A very full life

While 1+1 does in fact equal 2, it turns out that 1+1+1+1+1+… adds up slowly to way too much.  I am referring to my scheduling problem of saying “sure” to far too many people.  Sure, I’ll teach that class this year.  OK, I’ll lead the music for that service.  You need help with the school book fair? Sign me up… for three shifts while you’re at it.  I’d love to chaperone the kindergarten field trip! Yes, I’ll find a babysitter to be able to attend the membership committee meeting.  I definitely will donate white blood cells.  How honored I am that you want me to take photos of your event.  Of course I will be the Girl Scout troop leader.  Why wouldn’t I?

Unfortunately, since it’s just the way math works, you soon have to start subtracting in order to make the equation work.  I’d love to meet you for coffee and catch up, but I just can’t find a break in my schedule between writing lesson plans, voting, paying bills, and spending 3 hours at the blood bank.  I can’t be on that phone conference because my daughter needs her flu shot and I signed up for that tap class and I need to finish this costume I am making for her for the school’s Halloween book character parade.  I want to see you and meet your new baby but I have yoga class and a dentist appointment and my blog and I’m volunteering in my daughter’s classroom.  And subtract spouse time, subtract the Sunday morning phone call with best friend, subtract craft time.

You’re the director of what organization asking me to be on what committee? You think we should form a book club? You want me to host what???

I definitely want to do it all and do it right now.  I seem to be unable to let some things go and tackle them at another period of my life.  I want to improve people’s lives, donate to every cause, teach children responsibility and service and values, spread joy and love and peacefulness.  I want to support my hardworking and traveling husband by being an anchor at home.  I am an idealist looking to motivate and inspire others.  I want to experience new things and truly make a difference.  But…

I feel weighed down with tasks and obligations.  I miss my friends.  I miss my down time.  I miss my art.  I am really getting tired of my loooooonnng to-do lists.  I’m tired.  In my fervor to do it all, I realize I’m doing nobody any favors if I’m exhausted.  I’m not sure why I feel the need to fill up my calendar and my life with all these things.  Am I afraid of stillness? Do I need to justify not having a paying job? Am I trying to prove something?

I realize how blessed I truly am.  My family is healthy, my daughter is quickly learning to read right before my eyes, and we don’t struggle to pay the bills.  I simply need to slow down in order to appreciate it more.

And yet, after abstaining for months on purpose, I have signed up for 2 more e-courses.  I truly don’t know if this is a problem that I need professional help with or if I simply love life.

If ever I don’t show up to any of the above-mentioned commitments, I’ve probably run off to a spa indefinitely.

Once again, Brave Girls have gotten it exactly right.  I must not be the only one…

Brave Girls Club Brave Girls

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Remembering how to breathe

Reflecting pool

“If you ever find yourself empty from something you cannot know or name, find a stretch of ocean, a field, or mountainside, or even clouds, or trees.  Because there are 1,000 simple ways to fill your tired soul so you can remember how to be, how to see, and most importantly, how to breathe.” ~ Victoria Erickson

The final Mindfulness for Moms class met outside last week in a garden near this reflecting pool.  It was so nice to wander on the gravel path, watch the sun sparkle on the water, and take some deep breaths.  I didn’t even realize how much I needed it until I was there.  Ahhh…

Tell me how you are all doing.  Are you remembering to spend some moments in nature?

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Slow down your pace

Slow and steadyIn the weekly Mindfulness for Moms class I’m enjoying, we practiced a walking meditation.  To do this, you walk as deliberately as you can, noticing every sensation in your body.  The weight being transferred from the heel of your foot to the ball of your foot.  Your balance.  The forward motion.  The way your hips sway.  Each step brings forth more sensation and you notice something new.

We did that very slowly, but I have noticed that even in my morning exercise walk I enjoy the repetitive pace and the feelings in my legs as I am moving.  I often don’t want to listen to music because I prefer tuning in to these sensations.

Fast forward to last night, when my sweet girl and I were talking about the need our bodies have for slowing down sometimes.  She pointed out that I walk quickly all the time, even just to the door to check the mailbox.  I realized she is right.

“Our children can lead us into authenticity because they instinctively know how to BE. They intuitively know how to live within their body and respond to their spirit.  They are fully aware of the need to meet reality as it presents itself and are able to respond in a manner that we adults often aren’t.  This is why it’s from our children that we can learn how to really LIVE.”  ~ Dr. Shefali Tsabary, PhD, The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children

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Reveling in autumn

Acorns on sidewalk w quote

For a few days this month, we welcomed cooler weather and enjoyed being outside.  My sweet girl and I went for walks, took photos of the sky, and began collecting acorns.  The promise of this lovely weather returning soon makes me excited for more of nature’s glory.acorns_blog

What’s happening where you live?

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Trust Your Vibes: surround yourself with positive energy

Part 3: Good Vibrations

Watch your words: This is about practicing loving communication, making every word as loving as possible…  Remember that you’re intimately connected to everyone else in the world, so when you attack another person, you attack yourself.

I’ve heard Oprah say that each person should be responsible for the energy they bring into a room.  Everything you dwell on adds to humanity’s collective telepathic pool—while you may not be responsible for all the contamination out there, you are responsible for the pollution you personally add.

Recognize the correlation between what you broadcast and what comes back to you… The greatest difference you can make in terms of healing the world is to telepathically send thoughts of healing and light as you simultaneously reject messages of darkness and despair. When you follow your heart, you become a beacon of light to others by broadcasting love and inspiration. And the more you convey light vibrations, the more they’ll amplify, multiply, and return to you.

Spiritual law says that you receive what you give times ten, so choose to put out a bright, loving energy to the world—in spite of appearances to the contrary, it will return. The more openhearted you are, the quicker the telepathic reception will be. 

How refreshing this idea is to me! By being who and what we already are, we are healing the world and it is enough.  Me sitting at home and contentedly reading a book is sending positive vibes out to the world.

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Less is more

Trees_edited-1As a follow-up to last week’s Lighten Up post about decluttering, I want to report that I’ve already had some major successes.  First of all, thank you all for your comments.  Many of us are on the same path, which is nice.

I’m in the middle of two awesome books about this that have really got me thinking.  One, Clutterfree with Kids: Change your thinking. Discover new habits. Free your home by Joshua Becker is full of helpful suggestions and resources.  The other, Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, is about simplifying other areas of our life in addition to our possessions – also a huge help.

Both of these books ask us to change our way of thinking.  By identifying our main values, we can prioritize those and let the rest (possessions we do not need, activities we don’t like, paperwork that isn’t relevant) fall away.  Look at your living room bookshelves.  Would someone be able to identify your main values if they came in and browsed around? Or is it a little bit of everything? By eliminating most of the “other,” you leave visible only what’s most important to you.  You “spotlight” your treasures and values.  This idea has hugely impacted how I see our space.  What we lay eyes on every day should be our most important things.  I will be bringing things of significant sentimental value out of their closets and into the forefront so we can truly appreciate them.

Also, I love the idea that POSSESSIONS = TIME SPENT.  The more stuff you own, the more time you spend putting those things away, cleaning them, organizing them, etc.  For sure this goes for toys, but that’s not where I started.  I got rid of a lot of objects that we simply don’t need or particularly even like.  Candlesticks, picture frames, tablecloths, random coffee table books collecting dust.

So…

I took Becker’s advice and plucked through my closet, donating a lot of clothes I haven’t worn in a few years.  That means I finally tried on all those work suits and gave most of them away.  No real use for them and pretty sure I will not be fitting back into that size this decade.  I still had a full closet, so I went through it again.  I asked myself, “If I were in a store right now, would I buy this?” Now there is space.

Things sitting around really bother me, and since I’m the one in the family who is home most of the time, I decided to give myself the gift of freedom from this.  We instituted a nightly “clean sweep” before my daughter’s bedtime, where each object not in its place is returned to where it belongs.  Dishes in the sink, toys on the shelves, clothes in the hamper, etc.  I can’t tell you how lovely it is to walk around the house and not be visually bogged down with these things.

Another great idea: own ONE of something.  Why do we have 4 sheet sets for our bed when I usually wash and put back on the same one every time (mainly because I am terrible at folding fitted sheets)? Some things we may need more than one of, but I love the idea of just one that we take really good care of.  This concept gives me loads to do going forward.

Becker says more is not necessarily better, even though most of us live in a culture that encourages consumerism and comparing UP.  He says, “Don’t just declutter; de-own.”

“The simple act of organizing our things into boxes, plastic bins, or extra closets does not turn back our desire to purchase more things… On the other hand, intentionally removing possessions from our home forces questions of passion, values, and what’s most important to us.” 

Living this way values relationships, experiences, and intentionality.  It slows down life and asks us to consider what is most important to us and what values we want to teach our children.

“Love, friendship, hope, integrity, trust, compassion. These are the things that bring substance, fulfillment, and lasting joy to our lives. And these are the attributes that bring lasting security to our children’s lives.”

I like to tackle it all at once, but another book I came across says it’s a process and it takes time.  The book is How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living – Decluttering Tips and Closet Organization Ideas for Creating Your Own Personal Oasis by Judith Turnbridge.  ($.99 on Kindle or Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“Many experts liken the decluttering process to going on a diet. The logic being that the home will be losing its clutter as opposed to weight, but the important thing to recognize is that the process will take time and cannot be sorted out overnight. Like dieting, the decluttering process involves making a plan and identifying and resolving bad habits, but also acknowledges that a little bit of clutter can be accepted.”  

Even if you were to magically lose your excess weight overnight, this analogy points out that it’s an ongoing process of managing what you allow in and what stays out for good.

Becker again… “The true value of boundaries reaches far beyond our closets. It begins to spill into how we decorate our homes, the toys we buy for our children, the amount of clutter in our kitchens, and how we choose to spend our time, money, and energy.”

Sky space copyI want to spend time playing games together, volunteering in our community, seeing friends, doing artwork, reading books, talking with my daughter and husband, enjoying meals and other experiences together…not on straightening up toys and household clutter. Not running around doing errands.  Not going from ballet to gymnastics to swimming.

“Living clutterfree is not just the removal of unnecessary physical possessions. It is also the intentional promotion of the things we value most. It is about deciding what is most important in your life and removing the things that distract you from it.”

I already feel much more content, and I’ve only just begun.  I don’t feel the need to compare our home to other people’s.  I feel grateful for what we have and more generous toward those who aren’t blessed with as much.  I am protective of my new-found breathing room and cautious about what I allow into this space.  I know this appreciation will carry over to my daughter and influence her values too.  She has already seen that the time usually spent cleaning up can be spent in better ways.

How about you? Does your environment reflect YOUR most important values?

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