Balance.

Day four of Kindergarten is in the books. Sadler couldn’t be happier right now in these moments of her life.

 I’ve had all the feels this week about this whole starting school thing.

Filling out the form, using only 5 words to describe my only 5-year-old…my baby. I had never truly thought of words to describe her before. Just last week as we rode in the car, Reid and I gave our input on who we saw our daughter to be; I was filling in her name, and her strengths and weaknesses, and her “hot buttons”. It was heartwarming to come up with the best five words that we thought described our girl, together: STRONG-WILLED, KIND, TENDERHEARTED, LEADER, INTELLIGENT.

As I wrote the words in the paper, I began to cry. Who were we talking about here? Sadler, or me?

It’s so hard as a parent (at least for me at this place in my journey) when you see things in your children, qualities about them, similarities in their behavior, predictability in how they’ll answer questions…and you feel like you’re looking in the mirror.

I’ve coming to learn and accept that I am my own best teacher, but this little girl runs a real tight second. She teaches me things about myself, and I try to teach her things about herself because I just know how she sees life. Sometimes it’s as if we share the same eyes.

She speaks my language. She gets me and I get her. I feel so incredibly lucky that she is mine. 

But I want her to find her way in her way. I don’t ever want to be a tug of influence, but rather a beam of guidance that just leads her there, on her own.

She’s a 1. I’m a 1, too. 

So I know for her, it can seem like we are the only ones with the only way. Our hearts are protected yet open, and our ideas are bigger than us it seems. Yet we know we can always push harder. 

It’s been a struggle this week. Finding balance between being a good stay-at-home-mom and a servant leader/CEO to my newly-blossoming essential oil business. Can’t I do both?

Time-blocking. When I have (let’s be real, when I make) the time to actually block the time. It happens sometimes. We’ll call it 50 percent.

Meditating (actually just discovered Light Sourcing by Rebecca Campbell in her INCREDIBLE BOOK, “Light is the New Black”). My mornings have become my favorite time of the day for more reasons than this one. 

Hot yoga when I have someone to watch the girls (aka – when Reid gets home from work or really early on Saturday mornings). I’d go every single day if it were possible. It’s my sanctuary. 

  Lots of oils. I love and find comfort in knowing than whenever things get heavy, I can count on my oils for safety and solace. They usually change the game for me so profoundly that I’m moved to tell someone or make a Facebook live video about my experience. 

Affirmations. Written on a whiteboard, to be repeated each morning. Out loud. Because I know the power of the spoken word. 

Lots of deep personal development through books. Mindset transformations about money and budgeting.  Journaling.

I’m doing so many of the things. I’ve created so many positive habits. Yet, I still find myself feeling out of balance. 

Unsteady. Ungrounded. 

Flailing. 

I’m learning to soften into who I am. We all need to. 

I’m so worried about getting it all done that I can’t lose sight of what I’m doing it all for. 

I’ve prayed for answers for quite some time now. Shortly after (and sometimes during), I look up to see a squirrel balancing along the power line right in front of me. It’s like he comes out of thin air. I see that as God telling me to keep my footing, just one in front of the other. Slow and steady. 

Because as the old Chinese proverb goes, “Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still.”

Reflections: First Two Months

Since this journey began, I’ve noticed things. I’ve felt shifts within my being that have moved me to tears, brought me to my knees and made me laugh until I’ve ached. Some of the things I have noticed about my daughters and my husband and myself are things that never caught my attention before — it wasn’t there to give. I was here, but I wasn’t here. I saw them, but I didn’t see. Being home for the last two months has slowed me down. The stirring has stopped just enough that I am able to notice things that were always there before, just not deserving of my time in my “busy life”. I’ve found a way to stay still and calm (for the most part) and present.

I’ve noticed a tender, undenying compassion in Sadler that led her to cry — actually sob outloud — during a Disney movie. The movie was Brave, and it was the scene where Merida is reunited with her mother. I came into the room to check on her when I heard her sobbing. When I saw her sitting there on her beanbag looking up, my heart immediately swelled. Her eyes connected with mine and she smiled just a little as tears slid over her little cheeks and onto the floor. I held her head on my chest and kissed her forehead and I cried, too. I knew at that moment that she had compassion and it brought joy to my heart. Partly because I realized that my girl had a gift, and partly because I actually watched it happen.

I’ve learned that Sadler likes to take her tiny toys apart, only so she can see how they were made and challenge herself to put them back together. I’ve watched her develop patience with herself and her sister and the dog. She has become more aware of what she has to do to keep her stuff “safe” from their impromptu takings.

I’ve learned that Everly is more observant than we realized and she mimics her sister’s every move. There isn’t a soul she has encountered that doesn’t earn her whole smile, as she truly does draw in everyone she meets. Her energy is strong and she is going to need much protection as she grows up innocently.

I’ve noticed an ebb and flow in my marriage that brings both peace and calamity, all in sometimes what seems to be the same wave. I’ve learned that silence wins arguments and that being louder doesn’t make you right. Marriage is a team effort and both teammates have to be willing to give 100% all of the time, not 50% each most of the time.

I’ve discovered that cooking dinner early in the afternoon so that it’s ready when Reid gets home from work makes a big difference in our evening. We have time for walks in the neighborhood and playing in the backyard and I’ve learned that we need these moments in our life. It’s the little things that reset us to what’s important in the middle of it all.

I’ve learned that cleaning my house is easier to do in small doses, rather than try to tackle all at once. Monday and Friday are laundry days. I fill in Tuesday thru Thursday with something different each day: floors, bathrooms, dusting, windows, etc..  It has made for an easier approach for sure and I feel less overwhelmed with trying to do it all every day.

I’ve remained determined to show respect to my husband continually, because I’ve accepted that he needs my reminder of this all of the time. I’ve discovered that love and respect reciprocate one another in very natural ways if you just let them.

I’ve taken time each morning to devote my heart and my thoughts to God. I was given a daily devotional book in January for my birthday (by a person in my life I hold very dear to my heart). I started reading it right away and quickly caught up to the day the book was given to me and I haven’t missed a day since. I find relevance in the author’s daily thoughts to my own journey and am receptive to the message the scripture provides. Sometimes this may only be a two-minute window that I have to share with God as I read, but I make sure to make time for those two minutes. I just don’t feel that my day is the same without it. It sets the tone for my heart for the remainder of the day and reminds me where my I should place my focus.

I’ve launched a business! Who knew that something that has literally been right under my nose for two years would be a vessel for financial freedom, a way to share my unwavering passion for natural solutions, and a way to use the skills I developed and sharpened while in my decade-long property management career?! I certainly didn’t, but here is what happened: I was standing in the laundry room in early January, and my heart was heavy. How can I make money from home so that I can help contribute to our family and lifestyle?  I had created profiles on UpWork to dive into freelance consulting opportunities or entry level writing gigs. I had bagged up everything I could find to sell on MICIT or at a yard sale for quick cash. But as I was standing there at this very moment in the laundry room, I remember, it was as if the Lord said, “Look to your left…” and there it was. Etched into the wooden box that contained my arsenal of essential oils, our go-to for sickness and cleaning products and cooking and emotional health and first aid…the words were there. And I literally laughed out loud! doTERRA. It was my answer. And God has already shown that it was a smart realization, yet one I could have never realized sooner than now. This was my time. I’ve found my place and I’ve only just begun. I’ve helped family and friends get essential oils into their homes. I have had the time to spend teaching others how to use essential oils and have shared oils with strangers.  My heart has remained full along the way, which is how I know I’m exactly where I need to be. Excited for what is to come just isn’t a good enough way to describe it. I am euphoric.

As Spring is upon us and the Dogwoods are blooming and we all find ourselves feeling a little more alive, I am thankful for all that the last couple of months have provided me. I never dreamed of a life where I could blog in the afternoon on a Tuesday while my baby girl naps, all the windows open in my house as the afternoon breeze reminds me to be still. I am expanding in abundance and love and success each day as I inspire others around me to do the same. I choose joy.

 

 

 

 

Amen. Namaste.

img_1134-1I grew up in church. It was a Southern Baptist church; the pews were wooden with fabric cushion. The hymnals were blue, and they were sporadically placed along the backs of each pew in attached wooden shelves. There were little pencils in little holes next to bigger little holes that were there to hold your communion cup. There were cards for first-time guests to fill out, and there were envelopes for tithing.

Church was a place we just automatically went. My great-grandparents and/or grandparents generally took me along with them on Wednesday nights. First we would go eat at either K&W or the O’Henry Grill, and then I would go to the Youth service while they went in “big church”. I remember being shy in youth group because I was so little in comparison to the “big” kids.

I remember years before that attending Vacation Bible School and making crafts out of popsicle sticks and coloring pictures with Bible verses written on them. I remember being in a play as a 7-year-old and thinking I was the coolest kid on the planet because I was acting. I remember around this same time, singing a solo on Sunday morning and being terrified when the time came in the music for me to start, and instead of singing I ran straight off the stage and into my cousin Sissy’s lap as tears rolled down my cheeks. I remember lots of softball games on Friday nights watching my dad play. I remember covered dish lunches in the Fellowship Hall and that I always had to find what Mama Dot or Granny brought because I knew it was likely one of my favorites. I remember laying across Mama Dot’s lap during the church sermon and getting some of the best back scratches the world’s ever known. I remember being baptized by Pastor Bud and even remember what I wore that day.

I have lots of memories of church growing up, but none of them really include much about God. As I grew into an adult, I drifted away from the familiar place church offered me and my family. I found myself choosing sleep over sermons on Sunday mornings, often to nurse a hangover or just catch up from being exhausted. People in the church “family” started to ask questions. Gossip set in. My parents (finally) divorced. My life fell apart… and church didn’t make the cut for what was important to me at that time.

As I went off to college, not much changed. I made good grades, held sometimes two jobs at a time while taking a full-load of courses at NC State. I made some great friends – some of whom are my very dearest friends today – but church and God wasn’t something that was talked about much in my circle of friends. If it was, I don’t remember. Which only tells me it wasn’t impactful if it did indeed happen.

Almost a year to the day after I graduated from college in December 2006, I went on the first date with my husband. We had known each other since 1994 but never dated throughout high school. Our first date turned into moving in together, which turned into engagement and marriage and 2 beautiful daughters. But at first, church wasn’t something we did together. It wasn’t something we did apart. It wasn’t anything that we even talked about — at first.

We would go to church with my grandparents for the Easter service once in a while, and I recall attending his niece’s christening about 7 years ago. But we didn’t have a church that we attended regularly and we didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about our plans to change that. We were content in our lives with what we had and what we were doing and who we spent our time with. We didn’t pray. We didn’t talk about God. We just lived our lives.

It wasn’t until this past Fall that I made the connection. I decided to read a book called The Power of Now that was a turning-point in my life. This book talked about being present in each moment that we are living and breathing, and to actually pay attention to each breath that we take; it was a reminder to “stop and smell the roses” sometimes. This book was so much more for me than I can even begin to describe here… I remember not being able to put it down, and I had not read a book from start to finish in almost a decade. I remember wanting to tell everyone about it, and I tried. But I quickly learned that it was not something everyone wanted to hear. Not everyone wants to hear about a riveting self-help book that I read. Have you lost your mind, Candice? was the translation of the look on their faces when I shared it with some friends and loved ones. But that’s just the thing, I felt just the opposite: almost as if I had found my mind. Or at least myself.

I have been visiting an incredible hot yoga studio for about a year now and was able to relate to the points the author made about paying attention to your breath. Each time I would go to yoga after reading this book, I found myself channeling deeper into my awareness of my breath, and it became easier each time. I started noticing my breathing while at home sitting on the couch or cooking dinner. I started to notice when I had found my innermost feelings of peace and stillness. I noticed and embraced the quiet in my mind and in my body. I was thankful for the yoga teachers I have been led by in my practice as of late who have reminded me to just breathe.

I realized that the feeling I felt of warmth and white: that was God. And it was then that I began to connect the dots between my version of universe God and church God.  I realized that they were one in the same. I realized that the inner stillness I had found and recently tapped into was God within me. I started to literally see things differently, with more color, and with more appreciation of the beauty within everything around me. Once a lens that only reflected black and white images, I now see so much color.

Toward the end of last year, we visited a new church and my heart was open to accept everything that it had to offer. I found my inner stillness and peace and tears streamed down my face as my sweet friend poured her heart out through song on the stage. The walls were black, the lights were dark and the spirit of God was in that room. I was so moved. I was inspired to keep digging within to find God within me, and I am happy to say we’ve been back several Sunday mornings since this fist visit and not much has changed. Same tears. Same stillness and peace. Same good music that makes me cry every.single.time.

This week marks the one-year-anniversary of my return to work after maternity leave when Everly was born. Only one year ago I was in such a different place spiritually and emotionally. I couldn’t (wouldn’t) even engage in conversation with you about God. I didn’t want to. I was going through the motions to earn a paycheck and daydreamed about what life would be like in another version of it. I looked happy, but I wasn’t. I knew there was so much more to be gained but couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

Today I am happy to tell you that I fully accept that I am nothing without God. He is at work within me and I rest my case in arguing that I have a better way to do this. I am at full mercy of  letting go of fear and worry and anxiety in order to live fulfilled and am in awe of what God has planned for me. I start each day with personal time devoted to my relationship with God and appreciate the difference it has made in my life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”      

Proverbs 3:5-6

I hope and pray that I may always be able to stay mindful of something as simple as breathing. I pray that I can teach my girls to slow down and enjoy life each day rather than being busy in the process. May you find the color in your world and see it brightly. Namaste. And, Amen.