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Archive for December, 2016

2017: The year to Let go.

2017 the year to let goRecently it has become trendy among influencers and lifestyle guru’s to select a theme word or phrase to act as the focus point of the coming year. It sounds a little hokey and new age-y, I know but there is some merit to the idea if you approach it in the right way. Last year, I picked the word grateful. With gorgeously designed gratitude journals popping up all over the place and the word grateful being worked into so many things, it seemed like a good selection for the year to come.

But was I truly grateful?

However, in practice being grateful is not as easy as it is on Thanksgiving. Yes, I know people say,

“I am grateful for my family.”

“I’m grateful for my home.”

I am grateful for this amazing fish taco.”

That is all well and good but it totally takes the meaning of grateful and waters it down to a word akin to like.

But when things are not going so well. When your life is throwing you curveballs and is it so easy to be grateful?

“I am grateful for my jerky boss.”

“…grateful for the pain of grief.”

“I am grateful for this sadness and depression.”

…said no one ever.

In this I struggled with the word. If you are truly evolved you can see the lessons in the ups an downs of life and be grateful for them. Or maybe those people are not so evolved and are lying about it. Making them just as ungrateful as the rest of us. Either way, I just wasn’t there yet. I put pressure on myself to try and be like all the lifestyle personalities throwing around the word grateful. Trying to be “that person,” the one who could see beyond the sad, grief and sorrow. To see the good and appreciate it all. I just didn’t. I was just me. No matter how much I wanted to be better, more insightful, more grateful. All I could be was my flaw-filled self.

What I really felt

Happy, sad, upset, cheerful, hurt, angry, grieving, loving, annoying, numb, comforted, rushed, tired these are some of the emotions I felt but grateful was not on the list. That was not truly how I felt most of the time. It might be wrong to say because, yes life is a gift. I get it we have limited time so appreciate it.

Sometime when you just feel bad or something bad happens the raw, real emotions surface. All you feel is the “this sucks,” feeling and there is no grateful spin to on that. No one thinks, I should be grateful during this time. They just hold on until the time ends or the feeling go away.

That is the truth. To be truly grateful all the time is almost an impossibility and something worthy of sainthood. When I choose this word I didn’t consider what people who are really grateful have been through, health scares, bad divorces, tragedies. They know what it feels like to have everything ripped away and have battled to get it back.

They have a strength I have never had to test and a knowledge base I don’t know. It was like I set the bar too high and was trying to be someone I am not. Not now anyway. My feelings and actions were not gratefulness or in appreciation for my life. It was more an attempt to escape how I really felt. To imitate someone else instead of admit to being me.

What a difference a year makes

So with that I learned my lesson about theme phrases of the year. Right now as I reflect on the person I really am I recognize what a difference a year makes. A lot of the fire in me last year has kind of burned itself out. My life like everyone else’s is growing, changing and evolving. Family, and friends have migrated in and out of it. Some left in peaceful, gentle ways but some left me broken.

Many times this year I have felt underwater trying desperately to bring my head above the surface, only to have a sense of being submerged again. Eventually, I stopped coming up for air. Depression, it does that to you. I have spent a lot of this year trying to figure out how to be me again. Realizing only recently that I can’t.

Life, like I mentioned before, it changes you, stretches you, transforms you into something else. Something new. So no, I won’t be the me I was last January. The me full of lists, plans and far too many goals. Never again, will I be the same person, but really it is ok. This is part of remaking myself. We have to take apart what was there. Let go of who we thought we were, to form ourselves into who we are now, today, in this moment.  That is why, for this year my theme phase will be “letting go.”letting go

Where will this take me?

There is a lot to that. But unlike grateful, I have a much clearer direction of where this will take me. It means letting go of people who are toxic and harmful to me, letting go of old hurts, of trying to be everything to everyone and nothing to myself. Shedding the skin of who I was trying to be. This means letting go of activities I knew never fit me no matter how bad I wanted them to (Sorry Biz Ladies, Beachbody you were wonderful but I have to let you go now.)

Most of all, I have to let go of repressing myself for fear people won’t like, love, or respect me. Saying sorry all the time even when I have nothing to be sorry for. Feeling guilty and responsible for situations I never caused and can’t fix. Mostly, I need to let go of the constant fear of judgement, and over emotional emphasis for what others think of me. My phrase this year seems like a lot of work because it is.  But really it is all about unclenching my fingers, healing my thoughts and well… letting go…

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You are a gift

giftSince tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I wanted to take a moment to stop and express my sincere gratitude to each and everyone of you who read this blog. This year you have been my sounding board, my therapist, my conscience and my creative outlet. I feel I am blessed that someone is sympathizing with the plight of a working mom, understanding the up’s and downs of family finance, and enjoying some of the recipes created here.  You, readers are a gift to me.

In the spirit of holiday fun and merriment, I wanted to bring some video clips to get us all in the mood for a visit from Santa, or to light the Menorah . Have a wonderful, safe and happy holiday!


Mom’s Christmas List

Moms Christmas ListEach year the hectic pace of the season, the barrage of holiday advertisements and the flurry of holiday related activities, can cause us to loose our enthusiasm for the season. As Mom’s often feel it is our reasonability to ensure that everyone has the best Holiday ever. However often we do this at the sacrifice of our own joy of the season.

We are always so concerned with making sure we get everyone the perfect, meaningful gift that expresses our love for them. We struggle to make everyone’s Christmas as special and memorable as it can be. Mom’s help with the PTA Christmas parties, plan the office festivities and the charitable donations to help someone in need.

Mom is the person who plans out, shops for, and slaves away in the kitchen making the perfect Christmas dinner, while everyone else plays, or sits on the couch. Mom is also the one who creates the Christmas memories each and every year. She bakes the cookie, initiates the decorating, and mails out all the Christmas cards.

All of this she does at a break neck pace. Mom handles weekends filled with frantic shopping, party attending and gift wrapping. By the end of it all us mom’s are exhausted and lets face it, the joy of the season has been sucked right out of us.

It is tough to have joy when you know the day after Christmas you must return to work, a mountain full of Christmas dinner dishes and a depleted savings since you spent your Christmas bonus. It becomes easy to start to dread the season when it seems we are the only ones giving.

And as much as we love our handmade ornaments, and waffle irons. Sometimes we just wish someone would acknowledge all that we do. Sometimes we wish we could celebrate without all of the work, hassle and fun-sucking holiday reasonability. Like most times of the year, mom’s we have brought this on ourselves. Have we ever told our significant others to take on some of the holiday tasks for us? Did we ever let go of the never ending list of Christmas responsibilities we thrust upon ourselves? Have we ever really asked for what we want for Christmas?

Well, mom’s this year (and hopefully for years to come,) we can take back our Christmas and celebrate instead of slaving away. Here is at least the start of a list of Christmas wishes a mom should ask for. Adjust it for your situation and family. What is more important is to put things on this list that make YOU happy, content and bring YOUR joy back to the holidays.

A Mom’s Christmas List

  1. To not having to shop for everyone by ourself

    Please Dad’s it would be a great to have a little help here. Plus, seeing as in most case mom is the one with the kids, this responsibility robs us of any “me” time we might have (or desperately need) during the season.

  2. To have a maid during the holiday’s

    It is near impossible to get all of the Christmas shopping, baking and decorating done while family members leave constant messes in their wake for mom to clean.

  3. To have someone else do the laundry during the holiday’s

    With the constant events, activities and parties the amount of laundry seems to have doubled. With less time to get it all done it sits in a wrinkled pile on the laundry room floor. This is the newest in holiday décor.

  4. To not put on 10 lbs by the end of Christmas

    Yes, I know this comes in the form of will power. It is not really a gift anyone else can give us, but is something we need to give ourselves. By taking some of the holiday pressures off we would be less likely to stress eat and over indulge. Eat some of the things you enjoy that are special but doesn’t loose all care about yourself and your health this holiday. Gift yourself good health.

  5. To have dinner made for YOU

    Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to come home from a long day during the holiday’s to find a dinner cooked for you? Instead you are greeted with  “Mom’s, what’s for dinner?” At which you look in the pantry and realize you have to work some Christmas magic on a can of corn, a bag of fish sticks and a jar of tomato sauce since you never got to the grocery store.

  6. For someone to get you the Christmas gift YOU have always wanted

    And no this is not some home appliance or gadget. It would be something like… oh I don’t know… a day of pampering, a day long shopping spree or really just a day of to do nothing.

  7. To have some help in the kitchen

    I am not sure why the responsibility to create all of the baked goods for Christmas always falls on mom. I mean Dad’s can cook to right? Plus, this could really create a happy holiday scene of time shared in the kitchen. Instead of the holiday horror film of a mom covered in flour, baking like a maniac and screaming at everyone to let here get this done. No, when mom is in this state do not ask if she can get you some juice or if she knows where you cell phone charger is. If you are not offering her help, then leave her alone.

  8.  A really comfy pair of PJ’s and a chance to stay in them all day

    No explanations needed

  9. To not have to try and see both sides of the family on Christmas Day

    The effort it takes to try and please everyone not only leaves you exhausted and annoyed but never really pleases anyone. The kids can’t get time to play with their new toys so they are unhappy. Plus, each side of the family feels like you showed up too late or left too early. In most cases they feel slighted no matter how much you rush.

  10. To remember this is about giving not getting

    That mean you mom. It is ok to give to yourself. You deserve to create for yourself a memorable special holiday filled with love for family and love for the many gifts god has given you this year. Take some time for quiet reflection, go to church, go for a walk but give yourself a break from the hectic pace of the holiday’s to get in touch with what brings you joy.

 

Over the Moon Link Party #54

Over the Moon Link Party

Welcome to the Over The Moon Link Party #54

****I am so happy you have joined us and spent the past year sharing your amazing posts. This week we had a records number of posts shared. You guys are amazing! Just a quick reminder that the Over the Moon Crew will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. But never fear we will be back to party with you on January 8, 2017!

 

Welcome to the Over the Moon Link Party!  You can link up any family friendly posts without profanity. Have a post you want to give more reach? Need some comments or shares? Want a post that’s close to going viral takeoff like a rocket? Now is the time to link it up!

We pin EVERY link you leave and may even share on other sites as well! So come on in, be one of the first to link up, and remember to go Over the Moon with us!  

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Why simple is better when shopping for toys

simple toy shoppingThis year Christmas shopping for my children was one of the hardest year’s yet. When they made their lists, I let them flip through the toy store catalogues and to get ideas. To my surprise, most of what they put on their lists were electronic. I figured maybe these are just the items that are more heavily advertised. As I examined further I realized a lot of the catalogues were comprised of electronic toys. Even traditional games seemed to now include and electronic component.

Toys that play themselves

For example Monopoly now features an electronic banking version. The players can actually use a credit card! No silly counting and learning the basics of finance for these kids. They can just charge it and have an in game calculator add and subtract for them. I remember the banking and playing with fake money as being one of the funnest parts of Monopoly.

This year there was a whole section of mechanized robots, electric powered scooters and toys that required a smart phone to play. This would be expected if I were talking about older kids maybe middle schooler or early high school since they tend to gravitate more towards electronics by that age anyway. These gifts were geared towards elementary age children. Ages where learning social and developmental skills found in play are still vitally important.

photo from Walmart.com

I am not against technology mind you. Some video games are fun, can be a great time to bond with your child and can promote strategic and creative thinking. However, as I perused these catalogues it seemed a lot of these toys would basically play themselves. No building, pretending, or imagination required.

Toys that last generations

A few years ago, I remember listening to a podcaster who stated she sticks to traditional toys for her kids. She found they would play with the new toy for about a day, get board of it and return to their block, Legos, or dolls. She believed the new toys don’t engage a child’s imagination. They basically do everything while the kids watch. Because of this, the interest in these types of toys is lost after the novelty wears off. They are left in the toy box while the old favorites are brought back out.

I never really thought about this idea until my children became school age. However, I can attest that it is true. All to often (mostly at my husbands insistence) we have shelled out big bucks for an electronic item only to see them go back to playing Legos or Barbie’s after a few weeks.

That being said, this year, I was to late to the electronics party and most of these items were sold out.  Such a bad thing. When I look at the items my children play with most and always return to they are as simple as you can get, a notebook, pencil and crayons for drawing and writing stories.

These simple tools take them on new adventures, engage their creativity and give them endless hours of fun. Maybe my children won’t have the newest fad toy out there this year but they will have toys that have been fun for generations. They will have toys geared towards active play. Items to help them grow, imagine and create a world that is their very own. When holiday shopping this year, remember simple is better.

 

6 Ways for Working Mom’s to Leave Work at Work

6 ways to leave work at work

Being a working mother means you are never off duty. When you leave work, you go home to begin your second (and usually more fulfilling job.) However, sometimes when you are trying to juggle both some events at work may invade your consciousness, stowaway in your brain and travel home with you.

When this happens how do you leave work at work? Do you find yourself doing or thinking about events, situations and duties at work while you are making dinner? Are these things in the back of your mind as you spend time with your children? Is the crazy, mean, dysfunctional co-worker becoming a dominating part of your conversation with your husband?

We spend 40 hours or more at our jobs and when we punch that clock our time given to our employer should end for the day. But does it? Is worry, fear and anxiety producing work duties invading your non-work hours? Are the scales of the work life balance completely out of whack? Here are six ways to gain perspective and establish property work life boundaries.

Take some alone time before heading home

If you find that after leaving work you are still thinking about the fight with a co-worker, the demands of your ruthless boss, and the relentless office emails. Give yourself a moment to decompress and process these feelings before jumping right into needs, wants and desires of family life.

You are working to provide a life for these people that you love. They are who matter. Your family deserve your time and attention not the latest office politics.

Exercise your work demons

Go to the gym after work. Go for a run. Write a letter about all the things you wish you could say to that annoying officemate that is driving you nutz. Get your feelings out in whatever method works for you. Sometimes this can be through physical exercise. Sometimes it comes in the form of an emotional brain dump. Either way letting your feelings out will go a long way to preventing these emotions from spilling over at home.

Learn to use environmental cues to set up boundaries

Make a deal with yourself that you will stop obsessive work thoughts once you turn down your street on your way home. Give yourself permission to stop thinking about work when you step over the threshold of your doorway.

Left the act of putting away your coat reinforce the feeling of putting away your work emotions for the evening. This will not be easy the first few times but like a muscle the more mental training you do with this concept. The easier and more intuitive it will become.

Sometimes you just can’t fix stupid

If you are plagued by feelings of inadequacy and blame from a dysfunctional boss? Do you feel like you are under attack all day from co-workers who need medication for mental illness? Recognize that no matter what your Human Resource department might say out of fear. Some of your co-workers are dealing with things far beyond your control. They may have undiagnosed mental illness, or substance abuse they have been hidden for years. They may just really be stupid and lazy but skate by with no repercussions.

Know that this is nothing that you can fix, change and did not create. Don’t try to control the situations these people generate. Try your best to distance yourself as they will eventually implode to prevent you from bringing these frustrations home. Most importantly, no matter what they say know their issues are not a reflection on the person you are.

Know that however you feel right now will be different tomorrow

By the end of the day we are more tired and worn out. If you are someone who struggles with keeping obsessive thoughts at bay. Your ability to resist this way of thinking might become weaker at the end of a long work day. Work thoughts might be running wild with possible scenarios of what might happen. 

The rational mind might be tired and might not be as in charge as it is when you are fresh and well rested. Acknowledge your weakness, and make a deal with yourself to reassess these feelings in the morning. In other words, sleep on it.

Put your work into the proper perspective

Use whatever mechanism will help put what really matters in life into perspective. Your work situation is temporary. Unless you are building a legacy business, when you leave this job maybe they will talk about the impact you made. But more than likely life will go on.  The cog will continue to turn the wheel without you.

By recognizing this, you know whatever mistakes or tragedies befall you at work they really don’t have any lasting impact on you or anyone else after you leave. However, the mistakes made and missed memories you could be making with your family is something that you will regret for a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Holiday Traditions Matter

holiday traditionsThe first Christmas after I moved away from my childhood home to attend college I return to find the house with no Christmas decorations, no tree, nothing to show the holiday’s were approaching. By all standards I was considered an adult now and should have been too cool for childish Christmas drawings I made when I was 9.  Being a college student, I was not far to busy for the silliness of tree decorating. Baking cookies, well I was way to important for that. Wasn’t I?

No way.

I wanted the decorations, the tree and all the festivities. It was Christmas after all. Even thought I felt very self important and independent at that time of my life. Returning to my home at Christmas was like remembering who I really was. To see my parents no longer felt the need to decorate made the whole season feel like just another day.

This was around the time my father was starting to have serious health problems and I know they just we’re not in a Christmas-y state of mind then. So I took it upon myself to decorate for them. I went into the garage and brought in all the boxes. Each item I pulled out had memory attached. The handmade ornaments, the arts and crafts decorations and the ancient puzzle-like artificial Christmas tree, we went through each recalling past Christmases.

Nothing fancy just family

One if the things I loved the most about our house at Christmas was that we never had fancy store bought decorations. My parents worked hard but we were far from wealthy. Our decorations were mostly arts and crafts, or repurposed items. My dad had started the tradition of stringing Christmas cards across the ceiling of our house.20151203_085240-1

Each year we would read through these cards and remember people from years past, like the big tipper on my paper route when I was 12, old neighbors that moved, family who had passed away. Their memory was preserved in their own hand-writing through these cards. The Christmas wishes and good sentiment were revisited every year as we placed another card upon the string. This very act of stringing the cards created the feeling of Christmas for me.

Fast forward to Christmas this year

I have children of my own, a new easier to assemble Christmas tree, bright store bought decorations. We have created some new holiday traditions, We stay in our pajamas all day on Christmas Day and play. Also we started collecting year ornaments from each year my and my husband have been together.

But many of my families holiday traditions live on, like handmade decorations and stringing holiday cards. This tradition has become even more special. It is the digital age and each year the amount of handwritten cards dwindles. Instead we receive e-cards or non folded printed picture cards while they are nice, a true hand-written Christmas card is a lot harder to come by.

Thankfully, I have saved cards since before my husband and I were married. Just like me and my parents did, my husband and I recall people we worked with, grandparents that are no longer with us and friends who moved away, as we string these cards.

My dad has since passed away as well but when we string our cards I always explain that this was a traditions my father started. When my mother comes over and see’s the cards I know she is not thinking of spending another Christmas without him. She knows he is here with us through these traditions.

What are your holiday traditions? What feelings do they create in you? Have you started any new traditions for your family?

 

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