Aha Moments + Figuring Out Who I Am

Picture by Connor Lyon on the Pecos River.

I feel like I’m learning something new everyday… either about myself, about others around me, or about life in general. I guess that’s semi-normal, BUT I am a super reflective person so it’s just a constant thing for me. It can be a blessing and a curse. I am ALWAYS processing things in my brain, which is why this blog is so helpful for me!

Just FYI, there’s a long post ahead (I have been working on it for days).

I just thought I’d share some things that I’ve been learning lately. Some are “small things,” yet still life-changing. I believe the “small things” matter just as much as the “big things” in life. I have seen that play out time and time again. I’m so grateful for life. Truly.

  • I have been so back-and-forth about social media. One day, Robert was like, “pick one.” I have been deactivating only to re-activate. I have been thinking through whether or not I’m “addicted” like I have been thinking, or if it’s just a source of connection for me and I crave connection. I LOVE my people here at camp, BUT it can feel somewhat isolating living an hour and 15 minutes from civilization (and so far from a lot of friends and family). I have so many friends that I connect with on social media. I also have some groups that I’m a part of that I LOVE. I’ve decided that it’s okay! Yes, I could definitely reduce time spent scrolling, but ultimately, social media has more positives than negatives. The anxiety that I have from it is actually more because I feel that I need to live up to a certain expectation with social media. Like, maybe my posting annoys people. Maybe people think that I say too much, post too much, or am on too much. I have a “friend” in “real life” that won’t befriend me on social media because she said it’s a boundary that she has to have (I don’t really understand that, but it’s not for me to understand). I’m not even sure if I should consider that person a friend if she feels that my truth is too much for her. At the end of the day, I will always be ME. I love to share! Not only is it an outlet for me, but I hear time and time again how my honesty is so helpful to others. I’m sure God made me the way He did for a reason! My friend wrote this on my Facebook post this morning: “But my victory is, in part, because of you. Your life, your spirit, your candor, all the love that is you… You matter. You make a difference. You never know who you’re helping with your sharing.” If you read this, thank you friend. That was HUGE for me. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. This was the reminder and “answer” to my dilemma that I needed.
  • This was the post that her comment was written on: “ ‘There’s something about acceptance for the things that I cannot change and the desire to finally get out of my comfort zone with things that I couldn’t continue living with.‘ I’m making a lot of changes starting with mindset and realizing that I need to find my own way and stop listening to everyone else. My changes are paying off quickly. I am definitely not anxiety-free, but my mental health is improving steadily. I’m so grateful. I’m not expecting to not have any mental health struggles. But the debilitating physical symptoms aren’t with me 24/7 now. I’ll take it! The frustrating part of all of this is that if I had stopped listening to everyone else a long time ago and listened to myself, this wouldn’t have taken so long. But that’s okay because I’ve learned a whole lot along the way. I’m so grateful that I am becoming the person that I want to be.”
  • I can do hard things even when they aren’t fun in the moment. And it’s important to do those things. I know the phrase “I can do hard things” is all over the place, and sometimes I feel like it loses its meaning and sentiment. But gosh. The kayaking trip was SO much harder than I anticipated. I’m still trying to decide if I want to do it again. Was it type 2 or 3 fun (definitely NOT type 1)? I was okay for the first 11 miles. They involved fun rapids and the current helped push you along. The last 9 miles were brutal. It was wide open water with a head wind. I’ve heard it wasn’t as bad as it could be, but to me it was bad. I was trying to kayak solo for the first part of that, but I ended up having to go tandem because my strength wasn’t enough to push myself. It was so exhausting. Then we only got about 4.5 hours of sleep Tuesday night and were finished by 8:30 am Wednesday afternoon. I’m still trying to overcome. My mind and body are worn out. I hate that I feel this way. At the end of the day, I’m happy that I had that bonding moment with the summer staff, and I can say that I did it! I work with summer staff who do these river trips all summer and I really didn’t get it. Now I do.
  • I re-joined Street Parking. I wrote a post in the group and immediately remembered how much I love the community. So many were happy that I was back and said that they had been thinking about me and wondering how I was doing. One person said that he was thinking about doing a wellness check. There are like 25,000 people in the group and they care about ME. It’s such a refreshing space. I left for two main reasons: 1) I didn’t think we could afford for me to spend that $20 a month, 2) I thought that it was making me think about weight loss, food, etc too much. Little did I know, I really just needed the space to do some inward work. I have since learned how much food affects my brain. I have learned that it’s OKAY to focus on food if it’s for the right reasons (for ME). It’s not about weight loss for me, and it’s not about weight loss for a LOT of members. And it IS about weight loss and body composition change for others. That’s okay! I can still focus on fitness and food for whatever reason I want to focus on it just like other people are allowed to decide what their focus is.
  • I have learned that I have had to find my own way, and that’s honestly perfect. I’m too old to compare my journey with others’ journeys and to listen to what everyone is telling me to do (or what people are doing for themselves that may not fit my needs). I feel confident in that now.
  • It has been suggested to me for years that I should write a book. It was mentioned again the other night by such a sweet friend. I have started an outline, and maybe it’s time to put some more effort into it. I already know exactly how it will start. Sometimes I feel like I don’t really have much of a story to share (and that my story doesn’t matter, really), but people tell me all of the time that I do have a lot to share.
  • I am finally turning into the person that I want to be. My identity is in Christ. But I also get to choose how I live my life and be the person that is authentically me. It has taken YEARS to get here, and I do feel that I have a lot of growth ahead of me. I think that’s the point, though.
  • For many years, I have been told (or things I believed from messages that are confusing): 1) “clean foods” aren’t a thing and are pointless to focus on, 2) nothing is truly natural, 3) everything has chemicals, so why use “natural things?” 4) organic and grass-fed terms and labels are just marketing schemes (they CAN be, but I’ll share what I’ve learned about this eventually), 5) herbs and supplements are a scam and don’t do anything, 6) there are no “good foods” or “bad foods,” 7) processed foods are fine, 8) medication is the only way to truly manage mental health (other things help a bit, but I must take medication), 9) I just need to accept my anxiety symptoms because it’s just the way my brain was made, 10) the most important thing is to follow my hunger and fullness cues (no matter WHAT I eat), 11) there is only ONE way of eating that works for everyone and that calories and macros are the main things that matter, 12) as long as I hit my macros for the day, my body will be the way it’s supposed to be, 13) doing specific diets (even if only for a short time to determine some trigger foods) are damaging, 14) “real foods” aren’t a thing, 15) nutrition doesn’t really affect brain health, 16) “gut health” is a marketing term and means nothing (including that it doesn’t affect mental health), 17) being happy isn’t important or something we should strive for (the Christian world claims this a lot), 18) MY way is the only way (I am told this by people on SO many levels- that their version of research is the only way… except that you can probably find “research” to back up any position or belief)… I could go on and on.
  • I have found the opposite of a lot of these things (from above) to be true or have found something in the middle to be true of a lot of these things.
  • While I believe science and research to be super important, I have learned that anecdotal evidence is also important! Hearing stories from those around me about things that have worked for them is so helpful. Especially when those stories show the benefit of things to many people around me. Consistency is important.
  • I can trust myself! I know what hasn’t worked for me. I know myself well enough to know that I can tell when something IS working for me. And it’s okay if it’s not mainstream.
  • I don’t have “it” all figured out. I’m okay with that because I know I never will. But if I can make changes that truly affect me in a positive way, that’s enough. And I will share with everyone because that’s just who I am.

Who is Courtney? What does Courtney like and believe in?

It has taken me years (YEARS) to figure this out. And as I said, I’m still learning about myself.

I’m a Christ follower (not super conservative… which is a whole thing), wife to Robert for almost 20 years (wow!), and mama to 3 teenagers who are all amazing and have different needs. I could write post after post just about these relationships. I am so incredibly blessed (overused word, but I can’t find a better one at the moment).

My relationship with Jesus has been very up and down as I have figured out what I believe over the years, but I’m so grateful that I went through that now. I have a more intimate relationship with Jesus and the other stuff just doesn’t matter as much.

I love spending the first part of my day drinking half caff coffee while prayer journaling and studying God’s Word.

I love adventure, though I’m sort of picky about my adventuring (and that’s okay).

I am a backyard homesteader that would love to expand what I do in my backyard and kitchen steadily. I’m going to add more garden beds, begin composting, continue growing in my sourdough making, continue learning about fermenting and putting it into practice, canning, etc. This brings me joy and peace.

Homeschooling my boys (I wish my daughter would homeschool, but that’s okay) brings me joy and purpose. I’m a great teacher, but I’m even better as a teacher of my own kids. I have passion for it. I’m still learning how to teach teenagers, but I’m enjoying the process. I cannot wait till the fall. I have so many plans!

I love nature. I love to learn about God’s creation. It’s beautiful and mysterious. I’ve been learning that I have a whole lot of edible and medicinal plants literally in my backyard. I’m going to expand my knowledge of what to do with them soon!

I love to hike for the purpose of adventure, exercise, and nature studies (and just being in God’s creation).

I love living simply. Doing the little things with intention. Having few bills, not working full time, going camping for vacation, having slow mornings, wearing t-shirts and jeans every day, shopping at thrift stores, playing games for entertainment, having coffee or tea with friends, drinking coffee/tea out of my favorite thrift store mug, enjoying the thrift store decor around my home (that everyone comments on!), using lots of free/inexpensive furniture, etc. It makes life feel so much more calm and peaceful.

I love hosting people, whether in my home or in our wilderness lodge. Feeding, serving coffee and hot tea, playing games, watching movies, etc, with camp family is my favorite thing!

I love people who are often judged and not accepted among “Christians.” I’ve been through a lot in my life and have been humbled many times. I’ve been reminded that we are all worthy of the love of Jesus and His followers.

I am a night owl. I hate mornings. Robert and I are opposite. He goes to sleep EARLY. We almost always go to bed at the same time, though. I just stay awake a lot later usually. I read, watch stuff, play games, blog (which I’m doing now next to a sleeping hubby), etc. I can’t think of many times in our marriage in which we went to bed at different times. It’s interesting to think about.

I love serving meals family style at our table (a farm table that has been in our family for several generations).

I love making everything homemade. Currently I’m making sourdough (with white bread flour and with fresh ground wheat), Greek yogurt, whey, granola, fermented veggies, kombucha, muffins, etc. I am going to begin making cleaners and things homemade again soon!

I LOVE that I’m slowly getting to where I don’t need a bunch of medication! I had no idea that it was possible. But I have gone from like 12 medications to 4. And I’m still weaning off of some slowly (with the help of my psychiatrist). I’m not against medications when they are needed, but I did NOT need most of the meds that I was on. They were just causing side effects.

I find joy or importance in… cacti, wildflowers (aka weeds), my dog, chickens, hot tea, lavender EVERYTHING, all the pumpkin (that’s starting soon for me), earth tones, t-shirts, Birkenstocks, mountains, desert, poetry, vintage things, music, joyful movement (running, trail running, Street Parking, hiking), eating food that feels good in my body, therapy, podcasts, audio books, reading, writing, water, kombucha, warmth in my home, thrifting, Bible study, prayer journaling, buying local when possible, family time, tattoos, my office (and bedroom), coziness, sunshine, thunderstorms, fall, Christmas, community.

I’m not always patient, I have a strong sense of justice, I can accidentally be a jerk, I’m a bit much for some people, I start stuff to never finish it (a lot), I’m a passionate person, I give 300% when I’m passionate about something, I have the attention span of a gnat unless I’m totally interested (then I hyperfocus like crazy), and I’m learning that I don’t have to label myself by the mental illnesses I have struggled with for years!

Life is improving consistently, and I’m so excited to see how things are in a few months!

Here are some pics that were taken by one of the guides (Connor Lyon) on the Pecos trip!

Here are a few more pictures that I took:

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