A Week of Birthday Favorites

Today is my 38th birthday, and the best part is I thought I was turning 39! It happens every year – Ben has his birthday in January, and I slip into thinking I’m already the same age as him, even though I’m six months behind. By the time my birthday roles around, I’m thinking I should be turning a year older, and it’s always a pleasant surprise to realize I’m a year younger than I thought I was!

Every year, I carry on a tradition started by my mom when I was a kid: make a list of birthday favorites. There are two reasons why I carry on with this tradition – it takes me back to all those years of sitting down with my mom to make a list, and even though my favorite foods were always chocolate cake and spaghetti, and my mom already knew that, it just made me feel special to have that one on one time with her, when she made a big deal about recording the things I liked.

The other reason I like doing it is because it’s a reminder of how change and growth continues to happen at any age. Every year, I want to keep pushing myself, learning and discovering, and never forgetting there is so much life to live, new things to enjoy, experiences to have. It might be the smallest things, but if it’s touched my life in a positive way, it’s worth recording.

In the past, I’ve spread this over a month of blog posts, which gets a bit intense, so we’ll make it a week of birthday favorites. And as always, I welcome you to add your favorites in the comments, because I love to hear what other people are enjoying! It’s interesting, inspiring, and gives me new ideas for the next year.

This last year was a tough one for me, but it’s definitely true that hard times are when we can grow the most, so it’s awesome to look back at this last year and see change. For today’s favorites, I’ve been trying to figure out what has brought about some of the biggest change:

Counseling

It’s a bit humbling to start off with this one, and I hate the stigma around something so incredibly beneficial. Only weak people need counseling, right?! But I think really we all need counseling, because everybody has their own junk, and it is just super hard to work through it all on our own.

To have a completely safe place where I could be brutally honest, and share the ugliest, weakest, most pathetic thoughts with someone who was never shocked or judgmental turned out to be something very life-giving. My counselor walked me through some really tough issues. Sometimes she gave me the words to express what I’d never been able to put into words, other times she just listened. She challenged me to let go of old habits and thought patterns which were not serving me well.

I went for counseling because I had postpartum anxiety and the doctor suggested it, but my sessions went far beyond that issue, and gave me some tools I hope to use for the rest of my life. I don’t think I’m done with counseling – I’m taking some time to mentally chew on all I learned and uncovered, and trying to put all these new things into practice. But in time, I hope to go back again, and work through some more issues, because it really was such a helpful thing to do.

Simplifying

I set out to declutter 2015 things in the year 2015, which resulted in a lot more than just repeated trips to the thrift shop. I experienced a shift in my thinking, about belongings as well as just about life in general. Because of having postpartum anxiety, I had to simplify our schedule, and strip away some hard things like guilt and expectations. In order to function well, I needed to keep things very simple with how we spent our time, and I noticed that the tidier our house was, the better I felt. Life just felt more manageable when things were in their place, and the more I got rid of stuff, the easier it became to keep everything under control.

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, and it lived up to it’s title! Up until reading that book, my thinking was, “What am I going to get rid of? What do I not use anymore?” Afterwards, it became, “What am I going to keep? What gives me joy?” The change in questions made it much easier to let go of things for better reasons.

Tidyingsource

I recommend the book to anyone who is interested in pursuing a lighter load in life! You can read more about the book and the results over here.

Podcasts

I have an app on my phone so I can listen to podcasts while I’m doing housework or driving. This has been amazing, because I’m learning so much from great speakers, and it’s a productive use of time. Sometimes when I have too much time to think, it can lead to negative thoughts, but I love turning on a podcast to get my thoughts back in a good place.

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts right now:

Life Church – I’m working on the “Stay Positive” series, and it’s been very encouraging and motivating.

Meeting House – Bruxy Cavey will always be one of my favorite preachers to listen to.

Janet Lansbury Unruffled – I just started listening to these, but I love her thoughts on parenting. She has a very calm, gentle approach to strong emotions.

HopeWriters – This is a really positive, encouraging and motivating podcast for anyone who enjoys writing.

Personality Hacker – I’ve been learning so much about my personality, and why I interact with people the way I do. It’s led to a huge shift in thinking, and I’m curious about where it’s going to lead.

ProBlogger – For anyone interested in improving a blog.

Homeschool Leadercast – I’ve listened to some great speakers with practical tips on teaching and parenting.

Alright, that’s my first bunch of favorites! What have you been enjoying recently? Is there anything you’ve tried that has positively impacted your life?

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