February Mental Health Goals

New Month, New Goals.
As always I am on a journey to better mental health, to better understand and deal with my anxiety and depression. It’s been a journey, for as long as I can remember. Some times I think I have it figured out, but that only lasts so long. Other times, well its a wild ride to put it nicely.

So I’m taking it day by day, and breaking it down to monthly goals. Something more manageable that doesn’t seem so overwhelming, like saying “this year I want to…”. Small steps, building up, over time. I’m sure some steps will be backwards, but that’s ok. It’s all part of the progress. I need to learn to not let a few steps back derail the whole thing. I need to learn to be flexible while still working towards a goal.

So for this month, my goals are:

1. Take daily vitamins. Because I am absolutely horrible at remember this!
2. Drink more water. Seriously, the amount of times I’ve gone all day without a drink, besides coffee.
3. Technology free time 30-60 mins. I would love to say daily, but I will aim for 5 times a week. I also love the irony of blogging about wanting and needing technology free time.
4. Move/Dance/Workout 5 times a week.
5. Deep breathing / Meditation. I hope this helps, I’ve tried in the past and it seems to just give me more time for my mind to race and over think.
6. Weekly Game Night. Because family time is important, and we still have games we got at Christmas we haven’t played yet!
7. Journal.

All while still including therapy, self love, self growth, and keeping up with regular routines, like with my plants.
I guess that can also be part of my February goals, my plants, and planning my outdoor garden. I already have one round of seeds starting in the house and I need to start more and plan and prep for outside growing too. And yes, I know, I am slightly obsessed with my plants. I love them and the joy the bring me.

Do you have any goals for the new month? I would love to hear them!

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How Plants Changed My Life

Before 2020 (I have a feeling a lot of stories will forever begin with that, anyway) I killed a lot of plants. Every plant that came into my house unfortunately decided it was better off not here. Like for real, all of them. Cactus, Succulents, Flowers, Orchids, other green plants that I don’t know the name of. My mom would buy me planters for outside the front of the house, and even those, dead. It became a running joke with everyone. I killed plants. I didn’t mean to, I always loved plants, but they did not love me back. Maybe I loved them too much, tried too hard, over watered them? Who knows. It will forever be one of life’s great mysteries. I started to hate garden stores. I stopped buying plants. Then 2020 happened, Covid and lockdowns happened. I know there will be some people in my life that will like to say that they started me on plants. They didn’t. Sadly that was TikTok. Like most people I got so bored during lockdown that I downloaded that app. I was instantly drawn to the people showing off their plants. There was something peaceful about it. I started slowly, getting “easy” plants, the “hard to kill plants”. I was still scared I would kill them, so when people would bring it up, I would brush it off, or make jokes about it. As lockdowns continued, as the anxiety and depression raged, I slowly started getting more and more plants. Garden centres became my happy place. Winter of 2021 / Spring of 2022 I really gave in to my plants.

Winter of 2021 I spotted a beautiful little Monstera at the grocery store and decided to buy it. I did not think about the walk home and -20 degree snow storm outside. The poor plant had almost fully given up by the time I made it home. This was the first plant I had to try to really take care of, bring back from the brink. And I did. It’s alive and thriving and pushing out two new leafs right now. Just look at those beauties! I’m obsessed!

I noticed as my plant collection grew, I was changing. I got up early in the morning (and I am not a morning person in the slightest) so I could catch them in the early morning sun. I would sit and watch as the sun moved and danced along the window, sipping on my coffee. I would spend my quiet mornings while the rest of the house slept checking my plants, always so excited when there was new growth. Learning how each plant needed different things, different soils, different lights, some thrived on bottom watering, others didn’t. It wasn’t all green and happy, some plants still died. But I didn’t give up. I kept trying. Kept adjusting, learning, trying new things.
Summer of 2022 I took what I learned and attempted to garden outside, got some outdoor plants and created my own little oasis. It was so blissful. Waking up early in the morning to go outside and walk around in the sunshine checking on my plants and watering when needed. Or evening drinks outside with my palm tree and birds of paradise tree. Picking fruit and veggies from plants I had grown from seed. Picking enough greens to feed our pet rabbits. I found so calming. Who would have thought?!

These little routines changed me, calmed me, and taught me. It is ridiculous I know, but people and plants are so very much the same, each one is unique and different, with different needs and thrives in different environments. I wasn’t thriving or growing in the environment I was in, and I had to change it. The patience I showed my plants, I started to apply to myself. They became part of my self care routine. When I am stressed and anxious, I sit by my plants in a cozy spot. I watch the sun dance on their leafs. I love having these little connections to nature in the house and all around me. Especially during this dark, cold, and gloomy winter. These plants calm my soul, they reach deep inside to my inner most dark anxiety and fear filled places and calm me.

Having my plants has changed me and calmed me. Ridiculous or not, it’s true. I am now a Plant Lady, I talk to my plants, I love visiting different garden centres, I love being surrounded by nature, big and small. And honestly, if it is something that will help with my anxiety, I am all for it! I will take all the plants I can get as long as they are helping!

Any other plant people out there feel the same? Or am I own on this adventure?

Welcome Back

I miss writing.
Writing with no agenda, writing just for me, therapy for the soul. That’s what this was for me. At least before it was. Before 2020.
Then 2020 happened, and then 2020 happened to everyone, and it just didn’t stop.
I lost myself, I got lost in a fog, just a dense fog that I didn’t know which way was up. I was so lost that I didn’t even realize I was lost. I thought I had found myself. I didn’t, I really didn’t. I was just so overwhelmed that I was grasping for air and trying so desperately to convince myself that I was fine. Oh how I tried to convince myself everything was great, that I was standing tall.
I was so very lost. Anxiety consumed me. Depression raged inside me and all around me. Fear darkened everything. Self doubt crippled me. Emotional wounds ripped me open leaving gapping painful holes all over me, I swear I could feel them as if they were as real as me and you. And I still tried to stand up and smile. I lost so much of me. Parts of me broke and completely crumbled.

2020 started with an emotional hit, then another hit and so on and so forth, I had some medical issues, day surgery, my mom had a car accident, my daughter was healing from her surgery she had a few weeks prior to the new year. Then I got the message, a cousin messaging me on a DNA site asking how we were related. Within days I spoke to a stranger who may or may not be my biological father, and got another DNA test. Got the results from that. Spoiler, he was my biological father. I met him. And then Covid locked down the world. Fear took over the world, chaos took over.
It was an emotional roller coaster, all of it, and it didn’t stop.

It’s been 3 years. The fog has started to lift. The emotional wounds have started to heal. The trauma doesn’t knock me to the ground every day now, just some days. They are farther and further apart now. I feel my strength returning.

2020-2022 was a lot. Especially 2022, it was the year of heartbreak, devestation, clarity, healing, hope, and happiness, and peace. It sounds strange, but it was. By the summer of 2022, so much had happened. So many life altering conversations, situations, circumstances, had happened. It was cathartic. Summer of 2022 I released it all. The pain, the hurt, the tears, the trust and respect I had for some people and situations from different walks in my life.
I saw my self respect, my self worth, I saw it clear as day as if it was a fragile glass ball, and I guarded it like my life depended on it, because at that point it did. Summer of 2022 I spent in my garden, I spent with my plants, I spent in the water and sunshine. I got back to nature. I tried new things. I did things that scared me. I even made my own jam with fruit from my own garden. And honestly that would mean a lot more if you knew me in real life. I felt a shift within my soul and I embraced it with open loving arms.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I also poured myself into therapy. I let my guard down with friends and family.
The fog lifted, the world started to make sense again, and I started to heal. And I found myself. I put the broken pieces back together that I needed to. I embraced the pain and learned from it. Some broken pieces got left where they were, there was no going back. I healed. I found peace.

2022 wouldn’t be 2022 without one more ass kicking though. I had surgery in October. The healing from that both physically and emotionally has kicked my ass once more. I’ve spent countless hours crying, crying from the physical pain, crying from the emotional pain. The unexpected grieving that came with it that completely knocked the wind out of me.
I know that if this situation had happened before, the outcome wouldn’t be the same. The strength, self love, self worth, and healing I had already started, helped me and guided me through this.

I’m not sure what 2023 will bring. I hope it brings more happiness, more peace, more healing, more adventures that lead to better understanding and self love.
Honestly at this point, I have no “plans” for 2023, no “New Year’s Resolutions”.
I want to just go along and embrace and welcome all that is for me, and see where this adventure takes me.

Lost Connections in Adoption Reunions

The desire to have a connection/relationship to someone you are biologically related to isn’t something someone can understand unless they have been denied that chance. It is so hard to explain. I was adopted at birth, it was a closed adoption, and I was left feeling alone and always wondering. Yet I always felt a connection and pull towards someone, some where, I just never knew who or where.

Adoption

My Adoption Tattoo

Now at almost 35 years old I have all my answers, finally. But part of me is still left feeling alone and wondering. 7 years ago I found my birth mother. It should have been a wonderful experience. But it wasn’t. It started off well enough. She said all the ‘right’ things. She said she wanted me, thought about me all the time, she said she loved me, she said she wanted to build a relationship with me. She said she wanted to be apart of my life and my kids. She said she cared. She said she would always be there. She said we were family. She said all the things I wanted and needed her to say. And then something changed. I can’t even tell you what. I don’t know when it all broke down. I don’t know when it turned to hate. I can’t tell you those things, because I refused to see them when they were happening, I made excuses for them, I took the blame for it all. I must have done something wrong, what that was, I didn’t know exactly. I wanted to be the daughter she would be proud of and want. But I just wasn’t. I fought like hell for something that was never going to be there, the connection and relationship that should between a mother and daughter.

We don’t talk anymore. I know things happen for a reason. I know sometimes we just have to let go of people, despite the pain it is best for us. I know you can’t force a relationship with someone. I know all of these things, but I also know, that all of this hurts. I still grieve over this. What could have been. What should have been. What I could have done, should have done. How could I have been the daughter she would want. What I lost. What my kids have lost. What she has lost. All of it. It is such a mix of emotions, some days I don’t know how to sort them and process them.

This woman gave birth to me. She should want me. She should love me. She should be here for me. I should feel a connection to her, and her to me. But she doesn’t. I’ve tired to work through this, process this, and I tried to move on. But here’s the thing; how can I fully move on from this, from the person that gave me life? Nature, biology, genetics, cosmic pull, whatever you want to call it, it is a strong force. Now when I feel that desire, its surround with grief and so much pain. It is always there. Sometimes its quiet, so quiet I can’t feel it, other times its screaming so loud my whole body hurts. Why would I, how could I, want someone that so clearly doesn’t want me? Why do we put ourselves through such pain? And how do you explain this to anyone else? Unless you have gone through this first hand, it is so hard to explain and have someone else understand.

Despite everything, she’s still there, in the back of my head. When something happens, on holidays, birthdays, milestones. And it hurts. I don’t want the grief, the guilt, the shame, the feelings of intense pain of being rejected every time I think of her. It shouldn’t have happened this way, but it did, and I don’t know why.

~ Michelle

 

Finding My Place In The Family Tree

Finding myself. Finding my place. Finding where I belong.

I never imagined I would be almost 35 and still trying to figure this out. I spent my entire life wondering, dreaming, day dreaming, wishing and hoping. My entire life I felt out of place. Any time I was out I was scanning the crowds for someone, anyone, that looked like me. Searching for a hint of something familiar. Where did I belong? Who did I belong to? Where did I come from? What was my story? What is my family’s story?

I spent nearly 10 years searching for my answers. And when I thought I had them I felt more lost than I ever had. I accepted my fate that I would forever feel lost and out of place, something was missing. I vowed to myself that I would move on. And I did. I let go of my hopes and dreams for a happy reunited family. I let go of the idea that I would find some magical place that was right for me, where I belonged, where I was finally free to be me, to know me, to truly know me. To know where I came from, who I belonged to, and what my story was. I gave up and I moved on. I made my own happy little family. Forever missing a piece of myself, but I was happy, and content. The aching was still there, but it was a dull hum, no longer a loud thunder following me around.

And now here I am. I have my answers. My truths. My absolute truths. I’m learning my stories. I’m learning family stories, my family stories. But here’s the thing; I still don’t know where I belong. What if I never do? What if I am forever feeling split and missing.

I got sent a family tree. My family tree. And it was amazing. It was beautiful. It was absolutely stunning. It was the most wonderful thing, and it completely ripped my heart apart and took away my breathe. This was the family I was robbed of. This is the family I missed out on for the last 35 years. This is the family I lost and I am now just learning about and grieving.

For the first time in my life I could see in writing where I belong, where I came from, my family line, my family legacy. I was able to look back to see MY Great-Great-Great Grandparents. And you know what else I saw, no one I knew and no one that knew me. I saw family connections. I saw family stories. I saw a family legacy. I saw love. But I didn’t see where I actually belonged, beyond where the DNA told me I did.

My entire life all I have ever wanted was to feel whole, to know what it was like to know who I was and where I came from, to know who I belonged to. And now I do, but at the same time, I feel lost. Maybe its because this is all still new. Maybe its because I’m almost 35 and I’ve missed out on so much. I wish I knew. My heart, my soul, my mind, my body are all so tired, it all aches. It aches and longs to know where I belong. To for once, not feel out of place.

As I sit here staring at this family tree, trying to find my place, and realizing just how many family trees I am connected to and apart of. I don’t just have a family tree, I have a whole damn family orchard, and I’m getting lost among the trees.

~ Michelle

End of the Decade

I can’t believe its December 1, 2019 already. I honestly have no flippin clue where this year went. Okay, yeah sure I do, it went up in a puff of anxiety, stress, and doctors offices. That pretty much sums up this year. Looking back this year had so many ups and downs. Possibly more downs than ups. There were a lot of doctors visits, ER visits, I had vertigo, I spent 2 days in hospital and they found a clot in my lung, my daughter needed surgery, again. I just can’t even with this year. There were some good parts, we had a lot of great adventures. We went to Florida and spent a week at Universal Studios. My oldest son came and spent 2 weeks with us in the summer.
I’m pretty sure I accomplished at least some of the goals I had in January. But honestly I couldn’t tell you for sure because I lost the notebook that I wrote them down in.

Going into this last month of 2019, and looking forward to 2020 I have no freakin idea what I am going to do, what I want to do, what I should do. Part of me always feels this rush of feeling a new, fresh in my motivation, full of goals. The other part of me, thinks this whole “New year, new you” thing is total BS. That you don’t need a date on a calendar to tell you when you should change, make goals, and start fresh.

Maybe its just my time to change. My season of change. And maybe it just happens to line up with this time of year. But I feel change, I feel like I want-to/need-to change. Or maybe I am just pulling my head out of the anxiety fog that has been 2019 for me. Maybe it’s that my 35th birthday is coming up and I should be feeling more of a an ‘adult’ than I do now. Or that next year I will official have 3 teenage boys and things are quickly changing. Crap, I don’t know.

Let’s try to focus on what I do know. I have awesome kids. I have an awesome husband. And if I’m going to be completely honest, I’m a pretty awesome wife and mother, although it doesn’t always feel that way. We all have those days if we are going to be honest. I have two completely different creative outlets that I love and I want to continue moving forward with both. And I have this blog, this poor neglected blog. I want to blog. I love to blog. But when I sit down to type, I tend to write it out like how I talk, and then I tend to get side tracked, and 1 blog post turns into 3, and I go down a rabbit hole of posts. Or I feel like what I want to share, I shouldn’t. Like no one wants to read about my anxiety, depression, bi-polar, my adoption story, the days I struggle with it all and parenting, and so much more. Like I’ve been conditioned by society to feel bad about those topics and keep them on the down low. I also feel like, a sort of, impost syndrome when I sit down in front of my computer to write. I look at other blogs and they all have something they are a ‘professional’ in. They all have beautiful photos. But let’s be honest, most of those photos are staged, and I just don’t have the time for that, or patience for that.

So what is the point of this post? I have no idea. I set out with the intention of writing something completely different and yet all of this came out.

I think things are changing. I’m changing. I’m not sure where this will lead. But I’m excited for it. I hope you will continue to join me on this crazy adventure.

~ Michelle

Two Weeks Is Not Enough Time

Have you ever had so many conflicting emotions? Feeling all the feels all at once? So many different things pulling at you that you don’t know which way is up? Thats been me the last few weeks. I feel so emotionally drained and raw right now. I feel like emotionally hung over. It is so hard to explain. So bare with me as I try.

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An old picture of all 4 kids together. With my daughter actually sitting on the lap of my oldest sons (adoptive) moms lap. This picture means the world to me.

I got to spend 2 weeks with my oldest son. My son I gave up for adoption. I am so blessed to have a relationship with him. To get to know him, see him, talk to him. I am forever thankful that his mom allows him to come visit us. She is truly the most incredible woman ever.

My 3 younger kids absolutely love it when their big brother comes to visit. They look up to him so much. They all get along SO well. It’s amazing to see them together. It makes my heart so incredibly happy to see them all together. But it also hurts so much. It is so cliche to say that its bitter sweet, but basically, yeah it is. I am so happy to see them all together, to have all my kids under one roof, to sit down to family meals. I feel complete. But I also feel like there is a giant hole in my chest. I feel like my chest is being ripped apart with every breathe I take.

Here is my son. Someone I carried within me for 9 months. Someone who I love so fiercely. Someone who looks like me. Sounds like me. Someone who is apart of me. And yet that isn’t my son. I didn’t raise him. I don’t know him the way I know my other kids. I don’t get to hold him like I can my other kids. He doesn’t call me mom, because again, I’m not his mom. I see a scar on him and I have no clue how he got it. Yet when I look at my other kids I can tell you every story behind every scar. I don’t know his likes and dislikes. I don’t know what those subtile faces mean. I’m looking at my son who isn’t my son. It’s hard. So incredibly freakin hard.

I love having him here. I love being around him. I love spending time with him. I’m over joyed every time he comes to visit. There are no words to properly describe the love and joy I feel. But there are also no words to describe how equally heart wrenching it is. How much it breaks me every time I say goodbye to him. How much is breaks me when he’s here and seeing him with his siblings, sitting at our family table and knowing it won’t last, knowings it is only for a few days.

I got to spend two awesome weeks with all my kids together. Two weeks that went by in the blink of an eye. Two weeks I will forever be thankful for.

~ Michelle

When my kids asked me not to post their photos

I blog, clearly. I am also on InstagramFacebook and even on Twitter. I post photos almost daily. I share on some form of social media almost daily. Two years ago I wrote a post about not sharing my kids faces and personal stories on social media. You can read that post here.

My 13 year old and soon to be 12 year old don’t have any social media accounts. Shocking, I know. A lot of their friends do however. So when my son turned 13 I asked him if he wanted an account. We talked about it. He asked me about the kind of stuff I post, so I told him. As we were talking it come up that he knows a lot of kids who’s parents have posted about them for years, pictures and stories, including personal and embarrassing stories and photos. During the conversation my son thanked me. He explained how he was so thankful to not have his life put out there for everyone else to know before he could share it himself.

In the conversation I asked him how he would feel if I did start posting photos of him on social media. He thought about it, and ended up asking me not to. And I totally respect that and my childs decision.

So when you look at my photos and wondering why my kids aren’t in them, why their backs are turned or I full on cropped their heads out of the photos, you know why. Its a fine balance trying to share my stories, my life, my motherhood journey without actually sharing information and pictures of them. But out of respect for them and their wishes, I will continue to crop their heads out of pictures. At least just the pictures I post online. Not to worry I have plenty (thousands and thousands) of pictures of them. In realty I am basically my kids own personal paparazzi.

Like this photo: 

I really wish I could show the world how incredibly happy she was. The giant smile on her face as she jumped and splashed us all. But the picture I’m showing you, I had to crop out her head. But trust me when I say her smile was radiant and she was having a blast.

Until the day my kids decide to share their own photos and stories, I will crop their heads out or take double the amount of photos trying to stage them so you can’t see their faces.

~ Michelle

Lets go camping

I some times wonder about my husband and his love of camping. He’s fascinated by it. He can spend days, weeks, out in nature. Me? Well I spend an hour and I end up covered in hives. So nature and me aren’t really on good terms. I love nature, I think its beautiful. I just love it from a safe distance.

But marriage is about compromise, give and take, all that crap. So camping we go.

At least this was just a camping trip with the two of us. No kids. So it would be totally restful, right? Right. Completely restful if you don’t take into account having to walk almost 10 minutes each way just to go to the bathrooms.

This was my first camping trip in a while. I was honestly a little rusty. I forgot just how important meal planning actually is. And how super important it is to make sure you actually have all the ingredients for the meals you foolishly planned out in your head but not fully in reality. I also really need to learn how to pack light. I for the life of me can never pack light. Ever. Especially if kids are involved. Which they will be on our next camping trip. (Did I really just say ‘next’?!)

I may not have meal planned all that well, but at least I made pillow cases for the trip! Thats got to count for something!

Did I mention that my husband built a bed to fit in our van?! Crazy right?! More on that in another post. It needs its own post.

It was a a nice escape from reality. Surrounded by nature, having a campfire, no noise, no tv, no radio. And when you have a husband who loves camping as much as mine, and who also likes things just a certain way, there does tend to be very little to do in regards to site set up and take down.

I will admit at first it was very odd to just sit and have no distractions. It is amazing how much noise we deal with in a day. Radio, tv, ads that pop up on websites, on games on your phone. We are forever being bombarded by advertisements. They are every where, all the time, non stop. That part I really enjoyed about camping. It was nice to just be fully in the moment.

I told my husband that. Apparently we will be camping more, and soon. So stayed tuned for tips and tricks when it comes to camping, overlanding, all with 3 little kids.

~ Michelle

 

Half a Lifetime in Motherhood

 

As I approach my 34th birthday I am reflecting a lot on my life, on what I have accomplished, what I still want to accomplish, my family, my kids, life in general. And that’s when it hit me; I have been a mother for half my life. Half my life.

For those doing the math, let me help you, when I was 16 I was living in Kenya, I was in grade 11, I met a guy, an older guy from another school, he was a senior. So of course it was super cool to be dating an ‘older guy’ from another school. Well one thing lead to another, and I ended up pregnant. Just after my 17th birthday I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy (ok, 1 of the 3 most beautiful boys, because all my boys were of course the most beautiful ever. I’m not bias at all!).
When I was 16 and pregnant I had to start making choices I never dreamed I would have to do at that age. As my belly grew, my responsibilities grew as well. I made the choice to give my son up for adoption. You can read about that here.

Since that day in a friends basement bathroom when the stick showed two lines, my life and my choices have always had to factor in someone else. Now I have to factor in 4 kids and a husband.

For half my life I have been a mother. For half my life my heart has been walking outside my body. For half my life my decisions have been about other people. For half my life someone else, and a growing number of someone else’s, have been put first ahead of myself.

And do you know what I have learned from all this motherhood-ing (that is totally a word), is that I don’t know a damn thing about motherhood. Just when I think I got a handle on it the kids go ahead and grow up and things change.

I’m still trying to figure out how anyone can really call themselves a “parenting expert”.

I have given birth to 4 incredible humans. Four drastically different humans. Four people that are constantly changing, growing and evolving. Four humans that constantly surprise me, challenge me, push me to be a better person, show me what unconditional love is, push my patience to its breaking point, make me laugh, make me cry (happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears, a lot of sleep deprived tears), and make me the proudest mother ever.

I can’t imagine my life any other way. I can’t imagine not being a mother.

Half my life has been spent navigating motherhood, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

~ Michelle