November 13 and home

Photos: Travis J. Arnold

Technically, we were home yesterday, but I spent the day pulling little bits of memories from the weekend and storing them in my heart. And a couple of hours at the barn. That was pretty much my day.

My night, however, was dark and long. Isn’t that the way so often? You are coming off a great weekend filled with love, laughter, and your people or maybe you have finally completed a huge goal that has taken months (or years), or maybe a victory that you just need to settle in on soak it all in? And then the dark thoughts creep in. The doubts. The “what if’s” and “if only’s.” No? Maybe I am the only one that happens to.

I crashed hard last night and slept like the dead for about 3.5 hours. I awoke with a start, not sure if a sound, or movement (hello two kitties and a spouse in the bed with me), or maybe the darkness had already invaded my dreams. It was another 3 hours before I fell back asleep, right before the alarm went off. Those 3 hours were spent trying to escape the anxiety creeping in. The worry. The fears. The doubts. They swirled around me, pressing deeper and deeper upon me like a thick layer of suffocation. I (finally) remembered to cry out to God. Yeah…that should be the first thing, right? My go to. It rarely is…thirty-two years into this walk with Him and I’m still blindsided by the darkness, allowing it to completely cover me before I remember how and Who to dig me out. Once I turned it all over to Him, I was able to fall back asleep, still restless. Still fighting the demons in my sleep, except this time I had the same one-word response to every dark, anxious thought: Jesus.

Nope. I didn’t get up to go to the gym. I snuggled deeper under the warm blankets and let the kitties settle in closer. I needed that sleep after a mostly sleepless night. The battle isn’t over. It’s probably just begun if my past is any indication of my future. Heading into these last six weeks of the year will be busy. For a time, I’ll forget Who is going before me and clearing the path and laying the foundation. And I’ll continue to lose some sleep, Today will be spent in some reflection, prayer, planning, and mostly, a refresher course on each and every time He has come through for me in the past.

See Y’all tomorrow. Praying some Light over each of you.

 

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November 10 from somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Not exactly in the mountains, but we have a gorgeous view. There was a herd of deer in our front yard last night. It is cold. It is quiet. All our people are here.

I am in Heaven.

I’m writing this from the dining room table, sipping coffee, while Russell takes some pictures of the view for me. Shawn is asleep in the living room. Sarah and Travis are sound asleep. I know this because the coffee grinder, announcing freshly brewed coffee to Travis, would have had him in the kitchen. He’s not. Brett and Rachel have gone down to Radford, where they met at college, fell in love in an instant, and have gone back to soak up some nostalgia from that era. Because nothing says lets revisit the place of our love like an early, cold morning spent at the shooting range.

Did I mention it is quiet this morning?

We are all here for no particular reason. What began as a Russell and Susan weekend to Roanoke to visit family quickly escalated to a “we want to come, too!’ event that sees us in an Airbnb, 20 minutes from town. Russell and I got here several hours earlier than all The Kids so we were settled in by the time they arrived bringing with them hugs and kisses, overnight bags and six-packs, hollers for help and car doors slamming. It was an instant healing balm to the open wound my heart has been this last year.

And then the arguing began…who got the other king size bed. Russell had put out the first-come, first-served word, but like Brett said, everyone knows their pecking order. Brett and Rachel are on the double. Which really doesn’t signify the true pecking order as Shawn is on the couch. Pro Tip to Shawn: find a wife and the other king is yours.

Late night snack-making, drinking fixing, laughter, and pushing and shoving in the kitchen, signaled it was time to gather at this same table to play Uno with the never-ending deck of Uno cards.  Over the years about 10 decks of Uno cards have ended up in the same plastic bag we took to and from the beach every summer. It means less shuffling and no card counting. When I threw out the idea that we would just pick up a new deck of Uno cards on our way into Roanoke and just play with that, there was stunned silence. The plastic bag made the trip.

As the Draw Twos, Skips, Reverses, and not-so-occasional Draw Fours (see the previous paragraph) were thrown down with in-your-face glee, it was hard for me to stay focused on the game. (Wait…does one really have to focus playing Uno?) because my heart was burstin’ at the seams with contentment and joy. How quickly it came to pass that the kiddos have grown and left the nest to come back together for snippets in time like this weekend. We now get to experience the results of our handiwork. And a whole lot of God’s grace and blessing. Thankful they still want to come together, for no real reason other than to be in the same place for a few days, as they pick right back up from where they left off, five of them now instead of three, juggling for the one bathroom assigned to The Kids.

As the laughing and door slammings began to die down, I realized that we, too, pick right back up where we ended, as Russell shouts out from our room, “time to settle down and go to bed!” and a lone voice says in the quiet, “seriously? we’re adults now.” And then complete silence.

Dad’s voice still shuts down the masses.

See y’all tomorrow…or Monday. I’m kinda busy this weekend…I can hear Sarah’s laughter from the back of the house…another day of amazing grace is about to begin.

November 8 and bringing order to (my) chaos

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(My current phone screen)

When you are 57 years old and you decide to change it all up. Cuz it is about time.

Have I mentioned that I am super OCD? A perfectionist? A keeper of habits and routines? Lover of tradition? Back when the littles were, well, little, I had to let a lot of that go. Because, and let me use kind and gentle lingo here, I was angry all the time. My husband will tell you that is an understatement. My children can recant some rages. Or maybe they have suppressed that. Waiting for it to come all out on the psych couch. In any case, I had to let it go. And let my kiddos be kiddos. Free to make messes in the kitchen when “helping” me cook and bake. That one, by the way, has served us all well…all three of my children can cook, and I’m not just talking simple stuff that anyone can do. They cook and bake like Ina married Guy. (Watch HGTV and you will get that.)

Now, though, it is time to (re)embrace the craziness that is my strong Enneagram 1. But because of all of these tendencies, I really really struggle with doing one thing at a time, getting that down, and moving on to the next thing. For me, it is more of a plate-spinning act with 20 plates spinning at the same time. Gonna be a lot of crashes. When I jumped into no-social-media-August with all the intentions, it all came crashing down pretty quickly. There was some heavy outside of my control things crushing me then too so it was no wonder I couldn’t sustain it.

November has been different. Here’s the thing. When you have something totally out of your control happening to you, making choices and changes that are usually hard to make, let’s you take charge of at least your response to what is happening to you. It has been a long time coming, but I finally was able to do that. Wise counsel, tons of prayer and meditation, and maybe most importantly, getting my family on board, sees me on the other end of that situation. People…it is soooooo freeing. I wish I had made this call a year and a half ago, but now I feel like my entire world has opened up. Which means I am trying to run with it. Holding it together and doing one step at a time (okay, maybe three steps at a time…that’s the best I can do!) has been and has to be a daily, hourly even, conscious decision.

My point is, you can make change happen. Hang in there. Get good counsel (or counseling). Talk to your people and listen to what they say. And pray. Journal. Scream. Listen. Repeat.

More on all of this tomorrow.

Hugs.

 

November 7 and I can’t think of a thing to say

Well, that’s actually not true, because I have a lot to say. Just not sure how to share it here in an, um, palatable way.

So I’m just gonna start typing and see how it goes.

My heart hurts that our country is so divided. And I’m wondering what it will take to bring us back together. I think it is going to take me. And it’s going to take you. And it is going to her. And it is going to take him. Doing what we were created to do. To encourage. To listen. To help. To love.

Does anyone actually eat candy corn? There always seems to be a shit-ton of it left after Halloween in the “clearance” section. I don’t ever see M&M’s or Kit Kats or Reece’s Peanut Butter cups in the clearance section. And Peeps…Peeps are on the clearance shelf year round. #justsayin

Does anyone else leave up some sort of stringed lights year round? Not the Christmas lights…this isn’t West Virginia, but the soft white lights? We do. On our fireplace mantle and our deck and porch. They are calming to me. And festive. And remind me of the constellations. And how teeny tiny we humans really are in the grand scheme of life. And eternity.

Wine? or beer? Or maybe a girlie drink (no judgment here.) Or maybe just a soft drink? Which do you prefer? Comment below.

I love this time of year. The weather temps and humidity go down and frankly, my hair is at it’s happiest. And if you have hair like mine (curly, prone to frizz, thick) you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s not about vanity; it’s about time and containment of all the hair.

I know that this time of year is difficult for some. And, if I allow myself to focus on it, painful for me, too. Of course, I miss the generations that are no longer here with us, and I miss them, and I still embrace and practice a lot of their traditions. It’s the ones that left us too soon. That break our hearts over and over, every day, but even more so at this time of year. That has us wondering, “what if?” That has us missing not just them, but all that they would be now.

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I love Y’all.

 

November 5 and doing the thing

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Pro tip: don’t let 10 years go by before you decide to take control of your health again. I mean, it was fun while it lasted, but now? Reining in my eating, my wine consumption, my lazy-lack-of-exercising behavior? #sucks

Also, though…I am feeling so much better. Yeah…this weekend I ate the biscuit and sausage gravy at Oh George!…but only one of them. And oh yes…this weekend I consumed all the wine. Because it was good. And as I am beginning to write this on Sunday evening, yep…I’m sipping a glass of red in front of the fireplace after an absolutely amazing Sunday. And I’m working on my plan for the week and I’ve already called it on going to the gym in the morning. Not because of the time that we have been going (hello 5:00 am…I don’t even wanna think about ya), but because it will be raining and cold and wet and icky and because I have eaten all the things and I drank all the things and it’s gonna be painful.

So I did blow off heading out to the gym with Russell this morning. But I got up anyway and I’m finishing up my plan for the week, my food and exercise, my blog ideas, all with a mug of coffee and in front of the fireplace. In my workout clothes. Because the workout is still happening. It’s Monday. There is no skipping Monday workout. It will be strength training, my five-minute plank challenge (thanks, Karen McGavin), and the hip opening exercises my personal trainer insists I do every stinking day and to be honest…I’ve noticed a huge difference. My hips are loosening up and are super duper sore. Does the old #nopainnogain still apply?

So back to the eating and the workouts. I’ve focused on getting back into the habit of daily morning workouts the last couple weeks. This week, I’m focusing on the foods I eat and drink. I read somewhere that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Now that I’m done trying to prove that wrong, it’s time to get the eating on track and for me, that requires a plan. One thing I have been doing the last 6 weeks is drinking a 2 oz serving of Young Living NingXia Red every day between breakfast and lunch. It takes a couple weeks of a daily dose to really feel a difference, but the difference is huge. My energy level is off the charts, without any caffeine jitters or heart palps; my joints aren’t as stiff and sore, and my gut is definitely on the mend. Sure, I attribute some of that to working out 5 days a week and the stretching I’ve been doing pretty much daily, except that I began the daily serving of this supplement well before I got back to the gym. Here is some of the scoop on this powerful supplement  – I borrowed this from bff, Edie:

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So I’ve wanted to get back into working out and eating better for a while now and hadn’t because I left out something: just do the thing. Put it on your calendar. Don’t overthink it. Recognize that it is really going to suck initially. And then it won’t. Something I keep reminding myself: I don’t have to work out today; I get to work out today. I am able to. And I’m starting to push my body a little more each time. And when I’m done…man, it is such a great feeling.

So what are you going to do today? Bag it or just do the thing?

See y’all tomorrow.

P.S. Want to get a hold of a bottle of NingXia Red? Let me know by clicking Tell me about NingXia Red!.

November 4 and thanks

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Thanks, everybody, for your kind words and interaction and teasing over my button collection of which I am quite proud Seriously, it has been fun getting back into the blogging thing. I never realize how much I miss it until I get back to it after a long break. Getting the words to flow is still like having teeth extracted, but hey…we are only four days in. It’s gotta get better, right?

Defying all expectations, the leaves have finally turned color here in Virginia. Serious colors, mind you. Like don’t-even-have-to-tweak-the-color-on-the-edit-button colors. And we have had the windows open. It’s that rare, in-between weather that is cold in the morning and comfy during the day, and as the sun goes down, you have to pull on a sweater. AKA…the best time of the year. Autumn in Virginia is like no other place. Sure, we live 18 miles out of DC, which makes my people say things like, “it’s not REALLY Virginia,” and “yeah, we are south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but it’s not REALLY the south.” Y’all. As I sit here looking out over our deck, and see nothing but color and I hear all the birds singing, and smell all the fresh, outdoorsy smells of Fall, Washington, DC is a zillion miles away. And that, folks, is about as political as you will see me get here on This Girl.

So, it’s Sunday. Sunday has taken a turn for us the last few months. We get up earlier and enjoy some time with Mad Max, a walk, some breakfast. I don’t know about y’all, but Sunday with children was never a day of rest for us. Seemed like it was the perfect opportunity for Satan to get us all worked up, stressed out and hollering, just in time to grit our teeth, put on The Face, and stroll into church like we had it all together and everything was just peachy. And though our children are long grown, it has taken us this long to get out of that mindset and embrace the calm and loveliness that truly is the Sabbath. We have been going to church earlier and grabbing brunch and just enjoying the day before heading to the barn in the afternoon for a couple of hours. Then off for a bite to eat down in Clifton, or eggs on toast back at the house, the rest of the evening is full on chill. I mean, that is what it is supposed to be like, right? Some days, yeah, I do miss the Sunday soccer games, being on the go all day long, trying to squeeze some actual Worship in between games and school projects, no really, I do miss that at times. But this empty-nester slice of Heaven right now…it’s pretty good, too. And it’s all just in time for The Holiday Season. I kinda like this time of year where Summer ends, Halloween comes and go, and it is a full-on sprint to January 1. The best part is Family. The month of November is already jam pack full of weekend trips to see our people and our people making the trip here to see us and I can. not. wait. And seriously, if I start to complain even the slightest about any of it…call me out. Because this stuff right here…the hustle and bustle, the coming and going, the plotting and planning, the cooking and baking, the hugging and laughing, all of it…this is Life. And I’m thankful for it.

See Y’all tomorrow.

November 3 and changes are a-coming

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If you follow me on social media, you may notice a theme in my posts lately. Besides the fact that I am all about the Holiday Season being upon us now and I am all psyched for that, you are seeing a lot of posts (and reposting of other’s posts) about change.

Maybe you are like me and are not a huge fan of change. Maybe, like me, you avoid it at all costs. Why do we feel that way about change? Is it because change can equal unknown? Or maybe change means we might fail? Let’s be honest. We are all going to fail at some point. And when we do, we pick ourselves back up and either change course or try again. One of my fave people I follow, Rachel Hollis, talks about this a lot. She recently stated it’s not the actual failure we fear, it is the people watching us fail and their opinions of us that makes us not want to change and possibly fail. And something she said recently, and in her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, is that other people’s opinions of me are none of my business. Mind. Blown. I have always been a people pleaser; always concerned about other people’s opinion of me and pretty much only that. The last year and a half or so, God has totally turned me upside down and shaken that out of me.

Oh, it didn’t start out that way. I fought and resisted the change. Not because I was worried about failure, but because I knew how it was going to end. And it has been even worse than I could ever possibly imagine. But that doesn’t mean that the changes didn’t happen for a reason that God wanted to use. To the contrary, it has played out exactly for that reason. I mean, come to find out on the other side of it. But getting to this point of realization has been hard and has involved a lot of shocking behavior by people I thought I knew so well. I had to let go of all of it. Their actions and lack of action; hurtful words and incorrect accusations (notice I didn’t say “unfair accusations?” In case you haven’t noticed, life ain’t fair and no one ever said it would be, although some folks think it should be. It’s not.) Turns out, it has been the best thing for me and for my family. The resulting snowball effect of change has been so incredible, I can barely catch my breath and keep up with it.

I’m learning to not just embrace the change but to hold onto it and run with it. Lots of good things coming in 2019 and it all started with this one change.

Got some scary changes happening? I challenge you to hang on and see it through.

See you tomorrow.

November 2 and the obvious

i have towork out1One comment from yesterday’s post got me thinking. D said she was thankful for life and was just feeling “the obvious.”

I would like to suggest that we miss the obvious more often than not. It’s like the basket on the stairs. Before our youngest came around, I had a basket on the stairs where we would put things that needed to go upstairs instead of running up and down the stairs or worse, leaving whatever it was lying around downstairs. After a day or two of not grabbing the basket to take upstairs, it would sit there for days/weeks with the same stuff in it. We were so used to seeing it, we didn’t see it anymore. It had become obvious.

I use “things” as the example here, but I’m really thinking more of the non-things that encompass our “life.”

The biggie: love. There are days I totally do not feel the love on the surface. Both receiving and giving. But when I step back and open my heart, I realize it is all around me. And all around you. From families, friends, spouses, and pets, to the stranger who holds the door open.

I try to be aware of and thankful for “the obvious” in my world. Our critters; our health; the trees in our backyard that give us shade and stay upright during storms (you better believe we thank them for that year after year!); the soft glow of candles and twinkle lights we have on timers in our home and around the outside; enough money to eat too well and buy too many things and help others; the mindset that I get to workout instead of the more negative, have to.. And let’s not forget the very obvious Holiday season we have just stepped into and everything that surrounds it.

So I challenge you to be aware of the obvious today and remark upon it, point it out, give praise for it, and share it.

See you tomorrow…obviously.

November 1 and a new look.

AvatarIt’s been almost a year since I last posted.

A year. In that time, my baby got married; my girl switched careers; I joined Young Living and am turning my health around; my handsome hubby and I celebrated thirty-five years of marriage, and I visited Colorado for the first time and loved it. #boom #done

So I’m still working on the new look of This Girl. Just like me, it is a work in progress. Your patience and understanding is so appreciated.

Some things I am going to be talking about here this month:

marriage
health
children
weird thoughts I have
weird thoughts you have
food
my fave wine
enneagrams
fave actors
maybe none of the above
maybe all of the above in one post
and lots and lots of politics
(jk on that last one)
and probably Christmas

Let’s start with this:

November is the month of Thankfulness. Tell me what you are thankful this year. One thing or one thousand things, post them in the comments below. I’ll start.

See y’all tomorrow.