I have been inspired to share my journey so I will start from the beginning on my other website. Please follow me if you want to learn about my story: one of hope, healing and my daily journey with depression and anxiety. My hope is to give the best way I know how-through writing. Through my writing, I hope to connect with others who are or know someone like me and to remind you all (and myself) that we are not alone.
Day 16 (Yeah so I am behind, but I am just choosing the ones I like): How do you de-stress/take care of yourself?
Anyone who knows me knows I am not so great when I get stressed. Being an introvert while also working as a middle schooler teacher 50 hours a week creates its challenges. Luckily, I know quite a bit about myself and how to combat this craziness.
- Yoga. I try to do yoga at least 5 times a week. Even if it is just a few stretches here and there. I love Esther Ekhart and mostly do her free videos at home. Yoga is a full mind-body experience. It’s one of the only ways I can focus my mind on one thing fully while also getting in a good workout! I bought a package at a yoga studio near my home last spring so I enjoyed a variety of classes that way. I’d like to try aerial yoga there one of these days.
- Exercise. I hate exercising. But my body loves it so I must obey. My functional medicine dr. ordered both a full body lifting routine 2x a week and an interval training routine 2x/ week. Due to time constraints, I try to get in one of each per week. I always feel so much better and sleep a ton better the night of my workouts!
- Sitting/ walking outside. I try to get outside every day. Even if just for a few minutes. I combine this with my workouts and time with friends (walking, usually.) Nature is one of my biggest soothers.
- Time with family and friends. I like my alone time but…a little too much. Sometimes it backfires on me when my thoughts go haywire and I end up more stressed out. So I try to have a good talk or laugh with my hubby or a friend every day. And it needs to be about something besides our jobs!
- Reading the Psalms. They aren’t as life-giving as they once were but I find the Psalms speak to any emotion I might be feeling at the time. I try to read one per day.
- Following a night time routine/creating peace before bed. I have to wind down almost an hour before bed so I usually start doing this around 7:30. First I lower or turn off most lights. I might light candles in my bedroom or around the house. Then I take a hot shower which almost always relaxes me. Afterwards, I set my Pandora One station to “Yiruma” (one of my fav pianists). I set the sleep timer for an hour and read (has to be light reading).Finally, Nathan and I try to pray together before sleep. (We haven’t been as good about it lately, but I usually sleep better when we do.) One rule we have is no deep talks before bed on weeknights!
- Massage. I wish I could do this more but I try to get in 1 every 2 months or so (due to cost.) For a cheaper version I roll on some tennis balls or if I’m lucky get my husband or a friend to rub my back.
Instead of a mood board I decided to share my Vision Board that I created as part of my work through this book:
For the past 1-2 years, I have been dealing with another bout of depression which I am sure was fueled by the stress of so many changes in my life this past year. This past summer my goal was to get healthy and one of the things in my functional medicine doctor’s plan was to read this book. The author’s point was to become a Visionary not a Critic (pp. 24-26): “While the critic whispers incessantly to you about your shortcomings, all that is wrong, and how hard you must work to change, …the visionary knows who you really are, identifies with your basic goodness, and has specific longings just for you.” The book said to create a Vision Board by first reflecting on what hopes you have in going through this workbook. Then, by cutting out pictures from magazines that speak to these hopes and your vitality. As a former artsy crafty person, it was fun to be creative and take the time to do this for myself. So this is what I came up with.
The book asks, “What does your vision board tell you about your deepest longings and intentions for yourself on this journey to resilience?”
My deepest longing is to be free from self-sabotage brought about by my incessant self-judgements. When I strip away all this negative judgement I am left with the person I really am, even if I don’t feel like I am her. That’s why I included affirmations such as “I am free from fear; I am full of peace” and “I have the courage to change.” They feel so very far from true-like it’s almost wrong to say them. But by not saying them, I am not true to myself and I continue along the sad road of self-sabotage. Along with the Scripture verses, “I am precious and honored” and “I am chosen, holy and Christ’s heir”-they don’t feel real, but I must fight to believe them.
I also included comforting and serene pictures to remind me that I am someone who longs for peace, rest and comfort. And it’s okay to have these things. Because when I experience them, I can then give them to others.
I included pictures and quotes about healing because true healing is not the absence of pain or disease; that’s just a cure. True healing is a mental state that shows I am resilient and have the ability to find joy in tough times.
I also included a picture of a snowman because it reminds me of the innocence of childhood and brings me back to my memories of childhood. This is a reminder that it’s okay to be nostalgic, to receive soothing comfort from the past. While I find joy in my memories, I also desire to be creating new memories by experiencing beauty in the present moment. Because by remaining focused on the past or future, I am contributing to my old patterns of stuckness and self-sabotage. This reminds me that life is about a balance.
The book finally asks to come up with an intention statement for yourself as you go through this book. My intention as I continue along the road of healing is:
I allow myself to become who I truly am by letting go of the fear of change and of becoming this new person. I allow myself to let go of the things that overall don’t matter but instead embrace all of the beauty in my self, others and Creation.
I realize I am four days behind. Oh well; I am just picking ones I like. I may or may not come back to the ones I missed. I have just been enjoying writing lately. And with my new goal of no judgement, I think I am doing a good job.
Choosing only 5 things that bring me joy will be pretty hard.
My top joy-bringers (I am sorry that I cheated a little bit by combining a few things…) are:
- Travel/Culture: Ever since the trips we took as children to the Appalachian Mountains, the West Coast and New York City, I have loved seeing how other people live their lives. I was blessed to take a life changing study-abroad trip to Guatemala in college where I fell in the love with the beauty and simplicity of the Mayan culture. Another one of my favorite trips was to Arches National Park in Utah with my parents in 2009. This is combined with my love of Nature. I am not a science person, so I don’t know all the correct terms, but it was phenomenal to see how God allowed erosion to take its toll over time leaving us the most beautiful natural landscapes in these arches. Plus, I loved the dry heat and desert climate, the luscious blue of sky and the hummingbirds darting about outside the cabin we stayed at.
- Nature: This is where I am most healed. Right now I am sitting, delighted, with wind whipping through tree branches through the open window, light pouring through shadowy leaves on my carpet and clothes. Down below is my deck and backyard where I just got my squirrel barrier set up above my feeder so as to encourage the chickadees, nuthatches and cardinals to come and stay awhile. (I had to move it further from the trunk because those pesky squirrels were still able to jump to it!) Anyone who knows me knows how childlike I get in nature-especially when it comes to birds and cloud-filled skies! Nature is at rest and that’s where I want to be.
- Live Music-the last picture above is the Piano Guys live in concert. I know it is not a great pic, but that was one of my favorite concerts. (It was my 3rd or 4th date with Nathan 2 years ago!) I am a fan of all kinds of music, but choral and instrumental music-especially live- really fill me with the kind of peace I cannot describe. I am grateful beyond words for the beauty and exquisiteness of music. Also PandoraOne. I recently tried to add another station and was met with the Error Message: “You are not allowed to add over 100 stations.” Ha ha. I am a little obsessed; this just goes to show the variety of music I enjoy. My favorite station right now is “Alexandre Desplat” who is a film musician and did Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-part 2, Argo, Filomena, and The Imitation Game among many others.
- Loved Ones. Some say I don’t laugh enough. They’re right. The things I laugh the most at are people. No, I laugh with them. They are the people closest to me. Above, you will see a group of the Bettgers (my dad’s side) outside the Whirlyball court in Maple Grove MN. This was in the spring of 2015 and it was a blast!!! If you’ve never played Whirlyball, it’s hilarious! And we laughed a ton. Then there’s my hubby. He’s the strangest yet most loveable person ever. I don’t have to fake laugh at my husband’s comments and jokes (like they talk about in the media). I actually think he is hilarious! Above we are being goofy at an airport on our way to NY last Christmas. Also, pictured is me with my oldest bro Nate, sis-in-law Kat, and 2 nephews, Owen and Brendan at their old house in Oshkosh, WI. I am so blessed to have an amazing family!!!!!
- Memories. What can I say? I am so nostalgic. Probably to a fault. Remembering the past and all the good times brings me so much joy. My favorite creative writing to do and books to read are nonfiction and memoir. And my dream is to be a memoir author. I love going through old letters and memorabilia. In fact, my “Survival Box” (for when I am so overloaded with stress I have nowhere to turn) is filled with this kind of stuff. Above are some memory jars that I made for my family one Christmas out of decoupage glue and scrapbooking materials. Inside the jars, I put strips of paper-30, I believe (one for each day of the month)-with memories and quotes typed up and catered to each person, my mom, dad, and brothers. It was a lot of work, but so fun and cathartic. I was told it was a blessing and a meaningful gift.
What are your 5 joy-givers????
These are just a few of my favorites that have been my mainstays over the last year.
Need You Now Plumb
I Don’t Deserve Your Love Plumb
No Longer Slaves Bethel Music
I Am Not Alone Kari Jobe
Currently I am:
Teaching…Spanish-my second year at Oltman Middle School. Between teaching and driving I don’t have time for much else
Learning…how to loosen up and have fun with MS kids! (among tons of other things like not taking their behaviors personally)
Reading …I usually have at least 3 books going at once, a spiritual book, a nonfiction book and a novel (which I usually concurrently listen to in the car). My current reads:
The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health by Emeran Mayer (nonfiction, health)
A Place of HealingL Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada (spiritual)
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (novel)
Studying …the book of Acts with my husband. We’ve enjoyed this commentary so far:
Driving…My commute is 30 miles and most places we go are at least that.
Podcasting…Woodland Hills’ series on the Holy Spirit
Watching… Season 1 of Touched by an Angel (talk about old school but good!) and Downton Abbey Season 2 (rewatching it)
Cooking … some old/standard (roasted veggies, salads, pastas, grilled stuff) and some new (curries, Thai dishes-our favorite, and more to come!)
Baking… vegan, gluten free, low sugar. Challenging but fun!
Volunteering … as a companion for hospice patients (my husband and I will meet our new patient today!)
Meeting … my small girls for group twice a month. We have had some variation of this group going on for at least four years now. No matter our life changes or circumstances, it’s awesome to see where God has taken us and how we’ve grown and supported each other over the years. Love you, ladies!
Here are the 5 of us last year at a Women’s Day conference at the MN Arboretum: Me, (after just having broken my foot and gotten engaged!), Michelle, Dallas, Vanessa and Theresa.
My summer was very simple and refreshing. It was the first time since age 14 that I did not work. I was so blessed to have a summer of so much free time. Here are a few highlights.
- Building our marriage. The was our first summer as a married couple. Since my husband just finished with grad school in May and I finished my most stressful school year ever, we welcomed June with open arms. We enjoyed finally getting into a structured way of life and falling into our roles as husband and wife. He worked a lot on the house and yard; I enjoyed finally having time to cook and bake again. We both enjoyed quality, unrushed time together: reading books, studying the Bible, watching movies, biking, playing frisbee, a drive-in movie, bonfires on the deck and just hanging out, talking, and learning how to love and receive love from one another.
- Getting organized. Since I just got married last September (while also beginning a new job teaching middle school students) most of my stuff was still in boxes at our place. So it felt good to go through and purge while also unpack and make our home a little more homey.
- Family. We enjoyed a visit from our first ever overnight guests. We spent two days with Nathan’s brother Bob, sister-in-law Carol and the kids, Landon, Ashlyn and Reese. We went to the Mall of America, the beach, watched movies and just hung out. It was so great to get to know the fam and the kids were so sweet and cute!
In July, we also made a trip to Nathan’s hometown in Coleman, WI for a family reunion and to Oshkosh to see my oldest brother and family. We made sure to see my parents in Eau Claire on the way to and from these trips. We are so blessed by family!
- Getting healthy. I had pretty severe stress overload from all the changes over the last year. So my dr.’s orders were to get healthy. I focused on eating an elimination diet (which I am attempting to continue today), doing yoga and other exercise and just sitting around and relaxing (Which is super hard for me).
- Reading. The main part of summer for me is reading LOTS which luckily coincides with relaxing. I made it through at least seven books this summer. I finally finished the Harry Potter series (started from the beginning and March, finished book 7 in July), then at least 2 or 3 self-help books, 3 spiritual/memoir books- Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, Mercy in the Wilderness by Susie Lason, When We were on Fire by Addie Zierman and finally a memoir about amnesia called The Answer to the Riddle is Me. Some I enjoyed more than others; but I definitely picked up a lot of great stuff especially with my writer’s eye!
- Nature. I enjoyed getting my bird stuff set up in the yard. For me there’s nothing that helps me relax more than time spent outisde in my yard. And thanks to my wonderful husband, I have been feeling more and more at home at our place (I moved into his “bachelor-pad” when we got married.) Anyway, it has been fun and challenging to figure out which feeders, seed, etc to use and how to situate them in the yard.
Also, we had a garden which I enjoyed tending, okay not quite. I hate weeding. I hate bugs and I hate the hot weather. But I did like to pick and eat the veggies! We grew strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Something I had the luxury of doing this year was sitting in the sun quite a bit. I would get drinks, snacks, books, journals, etc. and sit out there (for as long as I could tolerate the heat). I sure have a nice tan now!
- Friends. Since N. worked all day every day, I had a lot of time to myself. I tried to see friends, my brother and fam (who live in town) or my cousin Caitlin at least once a week.We’d grab tea, head to a farmer’s market, go for a bike ride, sit at the beach and …overall just talk and catch up. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends. Now that I live so far away from everyone they are even more precious to me!
Our special trip of the summer was to see our friends who live near Duluth. We enjoyed a wonderful stay with Emma and Jeff at their beautiful cabin. We had yummy food, a great room and enjoyed hiking and kayaking with them. N. and I extended the weekend by staying one night in downtown Duluth at a spectacular B & B Solgmlit Inn. We splurged and got the best room. The breakfast, room, view (and of course company) were amazing!
Overall it was a superb summer of just R & R. Working on my health, marriage and faith in a relaxed setting to get me ready for another year of craziness. God is so good!