The Language of Rest

Last week, I talked about “When Trauma Affects Your Ability to Listen to Your Body.” I finished the article with:

THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE OF REST

Why? I didn’t know what my own body was telling me. I didn’t know how to cue into it. I still struggle with knowing what it’s trying to tell me. It’s as if we don’t speak the same language. It says, “rest” and I don’t speak the rest language. It’s foreign to me. I put my self-imposed to-do list above my body’s needs. Not good. I understand there are things we have to do as women, moms, and grandmas. Whatever your title is, there are tasks or appointments we should keep. One of those appointments is with ourselves. Did Jesus care for the needs of his own body? If so, how? 

Today I’d like to spend a few minutes on the language of rest and how Jesus understands the needs your body.

When do you rest?

  • Do you wait until your body is completely depleted?
  • Do you schedule rest?
  • Do you work your body as if it has infinite energy and then are flabbergasted when it shuts down?
  • Did you know enough about your body to know when it’s telling you to rest?
  • Do you feed your body the food it needs to work well?
  • Do you fuel your body often?

Answering these questions is a great starting point. For me, I used to wait until my body was shutting down before I rested. Now I schedule rest. I do sometimes still get flabbergasted when my body says, “STOP!” For instance, (last week) I’ve had two Easter Egg hunts on consecutive days, followed by a doctor’s appointment the next day, and then more days of outings, including hiking, church, grocery shopping, running errands, and date night. Reading the list exhausts me. In fact, today I’m suffering from an introvert hangover after all the peopling I’ve done. (If you’re an introvert and want to know more about the science, embracing your introvert-self, check out Holley Gerth’s – The Powerful Purpose of Introverts.) How did you answer these questions?

Getting to Know YOurself

  • Do you know yourself?
  • Do you know what stresses you?
  • What energizes you?
  • What exhausts you?
  • Which foods give you energy?
  • Which foods leave you feeling wired, tired, bloated, or fill in the blank.

If you read last week’s article, you’ll know I followed the voice of trauma and survival mode for years. I didn’t know myself at all. I even went so far as thinking I was being sinful if I took time to know myself or do anything for myself. If you think that way, it’s not true. Not Biblical. Not how Jesus sees things. He not only promises to give us heavy-burdened, trauma-driven, codependent, perfectionists REST, He says He will “ease, relieve, and refresh our souls.” (Matthew 12: 28,29) Read that again and take a deep breath or two. Jesus cares about you and your body. He listened to and knew His own needs. Even though he is God, as a man, He became tired and needed a break. He needed rest and He knew the apostles did too. After they told Jesus all they had done and taught-

He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while”—for there were many [people who were continually] coming and going, and they could not even find time to eat.

Mark 6: 31

Find A Co-regualtor

On a comment on my Instagram post last week, I mentioned when we need to use the same parenting tools we employ with our kids who have experienced trauma with ourselves. We need to re-parent ourselves. Maybe you missed the season of co-regulation in your childhood. Maybe there was too much chaos in your home (or is now), and no one helped you know what your body was telling you. Basic things such as hunger, thirst, need for rest, and what we feel (anxiety, excitement, depression, uncertainty, joy) – all these feelings we need co-regulators guiding us. EVEN if you are an adult, you may need a co-regulator and some re-parenting!

I started the practice of reporting all I have done to my husband. It’s not for approval’s sake. It’s so he can weigh in and advise me. He’s often told me – “You do more on a rest day than most people do on a work day.” I had no clue. I thought everyone worked the way I did. Maybe you are the same and you don’t know how much you really push your body. Find someone to help you regulate until you can do it on your own. Do you have someone in mind? If you don’t pray about it?

Do you speak the language of rest? Share in the comments!

*If you struggle with knowing what your body is telling you, take some time this week and answer all the questions in this article in a journal or on you phone. If you struggle with knowing the answers, you may not speak the language of rest. Ask a trusted close friend or spouse to help you begin to recognize what your body is telling you or find a counselor.

When Trauma Affects Your Ability to Listen to Your Body

“Listen to your body,” a few friends have told me recently. But what does that mean? If you grew up in an alcoholic, codependent, legalist, neglectful,  or abusive environment (or married into one)- this advice may stump you as it did me. 

My Body Didn’t get a say

Growing up, my body didn’t get a say. I was bossed around by others’ feelings or opinions whether it was intended or not. I didn’t tune in with my body in those early years. The trauma tuned my body out and I lived in survival mode.

Fast Forward to my adult years, marriage, building a family through birth and adoption. I was BUSY meeting the needs of others. My adopted children, who had experienced early trauma, sent me back to the land of codependency. Before I realized it, I was feeling what their bodies were feeling.

I knew nothing of what my body was telling me. I cut it off. Silenced it. Pushed it. Overdid it. Crashed it. Abused it. Starved it. Over fed it. All the while, I told myself I was offering my body as a living sacrifice by taking care of others. (Not accurate, by the way).

A Diagnosis

In the middle of my child rearing years,  after years of health struggles – I  finally received a diagnosis -CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), hypothyroidism, and later Celiac disease. My sister located an amazing doctor in Pittsburgh (Dr. Pierotti),  who has helped me tremendously. With his understanding of the body, how it all works together, and immune system function, I began to get some energy back and lose the brain fog. I won’t go into detail about the treatment (you can pm or email me – positiveadoption@gmail.com, if you want to know more). 

Pushing And Crashing

What happened next is super sad. I began a cycle of pushing and crashing. This cycle lasted for years. As soon as I was able to function, I began doing ALL the things I was doing before. Then I began reading about adding  margins to my day, scheduling rest, stopping before exhaustion, all kinds of great information (check out Toby Morrison’s book and youtube channel!) I would try to implement some practices with success and then go right back to pushing and crashing.

The foreign Language of Rest

Why? I didn’t know what my own body was telling me. I didn’t know how to cue into it. I still struggle with knowing what it’s trying to tell me. It’s as if we don’t speak the same language. It says, “rest” and I don’t speak the rest language. It’s foreign to me. I put my self-imposed to-do list above my body’s needs. Not good. I understand there are things we have to do as women, moms, and grandmas. Whatever your title is, there are tasks or appointments we should keep. One of those appointments is with ourselves. Did Jesus care for the needs of his own body? If so, how? 

Next week – How to tune into what your body is saying and how Jesus took care of his.

The Snow Storm (Three Word Wednesday)

I headed outside to shovel a path from the backdoor to the gate. Jerry was already out shoveling and had turned his attention to pulling the snow blower out of the shed and digging a path to the patio where he could start it up. At the time we had about two feet (the storm ended later topping off about 30 inches).

I hummed and sang aloud while I shoveled  (with a lot of huffing and puffing). Ania joined me and we dug out cars and talked, strategizing where to put the pile of snow and pushing it over the hill.

The snow blower wouldn’t start. It leaked gas into a mason jar Jerry had set under it. “It’s the carburetor,” Jerry explained. We were on our own. No mechanical assistance in the epic snow, snow, snow storm.

Suddenly, I was flooded with snow storm memories. I could see my step-father, Bud with the gravely, plowing our 1/8 mile country drive and doing it by hand with a shovel when the machine refused to cooperate. We kids ‘helped’ for a few minutes or an hour, when we were older and then took to the hills for a sled ride, which my youngest reminded me of when he said, “Snow storms are supposed to be fun. Not work. I want to go play.” He helped for a bit and then did somersaults off of whatever high ground or out of trees.

A snow storm bud
Bud and his gravely

Memories of my four year old sister being run over by a tractor trailer sized inter-tube full of teens and popping up unscathed. Snow up to the second story window when we lived in Wyoming. Digging my a narrow path of side walk with walls higher than the top of my head with my siblings when we lived in Colorado. Dad throwing me over a snow drift when we were stranded and hanging on for dear life to my doll. Inching our way across an icy bridge while the lady in front of us kept breaking and sliding.  Sitting by the fire drinking hot tea or coffee and reading aloud to my kids or to myself.

What does all this rambling mean? Storms teach me lessons

1.Storms make us slow down. It is up to us to be joyful or miserable in midst of the storm. Many years ago, a freak October snow storm hit, taking our power with it. The kids and I played pioneer days for a week, hunkering down in the family room by the fire place and doing everything by hand like they did in the ‘old days’. We melted water in a pot on the gas stove and kept a few things running on a small generator. It made our world smaller and slower.

2. Storms bring us together (if we let them). My family laughed together as we shoveled. We talked while we worked. Joked. Ania filmed me running down the road and falling in the snow (not sharing that video).  I texted and messaged the older kids and they shared videos and pictures with me, comparing snow. Our South Carolina Guire family made funny videos of themselves ‘sledding’ on a dusting of snow and we spoke to them on the phone. Ania and I called out to neighbors when we took a walk to survey the snow.It’s the camaraderie of we are in this together! Or “you too?”

3. We make mistakes in the midst of a storm because we panic and we grow weary in well doing. Sunday, during round two of shoveling the driveway, I was hurling huge shovel fulls of snow over my shoulder like a machine. Progress. Until I turned around and realized I was reburying Jerry’s car. The worse part about it? I did it again a few minutes later. I was so intent on getting to the end of the driveway that I wasn’t thinking straight. “I liked this better yesterday when my arms worked!” I told my husband and when daughter Amerey text me asking how the shoveling went, I said, “My arms fell off and I left them in the snow.”

4. Storms can be triggers. Storms can bring a host of memories, some of times we pulled through, others of times, we felt as if the Red Sea didn’t part for us. We can give into the negative in the midst of the storm like I was when my arms were giving out. We can also take a break and reflect on the times that God gave us joy in the middle of the circumstance.

5. We want other people to grow during the storm, but it is not up to us. You know the feeling you get when someone can help, but they don’t. I often want my kids to see the big picture, to mature in the midst of the storm. It’s not up to me. I might want my teen to pick up the shovel on his own, to make great choices about what he does with his free time. Just because I want it doesn’t mean he is ready to grow. I pray. God does the work.

TWWbutton200x200_zps62610d74 Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor, join us!

When your Child on the Spectrum Needs a day off

Ania and I were packing up the cooler and getting ready to head out the door to hike at Cooper’s Rock State Park, about an hour from our home. Youngest son decided at the last minute he would rather stay home. I mentally went back over the week’s events before I gave him the okay. It had been a busy week. Two trips to the local fair, one for a few concerts (and some rides). another for barrel racing and demolition derby, an eye appointment with news that he needed glasses and helping his older college-age brother move in and get somewhat situated. I was tired from the long week, but not overwhelmed. I could tell he was. He normally loves climbing on rocks, but it wouldn’t have been a fun outing for him this time. He was overloaded.

Sometimes kids on the spectrum don’t want to come out of their comfort zone at all. They would rather stay home and stick to their routine, play Minecraft or other video games and not have the stress of social interaction. They may want company some days, but only if they call the shots. Company overwhelms them because it requires social interaction. If a child on the spectrum doesn’t know how to walk away from the bustle of an extended family gathering, he may shut down the next day. Kids on the spectrum don’t bounce back quickly from extended social time.

So, where do you draw the line? How do you balance outings with time away from the fray? It’s different with each child. It’s important for us parents to read the signals and help the child regulate. When he is able, he needs to recognize the signals with some help from parents before he can move on to self-regulation. Some kids on the spectrum will grow into adults who need a trusted friend or spouse to help them watch for the signs of overload. It’s not a weakness. It’s a strength.

Think of it like waves. The waves come on the shore, then they recede. When they recede,they gather strength to surge onto the sand again. Life is busier than it has ever been. Our schedules are full to the max and if we are not careful, we can push our kids on the spectrum to meltdown mania. They need time to de-stress. They may need a day off with no demands. If we make this a priority, it will not only benefit us, but the whole household will be happier, calmer.

barbed wire rest

If you feel as if your family is drowning in a busy schedule and your child or children meltdown all the time, you may need a rest day. Not a day to stay home and do a bunch of other stuff that requires them to participate, just a good old fashioned day off. One where a kid can lie on the ground and watch the clouds go by. One where a kid can build a blanket fort and read books with a flashlight. One where he can pretend for hours. A day to eat dinner on the back deck and stay there talking, laughing, waiting for the fireflies to make their evening debut. A day where the clock doesn’t dictate. A day where Mom can sit down and see all the things a kid has designed on Minecraft and listen, really listen. These sorts of days don’t just happen anymore. Years ago, when I was a child, they  did. Now we have to plan them.

Most kids are under too much stress these days. It’s not just kids on the spectrum who need a day off. We all do. Watch for the symptoms of stress in your kids on the spectrum. Be the regulator. Take your foot off the gas and just idle for a day. Stay home. Watch the grass grow. Walmart will still be there tomorrow. So will everything else. If you don’t do what you planned in pen on your calendar, will it really matter ten years from now? Kick off your shoes and help your child de-stress by being the example.

*If you need some help warming up your pretending gears, check out this book to get you and your child going-

Rest

  Grab a cup of coffee and sit with me for a few minutes.  Are you weary?  Heavy laden?  Do you labor and desire rest?  I do.  I desire rest, deep -relax the muscles of my mind and body rest.  Last January, I took the challenge from friend and fellow blogger, Selena Campbell and chose a word for the year.  My word?  Rest.  
    This summer is packed full of swim days, swim meets, travels and picnic..  The trees glory of emerald summer, humidity knocks at the door and  I need a refresher course on scriptures on rest, not that God hasn’t been plunking down it in front of me every direction I turn. Whew! How quickly I forget. I need renewed in my mind and body. As I sit, still fuzzy-tired from the holiday weekend,  it feels good to confess that I haven’t done my part.  For the whole year, this scripture keeps coming up over and over.  Has that ever happened to you?  You hear something on the radio in a song? You open the devotional you left in the family room and there that something is again?  You read a blog and BAM, there it is again?  On to the Scripture!
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [a]ease and relieve and [b]refresh [c]your souls.]
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([d]relief and ease and refreshment and [e]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.(A)
30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [f]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.- Matthew 11: 28-30

    After this scripture crossed my path a few hundred times, I copied it by hand and studied it. I underlined key words and made a chart.
My Action
1. Come
2. Learn of Jesus
3. Take His yoke on me
His Action
1. Cause me to rest
2. Ease, relieve, refresh, my soul

Outcome:  I will find rest, relief, ease, refreshment, recreation, and blessed quiet for my soul (mind, will and emotions)
His attributes:
Gentle (meek) in heart
Humble (lowly) in heart
Yoke is….
Wholesome (useful, good)
Comfortable, gracious, pleasant
light, easy to be borne

What a relief.  My job?  To take the comfortable, gracious, pleasant, easy to be borne, yoke.  Learn of Him.  He is gentle. Humble.  He is not harsh, hard sharp or pressing.  He will carry the heavy side of the yoke.  I am the weak oxen,  He knows.  Rest.  Relief.  Refreshment.  Recreation.  Blessed quiet for my soul.

*I dug this post out and reworked it for today because I needed this reminder. When I am bone-weary, muscle-burning, brain-fog and my mind still screams, What are you going to DO? To which I answer, REST.
Do you give yourself that answer today? REST your mind from worry. REST from too much activity. REST from laboring in mind, body and spirit.

My confession/prayer today:
I rest when I need to rest and work when I need to work.  I do not confuse the two.  I come unto You, Lord when I am heavy laden, You ease, relieve and refresh my soul.  I am learning of YOU, YOUR ways and carrying YOUR light load.