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Posts tagged ‘help’

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?

 

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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 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.

 

 

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!

Mom’s Christmas List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Mom’s Christmas List

  1. To not having to shop for everyone by ourself

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

  2. To have a maid during the holiday’s

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

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

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

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

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

  5. To have dinner made for YOU

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

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

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

  7. To have some help in the kitchen

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

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

    No explanations needed

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

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

  10. To remember this is about giving not getting

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

 

Organizing Month 11:Clearing out Holiday Stress

Organizing Month 11: Holiday stressWith the end of November comes my second to last installment of my walk through the book “One Year to an Organized Life,” by Regina Leeds. So far in this series we have tackled emotional and physical clutter and it has made all of the holiday activities so much easier. Here are links to the spaces we have organized so far; Kitchen, Garage, Bathroom, Bedroom, Paper Organization, Memorabilia, Travel, Kids Rooms, Living/Dining Room.

The author said it but I didn’t really believe it until Thanksgiving came upon us. She stated after creating organizational habits throughout the house this year your home will now support you during the holidays instead of sabotage you. She was totally right!

The freak-out begins

Every year about two weeks before Thanksgiving, I start to get anxious. I start to freak out imagining all that has to get done before Thanksgiving. Creating lists upon lists or what needs to be cleaned, purchased and cooked.  Tending to take on way to much this time of year, the process of prepping for the holiday’s makes me over complicate all of these things.

I worry will there be enough food? I envision how messy my house will be for guests.  Not to mention the time it will take to shop, prep, cook and clean the house, while still having to work a full-time job. Add to that the anxiety of seeing Christmas ads all over the place by early November. Are they kidding I haven’t even gotten through Thanksgiving yet and I’m already feeling the pressures of Christmas shopping?

Turkey, family and flooring oh my!

Well, to my surprise this year that didn’t happen when by all reason it should have been worse. See, about two weeks before Thanksgiving we were scheduled to get new flooring installed through almost all of our home. This renovation was scheduled for October but had to be postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.working-mother-clip-art-multitasking_mom1

Not only did I have my entire house in shambles, I had no floor for about a week and a half before the big day. Almost the whole house of furniture was packed into three bedrooms and we were still living in it! So roughly about four days before Thanksgiving, I had to put my entire house back together.

Still we could not move all the furniture back completely until the baseboard’s were done THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. What? When I should be prepping, cleaning and cooking I had to move furniture.

The weird thing was, this year I was not stressed. I truly believe all of the work of de-cluttering had played a large roll in this lack of the anxiety I have come to associate with Thanksgiving.

In fact, once the floor was installed we realized how much nicer our home felt with less stuff. As we moved in some furniture, we uncluttered more and decided to get rid of pieces to make our small home feel more open.

During the renovation my kids and I were stuck in the bedroom and front yard for much of the time. I took this opportunity to further pare down my children’s belongings and tackled the scrapbook cabinet I had mentioned in a prior post. Getting rid of toys, cloths, and video games I missed on the first go around. Once that was done we moved on to Thanksgiving.

What was Thanksgiving like as a kid?

The first section of this chapter, in my view, is the most important. Surprisingly it has nothing to do with organizing your physical space. Instead it deals with confronting where your holiday stress comes from and setting your intention for this years celebration’s. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is huge.

It starts with several journal questions that dive into what your holiday was like as a child. They seem like simple questions at first but help you to discover some thought patterns that may be trapping you into a certain way of thinking about Thanksgiving.

Growing up my parents hosted Thanksgiving. My mom and Dad where really good cooks and dinner was always delicious. However my cousins, who would come over, had a beautifully decorated and immaculately clean home. My family… not so much. I remember being the only one to clean the house before Thanksgiving because I was embarrassed. To me our house was always a mess, our furniture was old and out dated. It was nothing like the clean, well-kept home my cousins had.

Looking back I realized my parents were more concerned about the food they prepared and the family time we had.  They were never much for appearances. Not having a ton of money or time, they felt these resources were better spent on providing a great meal, not on the appearance of the house.

However, after answering these questions I discovered the majority of my Thanksgiving stress was generating from this memory. It was not in the food preparation so much as the house cleaning I worried over. It was so difficult to keep the house clean to the way I wanted with two dogs and two children.

Mom, we really didn’t need a 20 lb Turkey

The other thing I realized is I completely over spent and over-cooked for Thanksgiving dinner. Every year I would watch my parents prepare Thanksgiving enough for 30 people when we where only 10. One year my mother even bought a 20 lb turkey! So growing up I always thought this was the way Thanksgiving was done.

This discovery was made when I was making my Thanksgiving menu, something that the author advises in the third section of the chapter. Going down my list, noting all of ingredients to shop for there was a nagging feeling to make this list longer. Eventually my husband asked why I was trying to make Thanksgiving stressful for myself by adding more to do? He was totally right. I didn’t have the time or the energy to add more and why did I feel like I needed too?

This Thanksgiving we had a wonderful time and I actually got to spend it with my family instead of in the kitchen. I allowed myself to take some shortcuts and help by purchasing cake and pie instead of making it myself and let my husband do the clean up.

Thanksgiving isn’t suppose to be about stressing out, or having an immaculate home filled to too much stuff. It is about family and making memories. So this year I am setting my intention on that.

[ctt title=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” tweet=”‘The holidays are about families celebrating together-the holiday is not supposed to be perfect,’ ” coverup=”bla8Z”]from One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds.

5 Weeks of Scary: Week 4 Take on a Problem

tackle a problemWelcome to Week Five

Before we close out this challenge with our final task let’s review last week. Week 4’s task was to Take on a problem. Tackle an issue or feeling you have been avoiding for a while. Face it head on and break through the fear. As I said last week, I thought this would be a tough one and I was right.

Initially when I examined what task I wanted to take on I didn’t readily recognize a cause that required attention. As a matter of fact, it seems I have buried many of these feelings so deep it was hard uncovering them. Deep down there lies several fears that I have let linger and have never fully addressed. When you start to peel back the layers of covering over the hurt, weird things happen.

You want to push them away again. Like the pile of laundry hidden in the back of your closet. You know it is there you can see it briefly if you open the door a bit. But if you never actually look at it you can pretend its not there or push it of to deal with another day.

The problem I pushed away

The task I have decided to face this week was one I put in the way back of my closet after my father passed away. Every now and then I venture into that pile of memories looking for something but quickly stash it back away before it spills out and I have to deal with it. The task is to forgive my father. There I said it… and it was a lot harder to write then I thought it would be.

I mentioned my issues with my father in this post. Here I addressed my own co-dependency issues that arose from his alcohol abuse. My father wasn’t a bad man. No really he wasn’t, but he was damaged and I see now how he could have benefited from anti depressive medication.

Anyhow, back to the task at hand. I have been carrying around a bag of hurt, self-doubt, low self worth, fear and lack of confidence ever since I was a little girl. Growing up in a house of narcissism and co-dependency these feelings have effected every aspect of my life. Having never felt like enough, never feeling like I mattered, and always feeling less then those around me.

The one question

Over the years I have navigated these feelings or pushed them away enough to function. When I thought about this task I realized all of my hurt is wrapped around one question that I could never fathom.

Why did my Dad pick alcohol over me? Why was I not important enough?

I remember hearing stories of other people’s parents who would move heaven and earth for their children. Having children of my own I know I would do this for them. So why then wouldn’t my Dad give up alcohol for me? Why was having those extra years of life with me not worth it to him? Why could he not stop after seeing all the pain and hurt his addiction caused?

Finding forgiveness

It is because he was an addict. Not being addict I know I can never truly understand the physical, emotional or chemical dependency that comes along with addiction. But what I do know is I must let go of this question. I must know that my Dad loved me but he was not like me. He was weak, depressed and lacked the will to be anymore then what he was.

He loved me the best way he could, but he was flawed and broken. I must forgive him for his weakness. It was not my doing or

Winnie the pooh

Image found on Pinterest

something I could have fixed. More importantly, it was not a reflection on his love for me and does not mean others will love me less.

I know moving forward this will be a struggle but overtime I plan to unravel the layers I have built up. Hopefully, in facing this fear I will be able to released this hurt and heal myself.

There we have it friends. We have made it to the final Week of the Challenge. Week 5…

Week 5: Take your power back

We have done a lot of work over this month. We have faced fears physical, mental and emotional. In the final week we reflect on all that we have learned about ourselves during this challenge. What fears have we overcome? Are any still plaguing you? Has your view of fear changed?

My hope is that you feel empowered and emboldened by this process. Maybe like me, you have gotten to know yourself a little better. Maybe you realize you are so much more than you appear to be. Each and every one of us is capable of amazing things if we believe we can. If we ignore our self-doubt, if we overcome our overwhelm, move past our guilt and run towards our fears.

Thank you so much for taking this journey with me over the past month. I hope it was transformative, insightful and helpful. Please share your stories in the comments about what you have learned from this process.

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