And How They’ve Affected 2019
2018 was a particularly rough year for me. In many ways, my experiences prompted my maturity. I dealt with trauma in 2015, and it took time for life to line back up again. The realignment process affected my boundaries and my priorities.
On Mother’s Day in 2015, my home was destroyed by a tornado. An EF3 ripped my house apart with my family inside. We were uninjured physically, but the trauma left scars on my mind. Fear led to anger and anger gave way to rage. In short, confronting death and surviving shifted my worldview, and my focus went blurry.
This isn’t that story.
In the years that followed, I’ve moved to a new geographical region, bought and sold a home, and made many new friends. I’ve grown closer to Jesus, as He’s drawn me to Himself. I’ve found things I’ve loved and learned more about myself.
In 2016 and 2017, we were in a frenzy of buying normal everyday things that we’d lost. For the holidays, our children were lavished in presents. We are so blessed! At the end of 2017, however, my children couldn’t remember their gifts from years past, so we started a new tradition.
1) My family and I no longer exchange material items during holidays.
Birthdays are fun for my kiddos. They know they’re growing up. They are filled with excitement and often wonder how their new age will affect their responsibilities and privileges. We used to get a couple books, maybe an outfit or two, and toys. Now, we let the child pick an outing or an event. We want to create memories for them. We take pictures and usually make their favorite foods. The day is centered on their joy. But my husband and I want them to experience that joy without objects.
For Christmas, our little 6 person family takes a trip. That first year, we went to Colorado in early January. My oldest 2 children wanted to see snow. We traveled across the state, stopping every few hours for excursions. We rented an Air BNB cabin in Pagosa Springs for 4 days and every day, we made it a point to do something fun. The kids still talk about that trip, even though it didn’t snow the whole time we were there; it was one of the hottest few days in January on record, according to a local.
Last year, we stayed inside Texas. We went to Moody Gardens in Galveston and rented a condo right on the beach. On Christmas day, we got dressed and walked along the water, collecting shells and rocks.
The salt water was cold and absolutely perfect. My kids briefly mentioned presents, but even the youngest (almost 4 at the time) decided she wouldn’t trade one day at the beach for a material object.
Since losing all of our belongings except for a few clothes and tools and one vehicle, we no longer need material items for happiness. Living for experiences and not stuff may not make sense to everyone. I still have too much stuff, and maybe I always will, but I know I can lose it all again, and as long as we have each other, we will be joyful.
2) I’ve embraced my natural hair.
Natural hair is a hot phrase right now. Women and men of color have been discriminated against for many reasons and hair is only one of them. I cannot understand how Christians can mistreat someone for being how God created them. I suppose I can logically understand how someone without a moral compass can, for their own self gain, or just because of evil, but Christians are called to love. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Textured hair is so incredibly beautiful in all its styles. Hair types 1-4 each have their own beauty. When I say that I’ve embraces my natural hair, I mean my own hair in its natural state. My hair is somewhat curly and in some places, wavy. It’s a mess most days, but every once in a while I will get cute ringlets.
Growing up, my hair was pulled straight almost every day. I was taught to wash my hair daily and brush it down. I was told to blow dry it if is was frizzy and to use oils or deep conditioners or flat irons or a combination of those things to keep fly-aways down and make my hair appear “manageable”.
My hair just isn’t “manageable”. It wasn’t designed to be, and I wasn’t designed to be. 🙂
When my sister encouraged me to embrace my hair, as God made it, I didn’t expect much. In November, I stopped using high heat. I stopped brushing my hair daily; I detangle only when it’s soaking wet. I only apply cleanser once a week, allowing the natural oils to remain on the hair and protect it. My hair is no longer frizzy. It moves to its own rhythm. I don’t fight with it anymore. I nurture it and feed it protein and water. I let it go where it wants, within reason, and I protect it from harsh chemicals and friction.
I’ve begun to shop for my hair in the aisle behind the majority of the hair care products. In Brownwood, Texas, one aisle is crammed full of shampoos, conditioners, and creams for hair. Down both sides of the aisle, there are many products of many different brands; it’s somewhat overwhelming. On the next aisle, there are body washes, hair brushes, curling irons, and a small area of hair care products that appear to be marketed to people of color. There are only 2 or 3 brands present here. The products are water-based and free of silicones and sulfates, which damage hair.
I do not understand why the products must be separated. I cannot fathom the benefit. What I know is that the products nurture hair and that I have far more frequent good hair days when I use them. Put most simply, they work better. My youngest has type 1 hair, perfectly straight and thin. AsIAm leave-in conditioner smells great and protects her hair from breakage. She loves it and since we’ve started using it, her hair doesn’t tangle as often and has grown faster. My oldest daughter and I have Type 2C or 3A hair; I actually have both spread out over my head. My hair is low porosity and thick. Misty’s is high porosity and thin.
I don’t want this post to be all about curly girl and hair care, but I encourage people to relax a little with hair. I found that when I’ve stopped coaxing my hair to being something that it’s not, we have both been happier. By embracing my hair in its natural state, I’ve found hair freedom. I’m not bound by rules or status quo. God made my hair the way it is, and it’s awesome.
3) Goodbye sugar!
I gave up sugar in May of 2018. I’d gone on a 10 day sugar fast (watch the movie Fed Up!) back in 2016 (at the same time that I gave up nicotine). This particular summer, I was trying to lose a few pounds and the keto diet was all over my facebook newsfeed.
I joined a few groups and learned about benefits and began my own keto lifestyle. For over a year, I ate no processed sugar, and consumed fewer than 30 net grams of carbs a day. Mostly I ate meat and green, leafy vegetables. Occasionally I would indulge in treats or carbonated beverages flavored with sugar alternatives.
The most common question I was asked: do you eat fruit? Short answer: yes. Nothing was strictly off limits, but in order to limit carbs, I was very careful not to eat more than a bite or two of anything that had natural sugar or starches. I traded in ice cream for homemade whipped cream with blended raspberries and potatoes for roasted radishes.
After the first 6-8 weeks, I no longer felt deprived. I stopped craving breads and pastas and chocolate. I slept considerably better, and needed less overall sleep to function well. My mind stayed more focused throughout the day. My skin cleared up and is more vibrant.
I lost 65 pounds without going hungry.
I eat more carbs now, 16 months later, but I still limit myself. I do not eat added processed sugar, except for very rarely. I’ve had 2 slices of cheesecake in 16 months. I still avoid carby foods with low nutritional value like white bread, pasta, and rice. I don’t believe in completely cutting out any particular food, per se, but I know there are certain foods that keep me feeling healthy and others that don’t. Food is fuel and I am more aware now of what my body likes and what brings it down.
I don’t encourage friends or family to “go keto”. It’s not for everyone. I’m probably not even really in ketosis anymore. But I encourage you to explore your own vices. Find out what your addictions are. Conquer them. For me, my addiction to sugar affected my happiness. I no longer wanted to be a slave to cravings. I was not created to be a slave to my flesh.
We are designed to love. We are called to freedom. In 2018, I made deliberate changes to my life to bring myself joy. I accepted myself as God created me. In 2019, life is more peaceful and I am more trusting of God to bring me along on His path for me. I am free to be me. I no longer seek pleasure in appearance, food, or items. I am content, at peace, and full of joy. I hope I can encourage others around me to evaluate what brings them joy and to take steps to increase joy in their lives.
May your 2019 be filled with memorable decisions that make 2020 your happiest yet!