Sunday, May 25, 2014

Because I'm sick of being the girl who gives up.

I've avoided writing this post because I was afraid that my "story" would be too boring. I don't have a troubled past. I don't have a spectacular body transformation story. I don't have anything to prove. All I have is a desire to become what my parents always raised me to become, a role model for my children. And a desire that most other people have: to be truly happy.

We can skip the childhood part. Aside from the perpetual availability of junk food in my home, I had it better than most. My parents worked hard enough to provide for us, but not so hard that they weren't around. They loved each other (still do). They signed us up for sports, helped us with homework, took us on vacations, etc. I didn't realize until I was an adult that I was incredibly fortunate to have parents like mine.

My struggle didn't start until I was on my own. And by "on my own" I mean moving 1,000 miles away from anyone I've ever known with a 6-month-old and a husband who had logged about seven days of fatherhood until that point. Let me back up just a bit.

My husband enlisted in the Army while I was pregnant and did not meet our daughter until she was two weeks old. He did not get to experience the sleepless nights (literally, she did not sleep AT night for months), the days FULL of crying (anywhere from 3-8 hours EVERY. DAY. For MONTHS!), the breastfeeding issues, or the anxiety and depression that came along with feeling like you've failed the only job you should be at least somewhat biologically prepared for. I couldn't take care of myself or my child and I didn't even have my partner's shoulder to cry on. Trust me, I could have used it. I cried almost as much as the baby did those first few months. Friends and family tried to be supportive, but they were not my husband. And a lot of them did not understand just how difficult it truly was.

I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my adult life, and this experience brought me down to my lowest low. I was mourning the motherhood I had so naively anticipated. I had lost myself in the nonstop obsession to fix my child and make her stop crying. I think I was showering maybe once a week. I can't recall a single outfit that didn't include yoga/sweat/pajama pants. I was exhausted, and I wasn't ME anymore. How could I be?

Luckily, I was surrounded by family and most of them were very helpful, so I wasn't alone. When my husband came home from almost a full year of training, I was so happy to finally be a complete family that I forgot the part about how he had never been a father before. Jumping in six months into the game must have been terrifyingly overwhelming, but I was so desperate for us to get on with our lives that I ignored the possibility that he could be struggling, too. Less than two weeks later, we packed everything we owned and drove from central Florida to Ft. Hood, Texas. And then we were ALONE. Just him and me and this new, little, very unhappy baby. (I'll skip the details of the marital drama, but let's just say there were a couple times I went home for visits and really REALLY considered not going back.)

Things got better, then worse, then better again. I started working and at first I was really happy to feel like Kiersten again instead of just "Mommy." That was short-lived. Once I became the target of a bully administrator, I began dreading work. I felt myself beginning to spiral down into that drain of anxiety and depression again. I was pregnant with my second child and I had lost 10 pounds in a month due to lack of appetite and constant fatigue. I had a full-blown anxiety attack in my midwife's office. I could not keep working.

That brings us to today. The WHY. Why did I choose to become a Team Beachbody coach?
At first, I continued to be overwhelmed with life and too depressed to deal with any of it. Laundry and dishes piled up, but I just could not get off the couch. I got angry with my husband for not helping, but what I was really angry about was that HE would not just FIX everything. Why couldn't he clean the house so I didn't have to look at the mess anymore? Why couldn't he stop complaining about work so it wouldn't make me upset? Why couldn't he try harder to make me happy?

Taking control of your life is like falling in love. You can tell somebody what it feels like, describe every intimate detail, but they will never truly understand until it happens to them. And there's no magic formula, it just happens. You finally decide that you're tired of living an unhappy life and it dawns on you that nobody else is responsible for changing that. That's what happened. I decided to make the effort every single day to remind myself of all the beautiful things I had to be grateful for. I started changing my thinking by literally saying to myself, "This is a negative thought. Negative thoughts are not productive," every time I felt myself becoming unhappy about a situation, and then taking a huge, full breath to "blow" the thought away. (It works most of the time!)

Then a funny thing happened. I noticed that the more effort I made to be positive, the less I felt anxious or depressed. The more positive thoughts I had, the better I felt about life. I started cleaning the house again. I started taking my daughter to story time and the park. Then it was time to think about me again. I have tried and quit so many things, I was almost afraid to try anything else. I was afraid of spending the rest of my life being "the girl who gives up." But I had a new outlook now and new tools in my bag to help myself stay positive. I was finally ready.

Coaching so far has been more than playing the MLM game of recruiting and collecting paychecks. This has been an exercise in finding my happy. I am able to work and stay home with my daughter and help other people find their own path to happiness. I don't have a horrible boss anymore and I no longer have to spend 15 minutes every morning convincing myself that I have to go to work. I don't have to spend 60% of my paycheck to have someone else watch my daughter for 10 hours a day. Now, I get to exercise, eat healthy, and help others do the same. This makes me happy.

What would make you happy?

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Big Girl. My Two-Year-Old.

*Birthday Cookie*

So in love with you, little girl. We have our battles (like today, when I had to scoop you up and carry you out of the library during story time) but the ability to watch you develop, make your own decisions, and just play is such an honor. Every night when I put you to bed, I watch you for a few minutes after you've fallen asleep, completely awed by the amazing little person you are, and then give you one more kiss. It's never enough.

It's been an entire year since I've written one of these and-- holy cow-- how things have changed! You have quite the vocabulary, and you aren't afraid to use it. However, your favorite words right now are "cheese" and "open" (as in, "Please open the fridge and get me more cheese.") My favorites are "mommy," "daddy," "mam-ma," "pee-pa," "please," "I luh you," "hug," and "kiss."

One WHOLE year ago.
You are a WHIZ with puzzles, especially on the iPad. You can count to 10 and are getting pretty good with the alphabet. You love Mickey Mouse, Dora, and all the animals! You like to cuddle with your stuffed animals, but mostly your monkey.

You still love being around people and you LOVE to run, slide, and JUMP! You've been helping me in our garden lately, watering the sunflowers with your Mickey Mouse watering can. You don't mind playing in the sprinklers, but for some reason you still hate the bath...

You and I took a trip to Florida a couple weeks ago to visit our family. You made everyone so happy. You are very fortunate to have such wonderful and loving grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even your GREAT-grandma and grandpa to take care of you!
On Easter Sunday, we got dressed up and went to church with your daddy's parents. Grandma and Grandpa were singing and playing music on stage with the choir, and you were obviously compelled to join them. You walked right up the steps and stood next to Grandma, singing and dancing along in front of the whole church! You made a lot of people smile that day. :)
The next weekend, you visited Uncle Donald's Farm with *my* mommy and daddy. You guys got to pet some goats and rabbits and you even went on a hay ride and got to feed the cows! Then we went to Abshier Farm and picked three buckets of blueberries ("blue-babies") with your great-grandparents. You were a PRO!
My favorite trip was to Homosassa Springs State Park. We saw sooooo many animals like owls, bobcats, alligators, a hippo, and even manatees! I think you liked it, too, because when we left the park you waved and said, "Bye bye, animals! I luh you!"
Most importantly, you got to spend time with a lot of people who love you very much. I cannot wait until you are old enough to appreciate what a blessing that is.
You are worth all the sleepless nights.
You are growing and changing so fast, I fear that I could never take enough pictures or write enough letters to hold onto every precious moment. I am so proud to be your mama, and no matter how smart and independent you become, you will always be my baby girl. Happy second birthday, love. <3