Four Tips for Unsquishing Your Life + Join Us in Bend!

Four Tips for Unsquishing Your Life + Join Us in Bend!

Last night, as I was compiling today’s to-do list, I noticed that things on my calendar are looking a bit, um, squishy again, which means I am trying to shoehorn too many things into not enough time and it’s getting pretty … uncomfortable. I suppose juggling multiple obligations for multiple family members, end-of-school year stuff, traveling (for super happy reasons!!), writing and speaking gigs, and, oh, a MOVE (!!) can do that to a person.

{{{S Q U I S H}}}

= life without abundance; life not centered upon Jesus Christ

Thanks be to God, squishiness is no longer my preferred state of being, especially since I’ve realized: a) it’s completely unhealthy for me and, by extension, my family; and b) with God’s help, I can prevent the squish from taking over.

What I’m learning from this side of my epiphany is this: To remain un-squished, one must be mindful and intentional about remaining un-squished. Somebody embroider that gem on a pillow!! LOL

I don’t know about you, but I desire a more abundant life. I don’t want to live in the squishiness that feels full, but is really only full of lack. I don’t want to feel as though life is bearing down on me, threatening to squeeze the life out of me and my family at any given moment. I want to be whole, healthy, and healed.

We all need time away to reflect, replenish, and renew, regardless our station and season in life. It’s okay to recognize our need to put some distance between ourselves and our “squishiness” (whatever that means to you) and connect with our Heavenly Father. Even Jesus Christ (Who–spoiler alert–was actually God) spent regular time alone in prayer. Last time I looked, I am not God. So … why do I think I am better than He? Why do I think I can just keep striving and rolling and trying … and not take time to simply be with Him?

Here are some ways I conscientiously work toward unsquishifying my life, in no particular order:

1) Prayer

Instead of rewarding myself with chips or brownies (heyyy–don’t judge), I’ve been trying to take a moment to hang out with God instead. It may sound silly, but that little bit of time in prayer gives me something those extra calories and fat grams never could–communion with the One Who made me, sees me, knows me, loves me, and Who will never, ever leave me feeling shame, regret, or isolated, unlike an empty bag of potato chips. The great thing about prayer? It comes in many forms, and can be done pretty much anywhere I am.

2) Silence + Adoration

I realize silence can be super difficult for some, especially if you’re knee-deep in the throes of family life, or struggle with Constant Brain Swirling-itis, like I do. Lately, I’ve been slipping away to spend regular quality time with Jesus in the silence (well, usually) of the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Sometimes I pray the rosary or a chaplet; sometimes I thank Him for my blessings; sometimes I wrestle with a problem or ten … it honestly doesn’t matter if I don’t say or do anything; what matters is that He is there, and, in the silence, He is able to speak to my soul. Whether I only have five minutes or (preferably) an hour or more for silence, it always leaves me feeling more peaceful, more joyful, more wellness in my soul.

3) Sacraments

There’s nothing like a big (or little) splotch of sin to make me feel squishy. I don’t care how much vacation time you’ve earned, or how big that bonus check was, or how clean and tidy your house is, or how many 5ks you’ve run. Sin = squish. It’s a different kind of squish, sure, but praise God if sin makes you feel even the slightest bit squishy; that means your conscience is working! Get thee to the Confessional–stat! A good Confession is a sure path toward unsquishification.

How long has it been since you worthily received Jesus Christ–Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity–in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist? Receiving Jesus = instant unsquishification. Will you still have problems when you’re worthily and regularly pariticpating in the Sacraments of the Church? Well, sure. But your perspective will change. And your priorities might, too. I highly recommend trying it out for yourself if you aren’t already.

4) Retreat + Conferences

I’ve written about the amazingness of retreats before, but it bears repeating: take some time away for God to refresh your soul. Whether it’s just you and the Big Guy on a self-directed silent retreat or you and 400+ of your closest friends at an annual conference, we were made for communion. A retreat or conference is a wonderful way to reconnect with Creator and faith community.

Which leads me to an important invitation: Will you join us this June? 

NW Catholic Women's Conference logo

The first-ever Northwest Catholic Women’s Conference is happening in just a few short weeks near beautiful Bend, Oregon.

Women from all over the Pacific Northwest (and beyond!) are welcome to grow in our beautiful Catholic sisterhood June 23-24 at the Diocese of Baker Retreat Center in Powell Butte. Make friends, be with Jesus, and get a spiritual jump start to your summer!

You’re invited to join me, Kelly Wahlquist, and Sr. Maria Gemma as we share on the conference theme: Abundant Life in Christ. Adoration, Holy Mass with Bishop Liam Cary, and ample opportunity for Confession round out the schedule. Several awesome vendors will be on-site, providing resources and material to assist you in your faith journey. Three meals are provided with your registration fee.

WomensConf2017_Flyer-page-001

Check out the gorgeous grounds of the retreat center! It’s located right under the Three Sisters Mountains, appropriately named Faith, Hope, and Charity. Limited on-site lodging is still currently available, as are nearby hotel options.

Photo credit: Kristen Carter Nez
Photo credit: Kristen Carter Nerz

Registration is limited, and closes soooooon (June 20, 2017), so reserve your spot (and one for your sister, your friend, your neighbor, your aunt, your niece, and your other friend) TODAY!NW Catholic Women's Conference logo

It would be soooo wonderful to see you in Bend this Summer! You’ve been warned, though–I’m a hugger, but I will settle for a hearty handshake. 😉 So, my friends, until Bend, I’d love to hear from you in the combox: What are your go-to tips for “unsquishifying” your life?

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Dear Lonely Mom: you are not alone

woman-looking-at-forest-at-dawn

I have been a lonely Mom.

But first, a little context.

As the eldest child with only one sibling five years my junior, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with babies or younger children growing up. I was too busy with my own activities and interests and friends. Sure, I babysat on occasion, but at the time, I was way more interested in making some sweet cash than practicing for any future vocation with my small charges.

Vocation? What’s that? Like, a misspelled vacation? Wait – isn’t a vocation what priests and nuns have?

I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood actually was a vocation. I didn’t know that marriage and motherhood would be my path – my call – to holiness.

I figured I would go to college, have an amazing career traveling the globe, fall in love, and get married at some point. As I learned more about my Catholic faith, I figured being married meant that I would have kids. I mean, I didn’t plan to not have children, but it was more of a default reality that I took completely for granted – you get married, you have kids. Eventually. That’s what most people do, right?

So I skipped the fabulous globe-trotting career and fell in love and got married. And then the babies started coming. And coming. And I really had no idea what I was doing. And I got overwhelmed.

And I got very, very lonely. And severely depressed.

I knew that these little lives were good, marvelous, beautiful (!!) blessings, but I didn’t quite know how to navigate the sheer upheaval in my life – changing body, hormones, responsibilities, identity, sleep – once they arrived.

I knew I needed to find people [yet] going somewhere — anywhere — felt like an impossible undertaking most days. Attending the moms’ group, the playdate, or the meet-up meant the little people and I had to be presentable, likable, and relatable. All at the same time. It seemed like an awful lot of ‘ables’ for someone who often felt like she was drowning in a sea of inability.

->Read the rest of my latest Mea Maxima Cuppa column – – over at the Catholic Sentinel.

So, how did I break through my feelings of loneliness and isolation? I wish I could tell you I had some sort of a magic formula I followed that would work for you, too. If I did, I would surely whip it up and airmail it to you if you lived far away or drive it over to your place if you lived close by.

Here are some things, though, that (eventually) helped me:

  1. Admitting I needed help. It took a while before I could swallow my stubborn pride and admit that whatever I was doing as a new Mom (or a Mom with littles) wasn’t working for me and that I really needed some help. At first, I wasn’t even sure what anyone could do to help me, but I knew something had to change. There is no shame in asking friends, family, neighbors, parishioners, and/or medical professionals for assistance when you need it. None. God isn’t calling us to go crazy because of our vocations! Once I admitted I needed help, it was easier (not easy, but easier) for me to actually seek out the help I needed.
  2. Maintaining a schedule. Moms with littles might look at the word ‘schedule’ and be tempted to roll their eyes to China. “Schedule?! Ha!!” And I know it’s true. I found that I’d roll out of bed after another sleepless night and try to leave the house only to have someone poop all over themselves or me and by the time we were all ready to get back in the car again, the activity we’d been headed to would be 75% over. Not worth it. But as much as I could, I tried to wake up, get dressed into something other than what I slept in (even if it was yoga pants and a t-shirt), brush my hair, and if I was really feeling lucky and motivated, take a shower before my husband went to work. Adding in the things that I knew I had to do – meals, laundry (oh, Lord – the laundry with spitty babies!), naps, etc. helped me to try to find some rhythm in my day.
  3. Nurturing my spiritual life. Our youngest is almost three and a half, and I’m just now starting to feel like I might have actually attended Mass on Sundays.  I remember many, many, MANY times when I felt like even attending Mass was an exercise in futility. What was the First Reading about? I couldn’t even hear Father’s homily! Did we just receive the Eucharist? So. many. distractions. But as time went on, I realized that there had to be some grace available to me just for attempting, right??! So we kept going. Every Sunday. And things have honestly gotten easier. Additionally, I think my prayer life has improved significantly since I became a Mom, simply due to necessity! I know that I need Jesus. Like woah. So, I pray. A lot. I pray for myself. I pray for my kids. I pray for my husband. I don’t always get the super high-quality before-they’re-awake-quiet-meditation-with-Jesus time in, but I am often praying throughout my day – as I scrub the bathroom floor, as I change the laundry over, as I’m chopping onions, as I’m cleaning up yet another mess – it’s there. And He’s there with me. IIn the noise. In the chaos. In the mess. And it has changed me.
  4. Quit worrying so much. I used to worry that I didn’t have my make-up on and my kids’ shoes didn’t match and I didn’t have a Pinterest-worthy snack ready before I’d head off to the moms’ group or play date. But you know what? Those worries were keeping me away from community and vital friendships. We were not meant to do this thing called ‘life’ alone, but how often do we convince ourselves that we’re not worthy of community? We are worthy! I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring so much, but these days, I’m much more likely to be out the door with my hair in a pony tail and the kids usually wind up with some sort of shoe-like things on their feet. We might pick up donut holes from the drive-thu and are on our way. That’s where we are these days, and I’m okay with that.

So, from one lonely Mama to another – I’ve been where you are, friend. Loneliness in the trenches of motherhood can be a very deep, dark place. It can threaten to swallow you whole – I know, because I’ve been stuck looking down over the precipice myself more times than I care to recall. But I also know that you don’t have to remain in that place of isolation and anxiety; you really don’t. There are sisters and brothers who want to help you and know you and be your friend. Will you allow them to help you? Will you let Jesus in?

I would really love to hear from you – have you ever felt alone, isolated, or lonely? What do you do to re-connect with “the outside world” and to not feel alone in your vocation? Please let me know in the combox.

God bless y’all.

heather

Photo via VisualHunt.com

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