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December 12, 2013

5 things I am learning through suffering

I have these times that are few and far between but they pop up every once in awhile, and I feel words start to ramble around in my head. They are pretty words with images and quotes and scripture and all kind of wise things that scream, "Write me down, hurry!"  When I sit down to write without the ramblings, it's hard to come up with words that give this blog space justice, so I'm okay with using this corner of the Internet as a means to get down those REALLY important thoughts and just live out the rest. If you are lucky enough to know me well, then you may just get a verbal blog post every day.
 
 This particular post is about suffering in regards to sickness and pain, which is something I have become familiar with, and in a very real way recently. The story is long, but a quick summary is that over the years I have encountered numerous health conditions and have received different diagnoses: Fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc. I have tried many methods to reach healing and some have worked, many have not, and for the last several years I would say I that I have been managing any pain pretty well on my own without the help of medical intervention. I still suffered flare-ups due to Fibromyalgia and sometimes stomach troubles but these things had become a part of my life and I had learned to live with them, that is until I began suffering immensely a couple months ago. At this time, I began to have full body physical symptoms that were debilitating. The list of symptoms is probably a page long  but I knew my body was out of balance and it was throwing my mind out of balance as well. Finally I received I guess what you would call a revelation that my health conditions are due to a yeast overgrowth in my body, a particular fungus called candida and most likely I have had this overgrowth for many years, perhaps my whole life.  The culminating development began around Thanksgiving, as I loaded my body up with carbs and sugary desserts. Can you say stuffing and pie, anyone?!? I began to get terribly sick and it became hard to get out of bed. After eating, my stomach would begin to swell to the point that I looked very pregnant, bloated and the pain was unbearable. I was tired and more fatigued than I had ever been in my life, even during pregnancy. My mind was suffering, I felt anxious, fearful, irritable and had days of depression.
 
 However, once I knew what was wrong with me, I started to feel a small sense of peace. It is relieving to finally have a game plan. So I started on a diet which cuts out every type of grain, sugar (even fruit), alcohol, caffeine, and dairy. These are foods that feed the yeast and keep them thriving in my body. I am left eating fresh produce that are low in carbs, lean meats, eggs and lots and lots of water. Sounds fun, right? The diet is strict, but over the years I have become familiar and have enjoyed trying new healthy foods so this has not been the hardest part for me. The hardest part has been the die-off effects of starving the yeast of it's nutrition. They release many (some say up to 79) different toxins and alcohol into your bloodstream and the liver works overtime to clear your body of all the nasty waste bi-products. These little yeast punks do not want to die without a fight.
  
Here I am today, it's been about a week of being on this strict diet and the first two to three weeks are the hardest. People feel much worse before they feel better, and I have felt the worst I have ever felt. Yet in all things there is opportunity for growth, peace, joy and knowledge. That is what I want to focus on: My experience with suffering and what I am learning.

1. Sickness makes me feel lonely and isolated and I sometimes equate this to actually being alone. During the day, when my children are at school and my husband is at work and I am here struggling to get out of bed, a feeling of loneliness comes over me. These feelings can quickly slide into thoughts such as, "I am alone. No one has reached out to me today and they must not care that I am here suffering." This is a lie and if I choose to believe it, then I become a prisoner to my suffering. People care and they also have lives to live. Loneliness does not equal being alone. To further expand on this great lesson, I am learning that being by myself, learning to feel worthy just the way I am without constant reassurance from others is contributing to my spiritual growth. To rest in the stillness, just my own soul and God's Divine Love surrounding me is a great gift that many of us do not yet unwrap and relish in.


2. Many people do not understand what I am going through and that is okay. Some people really do understand and that is because they have walked a similar road before me. I have found quite a large support group online and that is helpful in overcoming that lonely feeling I described above. The closest people do not need to understand my physical pain and suffering, nor do I want them to because it is not something I would wish upon anyone. Just because they do not understand with certainty what I am experiencing does not mean they cannot love me, support me and help see me through this. We each have a journey and a path that is our own. We are here to support others and lift them up as they walk their own path of healing, but we do not always understand it or know what to do or say. Searching for grace is my motto and this is a great way to learn to give it to the ones we love.

3. Being a victim and being a spiritual victim are two different things. I do not choose to suffer physical afflictions but when I say it is not fair, I don't deserve this, or I feel owed something because of my suffering, then I am becoming a spiritual victim or adopting a victim mentality and am ultimately lying to myself. We ALL have things in our lives that we do not ask for and circumstances that change us fundamentally. Some are heart wrenching; sometimes we are victims of crime, abuse, grief, disease, heartbreak, bullying, etc. Those things happen to us and are out of our control, we cannot change them once they have been done to us. The choice I have now is whether I will let myself, mentally, become a victim. When I do this, I lock myself in suffering. When I think like a victim, I forget to see the blessings that I am given and instead see every negative occurrence as it relates to my difficult circumstance. The amazing part of being a human is how we are capable of rising up out of suffering when we cling to the One who lifts us up and out. We can make a choice about how we react to what life has given us and we can choose to be victorious and not victimized. It takes time, hard work and sometimes we only learn this because we trudge away each day in pain until we realize our minds, when renewed, are incredibly strong and we can decide to create a better story for ourselves, one filled with success and not failure. Also, this disease may be in me but it does not define me. The same way we can have cancer but we are not cancer. I say this about depression as well; we have depression but we are NOT depressed. This is a hard lesson for me to remember, but I am rising up to it.

4. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to say I need prayers, support, someone to reach out to check in on me. It is okay to ask for it but if I expect it then I will be let down miserably. There are people that come into our lives ready and willing to uplift us, give us a shoulder to lean on, an ear to bend, etc. Those people are gifts. However, not everyone in our lives are capable of being that person. Sometimes I expect that the person who will reach out to me and be a companion in my suffering is someone whom I have helped in the past. I am learning that the people that needed my help may not have the ability to help me in return. The point of giving is not to receive, and yet if we live our lives believing that we must gain something for every good deed we performed, we make ourselves prisoners. The biggest lesson in relation to this point that I have been awakened to is that if I pray and ask for someone to be sent to me, I have to be willing to open my heart to see the help when it comes. Sometimes we can be so focused on our expectations of what that will look like that we miss what it was that came our way. A simple text from a friend can be enough to lift us up but not if we expect them to come with a basket of goodies.

5. Most important for me to remember each and every day: to suffer is to gain. Through my suffering, I have grown closer in the knowledge that my being here is no accident and each challenge is for a greater purpose. I am sheltered under great Love that surrounds each of us. It is easy to take that forgranted when all is going well in my life, but when I am buried under the rubble, desperate for a way out, I cling to the hope that I believe in and find a shovel through that Grace so I can dig my way out. In my experience, we are often not just lifted out of the shambles, although sometimes we can be but not often. Many times it's the act of digging, making our way through the debris, that ultimately shapes us, challenges us, grows us and teaches us. "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." -Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Friend, if you are buried in the rubble of your life right now, I am throwing you a shovel.

October 31, 2013

Enduring.

 

My heart is hurting today and it feels like it is splitting wide open. Every loss that I have suffered through, the pain of losing the people I love, is coming back to rest in my broken heart. Halloween is not a holiday I often look forward to anymore. Ten years ago today, at 24 years old, my good friend died in a car accident. I didn't believe the news that Jay was gone when I received the call in the middle of the night. I thought it was a Halloween prank. I had just spent an evening out with him and other friends only hours before. I left him fully alive and himself and then he was gone. It was hard to take in at 21 years old. It made me face things that I just didn't expect to face when you are young and carefree. I suffered great anxiety for years at the thought of "here today and gone tomorrow" and I was forced to deal with these great emotions about that significant of a loss. Ten years later I still miss him and long to say one last thing to him or give him the hug I skipped out on the night we left to go home. It was my last goodbye.

My son came home today with some terribly sad news that his teacher's husband was killed in a car accident and that she wouldn't be coming back to school for a long time. I fell into a ball of tears in front my of 6 year old who had certainly endured enough with this kind of news, but I couldn't hold back my hurt for her. I imagined this beautiful and kind woman, who lovingly teaches and shepherds my child every day through the ups and downs of 1st grade life, and the joy in her eyes last week at the parent/teacher conference as she boasted about how far Caden had come since the beginning of the year. I imagined her on her own floor, in a ball of tears or comforting her own children who will never see their father again. These times when I feel strong in my faith, sure that God has a plan for all of us and that we are meant to see the blessings around us, these heartbreaking letters and calls that some personal tragedy has happened, well they really shake me up. I stop believing for a second that there could ever be a blessing from an event such as these. I physically hurt for these people and the deep pain they are enduring and I will admit, I get angry. I get angry that my sister and brother-in-law had to lose their son before he even opened his eyes. I get angry that Jay didn't get the chance to experience having children of his own or start his career before his time on earth was cut short and that his mom would have to learn to mother her only child without him physically here. I hurt for my son's teacher and the thought that she must walk alone without her spouse for the rest of her life. It just doesn't seem fair. I hurt for my friends enduring physical pain and sickness, waiting on test results and hanging to the faith that some answer, some good thing will come from these long battles.
 
Yesterday I had a touching and really humbling lunch with my grandmother. To me she is the epitome of strength and spiritual success. She has been through so many things yet she continues to trust that all is happening as it's supposed to. We can't question the Lord she says, we just cannot. There is no answer on this side of the grave that will suffice for the pain we experience when we lose the people close to us but Christ's redemption, that is what we cling to. 
 
As I was reading this heart breaking letter today sent home from the principal, I asked this question out loud, "So personal tragedies, we are all just supposed to go through something horrific in this life in order to, what, learn some kind of great lesson that will ultimately change us? Because it really feels like everyone around me has experienced this personal tragedy and that nobody is spared from this kind of pain and suffering." I knew inside that if I believed that death was an everlasting separation, and that in it was just pain and nothing beautiful, then yes we would all suffer this personal tragedy because living as humans, we also lose the ones we love to the grave. There is no great answer, no making sense of senseless things. Even when you have faith in God, there is little that can be said to bring any kind of lasting comfort enough to ease broken hearts. It is with the great enduring of the pain, with the stumbling and falling and crying out in prayer and being angry and relenting and with every and all emotions, feeling them and knowing them intimately, that is the way we reconcile our great losses. We reconcile them gently and fervently, we see our losses as the greatest forms of love and I believe our tears, little reminders of how much we have loved, are being caught by Loving Hands and our longing hearts are being cradled. My hope is in the hope that someday we will know why.

On Death from the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Than Almitra spoke, saying, "We would ask now of Death."
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
 
My prayers spoken loudly for peace and comfort to each one of you tonight.

September 10, 2013

When the tide turns..


One thing I have learned in my 31 years of living is that when things feel crappy, similar to the feeling of being pulled under by the depths of the raging waters, the tide will turn; just hold on and tread, tread, tread. Just like the ocean, there may be calm waters at sunrise and at noon the tide is low, but by evening the waves may soar with a strong wind and swallow up the shells. Metaphorically, it is just like life in that unpredictable way.

I spent the last week in what I am convinced is probably one of my favorite places, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, particularly Corolla. This beach town has everything within a two mile radius, flanked by the glorious ocean with breathtaking sunrises and the inlet sound with it's lighthouse and beautiful water side park; picturesque, welcoming, filled with creation. There are wild horses hanging around and the beach becomes a road after dark. The houses are beautiful, the beach is wide and the town is clean. There is a small stretch of touristy half price stores with awesome OBX trinkets and pirate t-shirts, not to mention the raw bars with fresh seafood and the small BBQ joint tucked away. There is a perfect amount of tourist with a large dose of "you are home" mixed in. It is magic.












I felt the ocean pulling at my soul, calling me there all year, just beckoning to me to come. I am sure we all feel that "I need to get to the beach" feeling when the hum drum becomes too much to bear. Summer is ending, school started back up and we needed to get away badly.  I was not disappointed. After the first day there, kids up at 5:45 am, I realized that it would take some work; even vacation is not effortless. But if I was willing to put in the work, using my kid's 6 am wake up call to see the sunrise and the beauty of creation, getting good sleep, spending time in reflection and prayer, letting go of expectations, well then I would have a soul enriching experience and not just a vacation. With camera in hand, I made a promise that with it I would find what needed finding and store it away forever. I feel so close to Heaven when my toes are in the sand and my insignificant self stands at the shore of the magnificent ocean.







We have gone to the Outer Banks most years since my oldest was a baby. He took his first steps at the beach and learned to wave bye-bye to the ocean.

                       

                        
 
As my youngest sat in tears on the car ride out of Route 12 on Sunday, I felt that feeling well up in my heart at the same time and wanted to cry out, "I don't want to go home!" The warm sea breezes and the sun kissing tan noses, the feeling of relaxation taking over your body and the time away with family; it is just so hard to leave. But I know that returning home and getting back on schedule is what works best for us and I hope that I can carry that space with me: the peace and gratitude, the longing to find the daily grace and to see the bigger picture.



It has been four months, today, that we said hello and goodbye to my nephew Tank. I am certain that no matter how many vacations we go on, something will always feel out of balance because he is not physically with us to create new memories with his cousins. But I have a hard time expressing in words what we found of him in our trip south. He was everywhere with us, filling our hearts up with love and longing for the best of what life has to offer.








He is a bright light inviting us to find, within, the pleasures of our soul and stay focused on what really matters in this world; Love. Soon it will all be gone, memories buried in the sand, but not before we take time capturing them in every possible way, remembering the ones we love that have taken their turn at flying away from earth. Giving hugs to crying babes and forgiving our spouses and ourselves for the mistakes we make. Holding hands, chasing sunsets even when they are harder to find in the city. We may not have the beach every day, but the spirit of the beach, the place inside that no one can trample or steal, we have that. It takes extra time and work to cultivate our spirit when we are busy and distracted, but thankfully anyone who wants to find the hidden gems that life offers, can. It does not take a 700 mile trip, just a short quiet trip within.




 
 


 

Freedom is allowing our hearts to be filled up over and over no matter the circumstances. I plan to use that truth as my anchor and "thank you" as my prayer.

July 25, 2013

Resurfacing


Metaphors. I love them. This one sums up what I am feeling right now. It's like I recently went for a deep dive into the bottom of a murky lake and although not "bad" in reality because all things work out for greater good, it was hard to see down there. I was probably scared of the unknowns and knew it would take some work to get back up from the depths of that place. Also, if you were swimming  back up to shore in your own lake, running low on oxygen, you would stop at nothing to get back to the top, to resurface into the place where the sun shines and life keeps moving on. Stay stuck at the bottom of that lake and sooner or later the world goes on without you.
 
 

 
I feel free when I am behind my camera. All of a sudden things are brighter and you take a closer look as your brain captures the moment first in your mind and then *snap*, the moment is trapped in time. It's the way the lens transforms the rippling waves of a lake into the rippling waves of a still photo; or the way a child swings high into blue sky and then her hair is forever stopped just so with the wind twirling it. It's the way you see the details so clearly when you're focusing with the camera and how it slowly focuses the moment in real life into something magical. Something that is a gift already but now it has a treasure to show for it.
 

 
I go back over the photos and I look at them, I zoom in on my children's eyes or the way my youngest smiles with his lip curled under, and I laugh because somehow I miss that way too much in the speeding moments of the day.
 
 

 
I know this is my answer. Use whatever tools you need to find the beauty. And when the beauty is found then so is the grace.

Life is hard; it's so cliché but true. Yet life is full of so many exquisite moments; these amazing moments that are waiting to be captured. Sunsets and sunrises that happen every morning and every night. How often do we wake up early enough to witness such beauty? A free gift for the taking. Birds flying by, children skipping stones into shallow water, the way their faces look when you tell them a joke, how their hair, full of electricity, sticks up on all ends as they slide down the slide.  How many times have I watched my boys slide down slides in almost seven years? Too many to count. But how many times did I really see them?? How many times did I capture that moment in my mind? Not nearly enough.



 
It's very late and I can hear the train's whistle, just down the street, alerting the sleeping town of its transient presence. I find comfort in this sound, it's been a constant companion to me in each home I have ever lived in. But this train sounds different tonight. It's passing by to remind me to stay awake. Life is like that train; just passing by. There are plenty of whistles to alert us that it's here right now, steadily moving forward on the track, but just how often do we stop to listen?

And another metaphor. Sweet dreams.
 
 

July 21, 2013

Lessons


I figured out why I have been struggling a lot lately and why my thoughts have been so negative. It's been kind of a big realization. It's one of those wake-up calls where every message that comes your way backs up the big "a-ha" and you're left with the evidence of why it is you are suffering. But now the question is, what do I do with the knowledge I have been given? How do I move forward? I trust that just like today, when I was given the final proof and have reached the conclusion, I will find the strength and knowledge on how to keep putting one foot in front of the other while utilizing this wisdom as gain. I will be given the know how.

The big mystery solved, the answer to the "what is going on" and "why do I get to this place time and time again in my life" is that for the majority of my existence I have based my identity on things outside of myself. I have sought my self worth in the opinions of others and have always looked to the wrong things for approval. I believe that I am a kind and caring person worthy of love and acceptance, but I also think I have very low self esteem because I have been looking not to God and the Holy Spirit within me for my acceptance, but to the world's fumbling view.
 
I made a commitment last week, one in which I have not mastered by any means but which at the very least helped wake me up to all the ways that I distract myself and numb myself so as to keep me from staying present. I committed to stop yelling at my boys. I yell a lot and most of the time it has nothing to do with them. I realized I yell when I am distracting myself from them. My boys are noise makers and constant doers where as I am a quiet seeker and get stuck a lot. I have constant activity in my brain and if I stay focused on what's going on in between my two ears, then everything else, even my children I am utterly ashamed to admit, become the distractions. 
 
I distract myself  through my use of Internet. I spend a lot of time searching for answers, and I think the Internet is invaluable for knowledge gain, but it can be so overwhelmingly disruptive to the flow of the day. I look to social media for my self worth, there is no doubt about that. What exactly is social media? It's just people trying to have a relationship behind a screen. It is challenging to do that for someone like myself because you cannot tell if a short response was really intended to be quick and cutting, you cannot distinguish who somebody is from the pictures or status updates they post. Not only that, but for me it was the thing that allowed me to be an impostor and hide behind a facade.
 
And here's the thing, I can't really be present in life if I am stuck pretending I'm something I'm not. Facebook is a poor substitute for connections, and connections are the number one thing that I struggle with because I have spent my whole life trying to discover who I am in what others think of me that I tend to run away from the people that are really there. The people who probably don't judge me the way I think they do and who just want to love me and see me blossom. I have done it all my life, run away from the people I love. I don't really know why, maybe I am scared that they will be disappointed in me. My perfectionist attitude of all or nothing often crushes any real ability to stay connected. At some point in time I tend to decide I am not wanted or good enough or not like all the others, and I just can't live up to that expectation.  And I wonder if to them it looks like I just check out. I regret that this happens, I have lost so many important people because of this.
 
Here is the thing I have discovered. I have been living this  crazy illusion. It's not real, it's all in my head. Because when I am rooted in what matters, all the other labels are just pretend. "Good mom" "bad mom" "better mom" "I bet she never yells at her kids" "I bet she thinks I am terrible person for yelling at my kids" "If I am discovered for who I am and not who I pretend to be, nobody will want me". So many of these feelings started when I was really young. I felt tossed along in childhood and adolescence just wondering "Who am I?" I wanted people to like me, but deep inside I felt that they never would. It just sucks to feel this way. It really does.

I lost sight of what was important in my spiritual journey and that is the hardest part of all of this. Yesterday there was an important message for me to hear and it finally sunk in. I felt the truth to the depths of my very soul and I cried all day. I am loved. And if I look to the One who created me and put me here for a specific purpose, then I can never lose my identity. I have so much beauty inside of me, I have the ability to be everything I know I can be because with God's help I can overcome these character flaws. I am not destined to yell until I die. I just don't believe that I will stay stuck like this forever. The last time I felt this depressed was after my son was born. Then I had the biggest break through of my life right after that. I went to counseling, learned about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and realized that our thoughts are the only thing we can control. We cannot control the circumstances that we are faced with or what people think about us, but we can control what thoughts we give power to. I am rereading all of the old books that helped me through back in the old "CBT boot camp" days. I also discovered my soul's purpose and embarked on a spiritual journey as well during that time. Before that I was sixteen and so worn down, I just didn't know how I would go on with life. I was lost back then. But then I had a very big break through after that as well. And all along the way I have had people in my life to teach me important things and I have been a teacher, too. Right now I am sharing all of this for someone out there who needs to hear the truth. It is really hard to be vulnerable and it is scary, but truth telling is good because it allows others to know they are not alone.

My identity is not in what others say I am or think I am. It does not matter what people think about me. It's none of my business. It can be spun the other way around as well. It doesn't matter what I think about others, my thoughts about them in no way change who they are. I will never succeed at becoming all that I can be if I stay stuck living in fear that I am not good enough. I have to stop listening to the lies that float around my head. Also pain, this feeling of being so uncomfortable in my own skin that I just want to claw my brain out because the thoughts won't stop; well, that has been really helpful in spite of the irritating and stifling feeling. You cannot run from this, believe me I tried. You can't numb it, hide from it, stomp on it, push it away. You cannot will it to leave or pretend it isn't there. You can only face it. This goes for any and all pain and grief that we walk through. It is hard and it does not feel good. Feeling alone is the worst possible feeling in the whole world. But we are never really alone. And we are loved. That gives me just enough hope to lift my weary head and begin again; and again.

"Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval." -Thomas Monson

“Breath by breath, let go of fear, expectation, anger, regret, cravings, frustration, fatigue. Let go of the need for approval. Let go of old judgments and opinions. Die to all that, and fly free. Soar in the freedom of desirelessness. Let go. Let Be. See through everything and be free, complete, luminous, at home --at ease.” -Lama Das
 
“Most people think everybody feels about them much more violently than they actually do; they think other people's opinions of them swing through great arcs of approval or disapproval.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald 
 
 “To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, but in God's infinite love, to that degree can we let go of our need to judge.” -Nouwen






Who are you? When I ask you that question, what thoughts come to your mind?
 
 
 
 

July 18, 2013

Bucket List


I am trying something new today and I am looking forward to seeing how this helps my emotional state. Since I have been feeling so down lately, letting my emotions get the best of me, and because I refuse to sit around wallowing in self pity, I have decided that starting today and every day for the rest of the summer, I am determined to check one thing off of our summer bucket list and document along side my gratitude journal which I have neglected for too long. I hope this will help bring me back to the clarity I seem to have lost about my purpose, not only as a mother but as a human being.
 
Feeling alone, sad and down right moody is not a fun place to be in during the summer. There are only so many days of sunshine and warm weather, and I have an imagination full of ideas that have been floating restlessly around in my head, weighed down by a body that just couldn't get motivated to get out and make the fun happen. Fun is something you create; it's an attitude aimed at success and not at failure. I know inside I have the ability to find joy in whatever situation I am in, regardless of circumstances. I am strong and capable and have succeeded many times in overcoming this uphill battle. I am tired of believing that I cannot do it again. So I will succeed, I just need to admit that I need help in doing it. The important lesson I am learning in all of this is  that I need to be willing to accept the help in whatever form it comes to me and not have expectations on what it should look like. Friendship, opportunity and happiness come in so many different disguises. If I can open my heart wider than I normally do, then I will be pulled out of my glass house and into the village of houses filled with love. I can't wait to discover these love houses. :)
 
So without further ado, our summer bucket list:
 
Make fried chicken and lemonade and pack it up for a picnic.  Checked box symbol

 
 Take the boys to a movie and let them have popcorn AND candy.  Checked box symbol
 
Spend an evening watching planes take off at the airport.
 
Treasure hunt hike at a local metro park.  Checked box symbol


 
 Meet daddy for lunch and eat at a local food truck.

A visit to the state fair!  Checked box symbol
 

Make at least one new friend. Schedule a play date.
 
Spend time with old friends that I haven't seen in awhile. **Today I was able to have a lunch date with one of my best friends from college. She and her beautiful daughter came over and the boys loved spending time with such a sweet little 6-month old!

 
Catch fireflies with the boys. Checked box symbol
 
More bowling. Checked box symbol

 
Take the boys to play mini golf and to the batting cages.
 
Sunset walk at our special sunset spot.
 
Catch the sunrise.
 
Paint art work. **Here is a picture I created the other night. It didn't take very much time and it has inspired me to keep creating!
 

Go thrifting! Checked box symbol

Join a reading program at the library. (Already done. Caden is rocking out his summer reading!)  Checked box symbol
 
Get a massage. I'll take a hubby massage, too! Checked box symbol My hubby should really be a massage therapist, he worked out some major kinks in my back this week!!
 
Have a date night with each of my boys separately.
 
Have a date night with my hubby!

Visit a spray park. Checked box symbol


 
 
Tell myself something great about me every day. Checked box symbol **Getting pretty good at this, and pursuing help when I need the extra affirmation.
 
Go to more farmer's markets and Friday night family nights.
 
Try new summer recipes with delicious summer produce.
 
Take more photographs. Checked box symbol ** I definitely have been snapping away, pretty much every day! Love it!
 

Ride my bike more! Checked box symbol
 
 
 

Blog at least once per week. I really missed writing and it's therapeutic. Checked box symbol **Blogging is going well!
 
Have a camp out//movie night on the sectional.
 
Roast marshmallows on the fire pit. Checked box symbol


 
BBQ ribs on the new grill.
 
Go on an adventure. Checked box symbol

** We went to an underground cavern and mined for gems!


 
 Make up a board game.
 
Go to "dirt beach". Checked box symbol

 
 Pick blueberries and make blueberry pie.
 
Write a story with Caden. (We are working on our story but here is a song we wrote together!)

 
 Baseball game!  Checked box symbol

 


Those are just a few of my ideas. What's on your summer bucket list and what have you already accomplished?