Staying the Course

After a particularly difficult week, it’s easy to become discouraged. Thoughts of “What am I doing here?” and “Why am I doing this?” start creeping in.

I make most of my choices by personal conviction, so in moments of doubt, I return back to the way I felt and the words I wrote when my choice seemed most clear.

When I’m frustrated with the kids and our stuff is impossible to pick up, when I long to have some form of visible proof of at least one thing I was successful at that day, I remember the day I called work to quit my job and stay home.

Or when the day calls for a root beer because that’s what I used to need when I wanted a caffeine and sugar boost. But then I remember declaring I was giving it up in Really Doing It This Time. It’s been about 5 months of not drinking soda (except for a couple of times we were away from home). A thirty-year habit takes longer than five months to completely get over.

When I’m out shopping and the Valentine’s baked goods and bread look really tempting for once, and I regret not being able to have them. The list of foods I’m not eating includes dairy, wheat, corn, soy, green vegetables, citrus, wine, coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and my multivitamin. But because of what I described in Eating Less and Gaining More, it’s not as difficult as it seems it would be.

Our downstairs neighbor is frustrated with us because we’re too noisy. I don’t think she realizes we can hear her watching TV and singing “Love is All You Need.” And what am I doing still living in an apartment, anyway? Then I think about what I wrote in Finding Contentment Where You Are Right Now.

Or maybe you’re trying to get up early, and you could use a reminder of why you wanted to get up early in the first place, when it’s too cold and the bed seems much more inviting.

Write those thoughts down, and don’t give up. (I’d say hang in there, but that reminds me of kitten posters.)

What are you not giving up on today?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I’m the same way with soda. Trying to cut down, and I’m getting outside help it seems. I bought one on Sunday and dropped it in the garage. Then asked my husband to bring me one this morning on his way home from work, he did and I hopped in the shower and when I got out it was gone. In the hands of three little boys…it was GONE. I’m trying to remember how much better I’m feeling without one and that I don’t need one to get me through the day.

    jeana´s last post…A few tips to keep things running smoothly

  2. Jenni at My Web of Life says:

    What a well-written post! I think this is the time of year for feeling dejected. I know that I have been feeling overwhelmed and often wonder what exactly it is I am doing. I like the idea of looking back through old blog posts and journals to remember exactly why it is that we are doing what we are doing!

  3. I so needed to be reminded to be faithful in well doing today. thank you for saying exactly what I needed to hear.

    Shannalee´s last post…this is how I see it

  4. That is quite a long list of what you can’t have. That seems to be my entire diet!

    The soda thing is a biggie. I’ve come the realization that I’m truly addicted. I hope to wean myself off, little by little.

    I get the same feelings, usually because I’m trapped inside the house during a long winter. I need the sun. It always makes me feel better.

    But, you are so right. Righting down how you feel about things when you are in a different frame of mind, and being able to re-read them puts a new perspective on things.

    Stay warm, and just enjoy your babies….they grow up FAST!

    Sharon´s last post…Financial status…revisited

  5. I had one of those weeks this week. I was ready to throw in the towel. “How can I do this for another 10 years?” I asked myself. Why do I stay at home? Why do I homeschool? (I’ve got that one down.) Why do I struggle to stay above the clutter? I do need to write it all down. Thanks for the nudge.

    Southern Gal´s last post…And we’re off…

  6. This is a very inspiring post because I think all of us feel this way every now and then. When you are trying to make changes in your life it’s hard sometimes and what a great way to get through them! To remind yourself why you decided to make the changes in the first place.

  7. At some point, everyone needs that kitten poster! I know I could use one this week.

  8. I’m laughing so hard at the kitten posters…isn’t that always the visual you get when you hear “hang in there”!? That is so funny…

    How about…Keep Your Chin Up…this too shall pass….

    Michelle´s last post…Busy, busy, busy…

  9. Wow. I think that post was a gift from God today. Thank you. With God’s grace (and believe me, ONLY by His grace) I am not giving up on staying home with my kids today.

    Valerie´s last post…Oh Canada!

  10. Yep, it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve felt underappreciated and misunderstood, but you know what? It’s okay, because I’m still doing what’s right for me, my students, and my family. This was the right choice.

    Coach J´s last post…Yet another reason I’m not coaching there anymore

  11. I’ve also been trying to cut back on the soda and sweets–with moderate success. I have to say though after reading your list that all you seem to be eating is meat and non-green vegetables and non-citrus fruit?! Compared to that, my diet goals are a cinch!

    Thanks for the encouraging words. I always think that I feel discouraged more on days when I compare myself to others…my friends that seem so successful, or who are living in such cool places, or who seem to have everything together. Lately I’ve been trying to be more deliberately content with my own life, and not compare myself to others!

  12. sometimes we are our best teachers. Besides, there is nothing worse than eating our words.

  13. Today – FINALLY – our son gets to come home from the hospital after being there for 6 days for a nasty cold virus (RSV). Even though it wasn’t as critical as some things (like, say, cancer, liver failure, etc.) it was still draining enough to make it hard to be nice and smile and say everything’s fine when all we wanted to do was just to get him home. We live in an apartment too, and watching HGTV in the hospital didn’t help too much – I only wish I could complain that my master bedroom was SOOOOO huge that I needed a special design team to come and help me decide what to do with all the space! :)

    One interesting thing I read while I was in the hospital, though, was a chapter from an old book on character. It was on “character and the home life” and talked all about how important mothers were to some of the most famous figures we know in history. It encouraged me that all of the sitting by the bedside wiping noses, changing diapers, doing playdough and block sculptures is worth it in the end, and reminded me of what a high calling we mothers have.

  14. I could have written your post myself when my children were small and I was home with them. Some days are just so demoralizing – I remember writing about it in a blog post about knitting here – I find that the arrival of spring always helps with these feelings. It never helped when people said to me to enjoy these years because they would be soon be gone. I did enjoy them, just not all the time, and it made me feel guilty that somehow I should, because they were my children. Just like any job, there are good days and bad days, and the fact that our job is taking care of our children doesn’t change that.

    mother necessity´s last post…Announcing….

  15. Five. More. Days. Til. Babies.

    (Thank you for this timely post.)

    jill´s last post…Still waiting.

  16. Oh. Oh my. This post just made my heart flutter and my breath stop. You actually made me catch my breath. I can’t tell you how many times I have longed to express in words how very lonesome a feeling it is to feel like you have accomplished NOTHING. You did it so very completely, I’m not sure what else I can even add here, honestly. We also live in an apartment as houses in our neighborhood start at half a million, and that’s for a pile of crap. We struggle on our one little income, but not more than many others out there. I try day by day to take it hour by hour and keep doing what I do. Keep on doing what you do. That was an amazing post.

  17. I am sorry it has been a trying week for you. It has been that way with me for the last week too and I sympathize. I am sending you a big virutal hug and the reminder for both of us that this to shall pass and a brighter day is ahead. A friend told me that when our children are young the days are long but the years are short. That is so true. My oldest is almost 22 years old, I have no idea where the years went. My youngest is 5 years old and truly some days (like the last week of them) are so very long.

  18. Be still my soul. Thanks for posting this. These are such wonderful reminders!

    Leigh Ann´s last post…Worth Reading Wednesday

  19. Hmmmm….what am I not giving up on…..that one is I’m still pondering.

    Last Thursday before blizzard #1, the engine went out in my truck of 6 years. And my son broke his bedroom window, costing us around $400 to replace. (This was all in one day.)

    Then we had 34.5″ of snow dumped on us, followed by an additional 27.5″.
    My husband and kids got sick, hubby with walking pneumonia, kids with pink eye and colds. I was recently diagnosed with a mood disorder, and am still digesting that.

    I’m not giving up on the fact that my truck will get fixed. Hubbs and I have discussed it at length that we’d rather pay for a new engine than have 5 years worth of car payments.

    I’m not giving up on the fact that the sun is out today and is melting some of the snow (we’re getting round 3 on Monday-Tuesday). I’m also not giving up on myself, with the recent diagnosis a lot of stuff makes sense now, and I’m getting treatment for it.

    And lastly, everyone is drinking lots of fluids and getting rest, so their batteries are nice and recharged.

    I guess I’m not giving up on life. Stuff happens, sometimes a lot at one time, and well, you just have to deal with it. :)

    Great post Rachel. Hope you guys are doing ok with the snow Texas got.

  20. I love your honesty in this post. So great. I too have chosen to stay home with my kiddos. And I often feel like there is little to show for it. I am seeking to not give up on believing that these days together really do matter, though they all seem to run together and sometimes feel so crazy.

    I remember your post a while back about doing something each day that can’t be UN done. I love that idea, but I have to remind myself that my kiddo’s lives can’t be UN done…the time and energy I invest in them and my husband is not like laundry or dishes, it is UN doable. That keeps me going and seems like it does so for you too!

  21. I wrote about this very thing just a couple of days ago! I’m six months pregnant, and I’m pretty sure that I would give up on having this baby if it wasn’t inevitable. I want him to be here so badly, but if it took any persistence to keep him growing and developing, I’m not sure I’d have what it takes to stay the course. Luckily, I just have to wait it out, because I can’t just decide to go back to not being pregnant. But I am definitely looking forward to May!

    Amy´s last post…From Grandma’s kitchen

  22. Dishes.

    I have no dishwasher, so believe me, getting the dishes done always takes some perseverance.

    Farmer Gal´s last post…Summer Came ‘Round

  23. “Now is the winter of our discontent” – or perhaps summing up the general feeling of almost everyone I know “now is the discontent of our winter.” I always find this the hardest, most demoralizing time of the year. Holidays are long over, spring doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the horizon, the hassle of bundling everyone up to go out into the cold grates on me (we live in the northeast) and I feel my energy level is just so low, just trudging along… but read something yesterday that we should not fight winter or just count down to spring, but allow in this time to slow down and, like trees or hibernating bears, rest more and rejuvenate our roots. I found just accepting my lower energy and desire to curl up under a blanket, rather than try to fight through it, gave me a lot of peace. Also, I decided whenever it is over 30 degrees and not snowing/raining, I’m going to try to get outside for some sun and a walk (even just 10 minutes). I did it yesterday and today and it’s made an amazing difference in my mood. Not quite on point to your post, but related, I think. I also decided, rather than killing myself to work out intensely at 6:00am each morning, I will allow a couple more snoozes to snuggle with my husband, and just aim for 20-30 minutes before the kids wake up. Sticking to it, but finding flexibility in the goal as well.

  24. I wanted to add that my contentment issues with our house got a whole lot better after I found your blog last year! We have a small, nice 2 bedroom house, which hubby bought before we even started dating. I’m pregnant, and I was obsessed with wanting to move before the baby came, because the 2nd bedroom was our office/den/guestroom, and I didn’t see how we were going to fit all that stuff elsewhere.

    But we’re a little upside-down on our mortgage now, so selling is impossible, and I was really frustrated about it. [Especially because in our same neighborhood there are 4 bedrooms for sale for the same price as our 2!! The thought of having 2 more bedrooms for the same mortgage was killing me.] Then I read some of your posts about living in a small apt, and it inspired me to figure out how to make things work in our house. So after getting rid of a bunch of stuff, and a bunch of praying about my attitude, now our bedroom is an office/bedroom, and the “guest room” is going to be an air mattress that can be blown up in the living room…which leaves a bedroom just for the baby. And now I’m even thinking “This bedroom is pretty big, I bet we can get 2 or 3 kids in here!” :)

    So even in difficult weeks, your words are still inspiring!

  25. AlaskanAndi says:

    I have a few complaints lingering around in my brain:

    Our tenants downstairs are foul mouthed New Yorkers with a dog in a one bedroom apt. which they allow to urinate all over our children’s snow fort and snowmen, a friend they let stay in their one bedroom for two weeks with them (on our utilities we pay), and loud base on their TV.

    But I am not giving up on my positive aspirations – we have tenants who pay their rent early.

    I slipped on the ice…going down our cement steps…yesterday and hit my head, arm, and butt and am now really sore.

    But I am not giving up on my positive aspirations – I have no broken bones and am perfectly mobile.

    My toddler refused to sleep last night and went to bed almost four hours after his regular bedtime and now is a total crank.

    But I am not giving up on my positive aspirations – He is incredibely cuddly when he is tired and I get more snuggly moments today than usual.

    I am NOT giving up on my positive aspirations. I just need to release my negative cling-ons. :-)

    • Not that this is any of my beeswax, and not to be overly negative, if the house guest is there too much, maybe you can argue that he is not on the lease? Then evict or raise $$ for utilities? I realize you may want the regular rent money over the fight or the joy of finding new renters, just thought I would throw that out there…. Stay positive!!I just think you have a legit beef with the NY’s.

  26. I am not giving up on being a mom….like I have a choice! The record amount of snow we received yesterday in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has been a blessing a curse. So fun to play in with the kiddos, but those same kids turn crazily cranky when the new-ness of the snow wears off and they discover that they are just plain cold. I’m not proud of the tone my words took this morning…..but like you said, I’ll hang in there and do better next time!

    Danielle´s last post…WFMW: Kid’s Shoes

  27. Oh Rachel, I can’t imagine not being able to eat dairy, citrus and tea. Those are some of my favorites. You have some serious self discipline!

    I love the idea recally WHY we made our decisions back WHEN we made them instead of just going with how we feel when we’re discouraged.

    Such a simple idea, but so revolutionary.

    (…and thanks for the link…again. I feel like the nerdy freshman and the cool senior class president invited me to eat lunch with her.)


    Kat @ InspiredToAction´s last post…I Need Your Input! And How To Win A $10 iTunes Gift Card…

  28. Thank you thank you thank you! This is just what I needed right now. I need to learn to write down why I am making certain decisions so I can refer back to them. It’s so hard to remember when all you can think of is wanting that soda, to move from this place, etc.

    Tiffany´s last post…Snowpocalypse DC

  29. I am going through blue past few days, everything I am doing is not going according to my plan, one of these weeks! These too shall pass !!! I hope.

  30. I will not give up on getting my body into good enough shape so that I can play harp again.

  31. I’m not giving up on my marriage! We’ve had a tough go of it so far, but we know that grace will sustain us and we will learn how to love each other well!

  32. Thank you for this post Rachel! The past few weeks have been very hard because we have been trying to get our son to sleep longer at night. Once we started that, he’s decided to become picky about his naps too! So today I almost gave up after a very long night and refusal to take any naps but was reminded that this is only a season, he will eventually sleep for longer than three hours at a time, and I won’t always have to slather my face in “summery glow” lotion so I don’t look like death warmed over!

    Rhiannon´s last post…Love, Love, Love…

  33. My word for this year is AUTHENTICITY ~ which is just what I found in your post. Thank you!

  34. I totally had one of those kitten posters! So funny!
    This is a great post. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about remembering the truth when the “feelings” just aren’t there. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Ashley´s last post…Making it Fun

  35. I’m not giving up on the no-sugar lifestyle I started in January. Even though stress is making me want to eat chocolate, I plan to stay on course.

    We just adopted our daughter, so I’m feeling strained as I try to figure out life with two. I’m not giving up on the idea of “seasons” and how I’m in one right now. Before I know it, these kids will be out of the house and I’ll be wishing for just one day filled with tantrums and diapers.

    on the eastern journey´s last post…Celebrating one week together!

  36. Hay!!! You sound like you need a lovely walk in the great outdoors away from all that is trapping you… and yet your weather isn’t exactly conducive!!! Hang in there and Spring will eventually come and before you know it you will be doing some urban camping… Hope you find some fun space this weekend!!!

    se7en´s last post…Beastly Bushveld Bunting in Se7en Steps…

  37. I appreciate your stick-to-it-tive-ness. What a great idea to go back to the reason you made the commitment in the first place! That’s such a great way to do it. First of all, because in weeks like yours it reminds you of WHY ON EARTH you’re doing something hard. I need that reminder so many times too.
    Secondly, however, this way of approaching things allows you to change course when needed. I don’t know how many times I’ve decided to do something and have been bullheaded going through it only to be killing myself over something. When I actually look up and take a step back I realize I’m far off of my original goal and am beating my head against the wall for nothing. For example, was the goal to have a fun day with the kids or to get to the children’s museum? Sometimes I’m trying to kill myself to get to the children’s museum when all I wanted to do was have a fun day with the kids and then we’re all mad and grumpy because no one had any fun. It’s always good to take that step back and see why you’re doing what you’re doing. It allows you to both stay the course when that’s what is important and to change course to realign yourself when that’s what is most important.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  38. I can’t tell you what a lift this post was for me. I have been feeling the same way lately and it’s a good philosophy to go back to how I felt when I first made the decision that I have frustration with presently. Thanks for the insight :)

  39. Great post.

    I’ve always known that blogging was going to be a series of ups and downs and so, when things are not going exactly the way I want, I look at the “Don’t Give Up” necklace I bought for just this reason.

    I hung it up on a pin in a place I’d see it every day, multiple times a day. It does help. Often, the next day, something happens to remind me that my goals may very well be achievable.

    Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last post…Interview with a blogger: meet Jessica from Lavender & Lilies

  40. Loved the post Rachel and everyone’s comments.
    I’m not giving up on myself even when something doesn’t turn out perfectly. I push myself really hard to do excellent work but I know I’m too hard on myself. So I won’t give up completely when something goes wrong.

  41. Well said Rachel! I absolutely agree that remembering the “why” is so important… I also find that returning to the habit of writing a gratefulness journal helps in those times :)

    angelvalerie´s last post…thinking about thinking…

  42. I didn’t get up early today >_> after 5 days of doing well.. But I’m not giving up of getting my 5-a-day, nor on my daily exercise, nor on my giving up cherry coke.

    Thanks for the reminder,
    I desperately need it this morning. -hugs- And keep it up yourself – the large number of comments shows us we’re not alone.

    Rose´s last post…A Simple Post on Simplicity

  43. man, oh man, did i need a post like this today. thank you.

  44. Thanks so much for this post. This is definitely the time of year when it’s hard to keep on keeping on ! I especially appreciated your first example, remembering the day you called in to work. I remember the day I officially ‘turned in my key.’ I was hyper for the whole rest of the week.

  45. If I’m not mistaken Root Beer doesn’t have caffeine (at least I’ve never seen any that does!) That just made me smile. A cup of (homemade) coffee is a great alternative!

  46. Much needed post! My husband was recently laid off and I have found myself consistently working well over 50 hours every week…but I am not giving up. We have a loving family, a house over our heads, and our health…and that is what I need to keep me centered. We’re going to be okay, and I really enjoyed reading your post today!

    Shannon´s last post…Breakfast with love

  47. Oh Rachel, just like Mary Engelbreit says… sometimes life is just do daily. Keep on truckin’.

  48. Your first paragraph stopped me, and I had to go back and reread it. Just what I needed to read right now—about life in general, about my choices.

    Sally Parrott Ashbrook´s last post…As for the Grocery Spending . . .

  49. Such a thoughtful post! It’s a very good idea on days when you are ready to throw in the towel to stop and remember why you set that goal or made that decision in the first place.

  50. I can relate to everything you wrote. My only question is, why did you give up green vegetables, and a multivitamin? I feel for you on the wine, I need a glass from time to time…or more.

  51. I needed to read your post today. I’m giving up a few things that have become strongholds in my life for Lent. What I am not giving up on is loving my family and serving my God. Thanks for showing us that we can all ‘Stay the Course’.

  52. Rachel, I’m new to your site, and I already love everything about it! I have the same question as a few others above…why did you give up green vegetables? And multivitamins?

    • It’s for the baby. We’re working out some sensitivities in his digestive system. My multi-vitamin is a really good one, but it’s food based and so it contains concentrations of green vegetables and citrus.