Finding Solitude and Silence in a Noisy World

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I never realized before that there is no silence in my world. Yes, I know I’m a mom, so yes there is a lot of noise. But it’s more than that. I had given up even trying to find some semblance of silence. Some of it was of my own doing. Putting on the TV or the music. At first, it was a way to help create my own version of silence, to drown out the noise of the outside world. But soon I became dependent on having something going on. Because I couldn’t quiet my thoughts, so I redirected and distracted my mind instead.

But as I began to deliberately pursue silence and solitude, I became so much more accurately aware of the loudness of my existence. While we no longer live in the heart of the city, the street in front of our home becomes busy during certain times of day, in certain parts of the house, the sound of traffic rushes by, not regular enough to be a white noise substitute. Sounds of random construction vehicles and the distance siren of the nearby fire department are barely noticeable most of the time, but suddenly I became very aware of these outside distractions. They felt intrusive and I found myself irritated that the anonymous outside world would dare disrupt me with it’s noise.

I would try to take a shower, thinking maybe I could meet God there, but instead the children banged on the door and called out to me the whole time. Then when I situated them in front of the TV I could hear the sound of their fighting, and soon another was at the door to request assistance finding the desired movie. (This from a seven year old who figured out how to use Netflix when she was three). It felt like all the forces of evil were marshaled against me, determined not to let me experience silence. Then I realized, that is exactly what was going on.

 
“In silence there is the potential for each of us to ‘know that I m God’ with such certainty that the competing powers of evil and sin and the ego-self can no longer hold us in their grip. All the forces of evil band together to prevent our knowing God in this way, because it brings to an end the dominion of those powers in our lives.”
Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence – Ruth Haley Barton

 

Hell will throw everything it has at me to keep me from engaging God. So for now, I’m trying to avoid getting angry every time I’m distracted or interrupted and my senses are assaulted. I’ll just try again later. I have far from figured this out. I am seriously considering investing in good quality noise canceling headphones. Not so I can shut out everything else, though that helps, but so I can keep the distractions at bay long enough to hear the voice of my Father. I have to believe that eventually I will learn to create quiet within, without needing external silence.

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Though the Darkness Comes, I Am Not Alone: Five Minute Friday

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I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in nearly two weeks. We’ve been virtually house bound (except for a 20 minute run to the grocery store) for nearly two weeks. First came the snow, then the respiratory infection my daughter had. Followed by the stomach bug that hit both the big kids and my husband. My daughter became so dehydrated we thought we were going to the emergency room. Now the baby has a nasty cold. Definitely not the week I had planned.

I know these are just part of parenting. I feel like, for the most part, I’ve accepted it. But this time was different. I could feel my nerves wearing thin by the fourth night of getting up with one vomiting child or another. When I have to leave the door open and I don’t really sleep because I know the minute I close my eyes, someone will need me. It is exhausting.  It has been such a challenge for me to sleep in this new house, it still doesn’t fully feel like home.

There are so many things I want to be doing and things I feel like I should be doing. Instead I’m tackling the 18th load of laundry and disinfecting everything in sight. I found myself angry at my daughter yesterday because she didn’t like the food I made for her (though she had requested it). I snapped at my son when he decided to serve himself soy milk into multiple glasses and onto the table. Even the baby, who is usually my happiest and most easy going child, threw his lunch on the floor. (I guess nothing tastes good when your nose is stuffy and you can’t blow it).

I have never been great at embracing this part of parenting. I love the cuddling babies, the connecting with my big kids. The light in their eyes when they learn something new. But the drudgery and monotony gets to me. I also have trouble with the way an illness just derails life. I want to be the nice person who doesn’t spread the germs so I have to be the mean mom that makes everyone miss their activities. Some women rise to the occasion at times like this. I always survive (as does everyone else) but just barely.

Instead of leaning into the difficult moments, and soldiering on, I find myself holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop and praying like crazy that things will just return to normal.Because this crazy life is hard enough without everything being derailed indefinitely until the bug of the month has had its fill of terrorizing my family and moves on.

I want to be able to learn to feel the embrace of the Father during times like this. I am not alone. I don’t know why some of my prayers whispered in desperation in the dark weren’t answered. I’m grateful for the one’s that were. I watched my children sit at the dinner table last night and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Yes, they were driving me crazy, but they were all there. The baby isn’t throwing up, though his nose is stuff. My son is fully recovered. My husband is back at work again. My daughter averted an ER visit and is showing interest in normal food again. For this I can be thankful. Until next time, I continue to try and hear His voice amid the daily chaos, hoping that when the difficult times come again, I will feel His presence more.

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 3

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This week I decided to slightly increase my weight levels. I didn’t always do this wisely. Sometimes I still battle the old tendency that if it doesn’t hurt, it’s not difficult enough. (I know this goes completely against Beth’s philosophy of gentle fitness, I’m still working on it).

 

WEEK 3 GOAL: Three Studio Workouts + 1 Daily Double

 

Studio Workout One: Warm-up for 5-10 minutes then do Balanced

Warm-up: Fingers and Toes

Balanced

I had originally planned to do this workout with 3 lb weights since it had been a while. Instead I decided to try the 6 lb. I was able to keep my core engaged, but my muscles were definitely fatigued afterwards, perhaps too much. I like that the focus is on balance as well as weight, not just straight weight lifting. Fingers and Toes was also a great way to warm up since my hands do actually get a little sore as I adjust to lifting heavier weights.

 

Studio Workout Two: Warm-up for 5-10 minutes then do Ultimate Upper Body

Warm-up: Basic Aerobics III

Ultimate Upper Body

I was feeling particularly tired this day, so it was hard to get through Ultimate Upper Body. I alternated 3 ad 6 lb weights. But I definitely was feeling it in my arms. Perhaps more than I should, because I felt a little weak and shaky afterwards. In the past I would have seen that as a sign of a good workout, but I’ve learned from Beth that we don’t need to destroy our bodies to make them stronger. So I want to feel the work without ended up in pain.

 

Studio Workout Three: Warm-up for 3-5 minutes then do Tabata Ball Workout

Warm-up: Mula Bandha

Tabata Ball Workout

I haven’t done Tabata Ball workout in at least a year or two. I used a 6 lb dumbbell rather than a weighted ball. (I’m still hoping to get a 8 lb one like this). Most of the workout went fine with that. But the squats were a little awkward. I couldn’t find a way to easily balance the dumbbell between my knees. Wow, did my calves hurt. You wouldn’t think that would be the worst part, but it was. Two days later and I was still feeling it.

 

Daily Double: Warm-up for at least 5 minutes then do Insane Upper Body & Totally Transverse II

Warm-up: Shoulder Stretches

Insane Upper Body

Totally Transverse

I used Shoulder Stretches as my warm up before Totally Transverse II and Insane Upper Body. As I’ve started to include 6 lb weights in part of Insane Upper Body the workout is beginning to earn it’s name for me. I’ve given myself permission to switch to 3 lb weights or complete fewer repetitions but between making sure my core is engaged, breathing properly and focusing on proper form, this is a doozy. I always feel a tad shaky afterwards. I won’t start advancing to a heavier weight until I can do the whole workout with the 6 lb weights without feeling my muscles get all twitchy.

 
BONUS: Try to accomplish some medium-intensity cardiovascular training for 30 minutes on two additional days.

 

Basic Aerobics IV & Basic Step

My 1 year old is adorable when I do step aerobics. He grabs the lid to his Duplo and stands on it like it’s a step. I like the basic concept of step aerobics because of the high cardio value as well as the need for coordination. I like challenging my brain and increasing the level of impact. Basic Aerobics IV was a nice add on because it increases intensity with the use of weights. Don’t go too heavy if this is your first time.  Light weights go a long way.

 
Kelly’s Total Body Workout

After using weights so much this week, it was nice to do a full body workout, including a killer arm routine, but without any necessary equipment. I am always continually mystified each time I do this workout that I am able to get such a great effect in my upper body without the use of weights. But of course the biggest selling point for me is the full body nature of this workout and in less than 30 minutes. (It’s also pretty easy to do in a small space).

This was a rough week with my kids being sick, but I still wanted to make exercise a priority. Sometimes I meant the kids literally being under my feet. But at least I’m setting a good example for them. It’s especially cute when they decide to join me. Occasionally, my five year old even asks for his own workouts to do. Even if you have an off week, don’t give up. If you have to repeat the week, or take two weeks to get through all the workouts, that’s OK too. Better to go at your own pace than to give up.

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Categories: Exercise, Fit2B Advancing, Fit2B Studio | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Friendship Without Fear: Five Minute Friday

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I think of all the women who say “I don’t really like other women.” I used to be one of these women, mostly because I’d been hurt and excluded. Among my male friends I found a place where I could be myself, without pretension. After my husband and I got married, having close male friends wasn’t really doable. So I often found myself lonely. I had a couple of good girl friends I made in college, but the downside of getting married young, is that it isolates you. Logistically, because I no longer lived on campus, but also socially too.

It never occurred to me until years later that it was those early female relationships that were flawed, not the concept of female relationships in general. I thought that since I couldn’t be the “right” kind of girl that other women wouldn’t accept me. Or at least that I would never have the kind of close relationships where I could really be myself. 

Lisa Jo Baker has a new book coming out (You preorder it here), that I’ve been lucky enough to preview. The following quote hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Because Satan would like nothing more than to see all of us women infected by our past hurts, the lies we’ve believed, and the grievances we bear. If it were up to him he would strap the corpses of our failed friendships and dead relationships to our backs and have us carry them into every conversation, every tender connection, and new interaction. Into every Bible study and book club, into every girls’ night out and kids’ birthday party. “

Yikes! I know many women for whom this is true, including myself. We may suffer from what Lisa Jo calls Friendship PTSD. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can extend ourselves without worrying what the final picture will look like. Risking vulnerability and pain, creating healthy boundaries and still finding intimacy.

I may not have a bosom friend like Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. But that doesn’t mean I’m doomed to walk the planet alone with only my husband (dear as he is) to make conversation with. I remember the old childhood saying “To have a friend, you must be a friend.” It sounds cliche but maybe not all wrong. If I could learn to let go of the fear, to be a friend even if I’m not sure that it’s going to work, applying the save level of sacrificial love that I’m trying to find for my family into my friendships as well, even the one’s too new to have necessarily earned it. Then maybe I will be surprised by what I find.

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Fit2B Advancing: Week 2

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This week introduces warming up as a good way to extend the length of the workout. I also think that warm ups are very important before extended stretching as well as before high levels of exertion. Basically any gentle movement that gets your blood pumping and your body moving. You don’t have to get sweaty. Think of it like warming up your car’s engine on a cold day. It makes everything run smoother. Only four workouts this week. Which actually feels quite attainable to me.

WEEK 2 GOAL: Four Fit2B™ Studio Workouts
Studio Workout One: Warm-up for 5 minutes then do Yoga & Pilates Blend

Warm-Up: Core Wake Up

Yoga & Pilates Blend

This is a refilm of an older workout and I hadn’t yet tried the new one. The plank position was difficult but I was able to successfully modify it. I do enjoy both Yoga and Pilates so a workout combing the two was a nice way to start the week.

 

Studio Workout Two: Walk for 10-15 minutes then do Kelly’s Floor Core Workout

I substituted the Walking Workout and added weights. For some reason Kelly’s Floor Core always makes me feel kind of sad, because when I’m laying down, my stomach kind of folds in on itself. But at least I felt strong enough to properly engage my abdominals. While it isn’t one of my favorites, this contains many good modifications for traditional ab work.

 

Studio Workout Three: Warm-up for 5-10 minutes then do Weighted Warriors

Warm-Up: Vertical Core

I love these short core routines as warm ups. It’s a great way to make sure I’m properly connecting with my abdominal muscles and continuing to stabilize my diastasis as it heals.

Weighted Warriors

I love the unique combination of weights and slow sustained movement in this workout. I chose light weights this time because I wanted to make sure I could use proper form before adding heavier weights. The integrated nature of the weights makes it much more fun for me than just a typical weight routine.

 

Studio Workout Four: Warm-up for 10 minutes then do Insane Upper Body

Warm Up: Basic Aerobics II

Insane Upper Body

This isn’t so much a warm up before a workout, as a complete body workout combination. This felt fantastic. First of all, I always love doing Basic Aerobics, it gets my heart rate up quickly. Then following it up with Insane Upper Body got my muscles really working. I experimented this time with trying heavier weights (which for me is 6 lb dumbbells), at least for portions of the workout. I was pleased with what I was able to do. A great way to finish out the week.
But wait, you want to do more? Then do more.

You can always do more or less than is recommended in these weekly schedules.

I like to do something each weekday whenever possible, so grab an extra short cardio or something from the Pathway to Relaxation to finish out the week.

I hope you are finding, as I am, that you are making progress with your exercise goals and feeling stronger. The goal of exercise is not so you can do more exercise, but to make you strong enough for the life you want to live. So make sure you have enough energy left after your workout to actually function in your life.

Week 3

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Categories: Exercise, Fit2B Advancing, Fit2B Studio | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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