the long haul: tips for staying with your hospitalized kiddo

The Long Haul

The girl recently had a spinal fusion to correct scoliosis that had us in the hospital for seven nights.

And four weeks later, we were back for another surgery to remove a few screws that were pressing on nerves.

That meant three more nights of living and sleeping at the hospital.

Five of those nights were in that bed – y’all, under no circumstances is that a bed. It’s a vinyl chair from the early 70’s that pulls out into something you can sort of sleep on. The ICU at our Shriner’s decided I now hold the record for most nights on it.

I’ve decided I’ve earned my Girl Scout badge on the topic.

And because I had so much trouble finding information for parents staying with hospitalized kiddos, I thought I’d share what I learned.

  • Before the procedure, find out what your options are. We knew the girl would be in the ICU for a few nights. I was allowed to stay with her as long as she wasn’t intubated.  There was also a Ronald McDonald House and Kiwanis House in the area.
    I chose to stay at the hospital.
    I was also able to learn that there were showers at the hospital for parents to use, with towels provided. Toiletries, however, were not.
  • Think multi-use clothing.  Yoga pants, comforatble t’s, layers. I ended up wearing most of my clothes as pajamas. It was just easier and, quite frankly, I didn’t care. And slippers aren’t a bad idea.
    I walked from the ICU to the restroom one night in yoga pants, a tank, socks and no glasses. No one noticed and no one cared.
  • Bring a sleep mask. Even if you’re in a regular room, it’s fairly bright. If you’re in the ICU, it can feel like you’re trying to sleep on the sun. I have and absolutely love this one.
    I wouldn’t recommend ear plugs, though. If your child needs you, you’re going to want to hear them call.
  • Your own blanket and pillow.  Hospital blankets are kind of scratchy. And the pillows are kind of sad. It’s also a bit of home.
    And if you’re sleeping on one of those amazingly 70’s-tastic chairs, put a hospital blanket or two under the sheet. It helps keep from sliding around while you sleep.
    It took me three nights to figure that out.
  • Food related…Find out the cafeteria policies I found out after our stay that if I’d brought in a travel cup with a lid, I could have filled up anytime for free.
    Always get an extra cup of ice and water. I found myself getting really dehydrated.
    Ask about special menus and needs.
    Bring cash for the cafeteria and hoard your quarters for vending machines.
    Keep some snacks in your child’s room if possible. Some days, I couldn’t make it to the cafeteria during the hours it was open and was thankful for the protein bars and fruit I kept stashed in a drawer. Bottled water is also nice, or a water bottle you can refill.
  • Make an effort to become friends with your RN’s. They’re going to be the ones really taking care of your child and the ones to call the doctor if something isn’t right. After our two hospital stays and the rock start RN’s that took care of the girl, I want to buy them all Starbucks. And mansions.
  • Things to keep you occupied. Books, magazines, smart phone, tablet, knitting – it’s all good.
    But the old saying about sleeping when your newborn sleeps? It applies here.
  • Find an advocate. If you have a family member with medical training, take advantage of them. Seriously. The girl was having severe nausea and dry heaving after her first surgery. We thought perhaps it was just the eight hours of anesthesia, but my husband’s aunt – a retired RN – noticed the issues started within two minutes of pushing that button that gave her a dose of dilaudid, a powerful narcotic. She even kept her own chart of it and was able to show the RN on duty, who in turn was immediately get the medicine changed to something she was able to tolerate.
  • Get out of the hospital, if you can. Make a Target run. Walk around the block. Find the hospital patio and sit outside. If a friend or family member offers to sit with your child, give them a quick in-service and head out. You need some time for you.

Next week, I’ll share some things that made the girl’s stay easier and more comfortable, especially for spinal surgeries.

Have you been through an experience like ours? Anything you would add? I’d love to develop a place for parents to come and find this info and more.

menu plan monday: gf/paleo freezer cooking

Monday

I don’t have a meal plan for this week. We’ve got dinner at a friend’s tonight and then the kids and I will be visiting Grandma, Grandpa and the cousins for the whole weekend.

Instead, I’m sharing the gluten-free and paleo friendly menu plan I put together and prepped last week using Once a Month Meals. I wrote last week about how this site and it’s tools have saved my brain in a season that’s a little crazier than normal. That’s not an overstatement at all.

I was able to prep twelve dinners for four (two of each) and several lunches in single servings, plus four side dishes we’ll be able to eat twice. And because I have the Pro Membership, I was able to swap some meals out for ones I know my family will love and still print out the shopping list, prep plan, cooking day plan and everything else customized exactly how I needed it.

Total cost: about $220, but that included some breakfast items and snacks and special requests from the kids.

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Here are the dinners I made:

  • Paleo Crockpot Meatballs – we’ll be serving with gluten free pasta or spaghetti squash and a salad for a dinner that’s less than 15 minutes hands on.
  • Artichoke Chicken Thighs – throw it all in a baking sheet and add an easy veggies. Sweet.
  • Bacon Wrapped Coconut Chicken Nuggets – confession: I left out the coconut. My people will like it better that way.
  • Spiced Chicken, Kale and Roasted Squash – 10 minutes or so hands on. We had this for dinner Friday night and it was amazing. Next time, I’ll double the squash
  • Spicy Beef and Broccoli – I’ll serve this with white rice cooked with bone broth.
  • Pulled Pork Shoulder Roast – I totally botched this recipe and turned it into bbq pulled pork. Just throw the roast in the slow cooker with salt, pepper, garlic, a diced onion and several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and cook for about 8 hours. We pulled the pork, added a a paleo friendly bbq sauce. Serve it on slider rolls or on top of shredded cabbage to keep it paleo.

Lunches:

  • Chicken and Zucchini Poppers – I made these into mini patties to ensure they cooked all the way through. A minute in the microwave or in a frying pan to reheat and they’re to throw on a salad or in a lettuce wrap. Next time, I’ll add more seasoning – maybe some pepper sauce or vaudovon or chili paste.
  • Curried Coconut Cauliflower Soup – really good, especially make with bone broth, but also something I will play with the spices with when I make it again. And I will make it again!

Side Dishes:

  • Garlic and Bacon Green Beans – because all veggies are better when roasted with bacon. I used frozen organic green beans instead of fresh.
  • Maple Bacon Acorn Squash – this is sooo good. So good. Perfect with a roast.
  • Roasted Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Balsamic – can’t wait to pair this with some steaks
  • Smashed Loaded Red Potatoes – another recipe I sort of flopped because I wasn’t paying attention. I mashed the potoates, added raw shredded cheese, organic cream, scallions, mashed it all together and froze in an 8×8 baking pan. It’s not paleo, but it’s wholefoods and the family is very excited about it.

 

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Real Food Roundup with Musings of  a Housewife and Sassy Moms in the City.

swappable-300x250-logoDisclosure: I am an affiliate of Once A Month Meals and will receive a commission if you sign up through my link. I would have not become an affiliate without 100% belief that this service is worth every penny of the fee and more in making wholesome, healthy dinners easy and doable for everyone.

 

adventures in once a month cooking

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I mentioned earlier this week that my main plan for food is simple. I’ve been stuck in a rut of too tired, too stressed and too unplanned to get very far with it. I know that turning that around starts with food, but it just hasn’t happened. We’ve had a lot of “whatever you can find” dinners and nachos.

Enter Once A Month Meals.

I’ve been following them since the beginning, but never took the plunge. I know my people don’t like casseroles and I don’t like can of whatever soups,  and that’s what a majority of freezer or once a month meals have been in the past.  And seriously, it’s a pain to make the shopping list and try to coordinate everything.

Once A Month Meals takes care of all of that. They have an incredible selection of different menu plans – paleo, diet, whole foods, traditional, even vegetarian – and the ability to switch meals out for an extra few dollars a month. That few extra dollars is totally worth it. And really, if it saves us from eating out once a month and helps me avoid eating foods I know I shouldn’t, the monthly fee will more than pay for itself.

I was able to print out my shopping list (organized by category), a prep list, cooking day instructions. labels and even a thaw sheet. That part of me that obsessively makes lists just squealed.

Wednesday, I went shopping, came home and started cooking.

That’s exactly what they tell you not to do.

I had only a few items that required baking, so it wasn’t too bad. I left for shopping at 9 am and was done by 5:30 pm. For fourteen dinners, eight sides and six lunch servings each of soup and chicken nuggets, that’s not bad at all. They’re all whole foods based, with no preservatives, no junky oils and no pseudo-foods.

I also didn’t do any prep work. I didn’t even clear off the counter. I just went at it. There were dishes in the sink.

Also not recommended.

Next time will be different.

And there will definitely be a next time. I’ve already got it planned with a couple of slow cooker and soup mini menus to do in the next week or so. Our schedules seem to be growing continually busier, and any help I can get is welcome.

A few thoughts I want to remember for next time:

  • Don’t be afraid to up the spices. I’ve found that quite a few recipes, especially in the paleo realm, are a little under-spiced for our taste.
  • Take the prep day. Next time, I’ll shop and prep one day, and assemble and cook the next.
  • Utilize the pressure cooker. I have one – I don’t know why I didn’t use it.
  • Clean off the counters. And the table. And make sure all of the dishes are done.
  • Print out the labels. I thought it wouldn’t be too much trouble to make notes on the bags with a Sharpie. I was wrong. And my main issue with printing out many of the labels I find online is that they suck my color ink. I love that the Once  A Month Meals are either black and white or gray scale-ish (somebody was really thinking there!)

Do you do any kind of freezer cooking or once a month meals? What are your favorite recipes?

overflow

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I’m always amazed at the way God speaks to me.

I don’t know why – I shouldn’t be.

This week, in the Gentle Holy Yoga TV practice Brooke Boon leads, she mentions a verse in passing about how our words reveal our heart.

And it sent me digging.

God lead me to a big chunk of Jesus’s teaching that my NIV Bible calls The Sermon on the Plain. And that kind of works – because it’s in a big section of Scripture where Jesus just sort of lays it out there in easy to understand language.

There’s the Beatitudes, which are so contrary to the world’s way of living but clearly set up Jesus’s plan for His Kingdom.

He says to love your enemies.

And is pretty adamant that we are not judge.

And then He gets to this part about trees being recognized by their fruit and how it’s the same with people.

 Count on this: no good tree bears bad fruit, and no bad tree bears good fruit. 44 You can know a tree by the fruit it bears. You don’t find figs on a thorn bush, and you can’t pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 It’s the same with people. A person full of goodness in his heart produces good things; a person with an evil reservoir in his heart pours out evil things. The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart.
Luke 6: 43-45

This. Oh, this:

The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart.
Luke 6:45b

My words are an issue I’ve been working to tame for many years. They were my first defense when I was teased as a child and my ability to use them is something I take too much pride in. It’s so easy to slide back into using them in ways that doesn’t bring God glory.

But the idea that they reveal what’s my heart?

That’s a little bit overwhelming.

And something to continue to pray about and work on.

There’s something else that God showed me, though: I think sometimes we need living in the era of social media asterisks and notes in Scripture. Because it’s not just the words of our mouth – it’s the actions of our fingers.

It’s the photos we post on Instagram.

The jokes we share on Twitter.

The images we reshare on Facebook…and the words we post.

It all adds up to paint a picture of the fruit that we’re growing in our faith walk.

And it brings to mind these verses that Paul wrote…

The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down
the strongholds erected against His truth.
We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought,
every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Taking every thought and emotion and subduing them into obedience.

I wonder sometimes how much more critical that it is today than it was in the era that Paul was writing in. Today, it’s not just the words of our mouth, but every photo, status update, comment, meme – everything we post to social media – is out there.

It all reflects on us, it all reflects on Jesus and it all reflects on our relationship with Him.

It can ruin.

Or it can help others see Jesus in us, and want to know more about Him.

Lord, I confess that there are many times my heart doesn’t mirror Yours and that the overflow of my mouth has reflected that in ways that don’t honor You or those I’m with. Help me to become even more rooted in You, so that my life overflows with Your presence and love. Remind me to take my words and thoughts captive, to subdue my heart to obedience to You. Father, I love you and I pray my life would be a reflection of You.

Amen.

*all Scripture is from the Voice translation

this I know: Holy Yoga

 

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Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my decision to pursue becoming a Holy Yoga instructor.

It’s gone so quickly.

I’m so in awe of where God has taken me during this year. He has strengthened and grown me in ways I never knew I was capable of. He’s called me into a deeper relationship with Him and into a deeper knowledge and understanding of His word. He’s prepared me for opportunities I could never have dreamed of.

And He’s taught me a few things that Holy Yoga isn’t…

  • Holy Yoga isn’t all skinny white girls in Lululemon pants.
    Seriously.
    At my instructor’s retreat, all shapes, all sizes and all backgrounds were represented. There was even one very brave man who went through it…he was outnumbered by more than 100 women.
    But my classes have seen nearly as many men in them as women, and ages have ranged from teens to a students in their 80’s.
    And the attire – well, it’s ranged from typical yoga wear to shorts and t-shirts to one gentleman in his 80’s that wears the knee pads he uses when he’s installing flooring.
    For reals, friends.
    It’s been all shapes – from super active Jazzercise types to plus sizes. And they’ve all had successes and growth, regardless of their weight. They’ve also all seen struggles.
    Holy Yoga is an incredibly welcoming place to be.
  • Holy Yoga is a judgement free zone.
    Can’t touch your toes?
    It’s okay.
    Can’t remember the names of poses?
    Me neither sometimes.
    Balance an issue?
    It will get better. I promise, just keep with it and it will get better. Speaking from experience on this one.
    Need to take a few extra breaths in child pose or spend part of practice just resting on your mat?
    Oh, I’ve been there. And I’ll probably be there again someday soon.
    Don’t want to take your socks off?
    Well…okay…that’s your call…as long as you’re doing chair yoga.
  • Holy Yoga is not a competition.
    It’s about you and the Lord.
    Not you and the person next to you that can do a wheel into a headstand into a scorpion.
    If you can’t do a pose, do your best. As an instructor, one of my biggest goals is to give you as many modifications as possible so that every single person finds what they need.
    Your practice will grow with consistency.
    And in all honesty, as you’re working your practice and surrender to God’s grace, you don’t even notice others around you.
  • Holy Yoga isn’t all power flows, headstands and perfection.
    It can be, but it doesn’t have to be – the flow part, that is.
    It can be intimidating to follow yoga teachers on Instagram and Facebook, to see the 30 day challenges of craziness and hear that little voice that says:
                      Self, I can’t even. I can’t even stand on one foot or touch my toes. I might as well give up now.
    Remember: no one starts there. And many yogis with regular practice never make it there and that’s perfectly fine. Gentle is good. Slow is good. Making a space – any space – that you can call sacred and meet with God is good.
    It’s never going to be perfect.
    And that’s okay.
    Those imperfections, those places where we feel like we just can’t do it anymore and oh my goodness if we hold this downdog for one more second, I’m going to die – that’s where God meets us most deeply.
    When our physical and emotional selves break down, God breaks through.

And one thing that I know for sure Holy Yoga is:

  • It’s filled with grace.
    The sort of grace that only comes from spending time as you quiet your body, mind and heart before the Lord.
    The sort of grace that says imperfections are okay.
    The sort of grace that welcomes all, encourages all and does away with judgement.
    It’s the grace that lets of go of expectations and seeks God in the moment, breath by breath.
    It’s the grace that makes space – in your heart, your mind, your body – for God to bring change.
    The grace that brings us to God’s feet, in worship and in humility and in the knowledge that apart from Him, we are nothing.

You can find Holy Yoga instructors by searching here.  If there’s nothing in your area, I highly recommend Holy Yoga TV, which brings you several new practices a month of varying levels with excellent directives and instruction (and that I only recently figured out I could download to be able to practice later).

 

menu plan monday: 10.06.14

 

 

clean eating mpm

Oh my goodness, friends. It’s been a “only the grace of God has gotten me through few months”  – compounded by a second, emergency surgery for the girl when a doctor’s appointment last week showed that some of the screws from her fusion had shifted a bit and were pressing into her nerves.

But we are home and she is recovering beautifully and we are slowly attempting to find new schedules and routines.

Saturday, I’m making six gallons of chili for a chili cookoff booth our church is doing on Sunday.

And I am so incredibly grateful to have some sort of meal plan heading into this week. My mantra is simple, simple, simple.

Monday
Crockpot Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
whatever veggie I can pull out of the fridge

Tuesday
New York Steaks
Broccoli
Rice Pilaf (with homemade bone broth and minus the pasta)

Wednesday
Pulled Pork – on sammies for the family and on a bed of shredded cabbage for me
Salad

Thursday
BBQ Chicken (our local butcher shop makes their own marinades with great ingredients and packages – it’s a great deal for my budget and my time!)
Baked Potatoes
Salad

Friday
Chicken Tacos (on a salad for me)
Guacamole
Carrot Sticks

Saturday
Minestrone – but I’m looking for a great recipe – any suggestions?
Grilled cheese on Udi’s Bread
I’m planning on doing Soup and Sandwich Saturdays through the fall and winter

Sunday
leftovers

How do I meal plan? Like this!
Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

on balance

 

 

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‘Doing what is wrong keeps everyone off balance and insecure, but those who do right by the Lord will never be uprooted’
Proverbs 12:3

Remember those How I Spent My Summer Vacation essays from elementary school?

Here’s the short version of mine:

June was quiet. We spent a few days in the Bay Area for Church Conference and ate too much. My Mom had hip replacement surgery on July 1st and I spent a wonderful week with her to help out however I could. I ate too much. We went to family camp and it was awesome. So was the food, of which I ate entirely too much. The Pastor had a heart procedure that corrected at least six arrhythmia and I ate too much. I taught my first series of Holy Yoga classes at church and we are in the planning stages for launching Amador Holy Yoga throughout our community in October. Tomorrow, The Girl has surgery to correct her scoliosis. I gained at least 15 pounds.

Yikes.

Balance has been few and far between for me at the  moment.

I have stayed rooted in God’s word – more often than not.

I have exercised – more often than not.

I have eaten incredibly poorly – more often than not.
(though I haven’t felt nearly as bad as I deserve because I’ve been minding the gap with this – I can’t wait to see what a difference it will make when I’m eating right, exercising and continuing with my daily shakes and caps)

It’s been a summer to remember.

For all of those off balance moments, God has been there…gently – and not so gently – nudging, reminding, drawing me closer.

I’ve seen over and over how digging into His word and resting in His presence has brought me through a summer that has been busier than I like, more stressful than I care to admit and one that I will forever mark by surgical waiting rooms.

I have been off balance – thrown out of joint – but I’ve been securely held by a God who loves me.

I look forward to schedule again and margins and normalcy, but that’s still a bit off.

That’s okay.

I have the tools and am working on the discipline. It’s a journey – one that truly only ends when we stand in the presence of our Creator – and I’m walking each step with Him by my side.

100 Healthy Days

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I have long been a believer in baby steps to change.

Maybe you’re one of those people who can clean out the fridge and pantry, start a new training program and never look back.

I salute you.

But I’m not one of you.

The changes I’ve made in my life and diet have all been accumulative. They’ve been one change and then another. Some haven’t worked for me. Some haven’t stuck. Sometimes, I have to make the same change over and over and over and over.

And that’s okay.

When we take enough of those baby steps, they can lead to something big.

Big change…physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Maybe what you’re celebrating today is not drinking soda.

High five.

Maybe it’s making space for quiet time.

You’re the bomb.

Maybe it’s going for a walk for the first time in ages.

You go.

Maybe it’s making a menu plan full of foods that nourish.

Yes.

Maybe it’s running a marathon.

You’re crazy and awesome.

Whatever it is, share it. I’m sharing on Instagram (user name skwidlund) and Twitter (also skwidlund), and on Fridays I’ll share some of the photos and thoughts here. Use hashtag #100healthydays so we can find each other.

Don’t let this be stressful. Just let it be one intentional action or change each day. If you miss a day, it’s totally okay. This is one of those big picture things.

On Wednesdays, I’ll share one healthy idea or  focus or tool…in case you need a little prompting.  I know I will.

Baby steps, friends.

Fit Friday: Holy Yoga TV

Can I share with you one of my favorite new things:10296744_646607002096739_4216245645921873452_n

Holy Yoga TV

For a minimum donation of $10 a month, you can subscribe to Holy Yoga TV and have access to 4 streaming videos a month with some of the best Holy Yoga instructors around.

I’ve done three of this month’s practices, although I haven’t yet attempted the firefly pose breakdown because that’s a bit of a stretch for my practice right now. The three I’ve practiced – a gentle, a slow flow and a power – have all been excellent. The intentions (always Jesus focused), the flow, the instruction are all so glorifying to God. And at about 20 minutes, they’re are just long enough to get in even on a busy day and feel like you’ve actually accomplished something.

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Most days, I’m perfectly happy to do my own thing – to design my own practice as I go, but it’s a blessing to be able to practice with Brooke, Amy, Stephanie and JoAnn for new ideas and those helpful reminders about form and breath. In fact, I’m still feeling that super deep karate chop lizard pose Amy leads in her power class. I should probably confess: as a certified instructor who isn’t quite instructing yet, I’m excited to be able to work those flows that I intend to work into my own classes when the time comes.

Looking for a way to begin or grow your yoga practice while entering into His presence?

Here it is.

And it’s tax deductible.

Holy Yoga Retreat

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I’ve been pondering how to write this post since I got on the bus to come home from Holy Yoga retreat.

Sitting on that bus, Luke 2:19 kept coming to mind about Mary treasuring things up and pondering them in her heart.

And I knew that was what I needed to do.

God revealed so many Truths to me that week. Not little t situational truths, but capital T Truths from God’s mouth to my heart.

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And a lot of them came from the mouth of Brooke Boon. God’s original design for me is an invaluable gift. It’s something I’ve read about, something I’ve studied and something I’ve never fully been able to grasp and live out.

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I was pushed and challenged in ways I didn’t expect. Leading up to retreat, I was nervous about whether or not my body would be able to handle all the movement, the altitude and the sleep disruptions. It was hard, but I was shocked at how well I felt the entire week. God truly met me where I needed Him most.

Exhausted? Yes.

Pushed to my brink? Absolutely.

Embraced by a Lord who loves me like crazy? Yep.

He also used my fear about my physical weaknesses to drop another Big T Truth:

I set a lot of limits on myself without realizing it.

It wasn’t easy to hear, but I needed it and it’s been something I’ve carried with me in the month since I came home. No longer am I so easy to say, “I can’t do that” or “My body won’t let me”. I’m pushing myself harder and finding that I can do so much more than I realized.

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The Lord called me to go deeper, to be more vulnerable. During one of our evening practices, one of the master instructors that was doing assists, whispered into my ear that I don’t have to strive so hard to be my own Rock, my own Strength.

It was a Big T Truth straight to the heart ugly cry sort of moment that I will look back on years from now as a turning point in my relationship with my Savior.

We say in Holy Yoga that it’s Jesus first, yoga second and that was evident in every aspect of the week. It was a huge leap of faith for me to begin this training in January. It was a bigger leap for me to journey to retreat, to take my hermit-self on a plane and a bus to sleep in a cabin for a week with people I’d never met while I physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted itself.

I made friends that I have come to treasure.

I made sisters that I can call on to pray for me and to encourage me in times of need.

I discovered who God created me to be.

And I learned how to teach yoga.