental exhaustion and realise I’m stronger than I feel and the provision would be there when we needed it.

Now, if you have followed any of Tim and my story on this blog, you’ll realise that we often face our fears and say to ourselves… why not? God is with us, He’s placed this dream in our hearts, let’s go for it! And so, a few weeks after I shared this question at work, Tim and I sat on the couch in our house and contemplated this question.

“What would we do if we were ten times braver?

We would have a baby. So, that’s what we’re doing. We are having a baby, due in early April. Yes, I am pregnant with number 3 and we are so very excited! We are being ten times braver! God is so good!

Our girls are so excited and constantly talk about if it’s a boy or girl, what Baby’s name should be and how they are going to play with Baby. It makes it even more special to share it with them and our family and friends.

          

Now over to you dear reader… What would you do if you were ten times braver?

What is stopping you? Go for it whatever it is! It’s perfectly normal to be scared doing it, that’s part of bravery. It is ok to fail; it’s ok to try something else if it doesn’t work out. You can do it. You are braver than you look. So, enroll in that course, apply for that job, plan that holiday, start a family, submit that book, play that song for someone, ask that girl out, say yes to that date, renovate that house, face your fear of heights, see a counselor about your past trauma, get that blood test, start to exercise, change your diet and lifestyle completely, whatever it is, at least give it a go.

Let’s be braver together. We can do this, we can try, and we can make plans and set ourselves time-lines. If I can be ten times braver, so can you.

Love Jess xxoo

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It’s ok to sleep

We recently went to Darwin to visit Tim’s youngest brother and his wife (YAY). We came into this trip off the back of a number of unusually full weeks and Tim and I were both exhausted and recovering from illness.

Whilst there we had the opportunity to attend their once a month church gathering. We arrived 30 minutes early to take a look around and observe Mark and Christine in their ‘natural environment’. My darling Bella decided to throw a stellar tantrum about 3 minutes after the service officially started, complete with body thrashing, screaming and hitting. It really was rather impressive, so I’ll give her points for that. After removing ourselves from the main hall, I tried all my (patient) mum techniques and finally managed to calm her down. We rejoined the rest of humanity and I placed Tim in charge of both my little cherubs. I tried to engage in worship, but seriously, I had nothing. As I looked around the room at people’s heartfelt ‘worship’ faces, I couldn’t help but be amazed that they had any energy left to stand, let alone sing. I looked up at the lyrics of the song on the big screen and read:

“All the Sons and Daughters,

Wake up from your sleep.”

And man, all honestly, I just wanted to punch someone in the head. Wake up! You’ve got to be kidding me, I’m a working mum with small kids, I’m always awake. Goodness me, how much more am I meant to be giving? I exhaustedly told God that I didn’t want to wake up, I actually just wanted to sleep.

You know what I heard Him say?

He said, “That’s ok Babe. It’s ok to sleep, you’re exhausted.”

Phew.

When I heard Him say that, I felt so much release. He gave me permission to feel tired without guilt. I realised that He does see me in my current season and instead of being disappointed in me, He is cheering me on. I felt so much liberation that I packed up my two tired girls in the van and drove them home to sleep and rest.

It’s funny how I sometimes slip back into performance with God instead of authentic relationship. Sometimes, I still get caught up in comparison, not just with others, but also with my past seasons that I lock myself in a prison of self-criticism.

What I’m continuing to learn in this season is the fine art of balance and acceptance. Acceptance of myself and how I function as a mum, friend, employee, wife, daughter and sister. Sometimes I can’t give what I want and I have much less to offer than I have been able to in past, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. Let me repeat… it doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong. If my capacity is less than someone else’s, that doesn’t mean I’m not living a full life. I am not less, I am me.

And so, there may have been other mums in that church hall with screaming kids hanging off their arms, able to sing that song with all their heart and that’s great. I can cheer them on without feeling competitive or bitter and I hope that they can cheer me on, (whilst I sleep) without judgment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a kid-free day, so I’m going to hang out the washing, make myself a second coffee and read my latest lighthearted acquisition “That Hathaway Girl”.

Love Jess xxoo

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A victory on a hard day

Disclaimer: This little blog is for me – I am celebrating a seemingly small victory 🙂

I had one of those days where my little people were either, fighting, crying or touching me. It was difficult and long. I lost my cool more than once and when Tim finally got home I went and had a looooooooong shower.

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Usually on these days, while I am struggling to keep my sanity, an unhealthy critical voice joins the downward spiral. The negative thoughts about who I am as a mother, a wife and a person overwhelm me and I feel bad about feeling bad. Everything I’m not doing or not doing well is amplified and I feel like a failure.

But today, today I had a little victory – I had self-compassion. Even as I shut myself in my bedroom saying a desperate prayer for help, I didn’t feel bad. Why? Because jeepers being a parent is hard. I saw today for what it was… a parenting nightmare and I took it easy on myself for once. I didn’t think about how other people would handle it, I didn’t get depressed when I saw all dirt on the floor or the washing that needed to be put away. I didn’t feel like a failure because my kids were driving me up the wall. I didn’t think about all the mothers in Syria or any of the other painful comparisons that I’m usually unable to block out. YAY! This is a big thing for me, so join me by lighting a New Years sparkler and pulling on a party-popper as I celebrate this little triumph.

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Next time I may or may not be able to do the same, but that’s ok. I will celebrate today! Hi, my name is Jess and I survived this day by using self-compassion…

… and a whole lot of Justin Bieber tunes.
(Yes, Justin Bieber, I love that kid)

Love Jess xxoo

Living Simply without the shops – Part 2

At the end of August I wrote a blog about trying not to spend unnecessary money in the month of September (read it here). Having just realised that it’s now October, I thought I’d give you an update on the month that was.

It was a rather interesting 30 days for me and I’ll try to be as transparent as possible. During the month of September I wanted to incorporate three things into my every-day-life. These three words were my mantra for September:

Simplify. Enrich. Focus

It was important to me was that it wasn’t a pass/fail ‘project’, because that would totally undermine the point and only become a burden. My approach to September was not to just have nice ideas, but to have practical ways to incorporate these ideals into my life-style. I wrote down nine things to could do to simplify, enrich and focus my life during September and off I went. Some I did well in and others went by the way-side… I didn’t end up planting those herbs after all. Looking back, I think there were two things I really wanted to do: stop spending unnecessary money and create a culture of thankfulness. Realistically, this meant staying at home more and being mindful of my thoughts.

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Obviously, just because you can’t spend money doesn’t mean you can’t go out. You can go to the park, visit a friend, go on little adventures and a host of other things all of which are fun and interesting. Unfortunately, little Bella does not like going out. My little darling will scream the whole way of a 30 minute car-ride at times and a trip to the park can require more emotional energy from me than I used before having kids. There are times when Bell-Bell is awesome during an outing with not a tear in sight, but they aren’t that common. A trip in the car, no matter how short can easily be a joy killer. It is the age and stage – this too shall pass.
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(Cheeky monkey)

Two and a half weeks in, I was waking up every morning seriously depressed. After a few hours (and a double shot coffee) I would find myself again and the day would be pretty good. Bella was still doing two to three nighttime wake-ups, I was with the girls 24/7 without a break and we were all coming out of our third bout of illness. However, my morning depression was pretty bad, so having had horrible post-natal depression with Amy, I took myself off to see my GP. The diagnosis? Exhaustion… of course. So, I decided to ignore my Simplify and Focus mantras and took myself and the girls straight from the doctor’s office to get a coffee and some cake. It was time to relax and enrich my life a little. I believe Bella screamed the whole way home (as usual), but I had some real coffee and the memory of a nice ‘date’ still in my mind.

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From then onwards things got easier. Bella started sleeping more at night, we all became healthier, I upped my coffee intake and I knew what was going on with my emotions, which that helped at lot. On the whole I enjoyed the month of September and I know I will continue to do some of the nine things I wrote out. It’s odd that to living a simpler life in our culture is something you have to ‘fight’ for at times. You would think it would be easier, but it goes against cultural norms. Why be happy with what you have when you can have and/or could afford more?

With September at an end, I have $45.60 to donate to a worthy cause. I don’t know who I will donate to yet, but I know it will focus on children either in trafficking or community development.

And if you’re wondering… yes I did my share of baking and slice making this month 🙂

Love Jess xx00

PS – I read this awesome blog this morning and just had to share… Are you living Deliberately?