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Archive for January, 2017

A Year of Taking Care of Me: Month 1-Habits

a year of taking care of me month 1Earlier this month I talked about my “Year of Taking Care of Me.” It might seem like an odd New Year Challenge. I mean who doesn’t know how to take care of yourself? The idea came about as the end of 2016 came and I felt worn out. Like I lost myself. As if some part of me had gone missing. Yes, I have a wonderful life, full for fantastic people but the hectic schedule of work, kids and all over busyness had been creeping in on me a bit more each year. More of the things I did for me, the things I needed to do for me, had eroded with time. By the end of 2016 I felt it. The lack of care I had taken in myself finally had a physical and mental effect on me.

Although I still had the desire to strive for some monthly accomplishment I did not have the will to put into another year of goal setting. Instead I decided to turn inward and see what my head, heart and body was asking of me. What I needed to get back to feeling like me again. To recover from the pace of life I had been setting for myself. So here we go on to month one….

January: Habits

Why do I do that?: Look at the habits you have created, are they good? bad? How did they develop? Which ones I would like to change? Which ones have I changed unknowingly? We all know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What do we do over and over again?

Habits. In the past when I think of habits it was usually in terms of what I eat. Trying to get more veggies, less sugar. This time I took a different approach.  I tried to be aware of the feelings I experienced when I engaged in certain habits. Some of the times I surprised myself, some of the them I was really disappointed in myself. But all in all I learned a lot more about what some of my habits have been doing to me.

Habit # 1 The News

I will be the first to admit that everyone is probably feeling a heightened sense of emotion with the election of our new president. Good or bad we all seem to be having more extreme emotions about President Trump and his actions. In our house my husband watches the news…a lot. For me having been in the journalism field I have always had an interest in seeing how certain events are covered. However, I found that recently it was not so much the topics that I was watching for, it was how the topics are covered. It seems as if all around on every channel there is only peoples opinion. No one is reporting facts anymore. The constant arguing by pundits and analysis became the background noise of my house.

Unbeknownst to me this was having a profound effect on how I was interacting with people. I was leaving the house in the morning more agitated, engaging in arguments about things I wasn’t even really passionate about and worst of all I was judging everyone around me. After one particularly bad episode where I felt really ashamed of my behavior, I decided to stop watching the news all together. Tired of the division, the fact less fighting, the hostility and fear. I shut it off. This caused me to reflect on what I was really angry about.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the topics or the people making the news that generated my anger. Rather it was the constant barrage of opinions instead of fact based emotionless reporting. This and the changes I had seen in a field I loved  made me angry and saddened. This had nothing to do with politics or the election at all. It was a sense of loss I felt in the journalism community. This realization prompted me to write “We have no Watchdog.” So for now until I can reconcile this loss I will keep the news off.

Habit #2: Social Media

In the past social media was like a life line. It was a connection to people from childhood. It was an open door to make new friends and have new experiences. However since the end of last year something has changed. No so much in social media but really in me. It was as if someone took the rose colored glasses off and I saw all the hucksters selling “downloadable products” filled with nothingness.

I came to recognized the only people making money on social media were the people selling how to make money on social media. It started to seem like a racketed and could no longer watch new found friends be sucked into it as I was. I’m not talking about MLM’s mind you those have actual products of value and I am still in support of all those on social media making a living at them. It’s the “information products” I no longer see the value in.

Need to get away from the negativity

Also, the negativity was really effecting me. So many people with so many opinions about everyone and everything. Everyone has become a Facebook expert. Why does someone who knows nothing about police work get to play Facebook judge in a police involved shooting. Why do mothers from all over get to judge each others actions? We all make mistakes everyday in raising our kids. Does it really make us feel better about ourselves to put down others? Lastly, why do we hang on the actions and opinions of  celebrities as if they have some secret stash of knowledge that is more adept then our own?

Facebook was suppose to be about connection but it has become about judgement of others. I fell pray to it as well, engaging in Facebook fights if someone had an opposing view then mine. But who am I to judge a name and face on a screen. I know nothing about these people and they no nothing of me. I wonder how much time I wasted arguing with someone who wasn’t even a real person, just a made up account?

Get back to people not profiles

As much as I loved connecting with the people I found on Periscope, I now feel social media has changed for the worse and it was changing me. I gave no thought to believing what I read as if it was a well-researched, fact based news story instead of made-up click bait. In addition, without hearing the person’s tone, and seeing a facial impression it was to easy to misinterpreted the meaning behind a typed phrase.

The lack of face to face interaction has taken its toll on social media I think, making it less enjoyable and more hostile. An emoji, however cute can not take the place of a real hug. So I took the step of deleting the app from my phone. I will admit I still go on to check the blogs page and respond to messages but I try not to scroll anymore. No everyone needs or wants to know my unsolicited opinion on everything and I really don’t need or want to know everyone else’s.

Habit #3: Mindlessness vs. Productivity

The final habit I decided to change this month was deeply ingrained in me. Maybe it is because I was born in New York. It could be because I don’t know how to relax. Possibly it is because I have always been in a perpetual state of rush. Whatever the reason I have rarely allowed myself to do anything mindless. Everything has to have a purpose. It has to have reason that is moving me forward somehow.  If I was watching TV it had to be something I would learn from or it is a family bonding activity. It couldn’t be mindless downtime. Time is to precious to waste. Right?

Now I understand doing something mindless is not a waste. A lifetime of this “habit” is part of what has caused my burnout. I remember my husband playing a video game after coming home from work saying he just needed to decompress.

It’s ok to just wander

There is a purpose in the mindless. It helps to let your mind rest, let your thoughts wander. Maybe I never wanted to let my mind wander because then I would have to sort out thoughts and feelings I pushed away. If you are always in productive mode you never give yourself the time to think  and process hurt feelings, sadness and sorrow. Went I was quiet and inactive, I realize I never actually grieved when my father died. I let it out a little but then life went on and there were things to be done so I pushed it aside.

In more recent days, doing mindless things like sitting in silence on my drive to work, playing a mindless video game and coloring has been a new experience for me. By letting my mind wander freely into uncharted territory, hurts I thought I pushed away have resurfaced, new questions have arisen and I realized I miss my Dad sometimes. The thing is this time I am letting myself walk thru it, instead of running away in busyness.

I know I have only scratched the surface in terms of habits but this is not a forced challenge with a strict path to goals. It is free flowing and organic. What I have shared is what has arisen in my since I have been taking the time to pay attention. To listen and to actually be still. Are there any habit you have been doing that have prevented you from fully experiencing joy. Have you discovered habits that were masking what really bothers you?  If you are doing this along with me would love to hear your discoveries.

 

 

Over the Moon Link Party #58

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We have No Watchdog

we have no watchdogThis post, as with most things on this blog, are solely my opinion. Some of you are not going to like this but I can’t hold it in anymore. I feel much like I did after the presidential election this year. Disgusted. Disgusted because of the media, by of the tampering down of opposing views. Disgusted that we as a people no longer get the full factual story on anything political.  I don’t care who you voted for or who you support. Here is my issue. We have no watchdog.

The intent of the media throughout history was to be the “watchdog” of the people. When our government was formed it was intended to make sure we did not put leaders into power that would re-establish imperialism and monarchy in newly formed America.

Just the Facts

Throughout history the purpose of the media has been to investigate the workings of government, keep them accountable and present us the people with THE FACTS. Their job was never…never to tell us what we believe. It was never to present their feelings. Yes, sometimes people analyze the meaning of these facts, debate and discuss opinions but this happened in coffee houses, shops and town squares. Not in the newspaper’s.

The need of the media to stay out of the discussion was imperative to insure the facts remain true and real. I know there were plenty of times in history when this did not happen and it has had disastrous results. i.e. Yellow Journalism.  But most of the time reporting the facts was the intent of the media. The reporters and journalist would discuss their personal views with friends, family and their own inner circle but did not let those view seep over into the page or screen. That was not their role.

What caused the change

Lately, I have been curious when this change in the purpose of the press occurred and I have come up with two points in history which seem to be catalysts of this change. The first being Watergate. Yes, the quintessential example of the need for objective, well researched, good journalism is also what created a need among media people to have a say in creating a desired outcome.

In my opinion, (yes it is only my opinion after researching and reading about the event.) Watergate and the actions of Nixon was such a deep betrayal of our system of government and the process that many in the media felt an increased responsibility to ensure it is never allowed to happen again. For that reason, the media became much less respectful, more aggressive and argumentative with following presidents.

The problem came in that these journalist began to do more then just report on events they began to interpret and analyze them. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it was not what their purpose was. Analysis and opinion news began popping in a much less obvious way. I believe there was so much fear and trepidation of another Nixon White House it became associated with many presidential candidates..

Likewise, the intense emotions that arose from the Vietnam War caused many journalist to become unable to remain objective. Add to that the media circus that occurred in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis. Brought the rise of an new sensationalism. Media took more of the role of interpreter and less of the roll of reporter.

Opinions are like…

The second factor, very clearly was the rise of social media. Everyone everywhere can have an opinion. Which in my mind is also not a bad thing. The problem has come in the blurring of the lines between opinion. People actually believe what they see on fictional entertainment shows as real. With the development of cable new channels, 24 hour news cycles and Facebook  “experts,” act checking became almost irrelevant as opinions dominated.

When I think about it I am right now doing the very thing I am saying the media does. I’m putting my opinions out there with very little fact behind it. Only my interpretation of events. So yes…I am totally guilty of contributing to the fact-less noise out there. GUILTY. With one difference. I do not claim to be a news outlet. This is not reporting on events. These are only my views and I am identifying as such.

Last night while watching the inauguration I heard a reporter, someone reporting the event, say they are happy about Trumps election. I could only think they were just as bad as when Chris Mathews said the much talked about “chill up his leg,” during Obama’s presidency

To me this is the problem. This is not a partisan issue, it is a countrywide problem. If the media continues to create the story they agree with, leave out facts, and interpret things for us, how will we ever know what is really going on. It happens on both sides and does a disservice to us all.

Bias in the news media manifests itself most powerfully not in the form of outright, intentional lies, but is most often a function of what reporters choose not to tell their audience; i.e., the facts they purposely omit so as to avoid contradicting the political narrative they wish to advance. Media researchers Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo said“[F]or every sin of commission…we believe that there are hundreds, and maybe thousands, of sins of omission – cases where a journalist chose facts or stories that only one side of the political spectrum is likely to mention.” – quote from DiscovertheNetworks.org.

 

I don’t like my child’s friend. What do I do?

don't like my kids friendsAt every birthday party there is always that kid. The kid that commands the attention, drawing it away from the birthday child. The kid that pitches a full on fit if they don’t get what they want, (and we are not talking about a 2 year old.)

The one that is now old enough to know better but gets away with mistreating friends and acting out. The snotty little individual that left you with your mouth hanging open as they talked to you, an adult, with such disrespect and entitlement. Yes, you know the kid. (If you don’t then it might be your own.)But most of us have encountered this one friend of our child that acts like an teenager at 7 and has never been told no.

So what do you do if your child befriends one of these types of kids? How do you handle this child when it comes time for a play date? Worse yet, what do you say when your child begins to behave like that kid? You know they are children but sometimes there is one friend that is just not our cup of tea. How to you handle it?

Let them figure it out

According to an article from WebMD ,  a better way might be to help your child determine of this person is really a good friend. Try your best not to bad mouth the friend to your child. Instead use examples of observed behaviors to get your child to think more critically about the relationship.

“Don’t lecture; listen. And help your child think clearly about whether or not this person is really a good friend. “You need to say, ‘I’m worried about what’s happening to you,'” says Alison Birnbaum, a licensed social worker in Connecticut who works with families. “You’re not being your best self, and it’s my job as your mom to help you achieve your highest goals.

Maybe it’s you

image found on pinterest

Also consider if there are other things at work in your head. Maybe this child reminds you of someone you disliked growing up. Are they possibly stirring up memories in your own childhood you would rather forget?

In an 2014 article on the CNN website Clinical psychologist Kirsten Cullen Sharma, co-director of the early childhood clinical service at the NYU Langone Medical Center’s Child Study Center, says the first thing parents need to ask themselves is why they don’t like one of their children’s friends.
Is it because they don’t like that person’s mom? Is it because that kid gets really good grades and it’s easy for them and that person is a little narcissistic? Or is it something that is really serious that you’re worried your child would model an unhealthy behavior?” says Sharma.
Banning your child from seeing this friend will probably make you into the enemy. But if you really feel this other child exhibits harmful behavior that is bad for your kid then it is perfectly fine to avoid them all together. Have other plans when asked for a play date for example. Limit your child’s opportunity to interact with them and eventually they will both move on.

Is the kid a bad influence

The influence the relationship between our child and the friend could be what is really bugging you. Maybe you witness your child allowing the friend to mistreat or bully them. It is jarring for a parent to watch their child change into someone they are not just so they will be liked. It is important to remind your child of all of the wonderful things that make them who they are. Reinforce the things that make someone a good friend and remind your child they deserve to be treated well.
In an article from Real Simple Magazine  there are several types of bad influence that your child can encounter each with a unique set of challenges. In most of the cases, sticking firm to preset limits and sharing open communication with your child is the best way to combat many of these behaviors, the article says.
I am not a family therapist but in my view it is important for your child to start to recognize children who display these behaviors. Also that they learn how to deal with them. Let’s face it we have all encountered the adult version of these types of children. They may get taller but in some cases, they never really go away. These experiences can be looked at as an opportunity to strengthen your child’s social skills. To teach them the self confidence and self worth they will in adulthood.

Gymboree Sale On Now!

A Year of Taking Care of Me

year of taking care of meAfter finishing out my year of organizing I felt like there was an empty hole needing to be filled. I wanted to learn something new in little bites over a year just like I did with “One year to an Organized life.” After a pretty exhaustive search of books starting with “52 weeks…” “Learn such and such in a year.” and “365 days to a ….” I found nothing that really seemed to fit.

I don’t want a challenge…

This year I didn’t want to take on any weighty pressure filled goals. No, I didn’t want to push myself to be more. Although there are many great books out there about becoming more productive, using your time more efficiently, and mastering the art of getting things do that wasn’t what I wanted from this year.

As a matter of fact I want to do less. This year I don’t want to shove as many things into a single hour as I could possible get done. The next 365 days are about letting go of the need to multi-task and over do. In 2017, I wanted to take things off my plate and maybe take care of me for once.

Since I couldn’t find the right book to guide me in the way “One year to an Organized life,” had I decided maybe I should follow my own path. Maybe this year the thing I should be learning about is…well…me. As mom’s we give to our families, as working mom’s we give to our jobs but all to often the last person we give to is ourselves.

This is a theme I have talked about many times on this blog but it still eludes me. When I try to make my own care, my own needs a priority, I am racked with guilt about the time spent. (Mom’s I know you feel me.) An example of this behavior is when my sweet husband gave me a gift certificate to get my nails done. It was really thoughtful and from the heart but all I could think of is between work, the kids sports and everything else I have to get done how will I ever find the time? Also the hour it would take me to get my nails done would be agonizing as my mind would fill with all I have to do.

For these reason my nails go unpainted, my hair overgrown, my clothing wrinkled and outdated. There are doctors appointments I have put off, glasses I need to repair and books and TV shows I DVR but never watch. That is the life of Mom. Well not this year.

I read a post from the Playful Notes blog where the blogger went in search for a parenting challenge to pursue during 2017. After failing to find one that she was looking for she decided to start here own. You can check out her challenge here.

Her inventiveness inspired me. Seeing as I was in the same predicament, I didn’t want the pressure of a full on challenge so nothing quite fit. I only wanted a monthly check in to keep me accountable in making doctors appointments, keeping things simple and listening to my mind, heart and body. Something more introspective and emotional. So following that inspiration I decided to create my own “A Year of Taking Care of Me.”

Again this is not a heavy goal setting, achievement oriented pursuit. It is designed to be a reminder that we matter. We deserve to take time each month to do something we enjoy, to sit and think or paint our nails without guilt. To let go of the laundry list of responsibilities.

At the end of 2016 I kind of felt like a hollowed out shell. Everything I had in me, my intense emotions, my energy, my drive was just used up. In 2016 I was blogger, mother, wife, worker, chef, maid, banker, event planner ect…but in reality nothing was left of me. My hope is that at the end of 2017, I can recognize how this happened and feel like myself again. ( Wow, this got much deeper then I expected.) Here goes:

A Year of Taking Care of Me

January: Why do I do that?: Look at the habits you have created, are they good? bad? How did they develop? Which ones I would like to change? Which ones have I changed unknowingly? We all know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What do we do over and over again?

February: Love myself: Make a list of the things you like about yourself. What makes you a good mom? What you do well at work? Make a second list by asking your family and friends what they like about you. I know it sound awkward…do it anyway. All to often we are really hard on ourselves. We only see our flaws and failures. Very rarely do we see what others see in us.

March: Let go of something toxic: Since this is also the Lenten season, it seems like a good idea to let go of something that maybe toxic to, this could be a bad friend, ugly self-talk, or emotional eating. Let go f something that makes you feel bad about being you.

April: Pamper yourself: This is actually a lot harder then it seems. Each week schedule in something that will pamper you.  Do not make excuses. You deserve this. It can be something as small such as getting a new pair of shoes to get yourself a ticket to New York for a shopping spree.(Ok, don’t break the bank but you get the picture.)

May: “May”be it’s in my head: Keep an ear out for negative, distorted thinking. Each week write down one thing you may have distorted or thought of in a negative way. See if you can re-write it to make it more positive.

June: Love your body: With the start of summer go shopping for a bathing suit. Yes a new one that makes you feel confident and beautiful. Wear it. Do not hide. Next schedule trips to the pool or beach and be ok with how you look. Get in your head and fix whatever it is that makes you feel a bad body image and fix it. Fake it till you feel it if you have to. Read books, see a therapist, use positive affirmations. But find a way this month to accept your body in whatever for it is and love it that way.

July: Give yourself a summer break: Remember summer break as a kid where the days felt like they lasted forever. You could just play and have fun with very little responsibilities. Try to take time to recapture that carefree summer feeling. Yes, leave the laundry undone, the dishes in the sink, play with your kids all day while you step over the toys instead of cleaning them up. Lay in the grass and read a good book. Give yourself the permission and freedom to be a kids again if only for a little while.

Bonus-Christmas in July: Start to think of who you would like to give to this holiday and what you want to give to them. Don’t just give an obligatory rushed gift this year. Take the time to think about what the gift recipient means to you and how your gift can reflect that. Take your time and have fun gift giving this year.

August: Here’s to your health: Schedule all of your necessary doctors appointments that you have been putting off all year. This is non negotiable. DO NOT put it off. Don’t be over come with fear or shame. One year of taking care of meYou only have one body. Take care if it.

September: Time for me: Find one way each week to treat myself to something that makes me happy, like taking an hour long walk by myself, watch a guilty pleasure TV show, or do absolutely nothing.

October: Get dressed up: At least one day each week take the time to get dress-up.  Wear your favorite outfit, put on make-up, and add some jewelry. Pull out the clothes you never take the time to wear but always feel amazing when you do. Or try on something you might not have had the confidence to wear before. For one morning instead of rushing out of the house, do your hair, dress-up and take the time to put yourself together.

November: Stop saying yes to everyone and set your boundaries: This year figure out what makes you most happy and do that. If you don’t feel like driving all over town during the holiday’s, then don’t. Say no and make a choice that will make you feel happy, content and satisfied. Let go of guilt. Be ok with not making everyone else happy. They will get over it. Make your favorite dishes at Thanksgiving this year and create the memories that matter most in your heart. In other words you can’t please everyone so sometimes it is ok to please yourself. Your family will love you and maybe even respect you more.

December: Keep Christmas special for you: Since by now a lot of your gift should have been purchase. Slow down and do all of the things mean joy, love, and peace to you. Watch a Christmas special, bake cookies, spend time with family. Pick one day this month (Christmas Day is mine.) To spend the day in your PJ’s, take long naps, and enjoy all the gifts God has given you.

I would love if you did this with me. If I get enough of a response then I might even start a Facebook group where we can share our feelings, triumphs and struggles. Either way I am going to post monthly about what I learn. This year I’m taking time to be me again. I hope you will too.

 

The Death of the America Mall

Photo from MallsofAmerica.blogspot.com

Growing up I remember spending weekend days meeting friends at the local Mall. There we would shop for music at Sam Goody,  try on clothes at Jean Nicole, Benetton, and Contempo Casuals. Then we would grab a bite to eat at such food court greats as Orange Julius and Sbarro’s. As a teen the Mall held endless hours of entertainment. You could met “exotic” people from as far away as two town’s over, flirt with cute boys and hang out with friends.

Growing up the Mall became my home away from home. It started off as just a fun place to go but when I needed a part-time job the mall because my employer. Since I already knew where every store was (like any teen in the 80’s) I found the perfect job at the Mall information desk. This would not be the only job I held at the Mall however, I also work for a shoe stores, and various clothing stores.

Want to take a survey?

But the one Mall job will always hold a special place in my heart was Quick Test (a Mall Market Research Company.)

Quick Test

Quick Test was still there when I went to visit in 2015.

This was my first real job after having a paper route. The whole idea was you would approach shoppers and try to get them to take part in a market research survey. Sometimes this was a lot harder then it appeared.

During this time I met the most amazing people. My boss, Marianne was like the mother figure I desperately needed. There was the cool, tough, older girl I secretly wished I could be like. The smart kids I always looked up to. As well as the rotating group of teens from other schools who became great friends. Together share long, contemplative talks, or just plain silliness while we  desperately tried to convince people to take a survey.

My Mall Family

The supervisors and co-workers where more then just friends they became like a family. Come to think of it, the entire Mall staff became like a family to me. The maintenance guys, the retail store clerks, and the security staff  became an integral part of my coming of age. All during high school I felt like the Malls version of “Norm” from Cheers. I would go into the Mall and knew everyone working there and they knew me.

image found on Pinterest

Friends came to visit me whenever they went shopping. So much of my high school life and growing up revolved around the time I spent at the Mall. It was more than just a place to shop and gather it became like a home.

Having such a history invested in the Mall, it saddens me to recognize the slow agonizing death of a place that held so many memories, life lessons and experiences of my youth. It was not hard to see the writing on the food court wall after the news following this holiday season.

Many major retailers are unable to compete with the convenience, value and infinite availability of products that online seller’s have. Historic chains like Macy’s, Sear’s and J.C. Penny’s are closing stores and preparing for what will most likely be their final days.

In the same respect, foot traffic at Mall’s all over America have fallen to all time low’s. These shopping spaces have to complete not only with online retailer but also big box stores that now offer everything from food the clothes to housewares in one easy location.

Bye Mall

Likewise, kids no longer need the Mall to met people. They met virtually, online. They can spend hours Facebook messaging, commenting and texting instead of meeting up for shopping or a pretzel from Auntie Ann’s. The dynamic of teen relationships has changed and so to has the relationship to the Mall. The place that defined teen life in the 80’s and early 90’s is all but a non-entity to today’s youth. Thus the Mall is being phased out. It is dying and with it the anchor stores we have grown up with.

The landscape of teen life and the American consumer is changing. The town square was replace by Downtown’s, which eventually became the mega Mall. It is sad to see the Mall’s go. I grew up at there, learned about work, relationships and myself.

My kids and today’s youth will have to learn those things in a new venue, I guess. Don’t know what the future holds for the Mall but I don’t think it is total down for the count. It will probably be reinvented in some form in the future.  Everything old becomes new again at some point. Who knows maybe we will return to the 1950’s malt shops, drive-in’s and bowling ally’s as the next generation of meeting places.

What do you think will replace the Mall? What are your favorite Mall memories? Please comment and share them. Would love to hear

If you want to jog your memory and have a good laugh take a look at Michael Galinsky: Malls Across America photo book. Also check out some really cool vintage pictures of your local Mall at Mallsofamerica.blogspot.com.

 

 

My year of “One Year to an Organized Life”

one year to an organized lifeIf you have been following this blog you already know I have spend the past year working my way, month-by-month through the book “One Year to and Organized Life” by Regina Leeds. Today is the final post in this series, but I know it is not the end or my organizational journey. Seeing as my house has 2 children and 2 dogs there is a large chance I will refer back to this book for organizing refreshers.

It is more the just cleaning up

What made me start on this journey was the fact I live in what is considered a small home by today’s, but it was filled to the brim with stuff. Did I want this stuff? At first I didn’t even know.  What I came to find out was this stuff was more like insulation. A physical barrier preventing me from tackling the emotional “stuff “that lie beneath it all. What started as an organizing project became so much more emotional and introspective then I even imagined.

I know there had been a lot of talk about Maria Kondos “Life changing magic of tidying up,” as being the new organizing book this year, but I don’t think it would have accomplished the emotional or physical changes this book brought me to.  What first drew me to this book was the pace. Each chapter was divided into a single month and each month divided into four weeks. The chapters are summarized with clearly outlined goals to work towards. It felt clear, consist and, most of all, doable.  I could take it one step at a time.

Starting in the kitchen

The first month started with the kitchen. It seemed a totally daunting task. Each cupboard was filled to the brim with cups, utensils, extra plates, cake decorating items, and miscellaneous kitchen items. Add to that a pantry packed full with couponed discount items I had not found a use for. It drove me crazy!  To reach anything, 6 or 7 other panty items had to be removed or moved out of the way to get to the one thing I needed. Uggg!

Nothing was grab and go or readily available. It was a hassle to take out any ingredients, bowls or equipment. Making any recipe took twice as long to prepare and was a pain to clean up. The idea of cleaning and organizing all of this seemed overwhelming.

The book started off having you change one small habit. By doing this one thing, it had a cascade effect, helping me tackle other habit-changing tasks in the kitchen. These small changes grew until eventually I cleaned, organized and even painted this formerly unmanageable space.

Emotional clean up and organizational therapy

This bit by bit approach helped move me through my home. Tackling area by area, emotion by emotion, each organizational issue that had been holding me back. There were so many epiphany moments in this organizational transformation for me and my family. The two that stand out the most are the closet clean out and garage organization.

Image found on Pinterest

During the second month of the process I tacked the garage. It was a huge job but what I found harder was coming to terms with letting go of my children’s baby stuff. If was so emotional to let go of the items that represented my children’s baby years. Once I did I found acceptance and enthusiasm for the people they were growing into. It was a full on emotional transformation.

Crazy huh? Who would have thought cleaning out the garage would have brought all this on but it totally did and this book helped me put these feelings into perspective. Part of the journey was keeping an organizational journal. At first I thought was a bit much, but soon found out it was an indispensable part of processing your feelings, your space and letting go of stuff. This was transformational.

“Our” Home

Another area where I had surprisingly strong emotions was cleaning out my closet. Due to our limited storage I found many of my husbands work awards and achievements shoved into the back of the closet, hidden. I thought about how this might have been a reflection on the space we shared together. Were my things, and my style taking over our shared space? If someone looked would they know he lived here? This process helped me to recognize our space should represent “us” not just “me.”

After cleaning and rearranging the items in the closest I created a special wall to displayed his awards and accomplishments. I wanted him to know how proud of him we are and how important he is to our family. My husband, who is as emotional as a brown paper bag, was really touched by the effort.  Honestly, I would have never recognized this concept on my own. This book not only helped me organize my closet, but made my marriage stronger.

The use of this book has been like going through my own personal therapy. While sorting through stuff, I sorted through a lot more emotion then ever anticipated when I picked up this book.  It was as if the author, guided me through a personal transformation. There is a kind of sadness in having this journey come to an end.  The need to reorganize and sort my home from time to time. It is more that I will no longer have the same type of discovery of myself, this space and these things the way I did as I progressed through this book.

It is only stuff

At the end of the book, the author shares the biggest discovery a reader can make. What she states and what I have come to understand is, “it is only stuff.” It is not your memories. It is not your relationships. It is not the people that have come and gone in our life. That crib, the “special” chair, the collection of teddy bears you have, they are only things.

The emotion your feel towards them.

The memories you put in them.

The people you associate them with.

They are all in you. You are your space. You are your home. You are your family. Your life isn’t the things you collect, clean or organize. It is experiences, people and moments you live. Things don’t create these feelings. You do.

Thank you Ms. Regina Leeds for writing this and for letting me get to know you and myself through your book.

See the links below to catch up on all of the “One Year to an Organized Life,” posts.

 

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