Today is Monday, May 12, 2014. Yesterday was Mother's Day. This week is National Women's Health Week. Last week was National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. This month is National Mental Health Month and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. May 8th was National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.
(Now you can pause to take a breath.)
Since this month is just chock full of so much fun stuff to talk about, I am going to be offering a FREE 7-part blog series called "7 Key Elements for Finding your Healthy Within." Why? Because I can't think of a better time to write about the importance of women's health, not just in maintaining the physical, but getting present to the mental, the emotional and in my own personal walk - the one that speaks to them all - the spiritual. These blogs will occur over the series of the next 7 days, including today and cover a LOT that you won't find in other "healthy" blogs.
My goal is to give you some guidance to navigating some of the areas of your life that challenge you within. By sharing right where I'm at with some of the "stuff" of life and what I need to get through it - you will have a living, breathing example of someone (who is human :)) and walking through it all one day at a time. My hope is that you will find a little bit of what you might need more of in your life with the help of your Healthy Voice.
6 Years. 6 Things to Be Grateful for For in Life.
Part #1 of a 7 Part Series on Inner Health
Today I celebrate the 6-year anniversary of the day I got into recovery from addiction(s). 6 years ago today I stepped foot on the campus of a place called "Milestones in Recovery" and started finding something I call a Healthy Voice for Life. But there was one huge requirement - getting out of my own way and letting God take care of the rest. It has been ONE crazy journey. The details are laid out more in my book, "Healthy Voice: Life Beyond the Weight" that you can click over to my "Products" page and get. That's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about GRATITUDE. Yes.
This is one of the 7 KEY ELEMENTS to a HEALTHY INNER LIFE that I am going to talk about in the next 7 days. Gratitude is a quality that you've got to have if you want to enjoy, appreciate, and find the good things in life. It's not always easy to find it, but it's always there as a way to get out of our heads and get present. That said, instead of preaching to you about the quality of gratitude, I'm going to write about the 6 milestones that I have gone through in the last 6 years of recovery to give you some perspective on what may be your own, (unique) and beautiful journey. Not only that, it's important for me to reflect on how far I've come, not how far I have left to go - to get to the good stuff. So, I hope it helps you or inspires you.
#1. The death of a parent. Three years ago this coming August 23rd, my father passed away. It was a major event that was completely unexpected and gut wrenching. The journey of navigating the grief and loss has been and still is multi-dimensional. I walk through it every day - physically, mentally and emotionally. Every day I do get stronger, but I also never know when missing him is going to hit me. (And I'm okay with that.)
Through this tragedy, I found a tremendous gift. In the exact moment I found out he passed, I was reminded on an incredibly deep level that God truly is my God and Father. He brought Dad into my life for many reasons, but now it was time to go. The beautiful gift? That God got into my soul more deeply than ever, I felt more connected spiritually than ever, and that Dad was with me more than ever. I couldn't believe that losing someone I love could bring such a tremendous gift. I know today that Dad may not be with me in the physical world, but he is with me on the spiritual one - every single day of my life.
#2. The birth of a book. Just two weeks before Dad passed, I had committed to finally writing my book. I remember him saying to me on the phone, "You can do this!" After a year-long process of writing the content that had been developed over a few years, I was done. When I say "birth" of a book, I mean it. I haven't birthed a child but I know what it's like now to put all your everything into this kind of process. It's a truly wonderful process, that I hope to do again and can say at the end of my life I accomplished. But today I'm just glad God gave me the strength to write it and the courage to share my story with those who might need it.
#3. The death and rebirth of a relationship. Two years ago, I let go of a relationship, what it was and what I thought it could be. That relationship was with my mother. Words can't express the windy roads, mountaintops, deep valleys and pain that each of us carried in our own way.
That time two years ago was when I called my Mom to tell her I was engaged. That moment I hung up the phone is when I felt the shift within me. I had to let go and live. In living I had to grieve and it was a very difficult process when someone is still on earth. But I trusted God for His timing and plan.
And he stepped in. A few months after my wedding, he gave us the chance to reconnect in a way that only he could do. It allowed me to spend almost 2 weeks with my mother (something that hadn't happened in a long time), and it allowed us to begin the healing process. But it couldn't happen until we both got to where we needed to be and let God take care of the rest. I am immensely grateful for the rebirth and healing process of our relationship today.
#4. The commitment to marriage. As a child of divorce, marriage was something I never thought was in the cards. For so long I thought I was too broken - that no one would ever love me because of it. Even just writing the end of that sentence breaks my heart to write.
Why? Because it's God's love that brought me to Mike, the man I married almost a year ago today. It's God's love that showed me not only that I could be loved, but that he wanted me to be in a marriage because I wanted to be in a marriage, because I deserved it. Of course I feared bringing my flaws and my parents' flaws into it. But I just.kept.walking. I knew that God brought this guy into my life, who had the experience of divorce in his own life so we could walk together knowing that there was much more to this whole marriage thing than the vows at the altar or the honeymoon. The journey started when we met, but our commitment to marriage is what bonded and began the real journey for life. Instead of looking at our wedding as "the" day, we looked at it as a way to mark and celebrate the journey we would have ahead of us together. I am immensely grateful for the man God has put in my life to walk the journey with me. He couldn't be more perfect (for me), not because he fits an ideal look or resume, but because he is my companion, my best friend and my love on a much deeper level than I ever could imagined for myself. I am grateful for God's plan.
#5. The call to be a stepmom. When I first met Mike about five years ago, there were qualities in him that I deeply valued. One of them was the fact that he was and is, an incredible Dad. He loves his kids more than words can say. To walk beside him as he is present them, is a beautiful thing to watch and a tremendous gift in my life. I always laugh when people ask me how we met saying, "Well when I was a little girl, I just asked God to PLEASE bring me a boy that had three children someday." Not!
But just like he'd done in every other aspect of my life, God gave me what I needed FOR my life. These three kids are amazing and they continue to teach me so much about life and how it's just not about me. I am so lucky to have them in my life, and no I never thought I'd say such a thing. When people look at me like I'm crazy for marrying a guy with three kids, I laugh - because it's so much more than what you see. It's uncharted waters, sometimes very rough ones, other times beautiful - but every step of it has been a blessing. Yes, I am a grateful stepmom. I am grateful they came into my life the exact moment they did (so I wouldn't have to change any diapers)(haha) and that they are loved much like I was by both their parents. I love being a stepmom.
#6. The commitment to a calling, not a career. I've written a book and countless blogs. I've coached and still coach women on how to find their Healthy Voice. I have been passionate about this call God put on my heart ever since the journey began with my Healthy Voice. Just like the other journeys I've travelled, it's not an easy one. I'm not a 23-year old with nothing else but my dream at hand. I'm a 37-year old new wife, stepmom to three teenagers and that woman behind the Healthy Voice. My life (thankfully) can't be purely focused to my work.
I've learned there are only so many hours in the day and you can't be everything to everyone. But you can be what God wants you to be on whatever level he wants you to be it in this very moment.
For some time and things happening around me I wondered. I asked God, "In a world that's focused on the physical fix, is the Healthy Voice message of power through the spirit one you really want?" And in a moment of breakdown, he told me in the loudest way possible it wasn't time to give up.
So today, I can say I'm grateful for the fact that over these 6 years and more recently in a tough moment - God stayed with me and reminded me not to give up on my dream. I know today, it may not be the way I've planned or envisioned it. But it will be just how HE planned it. All I've got to do is follow his lead (which isn't always easy!). But I'm grateful he's my boss, not me.
#7. The most important commitment to me of a new life in Christ. #6 brings me to #7. I was reminded yesterday as many people made a public declaration of their faith in getting baptized at my church, that I too have done the same. A few years back, I got in that pool and made a public declaration of my faith.
The day God came into my heart when it was time to get into recovery, I found out that he loved me and forgave me for everything I was carrying. But that was truly just the beginning. It is truly my walk with Him through a relationship with Jesus Christ that has made my path (although rough at times) straight.
Through Him I have found the power that is greater than absolutely ANYTHING. He is truly my rock, my shield, my Healthy Voice and everything good in me. He is the source of ALL my strength, the one who keeps me safe in a storm, strong for the spiritual and physical battles and peaceful in my heart and mind. No matter what happens around me or within my mind, body or soul - HE is there to catch me. My Rock, my lighthouse, my everything, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me, the giver of life. He is truly the reason for my being and my presence in this world. I am incredibly grateful for this new life in him and I will continue to follow his lead until eternity. I was lost for a long time thinking he wasn't really there and didn't have time for me. But I was found when I came into relationship with him. GRATEFUL. GRATEFUL. GRATEFUL.
If you are interested in finding more out about my journey and what I've learned are the key elements to inner health, then come back to read the rest of this week's post. Also check out the rest of my website for more information about the work being done with Healthy Voice. Share this blog with your friends on the journey with you.