Brain Dump

I am seriously dumping my brain into this blog post just because I don’t have anywhere else to get rid of the overload.

The second is that right now my brain IS a dump and I need to declutter it.  Man, I would really like to get rid of that theme in my life.

So here we go – I will attempt to make this somewhat organized so that I don’t totally scare off my 1 remaining reader, and so that when I revisit this post, I am able to make sense of it and see if I have progressed at all!

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of ...

Image by Earthworm via Flickr

Physical house clutter – well, I can’t say that it is any worse, but it is definitely  not any better!  I live in my dream house – there is nothing else in the house that I could honestly want.  There is way more space than a family of 4 needs.  It is structurally a very pretty house.  The house is filled with roomy closets and ample cabinets.   There is absolutely no reason why this house should be this cluttered!  If there were 7 people,  maybe.  But even if there were 7 people living in this house it is large enough that it should not be this cluttered and disorganized.  The only thing that I can complain about regarding this house is that the interior is not painted (waiting on $$$ to get that done).   The rest is completely a result of poor habits.  So I am back on the band wagon to get this house finally organized.  I was talking to someone the other day who put it into perspective for me.  We moved into the house 3 months after we adopted our 2nd daughter (adoption in January, move in March).  I had a hysterectomy in April.  That month was spent just getting things in place where my family could function while I was on major lifting restrictions from surgery.  From that time forward my family has lived from one “crisis” to another.  About the time that we would start to feel like we could move forward another would hit us.  They ranged from 3 occurrences of cancer in my father, my husband being laid off, a dear friend’s death, giving up some of my personal goals so my husband could be a small business owner, the economy crash hitting my husband’s business hard, knowing there was something wrong with my oldest but not being able to get anyone to listen to me and then finally finding an awesome occupational therapist to help us out.   Those were the major issues and don’t include all the little things that occur on a daily basis.   The result is that we never really moved into the house.  We never established systems that worked for the long term.  Those are the things that we now need to do.  Our lives are starting to calm down and hubby and I are once again working together instead of working on the parallel and never meeting! 

Emotionally I need to let go of a lot of things.  This is tied very closely with my spiritual life.    Throughout all of the things that I have listed above I could look back and see where God had worked in my life.  But I was unable to truly focus on and find Him during the events.   I am now consciously working on training my soul to search out God, to pray constantly,  and to praise Him even during the bad times.  I have a very long way to go, but I can see where I have grown.  I have taken the first step in signing up for a Bible Study at our church that takes place during Sunday Morning Religious Education for the girls.  DH is going to be going with me.  I look forward to sharing this experience with him and learning together.  My youngest will also make her First Holy Communion this upcoming spring.  It is a time to reflect on His gift of Himself to us.  While this will make for a very busy year with retreats and classes, it will make my journey towards peace much easier to follow since there will be a set path for me this year.  In the journey I need to find where God wants DH and I to be regarding family growth – are we to adopt another child?  What role am I to play in the lives of young people as my girls grow?  How do I let go of that desire to have “just one more child” in my home?  How do I let go of my anger and disappointment at not being able to be a stay at home mom?  How do I let go to dream of home-schooling my children?  How to I ensure that faith and morals are passed on to them in this fast paced, way too worldly world in which we live?

Physically I am a mess.  I am at my all time highest weight EVER! I have taken a giant leap in this arena and started taking Tae Kwon Do.  My oldest and DH have been taking it for a little over a year.  My youngest and I signed up last week.  I have been to 2 classes.  I was wringing wet by the time the class was over, but I really felt good.   As my body begins to become more accustomed to the increased activity, I will tackle my dietary habits and those of my family.  This will be a tough area for me.  So much of my physical challenges lay squarely in the lap of the whole reason I was unable to bear children.   It is a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break and control.  But if I want to be around to see who my girls turn out to be, I need to become proactive.  So one step at a time.  I refuse to try and change to much at once regarding my physical self – but I WILL make the needed changes and be able to be a physical presence that does not embarrass my girls.  To hear that I am a hot mama from my DH would be nice, too!

Finances are finally starting to look up.  They will continue to be tight as we dig out of the hole incurred by the economy.  But we are slowly working away and will get there.  I need to take a more active role in conserving money and squeezing every drop of value from each penny.  I have started to coupon and watch sales.  It is a steep learning curve for me.  Over the last few years I was grateful just to have enough money to get food for the girls – we got necessities only.  Now that we can start spending a little more, I want to continue to be frugal and get as much value as possible.

My relationship with DH went through some rough patches over the last couple of years.  As the money canyon got more narrow, the emotional river ran faster and with many, many rapids.  We went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter this summer.  It was the perfect way for us to reconnect.  He put it perfectly – it was like we were both trying to reach each other, but we were on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.  Over that weekend we finally met at the bottom of the Canyon.  There is a ranch down in the Canyon, along the Colorado River with a small, clear stream running through it.  It is called Phantom Ranch.  DH and I both felt that we finally reached the Ranch that weekend and were finally able to talk to each other without shouting across a gaping chasm.   We have a lot of re-tweeking to do on our communication, but we a finally on the same path, walking the same direction and holding hands while we travel.   I am so blessed to have him in my life as my partner.  After 21 years of marriage I still get butterflies when I see him.   He and my girls are what motivate me to become a better person, to live more fully, to laugh more, to move more, to be less weighted down with emotional/physical/house clutter.

So my journey starts with one step.  This first step is towards my bed to get adequate rest to be able to tackle my projects.  Catch you on the flip side of the clock!


Count Down

One thing that I need to do is get back to working on my interior Mayhem before I can start tackling the garbage that has started to take over the house again (I am beginning to feel like I am living an episode of Hoarders recently!).  August 1st I will be embarking on a 30 day self-improvement program.  It is being sponsored over at The Personal Excellence Blog and is entitled Be a Better Me in 30 Days” (30BBM).   

Here is a description from the site –

What is 30BBM About?

30BBM is an all-new challenge where we’ll be working on ourselves, our characters, our personalities – thereby creating a better us at the end of the 30 days.

So what exactly does it mean to “Be a Better Me“? It means…

  • To become a better person – One that we will be proud of. If I were to ask you to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10, what score would you give yourself? Would you rate it a 10? Why/Why not? No matter how good we are, there is always room to be a better person. Through 30BBM, we will do exactly that – be a better person.
    • Weed out the traits we do not like. Some of us may often complain about traits we’re not proud of. For example, procrastination. Laziness. Pessimism. Clumsiness. Carelessness. Forgetfulness. Tardiness. Impatience. Low self-confidence. Abrasiveness. Obsessiveness. Complaining. Self-victimizing. Etc. Does any of these sound familiar to you? During 30BBM, we will explore our negative traits and work to remove them.
    • Build new, desired traits. What traits do you want to cultivate? Compassion? Assertiveness? Responsibility? Resilience? Courage? Self-Belief? Sharpness? Wisdom? Wittiness? Femininity? Masculinity? Diligence? Through 30BBM, we’ll cultivate our ideal traits.
  • To develop our character. All of us develop a certain character based on our upbringing. When we don’t grow, don’t challenge ourselves, don’t explore new grounds, our character will atrophy into nothing. We become just another person in the crowd who goes with the flow, who sways with public opinion, who has no say/idea of his/her own. It is by taking on the right experiences and consciously growing where we build our character. By taking on 30BBM, you create the opportunity to develop your character in just 1 month, compared to if you don’t participate.
  • To (re-)discover ourselves. (Re-)Discovering who we are, on a whole new level. Connecting with our inner self. Knowing why we behave the way we do. Understanding the motivations behind our actions. Such self-reflection is needed for us to improve and become better. Many of the tasks in 30BBM will get us to reflect and rediscover ourselves.
  • To cultivate universal values. No matter who we are, there are universal values that connect us as humans. These values include Compassion, Gratitude, Love, Kindness, Truth, Authenticity, Generosity, Positivity, Growth, and more. Through the 30BBM tasks, we will reacquaint with these values and cultivate them in us.
There will be daily tasks to do.  I am looking forward to some structure.  This summer has sort of killed any type of structure I had in my life.  Everything I planned to do fell through, so I ended up being a sloth!   I figure it will also set an example for the girls.   They start back to school on August 11th, so when they sit down to do homework, I will be doing mine as well.
Anyone out there want to join me on this 30 day journey of self-discovery and growth?


The Waltons

Image via Wikipedia

During this time I have been recuperating from surgery, I have taken some time to look at things in my life, as I alluded to in my post yesterday.   Much of my time was spent in front of the TV, as my surgery took my right arm and hand out of commission. 

I am a serious sucker for TV shows that were popular when I was growing up.  In particular, shows that portray life as I would like it to be.  One show that I never grow tired of watching is “The Waltons”.   There are so many things about that family that I would like to include in my own family. 

First, let’s start with the things that I would like to include but will probably never happen.  The chances of me living on a mountain, surrounded by family and friends is probably not going to happen.  I would be content with about 7-10 acres that contain a small woods, a stream, a large yard where I can plant a garden, and farmhouse similar to the one the Waltons lived in, but with a few more modern amenities – a couple more bathrooms,  and a gas range/oven.  Being a SAHM to a large family with a husband that worked from home is probably not in the cards either, but I can still dream. 

Now for the things that I can incorporate into my family.  Slowing down.  Being involved in every activity at school and church is not something that our family must do.  Family dinners.  There is absolutely no reason that my family cannot sit down to dinner at the table, say grace and share our day with each other at least 5 times a week.  Turning off the TV.  A lot of people will say that watching TV is the modern version of listening to the radio.  I sincerely disagree.  The TV is something that seems to suck my children into it.  There are many other activities that we can be doing – listening to music, listening to books on CD, reading books out-loud to each other, playing games with each other.  All of those activities encourage interaction with each other.  Choosing activities that support our Christian beliefs.  There are a lot of worthwhile activities that my children can get involved in through school.  But there is an edge to all of them – fund-raising, competition, and interacting with lots of children who don’t share our value of respect.  I am not saying that I want to totally shelter my children from these things, but I think elementary school is a bit too young for it to infiltrate every part of their lives.  Talking to my children.  I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of the day, bouncing from activity to activity, getting homework done, getting chores done, I realize that I have not really talked to my girls.  I am missing golden opportunities to get to know them, to help guide them to follow Christ, to become compassionate, respectful adults. 

So, things in my house need to change.  No they are going to change.  Step by step I am going to reclaim my family.  I am going to take a step back in time and enjoy the simple things.  It is not going to be easy.  It is not going to be without some withdrawal pains.  But I think my family will be the richer for it.

Trashy Tuesday

I have a lot of things I could talk about today.

I could talk about how Hubby got a lot of his office organized. It looks awesome, by the way.

I could address that our Christmas tree is down and the rest of the decorations are gathered in one place, waiting to be packed neatly into boxes.  I love the way the family room gets suddenly bigger, but I miss the soft glow of the twinkle lights and the warmth of all my handmade decorations made by my parents and friends.

I could shout from the rooftops my overwhelming joy that while we were putting things back into the closet where the holiday decorations vacation, we were putting the remainder of the miscellaneous boxes in the order we want to go through them during the rest of the winter when Hubby found the discs containing all the pictures from our trip to adopt our oldest.  I thought those precious pictures were forever lost.

Instead I am going to talk about a different type of organizing and housekeeping.  The interior, emotional kind.

Ellen over at FatGirlWearingThin has started a challenge called the Hate Loss challenge.   I have joined this challenge because the only way that I am going to be able to continue to clean up and organize my physical house is to clean up my emotional/spiritual house.    I am constantly amazed at how one plays right into the other.  The more I learn to like myself, to accept who I am, and honestly look at the things that are good and the things that need to be tweaked a bit, the better I am able to cope with the stresses from the outside – I am able to let go of the unimportant stuff in my house and create a place of comfort for my family.

I find the best way to work on that interior side to be dispassionate and honest.  I do have some things that need a lot of work, but I also have some really great things about myself as well.  I am overweight – but I still have twinkling blue eyes.   I may not be able to keep up with my girls because I am so deconditioned – but I have the ability to create a plan to correct that situation and one day I will be able to participate in more of their physical activities.   My goal, my plan to defeat that little voice inside me that is quick to point out the bad about myself, is to counter each negative thought with something good about myself.    Eventually the positive WILL sound out louder than the negative.  Eventually I will be able to not cut myself to emotional shreds when I look at other people.

So here it to getting rid of the emotional trash in my life.  Is there anyone else who would like to join me?

Motivation Monday – New Year Attitude

Unknown Person
Image via Wikipedia

Julie, over at Less Than Perfect Life Of Bliss wrote something in  one of her first posts of the new year.  I honestly don’t remember what the rest of the post was about (click on the link to find out – poke around over there if you have a chance, she has some really neat projects and thoughts), but this line, I find –




Oh – I guess you want to know what that line was, huh?

BUT- there’s an exciting year ahead of us,

full of things that have never been.

Sit with that for a moment.

Does that line make shivers go up and down your spine or does it fill you with dread?

Does it open vistas that you never imagined or does it make you want to climb back in bed and hide?

Does it encourage you to charge out your front door and find those things, or do you want to lock the door in fear that what is to come is worse than what has been?

Last spring I would have answered dread, bed, and worse.  But as I have written in the last few months, there was some sort of switch that was clicked in me this past year.  I know that God had a lot to do with it.  You see, I am a slow learner when it comes to His lessons and I was trying to take charge of my life without consulting Him.  He was allowing me flounder, to learn some lessons.  When I finally looked up at Him and asked for His help, gave Him the problems to fix instead of trying to fix them on my own, allowed my heart to be fully embraced by Him.

Now I am eager to find out what is in store for me this year.  I am looking forward to identifying the blessings that I am given each day.  I am anxious to set out on the path called 2011 and see where the journey leads me and who I meet and what I see and do.  I am really interested to discover who I am going to be at the end of the year!

So how about you?

What sort of emotion does the phrase create in you?

Motivation Monday – Taking the time for the imporant things

One doesn’t fall in love one grows into love,

and love grows in him

(author unknown)

Holding Hands shadow on sand

Image via Wikipedia

This past weekend Hubby and I had the chance to go on a couple dates.  The girls had a sleep over with a friend one night and then had a pizza party at my oldest’s Tae Kwon Do school the next.

Hubby and I did nothing terribly exciting.

We went to dinner where we imbibed in an adult beverage.

We got to eat while our food was still warm.

We rented a movie that was not rated G.

We slept in the next day.

We went to a restaurant and drank endless cups of coffee and compared our date-books and dreamed and schemed about paint colors and decorating ideas for the house.

If you had asked me 21 years ago what a perfect date was, I would have rattled off some grandiose evening with flowers and a fancy dinner and dancing and………

Now I have learned that my perfect date is about time and undivided attention.  It is about holding hands while saying grace over the meal.  It is about sharing jokes only he understands.  While falling in love with him was wonderful, growing in love with him is amazing.

Thoughtful Thursday – They never let me move up…

My grandmother had a 5 room house, including the bathroom.  This equaled roughly 750 square feet.  It was in this house that she raised 7 children.  This same house was where she welcomed and entertained each of her grandchildren as if they were the only grandchild she had.  This same house was where we met for holidays.  By the time that I remember holidays, 3 of my mother’s siblings had moved out of state.  But the rest of us gathered every Thanksgiving, the Sunday before Christmas, the 4th of July, and any other time during warm weather when we could have a “wiener roast”.  A life time of childhood memories were created in that house.

Thanksgiving Meal 2006

Image by laffy4k via Flickr

Thanksgiving was a big meal.  There was always a huge turkey.  Gramma would fix her awesome dressing.  The Aunts would all discuss the best way to make gravy while they threw different ingredients into the pot.  This discussion occurred each year.  I never did figure out why.  One would think they would figure it out and write down the directions after all those years! Maybe that is why I can’t make gravy – I never saw it made the same way twice!  There were pineapple slices coated with green Jell-O.  There were peanut butter rice crispy treats.  Mashed potatoes swam in butter.  Bacon slices floated in the green beans.   Golden corn was heaped into a bowl, emitting that wonderful sweet corn smell.  The yeasty smell of rolls wafted through the house.  Different desserts made their appearance through the years, but the main meal never changed.

In the kitchen were the 5 adult ladies.  In the living room were the 5 adult men and various teen cousins watching football.  Running through the

house, getting underfoot, and banging out the door were the rest of us cousins.  Eventually the call would come that dinner was ready.  We would all gather in the kitchen where we would all join hands for grace – all 20 of us – not including any stray friends one of us may have brought along, or boyfriends or girlfriends that were being introduced to the family.  Then the rush to find seats started.  There was the grown up table and there was the kids table.  Sometimes, if there was an extra card table or two, there would be the middle table.  But me, I was always at the kids table.  This was the table reserved for those of us above 4 but under 12.  Sometimes, once you 12 you were allowed to move up to the adult table if there was room, or if there was a middle table you could eat with the “big cousins”.  But me, being the 3rd to the youngest of the grandkids, was perpetually at the kids table.

The Lard Can

Image by juliegever via Flickr

This table was always a card table that invariable was bumped or jiggled which resulted in some sort of spill.  It was always covered with an old sheet that soaked up all the various spills and plate jiggling. This table did not have chairs.  Nope, furniture that was designed for sitting was reserved for adult and older cousins.  Those of us at the kids table got the lard cans.  For those of you who did not grow up in the country, when a pig was raised on the farm and subsequently butchered, the fat was rendered into lard which was returned to the family in large cans – roughly 24 inches tall and 16 inches around.  The cans had tops that could be removed to access the lard and then put back on – similar to today’s Tupperware lids.  Only these were made of metal.  And the metal lids had creases around the edges to accommodate the can.  The ridges were not rounded or smooth – they were sharp and hard.  Not sharp as in they would cut skin, but sharp as in they would have been great for biscuit cutters – if you wanted a biscuit that large.

They would be padded with a pillow.  Not a bed pillow.  But one of those pillows that were used on rocking chairs and metal lawn chairs.  Pillows that had maybe ¼ inch of foam in them.  Pillows that had been in use since before my conception.  I was never quite sure what use those pillows were.  I think they were a tease.  They never managed to soften the top of the cans.  The never managed to pad the lip of the can top – the ones that prevented all circulation from the knees down, resulting in much wiggling and groaning and numb feet.  But once that plate of food was placed in front of us, life did not get any better.

As each cousin reached the magical age of 12, responsibilities changed.  The girls were expected to help out in the kitchen.  The boys were expected to help clear the table (if they were caught and forced to help out) and then watch football or head outside to play football or kickball.  Those of us at the kids table – we were free agents.  We were never expected to help; in fact we were shooed out of the kitchen.  We could watch the ballgame, but usually the cloud of smoke would begin to push us outside.  Once outside we would run and play and have a great time.

Now, I am sure you are asking why I am boring you with all the details of a very crowded, yet normal event in my life.  Well, Thursdays are about what made me the way I am.  When I was about 11 our family started to really grow.  Some of my cousins were getting married and bringing their spouses.  They started having babies.  Before long there just was no more room at my grandmother’s house, and she was getting just old enough that she did not need to have to deal with all of us invading her home for a full meal.  So we started to alternate where Thanksgiving was hosted.  Each “Aunt and Uncle” took a turn at hosting.  The food was the same, the fussing over the gravy was unchanged, the football game on the TV was still playing, but suddenly there was no kids table.  Everyone filled their plate, buffet style, and headed to one of the folding buffet tables scattered throughout the home of whoever was hosting that year.  Children mixed with adults.  That magical event – moving to the adult table – that right of passage, was denied to me just as I was on the cusp of what I considered “adulthood”.  I know it sounds dorky that I mourn the loss of that opportunity.

Sheila over at To Love, Honor and Vacuum talks about this same topic – the perpetual adolescence that hase become standard in our society.  When I got married and Hubby and I started talking about expanding our family I found myself hesitating.  I kept waiting for someone to tell me that I had “arrived”, that I was an adult, that I was old enough and mature enough to have children.  There are days that I still find myself waiting for that.  You would think at 43 I would figure out that I am way old enough!  Now, I am not blaming my family for stunting my emotional growth because I was never allowed to sit at the adult table during Thanksgiving Dinner.  But I will say that Sheila’s post really initiated analysis of the origins of some of my insecurities – especially those related to my role in my family, both the family I live with daily, and my extended family.  It has also made me re-evaluate how I interact with my own children and utz and encourage them towards their own adult path.