In between overdoing it

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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.

 

Get double the sweets in your first Treatsie box!

A Resolution to have no Resolutions

resolution to have no resolutionsHaving goals is great!

It is a blessing to know what you want to achieve, make a plan and go after it. I spent the better part of last year trying to do that. The problem was I was so caught up in achieving a goal I thought I wanted, I really didn’t take the time to question if it was even worth achieving? Was this resolution something that would bring me fulfillment, contentment, and happiness once it was done? Would it really make any difference in me? Did I even know enough about what I was trying to accomplish to make my effort worthwhile?

During the first week of a New Year people get caught up in the hype of goal setting. We rush out and get the prettiest, shiniest new planner and hastily write down our hopes and dreams of what we will achieve by this time next year. By March the planner is at the bottom of a drawer long forgotten.  Along with it forgotten plans inside. For many of us when we make resolutions we get caught up in the idea of the infinite possibilities in a new year. In what the future may hold. I know I did.

Last year, I felt like I could achieve so much. In turn I loaded myself with resolutions. Gave myself tiny binding contracts with myself not to be broken for almost anything. So a spent a lot of last year toiling away to achieve these mental marker I though meant something, only to look up come October and realize I no longer cared about them.

Was it worth it?

I spent SO much time, energy and focus on achieve these self imposed promises. Never realizing the why of achieving them had evaporated along the way. For example the goal to monetize this blog. Working tirelessly I planned to creating products and promotions, spent hours listening to podcasts and reading books.

Following the advice of bloggers, social media masters and lifestyle gurus. But came to realize I never wanted to make money here. I just wanted to write. By spreading my focus across the board, things like SEO, product creation, web design became a priority.  Writing was not even enjoyable and didn’t feel like it reflected me anymore. Followed the advice of too many people who, I believed, knew more. I focused on these goal but ignored what my heart told me.

Also the goals took far to much focus and time away from family, and self care. Things which I intended to put more of a priority on. Energy that should have been given to my kids who need me went into the creation of a cookbook no one asked for.  Yes, I got caught up in reaching the goals I set up on January 1.

It is great to have make resolution, and set goals if they are focused, researched and align with what you really want in life. Don’t make your goal something you have fleeting interest in. Also, don’t make it

Image from fakeposters.com

if it will not bring you closer to the person you want to be or the life you want to have. Most of all, know it is ok for your goal to change as you progress through the year. Give yourself permission to adjust as life changes.

 

I made too many goals, most of which did not speak to my heart. Once I created them I felt I had to make them happen, even long after they weren’t a good fit. Who did I feel like I was letting down? Myself maybe. Was I less of a person if I didn’t not achieve a goal I no longer felt passionately about?

I am writing this post on the first day of the new year and his year I am trying something new. No goal setting, resolution making, planners or plans. This year, I am resolving to be without a resolution. Attempting too not remain in constant review of the past or over planning for the future. Doing my best to listen to what my heart and head need. [ctt title=”Trying as best I can to stay in this moment, this year. To find the joy in this life as I live it.” tweet=”Trying as best I can to stay in this moment, this year. To find the joy in this life as I live it.” coverup=”KP8Al”] Not pining for what might have been or wishing for what will be.  For this year I am going to let go of resolutions and see where life takes me.

Introducting the Success in Parenting Series

Hello! My name is Ann Marie Flanagan.

Here is a little about me. I am a wife of 17 years and a mother of three happy and healthy children. I met my husband on a blind date. During my second year of teaching I was set-up on a date with a parent of a kindergartener at the school I was working in. That blind date led to marriage and my little family. My children are Blake, McKenzie, and Gavin. Ever since I was young, I had always wanted to become a teacher! I am thrilled to have the privilege of speaking to you about my passion: teaching.

During high school, I began tutoring my neighbor’s sons. While I was working with them they were both tested and labeled Learning Disabled. This intrigued me and I began to research and decided I wanted to focus on working with this population.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Learning Disabilities from the University of North Florida. From there I began my teaching career in an elementary school working with special education students in the 4th and 5th grades. Right away I knew this was my calling and couldn’t wait to learn more.

Image source unknown

Image source unknown

Several years later I participated in a cohort where I earned my Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Central Florida as well as my National Board Certification! I continued working in elementary education since then, only taking one year off.

This is my 21st year of teaching and I am more passionate about my students than ever before.

I educate and advocate for my students, collaborate with parents, and assist other teachers in their pursuit of becoming the best they can be for their students.

For the past 7 years I have worked in Pre-K and found my niche. At first I thought this was going to be the easiest of jobs. Boy was I mistaken! I have learned a whole new skill-set and I am in love with my career.

These 3 & 4 year olds are challenging, but they are also little sponges. My favorite areas to teach these young minds is in their social/emotional and communication skills. This is a critical age for my students. Early intervention is the key. Most of their labels include: Developmentally Delayed, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Language Impaired.

My students inspired me to develop an online workshop called Tackling Tantrums. More often than not parents tell me about tantrums that are occurring at home and I have key strategies and tips to share. This workshop is not just for parents of special education students. It is for all parents who struggle with taming these outbursts.

In addition, I have developed a Facebook group to share our children’s successes and ask for assistance with challenges. This group is a safe place to discuss strategies and tips for young children all the way through young adults who may be ready to leave for college.

Would you like to join us?

Here is the link: SuccessinParenting. You can find information about the Tackling Tantrums Workshop in the group or you can email me at readingguru@yahoo.com.  I also have a free series within the group about how to set your children up for a successful start to the new school year. This series is filled with quick and easy tips that you can begin to implement today.

I look forward to the next opportunity to share with you every other Monday. In future posts I will share my expertise and knowledge about managing your child’s strong emotions, identifying red flags for learning difficulties, and how to prepare for a parent conference and/or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. If you have suggestions on topics just send me an email.

Respectfully,

Ann Marie Flanagan

Staying True to the person YOU want to be

true self

Are you holding true to the person you intended to be?

You know what they say things happen for a reason. The reason might be unknown to you at first but then after thought and time it is reveled to you. Recently, I have questioned if I am truly meant to be in this space. If my words are worth anything. I have questioned my self-worth, my own character and wondered if some of the things others might have said about me hold any truth.

When I decided to start a blog a year and a half ago, I was prepared for criticism. I expected trolls. Ready for the keyboard warriors to descend upon me and verbally shoot me through the heart. I prepared for it and guarded myself against it. But it never happened.

I was shockingly greeted with support, encouragement and general good feelings and community. Time passed and I became immersed in social media, blogging and online communities. This was a great experience, I found many new friends and wonderful people that have taught me so much.

I learned a ton about the online space. This was also where I let my guard down.  Trusting people and taking what they posted on social media as the true picture of who they were. Falling into the pattern of thinking the social media personally was who that person really was. Even I began to present a social media “presence,” a brand if you will. But forgetting that I never wanted to be a brand; I only wanted to be a person sharing this journey of motherhood and moderation with people who could empathize.

I ventured into online marketing, sales, promotion. Became caught up in the words of all the “influencers” and advice. I lost sight of why I started this. In the end, blogging became second to promoting and following the plan advised by social media experts. Caught up in the fear of missing out. This lead me to ventured into waters I never intended and that didn’t really fit with what I was doing.

280012-Know+thyself+quote++++

In folly, I believed people on social media were who they appeared to be instead of the many facets that each person truly is.  I relied more on there opinion and judgment, then on myself. We all put on a social media face. We present our best side, our prettiest smile, out clean homes, our perfect lives. But this mommy blogging journey was never about being perfect. It was only about understanding each other and finding balance together.

Unfortunately, I allowed myself believe that this face was the truth, knowing deep down it was not. I even put this face on myself, hiding parts of me away as to not offend anyone. Some true genuine friends where discovered in this endeavor. But I also made enemies it seems, and the critic that was lying in wait finally emerged. It was myself.

So for several weeks now I have been fighting the urge to close this blog down. To run away. Hide. Remove myself from the falseness I had brought upon myself. And I did for a bit… run away, lick my wounds.

But when I took my head out of the sand. I looked at who remained, who really liked what I wrote. Who were true, real and genuine. Things do happen for a reason. Beyond hurt, fear and criticism, these lessons are there to bring us closer to the person we are meant to be.

Our world today is crazy, especially lately. Full of snap judgments, false experts and too much information but little knowledge.  These events, I believe, are meant to teach us our true convictions. Who you choose to be. Who we want to surround ourselves with. A very wise friend said to me “You can only get happiness by keeping the things that help you grow and let the rest fade away.”

As to what will happen with this blog. I don’t know, but it was never about monetizing, promoting or social media anyway. I think it’s time I got back to what I originally intended…just writing how I feel, helping those seeking empathy and hoping we can support in each other along the way. Hold tight to who you are, what truly matter to you and let the rest fade away.


Get double the sweets in your first Treatsie box!

It All Began With Self Doubt…One Year Ago

blogThis week marks my first anniversary in the blogging world. While my theme has changed, my platform is different and my focus has done a 360, the reasons I started to blog remain the same. I want to share my thoughts with like minded people.

This blog started as a way for me to have an outlet from the repressive 9-5 work I was doing. Before I started this blogging adventure, I felt like I was drowning, sinking deeper into the mire of my own self-pity. Doubting myself more and more as my torturous days at my job stretched on. The blog became therapy for me. It started off slow but soon became almost like a need. I could vent my frustrations, share my triumphs and help others learn along with me. I blogged everyday for almost a year, up until I moved platforms. Blogging became my constant companion.

You all have given my light when I felt dark, you have given me spirit when I felt immobile, you have helped me overcome disappointment and deal with frustration. I am forever grateful for this community and support I have been given and I look forward to the continued evolution of this blog. Thank you.

(Here is my first post)

self doubt

Here I stand on the end of the diving board, my toes hanging over  the edge. Looking down I see the serene, clear water below. I know in the water is where I should be, where I want to be. All I have to do is step forward. But I stand there, fearing the”what if’s,” motionless. Wanting to jump in, but too afraid to let go.

This is how I feel starting this blog. For months I had the idea, came up with a title, and made my About page. There I was all set to write the first post and I was to afraid to move forward. To scared to open myself up to criticism. To put myself, my “real” self, out there. My faults and needs, my wants and failures. My plan for this blog was to be an outlet for the words and feeling fighting for a place to go, but when the moment came I was so filled with self doubt, I did nothing

Since my idea for this blog was to chronicle my success and failures in my search for moderation, it is kind of funny that my first challenge was in just getting started. I have found it difficult to balance my self doubt with my want to get the words out of me. In this moment, I realize this balance thing is going to be a lot deeper than I thought. How do I not listen to the self doubt and fear? How do I not overdo doubting myself?

The really remarkable thing about this is that I discovered the opposing force to my self doubt. It was that  I really wanted to do this. I felt I have something to say and the worst that could happen is I learn how to swim. I made the choice. Either I am going to move forward or I will stay were I have been with no voice, no outlet. I decided not to turn around and leave the pool, but put on my floaties and jump in. Thank you for jumping in with me.

Finding My Calling in a Sink Full of Dishes

dishes

The picture above epitomized why the tone of this blog is going to shift a bit. This sink full of dishes is what I came home to yesterday. The sink full of dishes is the reality of a working mom. A mom that has no time. A mom that never gets to sit and have dinner or breakfast. A mom that has to handle all the pressures and stresses and bad bosses and back stabbing coworkers, then come home to a sink full of dishes.

Sometimes the scenery might change, the ages of the kids might vary but the plight of the working mom is very real. This is our life…this sink full of dishes. This is our story. We are depended upon; things are expected of us. Things that, if we thought about, we would never in a million years expect someone else to accomplish in the amount of time and pace we expect from ourselves.  Somewhere along the way the role of the mom become all encompassing. We lost the stay at home, Jello mold, dress wearing mom of the 1950’s and replaced her with the hurried, haggard, working mom of the 2000’s.

 It has reached a new level of craziness in that this is what we have done to ourselves. We have guilted ourselves into believing that all we do, in an insane amount of time, all these varied tasks are our responsibility and ours alone. And we are expected to carry them out with near perfection! What have we done to ourselves. No wonder we feel out of balance all the time. No wonder we are overwhelmed.

I came home to a sink full of dishes, a dinner to cook, a house that looks like a disaster, a mountain of laundry, children’s homework to do and a cake business to run! Most of this I created. I brought on myself. We are mothers yes, but where in the handbook did it say we are slaves? Where in the rules did we lose our freedom to have a loving home where we are appreciated and at peace?

I want to state for the record that as of today I want to reshape the idea of the working mom. I want to make it into something that is actually real. Someone that exists. Not this sink of dirty dishes, false expectations and insurmountable pressure. I want to get back to what I loved about being a mom. What it felt like to come home from work and not want to run screaming from responsibility.

 I want to discover new and better ways of doing things that don’t take such a toll on the “momness” inside me. Over the coming months, this blog will change and I will embark on this new journey of remaking the idea of the working mom. I will still focus on our key areas like food, as the nutritional gatekeeper of the household and family health practitioner. I will also continue to address household finance, since in most cases this is also the duty that falls to mom. Family and feelings, these two areas will take center stage. Balance and moderation are still going to play key roles but they will be weaved into the strategies of a working mom.

My aim is to help you and myself not feel overwhelmed, angry or sad about coming home to a sink full of dishes. I want us to be free from the “mommy guilt” and the feelings we create in our “momhood.” I want us to transform into the happy, healthy, balanced mom’s we should be! Come join me on this new journey.

Find More Joy In Everyday. Here’s how!

 

stress-largeYou know those people who have the ability to let everything roll off there back.

They never seems stressed, have a great outlook and just “roll with it.”

They know what stresses them and how to overcome it. I am here to solve that problem for you.

First, we have to figure out what is putting your life out of wack. Is the majority of out upset coming from family interactions? Is it generating out of a lack of self-care? If is pressure we create for ourselves?

I have created a free, 9 question assessment to help solve this problem and overcome your major causes of stress, once and for all. My aim in creating this assessment is to give you the tools to bring your life back into balance. To discover something about yourself you might not be aware of. I hope to help you manage your stress and find more joy in everyday.

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