Friday, June 26, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

I wrote this yesterday morning (June 25th) but didn't get the chance to post it until today. Apologies...

Today is my birthday and I'm turning 32. When I turned 30 I had a feeling this was going to be the best decade of my life. So far it seems to be headed in that direction.

Professionally, I feel like I have finally found my calling. I love mental health therapy. I love working with the most troubled kiddos. For almost two and half years I worked at a job that I really enjoyed, even though there were times it got pretty tough. In less than a week I will be following my calling even further to Romania where I will be in the trenches with orphaned and abandoned kids almost every single day and I can't wait.

Spiritually, I feel like I'm tracking pretty well with God (though we can always do better, right?). I have setbacks but I have really seen God do some awesome things in my life. I feel peace and joy in my spirit that weren't there five or six years ago. I am more grateful than I ever have been for God's saving grace. I'm still learning lessons but I feel like I get the lesson quicker and I experience restoration in my relationship with God immediately, a feeling that I struggled to find, sometimes for months or years, in the past. These are things that I have wrestled with over the years and I feel like, maybe, I'm finally starting to get the picture.

I have had the joy of spending the last 3 years building closer relationships with my family members. I have a wonderful relationship with my parents. I've gotten to spend more time with my grandparents than in many years past. I have an awesome nephew who inspires me to be a better person. I have amazing kids who continue to grow and change in ways that five years ago I never thought possible.

My sweet nephew hanging out with me on my bed.
My Iuli, who is awesome.
My Ionut, who is also awesome.
My girls, Catalina and Albina...also awesome.
My guessed it, another awesome kid!
My Mirela, truly an awesome girl.
As I look ahead to the next year I'm filled with excitement. I'm so thankful to my family and friends for letting me go be a mom to my kids on a daily basis for awhile. I'm grateful to God for the huge blessings He has given me over the last year. I'm ready to tackle the next challenge and see where life takes me. Yesterday, I moved 20 huge boxes of donations for my nonprofit from one storage unit to another all by myself. Then I went to an indoor trampoline center and bounced with my little cousins for two hours. At the end of the day I felt strong, not old (well, until this morning when I woke up with shoulder and neck pain, then I felt a little bit old). I want to always be able to play soccer when my kids ask me to. I want to be able to go swimming in the summer for hours at a time. I want to run and jump and kiss and hug and flip and climb trees if that's what's needed to show my kids and my nephew that I love them.
This is everything I moved by myself.

Playing soccer last year with my kids.
So, happy birthday to me! Here's to another beautiful year full of new and exciting experiences, growth, and love.

Monday, June 8, 2015

June is Busy

It was a little weird waking up today and not having to head off to work. Last week it made sense because I was on vacation. But today there was no vacation and there was also no work. But June is shaping up to be busy anyway:
  • May 29th was my last day of work at the Academy for Family Empowerment (mental health counseling).
  • May 30th was the start of vacation.
  • June 6th was the end of vacation.
  • Yesterday and today were spent packing because...
  • Tomorrow (June 9th) I leave for a few days of training with Heart to Heart (missions agency) in San Diego.
Normally I'm a little leery of plane travel. I just prefer to keep my feet on the ground (ironic as I usually travel internationally twice a year). However, this time I'm actually excited. Maybe because I know this is one step closer to Romania!

I will be back there soon!
Every time I think about the fact that I am moving to the other side of the world I experience a multitude of emotions. I'm excited to be going because I love these kids so much and I can't wait to work with them daily. I'm excited to be moving to a country that I love and a people that I feel at home with. I'm overwhelmed just thinking about packing up my life. I'm overwhelmed at all that has to be done before I can leave. I'm sad to be leaving my family and friends. I worry about how much my nephew will change while I'm gone and if he will remember me at all. I'm anxious about making all my connecting flights. I'm eager and ready to find out what each day will look like. I pray that I will be able to learn a new language quickly and that, one day hopefully soon, it will come naturally to me. I'm thankful to say that out of all these emotions, excitement and readiness are the pervading ones. While I am nervous and anxious about parts of the journey I know that this is exactly what I need to be doing.

Is it weird that I am looking forward to the heat of the Romanian summer? Probably...
If you are interested I have some pictures of vacation up on my Facebook page (though there are still more to be added). I will probably be adding some pictures from training as well. I'll try and keep everyone updated between now and when I leave for Romania on the 28th!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


About three weeks back I made the decision to start following the Paleo Diet. In a (very quick) nutshell Paleo is high protein, low carb eating. Some of the biggest "no-no"s are grains and processed sugars. I decided to switch to Paleo because for the last few years I've had a plethora of health issues that seem to be linked to an auto-immune disorder. First, I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which basically means that my stomach was generally a wreck for no real reason except that I was probably under a lot of stress. Then, I had Hashimoto's disease or hypothyroidism which is caused when the body attacks the thyroid and it's not able to function properly. Next, I developed hypersomnia which is pretty much just being tired all the dang time and, finally, my doctor decided that I also have low to moderate fibromyalgia (chronic pain and joint inflammation). Over the past year my doctor has told me several times that it seems like my issues are caused by my body basically turning on itself (i.e. an auto-immune disorder). This makes sense as I can look back over the last 15 years and see how my anxiety and stress issues have been building to the point where my body has started to break down (I cannot tell you how many times I've had tendonitis, stomach issues, and sleep problems). This chart pretty much explains what (I think) happened over the years:

I had already cut out lactose because I had discovered that this caused huge stomach issues for me. After the last pronouncement that I was still having issues due to an auto-immune disorder, I began to research ways to naturally treat auto-immune issues. Well, the Paleo diet was it. There is an auto-immune protocol (AIP) Paleo Diet that you can follow but it is super restrictive. The Paleo plan that I follow is "Paleo-ish"; I still drink a cup of sugary instant coffee in the morning and I have grains about once a day. I live with my parents who follow the standard American diet and I don't want to inconvenience them so I make it work around what we normally buy from week to week. Veggie chips (especially sweet potato chips) and salsa have become my go to snack. Larabars are also lifesavers. I don't think I'll ever be 100% Paleo but I shot for at least 75% each day. There are certain foods I may never be able to fully give up (pizza and ice cream are two big ones) and when I go out to eat or hang out with friends I don't want to feel like I'm "that guy" who makes a big deal out of food. This blog post by Paleo Mama is an excellent explanation of why I'm not 100% Paleo.

It's been almost around three weeks and I'm seeing some definite improvements. I'll be sure to update you on my progress as I go!