Faith & FamilyLooking back on 2015 January 5, 2016I’ve written and re-written this post in my head a hundred times it seems over the last few weeks. I know it’s been a little quiet around here lately. I usually take the two weeks around Christmas off, as I know many bloggers do. Everyone’s spending time with family, readers and bloggers alike, so it’s a great time to re-charge and rest up. I was planning to write this post as sort of a sign-off for the holidays and you see that didn’t happen. Each year, I do a reflection of the previous year and a looking ahead to the next year post, but this one has been so hard to find the words. Usually, I can look back on the last year with a clear sense of accomplishment and progress. I look ahead with clear goals and it’s always seemed life is progressing just as it should. No year is perfect, but usually by the end, I can look back with clarity on the failures and accomplishments, surprises and heartaches. 2015 was different. When I look back on 2015, the main thing that comes to mind is that it was a jumbled mess. I’ve had a hard time writing this because I know that I can’t sum up the emotions and happenings of this year in one post…not in a way that would make sense to all of you. But I’m going to try to give you a snippet because processing all of this and laying it out there is crucial to me moving forward, I think. I can say with complete sincerity that this was both my most wonderful and absolute hardest year yet. Never in one year have I felt the highest highs and lowest lows of my life, combined at the same time. As you can imagine, little Rosie has a lot to do with that. Having sweet Rosie is the highlight of my life, not just the year, so of course that fills 2015 with complete joy. Rosie’s birth story is one of my favorite posts from this year. Having Rosie really kicked off 2015 with a bang. I remember thinking so many times that this is already the best year I’d ever had and I couldn’t wait to see what else it held! I know many women struggle with some level of postpardum issues and depression and I was so grateful to not be one of them. The first three or four months with Rosie were absolute bliss. I felt like myself already in many ways and having her seemed easy! Sure, everything about life had changed and she didn’t sleep that great, but it was wonderful. I cherished every day. I hadn’t exactly figured out how to do what I wanted to with work, but I assumed that would come as she grew and we got more and more used to each other. Around mid-summer, things started to change. I started feeling so tired I couldn’t even function most days, but Rosie had started having major sleep issues. Some nights I was up with her every two hours at least and all parents are tired, so I chalked that up to normal. Around the same time, I started to be really aware of weight issues and my body not responding like it should. I’ve always had a really high metabolism and have never really struggled with weight. Not that I never wanted to lose ten pounds or haven’t had my fair share of body image issues…I’ve had plenty. But keeping weight off was never really an issue. For the first five months or so, I really kept telling myself to be patient…the weight would come off in time. During the summer, I kicked my fitness focus into high gear. I joined my brother-in-law’s gym, which has very intense class workouts. I started eating very strict (basically paleo most of the time). I was also nursing, which everyone says will take the weight right off, but for me, it just wasn’t. After three months of working harder than I ever had in my life, I hadn’t lost one pound or one percentage of body fat. I was within ten pounds of my 9-month pregnancy weight and it would not budge. My gut told me something was wrong. This didn’t add up with any story I’d heard after having a baby. I started to become really aware of my other symptoms. I realized that the tiredness I’d felt seemed to be more than what I should be experiencing as a new mom. I could be wrong because I obviously can’t physically compare that, but it was a hormonal tiredness that was greater than anything I experienced during pregnancy. I started becoming really aware, too, of my emotions. I was feeling depressed the majority of each day. I knew that, but really thought it was weight related. I thought I was just frustrated. I would have these spells every afternoon without fail where I would have flu-like symptoms, be completely exhausted, and I would just start sobbing. I literally couldn’t stop for a few hours each day. My mind would say everything was fine, but I could not stop it. Then like a light-switch being flipped, after a few hours, I was back to normal and felt fine. I clearly remember one day in August telling my husband that I didn’t recognize anything about myself. Not the heavier girl staring back in the mirror, not the emotional basket case, not the girl who wanted to sleep all day, and not the girl who couldn’t design a room to save her life. My creativity was totally gone. I would try and try to come up with designs for the new house and just get more and more frustrated because my mind was not working right and I couldn’t fix it. After talking with several health professionals and having many tests run, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at the end of August. I did research and every single symptom I had made sense…even down to the creativity being sucked. Apparently, it’s something that about 10% of women get after having a baby due to all of the hormone shifts and changes. I didn’t struggle with the initial diagnosis that much. I was at my wit’s end and was so grateful to have an answer and be able to move toward recovery and feeling like myself again. But the journey to get back to myself has been harder than I anticipated. It’s taken about five months now, but I think I’m finally regulated or at least very close. I’ll have blood work later this week to confirm it, so fingers crossed! Starting about a week or so before Christmas, I started to feel like myself again. Not completely, but close. The crippling tiredness and extreme emotional swings are gone. I’ve officially lost two pounds, which I’m choosing to celebrate after seven months with no progress at all. My creativity is coming back, though it still isn’t quite what it used to be. I’ve struggled to share this story because my head keeps telling me that this is a very small problem. Yes, it is a chronic health issue that I’ll always have, but once I’m regulated with medication, I’m told I’ll pretty much be like myself. It could be so much worse. As I write this, I have a 25 year-old cousin battling cancer, our family has lost loved ones this year, there are so many people who are hurting in major ways. I know all of this and when I think about how hard this year has been for me for seemingly smaller reasons, I’m racked with guilt over my ungratefulness. But I’ve realized now that while it could definitely be worse and I’m keeping that in the forefront of my mind, that doesn’t diminish the struggle I’ve gone through this year. It was still my hardest year and every single day for awhile felt like an absolute impossible battle. There are so many days that I would’ve given anything to trade in all of that struggle and just be my old self again, even for an hour. But now, close to the other side, I’m choosing to be grateful for this struggle. As hard as it was, I learned more going through it than I ever have in any other year. I’m usually so health-focused and hate medication. I try to live as naturally as possible. But that didn’t stop me from developing a chronic health problem that I’ll take medication for every single day for the rest of my life. I’ve learned a lot about letting go of control. Not just in regards to health, but all areas. I do think we’re called to do our part, but all of this has reminded me that someone else is in control and I have to trust in that ultimate plan and be okay with my part in it. I have learned so much about valuing myself and trying to see myself as God does. My life story is filled with body image issues. That’s a post for another day, but with a history in modeling and pageants, having an ideal body was always a goal and I learned a long time ago to never be content with what I looked like. I could always look better. I’ve really dealt with this since getting married and have learned to love myself as I am. All of these weight and emotion struggles sent everything I learned away and I’ve battled self-hate over these recent weight struggles. I’m learning that there is a difference between being healthy and seeking the ideal body type. I’m really having to re-process that my value does not come from how I look or what the scale says. God sees the depths of my soul and that’s what He’s concerned with. As hard as this particular lesson has been as I go through this weight struggle, I now realize it’s divine timing. While I thought I’d really let go of the body image issues, I realize that I was just content because I was the size I wanted to be. The minute that scale tipped the other way, I started hating my reflection in the mirror and being all-consumed with getting my better body back. I’ve cried some grateful tears lately realizing that if I hadn’t gone through this recent struggle, I would be giving my sweet daughter the wrong perspective when it comes to her body and her value. I have no doubt that I went through this to remind myself of my true value, so that I can teach that to her. When I think about her potentially hating the way she looks and obsessing over her body one day in the way that I have in the last few months, it breaks my heart. I want to teach her to prioritize her health, but not so that she’ll have a perfect body. I want her to develop healthy habits because God calls us to be good stewards of the bodies He’s given us….end of story. She is beautiful and perfect in His sight. I realize this has been a very personal post and my reflection posts are usually about all of the awesome things that have happened for the blog in the past year. This struggle did majorly affect work, as you might imagine. There were many days where I felt like the blog was hanging on by a thread and that I was disappointing all of my sweet readers because I just couldn’t get new house details out fast enough. I didn’t have it in me. Despite all of that, there were so many work-related blessings this year that I’m beyond grateful for. This personal struggle sparked some major work soul searching, which I’ll get more into tomorrow. I really questioned and processed so much about this blog…what it’s been and what it’ll be going forward and I’m grateful to be coming out on the other side with renewed vision and purpose. I’m so excited to work now, which has not been the case for most of the last few months. Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about what all of this that I processed and learned means for me and the blog. I’m excited, y’all. And I thank you for listening to me bare my soul today. I’m thankful for your patience and faithfulness to me in the last few months. Though I know very few of you knew about these struggles behind the scenes, there were so many times where your comments felt written for me that day and I took such encouragement from them. 2015 was a doozy…there’s no doubt about it. But I’m grateful for the lessons learned and hopeful that I can put them into practice in 2016.