Tag: new life

Merry Christmas from Discovering Beautiful!

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Discovering Beautiful isn’t about outer beauty. It is a bunch of writing shared from my heart to yours.
My blog emphasizes the beauty that is nonexistent &  unnoticed when living an empty life addicted and hopeless.
Sobriety and Recovery both allow us to embrace life.

Because of God’s Grace, we are alive, and are given a second chance; a chance to start over.
We are transformed from the inside out. We understand that beauty, true beauty, comes from the inside.

When we are free from addiction, we can finally SEE, FEEL, EXPERIENCE, & REMEMBER all of the small things.
We see the beauty in people.
We feel the beauty that life has to offer.
We create new memories to cherish.
We can laugh again.
We are able to enjoy simplicity and finally embrace calm.

But life with God, or with sobriety and recovery certainly don’t offer perfection to you..
I am definitely not a perfect mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, writer, advocate or encourager…

What these things DO offer is permission to live authentically, and in freedom.
I am free to be imperfect. I am totally okay with learning and doing better tomorrow.
We are free to love ourselves and to embrace this new  chance at life.
We can accept our past and are completely free to move forward.

So this holiday season, I am thankful to have another year sober.
I have another year full of memories with my family.
I am another year further away from the old me, and my old life.

I have memories that I  can & will remember, and these things are engraved in my boys hearts too.

We are marking the very first Christmas of our 3rd baby boy,
and are continuing our traditions with the older boys.

Sometimes I can’t even believe that this is my life now.
I am still in awe of how much things can change in a short amount of time, and just how much life there is left to live- even after you feel like there is no way out.

I wish you a Merry Christmas to you and yours,
from our crazy awesome, loud, messy, fun, hilarious, imperfect little clan;  The Shelton’s. 

My Birthday, Pregnancy, & Morning Sickness.

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I turned 31 yesterday.

I got a beautiful necklace and ring from my husband and children, along with some useful home-made coupons from my boys….that I will definitely be utilizing before they expire.

Or, they will sit in a drawer looking all cute until I move them to a keepsake box so someday I can re-read them in all of their cute and thoughtful glory.

I got a new, soft, much-needed pillow and some chocolates too.

But most important- my boys went above and beyond showing their thoughtfulness and love for their mama.
My husband made sure that I didn’t have to cook or wash any dishes either.
All around it was pretty incredible.
I live with a pretty great group of men. 🙂

Today also marks my 10th official week of pregnancy.

We still haven’t made a formal public announcement (via Facebook)
My blog platform (and I have nice & kind readers…thank you!) is really the only place that I have mentioned it at this point and we have already told our close immediate family, but for the next couple of weeks, we are keeping it as quiet as possible.

My first appointment is August 12 and that will be an exciting day!

I haven’t worried too much about things developmentally but I am ready to SEE that things are cooking well….and I am so ready to HEAR a heartbeat!

My morning sickness is really just waves of nausea on and off all throughout the day.
Some days are great and I feel like I must be in the clear, and then the next day, it’s back again.
Fatigue is the same.
It is definitely not as bad as it was in weeks 5, 6, 7, 8 but it is still creeping up on me here and there.

I haven’t gained any weight yet, but I am bloated!
I have also had vivid dreams, lots of them and mostly odd ones.
I will spare you the details of them but I am normally one of those people who cannot recall a dream the minute that I attempt to recall a dream….it just vaporizes. These- I can smell the smells, feel the feelings, and remember details. So, that’s been interesting 😉
We also have names for both a boy, and a girl already….I’ll do some name droppin’ in about 10 weeks or so when we know if this little beautiful life is a he or a she…

It’s back to school time- and for us that means a lot of squashing of doctor check-ups, dental check-ups, closet cleaning and shopping  into a few short weeks. It is an exciting time at our house.

All and all guys I am blessed. I hate using that word- I really do.
(it is overused and sounds very holyish.)
So forgive me if it sounds cheesy.

🙂 I reflect a lot.
Part of my Recovery (the LIFE that I LIVE now)
requires a ton of reflecting and it doesn’t just happen on days like today- my birthday.

As I sat back on my birthday, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed; with love, and with thankfulness. No more celebrating by getting trashed and making the entire evening about me, me, me. No more chasing happiness.

Yesterday was just a simple & true celebration of a life that God has allowed me to create, with people who I love, who love me back- and who support me.

There aren’t any better gifts than that for me,  aside from having the opportunity to  experience true rest at the end of a day.

Unexpected Gifts of Living in Recovery.

 

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Using substances may have been some of the darkest, saddest, loneliest & scariest times of my existence, but that wasn’t where I first started to lose myself.

That started long before.
I think pain & trauma can make for fertile ground for that to happen, especially if it is not addressed.

I began hiding as a young girl.
I created masks to wear that became my safe places to hide when things became unbearable or when I really didn’t know where else to turn, so I turned inward.

I felt like I needed to hide from the drugs; the pipes, the trays, the smells, the bottles.
I cowered and hid from the violence; the drama, the yelling, the noise, the sirens.
I hid from the strangers in my living room; the men, the lurkers, the lovers.
I would imagine myself being in different places. Different houses, different cars, or different families.
I believe that I hid so often that there didn’t seem to be any benefits to coming back out again. It didn’t feel safe.

By the time that I started looking to different substances I was already a lost person.

All that I really yearned for was inner peace and calm, and some type of contentment. I just wanted all types of enough, to simply be enough.

I didn’t think that Recovery would work for me,
because I believed to my core that I was a throw away person.

But I wanted it.
I wanted to learn how to live a sober life.

The more I learned about God- the more I felt like I knew about myself,
and the more that I knew about myself through Christ,
the more I felt okay being who I was in my own skin.

I was finally able to make some real peace with my past.
I finally understood that I could not take back my bad choices, or get the time I had lost back.
I could not live on regret and I may not regain all of my memory either.
I began to understand that I was forgiven and it was alright to move forward.
I was given a sense of peace about it and felt ready to make new choices and new memories.

I was finally able to face and accept my past, and even embrace it to use it for something good.
I had a new chance to do something with my life. I was alive for a reason.
Letting God use my past for His glory, took away all of the negative power that I had given it before. 
It was now completely powerless in bringing me back down.
I was not going back there.

I want everyone who is hurting or struggling to know the truth.
You are loved and you are so so valuable.
God’s love is powerful, His love is the kind that can mend, heal, and re-create.
Through it, you can feel again.
You can love again.
You can live again.
You can look in the mirror again.

Recovery with God doesn’t mean that you won’t have to put in hard work, or learn new things.
Actually, the opposite happens. You are dismantled piece by piece, and re-built with parts that are so true to who you are. You will quickly begin to feel and believe that the cards you were dealt, and the mess that you have made of your life- are NOT the end of your story.

The struggle is real, but so is our GOD, and so is Hope,  and so is life after addiction.

God will absolutely restore every single thing that was taken from you and everything that you gave away to your addiction.

That, and much, much more.

So THIS is Love.

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When I began to believe that God did exist and I actually began to feel and see the evidence of Him in my life, the way that I experienced love immediately changed.

Unlike most other aspects of change in recovery from addiction (and underlying issues) this change was almost instant and didn’t require work.

No longer was it a word that I tossed around, or a word lacking meaning behind it.
I could feel it.
Although it is an over-used word these days, there really aren’t words powerful enough to describe what it feels like to experience love for the first time.

Self-Love was brand new to me.
For the first time in my life, I saw my own reflection in a new way, and felt differently about all of the circumstances that I had inherited and created for myself. 
I saw who I really was, and I embraced her.
For the first time, I could say that I loved me.
Not who I would become, not who other people told me I needed to be.
I loved myself, and it was enough to let myself embrace the things that were to come.

Feeling the Love for my children.
I had always loved them but something was different when I looked into their little faces, and seeing the brightness behind their eyes, celebrating their victories, soaking in the belly laughs, hearing their stories, cherishing the color pages, and even wiping their tears.
I could remember the moments.
All of it became something more than what it had been before.
I could finally see them.

Being madly in Love
for the first time.
I wasn’t in love with a persona, or who a person might possibly become.
I wasn’t staying for lack of better alternative or the sense of being needed.
I knew I was valued and appreciated, imperfectly accepted.
I was in love with someone who was already whole.
I could see this person for who they were and I didn’t want to change anything about them.
I wanted to be more because he inspired me.
I wanted to keep going because he pushed me.
I wanted to unpack my own baggage, so that I could be a whole person too.
I wanted to receive his love and to give it right back.

It all finally made sense. 

I had finally accepted love. I had finally let myself be loved.
I was finally able to give love away.

God’s love for me shined a beacon of light on what this life is really all about, about what love really means, how it really feels, and why it is all so important.

1 John 4:19
We love each other because he loved us first.

 

 

Each Day Is New.

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For years I started each day with overwhelming sense of disappointment that I woke up…again.
I never looked forward to the chase, but I’m not sure that anyone really does.

My overall attitude had developed into knowing that today would be just like yesterday:
‘Same shit, different day’ and it was just the way I mentally prepared myself for how much the day was going to suck even before it really had a chance to begin.

When the chains that were squeezing the life out of me snapped, this kind of thinking was one of the first things to go.

Obviously, I didn’t develop a new life philosophy or overall attitude toward life overnight, but I did not think about not waking up.

I began to wake up focused on that sliver of hope that I had found, that I could actually do something better with my life. Over time, I adopted a different attitude and a new line of thinking.

I try to remind myself every single morning that each day is new.
Every single morning I am further away from my old life.

I am one more day away from that struggle that I can so vividly remember,
but that I am so intently living opposite of and these are things to be grateful for.

Science tells us that positive emotions broaden our sense of possibilities and can open our mind.
This allows us to build new skills and resources that can benefit all areas of our lives.

Positive thinking produces feelings that cause you to feel happy & expectant of more good to come.

Negative thoughts lead us and drive us too.
They can drive us right back into isolation, and they will continue to dominate our mind until we are intent on combating them.

We can begin to believe that our options are limited and our outlooks will become more narrow.
We can start to feel weighed down and moving forward or making progress can feel too difficult.

It is a nasty trap to fall into and a hard place to get out of.

Anyone who knows me wouldn’t describe me as a morning person.
I have been trying to force myself to turn into one for a few years now, but it really hasn’t worked well. I can’t force myself to wake up and work out before everyone else is awake, and I don’t typically speak to other humans until I have had at least a sip or two of coffee.

Despite the fact that I am not a chipper morning person, I still know how important my thoughts are, especially at the beginning of a new day.

I know that nothing good comes out of dragging all of yesterdays stuff into today or assuming before the day has a chance to begin that it is not going to be decent one, at the very least.

Of course I have days that are more rough than other days, and some days I can feel life smacking me in the face, but like they say my worst sober day has nothing on my best day when I was living my life chasing something that I could never catch.

So every day I try to start by reminding myself of all of the things that I am blessed to have.
I remind myself that I have choices.
I am an imperfect person with an imperfect, but full, sober life.
I love myself and I love the people who are doing this thing called life with me, and I am alive. 🙂

His compassion never ends.
It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction.
Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins fresh each day.
LAMENTATIONS 3:22-23

 

 

The Smaller Reminders.

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Looking back, early recovery was basically a big block time filled with excruciating discomfort.

Of course any life change is uncomfortable and so is coming off of drugs, but what had really terrified me was coming to the realization that I never really did know who I was. I hadn’t ever found myself. It was one of the hardest of my truths to accept, stone cold sober.

There were strong emotions that accompanied accepting that I was and had really always been, completely lost.

But even in the midst of my discomfort and all of the unknowns that I was being introduced to, this new way of life still offered a long list of positives that overshadowed all of my discomfort.

And while these positives didn’t cancel out the consequences of my choices, they did a great job of providing hope and inspiration to keep going despite all of the discomfort.
The ability to appreciate the small things was one of the first gifts that sobriety gifted to me.

I began to notice the things that I had never given a second look before.

I can remember the first time that I looked up and noticed the sun setting.
I was completely overwhelmed by the natural beauty.
The colors were so bold and bright.
This massive sky was very clear about its presence.

And I felt so small and so surprised that I had never taken the time to appreciate something that felt so obvious and beautiful.

The earth had presented this beauty every day of my short life of almost 23 years and I had never stopped long enough to appreciate or notice it.

For the first time I realized that I actually had the ability to soak in a moment and benefit from something that I couldn’t buy at a store or pick up from a pharmacy.

That was a personal victory.
And somehow, I even felt closer to God even though we were hardly acquainted.

The overwhelming beauty of the earth in all its natural glory truly put me in my place and I felt humbled.

I realized that The universe is a powerful living thing, and I have power over exactly none of it.

If something like this could make my heart feel so peaceful maybe life didn’t have to be as complicated as I had made it for so long. Maybe it was all more simple.

I had spent a lot of time trying to find ‘happy’.
I still hadn’t figured out how to fill the dark place inside of myself.

I would have never imagined that something so simple (& free) could offer me peace and calm.  But what had changed was my mind, my heart and my perspective.

The sun has been doing its thing for a while.

Even now, years later, I still pull my car over to the side of the road if that means that I get a better view of a sunset.

Every single time I am reminded:

*Why I choose simplicity and why toxicity can have no place in my life.
*How small I am and how great God is.
*That busy is overrated
*How far the east is from the west; my transgressions have been moved that far away from me.
*My lack of control is very real. It is important to be aware of what I can and cannot control.
*How grateful that I am for the small things.
*The sun will always come up tomorrow and that means we have a new day- new chances and new opportunities to do a better job.

Sunsets have become meaningful to me and represent a lot of sober and beautiful happenings that I never thought would happen in my life.

It is a good reminder to me to not allow myself to get too wrapped up in anything that would cause me to ignore something so obvious and magnificent that is provided for us on a daily basis.

A new chance to start again tomorrow.

Wanted to share this with you. This song by Casting Crowns, truly speaks to me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_JtiNF-mi0 

About Me.

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Most personal blogs, specifically Recovery blogs, have a detailed ‘my story’ or ‘about me’ section.
Often, they choose to start from birth, work their way up to their addiction forming, proceed to telling the story about how rock bottom felt, and work their way to the present.

I really don’t see any problems with it and don’t think it’s a bad thing.
It works for a lot of people, but I have found that it really doesn’t for me.

I have had a hard time writing the ‘my story’ page for my Recovery blog.
I have tried. Really, I have.
Most writers will understand when I say that it is difficult to write when it feels forced or there isn’t any passion behind it. That is how it is for me anyway..

So it isn’t for lack of trying on my part.
I have typed it up and it just doesn’t sit well with me.
I have yelled at it.
Published it, and quickly deleted it.
Prayed about it.
Deleted it.
Re-typed it.
Revised it.
Edited it and deleted it again.
and deleted it for the last time.

and usually if I am not feeling good about something there is a reason.
I have realized that I have to just do what works for me and that I like mine the way that it is.
Current and present-focused. To me, about ‘me’ doesn’t have much to do with anything in my past.

It isn’t that I am ashamed of my childhood.
I am not afraid to share it.

As time has passed, the impact that my childhood has had on my testimony has decreased, and isn’t really a big part of who I am anymore. On paper, it has dwindled down to a few sentences and has been overshadowed.

Studies tell us that in the cyber world, we lose people’s attention pretty quickly.
As writers we don’t get a whole lot of time to hold onto the attention of new readers.
Considering that, I think it would be counter-productive to ask strangers to sit for fifteen minutes, reading my most personal childhood hell (trauma, neglect, violence etc.)— in chronological order,
in order to get to why they’re really in that section in the first place- and that is to get to know me.

I shared that story for years.
It served its purpose as a therapeutic tool meant for my own healing and personal growth.

God helped me use that part of my story to get me to a healthier place.

Through that process I was able to see the significance and value of forgiveness, making amends, and moving on.

At some point I realized that this part of ‘my story’ was not going to define my personal identity any longer.

It keeps me humble and grateful.

But I have really just realized that
…’my story’ is much much more than traumatic childhood experiences.

My story is a continuous thing, updated on my blog every week!
My story is still unfolding as I type!

That is what I find so ‘beautiful’ about life.

My story and yours, is a journey that continually moves, changes, and if we allow it to, it transforms!
We discover, experience, and feel —LIFE!

I am sure this will change over time, as I publish my first book it might be more necessary to dig a little bit deeper in that section of this blog. If I ever get to my second idea for a book, I am sure it will change again.

For now, I will try to keep my about me section relevant and aligned with my current goals of writing and sharing my life and thoughts with you guys.

And also, thank you for reading and sticking by me. 🙂

Triggers.

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-As the saying goes:
‘you get out what you put in.’

*We walk through a painful past so that we can focus on our present.
*By taking risks & forgiving people we shed the weight of some of the heavy baggage that we have been carrying.
*We hold ourselves accountable to gain a sense of personal responsibility to build back our integrity.
*Self-confidence is built by reaching short term goals and celebrating small victories.
*Trust is earned back and relationships are restored every time we follow through.

Recovery delivers.
The rumors were true.
Recovery works.


-But there is another saying, that also holds true:
‘you reap what you sow.’

I can’t even count how many surprises popped up year after year into my recovery. Anything that we plant eventually grows into something, and it is our job to harvest. Our bad choices and unhealthy decisions can follow us around for years and it can start to feel like the hits won’t ever stop coming.

Every single one of our choices have consequences, and they don’t have a statute of limitation. 
My personal experiences are loaded with examples:

*My bad credit following me around year after year, with paid collectors who call to remind me of purchases that I don’t even remember making.
*Getting looked over for a few positions because of my inconsistent work history.
*Not getting into the college of my choice because of my GPA.
*Being totally mortified when I wasn’t allowed to be added to my husband’s auto insurance. I am a liability. (Who knew)
*I still can’t fall asleep on my own and it seems as though my short-term memory is forever damaged.

Bad choices deliver. 
The rumors were true.
We are free to choose but we are not free from the consequence of our choice.


For me, recovery was a double edged sword for a long time.
It seemed that with each phase there were equal parts of positives and negatives.

While I was feeling good and gaining confidence as each day passed, and learning to really accept and love myself for the first time in my life, negatives kept popping up.
I think the ratio of good to bad felt like 1: 5. (Ex: For every healthy choice I made I had five warrants.)
How many pats on the back can you get in the same day that you are also tirelessly righting wrongs?
I had times where frustration got the best of me and I found myself asking God when I would be done being put through the ringer. I had nothing left to squeeze out, and just when I thought I had faced all of the stuff, asked for enough forgiveness, reached out to make amends, every time I made another right choice-
something else would come back around to remind me of exactly who I used to be and it always came in the form of a fine, a long-lost bill , a denial of some kind, or some other burned bridge I had long forgotten about.

Time does not cancel out natural consequences (everything surfaces eventually)
but time does offer opportunity to develop character qualities that will prepare us to win each fight.
We don’t have to become a slave to fear of an inevitable future full of wonderful, happy, exciting recovery…and a few surprise forgotten consequences along the way.

Triggers are everywhere and sometimes they are as simple as reminders of our bad choices.
As long as we are moving forward a little tiny bit each day, we will be ready to combat those reminders with our new truth, because we know better and we are doing better.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God.
You will always harvest what you plant.

Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6: 7-9

 

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