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Harvesting Happiness

Over the last year or so, I have been struggling to find my happy place. I almost hate to admit that to anyone because I have SO much to be grateful for. Blessed with friendships, good neighbors, supportive extended family and good health, I truly love my husband, my children, and the home we have created... But oftentimes it can be difficult for me to see the joy in it all. It is hard to look past the piles of books, toys, and nerf darts ALL over the floor and see the goodness in my children... especially when one is standing in front of me, hand on hip, eyes rolling, and nothing but attitude coming out the mouth. I gave up my career (and guaranteed adult time) to stay at home and deal with THIS crap?!

But look how cute.

Kids will be kids and life is just life. No matter how much we think are doing the right things to ensure respectful relationships with our children, they will still show disrespect. No matter how hard you worked on dinner (even with that extra side) someone will complain about the menu. No matter how many times we wash the dishes they will become dirty again. Someone will always: pee on the toilet seat, leave dirty socks in the middle of the living room floor, or *fill in your own household pet peeve*. I'm not saying, "Just give up." In fact, if you want to demand a clean toilet at every visit, as is your right as Queen of the Castle, make it happen. Eventually, your son will grow tired of being called back to the bathroom with the household cleaner to take care of his mess. Hopefully it takes your son less than the 7 years (and counting) that we have been working on it with mine. Keep up the good fight.

As difficult as it is to use every ounce of energy every day for "the fight," I do believe some things are worth it. It is worth discipling my child when he/she is disrespectful. It is worth it to drive to an extra store to get the best ingredients at a fair price for my weekly shopping. It is worth doing the dishes twice a day every day knowing that my family is eating good quality food from scratch and not fast food out of PFAS contaminated wrappers. The trouble is remembering the reasons I choose to do things the way I do, WHILE doing them. How do you keep focused on the big picture when all that you see in front of you is a task list? How can you think you are doing the right thing for your child when all they do is complain, scream, and cry about it? How can we put, and keep, things into prospective? To be honest, I let these questions turn into burdens that weighed so heavily on me that I became depressed. The simple act of doing chores was just downright stressful and my emotional and physical being was suffering severely.

Though, what was I so upset about? Isn't this what I wanted? Didn't I desire to stay home and raise my children, molding them into contributing members of society? The bottom line: I chose it. And I still choose it. Every day.

Had I the choice, I would rather not wash bedding every. single. day. but I will always choose my son. And he happens to deserve clean sheets. I would rather not choose to scrub toilet bowls every week, but I will always choose a home with indoor plumbing. (Sorry, hubby, no Alaskan wilderness for me.) Preferably my car would be spotless at all times; however, I chose to use it daily. :-)

I know that not every aspect of your life is up to you but I've learned that life is more of what you make it. And if I can be of some encouragement to you today let me just say: Make joy. Choose happiness. Find the bright side of each situation. Make changes to help you get to where you want to be and don't be afraid to solicit help if needed.

Here are some tips that helped me get closer to where I wanted to be and ended my personal bout of depression.

1. Identify your stressors. Common causes of stress, other than not having enough time in the day, include finances, health, and relationships. These stressors are exasperated by unexpected obstacles. Avoid serious health issues brought on by chronic stress; identify triggers, plan ahead for stressful events and practice stress relief measures (Tips 2-5).

2.Talk it out. Maybe you just need a girls night, a powwow with your hubby, or coffee with your mom. But maybe you need to seek professional help. Personally, I did it all. I had a really helpful counselor for a few months that basically taught me to communicate my needs/desires to my husband. Once we were able to get on the same page and help each other make decisions for our family, together... total game changer!

3. Use essential oils! From everything to a boost in energy to assistance in falling asleep, essential oils can be just the help you need when you need it most. I diffuse EOs almost daily and never leave home without my roller blends. You just never know when they can (and will) come in handy. Frankincense is one of my best friends. :-)

4. Meditate. Find a way to remove yourself occasionally from your norm for reflection. Consider yoga or meditation podcasts. I enjoy listening to wholetones as I think about what my goals are for myself and my family.

5. Take care of your body. As tempting as comfort foods can be, processed foods and sugar can wreak more havoc on your body than comfort to your soul so resist the temptation! Eat whole foods including lots of fruits and veggies and drink plenty of water. Use supplements to help you obtain proper levels of vitamins and micronutrients, if needed. Get at least 7 hours of sleep at night. (I like to add in a 15 min afternoon nap when I can!) And last, but not least, exercise. Moving at least 90 minutes each day will help you reach optimal circulation. As little as 15 minutes of increased heart rate daily can boost your energy levels and decrease anxiety and depression. On a good day, work out. On a bad day, work out harder.

My husband and I tend to create a lot of work for ourselves. Good work, but work, nonetheless. We send our kids to school with cold lunches in reusable wraps, bags, and tins that they in turn bring home to have washed. (Saving the whales one ziplock baggie at a time.) We raise chickens to eat and sell the eggs. We maintain bee hives to harvest the honey and wax used in many of my AMN products. We even decided to try our hand in making maple syrup this year. Oh, and I won't even get started on the garden projects hubby is getting into. (We may need to build a greenhouse soon.) My husband is what you would call, a hard worker. And he rubs off on me. I can hardly believe the insane amount of work we put on ourselves (and each other) to create our ideal life. I think most people do the same to an extent. Maybe not raising 26 chickens kind of work, but people do create unneeded stress. Sometimes that's okay. Sometimes it's just too much. Find your balance and find your happy place. Savor the moments that mean the most and find ways to recreate them.

I am not perfect. My husband is not perfect. But we try hard every day to get what we want out of life. Figuring that out isn't always easy. I am still not there, but I am a little closer. One thing I can fairly say at this point is that I have the privilege to harvest just a bit of happiness each day out of an activity that I choose. Today it was candling eggs (pictured to your left). Tomorrow it will be making a batch of homemade sunscreen. The next day might just be an afternoon nap before the boys' baseball game. Well, and the game of course. Throw in a bottle of clean crafted organic wine, and that, my friends, is a happy life.

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