There was a time when my house was filled with the normal things families have in their homes. We were constantly busy going from one thing to the next. We thought we were doing alright. Our bills seemed manageable but we like many others dreamed of the day of not having to work so hard or when things would be paid off. Then like most of us sooner or later stuff went sideways and life was upside down. We were hit with problems bigger than we were ready to handle and what we thought was a good life was tossed on the ground and stomped hard like cheap rose colored sunglasses.
In the course of several months that blur together because of the challenges we were dealing with, my husband was diagnosed with PTSD and went on leave. A few months later I lost my job. Our once “normal” life was going to come crashing down quickly if we didn’t act. I was scared, stressed out, burned out from work, and worried. I worried all the time. I gained more weight. I didn’t sleep and then I’d sleep hard. My face broke out. My stomach was in constant knots. Our son struggled in school. My husband struggled knowing how to deal with his diagnosis. We all fought. We all cried. We were alone as more and more friends and family turned away from us in disbelief all this was happening. We tried to make sense of what could be next for us as a family. This storm threatened to break us in the worse ways imaginable.
In the middle of all of that, I started Dragonspit Apothecary. It was in the middle of chaos swirling larger every day. I wrote my first blog post trying to distract myself with something. Anything that felt like real, positive, peaceful, distracting. I wrote more blog posts that were terrible because I was focused deeply in information that I found and it wasn’t confrontational or hard. I was soothed by the words on the screen to express something of value if only to myself. It was an outlet to do something that felt normal. I tried balancing the start of a new business with all the messes going on around me and found some success that felt good. It was relief that I was feeling because something normal, even happy happened in that day. I craved happy, boring normalness so badly. I missed that.
As storms always do ours eventually eased off but not without a trail of damage in its wake. I found another job then another job after that only to have another one a year later from those two. I still struggle with finding that ideal job that fits my skill set, experience and knowledge but I’ve reconciled that I may never. My husband never went back to work and we worked through the disability process while he continued to find ways to heal. We continue to work with our son as he struggles in school with becoming easily distracted and not caring about the work. We have redefined a lot of things in our life as a new normal and continue to find ways to heal and make repairs to what has happened.
During all of it I turned to Dragonspit Apothecary consistently. I continued to write blogs every day for almost 3 years now. I have stopped regurgitating information and instead began sharing myself, our family’s journey and what we have found works and doesn’t work as things became calmer for us and we learned new ways we needed to live now. I started to share my deeper perspectives of what it meant to make these changes in our own life first out of necessity and then out of curiosity, results and further changes we found positive. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes we’re still figuring it out. I often joke it started by cleaning the toilet and in truth it did but it was because I was afraid to spend the money on toilet cleaner and needed something cheaper and still worked without burning my nose off my face.
For me the changes to living more naturally were economical. We now have to be very careful with our money and be sure there’s not debt piling up on credit cards. Given the last few years of my career I worry often about job security and consistency now that it is our primary source for income. I also worry about Dragonspit Apothecary and making sure I can preserve it as my safe space and protect it from being influenced by the stress I feel elsewhere in my life. I work hard to make sure our family will be financially secure if something bad happens again but I know that is only one aspect to us being alright.
While the first changes we made to living more naturally were based on economical reasons, they have morphed into way more. More of our changes were based on results we saw that helped my husband with his PTSD, that helped my stress and digestion and that supported our son in learning and growing. We save economical shifts that gave us savings and means that were actually helping us heal. That motivated me to dig deeper and for more solutions that could help us. I won’t say we are there yet but for something we started during a major storm in our life we have come along ways in repairing from it.
I talk often on this blog about living naturally and what it means, what it looks like and how it feels. Those descriptions and labels are based on my own experience and what I continue to learn on this journey. They come from my very own life and how I’m choosing to look at things differently and in a way that proactively helps my family now and the next time something threatens to knock us down. It may have started as an outlet and distraction from what was tearing me down but it has helped me build into a new me I’m quite proud of. It’s helped my family prioritize what is actually important and how to live in alignment with those values. It has changed my opinions, expectations, outlooks and me.
There are so many lessons I learned from this experience. Being able to stand back up after a significant storm in our lives is sometimes very difficult and not without several attempts in trying. As much as we don’t want to even look at the damage that too is necessary not only to assess it but to figure out what to do about it. The choices we make from that moment on determine what happens next and how prepared we will be for the next round. The lessons I learned and continue to apply include learning to live differently, more naturally and able to protect and secure my family financially, physically and emotionally. It’s about helping others so they know there’s options even when stuff is upside down.
I won’t say our storms are over but I feel different now about them. Storms do that though. They tear down and destroy so we can rebuild them. We get to redefine and reinforce learning each time we have new found strength we didn’t know we were capable of within us. We draw closer those we love in protective arms and we forge forward facing it together. We figure it out. We overcome it and we redefine what normal looks like.
What I learned most of all is when I panicked or felt anxiety creep so tightly in my chest I thought I would burst I realized I wasn’t in control. I couldn’t do what was necessary to figure things out, act intentionally or think clearly. Sometimes all we can do is respond but being able to respond in a way that will not add to further destruction and provides means to help us stand tall in the storm is an incredible experience that changes the path of the storm. Having that strength, clarity, certainty, security, confidence, stamina and more isn’t something many of us think we have until we need to draw on it. Trust me though it’s there in all of us.
When I learned I had it and could use it to help our family it gave me courage to keep going. It gave me the ability to sleep even when I was worried. It continues to be what I lean on when I’m scared or unsure. It has also become what I consider one of the most foundational pieces to living naturally because it lets me be me. My focus shifted from trying to fit in to what is defined as normal life and instead focus on what was right for me and my family. What makes us feel whole, good, secure and comfortable. Letting go of the expectations society places on us to live a certain way, work in cubicles or wish our life away paying off debt. Finding solutions that work and that are good for us.
When someone comments how I have changed, I smile. Yes I have and those changes are not done. Our life isn’t what it used to be though some things may look the same. We still live in the same house, we still have the same cars. We however are not the same. Maybe there isn’t a label for us now and I’m ok with that. Our normal isn’t what it was and I’m ok with that too because this feels better. This feels like a path worth continuing on, it feels more real. Even when some of the days are not easy and I still will worry I know we’re in a better place to be prepared for the next storm. By figuring out our own strength we were able to align tighter together and work as a family to figure it out.
Are you ready to re-equip your family for the next storm in life? I invite you to take the free Lifestyle & Wellness Questionnaire to explore what living naturally could look like for you. https://forms.gle/gZNq61J26EcYqesw7