With humor, honesty and faith Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph determine to tackle the stuff that is stressing them out, once and for all. From interviews with friends and lots of research they came up with The Ten Most Common Stressors That Mess with a Woman’s Mind: daily challenges that routinely steal her sense of peace and joy. Together Becky and Rachel cook up a plan to live a less depleted and more nourished life. Opposites in many ways mom and daughter share their successes and failures as they make peace with their imperfect bodies, create living spaces they love, get wiser in their relationships, tame jam-packed schedules, settle into God’s love, and more. In short, they stumble and journey together toward a life that better nourishes them – body, mind, soul and spirit.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Becky Johnson is the author, co-author or collaborator of more than forty books. Her most recent titles are We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook and Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness and a Full Night’s Sleep.
Rachel Randolph writes and speaks about parenting a toddler, young married life, and her and her husband’s unlikely journey to a plant-based diet with humor and honesty. She co-authored We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook (Zondervan 2013) with her mom Becky Johnson. Rachel is married to Jared, a high school football and baseball coach. They live near Dallas, Texas with their son Jackson.
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A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night's Sleep
By Becky Johnson, Rachel Randolph
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
All rights reserved.
Meltdown on Aisle Three
Signs of an "Under-Nourished" Woman
* * *
Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth. Susan Taylor
It's not a major crisis that will typically cause a woman to melt down. Forces somehow rally to meet these big challenges when they come. It's the little things, the drip-drip-drip of Chinese torture, the dozens of daily irritations that, over time, can send us straight into the fetal position crying for our mommy. Or God. Or chocolate. Or medication. Or all four, depending on the day.
Most of us have experienced wake-up moments when we realize that life, as we are doing it, isn't working.
I experienced just such a wake-up call about a year and a half ago, with the imminent arrival of the Thanksgiving holiday. This particular year I planned to hostess, entertain, and cook for eight live-in family guests for eight straight days and nights. (We call it Thanksgiving Camp. Most of my friends call it Becky's Insanity.) Three months earlier, Greg and I agreed to let our twenty-five-year-old nephew come stay with us until he found a job in Colorado, where we live and where he wanted to start fresh. He arrived in late August, but unfortunately, by the third week in November, no job had yet materialized. Greg and I had been empty nesters for a decade, and as much as we love our nephew, we were missing the freedom of our former "Just You 'n' Me" lives. On top of these adjustments, we were anticipating a horde of guests on their way for a week of nonstop fun and turkey. Our five-year-old grandson, Georgie, who lived in Seattle, would also be joining us, sans parents, via his first solo flight. (I should mention here that everyone else calls Georgie by his given name, George—my father's name. But he told me that I could call him "Georgie" forever if I want to because "you are my Nonny." And, so, I want to.)
Normally, I get a charge out of playing Holiday Camp Director, but my reserves had been depleted by other stressors, and somewhere on aisle 13 at our local King Soopers Grocery store, I started to tremble. I looked at my long list of To Dos and To Buys, and suddenly none of it made sense. I could feel my heart racing, perspiration beading on my forehead. Still shaking, I steered my cart over to the mini-clinic attached to the back of the store. My pulse was sky high. The physician's assistant there immediately directed me to the "real" doctor's office across the street, a more medical-looking facility that did not also house a bakery department and produce aisle.
The doctor gave me a prescription to slow my heart rate, but what she did that helped most was to tell me: "Sweetie, if you don't slow down, the only thing plucked, roasted, and lying face-up on your Thanksgiving table is going to be you." She asked to look at the list I'd been mumbling about and said, "You need to cross out about a third of these things; they probably don't need to be done at all. At least not today. Then delegate another third." She handed the list back. "That should not only help your heart rate and keep you alive through the holidays, but it might even allow you to have some fun."
By the time I got home with my prescription filled and my newly edited list, I was already calming down. I looked at the kitchen clock. There were planes full of people en route, winging their way to the Denver airport. No time for a nap, but I delegated what I could to my husband Greg, then dove into the kitchen to bake pies and cakes for the approaching army. I alternated sips of coffee (for energy) with deep breathing (to relax). In other words, I did the best I could with what I had to work with at the time.
The first person scheduled to arrive would be Georgie. On my way to Denver International, thoughts of seeing this dark-eyed, good-natured, beloved grandboy absorbed all my focus; any concerns beyond getting him safely into my arms fell away like a heavy coat, dropping to the floor with a careless thud.
Once at the gate, my heart leapt at the sight of Georgie coming off the plane, his smiling face snuggled in the hood of his winter coat as he held his beloved Pillow Pet in both hands, his backpack bouncing behind him. He ran into my arms, joyfully shouting "Noooooonnnnyyy!!!" as I bent down to smother him with grandma love. The flight attendant holding his hand looked at me and grinned. "He did great! It's pretty obvious he knows you, but I still have to see some ID."
Once the formalities were over, I took Georgie's hand and asked, "What was the best part of the airplane ride?"
"Being brave!" he replied proudly.
I smiled at his shining eyes, all remnants of anxiety fading fast, replaced by the high of being in full-throttle grandma mode. How is it that children are so adept at bringing what matters most into sudden, sharp focus? If a five-year-old could courageously and good-naturedly fly three hours on a plane alone to see his Nonny and Poppy, surely I could tackle Thanksgiving week without flying over the cuckoo's nest. My focus shifted from "so much I have to do" to "the family I want to enjoy and love."
When my daughter Rachel, her husband Jared, and their baby, Jackson, arrived from Texas by plane the next day, her presence further lifted and soothed my mood. I was impressed by Rachel's maturity and serenity that week. She had a sense of calm that was contagious. Thanksgiving Camp went off without a hitch, and we made lots of happy memories. As soon as the last bit of company flew away, I fell into bed and slept like a baby for almost twentyfour hours. And I would need that rest. Because soon our lives would rise to a whole new level of crazy.
My tipping point, though less dramatic than Mom's, came the first time I left my son overnight so I could go on a girl's weekend. At the hotel I began to realize I'd dropped so many small and pleasurable routines that once kept me sane and balanced: taking a hot shower alone in complete silence, carefully stroking mascara onto my lashes and curling them up just so, going to a café to enjoy a latte and a book while people strolled by. Over the first year of motherhood, I'd focused so completely on Jackson's well-being I had all but lost me.
As it turned out, I ran into an old friend on that getaway. She was creative and energetic. Her hair was washed and styled daily. Getting dressed, for her, meant more than putting on a bra under the tank top she'd just slept in and slipping on the first pair of athletic shorts she found on her closet floor. She ate well, she slept well, and she even woke up early with a spring in her step—precoffee. I noticed how she sensed God's presence and heard his whispers of love to her heart. She spent time sitting, praying, and pondering.
I missed this old friend. I cried tears of joy for our sweet reunion. And I enthusiastically invited her to come home with me, to meet my son, and to reconnect with my husband. I'd found my old self, and I didn't want to say goodbye ... again.
But how would I fit this woman into that woman's life? The life where I was raising a soon-to-be toddler and writing a book, at the start of my coaching husband's busy football season.
When I returned home I made one small step toward getting reacquainted with the old me. I scheduled Jackson for two days of Mother's Day Out per week. It is a wonderful program, highly recommended by friends I trusted. Finally, regular time all to myself ... to dream, think, and write.
Or so I thought.
I loved the free time, but finding the right "space" to write near Jackson's Mother's Day Out proved tricky. I tried "The Great American Community Office," Starbucks, but finding a vacant chair near an outlet for my laptop was always a challenge. On top of this, Texans are born chatterers, raised to believe that "shooting the breeze" with strangers is part of being socially gracious. So even with my laptop up and my headphones on, some friendly soul would inevitably pull up a chair to chat and ask, "Whatcha workin' on?"
The answer to this second dilemma came when our friend Nick started a coworking space called Common Desk in Deep Ellum, an artsy part of downtown Dallas. I took the "self-care" plunge and, using some of my advance money, signed up for a membership. Having a fun place to "go to work" while Jackson was at Mother's Day Out gave me a good reason to wash my hair and get dressed up in clothes that weren't scrounged from my closet floor. Now, with both time and space in place, my writing days became a joy.
On my first day "at the office," I sat down next to a young woman in her late twenties. She looked so put together in her pencil skirt and button-up blouse. Her straight-cut blond hair framed a friendly face. She looked up at me, gray-blue eyes sparkling, and smiled broadly. "Hi, I'm Megan."
I opened up my diaper bag and pulled my laptop out of the changing pad compartment. "Hi, I'm Rachel."
"I see you're a mom too," she said, pointing to her own double-duty bag sitting beside her.
"Yep, a one-year-old boy. And you?"
"A two-year-old daughter."
Over snippets of small talk, I discovered Megan was a budding architect and we both happened to live in the same small town. She shared that climbing the corporate ladder didn't fit with her desire to be a hands-on mom. Taking a sip of coffee, she explained, "I want to be home nights and weekends. I want a life outside the office with my family." So Megan quit her high-paying corporate job to start her own architecture business from scratch. Instead of fitting her life into the "stay-at-home mom box" or "the corporate woman box," she designed a life that embraced both passions. I liked her immediately.
"Want to run out for a quick lunch?" Megan asked one day. She knew I was vegan and said she had a great spot in mind.
"It's not in the best part of town," she warned as we pulled into a gravel parking lot behind a run-down building, "but it's the best around. Everyone who knows good Thai, knows to come here." And so I had my first Thai food experience, falling in love with basil noodles—a dish of thick flat rice noodles and bright vegetables stirred into a sweet sticky sauce with fresh basil and a kick of heat.
How long had it been since I'd grabbed lunch with a girlfriend (not counting picnic lunches at the playground)? Megan and I talked about the projects we were working on, about the cute (and irritating) things our toddlers were doing these days. She gave me some logistical tips for getting out of the house on time with bags packed, lunches made, and no crucial binkies or blankies left behind, so I could take advantage of all five hours of my time away.
The sun shone on us as we carefully walked over the gravel in our strappy dress sandals back to the car. Sounds of children laughing in a schoolyard filled the air. I thought of Jackson playing at school with his classmates, laughing and developing his own friendships. My soul was nourished, and I sensed his was being nourished as well.
A few weeks later, on a crisp November day, while sitting in a comfy retro red swivel chair at Common Desk, I typed the last words of my first book. As soon as Megan walked in the door, I spun around in my chair. Trying not to distract everyone else in the room, I whisper-squealed, "I finished it!" Megan had just come from a meeting with a potential new client and had good news of her own: she'd won a bid on a big contract and secured the project. We were giddy with excitement, two young moms putting a lot on the line to follow our dreams ... and today, life seemed to be going our way.
By the time of our Thanksgiving trip to Colorado, it was evident in my relaxed demeanor that I'd made some significant changes. Mom commented on how at ease I seemed to be in handling the challenges that come with traveling with an almost eighteen-month-old. I was actually surprised as well, remembering the previous trips I'd made to Colorado with Jackson and how frazzled I'd felt.
I could hardly believe how one nourishing act of self-care had made so much difference. I felt more balanced, more present for my career, my family, and myself. Seeing that simple changes could return big results, I was newly motivated to address other areas of my life still dragging me down. I wondered, Hmm ... could I connect with the runner I used to be in my energetic early twenties? The organized, financially savvy me? The me who made regular time for meaningful friendships? Where might I take me that I'd never been before? Maybe there's a version of me I've not even met yet. A me who isn't afraid and anxious, who makes quick, confident decisions without her perfectionist doubts looming over her. The possibilities for a new, improved me felt endless and exciting.
I knew I couldn't tackle everything at once, but I could focus on one area of my life at a time, make one change, and see where it might lead me at the end of, say, a year.
Bill O'Hanlon, one of the pioneers of solution-oriented therapy (sometimes called "brief therapy"), wrote, "Whenever you are stuck with a problem, try something new. Do something—just one thing—different. Break the pattern of the problem." I liked the sound of that. At the very least it was someplace to start.CHAPTER 2
Jumping Off Tall Buildings
Nourish or Perish
* * *
Don't forget to pause and nourish yourself a bit along the way. When you're born to help others sometimes you forget to help yourself. Paula Heller Garland
No sooner had I cleared out Thanksgiving Camp than I received a phone call that would upend everything again. On the other end of the line was Georgie's mother. She wondered about the possibility of Georgie and her moving in with us for a while to test out the job market in Denver. I, of course, jumped for joy at the chance. We'd get to enjoy the rare gift of spending lots of time with our grandson and help our daughter-in-law, who was a single mom, with Georgie's care. (Legally, she was our ex-daughter-in-law, since she and Zach had divorced a year before, but she had become a part of our family, and their divorce had not changed those feelings. Georgie's dad, my eldest son, was a commercial fisherman, gone many months at a time.)
And yet, I was taxed to the max by the tower of plates I was already spinning. As much as my heart squealed, "Yes!"—what resources would I draw upon to rise to more, when I was already running on less?
John Eldredge wrote, "Being in partnership with God ... often feels ... like being Mel Gibson's sidekick in the movie Lethal Weapon. In his determination to deal with the bad guy, he leaps from seventh-story balconies into swimming pools, surprised that we would have any hesitation in following after him." In my forty years of being a Christ follower, no picture of God has ever resonated more with me. Being God's friend—especially when He asks us to put down our prepared script and jump into His live-action movie—is both terrifying and exhilarating.
It didn't take long for Greg and me to choose to jump off the seven-story building; we enthusiastically agreed to welcome our grandson and his mom into our home for as long as they needed to live there to get on their feet and out on their own.
So this is how it came to be that Greg and I expanded our former role as empty-nesting honeymooners to become patriarch and matriarch of a unique patched-together family of five.
How would I survive more changes, more people in the house, caring for my grandson part time, plus regularly cooking big family meals for the whole Hee Haw gang?
It didn't take long before I came to the divine realization that if I were going to survive a life of more pouring out, physically and emotionally, I must be more diligent about pauses for refilling. I needed to regularly nourish myself if I was going to take on caring for so many others.
God hasn't asked me to jump off a tall building lately. However, I did go grocery shopping with a two-year-old the other day. That kind of made me want to jump off a tall building. Does that count?
For the moment, I'm just leaping from stone to stone in a mostly gentle river. Though some days it takes every bit of energy and sanity I have to make those leaps. Being a mother to a toddler takes a constant flow of energy and courage as I jump from river rock to river rock. Mom's life requires great bursts of energy for relatively short periods of time, but as she reminds me, in between those high-energy times of caring for a lot of people at once, she and Greg get lots of long breaks—George goes to school, they both take naps, and they frequently travel away together for weekend or weeklong breaks.
Excerpted from Nourished by Becky Johnson, Rachel Randolph. Copyright © 2014 Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Invitation to a More Nourishing Life 11
Part 1 Nourished 911
1 Meltdown on Aisle Three: Signs of an "Under-Nourished" Woman 15
2 Jumping Off Tall Buildings: Nourish or Perish 23
3 Sticky Changes: Nourishing Habits That Stay 31
Part 2 Nourished Spaces and Routines
4 Does This Clutter Make My Brain Look Fried?: Nourishing Nests 45
5 Home Sweet Uncluttered Home: Nourishing Places and Welcoming Spaces 57
6 I Washed and Dried My Day Planner: Nourishing Schedules and Balanced Rhythms 71
Part 3 Nourished Bodies, Nourished Selves
7 At Home in Our Own Skin: Nourishing Self-Acceptance 89
8 Joyful Eating: Nourishing Menus and Happy Memories 103
9 Barbell Therapy: Nourishing Movement 125
Part 4 Nourished Relationships
10 A Gathering of Girlfriends: Nourishing Friendships 139
11 Sandbox Happy Hour: Nourishing Ways to Parent and Grandparent 161
12 Secrets of the Happiest Couples: Nourishing Marriages 183
Part 5 Nourished Spirits
13 Your Mind Is a Garden: Nourishing Thoughts That Tend and Mend Us 205
14 Seasons of Drought: Nourishing the Brain in Pain 219
15 He Calls Me Darlin': The Nourishing Voice of God 233
Epilogue: Your Own Nourishing Path 245