Archive | February, 2012

I Can See Clearer Now

29 Feb

I Can See Clearer Now.

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I Can See Clearer Now

29 Feb

In my younger years, I was a very angry person. Anger has always been my “go to” emotion. Some people get depressed. Some people withdraw. Some people can actually remain calm in difficult emotional situations. I envy them. I get angry. I used to say I get mad, but after having a few British friends, I decided anger is better because mad is crazy too. But, back to my point; one of my sons got a zero on a science vocabulary quiz. When I questioned him about it, he said the teacher said they were going to review and then gave them a quiz with new words on it. I asked him if she had ever handed out a paper with those words on it. Why, yes she had, but he didn’t think they would be on the quiz because he heard the word review. This is not the first time something like this has happened to him.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell. I wanted to ask him how many freaking times do we have to have this same conversation? Instead, I told him that when a teacher hands out new material, it’s his responsibility to know the new and the old material. I told him that knowing what is on the quiz is his responsibility. I also told him that he would be losing a privilege because he was irresponsible. I was upset, but not angry. I was firm, but not mean. In the past, this tirade would have gone on and on until we both felt horrible about ourselves, but I’ve learned something important about why other people annoy us so. We get angry and upset with people, especially family members, because they don’t live up to our expectations, which is pretty self-centered (but that’s a subject for another post). In this case, while I have high expectations of my children, it was also something slightly different.

Every parent has a vision, not just FOR their children, but also OF their children. For me, I have always envisioned my children as leaders and I’ve told them so. What I forget to tell them, especially when I am disappointed or angry, is the vision I carry of them at their best. I know in my heart the men they can become and the positive difference they can make in the world with their unique talents and abilities. Each child is different, but each one is special and incredibly talented. I believe this about every child, not just my own, and it breaks my heart to hear people call their kids stupid or lazy and then wonder why the child lives down to that standard. So, after a few upsetting moments this morning, we changed our conversation. We talked about the vision I have for my son and how he sees himself. We talked about his unique abilities, and we talked about how to deal with the parts of life that aren’t always easy for him. He walked into school happier and hopefully more focused.

Ironically, I’ve been a bit unfocused today. I’ve been thinking about my conversation with him. I’ve been doing what he did by procrastinating and not living up to my vision of my best self, so while writing this post, I realized that we teach that which we most need to learn. Today, that means I need to learn to look at my vision of myself, and after I share one of my unique talents in this blog, I will take great care of myself, my home and my family, because that is the best vision I have for me. Thanks for being you and have a great day!

I Want it All

28 Feb

I Want it All.

I Want it All

28 Feb

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Today I woke up the other day thinking about the lyrics from a song I haven’t heard for years. The song “I Want it All”, at least the version I was thinking of, is from the musical Baby, which ran on Broadway in the early 1980’s. It’s about three couples, all of whom are expecting babies, and the highs and lows associated with that. There is a married woman in her early forties with grown children and a surprise pregnancy, one college age single woman with no plans to have a child now, and one married woman in her late twenties/early thirties who has been trying unsuccessfully for a while to get pregnant. I was in college when the musical played on Broadway and have now lived through all these stages of life. I understand the wants of these women, and, even though I know that no one has it all, I still want it.

If anyone tries to tell you that they have it all, they are a liar. I know, strong words, but I think it’s time we stopped trying to be something that none of us can be. None of us can be in a passionate and romantic marriage; raise bright, happy, healthy, well-adjusted children, keep a beautifully, clean decluttered and amazingly beautiful home; take excellent care of our body, mind and spirit, and have a high powered, lucrative career that allows us to travel the world. I have friends and/or family at every level of financial abundance, in more family situations than you can count and in all kinds of adult relationships and not one of them has it all. Some of them try to show the world that they do, but privately they suffer because the face they show the world isn’t the one that they truly live. Some of them blame others for their areas of lack, which only gives away the power they do have, and some want it all, but are afraid to take any steps to make it better. For them, life is hard, but change feels even harder.

So what’s the solution? Where’s the silver lining? You know I’ll find one and here it is: We can have what matters. We can decide what matters most to each of us and focus on that. For me, that has always been my marriage and my children. I’ve poured myself into those two aspects of my life and the dividends have been huge. I have great relationships with my husband and children and that brings me great joy. Those choices, however, have come with a price.

For years, I focused so much on my family that my home was far from homey. About 10 years ago, I found a way to take care of my home that works for me to this day at Flylady.net. During those early family years, especially when I had three children and one with special needs, I neglected to take care of my body, mind and spirit (mostly the body) on a regular basis. I did the basics, especially with nutrition for my family, but I rarely focused on my needs in that arena. Now that I’m staring down the age of 50 and my children are more independent, I take time to exercise and meditate almost daily. I spend quiet time with spiritual material, and I read almost every night, which still feels like an indulgence. And then there’s the career. I didn’t really like the one I had before I became a mom and the pay wasn’t the greatest, so walking away was easy. As I raised children, I found a few ways to earn some extra cash, but my career has truly been my children. I don’t regret a moment of it. Not that it’s been easy. We’ve had to cancel vacations and deny our children some enrichment opportunities that nearly broke our hearts because we didn’t have the money to make it happen or an unexpected expense, like a broken down car, came alon.

So now, as my youngest child prepares for junior high and my oldest prepares to go away to college, my career as a mom and what matters is changing. My children can take care of their own basic needs. My role is more of guidance than having my hands in their everyday lives. I’m like a satellite that hangs out in space until the information I have is needed, always there but not always wanted. That realization is bittersweet. While I miss the closeness that my children and I had on a daily basis when they were growing up, I love watching my confident, self-assured young men begin to cut their own path in this world. I’ve told them since they were small that they were born to be leaders and make a difference in this world, and they are beginning to be the men we’ve envisioned. So, I exercise more and take better care of my home. I spend more time alone with my husband and I write. I write for myself and I write for my blog and although I still don’t have it all, I have more than I need, most of what I want and life is better than good. No matter what choices you have made or will make in your life, I hope you will be are as happy with your outcome as I am with mine. If not, figure out what really matters to you and act accordingly. I wish you all a life that matters. I believe that’s what we’re all here to do. Thanks for being you and have a great day!

Owning my Stuff

24 Feb

Owning my Stuff.

Owning my Stuff

24 Feb

I was reading an article by a professional organizer the other day that challenged people to declutter their home by giving and/or throwing away half of everything they own. I must say that I was intrigued by the thought. Then he said that you should start by counting everything you own. What? Is he crazy? By the time I count everything I own, I’ll be on Social Security, assuming it’s still around, and if I was organized enough to count everything, I wouldn’t need to organize it.  And this is my problem with most professional organizers; they’re born organized. Born organized people or BOs as they’re called by Flylady Marla Cilley, have a place for everything and everything goes in its place. They would find great joy, as this man did, in having 8,000 or so items in his house. He then proceeded to declutter over 1,000 items from his house in just a few days.

That really got me thinking about my own home, and it  nearly made me sick. My house is not one you’ll ever find on one of those shows where they send in the crew to clear out the crud, but it won’t be featured in Architectural Digest either, but just the thought of counting each utensil in my kitchen made me weak. I probably have over 8,000 items just in my kitchen, if you include my pantry. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I cook and bake and have way more utensils than a normal person has. Then I thought about the stuff that’s even smaller. Do I have to count all of the plastic grocery bags that my kids use for lunches? What about paper clips? Do I count them individually or as one unit since I actually do have a container for them? ACK!! The once fun idea became a job and the job quickly became overwhelming, but I knew there was so much value in the idea I just had to find a way to make it work for me. So, I did what I’ve learned to do very well the past few years. I adapted.

I decided to tackle just the middle drawer of my desk and here’s what I found. I had 145 items in that drawer, counting the paper clip container as one item after I gathered up all of the errant paper clips in the drawer. I was able to throw away 34 items, including pens that didn’t write, colored pencils that I had multiples of, pen caps with no mates and bits of scrap paper and broken erasers. I had 12 items to give away that included some novelty erasers and pencil grips my kids used when they were young. Total items decluttered: forty six. Not half, but it’s a start, and the drawer looks fantastic. It’s also incentive to keep going because I figure it’s something I can do every day or at least a few times per week, and by the time I host Easter at my house, I will have launched anywhere from 800-2000 unwanted items from our space based on 30-40 items per declutter session and 3-7 days per week. That’s amazing. As good as decluttering feels, it also has a spiritual side.

In Christianity, there is a story of a rich man who came to Jesus to ask what he needed to do to get to Heaven. Jesus told him to give away half of everything he owned. In Feng Shui, “a Chinese system that studies people’s relationships to their environment, especially their home or workspace, in order to achieve maximum harmony with the spiritual forces believed to influence all places,” (Bing Dictionary) you change the energy in your home whenever you move at least 27 items, and the more space you have in your home, the easier the energy flows and the better your life will be. There is even speculation that home clutter may affect your weight. And then there is the Less is More, or Minimalist, lifestyle that challenges people to live in a smaller space with more sustainability and own as few as 100 items per person. They’re all based on a different premise, but the final goal is the same, to have you own your stuff instead of your stuff owning you.

I like the idea that I own my stuff, but as I look around my home, I realize that a lot of my stuff does own me. The pictures that I haven’t organized own a piece of my energy. The vhs tapes I haven’t converted to dvd own another. The garage that seems to be a magnet for all things unwanted by other family members, owns even more. On a side note, we can still park two cars in our garage. I do have some standards that I won’t compromise. And then there’s the clothes that might fit, the shoes I’ve only worn once and the jewelry that I’ve had stashed for years in my jewelry box that never sees the light of day. What if I got rid of all of those things in the next 39 week days? What if it took longer? What if, at some point in this year, I actually am living in a home full of items I want, use and love? Who would I be if my home were exactly as I want it to be? I don’t know, but I’m willing to find out.

So decluttering I go with fresh energy and perspective. I’ll keep count as long as keeping count is fun. I’ll share stories here when it seems appropriate, and I’ll look forward to seeing more open space in my living areas, basement and garage, when the weather permits. I’ll focus on blessing others with my abundance and look forward to a better energy flow in my home and, maybe, just maybe, I’ll even lose a few extra pounds in the process. A girl can hope, eh? Thanks for being you and have a great day!

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

22 Feb

Spiritual Spring Cleaning.

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