Friday, April 30, 2010

So What Happened to the Book Reviews?

Remember how I was planning to read and blog about one parenting book each month this year? I made it through January and February. Then in March I started Playful Parenting but never finished it... and now it's the end of April and I still haven't finished it! It's a good book with some really awesome ideas and suggestions, but for some reason I just can't get motivated to read the last couple of chapters. Maybe I'll come back to it some other time. There are so many books I want to read that I have a hard time sticking with them all the way through.

I'm going to try to start up my book reviews again in May, and I've actually already started the next book I'm planning to write about: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I think it's going to be a good one. :-)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ten Years From Now

Yesterday when I thought about what I'd say to my 16-year-old self if I could, I began wondering what I would want to say to my current self 10 years from now. Obviously I'll do a lot of changing between now and then, but I think I know a few things I'd say to me...


I know you have lots on your mind and tons of things you want to accomplish, but it's okay to slow down and live in the moment. You have plenty of time ahead of you.

Speaking of living in the moment, that's especially true when it comes to your kids. They'll be teenagers and young adults before you know it. This time with them is so precious.

Be content with where you are in life right now.

You know how you said you'd tell your 16-year-old self that it doesn't matter what other people think, it's okay to be herself, and her value comes from God and not her accomplishments? That's something you still need to remember sometimes. ;-)

Oh, and you know how you feel kind of weird about approaching 30? Just wait 'til you're approaching 40 and your oldest son is almost 18...

There are some things you want desperately that you just can't have. You're causing yourself unnecessary pain by entertaining those ideas.

If it will cost you your self-respect or integrity, don't do it. It's not worth it.

Start reading the books on your shelf that will prepare you for becoming a doula and a childbirth educator. Not being able to pay for the programs right now doesn't mean you can't get started on the reading. You'll be glad you did.

Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. It's not possible. Do what you can do, and give yourself grace.

Don't idealize other people and strive to be like them. God made you to be like you, with your personality, your likes and dislikes, your passions, your beliefs, and your circumstances. Remember that quote you love: "It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self

"If you could write a letter to the person you were at 16, what would you say?" This is the question that a friend asked on Facebook today. And I think it's a great question. I had some self-esteem and confidence issues at that age, and I made quite a few poor choices. This is what I would say if I could talk to my 16-year-old self (although I doubt she'd listen because she preferred to learn from her own experiences and not from other people's advice... lol):

It's really okay to just be yourself. If you like or believe something, it doesn't matter what other people think. Just be you. And it's okay to say no. You don't have to do things just because other people want you to.

Go ahead and cut your hair into that pixie cut you've been wanting. It'll save you years of frustrations with your hair, and you will love it. And while I'm giving beauty advice, you might wanna pluck your eyebrows. Otherwise you will look back at pictures and wince. It doesn't hurt that bad.

It may be hard to believe now, but you will not be a childless career woman. And you'll be okay with that.

You are worth more than you think you are. Please choose friendships and relationships with people who truly do value you. This will save you from a lot of pain and regret.

Only a handful of people you're friends with now will be lifelong friends. You already know who they are. :-)

Stop telling yourself you're fat. You aren't. You're the perfect size. Actually, you should probably eat a little more, not less.

You've believed a lot of untrue, hurtful things about yourself. Please do everything you can to get those toxic messages out of your head and try to see yourself for who you really are. You are loved.

Your value comes from God, not from your accomplishments, your talents, whether other people like you, or anything else.

God isn't who you think he is. He isn't waiting around for you to mess up so he can punish you. He isn't keeping a list of everything you do wrong. He doesn't expect you to be perfect. He isn't angry, legalistic, and punitive. That god, the god whose existence you question, doesn't exist-- but God does. And God loves you. He loves you. This bears repeating one more time: He loves you-- just as you are.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Grace: Parents Need It Too

Lest you think that my last post means I harbor illusions of being a perfect mom, allow me to lay that idea to rest. I'm not perfect, and I'm very well aware of it. Yesterday afternoon, I yelled, slammed a door, yelled some more, said some very hurtful words, and ended up making my 7 year old cry. :-( It was not a stellar parenting moment, and I deeply regret it.

But even the worst parenting moments have lessons in them if you are willing to look for them. There are lessons about making amends, forgiveness, grace, and preventing it from happening again. Even bad parenting moments can be used for good.

On Sunday I talked to Elijah about God's grace and forgiveness when we mess up. Then on Monday, I messed up. Grace and forgiveness are truths that are so much harder to embrace when I am the one in need of them. The truth is, regardless of my beliefs about parenting and my ideals, sometimes I'm going to screw it up. Is that hypocritical? No, I don't think so-- it's human. I'm willing to admit that I'm not perfect. I'm so, so not perfect. And what amazes me, what stuns me every time I'm faced with the reality of it, is that God knows I'm not perfect too-- and he loves me. He forgives me. He extends grace to me. I don't have to be perfect.

Of course, grace and forgiveness in parenting do not do away with the need to make amends and experience consequences. Likewise, God's grace and forgiveness do not mean that I don't need to make amends or that I won't experience consequences. Immediately after my yelling, door-slamming, and harsh words, I realized how very wrong I had been, and I apologized. I hugged my son and sincerely apologized. I explained to him that I had been very angry, and that sometimes I feel like using loud, mean words to show how angry I am-- and I told him that doesn't make it okay. I asked for his forgiveness, and I made a promise to him that I would not say things I don't mean out of anger.

After a moment like this, it's important to examine what led up to it and to look for ways to prevent it from happening again. I seriously doubt I would have flown off the handle if I had not been feeling hungry, tired, and slightly under the weather. I have been reminded to take care of myself and to be aware of those triggers. (Side note: It's also important to remember that children who are hungry, tired, not feeling well, or otherwise stressed are also more likely to act out.) I have also been reminded to use self-calming strategies when I'm feeling angry instead of verbally lashing out. And I've been reminded to stop and listen to that little voice inside of me that's warning me not to do what I'm about to do (just like I had talked to Elijah about listening to his conscience the day before).

So in conclusion, no, I'm not perfect. I'm just like you-- I have some really great moments, and some utterly terrible ones, and plenty in-between as I fumble around at this difficult, rewarding, epic job of parenting. And each day I am unspeakably grateful for God's grace.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Discipline in Action

As much as I enjoy reading about parenting and discipline ideas and theories, I am even more appreciative of real-life stories that show discipline in action-- aren't you? This is the story of something that happened at our house over the weekend with our 7 year old.

It began on Friday when we looked at Elijah's agenda from school. His teacher had written that he had to "pull a card" (their classroom discipline system) for not cleaning out his desk and not completing his work. We asked him what happened, and he told us he'd had a very messy desk with some unfinished work in it. We took this opportunity to talk to him about the importance of keeping his desk neat so he can keep up with things, and about staying on task and finishing his assignments. We talked together about why he's having trouble staying on task, and we discussed strategies he can use to help himself keep from getting distracted and to get back to work when he realizes he's become distracted.

Until Sunday afternoon, I thought the matter was settled. Actually, I hadn't thought about it anymore. Then when I was in the boys' room putting away a toy, I saw a plastic bag in the closet. The bag was stuffed full of papers and a note from Elijah's teacher was attached. As it turns out, the contents of the bag were all the papers that had been in his desk. A good portion of it was incomplete work. Elijah was in the room, and he saw me calmly remove the bag from the closet, take it to the kitchen, and go back to his room to supervise the room-cleaning.

He seemed nervous. I said nothing about it; I just continued with what we were doing for a few minutes while I thought about how to proceed. As I put away some of Isaac's clothes, I said, "So, tell me about the bag I found in your closet." He began to cry, and he came to me. I let him sit on my lap while he cried, and I asked him why he had put the bag in his closet instead of showing it to me and his dad. He tearfully explained that he had been afraid of getting in trouble.

I told him a story, one he had heard before but that probably would make a lot more sense to him now, about something similar that I had done when I was his age-- I had missed a lot of questions on a paper, my teacher wanted my mom to sign the paper, and I was scared that I would get in trouble so I tried to forge her signature. I told him I had been afraid of getting in trouble just like he had, but that what I had done was wrong. I asked him if he felt like what he did was wrong, and he said yes. So I explained that God gave us a conscience that tells us when we are doing something we shouldn't do, and I asked him if he'd noticed his conscience telling him he was wrong to not finish his work and to hide the papers from us. He said yes, he felt like it was the wrong thing to do.

I told him that I want him to know that he can come to me when he's messed up without being afraid. My job as a parent is not to punish him but to help him learn what to do when he makes mistakes and to help him solve problems when he has them.

Then I talked to him about God and grace. I told him that we all mess up and do things we shouldn't do sometimes, and that God has forgiven us and extends grace to us. I told him that because of that, we're supposed to forgive and give grace to each other. I told him that I forgave him.

Then we talked about what was going to happen from there, because there are consequences to this kind of thing. I told him that he needed to complete all the incomplete work and take it back to school, and that he needed to write a note to his teacher and apologize for not getting his work done. He also was not allowed to play any video games until the work was completed, because work comes before play. He understood, and he sat down and got to work. He completed all the written work and wrote a note to his teacher. I wrote a note to her as well. We also ended up being unable to take a walk on the Greenway that evening because of the time that was spent on the assignments.

Before bed, we talked again about strategies for staying on task and getting back on task, and hopefully he'll remember to use them. He also said he planned to keep his desk neat so he can find everything.

Now, I could have punished him. I could have yelled, shamed him, spanked him, grounded him... but what good would it have done? It would have made him feel bad-- but he already clearly felt the guilt of what he had done and was repentant. Why would I feel the need to pile more guilt and shame on him? Instead we talked about listening to your God-given conscience, admitting when you've messed up, forgiveness, grace, and making things right. Some would say that punishment may have been used to teach him that there are consequences, but he learned about the actual consequences by having to complete the work, write a note of apology, and miss out on things he enjoyed while the work was being completed. Those are real-life consequences! Punishment would not have taught him about strategies for staying on task in the future-- and it certainly would not have taught him that it's safe to come to his parents when he's messed up and to get their guidance in fixing the problem! If we had punished him, it only would have affirmed his worries that he would get in trouble, and he probably would be more likely to try to hide things in the future. I don't want him to be afraid to come to me when he makes mistakes; my job is to guide and teach him through things like this.

This is why I choose discipline over punishment. This is the active teaching that goes into parenting. And not only is Elijah learning important life lessons about staying focused and being honest, he's learning important lessons about God's love, grace, and forgiveness in the face of our human mistakes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gardening and Other Outdoorsy Stuff

'Tis the season to go to the home improvement store at least twice a week for more gardening supplies and plants. ;-)

This is the third summer we've had a garden, and this year we're planting more than we ever have before. The past couple of years we've just had a small garden out front. This year, we've moved our gardening ventures to the backyard and have three raised beds (but we're planning more). So far we've planted tomatoes, roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, strawberries, cucumbers, zucchini, red bell peppers, and green bell peppers. We're going to plant more soon-- green beans, eggplant, squash, broccoli, corn, kale, sunflowers, carrots, and who knows what else we'll end up planting before it's all said and done.

We also have blackberries growing in our backyard. Yum! Eventually we want to plant blueberry and raspberry bushes, and I'd love to have fruit trees. And chickens. ;-) Basically, I'd be okay with being these people.

There are other outdoorsy projects in the works, such as digging up dirt from the back of the yard for our gardens, and clearing out some of the yard to make it more open. We're also looking into putting up a fence, which will serve two very important functions: keeping neighborhood dogs out, and keeping our toddler from wandering through the carport and into the front yard while we're gardening. :-P

I'll admit when we first bought this house, I didn't love our backyard. But now I'm seeing how much potential it has, and I'm really excited. *happy sigh*

Happy Earth Day. :-)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sexual Effects of Spanking

The author of this guest post is being kept anonymous. It's a very personal and sensitive topic, and she did not want her identity to be shared. However, I do want to say that this is not some story I've pulled off the internet by a random person I don't even know. This is the very real experience of someone I know well. I say that because I want you to know that this is a credible story. I hope you'll hear what she has to say.


Did you know spanking can have a sexual effect on children even if it wasn't what their parents intended? I know that people who haven't experienced this will probably scoff at it, but it's true. I know it is because it happened to me.

My parents never intended spanking to be sexual in any way. It was a form of discipline to them, and nothing more. In fact, I don't remember being spanked very frequently. I can clearly remember four spankings, but I'm sure there were more I don't recall. Spanking on bare skin didn't happen often as far as I remember, but it did happen and I knew the threat of it was there. I do remember it happening twice, and one of those times was when I was around 10 or 11 years old.

When I was around 8 or 9, I became obsessed with spanking. I would play with my dolls and stuffed animals and make up elaborate stories where they were brutally and methodically punished. I would play with my friends or by myself and spanking was often included. We would hit each other or I would even hit myself.

As I got older, probably by the time I was 10 or 11, the thought of spanking made me have sexual feelings. I didn't realize at the time that it was a sexual feeling, because that was all new to me. All I knew was that when I thought about it, I felt funny, and if touched myself in certain places, it felt good. I didn't know until my mid-teens that this was masturbation, and that masturbation was supposed to be sexual. By then I was so used to it being connected in my mind to the thought of spanking that it seemed weird to think about sexual things.

Once I realized this, I saw that spanking and sexual feelings had become connected to each other in my mind. I worked hard to put a stop to it, but even now I still occasionally struggle if I read about spanking methods or hear about it being threatened. As an adult who is aware of the connection I made, I'm able to quickly stop the feeling and refocus, but as a child I couldn't do that.

A couple years ago I read some articles online about the sexual effects of spanking and that's when I began to understand why the two had become connected in my mind. The buttocks are an erogenous zone and a private area, close to the genitals and sexual nerves. Smacking a child's bottom (especially a naked bottom, but even clothed) can cause some children to make a connection in their minds between the act of spanking and sexual feelings. And it can (and does) happen even if the parent doesn't intend for the spanking to be sexual.

I've learned that this is a much more common effect of spanking than most people realize. It just isn't talked about very much, probably because it's so personal and potentially embarrassing. It needs to be talked about more. Many people don't realize that spanking can have a sexual effect on children because they haven't experienced it and no one has ever told them about it.

But here is the truth: It happens to some kids, regardless of the parent's intention. Many parents may not even realize the effect that spanking is having on their kids. Mine didn't. You have no way of knowing if your child is going to be one of the ones who is affected in this way. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I know that just because this connection is made with some people, like me, doesn't mean it will happen with all people. But just because the connection isn't made with some people, maybe like you, doesn't mean it won't happen for others. The fact that the potential is there needs to be talked about and parents need to consider it before they decide to spank their children.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Baby Fair: Good and Bad

Over the weekend, I went to the local Baby Fair with a friend. (This was not, as Elijah supposed, a place where they were selling babies and I could pick the one I wanted.)

It was an interesting experience. On one hand, it was encouraging. A breastfeeding support group and a natural childbirth class led by a local doula were represented, which was awesome. There was even a woman there wearing her baby in a locally-made wrap. It's nice to see things like doulas, babywearing, and support for breastfeeding and natural birth here in our city, and I hope it becomes more and more common.

On the other hand, there were some definite "Whaaaaat?" moments on my part. The first one occurred almost as soon as we walked in the door, at the table set up by our local hospital. Moms-to-be could sign up for a hospital tour and receive a free diaper bag. Fine-- except one of the diaper bags appeared to include formula that said it was "for breastfeeding moms." Wait, what? Isn't giving formula to breastfeeding moms sort of like giving condoms to people who have chosen to remain abstinent? "We know you say you're going to breastfeed, and that's cool... but wait, here's some formula you can use when you decide to give up. Best of luck with that breastfeeding!" Talk about discouraging!

At a pediatrician's table, there were pamphlets about how important and necessary vaccinations are, entitled in a way that would lead you to believe that it was telling you "all you need to know" about vaccinations. As someone who believes strongly in doing some serious research and prayer before putting medications and vaccinations in my body or my child's body, I find this frustrating. A word of advice: do some research on vaccinations, beyond reading a pamphlet given to you by your doctor or written by the vaccine manufacturers. You might be shocked to find out what's in some of them. (For example, some vaccines contain human diploid cells, which originate from human aborted fetal tissue.) Two excellent, in-depth books on vaccinations (both of which I have read) are Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide by Aviva Jill Romm and The Vaccine Guide by Randall Neustaedter. It's a tough decision to make, and I encourage parents to be fully informed.

And at the local health department table, there was a brochure about co-sleeping that stated that room-sharing is safe, but bed-sharing is not. There are certainly safety precautions to be taken when having a baby in bed with you, but to classify all bed-sharing as unsafe is grossly inaccurate. Babies need to be close to their parents, even at night, and bed-sharing is an excellent way to do this.

So in the end, I came away feeling both encouraged and frustrated. It was great to get a chance to talk with other local women who are supportive of natural birth, breastfeeding, and babywearing! But I was also reminded how common it is for breastfeeding to be undermined by formula companies, and for biased information about vaccines and co-sleeping to be put out there as though it is balanced truth. My advice, as always: read, research, ask tough questions, become fully informed, then make your own decision based on research, prayer, and what you feel is best for your family.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finding Community

My friend Heather is part of the Brainerd Neighborhood Mission, a group of people in the Brainerd area of Chattanooga who are committed to being the church by loving and serving their community. They meet on Thursday evenings for a couple hours. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go check it out yet, but I'm hoping to get a chance soon. I think it sounds awesome. :)

On Monday morning, I got on Facebook and saw this update on the Brainerd Neighborhood Mission page:

Jamie and Heather skipped church yesterday to enjoy the weather and work in their yard... and discovered that while we've all been inside talking about planting a neighborhood church, our neighbors have been outside talking over yardwork on Sunday mornings.

That observation really got me thinking, not about what this group is trying to do, but about church and community in general. Often people in the church have a passion for community, so we sit down together and try to plan ways to facilitate community. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing; I'm not suggesting that churches serve no purpose or should be done away with! There are a lot of good things to be said for churches.

But this post reminded me to be aware of the community that's already in place. Who are the people we're trying to reach and connect with? And where are they? What kind of communities are already happening outside the boundaries of "church" as we think of it, and how can we become part of those communities? How can we take the church outside our walls and become part of the communities that are already happening? I've heard lots of church people talk about "meeting people where they are" in a spiritual and emotional sense, but what about physically? Some good can absolutely come from inviting people to join us in church, but a whole lot of good can also come from literally meeting them where they are. I wonder how well the church in general does this?

I'd say most church people know this, but I just want to say it as a reminder to us all (myself included): Real community isn't developed within the church walls (or the building where we meet, if it isn't a traditional church) a few hours a week. Real community is developed through consistent, daily, real-life relationships. Yardwork. Dinners. Playgrounds. The workplace. Game nights. Coffee. Talking about the little things and the big things. Supporting each other and allowing ourselves to be supported when we need it. Real community is so much messier than we ever think it will be, but it's a beautiful thing. So let's get outside our walls (the literal ones and the figurative ones that we've built up around our own lives) and make an impact in our own communities.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Clothes Shopping the Thrifty Way

Yesterday I went shopping at the Ashley Lauren's Closet sale. If you don't know what that is, basically it's a consignment sale held twice a year for all things children. They have pretty much anything you could think of-- clothes, maternity clothes, bedding, furniture, toys, car seats, and so on. I first started going to the sale three years ago, and I've sold stuff at it a few times too.

Yesterday I went with a mission: to find Isaac some spring/summer clothes, and maybe a couple things for Elijah too. Until I went shopping, Isaac didn't have any shorts, and only a few short-sleeved shirts. Elijah was in better shape, with several short-sleeved shirts and a few pairs of shorts. I did not want to pay more than $2 for any item, if possible. (Just a note on pricing clothes for consignment sales: I suppose that maybe some people are willing to pay eight dollars for a used shirt for a toddler, but I ain't one of them! I think the lower priced clothes tend to sell better, but that's just my opinion. Maybe I'm just cheap thrifty.)

Anyway. Mission accomplished! Isaac ended up with 9 shirts and 7 pairs of shorts, and Elijah got 3 shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of overalls:

Total cost? $28.50 for 21 items. That comes out to an average of $1.36 per item. It would have been slightly less, but I did spend more than $2 on Elijah's overalls. He's been wanting overalls for a long time, so when I found some in his size for around $4, I got them. Still a good deal! I'll probably go back today or tomorrow in search of a few more things for Elijah and pajamas and shoes for both boys.

So there's my plug for the day. If you want to get your kids some great, gently used clothes without spending a fortune, go check out Ashley Lauren's Closet. The sale goes on the rest of this week, from 9:00 AM-7:00 PM through Friday. Then on Saturday, from 8:00 AM-2:00 PM, they take 30% off of many of the remaining items. And, as if the savings weren't enough, the money you DO spend goes to local families instead of big companies and retail stores. That's smart shopping! ;)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Homeschooled Kids Are Weird?

In the past three weeks, I've had three different conversations in which people have talked about how the homeschooled people they know are all weird, awkward, etc.

I find this somewhat puzzling, mostly because I actually think the exact opposite. All the people I know who were homeschooled as children seem to be comfortable with being who they are-- even if who they are is different from the people around them. I think that's a really good thing! Obviously public schooled kids can turn out that way too; it's not an either-or thing. And, of course, there are plenty of public schooled kids who are weird and awkward. ;) I don't think that where a person is educated determines whether they will be confident or weird.

So what do you think?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"No" Is Not a Four-Letter Word

We all know people who can't seem to say no. Some of us may be those people! Personally, it has only been over the past few years that I've become comfortable with saying no if I don't want to do something or if I just can't. I used to feel guilty and I would say yes even if it wasn't something I had time for or wanted to do.

Sometimes I wonder if some people become people-pleasers who can't say no without feeling tremendous amounts of guilt because we were raised with the expectation that you did not say no to others. How many of us were punished or shamed in one way or another for saying no when we were children?

So many people hear a small child utter the word "no" and automatically assume that the child is being defiant or non-compliant. I actually don't think that's true in most cases. When children are born, they aren't really aware that they are separate beings from their mothers. Over time, though, they realize that not only are they separate beings, but they actually can assert their own thoughts and feelings. Often, for the young toddler, this is seen through experimentation with the word no. Little ones who are learning about no may even say no to things you know they DO like. Why? Not because they're being defiant or non-compliant, but because they are experimenting with this new-found understanding of being their own individual person. I also think it's worth pointing out that a lot of times, a "no" from a little one is not a way of defiantly saying, "I will not;" it is more often a way of expressing, "I don't want to." Those things are very different, in my opinion.

As a parent, my job when my toddler says no is not to punish him or shame him for it. It is to let him express his no, and to teach him how to use no appropriately. Because the truth is, as frustrating as it can be to hear no from a child, children need-- yes, NEED-- to be allowed to use the word and need to be taught how to use it appropriately. There are many, many things that children need to be equipped to say no to. When children are punished and shamed for saying no, they are more susceptible to abuse, peer pressure, and becoming people-pleasers.

So how do you deal with a young child's no? It's helpful to give them choices about things that they really can make choices about. "Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the green one?" "Do you want an apple or a banana?" and so on. The types of choices you offer can change to be more appropriate for their ages as they grow. Age-appropriate choices help them make decisions for themselves and assert their independence in a positive way. It's also helpful to teach them words for expressing their feelings. If your child is howling "Nooooooo!" maybe you can teach him to recognize what he is really feeling. "You feel disappointed because we have to leave the park. It's hard to stop doing something you enjoy." You could also teach him to use words to express his frustration, disappointment, or anger.

Allowing children to experiment with no, and teaching them to use no appropriately will equip them with the knowledge and confidence to say no when necessary, and that is a good thing. This isn't the same thing as permissively letting a child do whatever he wants, despite what you want him to do. It is the parent's job to set boundaries and to teach children about those boundaries-- but in doing so, we must be sure that we actively teach our children how to set boundaries as well. This is a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Let's not be afraid of the word no. Let's teach our children how to use it appropriately, and let's use it when we need to without feeling guilty. No is an important word!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Wilderness

In my last post I said that sometimes I can see clearly where I'm going to end up-- specifically regarding certain experiences and beliefs.

But sometimes, I have absolutely no idea where I'm going to end up. It is this part of the journey-- the unknown, the indecision, the doubts and uncertainty-- that I struggle to embrace. I don't mind the journey as long as I have an idea of my destination, but when I'm wandering in the wilderness, unsure of where I'm going or how long it will take to get there, I often feel so discouraged.