Rising to Joy: A Year of Wellness {The Beginning}

My 2016 Journey begins with a story...

It is a story I have heard more times than I can count... and a story which I am living. It is the tale of Catholic motherhood in which openness to life and the vocation of service requires the stretching of mind, body, and soul beyond what we believed we can do. 

We do what we need to do. We suck it up. We learn to live with less sleep. We gain some weight. We lose some strength. We eat cold chicken nuggets so they don't go to waste and guzzle coffee to keep up with life...

We learn about our hidden strengths and that our limits expand when we push against them. 

We learn that it feels good to stretch in service of Truth and Beauty and that our deepest joy is found in that service. But we also learn...

That there are physical laws which govern our existence in addition to the spiritual ones... and that there are limits which cannot be breached without harm. We are grateful, joyful, trusting, and prayerful. We learn to push through "survival mode" to get to the other side. But then we learn the very hard truth about our earthly existence....

Our bodies have limits. And some of us are breaking.

My own story is repeated back to me so many times through the words of other Catholic women: "I got away with poor nutrition, patchy fitness, and toxic physical environment for years... decades; but now my body is broken and I can't function. I'm in pain. I'm exhausted every day. I'm depressed. I've hit bottom."

I will be turning 40 this year and I've got a message for all of you mamas:

Wine and Starbucks will only take you so far. They deaden pain and they mimic energy but they do not heal or nourish. There is a way to RISE to a place that isn't perpetual survival mode. As a friend of mine said: "There are some of us who will be called to unique suffering... even a few who God allows to be victim souls... but not most of us. For most of us, we will be called to heal and to thrive in His service."

I'm writing to you from the couch. I feel horrendous just like I do in all of my pregnancies. I've been knocked on my rear again. But my perspective is different this time: In 2016, I will give birth to my 8th and youngest child. And also in 2016, I will watch my oldest fly the nest. There are a million miles to travel and 8 other souls in between (including myself and my husband) to care for in that time. Unexpected events and crisis. And I've got... nothing left. Except hope, support, and a plan.

This is my reboot year. My healing year. I'm prioritizing my health so that I can serve my family for the rest of my life and continue to raise children for the next 20 years. When I struggle against the thought that this is a selfish and imbalanced goal, I quickly remember... 

I have no choice. 

I refuse to spend the rest of my motherhood fighting illness and it's accompanying depression if I don't have to. I refuse to carry burdens that aren't of God, that I have placed upon my own shoulders through bad or sloppy choices. 

This Mama Renewal of mine will not be found in wine and coffee. For me, it will be found in radical lifestyle change. I have already begun it but am far from finished. It is a gift to me and my gift back to God. I will be focusing on three primary areas (always with the understanding that the spiritual life will take priority above all):

1) Nutrition
2) Movement
3) Environment

I have a concrete plan for all and I will be sharing it here in the coming weeks. (And I want to clarify that having a plan does not mean that I'm going to be making an idol of this. Here's a comparison... If I found out tomorrow that I had cancer, I would devote a disproportionate amount of time to appointments, internet research, reading, and also focusing on my faith life, my family, my priorities. I don't have cancer but this journey is mildly comparable in that it is initiated through great need. Although these goals will require more time than I prefer to give them... I also hope that this focus will help to refine every area of my life and restore proper priorities by simplifying what is important and what is not. Since I can't do it all, I will have to streamline. And I hope that if you need it, you will join me for my journey. I need the accountability and I need the fellowship! If you're up for the adventure, I'm so glad to have you. This is not a gloomy journey. Not a deprivation journey. Not a journey of loss. It is a journey of JOY and stretching to uncover a little more of what beauty God has chosen for your life! 

If you're pregnant like I am, it is a wonderful time to start... because there is always something you can do to live just a little bit better. Don't wait until the pregnancy is over. The good choices you make right now will bless the postpartum period. I am a living testimony that our small choices can become great miracles... and I'm actively walking, crawling, running the journey with you!

If you'd like a little background on my health journey so far, the following links will provide:

The Path of Joyful Eating {How God Used Food to Restore My Life}
Life Without Bread {My Journey to Gluten Free}
Is She Naughty or Just Sick?: How Diet Can Affect Behavior (The story of my daughter's health crisis) 

Posted on January 5, 2016 and filed under wellness, Womanhood, pregnancy, nutrition, motherhood, fitness.