Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sleep Debt?

Another week and I am still not where I want to be - I am still working hard on being mindful of the moment - but it is really difficult.  I have almost finished reading Lara Casey's book "Make it Happen."  I highly recommend the book - it is a great starting point for prioritizing and remembering.
I have come to realize this week that one of my issues is rest.  I work 12-16 hour days Monday - Friday. Saturday I try to catch up spending time with my family and dogs. Then Sunday I am exhausted - all I want to do is sleep, eat, and watch TV. 
Coco Chanel Sleeping In
Getting too little sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. We don't seem to adapt to getting less sleep than we need, while we may get used to a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired.
Meme and Coco Sleeping Buddies
So - Sunday has become my day to repay my sleep debt.  But, I feel like I can not give up a whole day - I feel like I am wasting a whole day.  There are so many things I want to do on Sundays - run, yoga, quilt, scrapbook, and I get nothing done.
Oreo Getting Ready for Bed
My goal next week, starting tonight is to be in bed by 10 PM, no TV maybe a little reading.  Up at 6 AM.  No hitting the snooze button.  This will allow me to have some me time. 
Have you ever suffered from sleep debt? If so, how did you keep from getting back into debt?
~ Connie ~

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Finding Balance When Life Throws a Curve Ball

If you have been following my blog you know, I have been on a journey to find balance.  Last weekend I had a total meltdown, a far cry from finding balance.  The Big Man (aka the Love of My Life) sustained a fracture to his foot.   My backup is out of commission.
In the first few months of our marriage I quickly realized that as a police officer The Big Man loved his job but he had taken a vow of poverty.  We had five children at home and a very tight budget.  One day I happened to see his paycheck from a part-time job.  Immediately I realized we were never going to financially make ends meet by simply adding his part time job.
The Big Man 
So, we sat down and had a conversation about money.  I offered him the deal of a lifetime. If he would assume some of the  household responsibilities I would pickup a part-time job.  As a registered nurse, I could work an 8 hour shift and make three times what he made in eight hours of part-time work.   He agreed, we had to do what was best for everyone. Feeding growing boys cost a fortune and with the children quickly approaching the age where they would have financial needs (camps, cars, graduation, and college) this swap in household duties was a viable option.

The Big Man and the Girls
So - The Big Man and the kids picked up laundry duty, grocery shopping, meal preparation and general household cleaning duties.  I worked - often six twelve hour shifts.   But, we paid off $30,000 in credit card debt that The Big Man had from his first marriage, we bought a home  and we provided for the kids. The children each participated in band, sports, summer camps, etc.  They had everything they needed and sometimes a little extra.
My Stinky Boys Christmas 2014
At this same time I was pursing a Bachelor's Degree (eventually a Master's and a Post-Masters Degree) and serving in the Army Nurse Reserves.  The household duties all somehow shifted to the Big Man. He cooked dinner every night, made sure the laundry was done, the kids got to school and their events, and the house was clean.
Over the years this arrangement has made me very dependent on the Big Man.
Duck Hunting - I Pray for the duck's safety while he hunts
After my melt down this weekend, I have regrouped, prayed a lot and come to the realization that life could be a whole lot worst, three was a time last year when the specialist thought the Big Man had lung cancer. So, I get up a couple of hours earlier and I go to bed a little later.  I have our new house helper work a little more and the Big Man's foot heals.  In six weeks the walking boot comes off and life goes back to normal.  Till then - responsibilities change a little and I find a new point of balance. In the greater scheme of life - I still have the Big Man and life goes on.

What happens when you find yourself with new responsibilities? How do you find balance when life throws you a curve ball?
~ Connie~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Doing Less and Living More

I am a woman who does to much - I run a family practice, I manage a volunteer free health clinic, I teach nursing online, I own a boarding kennel, I am doggie mom to 14 rescue dogs, five adult children, 5 awesome grandsons, my 87 year old father who has dementia has moved in with  us, I volunteer with the humane society (currently we are boarding 2 puppies and 2 adult dogs that need homes), I accepted a position on the county Republican committee, and now my husband is on crutches. For some reason the crutches feel like the last straw. 

 I am feeling stressed and out of balance- probably there are a few of you out there that are just as stressed as I am. Feeling stressed  is not proportionate to the number of task on your to-do-list or the amount of things you are involved in, it is a feeling, it is a mental status - a state of mental tension and worry.

My husband's crutches are not the cause of my stress.  The cause of my stress is having a full schedule and knowing the one person I depend on the most is not able to help me. 

Having a full schedule is my own doing. I have filled my schedule to over-flowing. I've accepted too much to-do.  Other people and outside forces do not cause my stress I do. So with God's help and a fresh outlook, I will be weeding down my to-do-list.  Learning to say no.  
The first step is to scale down volunteer activities - I totally believe in everything I am involved in but the Humane Society and the Republican committee obligations have to go.  Attending meetings and organizing fund raisers takes time - time I need to focus on me and my family.

The second step -  go back to a paper planner. I have been randomly writing out to-do-list and trying to use my iPhone.  I hate to admit it but I am a old fashion paper and pencil kind of girl, but I am.
So, out comes the old fashion planner.
The third step - finding time for me.  Using my paper planner I am going to schedule time for me to do some of the things I want to do and some down time.  I realized today when I was to tired to get off the couch - I actually slept for 3 hours curled up in the den while all the other members of my house moved about the den, watched TV, and the dogs barked.

I know I will stumble as I try to implement these three steps, but stumbling is part of God's plan for us.  I honestly do not believe that God's plan is for me to be running around like a crazy person trying to be everything to everyone. Learning to listen and follow his plan is hard.  This is a journey - the final destination is not perfection - but rather living the abundant life that God has planned for me.

So - what have you done to address stress in your life?  or what steps have you taken to do less and live more?
~ Connie ~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Urban Farming and Chicken Mites

This past weekend my Dad who is 87 years old and in the middle stages of vascular dementia comes in and announces, your chickens have mites... Yikes!!! I tell myself ok stay calm you were president of the 4-H club, you fetched your own eggs as a child for breakfast, damn you can run a code and save a human life...surely you can save six little hens from mites.
Umm  what is a mite? where did my chickens pick up these little bugs, they haven't been out of their isn't like your children is exposed to day care issues.

Off to Google I go - wow there are a million links to read on chicken mites.  But I settled on one, The Chicken Chick - "Poultry Lice and Mites Identification and Treatment

The doggies also got treats and fly spray. 

I am not sure what we did on Sunday afternoons before Tractor Supply came to town.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Hype about Green Smoothies

What is all the hype about Green Smoothies?
I am in a season in my life where I realize I need to take better care of myself.  As I started looking for simple ways to add healthy food to my vegetarian diet, I found green smoothies.  According to several websites related to green smoothies people who add green smoothies to their diet have better digestion and elimination, lose weight, and have more energy. As I continued to research the benefits of green smoothie I found a couple of websites that suggest the antioxidant properties of green smoothies improve you overall health.

I love fruits and vegetables, but I do not eat enough. The thought of eating a big plate of plain, raw, kale, collards, spinach, or celery is impossible with my busy schedule and sometimes not very appealing.  I often eat a couple of pieces of fruit or a few slices of cheese for lunch.  So finding a way to add spinach or kale to my diet everyday would is bonus.

So today I made my first green smoothie -  and I loved it. I see more in my future.

I used the following recipe:
2 cups spinach, fresh (tightly packed)
2 cups of water
1 cup of mango
1 cup of pineapple
2 bananas
Tightly pack your leafy greens into a measuring cup and toss into the blender. Add water and blend together until all leafy chunks are gone. Next add in mango, pineapples and bananas and blend again.
I would love to hear your thoughts on green smoothies
~ Connie ~ 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hashtag #urbanfarmer

I had the clinic block my Friday afternoon schedule last week, so I could come home early - it has been a really long week with a couple of nights consisting of four hours of sleep and I am on call tonight and Saturday.  So how does a girl in Northeast Arkansas spend time on a Friday afternoon - of course, enjoying her yard and sitting in the chicken yard, admiring her girls and teaching them to eat scratch out of a cup.
I was sitting there I got to thinking about sharing some awesome pictures of my chickens with my social media friends.  This thought then lead to me thinking about hashtags.  I  recently started using hashtags on facebook, twitter, and intsagram.  A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content.

I almost always use the hasttage #scrapbookwife, which is easy to understand.  I enjoy spending time preserving our families life in scrapbooks.  Recently I started using the hashtag #urbanfarmer. 
As I was thinking about using the hashtag #urbanfarmer I started to questions myself  - am I really an urban framer?  What is an urban farmer?  

I do own a tractor and almost 3 acres of land???

I googled the term urban farm and found there isn't a consistent definition of an urban farm. So I will define my own little urban farm - Connie's space to grow fresh vegetables and house a few fathered and furry friends.  
All of this to say - I feel better about using the hashtag #urbanfarmer  
Do you ever have trouble defining who you are? Are adequately stating what you are doing?
~ Connie ~

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Make It Happen - Giving God and My Family More Than Leftovers

This past week has been crazy - with work (family practice), two grandsons playing baseball (8 PM games), boarding picking up in the kennels, starting a new eight week session of teaching, and one night of free clinic, and taking care of my Dad (aka Pops) - oh and did I mention I have been on call.

I have been feeling overwhelmed.  I am still working hard on being mindful of the moment - but it is really difficult.  In my spare time (don't laugh), I have been reading Lara Casey's book "Make it Happen."
As I was reading Lara's Book I came to the realization, my life is overflowing with activity.  The only time I have in prayer is when I lay my head on the pillow - I ask God every night to take it all - let me not worry or dwell on the events of the day. I have done the best I can do. 
What I say isn't a prayer - it is giving God the leftovers.
Sadly - I often give my family the left overs. 
When I drag in at 10 PM and they watch me eat dinner, fall asleep watching a movie or when I step away from a ballgame to answer my phone - my family gets left out.
As I was reading Lara's book I realized I do not want to say I should of been a better wife, mother, daughter, nana, sister.
Like many overwhelmed people - finding a starting point to make a change is difficult.
What do I cut out of my life? 
Can I find a day - a whole day to disconnect from the world and spend time with my family? 
Can I find 30 minutes a day to listen to God, instead of giving him the leftovers at the end of the day?
What I do know - is I am the only one that can make a change.
Have you changed your busy life?
How do you give God and your family the first bite instead of the leftovers?
As for me - I will be rereading Lara Casey's Book and thinking more about unplugging and listening to God.
~ Connie ~

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Staying in The Present

This past week has been like most of the weeks in my life - very busy. 
We had a death in the family - my sister-in-law who had been ill for several months was laid to rest.  My Dad had a doctor's appointment.  One of our four-legged babies was diagnosed with glaucoma, my daily patient schedule is filling up everyday and we went to the ball fields to watch a couple of baseball games our grandsons were playing in.

But, I have been working this week to be present - what I mean is, I have been focusing on living in the moment.  I am practicing mindfulness -
According to Psychology Today "Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience."
Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and can have a positive impact on preventing or treating chronic disease. Being present can have a positive impact on your personal relationships. 

Why have I chosen to work on mindfulness? Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now.  That has been me...I have been catching myself checking facebook, twitter, or answering the phone when I should be focusing on the minutes I have with my best friend (spouse), petting the four-legged baby that would do anything to get my attention, or listening intentionally to what my Dad is saying (even if he doesn't know what he is saying), because someday I will miss all of this - someday I will not have the opportunity to be mindful. 
Pops and Jax  - so thankful I didn't miss this moment.
So today is it - I am practicing mindfulness, intentionally paying attention.
How about you - do you practice mindfulness?
~ Connie ~