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Marriage is a Journey

Marriage is a Journey

Some say nothing is forever anymore, and maybe that is true, but then again, maybe someone said that who would have rather given up then figured out a solution.

Fourteen years is a long time…I guess.

Fourteen years seems short when you see others married 30, 40, even 60 years. I love the dance at weddings where couples get up and dance and as their year of marriage gets called they have to sit down. I always try to guess how long the last couple will be married. And at the last few weddings (well the last few pre-COVID-19 weddings), I have been blown away at the years together: one was 56 years, another 63, another 60! How amazing, and the best is when they dance, they look so happy! But truth be told, I’m absolutely sure not every day of their married lives were a walk in the park, was as blissful as that one moment I got to see.

This year marks FOURTEEN years of marriage for my husband and me. I guess considering we are only 36 that is a long time, but then again I’m still 45+ years away from those happy dancing couples I saw dancing last year.

Marring Brian was easy, I knew I was going to marry him when I was twelve years old. How? I’m not really sure, just a part of me knew that. And just when I thought I’d lost my chance, I went all in, and yep, as the story goes, at 17 we became high school sweethearts.

We’ve only been married for 5,110+ days, but I assure you, we know commitment. Life is not easy and when you combine your life with another, well let’s just say it gets more complicated. Day after day, after day, you have to continually consider the other person’s needs, wants, dreams, hopes, even shortcomings, and character defects (because hey, we all have them) and that is in addition to still trying to live your life and do your thing and follow your path.

That commitment pushes your buttons, that commitment warms you up, and in a moment’s notice pours cold water on you. That commitment is confusing, frustrating, and unfair (at times), I bet no one wrote that into their vows.

But commitment is also reassuring, loving, comforting, and supportive, and for me, it feels secure, it feels safe, it’s the biggest promise I will ever make.

I’ve grown a lot in the past fourteen years and I’m sure Brian will say the same, but that growth is kinda part of the ride, like a road trip so to speak, you can plan all you want but the trip usually doesn’t go as planned, and if you get too attached to the plan you will probably always end up disappointed.

So in 14+ years both Brian and I have moved through recovery from an eating disorder, lost our first child, grieved the loss of our first child, opened up a business, took on several other business endeavors, had four kids, bought a house, and are still busy working towards a future together hopefully for many more years to come.

Here’s the thing, I struggled to discover who I was early on in our marriage, I hadn’t really known me for a long time and as I became more myself each day it slowly changed my perception of marriage. I used to think that when you married someone you both then were to be walking one path together. But I would think about that concept often and it just wouldn’t make sense to me and I would be left with confusion as to how this would all work. But then I had a wave of relief one day and for the last thirteen years, I have worked to live my life this way in our marriage.

Married or not, you walk your path, each day you discover more of who you are and what you believe in, how you will help the world. But when you marry, your path aligns with another’s, you don’t walk each other’s path, you don’t block, hurt, or hinder the path of the other. You walk parallel, and when your partner happens to fall behind, you lead, you reach out your hand and help. And then when you find yourself to have fallen, your chosen partner will be there to reach out a hand, to stand strong while you are weak, and lead. Neither person is better than the other because your paths aren’t the same. The roles you share are just that shared. It may be years you carry certain responsibilities and at a moment’s notice that role shifts and the other takes hold.

Marriage is a balance of give and take, there is no room to be selfish, and no matter what there will always be temptation to try to steer you off your path, but one thing Brian and I have talked about is “choice”, everything in life is a choice, and fourteen years ago we made a choice to walk side by side one another through thick and thin, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health, and yes till death do us part. In marriage you learn to ride the wave, if you fight it you’ll end up unhappy, but if you learn to ride it, it becomes just that – a ride!

I don’t know what the next 40 years will bring, heck what the next year will bring, but that is kind of the point. You will never know it all, but as we grow side by side it’s like a new relationship each day, and each of those days is an opportunity to be the best version of ourselves both for our own sake and each other. And that “newness” is a push to learn new things about ourselves, an encouragement to move forward rather than be left behind. Marriage is a balance of all of that and more…

To many more years.. xx

Brian and Hope

 

Don’t Sit Still and Listen: Backyard Parenting

Don’t Sit Still and Listen: Backyard Parenting

Each day I realize my kids are only getting older and soon they will have their own opinions and ideas they already have their own opinions and ideas!

What was once scheduling naps and changing diapers has now become everything school-aged children.

So now that I have 3 grade schoolers, days are longer (even if some are still doing virtual school), sitting still is a requirement, and the joys of studying for tests and homework loom our household. I have found that being a parent is a combination of doing the things my parents did that I loved, doing the things I wish they would have done, and doing the things that are necessary for each of my kids individually, depending on what they need.

Just last night I was helping Harper study for a religion test and what is he doing: trying to sit still at first, then making silly faces, rocking on the stool, standing on the stool sideways, running and leaping over the stool to see how far his long jump can stretch, pretty much just not paying attention. As I attempt to wrangle him back in and realize this is getting nowhere, he proceeds to tell me he just can’t seem to remember the names of the people and the answers to some of the other questions. I can see he’s distracted and somewhat uninterested. Because heck, are you wanting to talk about work after a full day at work?

I was initially frustrated with him like it was his fault he didn’t know the answers, but as his parent it is my job to help him, guide him and find his strengths and show him how to use them. A big parenting lesson for me continues to be don’t take my frustrations out on my kids-they are just kids.

So I took a breath and stepped back.

Because if Harper was me when I was young, I probably would have been told to knock it off, sit down and focus. But how can a very active boy focus by sitting still at 6 O’Clock at night when his sit-still-juice has already been used up at school?

It occurred to me a while ago that as a parent I can either do what has always been done and what most others are doing: make a flip chart, or a red, yellow, green light reward sheet for my kids so that they “behave” when I want them to, so that they can learn to suppress their inner energy and need for movement to appease me. Or I can show them how to use their strengths, understand their emotions, and learn right from wrong with always explaining why.

At our house it’s not just studying for a test, homework, daily reading is approached with a get it done attitude but one that asks my kids to be themselves and move. Doing sight words Harper struggled for a while and so while doing them every time he got one right he’d jump up, and soon he was jumping up the entire deck of 50+ cards. When doing a worksheet, I break it up and give him a 30 second to one-minute break to go be silly. The emphasis on doing that gets him jazzed up and so when he comes back he wants to focus so he can do it again.

So where am I going with all of this?

OK back to Harper’s homework and studying for a  religion test. Harper is a highly active boy, he loves movement, he’d climb onto the roof if we’d let him; that being said, when I stopped trying to do what my parents did, and stopped asking something of him that he is not capable of (Well, he is short term, but all day? Come on) and started making the times that he needs to focus be active, the homework and study time at the Krebs household changed.

I allow Harper to sit down and focus when he needs to think, and when he needs to walk around he does that too when he gets an answer wrong last night I had him doing jumping jacks as he repeated the question and answer three times. Then when I asked it again and if he got it wrong- back to the jumping jacks. Once we got through the entire sheet without jumping jacks he was done. There was no yelling, no arguing, no complaining, he got his needs met, he thought it was fun and when he moves, especially in a repetitious way he focuses way better.

I could have very well flipped the card on his chart at home (that doesn’t exist) and tell him he’s not making a good choice and ask him to sit down and listen (which I’ve done before with limited success). But flipping a card doesn’t teach him how to manage his energy, channel his emotions and create new skills to one day manage his own life.

Now I know when he is an adult I’m pretty sure he’s not going to do jumping jacks when his boss asks him to remember something. But what I hope will happen is he will remember the actual skills he was taught to deal with stress, deadlines, and time management. That it’s OK to move, to be yourself, and do what you need to do for you because it’s right and it gets the job done.

So this morning at breakfast I asked him randomly the questions he struggled with last night and without hesitation, he got them right. I praised him for an amazing job! And then asked him how he remembered them, he said the jumping jacks.

Remember it’s OK to parent outside the box. Heck parent nowhere near the box!

Namaste y’all!

 

Family Fitness: 4 Ways to Stay Fit with the Family

Family Fitness: 4 Ways to Stay Fit with the Family

From even before I had kids I knew several key points that would become the cornerstones of my parental approach. I feel very passionate about my kids seeing themselves as unique (like most parents) but in that uniqueness I wanted them to understand what it was like to develop individual skills and interests before engaging in the big wide world of pee-wee sports. We chose to skip the pee-wee games and guide our kids towards self-confidence using self-discovery and independent activity development. That meant family fitness activities. I know this is not for everyone, but for us-our kids getting down and dirty means playing in the mud, dancing in the rain, and walking in our woods searching for deer tracks and turkey feathers. I believe whole heartily that this is the foundation of childhood and developing into an independent-thinking adult. Yes, that’s right, family fitness is a foundation for our kids.

And within those independent activities, I wanted to be able to spend as much time with them as possible because there will come a day that they don’t think I’m top dog and will want to join the other team. But from the start, the team we wanted them to know they are on first is team “Krebs”.

Fitness is essential to me, and family fitness is even more important. The idea of keeping my kids active might not be what you are thinking because my suggestions won’t reference tee-ball, soccer, or dance. My suggestions are practical. They are beneficial, hopefully, to celebrate the little things because the little things are the foundation for your child’s future and who they will become as an adult and maybe one day as a parent.

Every movement matters.

In our house movement is super important. Now that my kids are school-aged, I recognize the extended periods of sitting and studying mean we need to prioritize movement once school activities are complete! I try to have them soak up every hour of daylight outside possible: jumping on the trampoline, climbing on the playset, chasing chickens, riding bikes, and making up games. And as easy as it is to send the kids outside, when you make an effort to go out with them they are not only more likely to explore, but it will make an impression that parents play too. I want to encourage you that if you tend to be a “go play outside parent” to set a timer for 20 minutes and go play with them, and then see what happens. I bet you that 20 minutes will quickly turn into an hour, because in the grand scheme of things- dinner can wait.

Family fitness walks.

Those in town who know me will vouch to say that they have seen me with my red stroller, two dogs, and two kids on bikes all over town. I need my movement, and because I work from home means I’m with my kids almost 24/7, so where I go, they go. And this has its perks. I used to fight for my personal time (I still get it but in other ways), but then I realized that the message I would be sending to my kids was exercise and fitness for adults is always separate. And after ten years of following this philosophy, I can honestly say it has paid off. I have gotten so much out of our walks together and I know I am planting the seed for years to come; plus, my kids love coming, they love my presence and I theirs. I use this time to talk to them about health, staying active as well as singing and playing eye spy. This is one of my most cherished non-winter experiences.

Family chores can be fun.

We have a very large backyard and woods and with all the tree cover a light breeze will drop tree limbs and black walnuts in an instant. My husband and I are not able to pick up this all ourselves and if we did we’d have no time for anything else. Staying active is super important to me and my family, but learning life skills is too. I know that when my kids become adults the impressions I set on them as kids will heavily impact the choices and decisions they make in their adult years. Picking up sticks is always a family affair, and I have to be honest they don’t always love it, but the older they get they realize: it’s not going to change anytime soon. Being outside in the warm sun and fresh air we race to fill our buckets first, who can pull the most roots, who gets the most walnuts and we often celebrate with lemonade and lunch outside afterward! We can easily spend two to three hours together (and don’t get me wrong there can be a fair share of complaining, but that is also part of the process) and after my husband always thanks them and asks them to look out and see what a great job they did. Seeing my kids notice their hard work and efforts and see them as they receive positive praise for helping in the household is a huge bonus too.

Encourage your kids to get dirty.

As parents we often let the end result cloud our willingness to let our kids run free. Stains on their pants, the time needed to then bathe, the worry of if they will get hurt, and the age-old excuse of not enough time. But I have to be honest, there is nothing more liberating than getting dirty with your kids. Sliding down the dirt mound outback with them. running barefoot in the rain, building sandcastles and mud pies at their side. When my husband and I get down and dirty with them, I get to see their eyes light up, not because of the dirt (although that is a big factor) but because we are dirty with them. I can feel the connection between us and our kids grow stronger and for me, it’s liberating as an adult to give myself permission to be a kid again and not try to be perfect all the time. When we get dirty we are reminded that life is messy. The mess is part of the experience.

Now these might not be wild and crazy ways to have fun, but they are free, fun and family orientated. When we instill in our kids that fitness, health, and fun cost money and require fancy equipment or continuous social engagements, we are limiting them in their own self-discovery process and creative development. Plus the time we get with our kids when they are young and we are the greatest thing since sliced bread is limited and I refuse to limit that even more.

Now go out and enjoy some family fitness!

6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life

declutter

No matter how neat and tidy of a person you are, it’s pretty easy for “stuff” or clutter to pile up around your house.

Clutter is a constant battle at our house. From mail, bills, and school papers to toys for the kids and dog and clothes–there are so many things that just never seem to get put away or find their place. When my house starts to get overrun by clutter, I begin to feel stressed, which then begins to affect the other areas of my life.

So, it’s not surprising that having clutter around means less stress in your life. However, decluttering is sometimes easier said than done. Fortunately, there are simple tricks to stop clutter from taking over your life.

6 Tips To Organize and Declutter Your Life

1. Plan Ahead.

Did you know that planning ahead is proven to reduce stress? Well, it’s true. Planning is one of the most effective stress management techniques you can do without spending a penny. Plus, planning gives you more time to do the things that you enjoy in your life!

2. Have a Home for All of Your Stuff.

I can’t tell you the number of times l look at the stuff lying around and do nothing, Or, I take something out of a drawer, use it, and lay it on the counter instead of putting it back where I got it in the first place. Everything should have a “home.” If it doesn’t, you don’t need it. For example, always put your car keys in a basket and hang up your coat in the same place when you come home. When you put things in the same place instead of somewhere random, you will know where they are and save time and stress looking for them. This simple change has helped me keep my house, office, and car much cleaner, and my family and I much happier.

3. Stop Multitasking.

The glorification of being an excellent multitasker is overrated. In reality, humans are not the best at multitasking. Focusing on multiple tasks all at once seems like an efficient way to get the most out of your day; however, you end up getting very little done and done well. Instead, make a list of the tasks you need to accomplish and then list them in order of importance. To me, there is something so gratifying about making a list and then crossing your accomplishments off as the day goes on.

4. Say Goodbye.

If you have not used that really-thoughtful kitchen gadget that your dear aunt gave you three birthday’s ago, it is time to say goodbye. Everything from old papers and clothes to cooking utensils and the food in your pantry–it is all fair game. My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t used it or worn it in the last year, it’s moving on to its next home. You can give gently loved items to a charity or to someone else that can make use of what you do not need any longer.

5. Stay Committed.

If you want your space to be less cluttered, you have to commit to making it and keeping it that way. Set aside just 15 minutes at the end of each day to declutter and organize your space. Yep, those 15 minutes can and will make all of the difference. Discipline yourself to do this before you sit down to watch your favorite show or read a good book. I love to set the timer on my phone and go gun-ho until it beeps. And, if you are like me and have a family that helps contribute to all of the clutter, I’d suggest getting them involved in the 15-minute cleanup,, too! It’s amazing what you can accomplish in just 15 minutes.

6. Clear Your Mental Clutter.

Clearing your mental clutter is just as important as physically decluttering your space. Taking time each day to reflect on your blessings and to meditate will help you to manage your stress levels effectively. A gratitude journal is an easy way to keep track of the positive things in your life. You would be surprised how simple reflection can improve your overall mental health. Also, meditation has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress, strengthen the mind to cultivate inner peace, and improve your overall mental well-being.  Clear your mental clutter, relax, and refocus your mind with this 30-minute guided meditation audio. If 30-minutes seems a bit too long, check out of my shorter meditations. 

Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara

Breath Awareness Meditation Hope Zvara

Clutter may be a constant lurking threat, but when you choose to tackle the problem head-on, your efforts will pay off. I don’t know about you, but when my house is happy, I’m happy, and when I’m happy, I am more willing to take on any task life throws at me with a grateful heart and ready arms.

So, are you ready to join me in decluttering your life? 

5 Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like A Mess

5 Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like A Mess

Have you ever said to yourself, “My life is a mess and I have no idea how to fix it”? Well, you are certainly not alone. We all have mental clutter and distracting thoughts that take our focus off of our priorities.

I think we all have had a feeling of hopelessness at one time or another in our lives. The truth is, life gets messy sometimes.

Sometimes you might feel like your life is such a mess that you don’t even know how you got there. You don’t think you are going to be able to handle it any longer and the thought of trying to dig yourself out is too overwhelming to even consider.

Mental Clutter

For fifteen years, my life was messy. It was a constant tornado of highs and lows. I was living a secret life.

Mental clutter pulls us out of the present moment– anything that keeps you from thinking straight. All that mental clutter takes up so much space that we hardly have any room left for what we’re meant to do.

Having spent my fair share living at rock bottom, I know firsthand that there is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, YOU have to be willing to step up, show up, and get uncomfortable in order to make change happen.

So, if your knee-deep in a messy life or you feel like you might not have anywhere to go, I welcome you to join me in clearing the mental clutter once and for all.

5 Steps to Clear Mental Clutter

1. Put Down the Instant Gratification Devices.

Growing up with technology has made us dependent on the idea of always being connected. Information, entertainment, and communication are only a click away all day, every day. I recently read that an addiction to social media and the “likes” (so to speak) you get on these social media sites give you the same endorphin boost as someone who is suffering from an addiction to drugs, alcohol, etc. So, put down your devices so that you can truly experience life around you rather than just document it.

2. Enjoy Nature.

When is the last time you stepped outside and just took in a big breath of fresh air? The blue skies, the singing birds, the refreshing breeze–all of these things help to restore your mental clarity. Stepping away from life’s distractions gives us the opportunity to enjoy what is in front of us more fully. Goodbye mental clutter!

3. Meditate.

Don’t think of meditation as some big and scary monster. It’s actually the opposite. Meditation changes brain function and helps to improve focus. Meditation is simply a matter of you stopping for a few minutes and breathing, unplugging and reducing yourself to nothing more than every inhale and exhale. Even if it just for a few minutes. Step into a mini oasis with me for just three minutes a day with my 3 Minute Meditation. Clear your mind, focus your thoughts, and open yourself to a fresh new perspective. 

4. Join A Community.

My FREE online Facebook community, Daily Dose of Hope, is dedicated to helping others purposefully excel through the messiness of real-life, both on and off the mat. This group is about reclaiming the health and well-being of all its members, inspiring each member to see they are worth it and assisting in the cultivation of each person becoming the best version of themselves!

5. Clear Your Mind. 

When your mind is in overdrive, sometimes you just need to hit the reset button. My 3-Week Clearing Mental Clutter Mini-Course shows you how to banish your mental roadblocks by recognizing what they are and how to do something about them. Weekly affirmations help to keep you on track, short mindful movement sequences to help you step into your body fully, and a private accountability group helps to support you in clearing the mental clutter and creating monumental clarity. What are you waiting for?

Your journey awaits. What are you waiting for? After all, you are well worth it.

Developing Self-Awareness in an Effort to Change

Developing Self-Awareness in an Effort to Change

I truly believe that the more we know about ourselves, the closer we can get to becoming the best version of ourselves. 

Today’s world is chalked full of opinions. Good, bad, and ugly–everyone seems to have something to say about everything. It leads people to start to look outside of themselves for validation. However, I believe that real validation lies inside. It really does. People ask me all the time, “Hope, how did you recover from such a horrific eating disorder, the tragic loss of a baby, anxiety, and depression without any medications.” My answer: I focused on my self-awareness.

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness means recognizing what you are thinking, feeling, and doing when you are doing it. It is a practice of mindfulness, which is the idea of being 100% present and engaged in whatever you’re doing–free from distraction or judgment.

“Self-awareness is one of the rarest of human commodities. I don’t mean self-consciousness where you’re limiting and evaluating yourself. I mean being aware of your own patterns.” -– Tony Robbins

Why is developing self-awareness so important?

So, why is developing self-awareness so important? Well, it’s pretty simple–you CAN’T control everything that happens in your life, but you CAN control how you react to it. Once you are more self-aware,  you want to make the changes needed to be the best version of you that you can be. 

For me, focusing on my self-awareness meant that I had to take a hard look at my emotions. The emotions that caused me to struggle with anxiety, depression and addiction. I had to learn how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way so that I could find clarity and peace. Yoga was my saving grace. After my first yoga class, something inside me flipped. And even though I wasn’t very good, I felt relief. Quiet. Stillness. No urges or anxiety of any kind. Just relief. Yoga helped me at a time when I needed it the most. Yoga helped me help myself.  Yoga forced me to deal with my emotions. Yoga helped me to become more self-aware. 

Here are some great ways that you can start to develop your own self-awareness.
KEEP A JOURNAL

That’s right, the good old journal. You know, the one that actually requires a pen or pencil to write in it? LOL–Well, all kidding aside, the best way to start to truly learn about yourself. Journaling gives you a place to think, write, and organize your thoughts and feelings and it is imperative to your developing self-awareness.

 

 

MEDITATE

Meditation will help you become more self-aware and will help to improve your overall health and well-being. Breath awareness, or mindfulness meditation, reduces stress, anxiety, and anger, and sharpens concentration and attention skills. Counting Breath for Stress Relief & Relaxation is a guided meditation that helps focus the mind and relax the body. This 5-minute meditation will allow you to de-stress and step back into the present moment; helping you to relax, breathe and dig into your breathing so you can step back into life ready and willing.

 

 

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

Simply stated–mindfulness is self-awareness. Self-awareness doesn’t always mean being mindful. Mindfulness means having an awareness of your thoughts and feelings. When you’re mindful, you are able to accept your thoughts and feelings without judging them. As you know, when I was a teenager, I suffered from an eating disorder. When I learned that when I felt an urge to purge, I turned to the yoga mat.  I recognized the thoughts and feelings that would arise at that moment and I was able to take a breath and not act on them. I was acting purposefully–or being mindful. 

 

When you become more self-aware, you will be able to see the greater good in yourself.  Self-awareness can help you get anywhere you want in life as long as you know how to use it to your advantage.

“Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.”

— Lawrence Bossidy

 

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