At Oviedo Brewing

It’s Saturday morning. I finally feel like my mood has stabilized, but I’m feeling really guilty for the prior evening’s indulgences. My husband and I joke that since we’re two months married, we’re already treading toward “fat and happy”. Last night was only supposed to be two glasses of wine – but that quickly turned into bar food with four delicious and frosty craft beers. Mostly IPAs and one Watermelon sour. Mmmm… my favorite!

Life is shifting, but I know that I don’t want to regress into what I used to be. I know we’ll live the best we can and catch ourselves when we become to “gluttonous”. I know I want to be a good role model to you all, my community, and my kids. However, there are other stressors at play here.

Stressful Life Circumstances

Your body doesn’t know the difference between “good” and “bad” stress. To it, it’s all the same.

Trying to Get Pregnant

My son when he was a baby,
about 10 years ago.

I’m currently working on getting pregnant again. Far from righteously, I know I’m indulging more knowing I won’t be having those frosty beers anymore and I’ll likely be vomiting everything out with “morning sickness” for several months 🤮. Excuses. I try to remind myself that my health is as or more important now, but it doesn’t stop that hedonistic voice in my head, “you won’t get to enjoy this much longer…”

Yes, we have four kids in the house, and I guess the fact that I want to get pregnant makes me crazy, LOL. I got mad when someone told me that the first time, but I’ve made peace with it. I mean, I think they’re right! But I want one with him. I had a horrendous experience with my first, as detailed below, and I think Rick is going to give me the experience I always wanted. I’m noticing every body twinge, googling like crazy constantly, and tracking my ovulation with testing and an app. I’m really having fun with this, but per usual, I’m impatient. My cycle has to get normal again too after 12 years with an IUD, so I’m obsessively trying to predict where I’m at in that process. I’m crossing my fingers for a “mini-me”, but I know I have to let the universe decide!

Since this is my first journal entry, I’ll catch you up in the gray sections like below. These gray sections with headings “Let’s Catch Up” are catching you up on topics I talk about in this entry. They are like “asides”. Scroll past them to continue reading the main text of this journal entry.

Let’s Catch Up: Having My Son as a Single Mom

I LOVE my son. Don’t get me wrong, but the first child-bearing experience of mine was traumatizing. I was 21, and immature. My then boyfriend was also not yet mature enough to handle the emotions of my pregnancy. I looked unwillingly for a job, and quit them quickly when I had them due to my anxiety and all that comes with being pregnant. Many other jobs didn’t seem to want to hire me because I was pregnant. So, I gave up and gave in to my anxiety and belief that I “shouldn’t have to work because I’m pregnant”. That was a silly belief. He didn’t take it well.

Our lack of maturity, and the subsequent fighting and lack of support led me to leave him while I was still pregnant. I moved to Utah where my mom was. Hiking the mountains and visiting waterfalls gave me some semblance of happiness. Obsessed with the Twilight Vampire books at the time, I daydreamed about lying in a meadow of flowers with my soul mate. I saw a couple come back down off a trail by a waterfall, whom looked like they had just gotten married. I was overcame with sadness. I wanted love!

I moved in with my grandma, moving back in Florida. I don’t remember doing very much besides watching lame Lifetime movies and playing lots of World of Warcraft. 🤣 I also had a teddy bear with Quin’s heart beat sound when you squeezed it. I’m embarrassed to admit I hugged it like it was my boyfriend every night. I needed to feel that.

Then my mom and I moved into an apartment in Oviedo, FL. I worked hard to get back into the University of Central Florida (I was previously kicked out for my grades) and because I was a single mom I was able to get more funds to manage help pay bills. My mom started going to the community college and was single too. She had gone through a divorce with my dad when I was 16, was married since 19, and so subsequently had a lot experiences she had missed out on that she was now trying to experience. My mom was my best friend. After giving birth, we had lots of fun – too much fun in fact!

I wanted to undergo natural childbirth with Quin. Why!? I was worried about the drugs and the cold experience of a hospital, but honestly, I just wanted to feel like a badass.

When I had Quin, it was a horrendous experience. I was in labor all night until the morning. It started in a birthing tub in a house-like birthing center and I ended up being transported to a hospital by an emergency vehicle. Quin had his head cocked and decided he wasn’t coming out!

My niece Chloe (who I later became the guardian for) with Quin

In triage, I had to wait. Between losing consciousness and having painful contractions (I felt like I was going to DIE). They tried to read all of the precautions of an epidural to me and all I could say was “just give me the damn epidural” over and over! Once I finally got into a hospital bed and given the epidural, I was on cloud nine… of course the drugs would do that. However, the doctor came in and suggested a C-section. They cut me open and I didn’t feel a thing. They took Quin out and they took him away from me. My magical birthing experience was a disaster.

Subsequently, I was desperate to breast feed but the milk didn’t come in for ten days.. and I felt like SH*T. I was grateful to have my mom during that time. Eventually, I was able to breast feed and it wasn’t without soooo many challenges. I’m grateful I did it though! While it felt like a part-time job, it was an incredible experience.

In the early days of my son’s life, I had him most of the time, though grandma on his father’s side would take him Sunday’s. I think Quin’s father had a hard time in the beginning, due to shock or immaturity. I’m not quite sure. I wasn’t perfect either though. We started to share time and there were a couple months where I shared less time. I was going through a lot of depression and partying a little too much. We have since shared time fairly equally most of the time. The coparenting relationship has been rocky over the years, but is great right now.

I was mostly single for several years. I mean, who wants to date a young single woman with a small child!? I was desperate for love, and tried to find it in the wrong places. I mean there were a lot of creeps. I went through some crazy dating experiences.

,June 8, 2018 Rick and I dating about 3 weeks in

I dated the wrong people, because I wasn’t the best person I could be at the time. After dating a former heroin addict going through a nasty divorce, I decided that I wanted to show myself more self-love. I deserved better than this, and a little while after, I met Rick.

I found someone I dated for two years that I thought I was going to marry. This is when I made very poor lifestyle choices and got to my heaviest weight. He got bad with drugs. One day he told me “I don’t want to be a step father” and I had to leave him.

Thank God that’s all over. My husband now was well worth the wait and he’s incredibly loving and supportive!

Hell it’s hot!

Running Less

Then there’s the intolerable swampy, disgusting, HOT, dog days of Florida summer weather. I’ve been able to upkeep my running and gardening hobbies up until this month (August), for the most part. I keep running a couple times a week, but for something I usually LOVE, now it feels like purgatory! I’m just biding my time and trying to get through it. Cooler weather will be here in… ahem… three months. 😬

Mood Swings & Stress

Oh, and my mood! Hasn’t that been fun since I removed my IUD (birth control)!

Let’s Catch Up: Anxiety and Mood Disorder

Some back story: I’ve struggled with mood disorders and anxiety since I can remember. I say “mood disorder” ambiguously, because the psychiatrists can’t seem to agree on what exactly it is. What I have noticed, is that I am very sensitive to hormone fluctuations and changes in routine. I also confidently know that I have more anxiety than many others. The social anxiety is the most debilitating when it comes to relationships and work. Get me out in public though and somehow it just melts away. It’s the leading up to it that gives me anxiety, and it seems I’ll never get used to talking on the phone, even with a family member. I think I actually present myself very well to others. You can tell me otherwise, but I’ll probably get offended. 😅 One of the major underlying problems is a lack of self-compassion toward not being “perfect”.

When I took the IUD out two months ago, I quickly felt an extremely notable difference in my level of anxiety. I didn’t feel like I had any anxiety at all for at least two weeks! I was ready to call a lawyer and sue Mirena for the last 12 years of psychiatry and medications.

Then it all came flooding back, with depression too. Ugh. There have been many arguments fueled by my mood-induced agitation and susceptibility to feeling personally attacked over everything. Well, that was worse earlier in the week. I must have balanced out, or heck – maybe I’m just glad to have some breathing room because the kids are gone this weekend. 😌

More Sister Drama

My therapist – something I’m okay admitting that I have (everyone should have one!) – points out to me that it’s no sh*t I’m stressed out. I ended up having to file an injunction on my sister, which brought “us” (she didn’t show) back to court this week. She told me she was “planning my demise”, to “watch my back”, and that she would “come find me”. It didn’t go through, even though no one disagreed that it shouldn’t have.

My niece Chloe, about 4 years ago

Let’s Catch Up: My Niece

I don’t speak out about this often, because I really don’t intend to put down my sister. I love her even though she thinks I stole her daughter and that I’m Satan himself (or herself?). She doesn’t cease to tell me I’m going to hell and how horrible of a person I am, so often, it’s like a broken record. In spite of this, I truly wish one day she can find some inner peace. She clearly feels intolerable pain.

She struggles with her mental health and alcohol problems. This ramped up early in her life and I took a lot of abuse from her then as I do now. She got pregnant at 16 and had my niece Chloe. She married a guy I really liked at the time, though certainly not perfect; but, they divorced shortly thereafter and he for the most part was out of the picture. Today, he has to my knowledge been in and out of jail and veterans facilities in California. My sister moved around with Chloe a lot and had many boyfriends come in and out. There’s so much messed up sh*t that happened, but here I’m going to close my mouth as much as possible. Trust me, it hurts.

Chloe about a year ago

Things got really bad with her and she was Baker Acted a few times. We were all watching the situation with Chloe for a while, unfortunately, waiting for it to get worse. It finally did. I hired a lawyer, but then the state stepped in. We had been dealing with so many court visits; and frankly, sometimes intrusive oversight and personal evaluation for nearly two years. I now have permanent custody. Chloe goes to see her mom when she is doing well – which happens in cycles.

I love Chloe dearly, and I believe she is happy. I think beyond trying to do the right thing, a part of me felt like in saving her I was saving my younger self. The younger me endured so much abuse from my sister. She really affected my (and my family’s) whole upbringing. I couldn’t let Chloe, who was at such a vulnerable age, have to go through the roller coaster and turmoil my sister tends to constantly bring into others’ lives.

So we’ve “acquired” a teenager – we like to say. A “bonus” daughter. It really threw us for a loop. We’ve never raised a teenager before. Though as of today, we think she is the sweetest teenager there is. We are lucky. God, please keep it that way! LOL

Chloe, last homecoming

Back to School

Our four kids started school again, across three different schools, and started their extracurriculars which are every day Tuesday through Friday afterschool. Starting school again always tends to have me stressed out, similarly to the holiday season. I’m now driving 3-4.5 hours a week just transporting my son to his father’s house, so he and I can have a more fair child sharing schedule. My son started middle school! I can’t believe I’m getting that old…

Let’s Catch Up: Our Blended Family

Rick and I met just over four years ago. He had two kids and I had one. I thought then that finding someone with kids would give me all the kids I need. I didn’t think I wanted to go through a pregnancy again. Haha – I guess not.

Early in our relationship, I wanted to be candid with him. I told him it was possible that one day in the near future I would be taking in my niece (which later did happen). I feared this might be a deal breaker. To my surprise, he had no issues with it and even told me he once almost had to step in to help take in kids in a similar situation. I realized we have similar values! I fell in love not much later. 🥰

Our kids met when we knew things were getting serious, and my son was difficult from the get-go. He never wanted to share his mommy, and he wasn’t used to having “siblings”. We are still working on that to this day. My approach to parenting has also had to evolve, and my availability, so it’s no surprise that also has affected him.

The whole blended family at our wedding June 2, 2022 in Yosemite National Forrest

Coparenting with three other sets of parents is often heart-wrenching and a logistical nightmare. Blending families is very challenging, but I have the most supportive husband ever!

Speaking of being my husband, we got eloped this past June 2nd in Yosemite National Forrest with our kids. It was the magical wedding in front of a waterfall that I had always hoped for, and it went perfectly! With the exception of the kids giving me a cold and hacking up a lung mid-reception, LOL. That’s family vacations!

Childcare

Next there’s the child care situation… as much as I want to be a totally open book and run my mouth about everything, I have to keep it vague here. Basically, I’m a convenient source of childcare for other parties and often I feel taken advantage of. 🤷‍♀️ I feel like I have little control over the situation, and that I’m selfish for not just bending over and taking it. It’s probably already too obvious what I’m saying, so I’ll say no more. Just know this is a BIG stressor and has yielded many heated arguments.

This past Mother’s Day on a hike

Blended Family Issues

I’ve also started taking my son to counseling. I was a single mother to a single child for nearly half the years of his life. They say boys of single mom’s psychologically try to be the “man of the house”. Well Rick and I have been together over four years and the head-butting and disrespect is still a problem. Well, I can’t handle it anymore and I feel bad for my favorite man and little man that they continue to struggle.

Quin started visiting a counselor late last week, and eventually we’re going to bring Rick in with him. I hope this helps!

Work Stress

Oh boy, and let’s talk work.

Let’s Catch Up: Careers

At the office when I worked for a cyber security startup

With anxiety and mood disorder, I’ve struggled to stay happy at a job. When I was in my 20s, I still remember a job I had where I drove to work and didn’t leave the car. I was suddenly overcome with immense anxiety to continue working there. I wrote them an email quitting and telling them it was because of my anxiety. In all honestly, that was true; but, like just about every other job I’ve had, someone offended me (real or imagined) and I just couldn’t take it. Again, over two years ago, my then fiancé told me to quit my UX Lead at a cyber security startup job because I “wouldn’t stop b*tching” about it. I had been working there for nearly seven years. Little did he know what he was in for.

I dreamed of being an entrepreneur since early college. I tell myself it’s fueled from chasing an ideal lifestyle and feeling free from the constraints of a “rat race” society. Sit in an office for eight hours and get three hours of work done? Drive across town and back in traffic? Leave kids in daycare? Deal with bureaucracy and politics in the office? Hell no! I‘ve always had a painfully rebellious attitude about it. To this day, I’m still plotting and planning slightly rational and irrational solutions to get out of trading hours for dollars. It’s much more though. Though many probably wouldn’t have guessed… I struggle interpersonally with other people. Critisicm – might make me cry. A side eye from a coworker – he must hate me. A boss is telling me what to do – you don’t own me!

I had started Clean Cooking with Caitlin on YouTube actually, back in 2019 (maybe…?), inspired by a massive lifestyle change and transformation. You can read more about that in About Me. YouTube is sooooo much work, and with our young kids present, recording with some semblance of quiet was near impossible and extremely frustrating. I quickly ended up starting this blog and shifting my focus to it instead. It’s much easier for me to maintain, especially since I have a background in website development.

When Rick told me to quit, I promised I would finish my Precision Nutrition certification, get my nutrition coaching business up and running, and get a job if it didn’t work after a few of months. And I got a handful of clients in my group weight loss program, so it seemed like it could work! FREEDOM!

Not so fast… group coaching didn’t work out so well from the get-go. People seemed to really need 1:1 to shift their lifestyle, and I have too much social anxiety for that. Every phone call was excruciating for me. Put myself on camera for possibly tens of thousands of people – no problem. 1:1 – scary as hell.

It was also so discouraging that it seemed people were looking for some magical solution from me that required no lifestyle change. Nope – sorry. No silver bullet’s here, or anywhere else that’s sustainable (so stop trying to get away with doing nothing about your health issues). With my Precision nutrition certification, I’m instead trying to coach others for free through my content, along with delicious recipes. I only got into cooking when I changed my lifestyle.

So, I didn’t fulfill my promise to Rick, and I felt guilty for the next two years as I desperately tried to build this blog, YouTube, and Instagram as fast as possible. There was at least one incidence of crying under the desk and one in the closet. You can’t make your audience grow overnight. I’ve finally made peace with that.. well, for the most part.

Spacebar Sorcery

Now I’m managing a more practical business while building up this one – Spacebar Sorcery. It’s helping others with their websites and other digital media. That’s what I went to school for and practiced since before 2013, but became burnt out. It’s good money, and there’s no shortage of incoming clients, but often at times stressful. While I’m happy to help other people with their businesses, I know I went to school for this to make my own digital business dreams of residual income come true. I have to remind myself that I haven’t failed. Things take time, and I’m not known for being patient. That’s where I’m at today, so let’s get back to the journal entry…

I’m getting more web development projects in than anticipated. I have the time for them, but I am still working through my depression that Clean Cooking with Caitlin couldn’t take off as fast as I wanted. I also have never done this as the business owner before, which has me feeling really insecure. This is making those proposal meetings on top of the social anxiety, so much harder! Rick keeps assuring me that I’ll gain confidence over time and it won’t be so big of a deal. I sure hope so!

Gardening now also fuels my healthy lifestyle

My audience here is growing a lot suddenly. When it rains, it pours. Because of this, I’m hoping I can finally figure out what kind of products or services might help others in their wellness journey. Do I publish a cookbook (I’m thinking “Garden to Table”)? Sell healthy dark chocolate? Fitness apparel? Cooking supplies? Do you have any ideas?

I also saw a stranger tag me in their friend’s post recommending following me. She said she follows me for nutrition and recipes, along the lines of it helping her with her healthy lifestyle. She made my year! I just want to feel like what I have to say and offer has a positive impact!

Our Wedding Reception

Rick and I got married on June 2nd in Yosemite National Forrest in California (just outside of San Francisco if you aren’t familiar). Our reception is coming up in a couple weeks, which I’m hosting at our house, and I’m worried about getting everything done! I feel so grateful that my mom is helping me with all of the décor. I’m on cooking duty, of course. I actually wanted to get catering so I didn’t have to worry about doing it myself, but the catering menus proved to be too dull for my liking (I mean some of the recipes I put on here might be considered “weird” to many others) and expensive. So here I am working on an elaborate menu and planning all the steps required to accomplish it without cooking while people are here, like I usually end up doing. Oh – and take good pictures of it for this blog! This time, all in a wedding dress… I’m excited for the party, but stressed with the details!

My Birthday is Coming Up

Finally, I’ve put very little thought into this, but my birthday is in about a week! Let’s be real, do we really care about our birthdays past turning 30? I’ll be 34. I still feel like I’m in my 20s though (and perhaps act like it)! We have kids that weekend. I’m actually looking forward to doing something dorky like bowling, LOL.

A couple friends surprised me today and are arranging something for us to do without kids the day before my birthday. That means so much to me, and I look forward to feeling guilty again after too many drinks over brunch… Well, it’s my birthday after all.

Turning 34 but feelin’ 21

I Hope We Connected…

In conclusion of my first lifestyle journal entry, I hope you were able to connect with some of this. If you expected my life as a picture of healthy lifestyle perfection, I’m sorry I disappointed you. I do make time for improving my health and I am quite healthy, but I am far from perfect all the time. Life’s a rollercoaster and I’m on and off the horse. I just try to ride that horse… most of the time, and show myself compassion when I don’t. I hope you can show yourself some self-compassion too.

A lot of the text above may sound like whining about my “First-World” problems, but I really don’t intend it to be. I’m grateful for what I have, and I know we all have our frustrations. I’m only human, and I hope to connect with you from a place of vulnerability, so you know that I’m just like you. I too struggle with self love, motivation, and keeping up with taking care of myself. But I anchor to my deepest “why” – which is to live a life of health and vitality, so I can continue to be the best parent and person I can be, and practice as much self compassion along the way. Do you struggle with any similar things? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to chat. I love corresponding and sharing – as long as you don’t ask to talk on the phone. 😂

For a weekly digest of all of my posts – journal entries, recipes, and nutrition – be sure to sign up for my newsletter and be on the lookout for it on Sunday mornings. Have a great rest of your weekend, y’all!

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