Just One Word

I used to roll my eyes when I would see yet another social media post about someone choosing a word for the year. I thought it was silly. How could choosing a word to focus on for an entire year help anyone? But then last year at this time I was so broken and parts of my life seemed hopeless and I figured what could it hurt?

Since I had never chosen a word for the year before, I did research on Google and found a Word of the Year Generator – which I unfortunately cannot share the link for because that was a year ago and I apparently did not save it. I used the Generator and was given the word Restore.

Restore. What a perfect word for what lay before me – a land mine of a life that I wasn’t sure I would survive. It was enough to spark hope in my heart – just enough hope to face the coming year.

Last year was hard. There were definitely good things throughout the year, but overall, it was very challenging. I had to give up my dogs that I loved (I literally had no real choice unless I wanted to be homeless), my classes for school more often than not ceased to be enjoyable and I wanted to quit (but I didn’t!), I got divorced from a 15 year marriage that I thought would be my forever, and I had to deal with the fallout from the trauma for me and my kids from that relationship that wasn’t at all what it looked like from the outside.

Restore. God definitely brought about restoration in my life this last year. I went from being on three different anxiety medications – one as needed, two daily – to next to lowest dose of only one of them (with my doctor’s help – never try to do it alone), and I should be completely weaned off anxiety meds entirely within six months. The anxiety and depression that plagued me before I left my marriage is completely gone. I have moments of sadness or feeling anxious – but they are normal emotions; not strong enough to require a diagnosis.

I was not allowed to keep my dogs but we were allowed to get our bearded dragons because they don’t make a lot of noise and they are not destructive. I still want to have dogs again someday, but you’d be surprised just how much my little scaly babies like to snuggle. Our dragons have brought us a lot of joy and laughter, and will continue to do so.

I passed all of my classes and am set to finish this fall. I will have to really focus and become more organized in order to do so – I will be doing school full time, working, and being mom. Fortunately I do school online so I am still home with my girls.

At the beginning of 2019, I had a good job, but in June I was able to start a career-worthy job. I have been told multiple times that I would make a great supervisor, but I cannot commit to that level just yet. My kids come first, and I also need to graduate before I could consider something like that. When I left my marriage and my girls and I moved into a domestic violence shelter, I really didn’t know how we would make it. I knew I would do what it took, but I never thought I would have a job that I love – one that is so much more than paying the bills. And while I don’t make the big bucks, I thoroughly enjoy what I do.

At the beginning of the year I was trying to find a church but just couldn’t find one that was the right fit for my family. A few months ago I found home, and I am so grateful that God led us there!

I’m not going into details on my finances, but suffice it to say that God is helping me there too.

And finally, when I left my marriage, I lost friendships because I finally stopped protecting a lie. I understand now that they were not my true friends in the first place. And beyond that, I have made new friends and grown closer to old friends that I had barely been in touch with before.

Restore was such a perfect word for last year that I decided to do a word for the year again this year. But now that I’m a seasoned pro (haha), I chose my own word. Truthfully, I was driving to work and singing along with my worship music playlist, enjoying my time with God, when the word came to me. That word is Shift.

Shift. According to a search on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, the first option for shift is as follows:

Definition of shift

transitive verb

1: to exchange for or replace by another CHANGE

2a: to change the place, position, or direction of MOVE

b: to make a change in (place)

3: to change phonetically

Shift. When my attitude sucks, I will shift to a better attitude. When I am being overly negative, I will shift my thoughts. When what I am doing isn’t working, I will shift to a new way of thinking and doing. I will even do a silly hand movement if it helps!

This year will have its own challenges, but I am determined to grow; determined to keep moving forward. While I choose to be content, I refuse to sit still and stagnate.

And while I’m at it, I choose to have a more open mind to the things that seem silly to me. Because they just might work.

Because I Can

Unless you are new to this blog, you have already learned that I love plants. Both of my thumbs (and probably my big toes) are green, and I have living, green things throughout my apartment. I often find clearanced out plants at Lowe’s – and occasionally Walmart – that are nearly dead, buy them super cheap, clean them up, and then love them back to life. I have done this so many times that my mom has taken to calling me the “Plant Doctor.” I laugh when she does, but she’s not really wrong. Between research and experimenting, I have successfully brought back many plants over the years.

This passion of mine is a lot of fun, but it holds deeper meaning for me as well. My life has been full of ups and downs, and sometimes I feel I can relate to some of these plants.

I can’t tell you how many times my life has taken an unexpected turn. I can’t tell you how many times I have found my hope nearly destroyed by events and experiences I’ve lived through. But every single time, God has picked me up, cleaned me off, and transplanted me so I have room to grow. It’s a painful experience, but each time it’s been worth the tears and struggle.

And so yes, I can relate. But even that is not the primary focus of what I want to write about today.

Before I left an extremely unhealthy situation, I struggled with ridiculous anxiety. I don’t mean that I felt nervous or a little stressed. I mean I had increasingly regular panic attacks, the unknown terrified me, I struggled with trusting anyone, and functioning like a “normal” adult was a challenge. Many days it was a challenge I couldn’t rise to. Thankfully, God brought me out of a bad situation, and within six months, I went from almost crippling anxiety to almost none at all.

This is what I want to talk about. Not the anxiety itself – it’s all over the news and social media these days, you don’t need me to tell you what it looks like – but one basic step to help yourself deal with it until it passes. I’m not going to tell you to pray about it, because hopefully you already are. I am going to give you this one thing you can do to keep fighting for your mind – maybe even your life.

So what is this one thing? That’s up to you.

Oh geez, Misty, that’s helpful.

No, it really is. You find one thing that you can do. I don’t care if it’s as simple as turning on a light, opening the blinds or a window, or reading five words on a page. Find that one thing that you can commit to yourself that you will do each day. When you are ready, feel free to add another, but for now, be content with one.

Even if you don’t struggle with severe anxiety, this can be applied to your life as well. Currently, I find myself with too many goals and too little time. I was alone this weekend and apart from working out with some new friends first thing in the morning, I had all day to myself yesterday. I had so many projects I wanted to get done, but I knew that I couldn’t do them all. I could have allowed my feelings of being overwhelmed convince me to take a nap and not do any of it, but instead, I chose one thing I could do. I transplanted, pruned, and watered all of my plants. I threw away what was dead (the dead stuff can drain the life out of what’s living), and rearranged what was left so that each plant was getting the light it needs. Some of my plants were new – I found a few plants on clearance at Lowe’s the night before (a couple of them were as low as fifty cents!) – and they needed the most work.

When I was done, I had a big mess in my kitchen. There were dead leaves and dirt all over my floor! I needed a break, so I took one. And then I felt exhausted because I hadn’t slept much at all the night before, got up early to do an intense workout, and then worked for a few hours on my plants. So I took a nap. Yes, I left the dirt on my floor. I was the only one home, and I needed to rest.

But don’t worry, I swept my floor and mopped it a few hours later.

It’s about finding what you can do, doing it, and taking breaks when you need to.

In the past, I have pushed through and completed a lot of things all at once. But then I felt so exhausted the next few days that it killed my motivation to do anything else. Finding that balance is what is important.

And so sometimes, I work on plants because I can.