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Posts tagged ‘balance’

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?TV as Teacher

I am not sure how to begin this post. I know the words I am about to write will probably be misinterpreted by some and judged harshly by others but it is the way I feel at this moment. My daughter is 9, my son is 6. Tonight while watching a cartoon they have watched several times before. The story line went in a different direction. The two young characters in the show began talking about how one of the character’s Dad’s were going to have a baby. I thought I misheard it but I hadn’t they said Dad’s, as in 2 fathers.

My daughter promptly changed the channel. My son, not understanding the reference, asked her why she turned the channel. She got upset and left the room. I inquired with my daughter if she understood what they meant by two Dad’s. She said “yes, it meant boy’s liking boy’s…they were gay.” She said the show made was strange. I asked her to explain and she added it wasn’t something that she could explain. Sensing her confusion, I sat her down and tried to probe her further.

When did she first hear about someone who was gay? She said it was in a book or a show somewhere. Since I was unclear how the idea was presented I explained to her gay people are not bad, it is just part of who they are. It is nothing to feel weird about. They are just another form of a family. She seemed to understand the concept of “gay” better when I put it this way.

I recognize for a child who has knowns little to nothing about sexuality yet, the concept of being homosexual can be confusing. Most kids her age are not mature enough to understand what being “gay” means.  That is why I wish TV had not been the vehicle to introduce it.

Sex and violence in a kids movie?

Although the TV show did bring up something I would have addressed with her at some point anyway. I had to wonder why adult themes seem to be seeping into children’s shows? This is not the first time references to sex, sexuality and violence were blatantly broadcast in something made for children. Over Halloween, we attempted to watch the movie “Frankinweenie” and the boy in the movie actually says “sex and violence” within the first 5 minutes.

I know a lot was made about the “gay moment” in Beauty and the Beast but my concern is (from what I hear) the adult themes spread all over the movie. Far more overt then the “gay moment,” there are sexual innuendo and heightened violent scenes. Now I am not saying the makers of the film need to change their movie. By why not change the rating? Movies have gone from PG to PG-13 for less.

Skewing the demographics

Why does Hollywood seem to be hell bent on teaching children about adult themes before they are ready? Over the past year TV and movies have been much more lenient with what is allowed in a PG rating. Children’s channels previously free from overt violence and sexuality, like the Disney channel, are putting out adult like content such as their new show, Andi Mack, in which a teen girl discovers her older sister is actually her mother.

Why is this on a channel watched primarily by 2 to 11 year olds? Wouldn’t a show like this be more appropriate on a channel like Freeform or even Disney XD, which is geared towards teens?

From what I have read the reason for these adult theme children’s shows is the idea that children today are growing up faster and are looking for more “grown-up” storylines.” Sorry, I don’t by it. I think there is a  pressure on kids to grow up too fast and a lot of it comes from Hollywood and the media. These themes are being introduced more frequently in areas previously thought to be “kid-friendly.”

Not ready for prime time

They are coming up in shows and movies well before these kids are full equip, mentally and emotionally to

When I saw this graphic I was shocked. Had no idea something so violent was rated for a 14 year old viewer.

understand concepts like extreme-violence, teen pregnancy and sexual orientation. How could a 5-year-old be asking for shows with more adult theme like teen pregnancy when they don’t understand (and shouldn’t yet) what sex is?

The other prevailing school of thought is, we are only exposing children to something they will learn about anyway? So eventually they will learn about concepts like sexual abuse, drug addiction and murder. Should we be showing those images to a 5-year-old as well?

Some reading this post will think I am being overprotective, restrictive and even a bit of a homophobic. But I have talked to gay and straight parents about this. Many agree it is not so much the topic as the timing it is being introduced. For a teen questioning their sexuality or a 15-year old who is exposed to teen pregnancy, these are appropriate themes for a more mature time of life.

According to Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician and author,  “Talking to a child about sex when he is too young can be traumatizing, so parents must use their instincts and best judgement to take the cues and know when to begin talking to their kids about sex, letting them take the lead in their own time.”

TV time became a habit

I will admit this exposure by TV is also something of my own making. Most moms have done what I have. Put on Dora the Explorer for an hour when they were toddlers, so you can take a shower. But that has translated into TV become a daily part of family life.

Although, I am not happy about the adult themes popping up in shows made for young children. Family time is not about watching TV. It is about spending time together. I gave the content control over when I did this and let TV be the teacher. TV’s reference to a gay couple should not have been what prompted a discussion into differing family units and lifestyles. It should have been a more positively framed talk at a more mature, appropriate time.

By sitting them in front of the TV while I was on the computer or doing dishes, I created a habit. My responsibility and duty to preserve their innocence was given to Disney Channels and Cartoon Network producers. Blindly trusting them to keep the content safe and age-appropriate.

It is my job, not TV’s

In truth, they own me nothing. They do not know my kids and what they are ready for. Their goal is to produce shows they think people will watch and advertisers will buy into. It is my job to make sure the content is right for my children.

Still I don’t understand what the big push is to turn children into mini adults.  I know at some point I will have to have “the talk,” with my kids. When we I don’t want them to feel like they can not share their feelings with me because of something they saw on TV.

So for now, I will let my kids stay innocent just a while longer.  Adult life will come soon enough, quicker if Hollywood has their way. And when they are ready, and have questions. My kids can look to me to explain things…instead of learning it from TV.

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Year of Taking Care of Me – Month 3

letting go of something toxic

Letting Go of Something Toxic

This month in the “Taking Care of Me” series we focus on letting go of something that makes us feel bad about ourselves. We say good-by to something toxic. The toxic thing makes us feel icky from the inside out. It drags us down and gives us a terrible outlook and a warped perception of reality. This toxic thing could be anything from a toxic friend we haven’t cut loose, toxic food we know we shouldn’t be eating, or a toxic mindset. This toxic thing might be different for each person.

Part of this month’s journey is about “letting go” as much as it is about “taking care of.” It is kind of ironic that my phase for 2017 is “letting go.” One year of taking care of meThis month I can identify 3 areas where  I have tried to remove toxic things from my life.

Toxic thoughts

I have experienced this mostly at work, but sometimes in my family life. This month tried to honed in on some of the thought patterns that have made me feel like bursting into tears and disgusted with myself at the same time.

In this I discovered one of the areas incubating these thought was coming through gossip. What seemed like friendly work conversation was actually gossip and I was a part of it a lot more then I wanted to be. Gossip does nothing but bring others and yourself down. It is one of the most toxic things in a work environment. Once I recognized how much I was engaging in gossip I was pretty disgusted with myself.

However, it was much harder to remove myself from it in a work environment then expected. Not wanting to come off like I didn’t care or create an enemy I had a hard time navigating around these types of discussions. This “How to avoid gossiping”  from Wikihow.com illustrated some easy ways to deal with gossip which were very helpful for me.

Toxic people

I know we have all heard about toxic relationships but have you ever really looked at how it is defined?

According to healhscopmag.com, “a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner…a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy...A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship. To say a toxic relationship is dysfunctional is, at best, an understatement.”

This seems pretty straight forward right? Who wouldn’t avoid these types of people ? But I don’t think toxic people are as easy to identify, at least not at first. And what if they are say…family members, what then? Is it possible to cut off what makes them toxic without ending the whole relationship? This was something that I had to confront this month. In my case, due to the nature of our relationship, I was unable to disconnect from this person fully. But I began to recognize and distance myself when the toxic behavior began to occur.

Has our relationship changed? Greatly. We will never have the closeness I once believed we did. However, there is still a relationship and now I feel it is on my terms. I no longer end the conversation feeling bad or inadequate.  It was really tough to accept this person is just this way and I can not change them or accept the behavior. But as the weeks went on and I ended conversations when they steered down a toxic path, I felt more in control. So while I can not fully “let go,” of them I can “let go” of the toxic behavior.

Toxic body

Our mental and emotional state are completely effected by our physical state. For many months I have been suffering from colds, the flu and various other illnesses. I felt completely run down and wiped out, needing to rest. But instead I pushed through and developed a sort of anxiety driven insomnia. Likewise, I was not taking the time to workout or eat right. Heck, I hadn’t packed myself a proper lunch since before Christmas! I just didn’t have the time.

All of this came to light this month when I finally had a chance to rest during a family vacation cruise. It was amazing! I had 7 full days of solid sleep. I eat normal food at appropriate times of the day and physically exerted myself again. Likewise, I also had minimal contact with a computer or cell phone. It was eye-opening.

I had no idea how tired and run down I was until I woke up a few days into the cruise feeling better then I had in months. My whole outlook changed. Energy, absent for about a half a year, returned. More importantly, an overall sense of well-being and positivity came back. Since returning from our vacation I recognize I was neglecting my health. This effected my emotional health more then I realized.

Even thought I know the value of proper nutrition and adequate rest, I still let these things get away from me and my mental health, as well as my physical health suffered. This month I was lucky to discover I was cultivating a toxic body. Sometimes our body is telling us what we need, we just have to listen.

Have you let go of something toxic in your life this month? How did it go? Was it difficult or did you find it easier then expected? HOw do you feel know that the toxic thing is gone?

 

Year of Taking Care of Me- Month 2: Love Myself

Month 2 Love MyselfIn keeping with the Valentines theme of love February was a month to focus on self love and self acceptance. This is not an easy thing for many of us. Many mom’s I know are the most incredible, giving, productive and loving people but to hear then tell it you would think they accomplish nothing. Most don’t acknowledge the amazing feats we accomplish daily. Oh yes we can totally see it in others, we can dole out praise for someone else but never ourselves.

I recently heard a mom of a 3 month old talk about how she has been struggling to get her baby to eat and is waking up hourly to feed him all night long. All this while she has a full-time job and another child to care for! She gets an average of 3 hours of sleep per night but talks about it as if it is something everyone does. No… no they don’t. She is an amazing mom!

Often we are hyper critical of ourselves and only see our flaws and failures. We downplay the amazing things we do as if everyone does them. That is what makes a month like this so difficult.  This 28 days we are challenged to like ourselves and toot our own horn. This month is also intended for us to accept ourselves and accept some of the praise others give us. Not just blow it off or pretend it is intended for someone else.

I struggle with this because, like most Mom’s, I always feel I am failing in some area. Even through we know it is an impossibility, we still strive to be everything to everyone. What we see in this endeavor is our contant unending failure. (You can check out last weeks post “Morning in the MommyHood for my own verision.)

It took a long time before I was even about to graciously accept a compliment without trying to negate it in some way. So this month is about trying to move past my gut instinct to see only failure and try to see the good I produce. There were a few tasks for this month included making a list of things we like about ourselves and another list of what people say they like about us. The intent is to see how we view ourselves and if we see ourselves as other see us. Finally this month we take note of how we have  accept ourselves. Ok here goes…

What do I like about myself?

What do I like? This is so hard because this month I have been under the weather and short tempered ect. Ok I know I know I am only seeing the negative again and that is not what this is about. Here goes 5 things I like about myself. (Boy this feels awkward.)

  • I am honest,
  • I am faithful to my friends and family
  • I am good at creating memories for my family
  • People know I am consistent and I keep my word.
  • I love to learn
  • OK there (this took me an entire day.)

What others like about me

Now on to list 2. Some of the things others have said about me.

  • I am a good mom (This mad me feel awesome!)
  • I am a good cook (Also made me feel awesome)
  • I am an encouraging friend (I hope so)
  • I am a hard worker
  • I am funny (this one from my kids)

Seeing these lists did make me feel pretty awesome. Especially when I hear what my children and my husband like about me. Making the list about myself was tough. It took a lot longer then I thought it would which tells me I have a bit of work to do concerning my confidence and belief in my abilities.

Now for the hardest part about this month. The accepting yourself. Over the weekend I had an unexpected incident with another adult. I innocently made an offer of help I believed to be with the intent to offer understanding and empathy. However to his ears it sounded like an insult. He came back at me with harsh words and I felt my dignity and self worth crawl into a little ball inside of me and blink out of existence.

I spent the majority of the weekend running the confrontation over again and again and wondering how he could have taken my words so wrong. I felt like a total jerk. In the end my husband tried to help me too understand. Because of my co-dependency issues when I see someone struggling I feel like I need to fix their problem. It is some weird responsibility to remedy every situation, even when it has nothing to do with me. My offer of help was not viewed as kindness because it was out of place. It was not asked for, not wanted and made the person feel like a screw-up.

Even if it was not my intent, my over zealous feelings of responsibility for everyone and everything, insulted this person. As if they were incompetent and in need of rescue. As if I was somehow better. It took a lot to see this side of my actions. It was really hard to accept that I made someone feel this way. You know that “road to hell” and all.

In the past I would have insisted he was the jerk. However, having learned about myself this way I can accept the same sensitivity that makes me good at empathizing and understanding others, can also contribute to my inappropriate feelings of responsibility for them. I think I finally understand I do not have to save everyone, or offer help that was never asked for. I  accept I am not selfish if I don’t take on everyone’s problems, especially when they never asked for my help.

This also could be the reason I saddle myself with so much to do and then complain about feeling overwhelmed. I take on problems that are none of my business. Before this month I never realized I did this. I never realized how it could make another person feel bad about themselves.

This month in an effort to love and care for myself better I am unburdening myself of all of the problems are not mine to solve. I am letting go of all the situations I may have unknowingly forced myself into because I felt like I needed to help, even if my help was never asked for. This will free up time to help the ones who really do need me like my children, my husband. In the end I think this will make me a better mom, friend and a more fulfilled person.

Did you make your lists this month? What did you discover about yourself? How did it make you feel? Would love to hear how you felt about this month. Please share in the comments

 

A Morning in Mommyhood

morning in the mommyhoodI stand in the shower. To be honest I’m hiding in there, letting the hot water run over my face as I stare at the wall.  If I look down I will see the empty shampoo and body wash bottles that have collected in the corner. My eyes will drift over the bottom of the shower door, full of filmy soap scum and in need of a good cleaning. Knowing I don’t have the time to clean it or even stand in here any longer, I have I hurry to wash my hair. 

It is time to get out but I am reluctant to start the day, to leave the warm, comforting water and small space that is my own right now. When I open the door I will see the collection of messes that have accumulated through my bedroom, then through the house. Knowing full well I am all that stands in the way of the messes and complete chaos.

Get some pant on

As I open the top dresser drawer I say a silent pray of hoping there will be a pair of clean underwear left since I only got to the kid’s laundry this week. Yes, thankfully it is shoved at the bottom between bras that no longer fit. Ok, maybe I can manage to get through today. Hey I have underwear so it might not be so bad. There is a knock at my bedroom door. Well, not really a polite non-intrusive knock more like a door swinging open and hitting the wall as my kids and the dogs barrel into the room.

 No… this is supposed to be my sanctuary. Well at least where I can get dressed right? As I stand in a towel, my wet hair dripping dry into all sort of Medusa like snakes. I hope I can at least get a brush through it before I must be pulled away to find this or locate that. But first back to the underpants, as I gather them together I retreat (because really that is what it is I lost this battle) into the bathroom in the hopes of getting some clothing on before I am forced to locate any more items.

image found on Pinterest.com

As I get my undergarments on I realize the toilet paper roll is empty, there is dust on the bathroom shelves and we won’t even get into the look of the toilet. More on my list of stuff to do. Feeling my anxiety rising, I hope I am left alone to get the rest of my clothing together. Then hopefully  flee from all the mess and some of the responsibility I don’t have the time to address right now.

I have nothing to wear

Opening the door, I see for now I am alone. Ceasing the opportunity I move stealthily to the closet and look through my clothes…depression sets in as I realize I have nothing new, nice or well-fitting to wear. What did I expect when I buy all my clothes over the internet. Guessing on what might fit is not the same as what fits. I look longingly to my comfortable yoga pants. The only garment that seems to not judge me. How much I weight. How things in my body have shifted with age and children.

But I don’t get to linger on this long because I realize my hair is almost dry and it is a total mess. Dressing in whatever matching items I can stand to put on my body. Some feeling to lose, others to tight.  Do I have time to run an iron over this? Emerging from the closet (yes where I was hiding again.) I search desperately for one of the 7 brushes somewhere in our home. We have 7 brushes because of the reason you can never find one when you need it. They are never in a logical place where they should be. They are in plastic bags, left in cars, brought to school…etc.. So, we continue to buy them only for them to grow legs and wader off. Like right now…I am left with only a promotional comb from a hair salon missing teeth.

It’s ok I’m the mom. I will make due. Don’t we always? Realizing it is to late to salvage a good hair day, I search for a clip. This  as my children and husband begin Round 2 of the “where is my… have you seen my…?” Q and A. To find the clip I must rummage into the deep dark corners of the vanity and shift out of the way  weeks of accumulated toiletry items, deodorants, colognes, and toothpaste tubes . Realizing this is yet another area I alone will be cleaning I feel more anxiety.

Going to be late for work

Mistakenly glancing at the clock to see I have 4 minutes left before I must be on the road or I will be late for work. Both my children are half clothed. The dog is crying to go out for the third time and I have not packed my lunch or had any breakfast. Oh, and shoes??? What about shoes? Since those are much more difficult to estimate sized of the internet I am down to the few pairs I have scavenged and procured in rushed side trips to the supermarket. They are old and ratty and well… embarrassing but right now they will have to do. The nice ones are from a different era in my life where beauty overruled comfort and practicality. Now I cannot imagine making it through a day at work, then the drive home, then baseball and bed in shoes that hurt.

I slide into my old reliable’s and glance at myself in the mirror. Feeling disgusted and disheveled I vow (again) I will tackle my ailing wardrobe situation, my abominably messy house and my unpolished toenails. (Side note: my husband asked why I never paint my toes anymore…Is he serious? I could totally if you would do one load of laundry ..maybe I could carve out five minutes to paint my nails dear??? -insert imagine of me fluttering my eyes at him.)

Am I a good mom… a good wife?

Realizing this is it. This is all I can reasonably do in the time I have I forgo breakfast, (and pretty much lunch.. Figure I will put some make-up on at stop lights on the way into work. Kissing my kids on the forehead I feel the gut wrenching feeling that I am not a good mom. I should be leaving notes in their lunch boxes telling them how much I love them, should have given them something better than just plain PB & J. Maybe I should have cut it into shapes or something like the “good” mommies do? I don’t have the time and must go to work. My heart hurts knowing I can’t be the mom I want to be or should be. Instead they are stuck with the impatient, always rushing, non-star shaped melon making, frequently yelling, mess that is their mom.

Giving my husband a quick peck on the cheek as I leave I feel the loss of meaningful conversation we rarely get to have without some interruption.  I wonder as he eats his cold cereal, wishing I could make his something better, if I am the wife he through he would have? The way I look now, the person I am. No, I’m not the 20-year-old he fell in love with. In the back of my mind I fear he will get sick of waiting for that 20-year-old to come back from whatever beach vacation she has been on. He will decide to seek out a shiny new model to replace his old yoga pants wearing clunker.

But I’m the Mom

As I glance around my home, the home of two adults, two children and two dogs, I know I should see all of the life that lives here, the love and care. Lately, I only feel anxiety and inadequacies. Today I only see mess to come home too. The one’s that will still be there tomorrow as I lack the time to get to them. My anxiety grows as I recognize here is where I should be. Here is where I am needed. I sigh sadly and recognize there is no way I can do this all. There is no way that I can get these things done. Maid, cook, employee, desirable 20 something, Pinterest mommy, I can’t be all these people.  Somehow, I know I will try to because I love my family and that is what Mom’s do.

 

5 Things To Consider When Getting a Family Pet

5 things to consider when getting a family petAdding a pet to your home is an important decision. One that should not be taken likely or done on a whim. Unfortunately, many families do what I have done and don’t think through the consequences of a pet in their household. We fall in love with an adorable puppy. Take him home only to find out the breed is not quite right for our family environment.

Often people adopt an animal but later have misgivings about the amount of care and time it requires. I have seem people who swing from feeling wildly excited about their new pet. Only to bringing it back to the shelter or pet store because it is not inconvenient for their life style.

When I hear of this it totally burns me up! Pets are not a new toy or novel item to be discarded when it becomes a hassle to care for or the newness has worn off. When you get a pet they become a family member, and an important reasonability to care for and love.

We have all heard the stories of people who decided to by a python only to have it out grow its enclosure and be released into the wild. Down in Florida we have some of these former “pets” completely destroying the ecosystem of the Florida everglades. In our disposable society, it is become far to frequent that family’s adopt a pet and don’t take into consideration if it is the right pet for them before they bring it home.

Speaking from personal experience I watched a loving, sweet dog become intensely fearful and aggressive after it was brought back to the pound. It had spending over a year with it’s prior owner until she no longer had a use for the dog and it became an inconvenience for her. It was absolutely heartbreaking. To me actions like this are selfish, cruel and irresponsible. In our disposable society it is become far to frequent. The idea of having a family pet is wonderful until it is brought home and in need of feeding, care and time. The animal is then returned, discarded or given away like yesterdays news.

In my view this heartbreak could be avoided if families took a little bit of time to examine what pet would be right for them before they head out to the pet store. Here are 5 things to consider when looking for a family pet.

 

How much time do you have?

Do you work crazy hours, long shifts? Do you have to travel frequently? Remember the level of care a pet such as a dog will need. Consider if your schedule will allow you to care for it properly. If you travel frequently and have to board the pet all the time, a dog might not be right for you. Your lifestyle may be better suited for a more independent animal.

How much care can you give your pet?

After having children I was not able to give my pets the care I wanted to. I no longer had the time and ability to devote to the care of my animals. Not in the way I did before having children. Things like picking up the yard and brushing them weekly were no longer activities I could fit into an over packed schedule of caring for children and working full-time.  Be honest as to what you are able to devote to the care of a pet. You have to consider you might no longer have the time to purse other things in exchange for the care of your pet. If you can not see yourself doing this a pet may not be the right choice for you right now.

What type or breed of animal a good fit for you?

After 101 Dalmatians came out, many families were enamored with Dalmatian puppies. They were in for a rude dalmationawakening. They soon discovered Dalmatians are high energy and get restless when left alone for too long. (Like when you are at work or your kids are at school.) These types of puppies while cute might not the best fit for busy families. Consider the disposition and traits of the animal. Do a little research before you adopt your pet so that your home and family will be a good fit for you and for your new animal. You can take this Animal Plant Pet Picker quiz to help you get started in finding the fight pet for you.

How big will your pet grow?

How much space you have and how large the animal will grow to be makes a big difference in what type of pet you decide on. If you get a mastiff puppy but live in a small apartment with no yard. There are going to be some lifestyle adjustments the family will need to make. If you get a pet that is high energy having a backyard might be a necessity. It might be prudent to consider how much space your pet will need to have a happy, healthy life. ? This is something that happens frequently with snakes, and lizards.snake

“That beautiful 20-inch baby Burmese python may fit well in a 5 or 10-gallon aquarium style tank when you first bring it home from the pet store, but within 5 months it is likely to reach 5 feet, and it has the potential to grow to 18 feet at maturity. Keeping an 18-foot snake is obviously a very different proposition than you bargained for when you left the store cheerfully toting your aquarium and thinking that was all that you were ever going to need. Buying that snake only to have to find a new home for it before it reaches maturity is unfair both to you and to the animal,”-Peteducation.com

What changes in family environment might affect your pet?

Take into consideration what your future might bring to the life of this pet. Are you planning to move in a few years? Do you planning on another baby? Are there other animals in the home? Different types of animals react differently to these environmental changes. Some better then others. Some pets might be more sensitive to simple changes such as a new feeding time or seasonal weather patterns. (like summer thunderstorms.) If you have an idea what changes are in store for your family environment it would be helpful in selecting a pet that can adapt to these changes.

Pets are life changing in the most wonderful way. They can provide the love and companionship that can fill in an empty space in your family. Pets can give that unconditional love and affection making your household complete. Adopting a pet is a responsibility.  You owe it to yourself and the animal to take the time to ensure you can provide the love and care it needs.

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

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.

 

 

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.

 

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