February always catches me off guard. In my mind, another Armchair Chat was still a week or two away, and as I planned what to write this week, it hit me that today would be the last day of the month. Crazy! Those two or three missing days throw me off so much.
To throw me off even further, this has been the warmest February I can ever remember here in the suburbs of Chicago. For nearly a week straight, temperatures were in the 60s, and we even saw a fair share of sun! It was so odd to be playing outside in the sunshine, even getting a bit sweaty, only to look around and see that the grass was still dead and the trees were still bare because, hello, it’s winter.
This dose of sunshine was exactly what my soul needed to persevere through the rest of winter as I ride out some changes and uncertainties.
Here’s more about what I’ve been learning, loving, and reading this month.
What I Learned
- I have more time than I realize. I’m so happy to be in a general state of being me: I’m not pregnant, not breastfeeding, not sleep-deprived. Being a wife and a mom takes up a lot of my time and mental/emotional space, but I’m also no longer beholden to tons of immediate needs or operating in survival mode. For a while, I didn’t notice the extra space because, quite honestly, I filled it with mindless scrolling and TV. Now I’m making an effort to go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and get 30 minutes of writing time each morning, and I’m trying to put my phone away at 8:00 pm so I can spend the rest of my night reading. Those quiet bookends are so revitalizing.
- Magnesium is on par with magic. At the recommendation of some friends, I started taking an easy-to-absorb magnesium supplement to help with an ailment I was facing. As it turns out, magnesium is helpful for so many things! It provides support to the digestive and nervous systems (which are way more linked than I ever realized), helps with restless muscles, and eases anxiety. It’s hard to know how much it’s helping with my anxiety, but I have noticed that in the last few weeks when I’ve faced situations that would normally send me into a panic (shallow breathing, spiraling thoughts, general feelings of hopelessness), I’ve responded in stride, actually believing myself when I thought things like, Just see how this plays out in the morning. You can’t do anything about it now. I’ll take it!
- Sick babies are the saddest and the sweetest. Earlier this month, Selah woke up screaming in the middle of the night, and she was burning up with a high fever. The wee hours of the morning are not the ideal time to face a new situation, especially a scary one involving your child. It was heart wrenching to see her so sick and miserable, but all she wanted to do was snuggle, and I gladly obliged her. I’d never wish sickness upon her, but it really is an instinctual joy to care for her when she’s down. (If she’d been vomiting, there may have been less instinctual joy.)
What I Wondered
- What the next month, year, and decade will look like for my family. (And this essay helped me to realize that I live way too much in the future.)
- What the heck Selah is saying in her silly gibberish. She’s making all kinds of new sounds, and I so wish I knew what she was saying. Her favorite real words are uh-oh (she walks around saying on on repeat), dog, up, down, and nom-nom (food).
What I Loved
- Love Day! Dan and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in a big way, but I do love an excuse to tell people how deeply we love them and to celebrate love in all its forms. Dan and Selah visited me at work on Valentine’s Day and we all headed out for brunch, where Selah had her first taste of pancakes. (And she ate the glob of butter off the top when I wasn’t watching.)
- The unseasonably warm weather (see above). It was an unexpected joy to get to spend a whole weekend outside.
- Time with friends. To be honest, friendship has been really hard for me to prioritize since having Selah and going back to work. I found small pockets of time this month to connect with old friends and meet some new ones, and it filled a piece of my soul that nothing else can.
- This podcast episode. Sorta Awesome recently did an episode on postpartum depression, and I cried my way through it. It was honest, enlightening, and so hopeful.
What I Read
- Still Waiting by Ann Swindell: I want to put this book into the hands of every woman I know. We’re all waiting for something from the Lord — healing from a health condition, a healthy pregnancy, a restored relationship, an answer to prayer. My sweet friend Ann wrote this amazing book about what it’s like to wait faithfully for healing from an incurable condition, fully knowing that she may not receive healing on this side of heaven. Her honest writing makes me feel right at home: so seen, so known, so understood, so validated. I will be reading this one again and again. 5 gigantic stars.
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: I read this book in less than a week because I just could not put it down. Liane Moriarty writes flawed female characters in such a compelling, honest, gracious way, and this book is my favorite of hers so far. The book opens with a murder investigation (though I wouldn’t put this book in the “murder mystery” category) and then tells the story leading up to that night. I was guessing about who the victim and murderer were until the end, and I was totally surprised by the outcome. Bonus: This is now a miniseries on HBO, which I began the night I finished the book. It’s really well done but much racier than the book. 5 stars.
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: This one, for me, could have been called Big Meh. It was a quick, easy read about creative living, which is something I’m trying to learn more about and practice this year. Elizabeth Gilbert has some pretty woo-woo ideas about creativity, and I couldn’t relate to much of how she thinks about and approaches it. But there were some lovely gems in this book, especially the essays about how fear and perfectionism hold us back from creative living. I was going to give this 2.5 stars, but I have her an extra half star because the essays are super short (but still thoughtful) — bite-sized content is always a bonus for moms. 3 stars.
What I Clicked
- Super smart decor deals for the crafty and noncrafty alike (from Joy Lynn Lifestyle).
- A thought-provoking take on minimalist cooking and slow food (from Daisy of Simplicity Relished).
- A sweet reflection and encouragement to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family (from Catherine of A Short Blonde).
- An honest look at what it means to be a Jesus-follower and a feminist, and how to navigate the tension graciously (from Sarah Bessey).
What I Wrote
- Over, Under: Weaving a Strong Marriage out of Everyday Moments
- A Love Letter to My Post-Baby Body
- Armchair Chats // January 2017